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|This story was originally going to be a baby shower gift for someone I worked with named Leilani. Then Leilani got fired, then it morphed into something that you just don't give an expecting mother. One thing led to another and this got put on the back burner for two or three years. Then I got a better job with less stress and better pay, and I finished my story. Boo-ya. Part 2 of 6||
"You got it."
"Your name is Leilani?"
“Believe it or not.”
“Does that have some kind of, well, special dragon meaning or something?”
"It means my sire liked Hawaii."
"Ha – Hawaii?"
"But... that doesn't sound like a dragon's name."
"It's the only part you can pronounce. Besides, if I told you my full name, we'd be here for over two hours."
“Dragons live a long time, Stephen. We’ve got time for foolishness like that.”
“Two hours… Wow.”
“So what should a dragon’s name sound like?”
“I don’t know. Big. Impressive. Lots of roaring.”
“Stephen, whenever you hear thunder echo off the hills of this valley, you’re hearing my name. My true name.”
That made him think.
The day turned out all right, all things considered. The sun was too high in the sky for my taste, and it stabbed my tired eyes. But there was birdsong and a soft breeze, and the light cheered me. My drakeblade was over one shoulder, my dueling helmet slung over the blade like a baseball mitt. If it was maybe a millennia or two later, you'd almost have thought I was heading down to the sandlot for a pickup game with the gang.
Oh, how I wished that were the case.
Stephen was a bit of a surprise. He was the only one trying to keep up with me – with my long legs it's take five steps and wait for the humans to catch up – and he's full of questions. Even with his horse bucking at my predator stink, he’s full of questions.
I've never had a human interrogate me like this. The cultists think I'm the godhead – best wrapped in mystery, like a Christmas present – and to everyone else I'm sacrilegious and profane, as if knowing anything about me would turn into a tumor or mental Ebola in their brains or something.
Even Al, supposed master of all things obscured and hidden, knows only that about me that can help him kill me. Or his clients.
"What is that, Leilani? That sword?"
"That is not a 'sword,' child," I said, with a little too much heat. He might not have noticed, but his horse did, and it tried to throw him. I waited for it to settle down.
"This is a drakeblade, Stephen," I said, "forged with my breath, tempered in my blood. It has guarded my life when I have dueled other dragons, and has drunk deep of their lifeblood."
“But – but don't dragons use their breath, their fiery breath to – "
My grip tightened on the blade's hilt, nearly bending the metal, and I glared at him with an anger that I didn't know I was feeling.
That was it for his horse. It stood vertical on its rear hooves and pitched him for good, then ran off at full gallop, braying with terror. I heard Sir Edgar laugh behind us, an ugly sound.
I looked away, shamefaced. He didn't know; he didn't mean it. I took a breath, waited for him to pick himself back up (not a mean feat if you're a human wearing 90 pounds of pig iron and you're not used to armor) and then cast a friendlier look at him.
"Stephen," I said, "if you ever see a dragon breathing fire at someone, then I don’t care how far away you are or how safe you think you are. You run away just as fast as you can, because that dragon is completely insane."
His helmet was off, and I could see his face. I could see I'd made an impression on him. Humans are dim, but not that dim.
"I'll try to remember that," he said, slowly.
Al wasn't too keen about bringing me into the heart of Dystopia. But Stephen pointed out that I was practically in the middle of the kingdom already and that I hadn't been much of a bother – beyond the occasional stolen herd of cattle, that is. That actually took me aback. Stephen was full of surprises.
I got a couple more surprises out of him that night, when we made camp.
He took off his leather gauntlets, and his hands were covered in horny calluses. They were hands more suited to swinging an axe or a hammer, not a sword. Then there was the way he gathered wood for the fire and cooked the food, like a squire... except that there was a sullenness and subservience in him that you wouldn't find even in a squire.
Sir Edgar, on the other hand, was everything I expected in a knight. All that stuff you hear about gallant knights and their code of chivalry is a load of hogwash. He could barely fit in his armor and, when he pulled it off, his belly spilled out, jelly-like. His hands were soft, with just enough horn on the palms to get a grip on his sword.
This was not a holy or chaste man, either. He had a mouth like a sewer and his privates were probably a den of horrors crawling with crabs and chiggers and cooties of every race, creed and nationality. He certainly scratched there enough.
The only unexpected thing about him was how he treated Sir Stephen, supposedly his peer. I mean, I'm not too up on all the labyrinthine hierarchies that humans have, but I know that a knight doesn't ping a cooked turnip off another knight's head, no matter how young or low on the totem pole he is.
Hell, I couldn’t call him Sir Stephen. He wasn’t a knight. Not like Sir Edgar, he wasn’t.
|Leilani - Part 4||King Joe Eats Breakfast|
|Brother of Rat||A Fairy Tale of New York - Part 3|
|A Fairy Tale of New York - Part 4|