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|This is a very short little story I wrote to got with my 'Knight and Dragon' tile. A lot of people suggested different explanations for what is happening in the scene. This is mine.||
It was late afternoon when Ania began to strap on her heavy armour. It was uncomfortable and made movement difficult, and under the hot summer sun, she often felt as if she was being boiled alive in it, but she knew that before the end of the day, she would appreciate its protection. Sighing, she pulled on her boots and gauntlets and stood up amid a clatter of metal. Wincing at the loud clanking which accompanied her every movement, she retrieved her sword belt and belted it on before opening the door and stepping out into the blistering sun.
In a blur of motion, a small shape darted forth from behind the small cottage and fastened itself quite firmly to Ania's leg, almost tripping her in the process. Sighing again, Ania leaned forward with great difficulty and gently freed her leg from her little sister's determined grasp.
"Don't go, Ania," six-year old Fali cried, tears streaming down her cheeks, "I don't want you to get killed! Please don't go!"
Kneeling down, hoping as she did so that she would be able to get up again, Ania, gently hugged her sister, careful not to let one of the sharpened spikes on her sleeves and shoulders hurt the child, then leaned back and smiled at her.
"Don't worry," she said softly, trying to comfort the girl, "I can look after myself. I'll be fine." Fali only began to cry harder.
"I heard Mommy telling Auntie Keral that it's going to be d-d-daaaangerous!" Fali wailed, and threw herself at Ania, almost knocking her over again. As it was, Ania was momentarily winded. "I won't let you go!" Fali sobbed, "I won't let you!" Her tears began to run down Ania's armour, and Ania made a mental note to remember to clean it off later, so it wouldn't rust.
"I promise you I'll look after myself," she promised her sister and, after giving her a soft kiss on the cheek, she pried the small girl of her, and strode of down the path, trying to ignore the mournful bawling from behind her.
She'd taken the job, as dangerous as it was, because she needed the money desperately. If she didn't take the job, she would never be able to afford her next semester of knight school.
"It won't help you if you don't live through the experience," her mother had scolded her when she'd heard about it, "You've no idea how to deal with dragons!"
"Mom . . . " Ania had moaned, "they're babies. They won't even come up to my knees. I can handle it."
"A baby dragon is still a dragon!" her mother had protested, and Ania smiled and nodded and had quickly excused herself and gone to her room to read.
Now, as she walked down the road which lead to the dragons' lair, she felt nowhere near so confident. As she walked, she hummed to herself, trying to reassure herself. She came to a crossroads, and pulled the tattered newspaper clipping out of her pocket and read the directions quietly to herself.
"Turn left at the crossroads," she murmured to herself, as she did so, "turn right at the wishing well, and then it's the middle cave with the red maples outside". A few minutes later the wishing well came into view and she took the right-hand path, and soon enough, she found herself in front of the cave by the red maples.
She could see nothing within, just a menacing darkness. Drawing her sword in case she was attacked in the dark, she bravely stepped into the shadow of the cave's mouth. She could see nothing, so she hesitantly waved her sword around in front of her, to see if anything was there. When she hit nothing, she slowly began to advance, her sword ready, into the cavern. Cautiously, she made her way through what seemed to be a small winding tunnel, and finally, after what seemed an eternity, she was relieved to see a light at the end. She sped up her pace and soon emerged into a well-lit cavern.
The first thing she saw once her eyes had adjusted to the light was the dragon. It wasn't enormous, but it was large enough that Ania considered backing quietly away before it noticed her. It had shining red scales, which contrasted with the yellow and orange on its wings and chest to give it a rather fiery appearance. It was perched atop a large heap of treasure, and Ania's entrance had not attracted her attention. She seemed to be watching something in the adjoining cave behind her. Ania was still trying to decide whether or not to run when the dragon caught sight of her and turned its gleaming eyes toward her. Ania froze paralysed with fear.
"There you are!" the dragon exclaimed, "You're just on time! I was worried you might not make it. Good babysitters are
hard to come by, you know. Now, the little ones are just back there, eating their dinner. Now make sure they're in bed by ten
o'clock, and don't give them any ice cream if they misbehave. Oh, and if there's any trouble, you can reach me through the
magic mirror in the corner." The dragon glanced at a large clock in the corner and grinned at Ania, "Well, I've got to go, my
date will be waiting for me. Cheerio!"
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