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|This is a SHORT story about a young woman striving to hunt down a dragon that killed all her people. She is the last of their kind. *this story was written by me and my friend Tina Marshall who has given me permission to post the chapters here.||
The Vondur Dragon
The night sky was on fire with the flames and ash that rose from the straw-covered huts. Women and children were crying and screaming as they darted from the shelter of their dwelling places and hiding corners. Men cried out, ordering everyone to flee the village, for no one dared to fight against the beast that tore at it. No one ever fought against the great Vondur Dragon. She destroyed cities when desired and left others in peace for generations.
This particular village, Brimath, had remained unharmed for nearly seventy years without the wrath of this monster. Aye, she had stolen cattle from time to time, but that was a sacrifice worth taking for Vondur’s accord. But just when they thought she was accustomed to their presence and lifestyle, she attacked; unfurling her wings, raising her massive silver head with furry. Some said she was not of true silver, but of an unknown metal that could not be broken. Within her thick neck she also bore the ability to spout fire and ice from her poison infected jaws.
“Hold my hand, Frelsari!” a young woman cried to her daughter who looked not to be much older than four years of age. She grasped the little girl’s hand firmly and darted from between the shelter of two homes; the little girl’s feet barely hitting the ground as her tiny legs attempted to keep up with her mothers. They darted for the river that had given the village life and sustenance. Several of the boats and fishing crafts were already in flames, casting eerie shadows on the dark water while three other massive vessels had been frosted and stood as icy statues in solidness of the river.
Several other women and children were already crouching in the heavy reeds and mud, trying to hide from the dragon that destroyed them. The ash rained down upon them like black snow.
The young mother and her child splashed into the river, the water rippling with the fiery reflections of the burning village behind them. The reeds waved as they pushed their bodies further into the water. The little girl was no longer able to keep up and the young mother hastily grabbed her waist, pushing past several others. Her target was a small fishing boat which had remained untouched by the monster. She reached under her daughter’s arms, and lifted her into the bobbing contraption. Her fingers trembled as she worked with the rope and pushed the boat further into the river.
A horrid roar deafened their ears and overpowered the screaming of the frightened townsfolk. The woman and her daughter looked back to see the dragon perched on top of three burning homes, one of which crumbled beneath her massive clawed foot. She roared in frustration as she lost her balance for a second, then raised her massive wings and flapped them with never-ending strength, her tail whipping behind her.
The woman turned back to her daughter and began to push the boat downstream. “Stay low,” she ordered the child. The girl lowered her head, sliding her little body beneath the wooden bench and shuttered.
“Look out!” a voice nearby cried out, and immediately the great dragon swooped low, allowing her tail to lash against the defenseless humans. A mother and child were separated with bloody violence, each of them sprawling in the water teen feet apart of each other. The dragon turned and allowed her jaws to explode with a furry of fire, catching the most reeds aflame. The men, women and children who had taken shelter there darted from the flames, only to be caught by the hungry jaws of the beast.
“Frelsari,” the young mother said softly, peering over the rim of the boat. She gently touched the young girl’s ash-smudged cheek with her trembling wet hand and smiled sadly. Her normally blue eyes were moist and gray and the long dark hair looked tousled and wet at the ends instead of brushed to silk and braided. Time seemed to stand still for a moment as mother and daughter subconsciously said goodbye. The young woman then shoved the boat downstream.
“No! Mama! No!” the girl cried, sitting up and reaching out toward the woman standing in the water. She tried smiling as her daughter drifted away, though tears and fear were eminent on her face. “Stay low, Frelsari! Stay low!” she cried. At that moment Vodur’s jaws snatched the woman from the river like a rag doll, the water splashing out behind her as she was drawn from the river. The little girl watched in horror as the dragon’s metallic head shook her mother’s body back and forth, breaking every bone that would have once been strong and intact. Then, carelessly, the monster flung the limp body aside, and it sailed over two homes before crashing into a pile of burning rubble.
Frelsari could do nothing but ‘stay low’ and hide her tears beneath the wooden bench as she floated away from the disaster and chaos. This dragon had taken away everything she had ever known. A dragon had killed her father when she was three, and now her mother. She vowed, although she was merely a child, that she would one day avenge her parents and everyone else this dragon had killed mercilessly in her home village of Brimath. This ‘dragon’ wasn’t even worth of the magical and majestic title. It was a beast. A monster. Nothing more, and nothing less. A monster.
“Ladine! Come quick!” a man hollered, scooping something from the Feather River that ran past his home. His thick, muscled arms bulged at the weight. He turned just in time to see his short, plump, and lovely wife coming from the plastered home on the hill. She was wiping her hands on her apron as she came down the roughly hewn stairs leading to the banks of the river.
“What is it, Fagan?” she asked, brushing one of her blond locks from her face. She gasped as she came closer, and immediately raced to her husbands’ side.
“She’s alive, but very weak,” he said, looking down at the child in his arms. She was tiny, with strawberry-blonde hair that was filthy. Her cheeks were tear-stained. “She can’t be much older than five. Do you think she is from the village of Brimath? It was attacked just last week.”
“It’s possible,” Ladine answered, glancing upriver. Bodies had been floating down since that day, and it was a miracle that a child was found alive. She took her apron off and placed it over the tiny body. “Bring her inside. It’s far too chilled out here in this autumn air.”
The man nodded and carried the child into their home.
“Kyna! The furnace is getting cold!” Fagan hollered after hammering away on the anvil. He needed to heat the sword again if it was going to become the sharpest and most precise weapon it could. His work was known for it’s precision.
The young woman emerged from the smithy shop, and wiped at her forehead as she was assaulted by the heat under the canopy before it. The furnace was just beneath the canopy where the cool wind could blow the heat from Fagan’s face and arms as he worked. He remembered when Kyna first came to him, small and frail in a boat. She had never spoken a word, but he knew she was intelligent and understood everything he had taught her. She was now filled out as a stunning woman in body and mind, and she was much stronger than any of the other ladies in town. She had taken an odd liking to the weapons and trained with them diligently. He never asked any questions, for he was only happy to have a child that could master the weapons he created. His motto had always been; “If you want to create the best of weapons, you must first know how to wield them.” And she did. She seemed to have taken this to heart, and every weapon she had created was perfect in every way. Balance, weight, and sharpness - she never forgot any of those rules, but added to her perfect blades and tools, was another element he could have never mastered. Detail and beauty. She carved intricate vines, animals and flowers into the hilts and handles of metal giving them a personal and lively element. Her designs had become so popular that merchants came from all over the kingdom to trade with him.
He watched her as she pumped away at the bellows, the heat distorting the air above them. Her strawberry-blond hair had changed over the years, turning a reddish-brown, and her eyes still held their glorious blue. She was a fetching young woman, though she was far too ‘spirited’ for the young men in town. Most of them feared her because of her great skill with weapons, but the true isolation for her was the fact that she was mute. He never knew if it was because of the trauma she had experienced in the destruction of Brimath Village, or if she had been born this way. Either way, he loved her all the same.
He jabbed the metal edge of the sword into the burning coals and wiped the back of his hand on his forehead. “What are you working on today?” he asked.
She reached behind her and drew out a magnificent weapon in her slender hand, balancing it perfectly. He took the knife from her hand and studied the graceful curve in the blade, down to the intricate detail of vines and flowers she had worked into the hilt. A section near the bottom of the handle remained plain, for she had yet to finish her work. “It’s beautiful. You could make a pretty penny off of this masterpiece.”
She smiled and nodded, her high cheekbones rising even more, making her blue eyes sparkle in the firelight. A breeze came through the thatched canopy they worked under, and both of them savored it, however briefly it lasted.
Fagan handed the weapon back to Kyna and pulled the sword from the fire. It glowed bright red as he placed it on the anvil. He then took his hammer and brutally pounded away at the metal, sparks flashing.
The mute girl thrust a large loaf of bread into her pack, and straightened the rest of her goods that were already stashed inside. Ladine, her mother, and Fagan watched from their perch on the kitchen bench. There was sadness in their old eyes, especially Fagan’s. He had hoped that this adopted daughter would continue his blacksmiths’ business. She was skilled and the beautiful items she created sold across the entire land, bringing him and his wife more wealth than they ever imagined.
“Are you sure this is what you want to do?” Fagan questioned, hope still in his wrinkled eyes.
Kyna nodded with determination. She had vowed that she would do this the day that dragon killed her birth mother. She looked at Ladine, smiling at the kindly woman who had taken her in and had become her new mother.
“The Vondur Dragon?” Ladine questioned. “You know it is foolishness, child. No one can kill her. Many have tried, but her scales are stronger than Fagan’s best axe. You can’t do it.”
The young woman nodded again, fiercely, her brows furrowing with determination. She might be mute, but she knew about the great Vondur Dragon. She had spent many hours in the library, not only studying the structures of plants and flowers for her designs, but the life and history of dragons.
“And how will you do it?” Fagan demanded.
Kyna sat down on the bench beside her mother and took her old hands into her young ones. She wished she could explain, but they wouldn’t understand her. No one did. She shook her head and sighed, a usual sign that she was unable to tell them everything she knew. It was frustrating for her, but she had learned long ago that trying to explain things to people that were used to words was pointless and futile. She kissed her mother’s hands, and Ladine’s eyes brimmed with tears.
“I cannot permit this, Kyna,” Fagan stated. “You are throwing your life away. You are young, beautiful, and strong. You’ve skill with weapons, yes, but that alone will not protect you against Vondur. Please stay. We need you here. What good will it be if you throw your life away hunting dragons? You have a place here with us. You have made a name for yourself among the merchants and caravans. They know your work and value it. You have the potential of becoming the most legendary blacksmith in all of Lendqueth.”
Kyna lowered her head and shook it, the beads coiled in her long strands of hair clanking softly together. She had learned that it was custom for her people of Brimath to decorate their hair with colored beads each time they accomplished something new, but there was no one to do it for her, or honor her for her accomplishments, so she did it herself.
“Please, Kyna,” Ladine pleaded, placing one of her plump, calloused hands over hers. “We love you. Stay with us.”
Kyna spurred her horse onward, the hooves of the animal pounding on the soft earth of the dark forest. The moisture made her woolen trousers itched her legs, but she ignored the uncomfortable feeling. She caught glimpses of the black dragon through the thick entanglement of trees. She drew an arrow and strung it while the horse dodged the trees and leapt over rotting logs. This was a challenge in itself, trying to hit a target on a galloping horse, not to mention that she was trying to shoot a completely scale-armored dragon. However, she had honed her skills while at home with her mother and father. She wasn’t worried.
She had a clear shot and fired, the arrow racing through the trees at a speed that no dragon could outrun. Just as the beast flew past a large tree, the arrow hit its mark, penetrating the dark eye on its right side. A horrid scream came from the creature, and it crumpled, falling into several trees and logs as its wings folded in agony.
Kyna smiled to herself and spurred the horse forward. She reached a small clearing -mainly where the dragon’s massive body had knocked trees over. The horse reared in fear as the dragon hissed at them, gathering a deep gulp of air. Kyna dismounted, hitting the horse on the rear. It galloped off, just as the blast of acidic saliva was released from the black monster’s jaws. Kyna ducked behind a particularly large tree, listening as the spit splattered against the bark, wincing as a portion of the beast’s deadly saliva sprayed onto her shoulder. The burning sensation was nearly unbearable and she couldn’t imagine having this acid all over her body.
It would be another three minutes before he would be able to spit again, as he needed to work up the fluid. She took the opportunity to charge at the annoyed dragon. Dark blood leaked from the monster’s eye and over the rest of his face. He hissed angrily, snapping at Kyna as she approached. He missed by nearly three feet, and Kyna smiled again. The lack of use in his right eye threw off his perception.
She swung the blade at the dragon’s neck, catching it on the soft under-scales. The armor split, leaking more of the dark blood, but only angering the beast further. He raised one of his sharp, clawed feet, and Kyna jumped, then rolled away to avoid being hit by the poisonous claws. She felt one scrape over her thigh, but barely broke the skin. The poison burned however. It was enough to kill an average human slowly, but Kyna was not an average human. She was a Brimathian.
Come on! She thought. You can do better than that.
The dragon hissed again, snapping at her. “Foolish human!” his deep, rumbling voice echoed through her head, stunning her for an instant. She had never before heard a dragon speak. This one did not use words, but mentally conveyed his message to her.
As she was caught off guard, the dragon swung his tail at her, catching her in the stomach. The force of the blow blasted all her breath from her lungs, her back and neck snapped, and she was hurtled across the clearing, only to connect harshly with a tree. Her body slumped over and pain dominated her every sensation. She waited though… she had wounded herself severely while training with Fagan’s weapons many times, but each wound that she inflicted healed before Ladine could tend to her, though she had never before broken bones. She was uncertain of how her body would heal against this injury.
It took precious time. The dragon struggled to remove the sword from his mouth, but soon it had fallen to the earth, the metal coated with acidic slime. He then approached the limp human lying at his feet and sniffed at her body. “You should know better than to hunt the son of the Vondur Dragon.”
Her head jerked upright and she felt her muscles knit back together. The sensation was uncomfortable, and quite painful. The dragon noted her reaction and immediately opened its jaws to swallow her, but she rolled away, the dragon’s nose hitting the base of the tree. The acid in his saliva was now burning through his own flesh, and blood leaked down his jaw. He shuttered with the pain and turned to Kyna who was now standing, an arrow strung in her bow, taking close aim.
“What sort of human are you?” he demanded, looking down the shaft with his one good eye.
Her dark eyebrows narrowed as his thoughts penetrated her own. “Vondur killed my people. My race is dead. I will not rest until she suffers the same fate.”
“The last Brimathian,” the black dragon concluded. “If you kill me, my brothers will hunt you.”
“Let them come.”
“You are foolish, Brimathian child. You cannot contend with my family.”
“Then you should have left mine alone!” She released the second arrow, hitting the dragons remaining eye. The creature roared and acid spit rained down on Kyna. She darted for the shelter of the trees. Her shoulders, face, arms, and hands burned with the acid, steaming as the fire seared her flesh. The dragon howled and groaned, scratching at his eyes.
“The last Brimathian will not be for much longer! You shall be hunted as you have hunted me. Fool!” the dragon snapped, raising its wings. Because of his lack of sight, the right wing connected with a nearby tree, causing the dragon to stumble. The dragon roared, wings flapping, sending branches and twigs her direction. His ugly saliva splattered the forest floor, steaming and bubbling where it landed. The dragon staggered away, bumping into the large trees that surrounded it. He looked awkward as he struggled to maneuver about the narrow clearing, trying to find enough clearance to spread his wings. Although Kyna longed to reach for her sword, the pain of the acid spit caused her to tremble and sweat as she leaned against a tree for support.
The dragon lifted blindly into the sky, skimming the top of the trees with his tail. His flight was wobbly and uncertain.
Kyna watched as her prey escaped. She wasn’t prepared to hunt this creature. Aye, her body healed quickly, but the acid that burned her skin was numbing her senses with an overwhelming feeling of pain. Her Brimathian blood of healing was not enough. She needed more.
She staggered into the center of the clearing where her sword had dropped and knelt down beside it, avoiding any of the steaming acidic puddles. She looked down at her hands noting that wherever the acid had fallen, green splotches of mucus remained… burning. She attempted to wipe it away, but it only spread the pain over her hand. She felt the same burning on her forehead, cheek, neck, shoulders… all over. Her healing capabilities were all that kept her functional, but she didn’t have the means to completely heal herself. She needed aid.
The falcon shuttered at the sound of the horrid roar that interrupted the peacefulness of the woods. Rabbits, mice, squirrels and other forest creatures fluttered, jumped and ran from their delicate hiding points. A great creature had been injured or killed. He immediately leapt from the branch, unfurling his wings and darted through the trees with precise maneuverability. He fluttered to a halt upon noticing a young woman - and by far the most beautiful mortal human he had ever seen. Her dark hair shone with a hint of red as the sunlight fell upon it through the leaves of the trees. Several strands of her hair had been braided, woven and entangled with brightly colored beads and ornaments. He had seen such decoration before in the tribes that dwelt along the coast of the Feather River. She was slender and strong, though she was trembling as she knelt in the clearing. Steam rose from odd portions of the ground, and a tree was nearly smoldered from an evil stench.
He glided down to the earth near one of the steaming puddles and immediately his falcon body changed form to that of a fox. He sniffed at the green blotch and jumped back when he realized that this was dragon spit! She had fought with a dragon… and survived!
He hid in the underbrush as she stood and stumbled from the scene, searching for her horse that had taken refuge from the battle only a few yards away. She grabbed a cloak and pulled it over her shoulders, wincing as it pressed the green mucus onto her skin. Slowly, painfully, she mounted the horse and spurred it towards the city of Varusdor.
The Dragon Child - Chapter 1-
|The Dragon Child -Chapter 3-||The Dragon Child -Chapter 2-|