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Singed Woods, Scorched Earth: Battle of Midnight

By K.H. ObergfollPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 12 min read
Photo by Carlo Lisa on Unsplash

Gold coins littered the forest floor.

That’s what first caught his attention, the glimmering reflection of ship-laden treasure spilled out on the rough embankment for all to see. Bodarth wasn’t alone. He had spent most of his years as a young dragon staying close to the tree line and out of sight but today this was nearly impossible.

A strange waterlogged beast unlike anything he had ever seen had hurt itself—crashing into the shoreline, its massive wings ripped and torn lying in heaps of splintered branch-like limbs.

A large gaping wound cut through the side of the beast; it appeared to be dead.

Bodarth stood still, listening for any signs of breathing, nothing stirred from the creature. He waited, edging closer and closer. Only the silent bobbing of waves gave any indication towards life as the creature lie floating, unmoving. Bodarth stepped back; he knew he needed to get help. The rest of the clan should be awake by now; it had been hours since the sun had risen and he needed to find his brother. Bodarth circled back to find his brother Androth sitting on a nearby rock, his blood-red skin stood out in stark contrast to the earthy woods surrounding them. From the sounds of it— their father Bralrim was still fast asleep, while Illdress, their mother was off tending to their younger siblings.

As Bodarth and Androth made their way back to the spot, the sun beat down heavily upon them.

“Are you sure it’s a dragon?” Androth asked curiously, a twinge of uncertainty bleeding through. “I have never heard of such a dragon,” he continued panting, “a floating dragon…I mean, c’mon…you know as well as I do that dragons don’t float on water, they fly…”

“I’m sure it’s a dragon, what else would it be, I saw it with my own eyes, the wings were broken and everything…” Bodarth answered, not wanting to spoil the curiosity that welled inside of him.

The two brothers rounded the bend nearing the clearing in the woods. The trek back seemed so much longer than he remembered and Bodarth was worried by the time they got back to the waters-edge that the dragon might be dead, or worse, gone. When they finally reached the clearing Bodarth pointed excitedly—“see, there it is! The dragons still right where I left it!

Magnificent billowy wings grew out of the spine of the monstrous beast, disjointed and broken at the helm. It didn’t look like any traditional dragon Androth had ever seen.

“I don’t think it’s one of our types, maybe one of those cross-breeds from up north. You know, they’re built differently than we are…” Androth whispered, barely able to get the words out as he looked on with a nervous mix of excitement.

“Well…do you think that it’s dead?” Androth began, moving towards the beached creature.

“I don’t know but we can’t leave it there,” Bodarth added before stepping out into the wading waters to get a better look. There wasn’t another creature around for miles; he was surprised to see no Chylreaon had swarmed, surely by now they should have been circling them, waiting for a chance to feed on the dying carcass.

Bodarth held his own large olive-green wings at alert, moving slowly through the lapping waters until he was mere feet from the creature; he had underestimated how big it was. The creature loomed over them, had to be at least twenty feet tall. As Androth joined him they began to poke and prod at the large beast; Bodarth jumped back as pieces of the creature fell apart in his hands. It was then he saw it, another tiny creature inside—sitting quietly peering back at the two dragons; it was a girl. Her bright blue eyes filled with heavy drops of tears; soft brown hair framed her face. All very different than Bodarth with his small pointy ridges and tulip-horned ears; his nose was soft and squishy and overall rather inviting—just like his mom. He had emerald green skin and sunny yellow eyes and yet, even in all his oversized glory he still managed to trip back and land with a thud in the shallow water.

“What is that…that…that…thing…” Bodarth shrieked, his booming voice echoing down the streaming river as he scurried to regain his balance.

Androth peeked around the broken shell of the once magnificent creature; inside was a small child, a toddler, an earthling. “I think that is what they call a human…we don’t get too many of those around these parts…” Androth whispered, holding a hand out.

“C’mon, it’s alright, we won’t hurt you,” Androth whispered as the little girl slowly climbed out of the damaged vessel.

“Bet you’re hungry,” Androth began, pulling the child into his large ruby colored arms as his soft purple wings fluttered happily. “Wonder where your family is, your parents,” he asked, using his warm breath to dry her off.

“She’s absolutely freezing,” Androth exclaimed, tucking her into his wings. “Bodarth we have to get her home to mom, she will know what to do.”

They made their way back to camp, it would soon be lunchtime.

“We have to hurry so we can get her fed and something warm to sleep on,” Androth started, tugging at the little girl. “What’s that in your hands,” he asked, as the girl gradually opened her fingers, a small golden coin was pressed firmly between her palms.

“Those were all over the ground, shiny round things gleaming into the sunlight like hundreds of dragon’s eyes; I didn’t know what they were so I called you,” Bodarth interrupted as he leaned over his brothers shoulder to inspect the piece closer.

“Its human gold, and if I’m not mistaken, the humans barter with it…” Androth exclaimed, “kind of like our Talries and chips, or any other sort of dragon money. Some of its very valuable and they horde it in locked boxes like what these came from…but…we shouldn’t touch them… there’s many stories about the human gold being cursed…we don’t want to risk it, besides, most of that cursed stuff is at the bottom of the deepest ocean…” Androth paused uncertainly, entranced by the blinding gold piece, his words sounding more like a question than a statement.

“But…that couldn’t be what this is…” Androth cautioned, eyeing the gold coin hesitantly. “I’ve heard of these trunks of gold on unmanned ships, probably similar to the creature we found dead…but...”

“Yes…that’s it…maybe that’s a ship and not a dragon…I think I saw a name…a branding of some sort carved into the side…” Bodarth declared, his excitement hard to contain. “I believe it said ‘Bellworth’…what kind of dragon name is that…quite plain if you ask me…”

“Not too sure, maybe it’s a family name,” Androth mused. He had grown rather quiet over the passing minutes as they neared their nest; the unease was lurking just beneath the surface as each brother tried to come up with a good enough story for the small creature’s existence.


“What’s that,” Illdress whispered nervously as she saw the small legs squirming about; poking out from under Androth’s grasp. The child had started crawling up Androth’s arm like a tree. “Oh, this…” he began, but Bodarth cut him off. “This is a child…and we rescued it from…from…from…a dragon named Bellworth…” Bodarth blurted out happily, thinking it best not to tell her the whole story.

“You brought the child here…that is bad, real bad…” Illdress cried wringing her plump powdery-blue hands together, her apprehension growing more apparent with each passing second as her tortoise like face crinkled into a heap of nerves.

She called over her shoulder—“BralrimBralrim…come quick,”

“Yes dear,” their father called from a solitary tree at the back of their nesting camp.

“I was just finishing getting ready, is the food done?” he inquired before picking a piece of fried gild-berries and ribwart plant wraps off the skewer—the meaty, sickly sweet crunch made their father hiss in pain.

“Too spicy this time, what’d you use… there’s too much marinade on the Grimple-Starlings… but otherwise delicious,” Bralrim gasped, breathing through his teeth in an effort to cool his burning tongue. He had yet to see the newest addition.

Bralrim…” Illdress continued, but before another word could be uttered—a series of piercing hiccups came from the little girl’s direction. Bodarth smiled wide toothy grin as he stepped back in front of Androth to shield the little girl from his father’s curious gaze.

What followed next was a series of well-intended shouts before their father accidentally set fire to a small portion of their nest.

Dammit…” he exclaimed as he quickly set about patting the underbrush dry.

“That’s the third time this year,” Illdress squeaked as she quickly shooed the younger dragons back off to their perching quarters—“you will frighten them…” she continued.

Them…what about her…” Androth queried, turning to push the little creature into his father’s face, hoping he wouldn’t try and torch it.

“Found her out by the drowsy-lilies and snake-hedges near the river’s edge…”Androth continued, ignoring the anger still ballooning in his father’s eyes.

“Dad…she is all alone, no one is left…she was inside a dragon…a ship…some creature named ‘Bellworth’…” Bodarth whispered, his voice growing weaker with every utterance until he almost mouthed the last word.

“Did you say ship…?” Bralrim asked, whipping his head around to look at Androth, more anger building inside of him before another set of outbursts followed—“I expected better from you, have we taught you nothing…?”

Androth cowered slightly, his eyebrows furrowing as he looked down at his feet, the feeling of disappointment too much to bear.

“It’s not his fault…” Bodarth interrupted, “I was the one who came and got him, I was the one who went out of the tree-line, it was me…”

Before anything else could be said—giggles were heard as the little girl teetered dangerously close to falling from Androths massive shoulders. In all the excitement he almost forgot she was there as she hung from the knobby ridges of his back, her face tickled by the buttery soft interior wings that fluttered and twitched with each passing grab of the toddler’s tiny hands.

Is that funny…” Androth asked, cooing in the tiniest baby-voice he could summon—delighted at how easily amused the little creature was, the soft crystalline formations dotting his scaling skin glowed like a soft sunset as he shook the small series of wings that cradled the little girl causing her to laugh uncontrollably as she grabbed tightly to the webbed limbs, her face beat-red.

Their father Bralrim scoffed at the idea, only a slight smile formed along his otherwise hardened face. “She’s your responsibility, don’t expect your mother or I to do anything to help…” he began, rather coldly as the little girls contagious laughter filled the otherwise quiet woods as he stormed off to his resting spot, forgoing his morning feed.

“A ship you say…we don’t get many of those here…that’s quite concerning...but you know your father will come around…he’s just worried…” their mother Illdress added, running her round, pudgy fingers along the little creatures face.

“She is rather charming…but I’m sure she’s missing her family, or at least, they are missing her. Come night fall you two should set out and see what you can discover, I will keep watch over her while you nap…” Illdress continued as she picked the little girl up, setting her down on her lap to feed her.

“It will be a long night for you both…” Illdress speculated— her lips pursed. “I hope she likes this…not sure what she can eat…” Illdress smiled rather curiously as she watched the girl’s face light up with each bite of seared berries.

As the hours wore on under the clouding sun—Androth and Bodarth fell into a deep silent sleep until the scheming blanket of night fell over the blood-orange sky signaling sunset.


Up, Up, Up you two…” Illdress beckoned—shaking the dusty earth covered tweed-sack that covered the larger of her two eldest sons.

“It’s time…I finally got the little one down, you need to set out while you can, the cover of night should keep you safe, but make sure you are back in time for day break…” Illdress warned, giving each of her boys a resilient peck on the cheek.

“Your father will be fine…” she added, sensing Androth’s hesitation.

“Alright,” Bodarth murmured. “Better get a move on if we want to get anything done…”

Yeah, yeah,” Androth hissed, wiping a few fallen leaves off his belly.

“I made you something quick to eat,” Illdress urged, passing her sons some skewered leftovers.

“My favorite…” Bodarth croaked pushing the whole stick of meat into his mouth— the pieces falling off one-by-one as he quickly pulled the stick out clean.

“Don’t eat too quickly, the foods got to last you through the night…” Illdress moaned, slapping her son playfully on the arm.

“Go-on, get out of here…” she continued, waving Bodarth and Androth off as they sauntered off into the dark woods.

“They shouldn’t be doing that...” Bralrim’s voice cut in from across the tented-nest, “bad idea…”

But Illdress ignored him, her sons were fully capable of handling themselves, besides, she knew they would regret it if they didn’t go.


“Geez, mom wasn’t kidding…” Bodarth whispered to Androth as the two dragons edged their way closer to the wood-line, near to where the ship had been left.

“It is way too dark out here for me…” he continued, slapping his arm from the sting of a wayward Sasklysk—a pesky flying bug that burrowed into the fulkweeds, coming out at night to feed off passing stragglers such as themselves.

“We need to find out where the little girl came from and where she was headed…” Androth said, his nerves peeping through as they stepped over broken, rotting logs and tasseled violets, feeling around the tree-trunks to see if they were getting closer. The glow of yellow-ringed eyes shone bright into the night. Not a peep was heard, not a guide from the moon to be seen. The trees simply blocked all their view.

“As we get closer the trunks will half in size…”Androth said, stepping noisily into sinking mud that sloshed wildly around their ankles, sucking them into the Earth with each pass.

“I’m surprised I don’t hear any buzzing or chirping…”

Bodarth thought it odd that they seemed to be the only creatures stirring at such an early hour, from his calculations it hadn’t even neared midnight.

“I guess we are usually sleeping at this time…” he whispered…hoping his voice didn’t give away his dread.

Ah…think I found it…” Bodarth added, his feet clasping to the swamp-riddled roots that held the river-embankment together.

Bodarth and Androth inched closer to where they had been earlier that very day…but the beached ship had disappeared.

“Now…this is not good…” Androth began, stepping out into the empty sand, careful to avoid the lapping tide. They both looked out for as far as their eyes could see, the jilted sliver of moon sliced through the clouds while stars blinked amidst the swirling fog. Off in the distance—the unmistakable beating of wings could be heard, but it wasn’t anything they recognized.

“Another dragon maybe…?” Bodarth whispered, slinking cautiously back towards the safety of the trees.

“I reckon…its close enough; we should check it out…”

The two took skyward, following the tree-line down the rivers bend, one brother right behind the other as whooshing blobs of rain-covered leaves peppered them with drops of dewy water as they passed leaving nothing but the wind in their wake.

Up ahead it seemed the trees ran into each other, they had never been this far. Thick hazy clouds of water erupted like a volcano—the sulpheric mist spraying them, filling their nostrils before plummeting below to the churning white-capped waters below.

“What’s that…?” Androth pointed, turning to Bodarth as they came across an even more unsettling sight.

Bellworth lie in shambles on a jagged rock as rushing streams pelted the large winged sails towards the water’s edge. Just as Androth and Bodarth got closer it soon became clear as to how the shipped creature had perished.

Mammoth winged beasts, black dragons with metallic silver scales ducked and dove at the crashed ship—picking and pulling, ripping it apart with their mutinous talons, dropping it piece-by-splintered piece over the side of the water’s edge; their ravenous screams echoing over the roaring waters for miles.

A raging chill set over Bodarth; he wasn’t sure why he had yet to feel any sort of fear. It was a miracle the sharply spiked, muscular dragons with long, thin necks and horned faces had yet to see them. He could sense the warmth boiling up inside of him as his neck tightened and his wings flared out of his own scaling spine.

“Stop it…Bodarth…we can’t…” Androth hissed, fighting his own body’s natural response.

Bodarth said nothing as he saw the blistering glow emanating from his chest causing the crystals embedded deep within his skin to grow red-hot with fury, his blood burning as he began rising high above the trees.

The fire within him was ready to ravage all who lie before him.

By Daniel Seßler on Unsplash

AdventureFantasyShort StoryYoung Adult

About the Creator

K.H. Obergfoll

Writing my escape, my future…if you like what you read—leave a comment, an encouraging tip, or a heart—I’m always looking to improve, let me know if there is anything I can do better.

& above all—thank you for your time

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