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Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Dragon's Maid - Part X

I have been running a fairytale off and on. If you’ve missed previous posts you can read them here:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part VIII
Part IX

Or you can take my sad synopsis: Fenrick is a poor farmer, who undertakes to slay a neighboring countries dragon. He falls in love with the princes Telanja, only to discover that she is the dragon’s Maid, meaning the creature had hidden his soul inside her and cannot be killed so long as she lives. He leaves the monster wounded, and the king believes the dragon dead. Telanja and Fenrick are married, and he continues the deception for want of any way to save her. After their son is born, he goes on a quest to find the solution, but returns empty handed to find he has been gone too long and the dragon is rampaging - worse of all, Telanja has been gone two weeks, no doubt gone to try to kill the dragon herself…

Fenrick slowed his horse as the dragon’s lair came into view. At last, he called the animal to stop, and hopped down. Though they were close to the cave, there was no sound from within, only the roar of the waves crashing into the rocks below.

Fenrick drew his sword and crept forward slowly, his heart in his throat. Terrified images swam through his mind; fearful ideas of what he might see. Why had Telanja gone to the dragon without him? Why didn’t she wait? Why would she risk herself this way?

But he knew the answers. And, despite the terror it caused him, they were part of the reason that he’d fallen in love with her.

The mouth of the cave was silent; but not dark. Flickery light, as though from a fire, danced on the walls. The sight lifted Fenrick’s heart. It meant that though the dragon was quiet, he wasn’t dead, and if the beast lived still, then perhaps so did his wife.

Sword in one hand and shield in the other, he charged into the cave, a cry of fury flying from his lips. He rounded the bend in the tunnel and there he found the loathsome beast. The dragon crouched in his nest and behind him, on her knees, pleading tears dripping down her face, was Telanja.

“Well, if it isn’t the farmer boy,” the dragon sneered. “You’re the best they had to send? Even though the King’s daughter is held captive?”

“The King doesn’t know she’s been taken,” Fenrick snarled back, his face twisted in rage.

“Taken?” the dragon gave a slick, evil laugh. “She came on her own, farm boy. She thought she could sway me with her tears and woeful stories of suffering! But has the suffering of my kind swayed the hearts of men? Has any dragon slayer ever stayed their hand?”

“Because you destroy!” Fenrick interjected. “You burn, and steak and kill!”

“And so do you,” the dragon replied. “Man has killed dragons until we are nearly extinct, because you say we are cruel. But who kills men because they are cruel?”

As the dragon spoke, Telanja slowly climbed to her feet and began to edge around the beast, her eyes on Fenrick. As though she’d spoken to him, he understood what she wanted. He should keep the dragon busy so that she could escape.

That would be easy enough.

“We govern ourselves,” Fenrick declared. “Don’t pretend that your kind deals justice! Or that you have high motives or ideals. Dragons care only about themselves!”

The dragon’s eyes lit with a malicious fire. “Yes, and so do you.”

Telanja had cleared the dragon so, with a cry, Fenrick charged, his sword slashing and his shield raised. The dragon leapt aside, but he was too large to fully escape the blows. His blood gushed out, hot like flames that burned Fenrick everywhere it touched. But he had no time to worry about the pain as the dragon turned a bought of firey breath on him.

Fenrick withstood the fury until his shield scorched his hand, and then at last he had to dodge away from it. As he rolled from the dragon’s swinging tail, he tried desperately to locate Telanja, but she was nowhere to be seen. She’d escaped. With a sigh of relief, he charged back to the fight.



*************

TO BE CONTINUED


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