Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge : Death on Black Wyrm Peak

varnadragons

Photo ©Grantscharoff


 

They reached the foot of the mountain as the dew was drying on the grasslands.

Rand looked about him, at the meadow flowers waving in the breeze, butterflies and hummingbirds dizzying the air. Then he looked ahead. ‘So we climb?’

Sheathing his sword, Mitchell nodded. ‘If you want to eat again.’

Be an innkeeper like your Dad – that’s what my Ma said.’ Rand hooked his battleaxe on his belt, tucked his crossbow under his arm. ‘Soft beds, beer, barmaids – why didn’t I listen?’

They reached the nest just as the sun was lowering over Black Wyrm Peak. A storm head was gathering, clouds the colour of pitch bulging over the valley.

‘Could have done with a full moon,’ whispered Mitchell.

Rand pulled free his axe, the metal shushing the gloom. ‘So now you want me to fight in the dark? Maybe you can hog tie me too?’

Twin snaps, like wet sheets caught in a gale – a sound like knives scraping the rocks. Mitchell grabbed Rand’s arm, pulling him behind an outcrop just as a shadow blacked out the sun.

Mitchell could smell them, an animal smell but like nothing else – meat and ash and sulphur. His pulse beat in his ears. He edged round the outcrop to see their prey.

They were both there – the male wyrm taller by half a man’s height, scales shimmering, seeming to glow in the half light, spikes curving from his head, along his spine and tail. Hard as iron, hard as diamonds – that was how the legend went. The female was beside her mate, smaller, fewer spikes, but they were the venomous ones – one scratch from a talon, from a tooth and you’re dead.

The creatures began to circle each other, claws clashing on the rock, tails twining and as they did a sound – like bells chiming from afar. Depite himself, Mitchell was transfixed, the song echoing through his bones. As they moved faster round each other it was hard to tell where one wyrm began, the other ended, their scales glowing hotter, the colour of dawn over the mountains, lighting the rocks. He’d never seen anything more beautiful …

A whistling sound, a heavy thunk – another whistle, screaming, animal pain. Both dragons fell, shaking the ground, crushing stone to dust. A shape flew past Mitchell. Rand. The sound of an axe hacking flesh, clashing against scales.

The light died.

Moments later, Rand was beside him, gasping for breath, stinking of sulphur. ‘Got them both in the neck with a crossbow bolt – in the soft part under the chin,’ he said, grinning like a boy. ‘And guess what?’ He brought his hand from behind his back, revealing an egg the size of a newborn babe. It shimmered gold in the gloom. ‘Draco wanted the scales and the hearts, but how much will he give us for that?’

Mitchell sighed. ‘Let’s finish up. I need a beer.’

 


Written for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge. See the pic and write a tale. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

And here and here to read Mitchell and Rand’s previous adventures.

 

 

 

 

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34 thoughts on “Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge : Death on Black Wyrm Peak

    1. Tough men in tough times, Jane. I think they’re sort of anti-heroes, Mitchell being the thinker, Rand being the … non thinker. Hired hands do what they’ve been hired to do so they can eat. Maybe Rand should have stuck to innkeeping 🙂

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      1. Very true. There’s a lot of moral ambiguity in fiction these days and it is interesting to write. As your point suggests, it makes the characters closer to real people, people who can be both bad and good.

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      2. It’s a tricky balance to achieve – having a character be good but not bland. I struggled with a YA character who seemed to be a bit blank, have no personality – until I gave her a chip on her shoulder and a sarcastic nature. Then she cam to life a bit 🙂

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      3. Haha! I love my food too much to miss meals, but they are usually late – and I was also late to meet a friend today because I was caught up writing. Caught red handed! 🙂

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      4. At least I’m not late because I’m watching some awful soap opera or ‘Cash in the Attic’ – that would be embarrassing 🙂

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  1. You’ve got to be ready for anything here, for here be dragons… plus evocative description and atmosphere. 🙂 Mermaid popping back round mine on Sunday. I didn’t forget. ~ P ~

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  2. So much for beautiful, Rand has a job to do, right? Well, at least they’re getting a good haul. Lucky for them Rand is such an amazing shot –two dragons with two crossbows, that’s legendary! Could have turned out much, much worse for them, and may still, if he keeps being so cocky, eh?

    I hadn’t realized the previous two stories were the same people, but now I’m starting to see the patterns. I think Mitchell’s the one who should have been an innkeeper. Rand strikes me as more of the butcher type. 😉

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    1. Haha! Love that comment on their characters – you’re so right.
      I know it was brutal, but there are a lot of anti heroes out there these days (especially in Grimdark fantasy) and it’s really interesting to write them. We don’t like all out ‘good’ heroes these days, I think. Thanks for reading again 🙂

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      1. I still like my good heroes (she pouts) but yes, I see the appeal in the “bad boy” and “bad girl” characters too. And I can definitely see how they can be fun to write.

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      2. I like people that you can identify as mainly good or bad, but who are capable of doing bad or good things given the right pressures. And yes – very goos fun. The devil has the best tunes … 🙂

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  3. I feel bad for the dragons. It doesn’t seem like they were hurting anyone. Just trying to live their lives at their best, protect their young. It’s no different than hunters who kill endangered rhinos or elephants today. Very sad.

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    1. A great analogy, Amanda and I think that was in the back of my mind when I wrote it. All the hunters in Africa we deplore, but who are living in poverty themselves and have found a way to make a lot of money quickly. It’s the buyers we should really condemn – and the fact people live in such poverty to begin with.
      Thank you for reading

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      1. Lynn you are right about the poverty. It shouldn’t be. I don’t know how you make drug and warlords, to right this in those places. I don’t think money, even aid, is often responsibly spent — even by well meaning elected politicians.

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      2. Sadly, this is true. There’s a lot of corruption in the world, a lot of people prepared to take some for themselves, even if it means those really in need miss out.

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  4. I was too tired last night after my Thanksgiving meal to comment. 🙂 I enjoyed reading the comments above. I agree about the characters, and the analogy to elephant hunting or other animals–whales for their oil, rhinos for their horns, etc. I can imagine these two doing all sorts of unsavory jobs, as mercenaries.

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    1. I think the analogy works well – it’s not a reality most of us approve of, but some people do horrifying things in order to pay their bills, and these two definitely do. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving 🙂

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