Here be dragons (Microfiction Week 2)
Hey guys, I entered a 6-week writing contest! Week two is over, so I'm sharing my story here. This one got honorable mention. Check out this link to see how it works, or to enter or vote. Stay tuned for more!
Months this dragon has laid waste my country. At night he comes, plundering, taking our young, and burning villages with his fiery breath. We cast our arrows against him in vain. His hide will not be penetrated. The foul creature doubtless then returns to its lair, storing up treasure of metals and gems. But we care little for this hoard. Let him even take it all, only let us alone. But he will not.
My people grow weary of this torment. Each day we clear rubble and bury our dead. Already we have lost nine mighty men of war in battle with this dragon; countless others in defense of home and family. With each dreaded onslaught I ponder ways that I might end this. My bones ache within me as my people fall.
At last my scouts return, having discovered where the dragon rests his filthy scales by day. I send my men away that I might think. Later they will lead me to his lair, but for now I must decide how to best use this knowledge. For armies are of little use against such an enemy, and I will not lead man after man before this beast to die.
Perhaps only one warrior, without armor to weigh him down, might be swift enough. One with a hefty sword, and a heart full of grief to keep it aloft, might make it through. A quick mind would be needed, with no alternative to this end. This warrior would have to carry each mourner for his reason, and would need every villager as his cause, with no thought for life or limb until each wife and new-child and tree were safe from plunder. I will go.
At daybreak we march, the smoke from last night’s raids still burning in our nostrils. As we approach the mountain cave, I order my men back, but they will only retreat a bow-shot’s length. For them I stand, they must not see me quake. The dragon comes forth.
Long into the day I needle and bait him, relying on my swiftness, until he has belched forth all his fire and there is no more. But still I must contend with his champing jaws and pronged tail, and with every lash I tire. I parry and strike, each for the kingdom. Have I strength for another?
I have blinded him now. He roars in defiance, but as I dodge his armored spikes I see my chance at last and plunge my sword.
I am utterly spent, but beneath me lies the dragon, my sword buried to hilt in his maw. No longer will he be the Destroyer, nor He who spells fire and doom.
Firm hands lift me from my scaly bed, wrapping my blistered sides and bathing my wounds. Another severs the monster’s head as trophy. They tell me they will not be without a ruler, and bear me home. I will again see my people smile.