Meandeer was having the most fun since he had died.
He saw places out in the wasteland that he didn’t even know existed, including a green meadow filled with flowers which he begged Hipeos to take him to.
She steered toward it and landed by it gracefully.
Meandeer dismounted and picked a purple flower that stood out among the white snow.
Hipeos commented, “I didn’t think that such a vicious knight could be one for flowers…”
Meandeer sniffed the flower deeply--its fragrance bringing back sweet memories. “This was my sweetheart’s favorite flower…”
Hipeos lowered her head apologetically. “You said she died…?”
Meandeer nodded. “She did…”
He lowered himself onto his back in the flower field and looked up at the gray sky.
He watched the clouds go by in silence for a time.
Sophie blocked his view of the sky—her long blond hair hanging over her shoulder. “What do you want to do with your life, Deer?”
“I told you! I want to be the king’s next Paragon! I want to be a great warrior and protect people from horrible beasts like dragons!” Meandeer exclaimed as he ran his hand through her liquid gold hair. “I want the love and admiration of all the common people and treasures from the king!”
Sophie shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Is that all you want to be? A lauded killer? A heartbreaker? A treasure hoarder? Wouldn’t you rather be a husband and a father earning the honest living of a farmer?”
Meandeer laughed. “That is not a life of greatness, Sophie! Besides, I am only speaking of my fondest dreams… I know it will never come true… I am a small man, even for my age, and I just can’t seem to put on muscles or weight.”
“I think you’ll live a life of greatness regardless of whether you’re a ‘hero’ or not…” Sophie said with a wide smile. “Because you’re my hero!”
Meandeer’s stomach filled with butterflies at her statement, and he felt indescribably wanted by her unshakable faith and love in him.
“And what about you? What’s your dream, Sophie?” Meandeer asked as she lowered her head onto his chest.
“I want to find a way for mankind to live in peace and thrive as a species, without having to kill all the dragons. I also want to be your wife.” Sophie answered simply.
Meandeer closed his eyes, feeling entirely at peace.
“A dragon ate her?”
Meandeer opened his eyes. He was greeted by a Hipeos’ face instead of Sophie’s. Meandeer nodded. “Yes… A dragon ate her. She had this silly dream of uniting humans and dragons, and it got her killed.”
“She knew dragons could speak, then?” Hipeos was surprised.
Meandeer nodded. “She told me they could, but I didn’t believe her. Supposedly, one of them that she was trying to befriend ended up eating her.”
Hipeos curled up by his side. “Me and your sweetheart have the same dream, then. I want dragons and humans to live in peace. We live at the edge of a crumbling world, after all, and killing each other doesn’t help.”
“It’s true. Food is incredibly scarce for both our species.” Meandeer agreed. “I find it hard to believe that a beast should have the same dream as sweet Sophie… She believed that you dragons could be good so much that it killed her.”
Meandeer recognized his own tears as they came this time. He was unable to hold them back.
“Do not cry, little human.” Hipeos grumbled soothingly, her head blocking his view of the overcast sky.
Meandeer threw his arms around the dragon. “I wasn’t meant for greatness. Sophie was right; I’m nothing but a lauded killer! All I craved was treasure and fleeting adoration! I’m not a hero at all!”
“But you also saved many of your people; you could not have known which dragons could speak and which ones could not, after all.” Hipeos reminded him.
Meandeer released the dragon and lowered his eyes. “The king promised to resurrect me if I killed all the dragons… But I promise… I’ll never kill another dragon again. I promise.”
“Thank you, Soft One.” Hipeos replied. “I believe that is the most heroic action you have ever taken.”