The Language of Prophecy

This scene is intended to be part of a larger work (I’ll talk about it more in Wednesday’s post!), but I was inspired to write it by Kaye Dacus’s April 4th Writing Challenge.  The challenge was to write with the prompt ‘The prophecy changed the course of her life,’ which is a giant part of this larger story idea. Thanks, Kaye, for helping me write the first draft of this critical scene!

She lifted her face from the dragon’s claw and pushed the iron talons away.  “What would you know about destiny? I’ve been fighting my destiny my entire life, and this is the best way I know to end the damn quest.”

The dragon’s eyes softened, and it pulled its ebony claw from her face.  “You think I am unaware? That I cannot see what the priests saw before your birth, that I cannot divine the prophecy that came with your blessing?” It sat back on large haunches and relaxed in the hay.

Eilidh guffawed and stood.  Her ripped dress fell from her shoulder, showing the distinct line of mud that ended where her skin had been covered.  “It doesn’t matter if you can divine it or not.  It matters that I can never fulfill the prophecy, and that I get revenge against my filthy father for selling me to Count Bethermore.  They plan to imprison the baby I’m carrying, then get the prince they want from her as soon as they can.  It’s better for the both of us if you just eat me now.”

The dragon sighed and pulled back farther into its cave.  “It was King Elias that subverted the will of the stars and the earth and the rivers and sky.  You believing him is a lesser mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.”

“What would you have me believe? That I will be King? I don’t have the bits for that-”

“Fate does not speak any of the languages of humankind.  ‘King’ doesn’t need the strictures you humans put on it, or perhaps your fate doesn’t care for the confines society has put on you.  It may not be through the path you expected, but you can still rule over your father’s nation.”  It grumbled, flames cooking deep in its breath.  “You don’t believe me, do you?”

Eilidh crossed her arms.  “I came here to make a deal with you.  I let you eat me, and you kill as many people and animals near the capitol as you can.  What part of that deal isn’t good for you?  What more do you want?  Or do I have to chop myself up and crawl in your mouth?”

“My word, they destroyed your sense of self worth, didn’t they?” The dragon rolled its eyes.  It strode a couple paces away, grumbling.  “Fine.  I will take your deal – but on one condition.”

“What?” Eilidh asked.  “I don’t trust dragon magic, if that’s where you’re going.”

“I want you to wait until after you give birth to your daughter.  After that, you may approach me with the request again.”  It plopped on the floor.

Eilidh raised a brow and crept closer to the dragon.  “Are you going to curse her?  Is that what you want?”

“Lord heavens, no.  She’s already ‘cursed,’ if I use the term appropriately.”

Eilidh gasped.

“Don’t be surprised.  She got it from her father.  But she is blessed because of her royal blood, and I suspect the combination of magic will allow her some level of control over the curse.  That makes her extremely powerful even before we know her personality.”  The dragon showed its teeth, its breath hot as it blew past Eilidh’s face.  “Barring everything else, I need that power for myself, especially if I am to kill your father’s knights and horsemen like you desire.”

Eilidh put a finger to her lips.  “And you won’t let her fall into Bethermore’s or my father’s hands?  You won’t let anything bad happen to her?”

“She will remain safe in my care, and I will protect her from the evils of humankind.  I will see her educated, as best I can manage anyway, and she will not live in darkness or need.  Her only payment will be to use her powers to make me grow into an adult quickly.”  The dragon lazed down, its eyes blinking at Eilidh.  “We can push back the date that I eat you, if that would assure you of my intentions.”

Eilidh shook her head.  “No.  I’ll have a few months to see if you’re a liar or not.  Besides – I came here to kill the baby.  This can’t be a worse fate for her.”

The dragon’s eyes squinted, its muscles pulling the face into a grim frown.  “There are fates worse than death.  Even though your daughter’s destiny is great, she would have suffered for it had you not escaped your father’s castle prison.”  It harrumphed and rolled over, the beast spreading hay beneath its body.  “Fate has a funny way of finding its way around all obstacles.”

Eilidh relaxed her arms, then kicked the dragon in the side.  “If you want me to stay, you’re going to need to give me somewhere to sleep.  Scoot.”

The dragon chuckled as it scooted, giving Eilidh space on the hay.

On Greed Alone

In her dreams, the dragon counted shiny coins and carefully weighed her piles of gold and silver. Valuable gems rained down upon her from above, dwarves tossed their tribute at her feet. Louder than all this, however, was the sound of a single tinkle of two coins made in real life.

Her eyes shot open and her head zoned in on the intruder, teeth bared.

A small human child with its dog had stepped upon her hoard and encroached upon her territory. It stepped backwards, cautiously, when it saw her gleaming eyes and shining teeth. She expanded her wings, showing the child how truly massive and intimidating she was.

“Mr. Dragon,” the insulting child had the gall to say, “Mr. Dragon – I wanted to ask you something.”

The dragon, not used to her enemies remaining after showing her full glory, reached out a claw and picked the child up, holding the thing in the palm of her hand. The insipid, annoying dog started barking and snapping at her haunches, so she scooped it up with her free hand and entrapped it with her claws.

“A dragon cannot live on greed alone and, unfortunately for you and your dog, you look to be tasty morsels,” the dragon whispered, even her softest voice having the quality of crashing cymbals. She drew the child to her face, her enormous lungs forcing warm breaths onto the little human.

“It is my mother’s birthday, Mr. Dragon, and I came to ask if I could have a necklace to give to her.”

The dragon lifted a curious eyebrow and stopped drawing the child closer to her lips. No one ever asked a dragon to just give away its treasure. Not even a shaving of gold would leave her grasp! The child was obviously staging a ruse.

The dragon used her claws to prop the child up so that she could directly look it in the eyes, let it stare into the deepness of her dark lenses. She saw the strange part of the human eyes, the white around the irises, and could read the fear that the child stored within.

The dragon growled. “Armies of dwarves, elves, and men have failed to eke a single coin from me; what makes you think that you alone could steal from my horde?”

Squished between her claws, the child answered, “I… I wasn’t going to steal. I was just coming to ask.”

The dragon pushed her hand away a bit. No one had ever done that before – ask for something without threats or violence. She glared at the perplexed and frightened lump of human flesh, squeezed the annoying dog and its incessantly barking mouth a bit tighter.

“No one takes from me – but, perhaps… perhaps you can borrow.”

The dragon placed the child down and searched through its pile, tenderly drawing out a necklace with the tip of her claws and placing it in front of the human.

“Take this to your mother. It is still part of my horde – do not forget – but she may borrow it until it is no longer of interest to her. Bring it back at that time and tell me how she treasured it. Let me know the depth of her greed so I can revel in this piece’s value all that much more.

“But beware, little dumpling, that you do exactly as I say; if you do not, I will take what you owe me with interest and penalty.”

The child took the necklace and the dragon placed the dog on the ground, flicking it angrily.

“Thank you!” the child shouted. It skipped away with the necklace, the dog barking happily after.

As the human ran away, the dragon smiled, knowing the child’s story would bring her a tasty army to enjoy on a later day.