Amar was getting tired. This was the longest he had spent in this dimension and for once, he was afraid.
“It’s taking too much time,” he stuttered.
‘I know. This is one strong dragon.’ Alara responded.
“I don’t understand. We have killed dragons ten times as big as this one.”
‘I don’t know.’ Alara said.
In front of them was a dragon with a torso the size of an elephant. On first look, Amar had considered it a five minutes job. He had been a dragon hunter for almost three years now and he had become quite good at it. It wasn’t unusual for him to defeat more than one dragon at a time as well. This was the first time, in his mind, that he was truly struggling.
The dragon had black scales and had a smaller wingspan than other dragons of its size. However, the dragon was quite fast and was able to turn and get off the ground in almost a heartbeat. This had made Amar’s main hunting strategy redundant. Usually, the dragons needed some time and boost to get off the ground due to their bulky size. Amar would utilize this time to injure them and ensure that they were ground-bound. If they remained grounded, it wasn’t too hard to eventually get a shot in their weak areas.
The smaller dragons had to come close to Amar to attack them, even with their fire which made them vulnerable to his gun – Alara. Their skin was also not tough enough to handle Alara’s magic-laced firepower.
This black dragon was different. It got off the ground almost immediately and it could shoot fire from a large distance. To make matters worse, he was on occasion able to through a ball of plasma which was much hotter than the fire itself and much more accurate, and at least two times, it managed to attack Amar with lightning. The lightning wasn’t as strong as the original one but it was still enough to shock Amar to the core. Even Alara was shaken.
“How do we defeat it?”
‘We keep fighting until it gets tired and comes back to the ground.’ Alara suggested.
“Haven’t we been doing this for the past thirty minutes?”
‘The dragon has stamina.’ Alara said plainly.
Amar groaned and continued dodging the dragon’s fire and plasma attacks while trying to shoot it with Alara. With the dragon’s flying speed, it was hard to get a good shot, and even the ones which had hit most had either hit the scales which wasn’t too bad for the dragon. Painful? Perhaps. But not lethal. The rest had grazed off without making any impact whatsoever.
“You think we will survive this dragon?”
Alara didn’t give any response which didn’t improve Amar’s confidence.
“How many dragon hunters have died before?”
Alara gave no response.
“What happens when a dragon hunter dies? Tell me Alara.”
‘If you die, we will go back to the Earth and I will start finding another human being as quickly as possible and then come back to attack the dragon again.’
“Oh Wow! That’s dedication.”
‘The dragons never rest. Neither can I.’
Amar dodged another fire attack and fired at the dragon. The dragon was hit but didn’t show any sign of weakening. However, it did slow down a bit in its flying which enabled Amar to get more hits on the target.
The dragon wailed and its screech filled the void. Amar closed his eyes for a brief second to handle the scream and when he opened them, the dragon had vanished.
‘It went back! It’s rare but I think the dragon decided to go back to its realm. We can go back as well.’
Amar sighed with relief.
Amar and Alara came back to Earth at Amar’s house. It was empty as Amar moved to start living alone when he got Alara.
“Tell me Alara. What happens if you die? You can be destroyed, I presume.”
‘I don’t know. Perhaps there are other weapons as well and the next one will take my place. The work is never-ending.’
“Whosoever made you really gave it his all. So much dedication and so little ego.”
‘I suppose I have the advantage of knowing my purpose. I don’t have to think about what to do next as I’m driven by my goal and purpose.’
“Nice jab, Alara. Let’s assume that my purpose is to kill dragons, the same as yours.”
Amar picked his phone and called his friend Jonah.
“Hey, buddy. Can we meet today?”
“Cool. Meet you in an hour.”
‘You think he knows something.’
“He’s a phoenix. If anyone knows about that dragon, it’s him.”
Amar and Jonah met at lunch and Amar immediately told him about his tryst with death.
“You’re joking!” Jonah said on hearing about the dragon, almost choking on his water.
“You’ve heard about it.”
“Yeah! It is called the Black Death and is the leader of the dragons. I’m impressed that you even survived the encounter.”
“Yeah, the three years of experience helped me survive.”
“So, is there any way to kill it?”
“There must be. We haven’t found it though.” Jonah replied. “Black Death is a legend. In fact, I’ve also only heard about it. I think there are only perhaps a handful of living Phoenixes who have seen Black Death and only one alive who had actually fought and live to tell the tale.”
“Aren’t you immortal?”
“Yeah. We can live a long time and we can come back from planned death by being reborn with our memories. But we can be killed. It’s hard but it can be done. And Black Death has done it more than once.”
“What do I do?” Amar asked.
“Frankly, I don’t know. Perhaps I can come with you but I’m not sure if that would be enough.”
“Do you know any other phoenixes who might be interested in helping?”
“Nope. I doubt anyone would risk facing the Black Death.”
Amar nodded. He understood. He had faced Black Death and even though he felt that his attacks were hurting the dragon, he was nowhere close to being at even footing with the dragon, let alone winning.
“Can I suggest something?” Jonah said.
“I think you should pass Alara on now.”
“If Black Death comes back, I don’t know what will happen. Let someone else deal with it.”
“We both know what will happen. But I can’t let anyone else take the burden. Not when they will need time to train. Not when there is an unkillable dragon around.”
“Can you start training someone right now?”
“That’s an interesting thought. Alara?”
‘It hasn’t happened before. Whenever a previous dragon hunter had trained the new one, it was only after passing me over.’
“But it can happen, right?”
‘I can be handled by only one person at a time. So, the new person can practice everything but he or she won’t be able to use me till either you die or you officially pass me on.’
“Alara said it can happen with a lot of caveats.”
“Great! Let’s find you a protégé then.”
“Yeah. Hopefully, I will be able to pass this gun without dying.”
‘Unless Black Death comes tomorrow.’ Alara said.