Hisses and growls filled the air around the three dragons. The crimson eyes of the Fangtar drifted ever closer, stalking through the grasses like impending red orbs. They were getting ready to attack. They knew that their prey was weak. They snapped at each other like wild dogs with the anticipation of the kill to come.
Zoltar’s eyes felt like lead as his exhaustion clouded his mind. The urge for sleep was growing by the second and he could feel the sleep gas eating away at his conscious, forcing him to slowly, but inevitably fall asleep.
‘No!’ Zoltar shouted in his mind. It couldn’t end like this. He had too many dragons relaying on him. What would happen to Shiraku and Emerald if he died, not to mention Felistia and Shriken? He could not give in. He would not die without a fight. Morning was a few hours away, but they weren’t going to make it like this. They had to fight the Fangtar, show them that they weren’t going to go down so easily.
“Get up,” he growled to Felistia and Shriken, who were practically asleep on their paws.
“Wha-wha-what?” Shriken asked groggily, shaking his head in an effort to clear the urge to sleep.
“Hhmm?” Felistia mumbled, barely able to keep her eyes open.
“We are going to fight them,” Zoltar hissed, his voice laced with venom, “We aren’t going to last till morning and I refuse to going down without a fight.”
A wild light came into Felistia’s eyes, “Let’s do it,” she snarled, a new energy rising in her voice.
Zoltar glanced at Shriken when the young ice talon didn’t answer. He looked a little unsure and kept looking fearfully towards the grasses where the Fangtar stalked.
“Shriken?” Zoltar put a wing over Shriken’s back. He could feel the ice talon shaking under his wing, “We can do it. Don’t be afraid. Just use your ice breath and that tail of yours. They won’t know what hit them,” Zoltar encouraged, giving Shriken a light nudge with his snout, “Now come on. Let’s get out of this mess.”
Felistia growled deep inside her throat and pawed at the ground like a bull. She shot a reassuring smile at Shriken. He smiled back and Zoltar could feel his shaking lessen.
“Let’s show these lizards whose boss,” Zoltar growled, shaking his head to clear the sleep and snorting a cloud of smoke. He could feel the adrenaline rushing through his scales like electricity. Spreading his billowing black wings to full height, Zoltar roared, “CHARGE!”
All three dragons rushed forward, heads down. The Fangtar met them head on at the edge of the grass circle. The air filled with the sounds of hisses and roars as the dragons battled for their lives. Claws clanged against claws and teeth met scales. The ground was churned under the pounding of talons against the earth. Tails whipped through the air, smacking into Fangtar and sending them flying back into the grasses.
Zoltar’s heart was pounding and his sides where covered in lashes for Fangtar talons, but he kept fighting. He was battling for his very life. Fangtar where leaping at him from all sides, their black mouths stretched wide as they lunged for his throat. He spun, slamming his poisonous barb into the creatures’ sides. They screeched as they were flung back.
Zoltar didn’t dare use his fire. He could start a massive prairie fire if he did and that could put all of them in even more danger. Instead he used his teeth and claws, biting down on anything that wasn’t dragon. His talons cut through the air like blades. Felistia and Shriken where on either side of him, spraying ice and swinging their spiked tails at the Fangtar. Soon the air became heavy with the metallic smell of blood and the earth became sticky underpaw. They must have killed over twenty Fangtar already, but the beasts just kept coming, surging out of the grasses in a streams.
Zoltar's wings and sides burned from the cuts and bites and his head was still clouded with the want for sleep. They weren't going to last much longer. There seemed no end to the masses of Fangtar. As soon as one fell another would take its place.
Suddenly there was a piercing shriek from Zoltar’s left side. He whipped around, his heart clinched in his chest. There, lying on the ground with Fangtar swarming over him was Shriken.
“No!” Felistia roared. She rushed towards Shriken, throwing herself through the hordes of Fangtar.
“Shriken!” Zoltar yelled, hurrying to get to the downed dragon. Fangtar sprang at him from all sides, raking their talons against his scales. Pain streaked through his body, but he carried on.
Finally he reached the wounded Ice Talon. With on swipe of his tail, he cleared the Fangtar from his back. Shriken’s eyes were closed and his breathing was shallow. His once silver scales were painted with deep crimson blood.
Zoltar instantly knew what he had to do. He didn’t care anymore if it caused the entire landscape to go up in flame. It was the only way to escape with Shriken.
“Felistia!” Zoltar shouted, launching two Fangtar back with one stroke of his wings, “Grab Shriken. We’re getting him out of here.”
Felistia instantly grabbed hold of Shriken’s two back legs while Zoltar grabbed his two front legs. They began beating their wings, pushing against the air as they heaved Shriken into the air. Fangtar where leaping at them from all sides, snapping and biting at the Shriken’s hanging wings. Felistia froze three of them in mid-air. But still they came, jumping at them like piranhas.
When they were just clear of the grass, Zoltar let out a river of roaring flame from his jaws. The orange blaze poured onto the dry grass below. The Fangtar shrieked and yelped as the fire crackled hungrily around them. They gave the dragons’ one last glare, their black eyes shining in the golden light of the fire, before turning tail and running.