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My Abductor, the Dragon
Author's note: I started this work as a challenge to myself- write a story about dragons. It started as a short story... but I stopped calling it one after I reached the tenth page.
Alright, I’m writing this account to tell the truth. I don’t care what Marni Brewitt says- I did not burn down the village, as the fire was in no way my fault- and I still don’t get what could possibly make her a good source for the truth, since she’s a moron. My hair was sooty because I was cleaning out my fireplace. My house didn’t burn down because it’s made of stone. (Also, you’d think that educated townsfolk such as yourselves would know that stone isn’t flammable.) As for the burn on my wrist, I got it a few weeks ago while making dinner. I didn’t go to buy medicine because all the plants I needed were in my yard and the only reason that none of you noticed that stupid burn before was because I was wearing long sleeves- and you’d have to be a ninny not to, with winter so close.
Irona (who’s reading over my shoulder) said that I should probably explain myself a bit more- there is the off chance that someone who’s not from Danger might be reading this, and might be a bit confused. She said I should probably try to start from the very beginning.
Right! The beginning.... Okay, umm....
Irona, where exactly would the beginning be?
Irona said that the very beginning is the first beginning. Since I have no idea what that means, I think I’ll just start by introducing myself.
My name is Rodney Coalton, and I’m a seventeen year-old girl. Yes, I know that Rodney is a boy’s name. If you have nine older brothers, and your mom finds out she’s pregnant yet again, you’d probably expect the baby to be a boy, and you wouldn’t bother to think up any girl names. I live by myself, since Mom and Dad died a few years back from an epidemic, and my brothers went off to seek their fortunes. (Though for the record, I’m not describing that- it would take far too long, not to mention I haven’t heard from any of them in a while. Also, I just don’t want to do it.)
So, girl living all alone, I’m guessing you’re curious about what I do to support myself (if you don’t already know, that is). Well, I’ll tell you- unlike my siblings, I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps. Now, I’m the town blacksmith. Hey, wait a minute, don’t put this down and walk away! I know that there’s never been a female blacksmith before (as far as I know of, anyway), and that last statement probably convinced you for sure that I’m a dirty-rotten liar, and Marni is full of honesty and goodness. I assure you that neither one of those ideas is true. For instance, I bet you think that girls aren’t strong enough to be blacksmiths. In that case, you’d be dead wrong. Being a blacksmith isn’t all about strength- it’s about multi-tasking and fine attention to detail, and a certain amount of intuition. I bet that if you asked anyone, they’d say I was the best blacksmith in Danger. (And though I’m the only blacksmith in Danger, I’m still the best there is. I’ve received few complaints about my work.)
Anyway, enough about me- time to change topic. So, Danger- the village I live in. I bet that unless you live here, you’ve never heard of it. Actually, you have- you just never bothered to learn the name of it, like most people. You know that group of kooks that live right near the Catastrophic Mountains of Doom, Misery, Misfortune, Despair, and Wretchedness? The area that few people dare go to because it’s known as “The Dragons’ Doorstep”? Yeah, we’re the people who live there, except we’re not kooks. (Okay, Mr. Meshu –Gennah thinks on Monday, Wednesdays, and Thursdays that he’s a duck, and that the color green is out to get him… but he’s not the norm.) Seriously though, Danger’s not that bad. The soil is okay, our crops are bigger than one might expect, and while the area’s a bit dilapidated, it’s still pretty nice, and the people are friendly (or at least, they used to be before accusing me of something I didn’t do). I guess the only down side would be the dragon abductions.
Oh, right, if you’re not from Danger, of course you haven’t heard of them. Basically, we have somewhat limited resources (in part because everyone’s afraid of going near the mountains- we may live close by, but we’re not stupid). Anyway, we not only have limited resources, we have a limited population, too. Most people move away from Danger as quickly as they can- few actually stay by choice. So, of course, if your village’s reputation is already pretty shoddy, it doesn’t help that people are sometimes carried off by dragons in the middle of the night. Usually this happens on Saturdays, for some reason.
Yes, you read right. Dragons abduct Danger residents. On Saturdays.
Nobody’s got any idea why. That’s not even the strange part, though. Three months after the abduction, the person comes back. On their own. And they always seem to fall into one of two categories.
First category: the experience was so traumatic that they can’t remember what happened. They also don’t seem quite there anymore, are prone to depression, cry easily, and take a sudden dislike to their job. A tiny bit strange, but mostly to be expected, shock and whatnot.
Second category: the person actually seems happier. There’s a glint in their eye, and a spring in their step. They devote more attention to their jobs than ever and their skills seem to increase tenfold. Sometimes, I’ve seen one or two look towards the mountains with the largest grins on their faces.
And that’s not the weirdest part about the second category. They made a club. Of the people that were abducted and seemed happy afterwards. They meet and reminisce about their abductions. They call it “The Happily Abducted”. Personally, I call it “Lunatics Night Out”. Why in the world would you be happy about being abducted by a dragon? Not only would you have to worry about your life for a few months, (the people come back fine… sort of, but still) it would set you a few months behind in your work. I can’t afford that! Do you know how long it takes to make all the parts for a bed frame or a gate and put it all together? A pretty darn while, I’ll have you know! I’m perfectly happy as a non-abducted person!
Or at least I thought so… until I got abducted as well.
The day started out pretty normally. I was making a crib frame for Mrs. Kroppe, a farmer’s wife’s with a new baby, and was drawing out one of the rods for it, when in came Marni Brewitt.
Now, even when you hate someone, you can surely find at least one redeeming value within their character, right? Not so with Marni. She… well, she doesn’t quite have a profession. She basically plays up the damsel act and leaches off the “big, strong men” who do the actual work. The little tramp gets money for doing nothing, and often comes over to harass me, since I’m the only one in town who she hasn’t leached off of yet.
“Helloooo, sir,” she said in a nauseatingly flirtatious manner. I rolled my eyes.
“Marni, we’ve been through this- I’m a girl.”
“Oh, so you are! Why are you doing that dangerous work? A man should be doing that with a beautiful woman to wipe the sweat from his brow, like me!” Impressive- she used the word brow correctly, and didn’t pronounce it as ‘bro’. “Now where’s your brother Rodney?”
“Marni, I’m Rodney. And I’m a girl blacksmith.”
Have I mentioned that she’s incredibly stupid? She thinks that since Rodney is a boy’s name, and the owner is known to be named Rodney, that I’m lying about my name, and Rodney is really my never-seen tenth brother who really owns the forge and hasn’t been flirted with yet. I have tried and failed to set her straight at least once a day, to no avail.
“No, no, you silly-willy! That can’t be! You see-”
And this was where I tuned her out by striking the hammer on the rod more loudly. I tried to be careful so I wouldn’t damage the rod- I didn’t want to have to start over or turn this into a sculpture so it wasn’t a lost cause. (My father had always taught me waste not, want not.)
I started listening again when it sounded like she was drawing to a close.
“-say hi to your el-oooo-sive brother! Bye!”
With that Marni walked out in a way that, while she probably thought was flirtatious, actually looked pretty humorous- I mean, nobody sways that much in real life. I got back to work on the crib, and took a break when I had finished making all the parts (I’d weld them later) and went over to the DragonSmoke, my favorite pub, to grab lunch.
I grinned as I grabbed a table and Shortie walked over. Shortie’s a good friend of mine- though he’s not actually that short. He’s really the tallest one in the village, at about seven foot two. I call him Shortie because we both think that his real name is kind of stupid. Honestly- with a name like that, it’s a wonder that he didn’t get beaten up or made fun of as a kid.
“Heya, Jumbo,” Jumbo’s his nickname for me. In truth, I’m not that tall- we just both like having ironic nicknames. “You look pretty beat. What’s up?”
“The moron came to spread stupidity.”
“Ah. No wonder you’re annoyed. Weird, she usually comes later in the day, right?”
“Every kook has to have an off day, I guess.”
“Oh yeah, guess what?”
He plowed on before I could even open my mouth to guess.
“Bathilda Fletch is back.”
My mouth dropped open.
“No way! Is she Happily Abducted?”
“Yep. She’s been using some kind of odd silicon instead of feathers a few times.”
“And the arrows still flew?”
“Straight as a bird.”
“Weird. Why is it that all the lunatics in town are so smart?”
We heard a shrill scream coming from the other end of the room and turned our heads towards the sound. Mr. Meshu-Gennah was looking at his plate in horror, and staring at one of his worst nightmares- a pickle.
Shortie rolled his eyes and went over to Mr. Meshu-Gennah.
“You’d think you’d have learned your lesson after last week- all of our pasties are served with a pickle on the side!”
Mr. Meshu-Gennah merely kept staring at his plate and whimpering.
Shortie sighed and tossed the pickle to me. I caught it and didn’t hesitate to take a bite. Delicious.
He turned back to Mr. Meshu-Gennah, who had yet to eat his meal. “What kind of pasty did you order?”
“You can’t eat that.” Shortie turned to the nearest serving wench. “Go to the kitchen and tell one of the cooks to grill some salmon.” She didn’t hesitate to obey.
Shortie grumbled profanities as he grabbed the plate with the pasty on it, walked over, and placed it in front of me. “At least you like spinach.”
I gave him a sympathetic look as I dug into the pasty. Shortie looked nervous as he started to continue talking to me.
“You do realize what Bathilda being back means, right? And the day of the week?”
I raised my eyebrow. “The town is full of more kooks now and thankfully this information won’t leave for another three weeks since the last of the traveling merchants left yesterday?”
“No, you ninny! It means that before long, there’s going to be another abduction! Stay off the streets tonight!”
“Don’t call me a ninny!” I swatted him on the head.
“Anyway, you can’t predict dragon abductions- they’re not timely, or late, or early- they just are. As for me, I doubt I have anything to worry about. No dragon would ever abduct me- I’m not interesting or anything, and I’ve got a temper that’s hotter than dragon flame itself- who in the right mind would want a piece o’ that?”
“M-Maybe the dragons disagree. It’s what’s behind the temper that matters.”
“Hey, your face is kind of red- are you okay?”
“Y-yeah. Fine. I should get back to work. Stay off the streets, okay? Ya never know.”
With that, Shortie dashed into the kitchen. Hmph. Was I really that boring to talk to? Whatever. I needed to get back to welding that crib anyway.
So I did that for a few hours- well, that and making a few frames for portraits and whatnot. Well, apparently I’m bad at judging time, because before I knew it, I had skipped dinner and it was close to midnight. Well, this sometimes happened, so I had a little stash of dried fruits and meats hidden in a metal box under a phosphorescent rock that glowed at night, since I knew that I’d snack on it too much if I kept it in the house. However, it was incredibly windy a few days ago, so the rock had probably moved off my stash, meaning I had lost track of it. So there I was, digging through dirt and upturning rocks, which was pretty hard since it was so dark out (moonless night- aren’t I lucky?), when it happened.
I felt an extreme wind and consistent pressure on my stomach as the ground traveled away from me. The impossible had happened. I had just been kidnapped by a dragon.
Well, I was pretty calm during the whole ordeal-
No, she wasn’t, she was screaming her head off and cussing up a storm. It was a wonder she didn’t wake anyone.
Thank you, Irona. Thank you ever so much. Now, if you would be ever so kind, could you please let me finish?
Well, Irona’s mad now. At least she went to go hunt, so I can carry on without any more interruptions.
Okay, so yes, I was pretty freaked out. I mean, wouldn’t anyone be if they were suddenly dangling several feet in the air with a good chance of death whether you ended up falling or ended up surviving the flight and staying with the dragon?
Actually, after getting over the extreme fear, the flight was oddly calming. It was not only fast, it was also pretty smooth- the only thing that could be considered turbulence was the gentle swaying I felt from where I was. Even though I didn’t expect to, I ended up falling asleep, which I guess really isn’t that surprising since it was so calm up there and pretty late at night.
My glorious welcome-back to consciousness was a large thump, and a very sore backside. I was on a pile of hay. Yes, hay. Why the hell would a dragon have hay? Usually they eat livestock, I know that for a fact- some of the farmers have come over to my forge to complain about their decreasing livestock and get bigger fences in hopes that they’ll keep the dragons away.
I was snapped out of my thoughts by some noises of clacking against stone. There it was, by the mouth of the cave- my abductor, the dragon.
It was pretty scary to look at- it was a smoky white color that I had only seen before in opals. It was as tall as two houses stacked on top of each other. It was also about as long as an acre of land. Its massive, bat-like wings were so pale they were almost see-through, and you could easily see the bones from each part of them. The face was the scariest part, though. I couldn’t see any kind of emotion in it- just a sort of bleak coldness. Its pale blue eyes were watching me in the most unnerving way.
“Well, aren’t you a big surprise?” The dragon’s voice reverberated a little in the cave. The voice was odd- it sounded so human, yet with a slight rumble underneath. It was also decisively female, and reminded me of a merchant I met once- an old woman who seemed to have gotten the short end of the stick and was all alone. What the hell did the dragon mean by that, though?
“You kidnapped me- I should be asking you that!” I snapped.
“Feh! Not by choice.”
“Boiling crumpets, what do you mean not by choice?! You kidnapped me- I had no choice in that! You had plenty of choice- how the hell can you kidnap someone ‘not by choice’?!”
The dragon eyed me speculatively. “Hm. Actually standing up to me- can’t say I expected much of this the first time I met a human- I mean, the cussing and screaming, sure- plenty of others said they got that- but falling asleep and standing up to me weren’t quite what I had heard or expected. Maybe it’s defective. Maybe I should talk to Verraline and Quizynne- they’ve done this way more often, specially with those traveling craftsmen.” She walked past me deeper into the cave.
The dragon was ignoring me. It was freaking ignoring me! What the hell was UP with these kidnappings?!
I rushed after the dragon, who stopped before an enormous looking glass, but it wasn’t like any I’d ever seen. This one wasn’t just some polished iron or silver- it was actually reflecting the surroundings to the T! It also took up the whole cavern, which said a lot, considering how huge the caves were.
The dragon stomped over and grumbled to herself. She tapped the center of the looking glass with a talon. “Verraline and Quizynne.”
The glass fogged up and started changing colors rapidly, eventually slowing down to show a luminescent silver and a charcoal black. The colors then faded away to show two dragons of the same colors. They didn’t look at all like my dragon, though. The black one had dark silver spikes that were larger and thicker than my those of my dragon running from his head all the way from his head to his tail, along with gray under armor running from neck to tail-tip and big, blocky wings. The female was fairly different. She had a more angular head and smaller, off-white under armor that didn’t run down her full tail, which ended with an arrow instead of a normal tip and was shaggy with spikes. Her wings were pretty shaggy, too, but they were really pretty as well. They looked almost like leaves.
My abductor spoke up. “Well, I hope you two are pleased with yourselves,” she jerked a talon in my direction, pointing at me. “There it is. Are you happy now?”
“Wonderrrful! Let me see it, let me see it! Oh, you two must be get-ting on brrrilliantly!” The silver dragon said. Its voice, like my dragon’s, was female, but that was about the end of the similarities. This dragon spoke with a slight accent (which sounded very round and consisted mostly of it rolling its r’s), and had a delicate clinking undertone that highlighted the accent even further. It also sounded surprisingly gentle.
“Wait a minute, Irona, what’s wrong? You usually don’t call unless you’re upset or irritated about something,” said the black dragon. Male voice, same rumbling underneath as that in my dragon’s voice… And my dragon was apparently named Irona.
“Well, of course something’s wrong! I told you both that I didn’t want to do it, and to top it off, you made me grab one that was defective!”
Defective?! I glowered. Bloody bagpipes, what did Irona mean defective?! I’m not defective! Heck, if anybody’s defective, it’s Mr. Meshu-Gennah. I mean, sure, I don’t like lettuce, but at least I don’t run screaming from it! If I wasn’t afraid of being roasted alive, I’d stomp up to Irona and give her a good what-for!
The black dragon raised an eyebrow. “Are you serious?”
Its mate joined in. “I doubt it’s defective, Irrrona. Zerrre arrren’t a lot of defective humans arrround. Zee most rrrecent one… was-n’t it forrrty yearrrs ago? Zat man who didn’t like the colorrr charrr-t-rrreuse?”
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Mr. Meshu-Gennah was abducted?! Mind. Blown.
“-anyways, if you rrreally think that it’s defective, why not just ask?” The silver dragon turned to me. “HELLO… HUMAN…. DO… YOU…. UNDERRRSTAND… ME?”
Geez, I’ve never had more goose bumps in my life. “Um, yes…”
“Well, there you go Irona, that’s a good sign.”
“ZAT… IS…. GOOD…. HUMAN… DO…. YOU…. HAVE…. ANY….. QUESTIONS?”
Before, I could stop myself, I uttered the words:
“Are you kidding me?”
“Huh?” The dragons asked in unison.
“Of course I’ve got questions! I’ve got millions of questions! You kidnapped me; did you really think I wouldn’t be curious about why?? Not just that why- the why for a lot of things, actually!”
“Like what?” Irona asked with- was that amusement? - in her voice.
“Like who are they-”
“Oh, zat’s easy, dearrr- I’m Verraline and zis gorrrgeous black scaly hunk is Quizynne, my mate.”
“Or why you all look so different-”
“You humans have different species that live in different areas and have different customs. Are you really surprised that dragons have species, too?” Quizynne responded.
I was a bit confused about his “humans have species” comment, but I let it go.
“Or what Irona meant by ‘not kidnapping me by choice’! How does that work?!”
“Irrrona! I told you not to be rrrude to humans!”
“I wasn’t. You told me not to lie to them either, Ver.”
“Well, is now rrreally the best time to tell herrr? Don’t we usually wait a bit?”
“Now’s as good of a time as any, Ver. No sense trying to beat around the bush. Irona, it’s your human- why don’t you explain?”
“Okay, listen up, kid, because I’m not going through this twice- and Verraline, if you keep interrupting me to fix my etiquette, I won’t finish until her grandchildren are old and dead.”
The silver dragon quickly shut her mouth.
“Thank you. Now, anyways… A long time ago, dragons and humans actually co-existed pretty peacefully. We dragons are all brilliant craftsmen in our own right, and we trained some of the best of yours, teaching them our skills and our magic… it was pretty nice to have students who listened to you and respected you.”
Irona looked wistful for a moment before carrying on.
“After a while, the humans got pretty greedy and wanted more than we could give them in skills and knowledge. A bunch of them tried to kill a dragon and steal the eggs, in hopes of examining the corpse and eating the eggs in hopes of becoming magical creatures themselves. Thankfully, they were too noisy, and the dragon was able to take her clutch and escape. From that point on, dragons stopped associating with humans, and humans learned via distant memories of the dragons’ skills to fear them. But after a while… well, dragons took to teaching each other, but it was difficult to find one with the same interests as you- dragons take centuries to find mates and have clutches, so it’s not as if there are a lot of them out there looking to pursue the same study as you. It was lonely, and it didn’t help that you humans were taking most of the resources. So, we dragons decided to extend an olive branch of sorts- we teach the humans, they share their resources, yadda yadda. But we aren’t stupid- we’re not just gonna go up to humans and be all ‘Yo, wanna be my student?’ after what happened last time. So, we decided to go slowly with stealth.”
“Hence the abductions,” I muttered.
“Exactly. We kidnap a craftsmen with the same trade as us, keep him or her for a few months, teach them what we know- trade secrets and magic and whatnot- and try to get them to accept us. It’s like a slow psychology experiment, I guess.”
The pieces were, at last, starting to fit together. “Why were you so grumpy before, though? And what did you mean by the whole ‘not by choice’ thing?”
“Well, while I was supportive of the cause- making stuff like bed frames and whatnot for other dragons’ humans, these two-” at this she glared at Verraline and Quizynne
“-decided that I should finally abduct a human for once....”
“And since I’m the only blacksmith in Danger, you didn’t exactly get to choose who you got.”
“Exactly. Now,” her tone changed as she turned to Verraline and Quizynne again. “Don’t you two have a stained glass window or an apple pie to get back to?”
“It’s actually a flower vase and a quiche, but Ver and I get the hint, Irona. I’ll stop by tomorrow with breakfast for you and your new master- I mean houseguest,” Quizynne teased. He tapped what must’ve been the center of his looking glass and said, “End message.” With that, the glass cleared and went back to reflecting the cave.
An awkward silence reigned in the cave before I finally asked, “What did he mean about dropping off breakfast? I thought dragons hunted.”
“Usually, yeah, but Quiz is a great chef and Ver and I have kind of gotten used to his fine cuisine. C’mon, no sense loitering around here, let’s walk and talk.” Irona made a ‘come here’ gesture with her tail.
I followed her out of the cavern. “So… you’re a blacksmith, too?”
“Yeah, I’ve been working on my hoard since I was a hatchling.”
That confused me. “I thought hoards were gold and silver stuff stolen from people who could afford it, like royals.”
Irona rolled her eyes. “Myth. Actually, hoards are made of things that dragons have created for themselves via craftsmanship. It’s like a show of skill to have a large hoard with a variety of complex pieces.”
I thought of that black dragon, Quizynne. “What about crafts where the works can’t be preserved?”
“It varies. Quiz, for instance, collects and creates recipes.”
“Have you ever met any other dragons who are blacksmiths?”
“I did know one… not so long ago. Other than that, I’m the only one.”
She seemed saddened. We finally reached a cavern entrance... except this one had a large metal door in front of it. She gestured to a smaller door fit within the larger one.
“Well… go ahead.”
Hesitantly, I turned the doorknob… and was amazed at what I saw.
The cavern was divided into two parts, with a few doors on the wall. On the left side, I saw a rather large bed frame decorated with metal dragons… the kind of thing one would probably see in a princess’s room rather than a cave. There was a washbasin, a mirror, a wardrobe… all decorated with dragons like the ones on my bed. It was pretty… but what really caught my attention was the other side of the room. On the right side of the cavern… was my very own forge. The most beautiful forge I’d ever seen, with a set of bellows, a pair of tongs, a forge, an anvil… everything I could dream of, down to a fire-proof apron that looked kind of like the one my father used to use before it fell into disrepair.
“Get your butt back here.”
Without realizing it, I had started walking towards the beautiful forge. She hooked a talon around my waist and slid me back over to the entrance.
“It’s late. Go to bed. Since I had to stay up all night because of you, I’m pretty beat. I’m gonna hit the hay. I suggest you do the same. Good night,” she grumbled.
“Umm… you aren’t afraid I’m gonna escape?”
That stopped Irona short. She started doing something that was between a roar and a growl. After a minute, I realized what it was- laughing. Irona was laughing. After a while, she calmed down and started to speak.
“Oh, my iron ore, that was a good one. Look, you fell asleep during the flight, a fact which I still find weird. Do you even know where you are?”
“Of course! I’m in the Catastrophic Mountains-”
That stopped me cold. “What do you mean?”
“Your village is near the Peak of Misfortune, and for all you know, you might be there, you might not- you can’t exactly navigate back if you don’t know where you are. You fell asleep, and even if you didn’t-”
“It was dark, so I wouldn’t have been able to see,” I realized.
“Exactly. Part of the reason we go for moonless nights- plenty of cover, most discrete time to grab a human.”
“Oh.” Not much to say to that.
“Pointless exposition time over. Bed. Now. G’night.” She snapped.
With that, I went to bed, griping nervous about what the next day would bring.
The next morning, I was woken up in a pleasant manner that I’m sure is how most people are woken up- Irona barged into my room, and, when I didn’t get up right away (as I’m not a morning person), she proceeded to grab me and pick me up by my ankles so I was upside down.
I already apologized for that!
I don’t care, you should’ve known better. It took me almost blacking out for you to realize that you should stop, even after all that thrashing and screaming! Drowsy doorknobs…
Anyway, after Irona was sure that I was awake, she left and I went to the wardrobe to get dressed. After all, with its somewhat rough treatment, my tunic from yesterday was definitely not in the best condition. There were a variety of clothes in it, all a bunch of different sizes and all finely made. I eventually put on a rust-colored frock with green leaf embroidery, green leggings, and some brown boots before heading out to find Irona.
After about an hour of being lost, I finally found her near the entrance of the cave, next to Quizynne and Verraline. They were all talking and stopped as I walked in.
Eventually, Quizynne broke the silence.
Irona rolled her eyes and handed him a frying pan. “May all your bacon burn, and your eggs char to a crisp.”
I walked over to Verraline while they continued to bicker. (“C’mon, give me a better one. It was a fair bet.” “You cheated.” “How?!”)
“What are they going on about?”
“Good morrrr-ning! Zey had a bit of a bet going- Quiz thought that it would take you over an hour to get here, while ’rrrrona though you were a bit too much of a smart alek to get lost, and that it would be an hour tops.”
“How long was it?”
“An hour plus a minute.”
I rolled my eyes. Good to know that I was apparently entertaining.
Eventually we dug in to breakfast, which consisted of some delicious sourdough rolls and jam. The dragons had about ten each, while I only had one. Not that surprising, since the roll was a bit over the size of my head.
We soon finished up and headed to the forge… not my forge, though- hers. She showed me that apparently she made those metal dragons decorating my furniture, and after she finished, she sat in my forge and watched me as I tried to make my own. We took a quick lunch break for some delicious soup, along with a dinner break a few hours later for some trout. By the end of the day, I had what I thought was a credible attempt for my first time. Irona apparently didn’t think so. She melted the sculpture and claimed that I was dreadful, but “not as bad as I thought you’d be, so at least that’s something.” After muttering to myself about it for a few minutes, I eventually went to bed.
Well, that basically became the format of my days. Breakfast, finish something from yesterday, have Irona critique it, get a few new projects to work on via watching her demonstrate, work, lunch, more work, dinner, yet more work, show Irona, watch her melt something she didn’t like, complain about it, bed. It might not sound that great of a life to someone else, but I loved it to pieces. I learned so many amazing things, and when Irona felt that we both were ready, she taught me how to use magic and make enchanted objects. I’m not going to say how to do magic (for all I know, you could be one o’ those power-hungry crazies) but I made all sorts of things that I didn’t know or believe existed- an enchanted sword, some magical jewelry, and even some golems to help me out (turns out that’s what the dragons really were).
Irona started going off by herself more and more, but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t bond or anything. We soon became thick as thieves and got up to all sorts of fun in her caves, like when my defective golem started digging away before we could kill it and found an aquifer, which soon became our hot spring of relaxation. It was a pretty sad day when I had to go back.
The three months were up. I had packed everything I now owned into a bottomless metal strongbox, which I also made. Irona said that at last I was over halfway competent, the best compliment she ever gave me. This was it. It was time to go home.
I walked over to the cave entrance where everyone was sitting down for breakfast. The atmosphere had never been more somber. I quietly grabbed my breakfast and sat down as Quizynne and Verraline stared at me. We had bonded as well during the past several weeks. They often called on the looking glass or came to visit to tease Irona, say hi, or ask advice. Turns out that Quiz and Ver were “newmates” (which I guess is a dragon way of saying “newlyweds”), and they often complained to Irona (individually, of course) about an argument they got into, like when to have a clutch, or how neat to keep the cave. They did really love each other, though, and often were eager to see my progress.
I quietly ate my omelette and jam. I jumped as I heard a loud “clank” and saw a large box next to me.
“Just some leftovers,” Quizynne said, looking a bit awkward and uncomfortable. “Fine cooking for when you get hungry back at the village. Ver’s idea, not mine.”
I could tell that he was lying about it being Verraline’s idea, but I decided not to push it. “Thanks,” I said quietly. Great anvils, I’d miss him.
“And herrrre,” Verraline whispered, handing me a small box. I opened it and saw a small locket inside. “Forrrr when you want to call… if you want. It works just like the looking glass. Smallest one I everrrr m-made.” A tear rolled down her cheek.
I hugged her and tried not to cry. I thanked both of them repeatedly and talked about how much I’d miss them. Eventually, they needed to head home. Quizynne was going to grab a “tall, strapping inn guy” to teach him how to cook. I hid my disappointment. Pity, I was hoping that I would be able to rely on Shortie to help me out when I came back.
After they flew away, Irona turned to me with a very solemn look. “C’mon,” her tone was gruff and awkward. “I need to show you something.”
The walk through the cave was silent. I guess we were both lost in thought, she thinking about…. something-or-other, and me thinking about how sad I was to leave and what she wanted to show me and whether she’d even care when I was gone.
Clumsily, I landed on my backside- I was so lost in thought that I hadn’t even noticed when Irona stopped. Strange- I didn’t recognize where we were at all.
The cave was darker, I guess because dragons don’t need as much light, and a bit, well, old looking. There was dust on the cave floor in front of us, going into the dark, and uneven splotches behind us. Irona was standing in front of a cavern entrance, which had a fiery light shining from within. She took a deep breath and walked to the side, gesturing with her tail that I should head inside. I took a deep breath and entered.
What I saw in the center was the greatest shock that I had ever experienced. In the center of the glorious, fluorescent fire… was an egg. Not just any egg. I knew that what I was looking at… was a dragon’s egg.
It was… wow. It was a blend of gray and darker gray with a bit of a pale, silvery blue, and well… that’s the best I can describe it. My description doesn’t quite do it justice, though.
“I had a mate, once,” Irona said quietly, in a distant voice. I hadn’t noticed her coming in behind me.
“He was a blacksmith, too. He was a brilliant one. Dragons are always brilliant craftsmen, but his work was magnificent. He almost spoke to the flame, and sang with the metal. I was surprised that he’d ever want me, but… he did. We were happy for a long time… until the accident.
“That’s all it really was- an accident. We were flying back from a quarry master, with heaps of iron ore to work with. He was tired, because he was a tiny bit of an insomniac and had trouble falling asleep when he was supposed to- like one of those moody artists who keep to their own schedule instead of someone else’s.”
She chuckled a little, but it was with a great deal of melancholy.
“Well... he wasn’t really paying attention to his surroundings... he ended up flying right over Old Toasty-”
Her voice choked. I winced. She didn’t need to say anymore. Old Toasty was a well-known geyser in south, close to the border. It was said that the water was too hot for even the dragons, and that it could boil a dragon alive. I never expected to find out that the rumor was true.
“I never even got to tell him that I was expecting,” she sniffled a little before continuing. “That was ten years ago. That’s part of the reason why I was so irritated about having to grab you- after a while, it got kind of obvious that Ver and Quiz were trying to get me to stop mourning so much. It’s also why I’ve been so temperamental lately-”
I tried to hold in a sarcastic comment- just lately?
“The egg’s gonna hatch soon, and I’ve been feeling really...stressed. I mean, I’ve never been a mother before- I don’t know how all this mushy Mom stuff works! What if I end up screwing up?”
It took me a few moments to reply to her. I mean, when someone drops a bomb like that, what can you say? After a while, I took a breath and composed a reply that wasn’t ‘wow... just... wow’.
“I don’t think you’re gonna be a bad mother, Irona. I mean, yeah, you’re cranky, gruff, hard-spoken (if that’s even a word), a bad sport when it comes to bets-”
“Is there a point to this?”
“Oh, and your words are sometimes sharper than the point on an arrowhead!”
She whacked me with her tail- not hard enough to break any bones, but I’d definitely be feeling that in the morning.
“Anyways, despite all that, you’re not that bad. You’re a good teacher when it comes to how to be a smith, you’re creative, you’re... semi-patient. You also put up with me for a few months, even though my temper is almost as bad as yours. You can do it... as long as you don’t kidnap your child in the middle of the night, call your friends to complain, melt everything he or she makes-”
“I get it,” she said with the ghost of a smile. “Thanks. I just felt that I owed you an explanation, I guess.... C’mon. Let’s take you home.
Well, that was about it. I got back and, ignoring all the staring, marched into town and went to go tidy up my forge and home. After that, I had lunch at the DragonSmoke and warned Shortie about his upcoming abduction... sorta. (“Be prepared? What do you mean by that, Rodney?!” “You’ll find out.”)
And in no time, I got my life relatively back to normal. Eventually the townsfolk stopped talking and paying attention to me. I also put the skills Irona had taught me to good use. For instance, I expanded my forge so that it was two rooms instead of just one, and put my golems to work helping me double my speed. Thankfully, with the golems in the back, morons like Marni don’t stumble across them.
Only two things that were really eventful happened after my abduction.
The first one happened a few weeks ago.
So I was making dinner, brisket for those who might be curious, and having one of the golems, who I had named C*** (because of his crooked eyes, please restrain any dirty thoughts), when it happened. C*** was reading the directions out loud, when he suddenly sounded like he was choking.
I looked up. “C***, are you okay?”
All of a sudden, he burst out a great jet of flame.
“Whoa! ... Ow, shoot!”
In my haste to back up, I had touched my wrist to the boiling-hot pot I was using for cooking. After I soaked it in water, used some medicinal herbs from my yard, and saved my brisket from burning (or at least attempted to), I examined the object that had been in the center of the flame spurt, and was now resting in the corner.
It was a scroll, except it was made of metal. Upon it were carved the following words:
The egg hatched! I’m now the mother of a hatchling- a lord (that means it’s a boy, since I probably confused you). He looks a lot like his father. Maybe you can meet him some day.
Well, that was great news. Congratulations, Irona- though why did you have to send the scroll? You could’ve just called.
With another cough and bout of flame from C***, a second scroll landed on the floor and unfurled:
P.S. Too busy to call.
So that was the first actual major event that happened to me after the abduction. The second was actually, well, last night.
Hey, put down the torch and pitchfork and here me out. No angry mob formations.
So, last night I was cleaning up my fireplace in the forge when I felt a flash of heat near my collarbone. Startled, I bumped my head on the inside of the chimney before getting out of the fireplace and opening my locket. An image of Irona filled the glass inside, looking, oddly enough, worried.
“Rodney, it’s awful. I can’t find him anywhere! Why the heck would he run off?! I told him I’d kill him if he did something like that!”
A small periwinkle dragon flew through the window and onto the ground, staring at me. I raised my eyebrows.
“Yeah, Irona, I’ll call you back.”
“Rodney, don’t you dare-”
I snapped the locket shut.
With curious eyes, the dragon stared at me.
I stared back.
“You’re her son, aren’t you?”
“Uh-huh.” He nodded
“Heh, figures. You know, being Irona’s son, I kinda figured that you’d be a bit more....” I gestured vaguely.
“She says I’m a lot like my father. He was all mellow, and she was all unable to move her ankles-”
“What?” Since when did Irona ever have ankle issues?
“She said that someone, probably you, said she was can’t-ankle-us.”
“You mean cantankerous. It means grumpy, dude.” I responded with a laugh.
“Oh... why did you call me dude?”
“Well, you never told me your name. Besides, nothing wrong with a nickname, and- don’t touch that!”
With a crash, my tongs fell on the ground. Apparently Irona’s son, no I’ll call him Dude, Dude started wandering around my forge while I was busy talking, and I didn’t notice.
“Sorry,” he said as I knelt down to check on my tongs. My poor babies. “Dragons choose their own names once they’ve chosen a trade to purse-you. I think it’s kind of a way of deciding who you are. For now, I’m just... Dude, I guess.”
“Well, do you want a look around town for some ideas? It’s really late, so everyone’s probably sleeping. I can give you the grand tour.”
“Sure, Auntie Rodney!”
I ignored the, ahem, term of endearment, grabbed a cloak, and started walking around town with Dude. Looking back on it (and probably currently in the mind of anyone reading this), yes, it was kind of stupid. But come on- the little guy was pretty cute, I doubt anyone could say no, not to mention I didn’t want him messing up anything else in my shop.
So there we were, walking along, and then, of course something bad happened.
And with that, Marni Brewitt’s prized camellia bush (that was only hers through claims- the flower shop owner is the real person who takes care of it) caught fire. Now, normally I’d be cheering at this, but I didn’t want anyone to come out and know about Dude, so I was able to eventually smother the fire with my cloak and kill it. After that, the night was pretty uneventful and, after bidding Dude good night and watching him fly off, I went to bed.
If you’re a Danger resident, you basically know the rest. I woke up to find an angry mom in front of my bed, headed by Marni, who screamed, “She’s the one who did it- she’s always been jealous of how pretty I am and has been trying to keep me and her brother Rodney apart for ages!”
Rubbing my eyes tiredly, I asked, “What the braised beef is going on?”
“You should know, blacksmith,” said another villager (I think it was the butcher). “Oh, wait; I should be calling you arsonist. You are the one who started the fire by setting Marni’s camellia bush alight.”
That woke me up. I dashed to the window and flung open the shutters.
The whole town was in ruins. Some buildings were disfigured and edged with black, while others were reduced to smoldering heaps of ash (including, I was a little happy to realize, Marni’s home). Though…. this was still pretty bad. I guess I didn’t completely smother Dude’s fire after all.
With that, I was taken to the Sheriff’s office (which apparently did not burn down), and everyone else ran off to decide when I’d be burned at stake. I called Irona, and she was able to sneak over and break me out- in broad daylight, no less. Pretty surprising- angry people can be kinda stupid and unobservant.
Irona was shockingly understanding about the whole thing. After a few annoying quips about me being a convict, she said I could stay as long as I wanted. After a few hours, I realized that I probably should explain myself and my escape, so nobody gets in trouble. I also prefer not to be blamed for something that I didn’t do. With those thoughts in mind, I started writing this. Bribe, another one of my golems, is going to deliver this once I’m done... in a very subtle way, of course.
I realize that this account will end up setting back the dragons’ plans by at least a century, but to be honest, I don’t think that the village is ready to accept the dragons back anyways. I mean, that angry mob was formed pretty quickly just for me. Imagine how it’d be if the dragons came back.
For those in the village who might actually care, I’m perfectly fine and happy up here. Irona seems kind of happy to have her student back, I’m eager to learn more, and we’re meeting Verraline and Quizynne for dinner, as usual. They’re bringing Shortie with them- I can’t wait to see his face when he finds out that I’m back!
Seriously, I’ll be fine. It’s nice to be free to be myself up here without the rest of the village (especially Marni- by the way, you’re still an idiot!) breathing down your neck. In the words of Dude, who’s considering becoming an artist instead of a blacksmith like his parents, ‘I would rather paint my own picture upon my life’s canvas than to have every brushstroke dictated for me before I even set it down.’ Though I might be paraphrasing just a little- he is a hatchling, and he definitely still speaks like one!