Dragon has a Visitor
Dragon doesn’t often come down to the Wildwood proper, preferring her snug cave system deep in the mountains where her minimal needs are fully catered for and she isn’t likely to be rained on. However needs must when visitors are expected and there is no milk for the tea. And she cannot just fly over to the Village at the moment as she’s currently dragona non grata after the unfortunate incident in the book shop. Which, she freely admits, was entirely her fault; visiting when she was bone-tired (fighting badly trained and poorly equipped “knights” can really take it out of you, it’s so much more effort not to accidentally kill them when they don’t know what they’re doing and, half the time, can’t see where they’re going) and so had far less control over her size, visibility, and hoarding tendencies than was required for polite society was a rookie mistake. At just a tad over three thousand years old she really feels she’s old enough to know better.
Today, though, she’s well rested, appropriately sized, has chosen a most fetching shade of red edged with gold for her scales, and is quite eager for some conversation that isn’t either with herself, a magic mirror, or the most impertinent raven she’s ever had the misfortune to encounter. Although she’d intended to fly down to the Wood when she reached the cave mouth she found she had to flame away a not insignificant amount of snow before she is able to emerge, blinking, into the daylight. Of course, it’s almost Yule, hence both the visit and the vista of shimmering whiteness that lay before her, entirely obscuring the path between the Wildwood and her home. Which would not do at all. The path may be a test of strength and endurance by necessity but this felt too much even for the stoutest of hearts. So she walks, vaporising the snow as she goes, pleased to note that the lower down the mountain she goes the less she has to do.
Half-way down, just after the bend where Old Edgar the troll used to leap out on the would-be heroes until he lost track of time one day and became nothing more than a notable way marker, her ears pick up the unmistakable sound of clanking armour. Which is irritating in the extreme. She’s not due another self-important, self-delusional idiot to teach the error of his ways for at least another six months and she has milk to fetch, for goodness sake!
A thought occurs. She hasn’t been notified so this one isn’t official. And if they’re not official then the rules do not apply. She doesn’t have to teach this one anything, other than the very swift, and entirely permanent, lesson that arriving to a flame fight in your own roasting tin is a tad stupid. So she trots back up to Old Edgar, as silently as only a dragon can, and slinks behind him, her scales turning from red to the granite grey of the rocks around her. Shifting slightly she settles herself comfortably against him, snout resting on his head so her flame ducts align perfectly with where this timewaster will appear. If he’s as dim as some of the ones she’s had in the past he might not even work out what’s hit him. And then she waits.
The clanking grows louder and louder and she tenses, trying to ignore the nagging sense of guilt that she isn’t even giving him a chance. But the sun is already low in the sky and her need to fulfil her duties as a hostess override all. She fills her lungs and …
The only thing that saves Dragon from flambéing her best friend in the whole world is that Joan isn’t wearing armour. No, Joan is dressed in her normal jerkin and leather trousers combination, mousey brown hair tied up in a knot on the top of her head. The clanking is coming from the cart she’s pulling through the snow behind her, which does hold her armour, weapons and shield. Plus, and Dragon’s eyes widen and her scales turn gold at the sight, quite a lot of books.
‘Dragon!’ Joan cries, dropping the cart handle and rushing over, wrapping one arm around her foreleg and patting her friend with the other. ‘You came to meet me!’
Dragon swallows down the flame she almost let fly (she feels thoroughly deserving of the heartburn she’ll surely have later) and nods, snout crinkling up in happiness despite the heat in her throat. ‘Oh Joan, I’ve been looking forward to seeing you since the mirror told me you were coming.’
Joan steps back, hands on hips, and a knowing look on her face. ‘I know you too well, Dragon. That’s not a lie but it’s not a yes either. What were you really out here for?’
‘I was going to fetch some milk.’ Dragon winces at the petulant tone in her voice. ‘Since you prefer it in your tea and I don’t keep any in.’
‘Well then you were coming to meet me, even if you didn’t know it.’ Joan darts back over to the cart and lifts the shield to reveal a metal milk churn sat snugly next to the books. ‘The Witch wrote me about your little problem with the villagers so I made sure to pick a few things up on my way through.’
This story is the eighth of a twelve part series that was written at the start of December 2022 in response to daily prompt emails from Writer’s HQ for their 12 Days of Flashmas challenge. It is presented here pretty much just as it was originally written on the eighth day of the challenge. If you’d like to know more my explanatory post can be found here.