The satchel was fastened tightly to the harness, tucked under a flap I had sewn on for extra cloaking. I could only guess how the coins sparkled, how the jewels glistened as they shuffled together within the pouch.
"Radiance, lower!" I commanded, my loyal beast obediently ducking her head into a dive.
I feel inclined to inform you, Mistress, Radiance whispered into my thoughts, there is surely another squadron somewhere below.
"That is a risk we must take," I sighed, grasping the reins of the colossal saddle. "They've been tailing us for an hour, we have to be creative now before you run out of steam."
Do not concern yourself with my tiredness, Radiance purred. I appreciate the sentiment, but I'm afraid if I rest now, it'll be our heads.
"Yours perhaps," I joked. "I envision enslavement being the fate that awaits my capture."
Correct I suppose. Besides, your head wouldn't look nearly as glorious as mine mounted on a king's wall.
"You know, you're quite dramatic when you're tired," I chuckled, glancing over my shoulder as we descended through a layer of misty clouds. "I've lost sight of them, anything in front?"
Radiance inhaled steadily, scanning the horizon for the familiar silhouette of mounted beasts in pursuit. Her massive nostrils practically tasted the air for the sulfury stench of brimstone—an angry dragon's calling card.
Nothing obvious, Mistress.
"It's too easy," I whispered, absent-mindedly patting Radiance's neck reassuringly. "Stay alert, I have a terrible feeling."
You always have a terrible feeling. You'd do well to abandon these exploits for your own health.
"Not another word of that," I spat, worried at the stillness of the afternoon skies. "It's not up for debate, our people will suffer no longer."
And that is why you're a dragon rider, Radiance beamed, purring once more. Enough of your worrying, I just picked up their odor.
Radiance inhaled once more, taking the air deep into her core.
There's a small group hidden about a mile to the right, keeping our speed. It'll be an ambush most likely, my guess is they're unsure what artillery we're carrying.
"Good, let's keep it that way," I sneered, reaching behind me into my travel pack. Gripping Radiance's saddle with my knees, I dug around in my bag until my hand finally landed on a group of cherry bombs I had prepared myself. Simply weapons, but deceivingly powerful. "Let's keep 'em guessing."
Don't blow my tail off.
Giggling, I took up the group of bombs in my palm and reached around Radiance's neck.
"Care to do the honors?"
On cue, Radiance bellowed, deep and guttural. A small flame ignited behind her gums, billowing out of her mouth like a furnace. I dropped the bombs in one by one, counting them for good measure.
"Five shots, should be enough if we can aim."
You mean if you can aim.
"I hardly think I'm the one in charge here since the explosives are currently resting comfortably against your back molars," I jested, glancing around for our targets. "There," I pointed, about a half mile to the right. "They haven't changed course, in fact, I think they've gotten closer."
Show them who's boss then, Radiance laughed. Enough of this cat and mouse game.
And with that, Radiance's beautiful masts of wings unfurled to their full capacity. Her tail arched behind her, turning her massive body to the right so her fierce head could gaze longingly at our pursuers. Her teeth gleamed in the glow of setting sun as her lips pulled away from her canines.
"Easy girl," I warned, eyeing the fast-approaching group. "Steady."
I could see the serpentine necks of the gliders, echoey roars ricocheting off the clouds.
I could hear the clang of chainmail bouncing against the armor of the beasts, riders just as ready for battle as their war-hungry winged steeds.
I could feel the heat of fire brewing in scaled stomachs, the sizzle of bombs in waiting stinging the delicate insides of dragons mad with rage.
The sunset skies suddenly erupted with dawning radiance.
About the Creator
I'm a recent graduate of Stony Brook University with a degree in Environmental Humanities and Filmmaking. I love writing and storytelling, and I love sharing my work so I can continue to improve my written voice.