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He is a dragon and a man and an angel, all wrapped into one and, at the time, he is the embodiment of all that is wrong with the world. Vain, prideful, angry, murderous, vengeful, greedy, afraid... dead. Within him, though, is something greater, far greater. Within him beats the heart of a man beyond compare. And in order for that pure manifestation of greatness to come out, in order for him to transcend the spiritual cancer that is eating him alive, the dragon needs to be slain.

He stands on a mountain top and roars his hate for everything in existence, because it has always eluded him. Beauty, to him, is a thing to be destroyed or locked away- even the beauty within him, the ineffible quality that makes him a child of God.

He is angry with God, for making his heart so hardened, for putting every obstacle in his way. He is angry with God for letting this be, letting HIM be the dragon.

And his roar echoes upon the hills and the small hearts of other men and he laughs. His laughter, however, halts when his eyes fall up on two figures standing close by.

No, they are not happy to see him. They are rather infuriated with him and at the same time loving him in a way that he never has shown himself or others. Not that he didn't want to; it's just that he has to be what he has to be. It is kind of like destiny.

She is a lovely woman, beautiful and strong and helpless. She is alone in the world in a way that so many knew all too well but never really noticed. She noticed her loneliness and it soured her mind and heart to the point of pity. Pity not for herself but for those who never felt it for others. She is in love with the man, who is also an angel and a dragon. Not the romantic sort of thing- it is more like the love a woman feels for a damn good friend who doesn't realize the consequences of their actions. She was compassionate and the compassion has been spoiled and turned sour by the actions of this creature. The confusion broke the second he let his lungs expell used air and rotten breath upon the world. Her compassion turned, slightly and of its own will, into something akin to purpose and drive and knowing.

As much as she loves him, she knows that she has to let him go. He must die so that he may live. He loves her, she knows, but he is not in love with her, a quality that he has yearned for since birth but never known in its fullness. It doesn't matter, though, because the angel within him is what draws her near and she's always known this about him. That is why she loves him and that is why he must die.

Because an angel without wings is out of its element and in the world of nature and spirit, everything should be where it belongs. A place for everything and everything in its place. The dragon has the angel's wings and it is using them for horrible acts. This cannot be tolerated any longer. She loves that angel, and the man, far too much to let the dragon continue its tyranical path.

The world, more than her, needs this to be. She doesn't like it, as a matter of fact, she hates it, but this is as it should be. This is the will of God, since no other option is left open to them.

Another friend and kind of servant stands next to her. He is a warrior and he is true and strong. He would protect her in all things if need be. The strange thing, though, is that even in the presence of the dragon, she isn't afraid. The thing is rearing back to strike and kill her where she stands, but she is immobile with courage and an invisible willpower the likes of which she has never known. In this spot she would die, if God is willing to let it be. But a small, quiet voice in the back of her mind tells her to relax.

This won't take long.

He'll be dead soon and free and you'll be able to live like you've always wanted to: unfettered.

The dragon beats its wings at her and she smells the brimstone and foul stench of its breath. Fearsome and horrid and ugly are mere mental abstractions to her at this point. All she sees is the angel that lies within. That is the focus of her sight. She sees angels everywhere.

He is a Shaman. And a Priest. And a Warrior. And a Healer. And a man. He is so much more and so much less. Trained to kill with a word or a glance, he is power incarnate. Not only has he gone where angels fear to tread, he has conquered those places and ousted their inhabitants. He has fought with all manner of villains and righteous servants, they make no difference to him in the long run. Both Good and Evil hate him alike.

He is a Gray Walker, a being that slips through worlds without question or doubt. He is searching for the thing that will force him to choose.

The battles he has had within himself have been far greater than any he has known in the past. He hopes that he won.

This moment, this spec of a dust of a mote in time, is the culmination of his journey, his destination and end-point. What happens next, what he does now, will dictate whether he won that battle inside his heart. He sees the dragon, a man that he once considered to be a friend and brother, and is unmoved, unshaken. The danger that lies in the menace of that dragon's mouth holds little sway to this Gray Walker. He is, after all, Unchosen. Fear might as well be courage. Hope might as well be defeat. Strength might as well be weakness. Love might was well be hate. All things are gray to him and because of this he is an enemy to all except those who understand him.

This woman standing next to him, the intended first victim of the dragon, the red and green snake with wings, is a woman of unsurpassed bounty. She is equal to Eve or Asherah or Ah-Shirev, she is so unique and great. Men would fall at her feet if she would let them. Armies would rally together and die in oceans of battle at her word, if she'd bring herself to utter it. Scholars would forget everything and hang in patience for her wisdom, if she were strong enough to impart it.

The Gray Walker has seen this woman before, in one form or another, and respects the power that she refuses to use. Because of this fact, because she WON'T use it, he respects her even more than ever before. It takes real strength to not use the power that is always available to the wielder. She is the consort of God, a midwife to a being that the Gray Walker bows to and loves like a brother- a much, much, much older brother.

And God has put this Gray Walker on this mountain top with one hope: that the Gray Walker will choose. Let the Unchosen Choose. Who better to decide? The Gray Walker strides up to the dragon, his brother of years gone by, and reaches out, his hand open and imbued with power.

Time stops for a portion of time that can't be determined, perhaps it's infinity, who knows because time has stopped. The dragon stops. The woman stops. The Gray Walker stops. God stops as he is passing by overhead. The Universe comes to a screeching halt.

And a heartbeat later.

It all starts again.

The dragon is gone, its heart beating slowly and falteringly in the Gray Walker's hardened fist. All that remains is a man, even the angel has ascended to the Heavens and gone to its home.

The woman falls to her knees to lament over the fallen man, her lover that never was. When she reaches out to touch him, when her skin comes into contact with his, she feels nothing. This is a husk, a shell and an illusion; what was there is gone and might never have been there at all. In a sick and sad way, all she sees is a dead man that didn't really need to die. She tried repeatedly to lead him in other directions, to make other choices, but in the end his self-destruction was necessary. He's dead now and it's what he needed all along. And as soon as she realizes this mystery, she suddenly realizes something about herself.

She's free.

All things are made new again.

The Gray Walker drops the dying heart in the grass, next to the fallen man, and grunts. He turns unceremoniously and without regret. "This time, get it right," he says over his shoulder.

The woman never hears him. She is too lost in her freedom to understand that she is alone.

But she is not alone.

There is one other person present, to bear witness. Me. And I loved her from the start. I couldn't interfere. I couldn't participate. All I could do was watch and wait and chronicle the event. That was my job and that was my purpose. And now that it's done, I'm free, too.

I say her name clearly and she turns to look at me. "It's time to go now," I say. "It's over. What needed to be done is done and we can move on now. Come on."

She sighs deeply and looks at the corpse next to her. "What about him?" she asks. "Is that it? He's dead?"

Slowly, carefully I nod. He was my friend, too, back when the dragon was just coming into being, back when he was just a man. I mourn his passing, but not his death; it was necessary. She asks of the Gray Walker.

"He's gone, too," I say. "He has other things to do in other places. Let him go. He'll be back. And when he is, he'll still be our friend. He just needs to put his own house in order."

"Why?" she asks.

"Because that's what people like him do, when the war is over," I answer. "They go home." I reach out my hand to her. "We should do the same." I smiled at her warmly. No proposal, no question, no doubt. It makes sense. We aren't necessarily meant for each other. It's just that we're all that's left of a unique species of people. We have our own house to put in order.

She stands, walks to me and takes my hand. "Where will we go?" she asks.

I shrug. "Wherever we want to. Let's find out."

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