Volume One: Walking with Giants
Right now, at this very moment, a young boy was running for his dear life.
His stage was a rocky yet smooth surface atop a plateau high up on a scary, jagged mountain range. The vista of a grand forest that span as far as eyes could see before the boy was one of a remarkable beauty and majesty, if it were not for the precipitous drop of thousand screams right alongside him. One mistimed footing, and he’d plunge to his death – and he was acutely aware of that.
His lungs fought hard for that extra intake of air with every step taken. Meanwhile, another fight raged on within his mind, one where he was trying desperately to keep a positive outlook on his chances.
He kept telling himself that this was nothing, that he was already used to running bare feet on surfaces like this.
Watch me break the Olympic Record, ma!
He shouted inwardly to no one in particular. Maybe he was going mad. Maybe, just maybe, he was grasping at anything to keep himself motivated, no matter how silly it was.
Too bad, a person’s mind never worked like that; in his case especially, as his subconscious mind was aware of the less-than-stellar attempt at morale-boosting.
For all his troubles, what he received was a small voice coming from the back of his mind: who you trying to kid, fool?
The young boy began to shiver like a wet dog; his heart pounding away like an out-of-control drumming monkey doll. Driven by an overwhelming fear he couldn’t help but wonder why he bothered to stay alive all this time, why he worked so hard to become stronger.
He felt the scorching heat right behind him, closing in much faster than he’d like to. The boy dared not to look, lest he ends up soiling himself from the scary sight that was following him.
I might have very little dignity left right now, but at least please let me keep a bit of that!!
The boy prayed, nay begged, to whatever divine entity that was listening in. Rather than an answer from the heavens, however, there were audible hisses and cracks which were growing ever louder by the second. The hairs on the back of his neck were standing upright ever since the beginning, and now they were this close to being singed. He somehow prevented his legs from wobbling and carried on his escape.
Even if he was determined not to look, the alarming sounds tickled his instincts and before he could stop himself, his eyes swiveled and now he caught the glimpse of the ground he ran past only a moment’s breath ago.
Behind him, so close it’s practically a next-door neighbor to his butt, a sea of blazing inferno was engulfing literally everything his view contained.
A wall of flame so tall it looked like a scene straight out of a video game, but there was no mistaking it as being all too real. Rocky ground melted like ice cream under a hot midday sun, telling the boy the flames were indeed mind-bogglingly hot. So hot, he guessed, that these flames could be hotter than the sun’s surface. A useless conjecture under the circumstances, but the thought still flashed past his brain regardless.
Funny how our minds work like that, no?
And the second thought following on the first one?
Oh, shoot. I’m gonna so die.
As a result of this negative thinking, his knees buckled for a millisecond, and that led to his running speed dropping slightly. Which also led to the incinerating flames getting ever so closer to the fleeing boy.
No matter how one looked at the situation, it was getting worse.
As if on cue, an utterly gigantic black dragon burst through the wall of flames while roaring loudly. As it flew by the boy, he saw the blood-red stripes running on its sides pulse menacingly. He previously thought those stripes looked cool but at the moment, not so much.
The dragon was bigger than a couple of double-decker buses stacked together. No, scratch that. It was bigger. The boy simply had no point of reference to measure the total size of the airborne creature. It simply defied all logic, all sensibilities, and crushed all hopes under its claw. That’s how big it was. Calling it a mobile flying fortress wouldn’t be far too off.
The creature hovered in mid air, not really obstructing the boy but not letting him escape either. It didn’t stay in that position for long however, and it majestically swept around to the front of the flaming wall, positioning itself between the boy and the certain fiery death.
However, it didn’t do that out of a goodwill. Instead, it roared menacingly once more, and from its snout, rock melting flames spewed out towards the direction of the boy. A handful of brightly burning ember fell on his shoulder nonchalantly as if to say yo, whaddup.
The boy panicked like a little girl and patted the offending bits off of him in a hurry without slowing down his running speed one jot, which was actually quite commendable. The not-slowing-down bit, not the-freaking-out bit, obviously.
The dragon saw his funny reaction and began to guffaw. It began to mock the boy with its booming, powerful voice that matched its humongous size. The sound was loud enough for every living soul within the radius of a kilometer to hear all the insults.
“Hey, hey boy, is that all you can do? Bwahaha. Run you little rabbit, run!!” Then it fired off another: “Gwahahaha, run brat, run!! Your mama’s teats are over yonder, ehehehe!!”
The dragon repeatedly kept talking other, less family-friendly smack but fortunately for the recipient of the insults, the young boy, was far too busy trying to figure out a way to survive this ordeal to respond in kind.
“Run, boy! Before I burn you to a crisp and use you as a toothpick!! Kehehehe!”
The dragon hurled another taunt and this one landed. The boy inwardly snapped.
Gahh, darn it, come down here and say that to my face, you big stinking piece of lard – I’ll punch you in the face!!
Almost immediately, he felt foolish. He knew punching the dragon in its face was not possible. After all, he was only a seven-year-old boy, running away from a fire-breathing monstrosity that was clearly capable of causing destruction on the level of a nuclear warhead.
There was not a whole lot he could do against an opponent like that, to be honest.
Truth was, he didn’t start off his life getting chased around by a flying tank.
Truth was, he wasn’t even sure why he was here, in this world at all.
Knowing he was about to be eaten wholly roasted by a dragon, the boy began to reflect on both of his lives so far. Yep, both lives. Imagine that.