The Quarreling Means Part 2- a Short Story
Rolim made his way from the castle tower, down the ten flights of steps, across a great courtyard to the stables, he knew housed the dragons. He walked through the stable doors and saw Madge off in one corner, readying a dragon for flight.
She glanced up at him then went back to her work.
Less than cordial greeting, he thought.
He looked back down the main isle of the stables, lined on both sides with stalls, each of which contained a dragon. In one section, he saw the reds, the nasty little dragons used for battle raids. In another section I noticed the blue dragons—the horses of the dragon world used mostly for transportation.
Absent from these stables were the larger black dragons, they were kept in a secure lockup a few miles from the castle, as well as the rare white dragons, which no one had been able to catch. Rolim had often heard stories of black dragons turning on and eating their owners.
He turned his attention back to Madge who continued to saddle a blue dragon for flight. He remembered from his studies that a blue dragon could carry two people comfortably.
A whiff of stable air washed up Rolim’s nose. He wrinkled his nose trying his best to close off his nostrils to the offensive odor of sulfur and soiled straw, which permeated the air.
He looked back down the main isle of the stables, lined on both sides with stalls, each of which contained a dragon. In one section, he saw the reds, the nasty little dragons used for battle raids.
In another section Rolim noticed the blue dragons—the horses of the dragon world used mostly for transportation. Absent from these stables were the larger black dragons, they were kept in a secure lockup a few miles from the castle, as well as the rare white dragons, which no one had been able to catch.
Rolim had often heard stories of black dragons turning on and eating their owners.
“What are you doing?”
Rolim stopped wiggling his nose and turned to find Madge watching him. His cheeks flushed pink.
“Oh never mind. My grandfather tells me…I must take you along for the ride…no puking this time…or I’ll dump you in the woods and keep going. So how did it go with my grandfather? He can be a little persistent at times.”
“Huh…oh…it went well I guess.”
“So what did he give you this time, my hand in marriage, a kingdom down by the river…what?”
“Well….no, just some old pendant?” Rolim pulled the pendant out from around his neck. “See just some old pendant.”
The pendant flashed. Rolim threw his hand up to block his eyes but too late. The sudden burst of light blinded them.
“What was that?” Rolim said..
“I don’t know,” Madge answered. “But put it away before you get us in trouble.”
Rolim put the pendant back in his shirt, then rubbed his eyes in an attempt to clear the stars which sparkled before him.
“Why do you think it did that?”
“I don’t know but I’m not going to let worrying about it ruin my trip. Are you coming or what,” Madge started to lead the blue dragon out of the confines of the stable.
Rolim stood there for a moment weighing his options. He shook his head. As if he had any options, he didn’t. His only recourse was to go with Madge.
He gave the stable one last look then turned and followed Madge out the door. Once outside he looked up at the castle tower. He was sure of one thing. The old elf watched their movements from a small window in the top of the tower. He waved up at the window. He felt a sudden pain in his side. Then it was gone. He looked up to the window again and saluted.
“Let’s go…times a wastin,”
Rolim hurried over the blue dragon. Madge had already mounted the dragon and taken up the reins. He threw his leg over the dragon’s back and slid into a position behind Madge.
Rolim turned and grabbed hold of Madge’s midsection as the dragon lifted off the ground.
“So what was all that about?” Madge said
“The saluting…just a going away greeting for you grandfather,”
“Don’t provoke him…he can be very cantankerous when he wants to be.”
Rolim rubbed his chest. “Don’t I know it.”
“Nothing…just thinking out loud…so where are we going anyway?” Rolim asked
“I haven’t decided, I just figured we’d head towards the Aul Mountains. After that who knows…maybe we’ll land and walk a bit.”
“Sounds like fun…” He looked down at the ground. It seemed to fall further and farther away beneath them. The castle grew smaller as the dragon climbed higher into the sky then headed towards the distant mountains. He placed his head in Madge’s back to avoid the rushing wind. “I thought the Aul Mountains were off limits.”
“They are, but since when do I listen to what people tell me?”
“I am coming to depreciate that fact.”
She turned her head just enough to see his face. “Don’t you mean appreciate?”
“No you heard me correctly…depreciate,as in every time you don’t listen it means trouble which takes more years off my life.”
She smiled and turned back around. “You complain, but I know you really like the excitement, you just don’t want to admit it. Now hold on.”
She banked the dragon to the left and pulled back on the reins so the dragon would go higher and pick up the stronger air currents up above. The stronger the air current the faster the dragon could glide.
Rolim looked way off in the distance to where the Aul Mountains rose up from the valley floor. The sun in its track across the sky had started to aim for it’s resting place in between the mountains.
He knew by the time they got to the mountains proper the sun would have already set. He didn’t find any joy in flying around those mountains at night. The Aul Mountains he knew were the home of the black dragons and much worse creatures called harpies. His mentor at sword camp had often told him, harpies were like the grouchy old women who always yell at you and chase you with a broom but much worse because they have wings and claws..
He thought once or twice about pointing out to Madge the folly of flying into those mountains, but he knew it would be a waste of time and words. Madge was one of those women who when they had their mind made up it was made up for good. Well in some cases for the bad. So he did what he felt was the prudent thing. He kept his mouth shut and held on for dear life.
“By the way” he said, “When did you learn to fly a dragon? I can’t remember you ever going to dragon flight school.”
“I didn't,” Madge said, “my plan is to just hang on and hope the dragon knows where he is going.
“That’s not very reassuring,” he replied nervously. He wrapped his arms tighter around her.
”Hey can you ease up on holding so tightly. We haven’t had a first date yet.”
Rolim eased up a little. He thought to himself, Date her...no way. I’d rather fight a troll.”
The dragon flew on and before Rolim knew it, the mountain range, once so far away, loomed directly underneath them. Rolim glanced over the side of the dragon—the ground below him brushed by in a blur. He’d sure hate to fall off the dragon and land on the rocks below.
“Don’t look down.” Madge said, “It’ll make you dizzy.”
“Now you tell me,” Rolim pulled his eyes from the ground below and turned them to scan the ever darkening sky around them. Off in the distance he spotted an inkblot slowly making its way in their direction. He tapped Madge on the shoulder.
“Look over there” he said, “what is that?”
Madge turned her head to look at the far off shape.
“I don’t know what it is but something tells me we shouldn’t stick around to find out either.”
“Can you use your special sense to find out if it is friend or foe.”
“Not and hold onto the reins,”
Rolim continued to stare at the strange cloud as it continued to close on them. Suddenly one of the shapes broke from the rest of the pack. Rolim immediately recognized them for who they were.
Madge looked back over her shoulder.
“Who are they?”
“Beats me, I have never seen their likes before.”
“Maybe they’re some sort of sky pirates.”
Rolim turned his head trying to get a better look at the riders. “They don’t look like pirates, they’re wearing some sort of strange armor.” Rolim noticed the dragon riders had changed course, they were now heading on a course that would intersect their flight path.
© 2020 Timothy Whitt