This story has been fully voice-acted. Scroll to the description for the audio.
...And here I am, walking up these large stone steps. Climbing up them, literally, as they were not made for humans to traverse. I would have been tired of ascending them each day, if not for the fact that I was no longer human. You see, I am what they call a Dragon Hunter. I happened to be one from the icy north and as such, this entire army of armour-clad Templars brought me along to exterminate the demon dragon that was said to plague these frost-bitten mountains.
The Icy Peaks of Teruel, or so they called them. Really they were just a collection of very large and harsh mountains, in which nothing dared to make its home. There was no wildlife here, no trees, not even the barest hint of a stone bug to be found. There was literally nothing here, except for a blind belief that a demonic dragon existed to prey upon all life, and usher in a future of tragedy; blah blah blah, you get the idea.
Long story short however, it turned out that there really was a demon dragon in these mountains and the Templars ran scared as soon as they were attacked. Funny really, because they expected me somehow to single-handedly slay the dragon and claim its head. Needless to say, I was roasted alive and resurrected by the dragon's magic in order to serve it as an undead shade.
Things are not so bad however, because as it turns out, the dragons are quite incredible; vastly superior compared to what we know. Deep beneath these uninhabitable mountains, they have used both science and magic to create an incredible underground society. They live here, with their own supply of wildlife and trees. You would not believe the kind of teas they brew! Recently however, I have noticed that the dragons appear to be vanishing one by one, with the exception of the Elder Drakelord; whom I visit every day when he awakens.
"Sephran, is that you?" the elder one called, "has it become morning then?"
"I would say that it has my lord and I am pleased to find you well. I would be most frightened, if you were to disappear like the rest of the dragons."
"Ha ha," the elder one laughed, "you fear for that which you proclaim to hunt? Interesting, have you left your humanity behind young one?"
"Well, not really, but I must admit, my love for those who left me to roast is rather lacking at the moment. You however have given me life and I am certainly never bored in this place. It is peaceful and serene, and as a shade I have no need for food or other daily essentials. It leaves me time to pursue my writing and to train for hours without interruption. It is most pleasant, and so I must worry for my benefactors."
The elder drake yawned and with a simple flick of his claw, he projected a magical image in front of me, showing thousands of dragons asleep in what appeared to be orbs of oil and water.
"What is this?" I asked him, staring at the orbs in wonder. "It is so wonderfully gelatinous, it makes me want to stick my hands into it, so I can see what it feels like..."
"You can, but you'll receive a shock that'll equal the pain you suffered in death."
Upon hearing that, my spirits dropped. "Seeing as it was already extremely painful to have died once, I think I would rather not die again. That said, it is fascinating that there are so many! I had not even seen this many dragons since I arrived."
"Ah young one, that is because these dragons have entered a long sleep. Soon the age of humans will arrive and the air will grow thin and poisoned. It is not suitable for me and my people and so, we shall sleep and dream, until it is time for us to roam the skies arrives once more."
"But, if you don't mind me asking, powerful and strong as you all are, why not simply kill the humans now and take their lands for yourself? Would that not be faster than simply going to sleep?"
"Well, I shall try to explain it to a youngling like you, but we dragons are immortal and that means we live for a very long time. Except for me, for I serve as a guardian, the rest of the dragons must sleep in order to preserve themselves. The outside world continues to change and this change in inevitable. Once there were many like us, but they did not have magic and they were simple beasts. They were slain and the world began to reshape itself. We were driven underground and it is there we slept. And when we emerged, humans had arrived and began to spread across the surface. At first we ignored them, they were cattle, they were feed; but we realised eventually that they too had intelligence. Yet, their nature was not as ours. They did not view the world as a whole. Instead, their worlds were contained within themselves. They were creatures that believed only in the individual. Not as we do, for we are whole. One dragon is linked to all others, but each human exists in a void of his own thoughts. This made them destructive and violent for they have no group intelligence, no shared knowledge or feelings between them."
The elder drake paused to clear his throat and with my new powers as a shade, I summoned water for him; the duty of a servant.
"Thank you young one, now where was I. Ah yes, the humans began to rip the land in two. They stole its bounty and cared not for the balance of the world. They built stone cities and began to scorch the skies with terrible smoke. Soon, it will become worse and we will no longer we able to fly so freely."
"Still, that does not answer my question. Since you would able to wipe them out if you were to wage a war no?"
"A war results in casualties and we feel the pain of our brothers and sisters when they fall. No, I would not send them out to do that. Not to die against a creature that will kill itself in time."
"You mean to say that the humans will destroy themselves eventually?"
"Yes indeed. Think about it in a simple way. They are selfish; few care beyond themselves except for those who believe in a higher power. Yet, if everybody wishes to rise in strength then that must be done upon the backs of many others. This breeds conflict and contempt, and the shambles of peace stack upon unstable rocks. Like piling round stones on a cliff-side. Eventually it will crumble and fall. After all, they are so short-lived and tiny. There is little they can accomplish in their lives. This need for urgency leads to losses of old knowledge. For nothing is preserved, nothing is truly stored. The holes in such a society will eventually lead itself to crumble. For as they continue to seek shorter solutions, eventually they will put their fates in the hands of their own creations. Then, a new age will begin, one where the creations turn upon their creators. For vanity leads one to make things in one's own image and when such occurs, perfection spells destruction. For if the creation is as its creator, would it not share the same impulses? What could result of that, other than self-destruction?"
The elder drake yawned, "This explanation makes me most weary. If you have nothing else for me, why not play a game of dragon's chess with me to pass the hours."
"Of course elder one, I thank you for this gift of knowledge. Seeing as I am now immortal like you, perhaps I too will someday understand such concepts. For now however, let us play this game; but I must remind you: I can catch you when you cheat."
"Assuming you know when I do," the elder drake smiled.