Dragon Day

A princess that's not a lady. A king that's not a gentleman. And a wedding that does not go according to plan.

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12. Peaks and Plummets

Peaks and Plummets

 

On Dragon Day

                The dragon couldn’t fly steadily as she usually did. It wasn’t the effect of the drug, but the weight of the man she held with her talons. He squirmed, making it even harder not to veer off course. Her only reason not to drop him was that she knew her hatchlings would be hungry. She had been away from the nest for a long time.

                Dain knew he was going to die. He cursed himself for wanting to marry an exotic princess instead of paying one of the pretty girls back home to marry him. But no, at the name Melaina he had been smitten. He thought it was a dreadful way to die, as dragon food. He knew that not many people would cry over his death. He hoped that at least a few people would. But no, it would just be Alex.

                He landed with a thud onto a floor of branches and dead leaves as the dragon dropped him. Shrill squawks surrounded him on all sides as the dragon hatchlings surrounded him and proceeded to peck at the exposed skin that wasn’t covered by his chain mail. He fought them off. One of the more brazen hatchlings continued to step forward towards him, spouting little streams of fire from its mouth. Thankfully the fire didn’t reach him. He was cornered at the edge of the nest as the rest of them followed. The scarlet female looked on with pride.

                Before he understood what was happening, the side of the nest gave away and he fell. He rolled down the side of the mountain, hitting stones and being slowed down by underbrush on his way down. Finally he stopped at the base of a tree. His head was bleeding, every inch of his body was bruised. His face was bloody from countless shallow cuts.

                He got up slowly, ignoring the pain in his ankle and carefully walked down the rest of the mountain. The slope of the mountain grew less steep and the trees thinned. He saw smoke coming from a chimney somewhere near and ran towards it.

                The chimney belonged to a small hut on the outskirts of Little Marsh. Darya sat at the fireplace sewing when a loud knock sounded at the door. She didn’t respond immediately, knowing it was probably the neighbors snooping around again. She didn’t know why they couldn’t understand that she was perfectly happy living alone. When they didn’t knock again she went to check the door.

                A man was on the ground at her door, his head bleeding, his face covered with bruises and cuts. That wasn’t the first thing that drew her attention. It was his sheer size. He was almost three times her size. With a lot of difficulty she dragged him through her door and near the fireplace. The chain mail he wore was binding him, probably making it harder for him to breathe.

                Darya rushed out her door to the blacksmiths. He was a friend, someone that didn’t believe the rumors that people spread about her. He was working on horseshoes when she got there, but it wasn’t often that she asked him for a favor. He followed her to the house with a box of materials in his hand.

                Seeing the giant man sprawled out on the floor, he didn’t ask questions and started working on undoing the clasps of the chain mail. He had to use his pliers several times, but finally the man could breathe easier.

                “Who is he?” the blacksmith finally asked.

                “I don’t know,” she answered. “He knocked on my door and was on the ground by the time I answered.”

                “Look at this,” the blacksmith said, pointing to the heavy gold chain around the man’s neck. “This might be good for you, Dar. The man looks rich. If you help him, there might be good money in it for you.”

                “If there is, I’ll make sure you get your share,” she promised. “But he’s definitely going to be hard to take care of. I’m sure that he will bring an entirely new meaning to the phrase ‘another mouth to feed’”.

                “Well, all the best to you,” the blacksmith commented with a smile. “Call me or the missus if you need any help.”

                Darya sat down on the floor next to the man and cleaned up his wounds. The wound to his forehead was the deepest, creating an ugly gash and still seeping blood. She bandaged him as well as she could and covered him with a blanket.

                She woke up the next morning to snoring. Darya wondered if the neighbors could hear it as well. Usually she woke up to silence, or the crowing of the neighbors’ rooster. It had been years since there had been anyone else in the house with her in the mornings. She didn’t know the man, but she felt almost grateful for his company.

                She got up off her cot and walked over to where the man was sleeping He looked better than the night before. There was a ruddy pink tinge to his skin, most of the cuts were healing. Even his swollen ankle seemed to be better. The only thing that worried her was his forehead.

                Darya called out, “Excuse me?”

                There was no response. She yelled, “Wake up!”

                No movement at all. Giving up because she had never been a patient person, she kicked him to only get a slight groan in response. She bent down and screamed into his ear. The man shot up with a start and covered his ears. Finally, the response that she wanted. She kneeled down next to him as he stared around the small hut.

                “Where am I?” he asked.

                “Little Marsh,” she answered.

                “Where in the world is that?”

                “It’s in Collyria,” she answered.

                “How did I get here?” he asked. The questions were getting tiring, but she knew he must be confused. She had to be patient. After all, he was probably rich and being patient could pay off.

                “I don’t know, you should stop asking questions and rest,” she suggested.

                “One last question,” he said. “Who am I?”

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