There once was a young boy named Douglas.
He grew up in a small town known as Blue Coast, a village set on the land’s coastline, its only notable landmark an old windmill.
Despite its seclusion, young Douglas wished in all his dreams to be a wonderful Knight.
He would traipse around in an old coat, fashioned around his neck like a cape, and lead his own little band of fighters boasting their strength which could combat the evil Dragons.
But as Douglas got older, he nary grew much taller, and got much, much wider.
More and more of his old miscreants left to become fishermen and blacksmiths, long forgetting the days of their adventuring dreams.
But one girl who stood by him, a daughter of an innkeeper who was known as Elizabeth.
Despite being almost twice the height of Douglas and was the fairest of her peers, she encouraged his never-ending dream of becoming a Knight.
And one day, Douglas had received that which he sought.
A messenger dared cross the dangerous mountain range that separated Blue Coast from the rest of the land.
He sought those who would fight for Humanity’s army against the Dragons, who had started to strike against the humans.
Finally Douglas had the chance to become whom he dreamt he might be, but found himself torn between his dream and his budding attachment to Elizabeth.
Before he left on his journey, Elizabeth fashioned a scarf for him to wear on his adventure and keep him warm.
And once he was about to leave, he turned around and asked Elizabeth to wait for him.
She stood there in shock and agreed with tears in her eyes, meeting Douglas’ mutual feelings of love.
And so Douglas marched with the army, earning his own title as a magnificent and wild fighter.
The Humanity Army marched all the way past the Caves of Chrysallis and past the forests of Elven folk.
They finally reached the wasteland that was the final stretch before arriving at the Dragon’s Capital.
But despite their bravado and gusto, they never even laid eyes upon the fabled Capital.
The army was destroyed with hardly a handful of Dragon combatants, and with hardly any survivors to claim the horrors that transpired.
Douglas never came back.
But even if that was so, Elizabeth waited, and waited, and waited for her love to one day return, without a single doubt that he would make good on his promise…
And one day he did.
Amidst the long decayed bodies of the dead and the ashes borne from fire, Douglas arose in confusion.
But he was not as he hoped.
He felt not cold nor hot, not sharp nor soft, and realized that he had no body of flesh, but only armor and Elizabeth’s scarf that he wore to his demise.
He kept walking across the battlefield, and met two strangers who told him the fate of the world.
The Dragons had won, they had secluded Humanity into one measly city, and it had been 50 years after Douglas had first laid down his life.
This felt impossible to him, as it felt mere minutes prior where he ran with his comrades into the battlefield.
But it was not important, as he had a promise to keep.
So he walked, and walked, and walked.
Through the Plateau of Giants, the Mines of Highpeak, and the small snowy land of hobbits known as Snowdrift.
During his journey, he met with many realizations, ones that conduced torture to his way of thinking, as the world had much changed when he had been dead.
No one was saved for Humanity Army’s sacrifice, as every other race saw the battle as less of a triumphant attempt at ridding the world of evil and more of a fool-hardy venture of disillusion and egotism.
Douglas’s sacrifice was in vain, and his comrades’ resting ground had even been mockingly named the Cemetery of Folly, their previous tools and armor being sold off by grave robbers for paltry amounts.
But it mattered not, his only concern was to meet with his beloved, and fulfill the promise he had made so long ago.
So he walked, trudged, and crawled all the way to the familiar mountains.
After he finally crossed them, he was met with a surprise.
Blue Coast, in all of its 50 years, had not changed at all as the rest of the world did.
Children laughed and played near its fishing docks and its same large solitary windmill.
Douglas wondered all his journey what meeting his beloved would be like.
How much did she age? Would she be mad at Douglas for making her wait so long, or would she be in tears at his fated arrival? Would she even remember him, or even worse, cared not enough for him for her to not even consider his existence meaningful?
All these questions swirled in his mind until the fated moment came.
But one question that did not get uttered was the only one that had an answer.
Douglas was met not with an old woman, gasping as she saw her beloved after so many years.
He was met only with a small stone, inscribed on it “Elizabeth, our beloved.”
The stone was inscribed with her birth date, and a date that was a week prior to Douglas’s arrival.
He had learned that she had waited, but along the way bore a child of a man whom she did not love, and raised a family on her own.
Douglas cried, and cried, and cried for days, and eventually for weeks.
He had given his life for the honor of Humanity, and it gave him a world who did not remember him and a lover who was not there when he returned.
“Why in my venture of purity do I come back to images of mere torture?!” Douglas yelled.
“Why was I brought back to witness the folly of my childish bravery?!” Douglas cried.
Then, an old man walked up to him, putting a hand on his shoulder.
“This world is rotten, and the only one to blame is I.” the man said.
Douglas turned, and the man explained, despite appearing merely as an old man, is the Elder Dragon who lorded over all Dragons.
“I had started this crusade because I had believed greed seeped and was borne from humanity,” he said.
“But I was mistaken. After my seeking of virtue, my comrades and brethren have abandoned my rule, and seek only validation of pride and wealth.”
“It took many decades, but finally, I was able to revive you, as I knew your iron-formed resolution and righteousness.” The man stated.
“Abandon the world, and become my friend and ally to right the wrongs I have done so long ago.”
Douglas, having been abandoned by the world himself, sought no reason to decline, and agreed.
Douglas became corrupted, and grew larger and larger until he became that which he hunted, a mighty Dragon of chaos.
He burned the village asunder, leaving but charcoal and cinders to meet the clear waters of the coast, as he cried in pain.
But one little girl survived.
Her name was Sophia, a girl who had been the daughter of the man who was Elizabeth’s son.
She ran, and ran, and ran, all the way to the next village of Snowdrift.
She was escorted to the final city of Humanity, known as Last Sanctuary, but was soon abandoned again.
With not a penny nor a parent, she was greeted by an old Blacksmith named Frederick.
He took her in, and there she met his grandson, a young boy her age named Cedric, whose boisterous attitude was met with Sophia’s recent feelings of abandonment and wrath.
As they grew up and matured, they had eventually enrolled in the city’s own Knighthood Academy.
Despite how much Cedric claimed his strength and virtue, only Sophia was able to rise in her abilities.
Sophia spent many years training, with not time for joys nor relief, as her only wish was to hunt the Dragon that burned her home to the ground.
But along the way her grip on her resentment was beginning to fade, as the ever egotistic and haughty Cedric soon would become her focus.
Cedric did not become strong, did not become sharp, and as he got older, only noticed how much he lacked in his abilities and the gap between him and Sophia.
Noticing how distraught he was, she began to train him personally, and as years passed, and as Sophia and Cedric trained harder together, they began to fall in love.
Sophia eventually forgot her resentment entirely, and soon the two were wed and wanted to leave the Knighthood.
But before their departure, a fated reunion would happen.
With nary a warning in the skies, a Dragon soared and began to destroy the city.
Crashing through the many houses and castles of Last Sanctuary was the terrifying black and armor-clad Dragon known as Blackwind.
In the chaos, no one was able to resist, and soon Cedric lost his own life to protect Sophia.
Sophia was stricken with grief, but all her buried feelings of vengeance and resentment were replaced with but a single goal.
She left the city with full armor and enchanted weaponry, the only tool known to kill Dragons, and visited her old home in Blue Coast to recover a lost trinket.
Sophia then walked, and walked, and walked all the way to the Dragon’s Capital.
Her venture was not to eradicate the Dragons, but to kill the only one who had ever caused her families harm.
She finally arrived at the city’s doorstep, and demanded a duel with the most powerful Dragon there, who had been known as Blackwind.
Out walked not a decrepit old man or beast, but a small Knight clad in wide armor.
It was Douglas.
She knew him from so many years ago, and in preparation for battle, put on the trinket she had gone to Blue Coast to retrieve.
It was Elizabeth’s scarf that Douglas had abandoned after he had corrupted.
So they fought the hardest fight, and fought, and fought.
It began as a mere sword-fight, which quickly erupted into a battle between a stalwart female knight and a mighty Dragon.
Douglas shifted many times between his smaller and Dragon forms, looking for any instance to gain the upper hand.
Sophia stood her ground, but could not best the mighty size of a Dragon, and was blasted aside.
Douglas soared high into the skies, and then dove to fly close to the ground, and end Sophia’s struggles with one ramming force.
But she arose and then stood her ground, not shifting even her smallest toe, and struck a mighty gash into the belly of Douglas.
Flustered and writhing in pain, he soon fell and crashed into the makeshift graves of the Cemetery of Folly.
He reverted to his smaller demeanor, and tried swinging at Sophia as she approached, but she swiftly sliced off his arms at every strike.
Douglas sat there, in a defenseless state, with his sharp tongue being the only weapon he had left.
“I sought peace and justice for the life I could not live, yet I am met with only suffering and betrayal, what right do you have to place me into my grave?!” He shouted at her.
Sophia placed her sword betwixt his helmet and chest, ready to deal the final blow.
“I seek not righteousness nor revenge, not justice nor recompense,” Sophia said.
“I seek only what will keep what I keep most dear to me safe.”
She placed her other hand on her abdomen.
“I currently hold the child of the man whom I love, the man who you took from me, and my child will know a world of peace and happiness, a world where you don’t exist.”
“What happiness you know,” Douglas sneered, “to have been with the one you loved, a family to return to, and the knowledge of your embrace with your lover.”
“I had not a spec of that, yet you place your blade where my fleshed throat would reside had I not been cursed to this suit of armor, and you speak of your pains as they were unique torture?!” Douglas yelled.
“The only pains you seem keen on repeating are those of your own,” Sophia replied, “Not a sentence of it includes the one whom you loved most, your beloved Elizabeth, my grandmother.”
Douglas stopped speaking, in utter surprise at Sophia’s revelation.
“She spoke of many tales of you before she left this world, Douglas, but not a single one of them regaled in your accomplishments at wartime.” Sophia revealed.
“She spoke of the times you patrolled your town, leading your band of peers with a cape fashioned from an old coat.”
“She spoke of the many things you and your friends shattered when playing too roughly, and of the mischief that you had caused in the name of living your childhood dream.”
“She spoke only of the times you and my grandmother shared as children, as adolescents, and even before you left for the war.”
“You sought to prove a point that had already had merit, to make yourself a man who you already were, and to become a legend that Elizabeth already believed in.”
“She loved you every second, and you were her hero despite how you saw yourself, and she believed you would return even until her final days, her final minutes, and her final breaths.”
Douglas said nothing, and his head drooped down as he could look nowhere else that would give him solace.
“If you want to hold to your knight’s pride as tightly as you have for these decades of reign, then it is of no business of mine.” Sophia said.
“Cling to the smallest amount of it you have left, and raise your head as I take your life as it should have been so many years ago.”
Moments passed, with Douglas not moving an inch, as Sophia waited for him to raise his head in defiance.
But he did something she did not expect.
Uttering not a word, he merely put his forehead to the ground.
Sophia raised her blade, hands trembling, and thrust her blade through his helmet, shattering the armor and turning him into dust.
The scarf Sophia had worn in battle floated off and crumbled into ashes.
She exhaled, as if to blow away everything that had transpired with one breath…
Many months later, she finally gave birth her and Cedric’s child, a small boy with a healthy set of lungs.
She no longer had the fear of the past, and sought to see what the peaceful future had in store.
As she cradled him, she apologized to him, and she cried, and cried, and cried at everything that had happened.
Her story had finally ended…
In a place unable to be defined, a land that had no physical presence, a land of mere nothing except of one tree and patch of grass, sat Douglas.
On the other side sat the one he had suffered so long to meet, his beloved Elizabeth.
Douglas had not the courage nor resolution to even look at her.
He merely sat as nothing was stated.
But following the utter silence, Elizabeth began to speak, only to be met with a sharp reply of Douglas.
“I know what you wish to say, so please don’t say it,” Douglas pleaded.
But Elizabeth continued anyway.
“It is possible you were right in how you were acting, and maybe there was something that had to be done.” She said.
“I was not there when you returned, and you sought to punish the world for it.”
“I shall not blame nor judge what you have done.” She said.
She stopped, as her face ran with tears and her breath became sharp and fast.
“But for what you’ve done, I can no longer love you…” she cried.
Douglas stood and turned as fast as he could, but was met with nothingness.
Once again alone, he could do nothing more but collapse.
With no one to hold, no one to confide in, and no one who would remember him fondly.
He no longer had the strength to feel rage at the world.
All he felt was the long-forgotten feeling of tears rolling down his face…