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The Pilchard Dragons

Chapter One - Dralon

By E MPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 10 min read
2

There weren't always dragons in the valley. You probably remember a time when the great beasts were confined to the rocky Islands of Cortre. An ancient molten place where the fire breathing monsters roamed alongside beings such as giants and goblins and other creatures of dark sorcery. They lived unaware of life outside of the Island. The centre of their own universe, living as any animal on Earth does. Predator and prey, life and death, kill or be killed. No formal society outside of those primordial rules. Some have questioned the morality of taking the dragons away from the Island of Cortre. In fact for hundreds of years men have argued the benefits and dangers of doing such a thing. We've all heard the stories of knights in shining armour trying to tame the wild beasts for king and country. Well I'm going to tell you a different kind of story, a tale I guarantee you have not heard before....

Tom Pilchard was a slug of a man. Nearing 60 years of age, his life had become more lacklustre with every passing year. Born and raised in the valley below the Chugrain Mountains, he was the only son to his mother and father. His mother, who had hoped for a daughter, left the valley and her husband six months after Tom was born and she hadn't been back since. Tom's father raised his son alone near the wooded grove at the edge of the valley in a small cottage he'd originally built for his wife. Sullen and bad tempered, his only obsession after his wife left was dragons. When he was supposed to be loving and raising Tom, he was more invested in the three baby dragons he had bought illegally from poachers who smuggled them away from the Island of Cortre.

It’s no wonder then that Tom Pilchard turned out the way he did. A present but absent father would effect a person of solid fortitude, let alone a small boy who had zero love from both his parents. Often belittled and called weak and bothersome, Tom Pilchard spent his lonely boyhood watching his father raise the three scaly beasts in their back garden in the valley.

As the years went on, his father became more distant with Tom and instead of sharing his knowledge of the dragons, he made sure Tom worked to the bone in the shop at the front of their cottage. For you see, Mr Pilchard Senior had discovered a very magical secret about the dragons and he was quick to turn his good fortune into a thriving underground business. Knowing that the dragons came into his possession illegally, he could not spread the word of his findings in the usual manner for risk of being sent to the lock up, so he sold his new product in the shadows in town and relied on word of mouth to sell his miracle powder called Dralon.

Sure enough, the time soon came for Mr Pilchard Senior to pass on. Tom had felt nothing as he stood over his fathers lifeless body lying in the wooden box before his feet. A preacher from town came for formalities and he was buried in the back corner of their small stone walled garden. Tom dug the hole himself and when the preacher left, he filled it back in again. He placed a little wooden cross he had nailed together where a tombstone would normally stand. When the job was done, he sighed deeply and felt a heaviness lift from his chest. For the first time ever Tom Pilchard was in charge of his own life, and his fathers beloved dragons.

It was the dragons he went for first. After burying his father he went straight to the shed and grabbed the sharpest knife he could find. He walked towards the field behind the walled garden where his father had built a stone shelter for the three creatures. The area around the shelter was partitioned off with a very high fence so passers by could not see in. There was a courtyard area as well as a patch of grass and the three dragons had become accustomed to life in captivity. As Tom got closer to the gate his heart started racing with anxiety. He had never been allowed to enter the dragons den before. His father kept him completely seperate from the beasts out of fear he would tell someone from town about them. He had often wondered at night just before falling asleep why the dragons hadn’t chargrilled his father. Why did they allow him to feed them and care for them? He supposed it was easier for them, they didn’t need to hunt or fend for themselves out in the wild this way.

He unlocked the gate and opened it slowly trying to avoid the creak it made on its hinges. His father once mentioned that dragons sleep during the day and become active at night. He did not want to wake them from their slumber, he did not know how they would react to him. He was successful and managed to walk past the piles of chicken bones and wild bore carcusses without knocking any of them over. He could see one of the dragons lying sleeping on the grass. A frightful looking beast, it’s dark brown scales glistening in the sun, looked so thick and impenetrable it made Tom wonder if it could even feel the suns heat at all. Two twisted horns atop of its head and a long snout hiding rows of teeth sharper than any knife blade imaginable. He got close enough to touch it. Right up next to it’s large taloned claws, folded up under its resting body. Tom glanced at them. They were sharp, sharp enough to disembowel him with one strike. He slid towards its curled head. He hardly dared breath. He knew what he was about to do. He had imagined killing these beasts for as long as he had memories. Taking all of his fathers love and attention. He hated them. Truly hated them. It had to be done. They deserved to die. He lifted his arm wielding the knife and held it above his head. He took aim at it’s folded neck as that seemed the best possible place to strike. He was hoping the scales would not be as thick as they looked and that his knife blade would penetrate. He had come to terms with the fact that if it all went wrong and the blade ricocheted, he’d be dead at 60. But he cared not. The anger and resentment inside of him had decided to come out in this way and as he went to make his downward thrust, the beast awakended.

Tom froze in fright as the dragon lifted its mighty head. It could sense someone and it rounded on Tom quicker than he could blink. He dropped the knife in fear as the dragons head moved level to his and its great reptile eyes looked into his own. There was a moment of silence and stillness. Tom prepared for the worst and closed his eyes tightly. He began saying a prayer in his head and waited for the swipe of its claw. Nothing happened. Tom opened one eye and the beast was still looking at him. It was not scared. It did not seem threatened, if anything it seemed to want an interaction. It lowered its head and moved it closer to Tom. It’s snout pushed up against his chest and lifted his arm in a playful fashion. It snorted air out of its nostrils and steam arose in the afternoon sky. It’s eyes creased as it opened its mouth in a yawn, it’s giant tongue curling at the end and Tom could detect a slight smell of burnt meat coming from its throat. Tom was startled. Not recognising this tame behaviour he turned his back and ran. He ran straight to the gate, closed it behind him and locked every door and window in the cottage. He slumped in an armchair in front of the fire and poured a large whisky from the side table next to him. They were bloody tame. He couldn’t kill them.

Word of Mr Pilchard Seniors passing had spread around town quickly and Tom knew that with his father’s business success, people would come and perhaps try to swindle him. He expected the undisirables that had come by to visit him and ask all sorts of questions but he didn’t expect the women. Tom had never seen a woman close up before. He’d seen them from afar mind, but his father never remarried and as far as he was aware he had never seen him with any maidens. At first he wondered why they came, but soon realised they were interested in his money and the business his father had built. They didn’t really want Tom, they wanted financial security and good standing in the village. There were all sorts that came, young maidens, widows and spinsters. All ages too. Tom had no idea how to entertain a woman but with each different visitor, he got more and more accustomed to the fairer sex. It was a welcome change for him to have fuss made over him, home cooked meals and little love notes from the women all trying their hardest to woe his hand. It took his mind off of the business. In the weeks that had passed since his fathers death, Tom had discovered his fathers secret about the dragons. Tom had not entered the dragons den again but was still feeding them by throwing the chicken and wild bore carcusses over the fence for the dragons to have their fill. Since finding out how tame they were and his fathers discovery, Toms desire to kill them had lessened.

All those years ago whilst trimming their talons, his father discovered something amazing. If he ground the talon clippings into a fine powder, put a spoonful of it in a mug with hot water, it made a miracle tincture. A cure for any ailment, malady or disease, the dragons powerful magic, locked in the keratin of their talons, could cure it all. His father decided to sell it. He had made a batch and it sold out within two days. He made some more and then more and continued to grow his business. Of course it was illegal to own dragons and so he had to have a cover story. He stated on the Dralon boxes, a disclaimer, that the Dralon powder was ground from the Dragon Trees that grew plentifully in the paddocks beyond the valley. No real dragons involved in the making at all. Tom had tried the tincture himself only a few weeks ago and was startled at the results. Nursing a sore back from digging his fathers grave and throwing small dead animals up and over the tall fence of the dragons den, had left him almost doubled over in pain. One cup of Dralon and he was pain free. He had heard about dragon magic before, in books mainly, and no one had yet found the source or how to extract it. His father had stumbled on a miracle and more than half of the valley folk, human and magical beings down in town, were hooked.

A stranger came walking up the path towards the cottage a few days after. Tom was working in the shed next door and watched him approach. He could tell by his long moss robes and elegant, pointed features that he was a High Elf. He’d seen many a Witch, Ogre and Selkie around but never a High Elf. It was highly unusual for them to roam the valley. They stuck to the woodlands and caves in the Churgrain Mountains. He sensed trouble. He downed his tools and went to meet him outside.

“Good morning Sir, my name is Aiff”, said the High Elf, introducing himself.

“Mornin’”, replied Tom gruffly. He had learnt from his father to never trust anyone who came poking about on their land.

“I’m here about Dralon”, said Aiff.

“Aye, we make it. I s’ppose I could sell you a box”, replied Tom scratching his temple. Aiff laughed.

“Oh no Sir, I do not want to buy it. It has come to our attention that someone has been selling your product to the bog-mites and they are making big claims about real dragons”.

“Selling to Bog-mites? Filthy creatures, who’d ever do a thing like that?”, said Tom, spitting out of the corner of his mouth and wiping his sleeve across his lips to dry them. Bog-mites were not creatures Tom wanted his business to be dealing with.

“Yes, filthy indeed”, replied Aiff as he watched Mr Pilchard in disgust. He cleared his throat and continued. “They claim you’re making Dralon from real dragon magic. You wouldn’t be hiding dragons from us would you Sir?”. Tom stayed silent for a moment as he tried to work out what to say. He knew there was prison time for housing and keeping dragons illegally but he wasn’t sure of the punishment for inheriting them.

“You understand the enormity of this don’t you?”, Aiff said, trying to get an answer.

“No idea who’d be saying sumthin’ like that”, said Tom truthfully. “But I’ll tell you this, I want them found and I want them punished. They can’t go dragging my good family name through the muck. This is a respectable business. I want justice”, he said pointing his finger at Aiff’s chest.

“Well let’s not be premature Mr Pilchard. That’s why I’m here. Let’s try to figure this out ourselves. said Aiff, knowing full well that the Pilchard dragons were indeed being used to make Dralon.

“I have a proposition for you, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to come inside and talk over some ale or whisky”, Aiff said, trying to reassure Mr Pilchard that he could be trusted. “I assure you Sir, you’re going to want to hear what I have to say”.

Tom, a simple man was of course intrigued by the High Elf and his proposition. He could not help but at least hear him out.

“Aye right, well then, you’d best come in”, said Tom, as he moved aside and let Aiff walk up the garden path towards the cottage….and the dragons.

Fantasy
2

About the Creator

E M

Hey there! ☺️ Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully you enjoy some of my work!

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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