First blog post! This is a sort of companion piece to a novel I’ve been writing for some time. I hope you enjoy this fantasy tale…
Barak climbed over loose rocks and weaved between boulders as he moved toward the cavern open before him. Within lay a dragon, which had been plaguing the villages below the mountain.
In his right hand, he held the three-foot long handle of his nauskilo at the ready, prepared for the dragon to appear at any moment. On his back was his shield, decorated with grey dragon scales for deflecting fire, scales taken from his first kill.
He intended the dragon within the cave before him to be his seventh kill. He hoped it would pay well. Like most dragon slayers, he wasn’t just in for the adventures or the recognition or the wenches, he was also in for the gold that rulers would pay to be rid of the great reptilian pests. He just hoped the people paying him for this job would actually give him a significant sum.
He finally came to the mouth of the cave. Big and black, it yawned open before him, inviting him in, teasing him with the whispers of echoes of the deep breaths of the dragon within. He hesitated; a dragon’s lair was the most dangerous place to fight it. Then again, he had no way of knowing when the dragon would emerge. It might be in a few minutes, perhaps a few hours or early the next morning, when Barak would be asleep. He sighed, and stepped inside, making his way across the dim floor, keeping a wary eye about him.
He went deeper and deeper, using his hands and ears to guide him. Now that he was inside, the dragon’s breath echoed around him. Whatever it might be, a dragon cannot be subtle.
Eventually, he turned a corner, coming upon a bright tunnel. Following it, he came upon a large cave, with a large, sunlit opening opposite him, the light falling brightly upon the mass in the center of the room: a golden dragon.
Barak had never seen a dragon quite like this one before. But it wasn’t the bright color of the beast that surprised him; rather, it was the creature’s thinness. It’s legs seemed to cling to its bones. Normally, dragons were much stronger and much thicker.
But he had no time to think of the dragon’s state of health. At the moment, it seemed to be sleeping, so he had to hurry if he were to kill it before it awoke. The first blow would probably wake it up anyway. Barak walked up to its neck, raising his weapon to plunge it in and slay the beast. However, as his weapon hung poised in the air, the dragon’s eyes opened wide, and the beast recoiled away.
“Please don’t kill me!” it begged. “I’ve tried to stay inconspicuous! I’ve tried to stay out of the way!”
Barak hesitated. He had never seen behavior like this from a dragon. Weren’t they supposed to blast whomever threatened them? Normally, a dragon would attack on sight and fight to the death. Why was this one so desperate?
“Why shouldn’t I kill you?” Barak asked, lowering his weapon in confusion.
“It’s what they want!” the dragon appealed. “You’ll only be helping them!”
“Yes, I am helping them. And they’ll pay me very nicely to bring back your fore-scale.”
He gestured toward the dragon’s prow, where this unique scale lay inconspicuous among the others on the dragon, save for those who knew where to find it.
The dragon paused. “Just my fore-scale?”
“They just want to know you’re dead.” Barak couldn’t believe he was having this conversation. He should be finishing off the dragon, whose expression had suddenly changed.
“But what about you?” it asked.
“I’m just in it for the money,” Barak admitted warily.
“So what if I could give you gold not just for killing one dragon, but several?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll let you take one of my scales – disguised as my fore-scale – back to your patrons, and then I move on to the next village and we do this all over again.”
Barak considered this. “So I let you live, I tell the man who hired me that you’re dead, and then we head over to other places, where you’ll fake your death at my hands over and over. But what’s the catch?”
The dragon’s stomach growled. “Oh, nothing much. You just help me feed.”
Barak thought for a moment, weighing his inherent desire to kill the dragon against his desire for easy money. “Fine.”
Barak raised his free hand. “I, Barak Tueur, dragon slayer six times over, solemnly swear to carry out your plan.”
The dragon then raised his head triumphantly. “And I, Ladon the Accursed, also swear to carry it out.”