'Draco' (Short Story)

We were dragon slayers born and breed just for that purpose. Never the time to rest
Forever seeking was a slayers job. We wandered the land in search of the mightiest dragon
of them all, Draco. The mightiest and most formidable opponent we would ever face.
He was the largest of all the dragons and some even thought him to have magical powers
As we walked across the barren lands some scorching deserts and even some frozen in
time by the great coming of the ice always keeping a constant vigil for dragons and there constant reminders of just how much destruction they can cause. Always we seem to get close but never seeming to get close enough. Finding empty lairs that were cold and empty just like the landscapes we traversed. Draco would prove to be the smartest of all the living dragons he was the leader of them all and to be the leader meant cunningness and the ability to out smart the best of opponents. He was seldom referred to as the chameleon dragon, able to blend into his environment made him a formidable opponent. And killing this one would prove to be more difficult than all the others in the past. We had learned of a dragon across the sea in a distant land that from the description we had, this should be Draco. After several days at sea we heard the cry from above “land ho” as we made our way above deck to get a glimpse of this new and strange place we knew a dragon was surely near. The smell of choked the air and the land was burnt and glowed like embers after a fire. We knew then we were at hells gates. The smells of death and rotting flesh hung thick in the air as we drew closer to our destination. The crew readied the slip that would transport us and our gear to shore and we readied our selves for battle not knowing when or where we would first meet with the beast who guarded these shores. As we rolled to shore a eerie calm set us on edge, not a sound could be heard neither coming from the island nor from the oars as they slipped in and out of the water. The ships crew growing more and more fearful with every stroke of the oars wasted no time setting us to land and returning to the awaiting ship in the harbor. As the crew returned to the ship the captain wasted no time in waying the anchor and setting sail. We gathered our supplies and started heading to the nearby forest when a single solitude shadow passed over faster than any arrow we had ever seen in flight and the wind rose suddenly as if the a great storm had appeared above us. The wind arrived in strokes, strokes that only a dragon could make. Turning back to the ship we saw the clouds parting in curls from the mighty strokes of the dragons wings. Then without warning he dove from the sky and in one single pass he managed to take the main sail and its mast from the ships deck. The ship was now sitting helpless in the harbor.
Circling his prey as if taunting them he made a second pass and we knew it was all over for everyone on deck. As he lined up on the once noble ship he spewed an eerie red and orange liquid from his mouth. We knew this would be his killing blow for all above and below would now perish as the ship erupted in flames. Not even the sea appeared to have any effect on his liquid death. Watching helplessly we knew we could do nothing for them now but pray that it would end quickly and painlessly for all left aboard. Some had even managed to jump over board to escape there fiery fate but that was not to be. Circling once again he dove even lower and planed his wings so as to skim the surface of the water dropping his talons like a eagle he skewered everyone left alive in the water. Knowing he would soon sense our presence we made way for cover as quickly as possible for we could do nothing for those left trapped aboard the burning ship. We hastily made way for the forest taking only our essentials and leaving everything else behind for we had very little time, Draco would soon smell our supplies and our bodies and he would return to welcome us to his island but not in the fashion we had grown accustom to. Turning back once again to look at the carnage that had only taken seconds to create I sensed that he was coming and he was coming fast for he was nowhere to be seen and the thick clouds that now hung over the waters would surely conceal him until like the crew of the ship it was to late. As we approached the forest we noticed that something was not right, something was very strange about this land and these trees. The trees seemed as if they were made of stone. Something or someone had magically transformed them and the ground grew hotter as we got farther away from the waters edge. Such feats as these we had only seen in the past as trickery preformed by magicians such as Merlin and his suitors but common knowledge of the land is that the great Merlin sacrificed himself many years before to bind the mighty Draco from his rein of terror and to protect all the lands from his chaos and destruction. We spotted a small opening in the hill side ahead and for now figured that would haft to suffice
As we entered the cave we were greeted by the burnt and broken bones of fallen slayers such as ourselves. Many were scattered about but most were as they had died, sitting with swords in hand hiding from whatever may pass by this opening. Outside we could hear the mighty roars of Draco as if he was telling all of his most recent accomplishment. His cries seemed far away for now but we knew it would only be a matter of time before he found us and then the battle would be at hand. In the true warrior fashion we gathered up the remains of our fallen brothers and buried them in shallow graves in the back of the cave. We ask that Oden except them into Valhalla for they had died as warriors should. Interrupted by the cries of Draco getting closer we took up defense positions as best we could. Knowing that the opening of the cave would not allow him to enter, we were no safer in there than those that had perished before us. We could hear the wind from his wins as he drew closer. The air blast rushing into the narrow cave was as hot as any desert we had ever encountered. As we readied ourselves for what might prove to be our last battle we felt the ground shake as he landed just outside the small cave. My heart raced with fear with every step the great beast took as each one would prove to be closer by the loose rocks that are being shaken loose from the walls of the cave. We dared not make a move because we knew this was nor the time nor the place to try to face an opponent such as Draco. Suddenly he was here as the light from the cave entrance grew dim as he blocked it out with his head. He knew we were in there, with every breath he drew he could smell the fear from our bodies and with every exhale the temperature in the cave rose higher. Then just as sudden as he appeared he was gone something or someone had drawn his attention from us for now. Slowly with sword drawn at the ready I made my way closer to the entrance of the cave. As I peered outward the first thing I noticed was a very very large foot print. Amazed at the size he was much larger than I had initially anticipated him to be. From my vantage point it was there that I saw what had taken his attention away from us for now, it was our remaining supplies left on the beach. Our food supply had baited him away as the smell of fresh meat was new and different to him. As we watched as he devoured our remaining supplies we knew now our task just grew larger not only would we face the ever constant threat of Draco but now we would be forced to hunt for food in order to remain alive. Somehow I sensed that this dragon was smarter than we had assumed him to be. For with every bite he took he would look at the cave where we were hold up as if to say
”Now you will haft to come out”. This one would not be so easy as his predecessors were. Again he cried out as if to be taunting us and then he stretched out his wings, squatted slightly and with one leap he was airborne once again rising higher and higher into the air like the majestic hawk soaring on the thermal winds ever higher until the clouds enveloped him and hide him from our sight once again. Not knowing his whereabouts we decided to await darkness before leaving the safety of the cave for we knew to remain here would be to die as those did before us. That was not an option we wanted to consider. As light gave way to the night we decided it was time to leave the cave. For Draco would surely return in the morning to finish what he had started this day. Legend is that Draco was the father to all dragons before him. His legend had been handed down from generation to generation of slayers as long as time its self. Greater slayers than I have told of witnessing a mighty dragon that was able to defeat entire armies of soldiers in one single pass, talons outstretched and fire spewing from his mouth. Kingdoms that had fallen in hours, fertile farm lands turned into deserts and great lakes dried to dust bowls by his breath. This was the legends that had been handed down to us, the legends of Draco. As night came we slipped out under its cover and made our way along the side of the hill following the narrow path illuminated by the soft eerie glow of the moon. Not knowing where it would lead us but somehow feeling that I had traveled this path once before, guided by only a gut feeling we slipped quietly along. I soon noticed that the further we traveled along the path the thicker the stone forest was becoming. Soon the canopy had become so thick that the moons presents was no longer visible to us at all. This also meant that we would no longer be visible to Draco. We took some comfort in that small thought, glancing at each other it was apparent that we all were thinking the same thought. Up ahead we could hear the muttered sounds of water falling into a pool of some sorts, this would be a plus to us. If the water was still pure and not contaminated we would of solved part of our problems as far as our missing supplies were concerned. As we approached the sounds of the falling water we were startled at a blue luminous glow coming from the woods just ahead. As we got closer we noticed the glow was coming from the water itself, never had we seen anything like this before but the glow was indeed coming from the water and crack in the hill side from which it came. We were extremely thirst from the long hot stay in the cave today and from our travels to get here but not knowing was the water pure or not became our next problem, who would be the one to try this strange brew. Then we noticed the tracks from all the animals that had used the watering hole as their main stay. Tracks that lead up to the water and tracks that lead away meant that the water was truly drinkable. We filled our flask with this strange water and figured if we waited in strategic positions around the pond we could possible regain our supply of much need fresh meat in the morning as the animals came to drink. We slept in shifts because dragons come in all shapes and sizes each just as deadly as the other and if smaller animals knew of this water then so must the other inhabits of this strange land. When morning came we were awakened by a rustling in the bushes, the only sound we had heard since our arriving here that indicated any other living thing was here besides Draco. We each placed our arrows on their rest and readied for what might be a one time shot not knowing what beast would emerge from the brush we all held our breaths in anticipation that the animal would not scent us and turn and run before we could take a shot. To our surprised it was a large mature male boar and as I drew my bow I wondered just how he had survived here in such a desolate place, how had he avoided Draco, s wrath to grow as large as he was. Then just as quickly as he appeared he turned away as if he knew I was here waiting for him, but his actions were in vein for I had released my arrow and its flight was true. It pierced his thick skin just behind his shoulder. Without a sound he fell dead in his tracks he was standing in just moments before.
For my heart fell with him for it was not he we had came here for and now his time here was thru. My arrow had taken his life, painlessly and swiftly and for this I cussed Draco. For the title of slayer meant to protect the lands and the creatures that roamed it freely, not to take a life but to save it from evil. After cleaning and quartering the boar we packed what we could carry and buried the rest. After cleaning up we were back to the task at hand, planning our attack on Draco we knew we could not fight nor could we kill him in the air. We would haft to somehow get him on the ground and keep him there. This would be a difficult task as a dragon by nature does his best in the air, once grounded they are quite clumsy. As we walked back to a clearing we had noticed the night before we all said our prayers and goodbye’s not knowing would this be our last battle together or would we live to fight another fight. The closer we got to the clearing the thinner the stone tree’s would become, this would be our greatest time of peril for then we would be fully visible to Draco from above. As we approached the clearing the stench of sulfur became stronger and the smoke like a thick layer of fog covered the ground. Our attack plan would be like that of the old ones, those who had passed before us. We as three would stand in the clearing, bows at ready, back to back, swords placed firmly in the ground as to complete the triangle. The plan was fail safe, Draco would not be able to approach undetected, so we thought. As we approached the center of the clearing the ground beneath us began to shake, rising up from under the veil of the fog the ground had come to life. It was Draco, he had been waiting on us, he to knew the ways of the old ones and had set a trap of his own. As he raised his ugly head above the fog we were caught completely off guard by his cunningness, drawing our bows and firing at will we knew we had to keep him here, here on the ground. Further and further he rose above the fog until he was completely visible to us, all but his tail. Our arrows seemed to have little effect on him at all, but we were no prepared for what had just taken place, we were not expecting to be the hunted, we were the hunters. As he spread his wings to take flight I sent an arrow into each joint of his wings where they joined to his body. He thrashed his tail in pain and slammed his head down, his cries were deafening at this close, snapping wildly at us he was defiantly trying to even the odds. Thrashing his tail from side to side I remember seeing one of my companions falling in battle, his back folded and I heard the awful sound of it breaking into as I knew he had fought his last fight. Draco drew his head back high into the air as to avoid our arrows, I knew he was getting ready to spray us with his most deadly defense, liquid fire. At that moment a vision appeared to me in my head who I knew as the great wizard Merlin, his voice thundered in my mind as he told me to use the magic, use the magic I have provided you with. Then as quick as Draco, s head went up he turned and faced us, eyes red with fire, nostrils flaring, teeth as long as a mans arm he dipped his head and spewed the ground before us with his dragons breath igniting all that was close to him. Once again the voice rang out in my head “ Use the Magic” at that moment I realize our first thoughts at seeing the water coming from the mountain side. Its light blue luminous glow seemed to posses magical powers that were only seen in the wizard’s crystals. I prayed that this was what the voice that kept ringing in my head was trying to tell me so as I grabbed my water skin from my side, I turned to look for my remaining companion to tell him of my vision but he was nowhere to be seen. I had hoped that he too had not fallen to the wrath of Draco but as the dragon reared his head back, there he was, I couldn’t believe my eyes as he was riding high on Draco, s back battle axe drawn he was attempting to cut off one of the mighty wings that lifted Draco with ease into the air. The dragon screeched in agony with every thrust of his axe. He lowered his head once again trying to catch me in his deadly grip, as he drew closer I reared back and prayed to Oden that my aim be true as I released the skin containing the water we had gathered at the pool for I knew I would not be allowed a second chance should I miss. Draco snapped at the skin as if he were catching a small bird. A great hiss could be heard coming from his throat and blue foam began dripping from his jowls. He threw his head back and forth trying to disperse of the skin and its contents but it was to little to late. I was hoping that this was what the voice meant, that this was what Merlin was trying to tell me from beyond his grave. Draco again thrashed his tail as once again he tried to shake the slayer from his back. But this was no ordinary slayer this was a Norseman, he was use to the rough seas and had a grip on Draco, s mane ridding him as if he was on the bow of Odens ship itself, cussing Draco with every blow of his axe. With last mighty effort the Norseman had accomplished what he had started off to do, he had managed to cut off the wing from Draco, s body and without it Draco was virtually defenseless. For without his wing he was truly grounded and to be grounded for a dragon such as he meant sure death. I charged Draco with all I had I knew it was now or never if the Norseman and I were to survive. Plunging my sword deep into Draco, s chest I saw the mighty dragon stiffen as my sword had found its mark. I had pierced his blackened heart. The Norseman released his grip from the dragons back as he knew what was about to happen, the dragon would tumble and fall with ground shaking force. As Draco fell forward his own body gave the final push to my sword to end his life. It seemed to me that at the moment he hit the ground the whole earth felt him dieing. He laid there before me not moving, a low deep growl that seemed to come from the very bowels of the earth would be the last sound he would ever make. His eyes slowly lost the fire in them, they were a emerald green now as the life drained from his body. With every dieing breath he seemed to be begging us to finish what we had started. Without hesitation I took the Norseman’s sword and with one swift move plunged it deep into his skull. We backed away from the beast we had just conquered as he exhaled his final breath. We knew that without any doubt that Draco would soon take his place among the stars. A small part of me had died with him at that moment, I even felt a little sorry for him, the last of a once might adversary. Once a gentle beast, magical and mystical as all time that had been betrayed by mankind. As we walked away turned to look at him one last time. And I watched as the earth slowly reclaimed his body, as it did, the fog that had once covered the ground began to form a circle around his massive body and slowly it turned from a dense gray to a light almost cobalt blue, the blue of the water and without a sound it rose swiftly upwards towards the heaven, it was at that point I knew that Merlin and the heavens had once again claimed what had always been theirs.
A short story by Steve E. Poore
May 13th 2003

by Poison 9901

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