There weren’t always dragons in the Valley.
I spun around. “Who said that!?” No one accompanied me; I was alone with only the shadows of dust flickering against the cavern walls. The voice had resembled that of an Orcish being as depicted in the theatres.
Questionably less strange was the fact dragons had been extinct for over fifteen million years. Orcs themselves hadn’t been seen on the continent in decades. Amounting it to hallucinations of thirst, I sipped on my canteen and resumed towards the great grotto far below.
We’ll be back.
I twisted my body in a semi-circle, ready to catch the creep with the butt of my torch.
No one was there. My skin prickled at the thought of a stranger following me in the shadows. I expertly covered my tracks on the way here, and no one knew the way around the maze of tunnels as I did.
The voice had also spoken in an irregular tense, possibly implying the dragons hadn’t yet arrived. Or could it have been an impromptu history lesson, ironically of a past age?
What an absurd situation to consider!
My adventurous spirit was weakening, but I was compelled to reach my goal. The alternative was to call the entire trip a waste of time and energy.
No one could have spoken the words, so why did I attempt to decode them? All magic had been wiped from the land before I was born.
I couldn’t believe for a moment there were still witches in hiding.
And what was that about dragons? Maybe it was an echo. I was readying myself to pretend I’d heard nothing.
I stopped dead in my tracks, breath trembling with the rising pace of my heart. The words had been whispered in my ear.
The interruptions had ceased, but my appetite for exploration was no more. I turned around and began the seven-hour trek home.
Time passed without further dismay, but my thoughts were consumed by the apparition and its message.
Most frustratingly, I couldn’t decide whether to tell anyone. My family were strict unbelievers of the official histories. I would be accused of mental illness, or worse, lies.
The mentally ill in my corner of the valley were detained, and liars everywhere were burned at the stake; the silent, suspected of treason, and queued for either fate.
The only remaining option was to lie.
I panicked. To my awareness, no one had ever gotten away with it.
“Hey, you guys starting without me?” I smiled eagerly from the front yard gate. My father glanced up from the workbench where he stood covered head, torso, and arms in wheat flour. His face puckered at my sight, and I gulped.
The trip had passed quickly, my story was weak.
I asked myself if it wouldn’t have been easier to feign getting lost for the night.
It wouldn’t have been. And if I claimed to have been chased by a rogue caravan? No, I couldn’t have survived. Why was I thinking of this?
It was too late.
I was home.
My mother had exited the home and was looking up at me expectantly. I sensed I missed something in my stupor.
This might have been tolerable, had I been developing my current story.
“Excuse me?” I asked with an air of strained politeness. My father stepped around the table in my direction, leaning in and squinting to scrutinize my face. I opened the gate and entered the yard.
This was going just as I’d imagined it.
“How were the caves?” he asked, cautiously. My back grew hot; my legs weakened.
In my mind, they knew everything. Suffering and death was near for me, and dragons were possibly coming for everyone else.
Saliva stuck in my throat, and I coughed violently.
“Oh,” it was my mother, “he’s not feeling well!“ She approached hastily, held me by the waist, and lead me towards the door to the house.
You should rest, we can talk in the morning.
“Sorry?” I stammered and tripped on my own two feet.
“I didn’t say anything,” she spoke loudly enough to be heard through the window.
And neither will you.
About the Creator
Writer, cook, sudoku fiend, educated in computer science. Enjoys exploring
themes as spirituality, logic, love, life, philosophy, nature,
neurocognitive psychology, creativity,
writing, humour, inspiration, music, wellbeing —