Disclaimer: Drakan and its characters are not mine.

Notes: The thing about the Bond and Mala-Shae is, ah, my idea sort of. I always thought soul-bonding should play more havoc on one's identity than dragon rider fiction typically depicts.

Also, Drakan is so much better than Eragon, which is proof that life is not fair.

There's gray in her hair, now, and her joints ache. She shouldn't be here, up in the tundra, in the snow and cold that makes the pain worse.

Rynn just can't stand Surdana any longer. There are lots of reasons, but the one that comes to mind first is loss. Loss of Delon, loss of her home, loss of her friends. She and Arokh had rebuilt the world in these last eighty years, but their stake in it has lessened with every day.

Arokh comforts her as he can, with a Dragon's view of things, but she can't let herself plunge into his soul that way. She was always an imperfect knight. True unison of Dragon and human is a scary thing; she always wondered if the Order ever really believed in it.

They are old, Arokh-Rynn, and the aging wounds are all acting up.

Ah, there she goes again.

"Blame Mala-Shae," Arokh calls over the howling wind. He stops—his joints ache, too. The blizzard is too much for him, now. Young dragons would struggle their way through it, but he is not anywhere near young now.

They can feel the fire of life fading from their hearts. It has been a long life.

He's right, if she wants to blame someone. Mala-Shae had been…out of the Order for a reason. They could have called on her, but they didn't dare. The human-Dragon balance of the world, of the Bond, would have been absolutely disrupted by her, and so it had been upon her release.

Only Arokh-Rynn knows of this now. All others are dead.

Arokh pushes forward a few more steps. The river flows furious and cold and swift by his flank. The wind howls and pushes the snow in their eyes. Only his eyes shine in the storm, and they are dimming.

Zeggoro will have to find some other way to talk to them…

The fire fades; muscles relax and collapse. Their bones will not be disturbed by Wartoks; they and all the old scourges of Drakan have been wrestled into distant, scattered dens. The hellish things they ended, the world they have defended…

It has been a long, painful life. But it has not been ill-used.

The cold does not ache any more, and the fire does not in truth fade but ascends.