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Journey

A Dragon Story

By Author Eve S EvansPublished 2 years ago 14 min read

Journey

Tyren watches the caravan of wagons as it passes, looking to prevent mishaps on the trek across the wilderness. They were four-ten days away from any civilized towns, and two thirds of the way towards their goal of a new settlement. They could ill afford any significant delays so the prevention of breakdowns of the wagons was important.

Up to this point on their trek they had only lost 4 of 32 wagons and 10 people due to raiders, wild beasts and mystical creatures. So of the 149 that it started with, 139 people had survived to include drivers, warriors, women and even a few children. This included his wife, the caravan's healer, and his 1st born son, barely off the suck and toddling about.

The crafty caravan master by the name of Bart related to Tyren that comparably it was a good sign. Most caravans lose about 30% of their numbers and still counted as profitable.

Tyren however was still uneasy. The half elf was used to hardships, being the half breed and the youngest son who's aging father ruled over enormous estates and privilege, who in his latter years married an elven lady to solidify a political alliance. This marriage had produced Tyren and although treated fairly was never pampered or treated with favoritism. He was raised to deal with hostile situations whether it be in the marketplace, a field of battle, or at court, Tyren was well prepared to deal with most situations without assistance.

About half a ten-day ago, one of the scouts that was sent out once every three days did not come back as scheduled. The caravan increased their watch and scouting parties anticipating trouble, but up to this morning no attack was immanent and it was decided over his protest (quietly) that although rare, a scout would disappear from time to time without warning due to some mystical creature attack or trap. Unfortunate, but it did happen. So the caravan master ordered the normal scout and guard patrols allowing the normal pace rather than the emergency precautions in case of pursuit or possibility of ambush.

The decision was the caravan master's as Tyren had learned before this expedition began. Being about 53 years old and still looking at about a score or so years he had commanded troops on battle fields with distinction rising through the ranks of the military on his own merits. He had been with man trade expeditions on behalf of his mother and father establishing agreements and a reputation for being a fair but shrewd businessman, and had acquitted himself well amongst his father's neighbors and his mother's people and was considered a competent diplomat.

However, the skills required by a caravan master shared some of those abilities, there was more to it and one potential hireling caravan master suggested that unless Tyren was going to start a new profession and hire someone to teach him the trade, that not only should he leave that trade to those practicing it but no caravan master worth that distinction would share the authority with anyone including king, queen, emperors or gods when it came to doing their job. Although seemingly simple it was far more complicated than it appeared, even on well established routes.

Not accustomed at being so challenged, Tyren did his research and although his skills would help him achieve the title, there were many aspects that he could not accomplish by himself. So Tyren agreed to give command of the caravan to the caravan master but requested to be considered for the position of Master at Arms. As Bart currently did not have one, he was willing to consider him for the position so long as he followed orders and in the course of time he was given the job for which he was more than qualified.

But during this journey, although having combat experience and martial training, the job commanded more skill than he had originally anticipated. It was like being in a lose company of half-trained soldiers with no real idea how to work together for mutual defense and somehow the caravan master with the help of his Master of Arms had to deal with free thinking and half authority of a military position to get them all from one point to another with minimal cost of life or money in the process, a feat he began to admire.

A man at arms did as he was told or suffer the consequences, a civilian had no such authority and had to compel those in the caravan to comply with his orders and it became all too clear the rich merchants only got in the way of them being successful. So as much as he regretted the loss of one man that served the caravan, it was the right decision considering that they were in uncharted territory and any loss of time to a breakdown or searching for a lost scout could cost the survival of the caravan itself and to its success.

That evening as the caravan set up for the night Tyren approaches Bart. "The watch is set as normal and the scout sent."

"You still don't like it, right!" He knew Bart was making an observation rather than asking his opinion. "If it's any consolation, I don't like it either, but we can't run on high alert for more than a few days. Most of the people here are not in peak condition so it's wiser to conserve their strength to times when we really need it." Bart waves his hand around, gesturing to the darkened landscape. "Out here we don't have the luxury of extra men or resources to find out what happened. However, tonight Merilee is going to scry and do some rituals in order to see what happened, but in doing so she will not be able to perform her duties on the morrow. Your wife will have to shoulder her position."

"I'm sure she won't mind," Tyren said. '"Unless that is you forbid me from keeping a few of my house guard up as an extra precaution They'll be discrete."

"Any of my former Master of Arms would do the same with or without my permission. I too know my limits. I would expect no different." The Master at Arms and the Caravan Master's goals are usually at odds but they had no issue appearing unified in front of the others to maintain confidence and morale. "Besides, I've seen your house guard drill and practice. I served in the military force and know elite soldiers when I see them. I'm sure each one of your house guards are equal to about five of my own. They look like they could chew through leather if need be."

"You have not missed the mark, all of them are old hands, loyal to me and mine first and foremost." replied Tyren.

"I feel better with them around. Their quiet confidence and their willingness to help really show how you command their respect. But their unapproachable attitude when it comes to the others trying to help also puts distance between them and those in the caravan, even amongst the regular guards. It seems evident they consider themselves a unit separate from the others." Bart cocks his eyebrow up, obviously wanting to hear Tyren's thoughts on the subject.

"What soldier doesn't feel that he is part of a command in this environment?" He replies, unwilling to have his or the loyalty of his guards questioned.

Bart smiles trying to take the edge suddenly found on the conversation. "Sell swords, mercenaries and caravan guards!"

Tyren grunts. Bart lets the conversation slide and the unanswered question with it. "You have a nice evening Tyren." he gets up and heads in the direction of his wagon leaving Tyren alone with his musings.

After some minutes, Tyren approaches his wagon and shares the news with Lynisa. "Mistress Merilee is going to conduct some scrying and rituals investigating the circumstances of the missing scout. Bart has requested that you take up her duties tomorrow. Will that be a problem?" he asks, taking a seat.

"Really?" Lynisa responds. "Of course it won't be a problem I'm just surprised it wasn't done much earlier." She turns around after standing. "Your food is prepared and the little one is napping. I'll be back soon. I'm going to see if the seer wants any assistance in the preparations."

With that and a swift kiss she is gone. Tyren eats hiss fill of the bread and stew as he watches his son sleeping peacefully. His naming ceremony was not far away. They had agreed to have it conducted the night they reached the settlement. They'd even agreed on a name, Ryuen after his grandfather on the elven side who took great pains to watch over the boy before his passing to the other side. He had been of those who died on this trek. Upon hearing a soft knock on the wagon he emptied his bowl in the dish buck and quietly left his son to the peace of sleep.

The Meeting

Hunger strikes an opposing counterpoint to the exhilaration of flying in the brightening light and crisp morning as she wings through the air in search of something to eat. She can't help but celebrate such a glorious morning s she swiftly climbs higher till even she has a hard time breathing without using her in-born magic to compensate. Rising to even greater altitudes she summersaults to the dragon's dare in which a dragon celebrates life by plunging themselves into a vertical dive only to pull out of it within 10 heartbeats from the ground.

To fail would mean almost certain death for most adult dragons and for those that survived the impact, they would not be celebrating again for quite some time, if ever. Some older of her kin are able to fail and still walk away but almost none except the most legendary beasts have been able to fly after a failure.

The urge to celebrate in such a fashion was not uncommon among dragons. Resisting the urge was rare and only done in times of trouble, emergencies and during pregnancy or raising hatchling until their juvenile age. With her children gone she could finally relax a little and celebrate life. All these recollections happen in the timespan of her summersault into the plunge. She feels herself speed up, the force of the ground pulling her to its surface as if to say This time you won't get away!

She tucks in her wings, pulls her feet close and straightens out her tail, streaking towards the ground faster than any projectile. She can feel her heart racing from the adrenaline as the wind tears past her, trying to find traction along her body. In moments she was going so fast that acceleration is no longer possible. The experience was so awesome it was impossible to put into words.

Silently she counts to herself as the ground comes up to meet her. Whether it be memory or instinct, she reacts with all her might. Her wings sprout out from her sides while her tail angles downward to catch as much of the wind as possible. The sheer force of the air nearly rips through the membranes of her wings as she fights the pull of the earth below. more than once she almost loses consciousness and would have if not for her innate magic and will to resist it.

Just a few feet from the treetops she levels out. So great is her speed the topmost parts of the trees are sheered off from her passing without even touching them.

Triumphant, she roars out in a loud voice that can be heard for miles around at her success and victory over the earth's attempt to catch her. Knowing that in doing so her hunting had been spoiled but she was too elated to allow that to darken her good mood.

An hour had passed and she, driven by hunger, finds herself searching for a meal. she flies just above the trees looking for something that would sate the pains in her stomach. She crests the top of a hill and in a clearing is a huge bear standing about 18 ft tall trying to get something out of a tree. Instantly she flashes her presence and watches as the animal returns to its normal size. Regardless, on all fours it is still almost 10 ft tall.

It roars at her as if to say this is mine. She roars back and readies herself for an attack. The bear charges towards her. This one is a rare breed, a cave bar, down lower in the mountains than usual for the time of year, chased or more likely it was hunting and its prey went this way, probably into the tree. Either way, it was unlucky for the bear. she was hungry and spoiling for a fight.

As she gets closer to the bear it launches at her. She flings out one wing while tucking the other in close and brings her tail swishing around. The huge animal collides against her side. The impact and her momentum twist her around at an impossible angle, her wing pulling at the air to stabilize her flight. Her tail comes about and with a crack, some of the bones in the bear's chest give way. In an awesome display of agility she unfurls her other wind and digs her claws into the ground bringing her to a stop a little ways away.

She lets loose a roar of counter challenge. Thus far she only has received minor scratches and the bear was wounded but was not yet out of the fight. As if to validate this it swings around and lets out a howl of rage and pain. An adult cave bear is normally not a challenge because the advantage the air gives. Only on the ground does it have the power and ferocity to hurt, but not likely kill an adult dragon. Only in the instance when a dire version is met in combat does death become a possibility. They posses a murderous rage that keeps their body going long after it should have fallen. These cave bears posed a much bigger threat, but since they appeared nearly identical, knowing what type of bear could mean the difference between life and death.

Size alone wasn't a good indicator of a dire bear. Although a half again as large as a bar of the same age, all dire bears had a square or diamond shaped patch of white fur on their chests. When it had leapt towards her she had seen the tale-tale mark giving away that this was indeed the more dangerous version. Although large, this was only a juvenile, not yet fully grown, but still capable of killing.

She drops low to the ground, giving the impression she is about to leap or take flight. In reality however it was a trap, an attempt to surprise the bear giving her the chance to take the bears back. Just as she hoped, the dire bear charges in an attempt to maul her. She springs backward but a claw manages a glancing rake across her chest.

With a single beat of the wings she propels herself above the beast and drops on top of him, digging her claws into its exposed back. She clamps her teeth onto the bear's neck and worries them back and forth severing the main artery. Gouts of blood spray from the wound as the heart, beating faster, only seeds up the monster's demise. The bear thrashes about, trying to dislodge the dragon and succeeds in nearly pulling free from one set of claws only to have it dig in once more.

It takes only a couple of minutes for the beast to bleed out and become still. She will have a few bruises and scratches but is otherwise unharmed. With a mighty roar of victory, she begins feasting on the valiant foe. A flash of moment in the tree catches her attention and she watches as a dark figure slithers its way down the trunk and slip silently away into the brush. At this moment though, nothing was more important to her than her meal after a celebration and victory.

After eating her fill she let what remained of the bear to the scavengers and launches herself into the air. She circles the area looking for any sign of the figure she had seen. She pulls in her presence and sets out on a different sort of hunt, but after an our of scouring there was no sign of the humanoid anywhere.

Without the aid of magic it couldn't have gotten far so she returns to the tree from which it ran and took in its scent. The smell was strange, unlike any regular human, but something about it was familiar and a memory from before her time stirred in the back of her mind. Given time, the ancestral memories from her dam and sire would clear and become like her own.

Taking to the sky she saw smoke in the distance where a large fire had started. She wings towards it and sees that a good sized caravan had caught fire. On her first pass she sees no one alive and all of the wagons were already reduced to cinders or were on fire. This must have happened when I was feasting on the bear.

Among the dead were an elf and half elf, their bodies a mess of cuts and scratches. Near their bodies a black hand lay in the dirt. it seemed tough and the blood had a syrupy consistency to it. On it was the same scent that she'd found in the tree, in fact the smell permeated from the entire area but other than the hand there was no sign of a body other than that of the caravanners. There were professional soldiers here, how is this possible?

Launching herself into the air she cleanses the area with dragon fire. Before leaving she slowly circles around, making one more circuit of the ground. A rustle of a bush draws her eye and she thinks it must be an animal, but on second thought she realizes an animal would stay clear of the fire. An injured enemy maybe?

She lands as quietly as she can and readies her presence in case of flight. Bracing for attack a smell reaches her nostrils. Oh no! A man-elf hatchling, tears intermixing with the berry juice staining his face wobbles slowly out of a berry patch. In has outstretched hand he appears to be offering her what few berries he has remaining.

Normally dragons leave the affairs of other races to themselves and do nothing to interfere. She herself is a great believer in nature's way of balancing things. If your parents die and you were unable to care for yourself, you would die as a matter of course. But dragons, her included, were not heartless and nor was it true they cared little for other races.

She had a choice to make. It was obvious that his parents were dead and there were no survivors to care for the man-elf hatchling. She could either kill it or take it wither her, either way it wouldn't last long without hep.

Without fear, the hatchling still held the berries out, waiting for her to take them. Lowering her head she opens her mouth and allows the child to drop the berries onto her tongue. She looks down and regards the child before speaking in the language of the dragons, "I can always kill you later." knowing full well she won't.

I thought my mothering days were over... I guess I was wrong. Well my little talon, let's see what the future has in store for you.

Fantasy

About the Creator

Author Eve S Evans

After residing in two haunted houses in her lifetime, Eve Evans is enthralled with the world of paranormal. She writes ghost stories based on true events and fictional thriller & horror novels.

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (1)

  • Novel Allen2 years ago

    I love your cover photo. Well written story.

Author Eve S EvansWritten by Author Eve S Evans

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