Author Topic: The Breath of Dragons  (Read 720 times)

Jubal

  • Megadux
    Executive Officer
  • Posts: 24971
  • Karma: 111
  • Awards Awarded for oustanding services to Exilian!
    • View Profile
    • Awards
The Breath of Dragons
« on: December 14, 2016, 07:58:05 PM »
The Breath of Dragons

There was a village high in the mountain passes, a village where few people ever went, where the sun roared hot in summer and the snows fell cold in winter. And in a cave above that village there lived a dragon.

The dragon was not of a nice or a clever sort, and was terribly big, and terribly old, and terribly, terribly greedy. And it terrorised the people in the little village; demanded their goats, their cows, their children to eat, demanded their silver, their steel, their gold for its lair. And for many years and many tens of years and perhaps many hundreds of years the dragon stayed there, getting bigger and older and greedier, for the lives of the great old dragons are so very long and so very cruel that we humans pass like melting snowflakes in the spring before their eyes.

But it was said, in a story, that there would be a time when a hero would come and rid the village of the dragon. And the story said this – that the dragon could be slain only when the greatest flame known to mankind was rekindled from its embers, and that when it was defeated the hero would breathe like a dragon in turn. That was the story, and it was told down the generations in that village, and people hoped that one day the dragon would be defeated.

~

One year, in the spring, there came a knight to the village, and the knight heard the story, that the dragon could be slain only when the greatest flame known to mankind was rekindled from its embers, and that when it was defeated the hero would breathe like a dragon in turn.

He was a very great hero and a beast-slayer and many fine titles like that, and he decided he would take on the quest. He didn’t have a very great deal of time for stories and thought they were rather a waste of time (especially if they didn’t include him), so one spring morning he set off up the mountain, climbing up the meadows, climbing through the woods, climbing through the rocks, until he came to the cave where the dragon lived.

And there was the dragon, and it was terribly big, and terribly old, and terribly greedy. The dragon looked at the man, and its great orange eyes glowed in the dark cave.
“So,” said the dragon. “What makes you think you can defeat me, o hero?”

“My sword in my hand is all I need,” said the knight. “I will not be scared away by stories.”

But the dragon looked at the sword, and looked at the knight, and it said:

“You can’t ignore the story – the story will ignore you!”

And the dragon opened its great wide mouth, and quick as a flash it grabbed the knight and swallowed him whole. And the dragon lived on, and the villagers went back to their lives, and kept passing on the story.

~

The next hero to try and defeat the dragon came in the summertime, when the leaves were heavy on the trees and the sun beat down from a cloudless sky. He was a hunter, or so I am told, from the furthest mountains of the east of the world, and his arrows were sharp and his eyes were keen. And he heard the story that the dragon could be slain only when the greatest flame known to mankind was rekindled from its embers, and that when it was defeated the hero would breathe like a dragon in turn.

The hunter listened with interest – and he was the sort of person who believed in stories, and so he called the villagers around, and got them to build the biggest, greatest fire they could possibly manage, and they must have felled half the trees in the valley, and they burned it high, just so they could rekindle it when the hunter went up to the dragon’s cave.

And so, as the hot day drew to an end, the hunter climbed the mountain – through the meadows, climbing through the woods, clambering up over the rocks – until he came to the cave where the dragon lived.

And there was the dragon, and it was terribly big, and terribly old, and terribly greedy. The dragon looked at the man, and its great sharp claws shimmered in the fading light.
“So,” said the dragon. “What makes you think you can defeat me, o hero?”

“I have created a fire greater than I have ever seen, in the valley below. Even now it is being rekindled, so now is the hour when I will defeat you.”

But the dragon looked at the fire, and the hunter looked at the fire, and it now suddenly seemed very, very small in the valley below. Then the dragon looked at the hunter, and said:
“You can’t beat the story – the story will beat you!”

And the dragon opened its great wide mouth, and before the hunter could draw his bow, quick as a flash it grabbed him and swallowed him whole. And the dragon lived on, and the villagers went back to their lives, and kept passing on the story.

~

The next hero to try and defeat the dragon was a very great and powerful King, almost an Emperor (for those were the days when they had such things) – and he came to the valley in the autumn, when the leaves had started to turn to gold and brown and red, and the weather had begun to turn cold. And the villagers told him the story - that the dragon could be slain only when the greatest flame known to mankind was rekindled from its embers, and that when it was defeated the hero would breathe like a dragon in turn.

The King thought for a while, and came up with a solution. The King sent out messengers to all his lands and beyond to all the Kingdoms and Empires and Princedoms and Cities of the world, and ordered that, on an appointed day, they should all put out their fires as one, so that the world would know no great fire of any sort at all.

The day came, and the King climbed the mountain – walking through the meadow, stepping up through the woods, climbing up the rocks – until he came to the cave where the dragon lived.
And there was the dragon, and it was terribly big, and terribly old, and terribly greedy. The dragon looked at the man, and its great long teeth could just be seen, jagged and yellow and hungry-looking.

“So,” said the dragon. “What makes you think you can defeat me, o hero?”

And the King took out from his bag a little pile of glowing kindling, that he had carried up the mountain with him, and he said “Behold! Thanks to my power, this now is the greatest fire known to man, that I rekindle before you!” And he set it alight again, there on the ground.

But the dragon looked at the fire, and looked at the King, and he said:
“You can’t trick the story – the story will trick you!”

And the dragon opened its great wide mouth, and breathed a fire much greater than the King’s little campfire, and before the King could utter another word, quick as a flash it grabbed him and swallowed him whole. And the dragon lived on, and the villagers went back to their lives, and kept passing on the story (there was also something of a succession crisis, but that is a tale for another day).

~

Then as the weather turned cold, a young man called Tammin came to the village, and he heard the story - that the dragon could be slain only when the greatest flame known to mankind was rekindled from its embers, and that when it was defeated the hero would breathe like a dragon in turn.

Tammin told the villagers he needed time to think on the story. He waited, and waited, until winter had made the land as hard as steel and the snows lay thick upon the mountainside. And then, when it felt like the winter could get no colder, he took his sword and walked through the deep snows on the meadow, and ducked past the great icicles that hung in the woods, and scrambled over the ice-slippery rocks. And he came then to the cave where the dragon lived.

And there was the dragon, and it was terribly big, and terribly old, and terribly greedy. The dragon looked at the man, and its great black scales rippled like the armour of legions in the freezing light of the winter’s day.

“So,” said the dragon. “What makes you think you can defeat me, o hero?”

Tammin smiled. “Because yesterday was the shortest day of the year.”

And the dragon paused and tilted its head to one side.

“It’s the day after midwinter,” said Tammin. “And the sun’s coming back.”

And the pale sun in the winter sky was just a little brighter than the day before, and the dragon knew that it had been beaten - for there is no greater fire than the sun itself. And so the dragon raged against the coming of the light, and it beat its claws on the cave walls and gave a great and terrible bellowing roar that shook the valley and all the mountains around, and echoed into the air.

But Tammin looked again at the sky, and then he looked at the dragon, and he said:
“You can’t stop the story – the story will stop you!”

And as the dragon roared in anger, Tammin leaped forwards and drew his sword. And in the darkest cold of winter the dragon was too slow to snatch him with his jaws, and so they fought, tooth and sword and nail and claw. Three times Tammin smote the dragon, three times he leapt aside as its claws raked the air towards him, three times its jaws snatched at empty air, and then at last he found his mark, and his sword slid into the dragon’s heart, and in fire and rage the beast was cast down upon the rocks.

And so it was that Tammin had slain the dragon, and the whole of the story came true. For you know, it was the day after midwinter, and as Tammin stood outside the cave, he gave a sigh of relief. And there, billowing before him, his sigh hung just like a cloud of dragon’s breath until it floated away into the winter sky.


« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 01:09:11 PM by Jubal »
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...

Pentagathus

  • King of the Wibulnibs
  • Posts: 2467
  • Karma: 17
    • View Profile
    • Awards
Re: The Breath of Dragons
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2016, 11:36:16 AM »
Cool story bro, perfect amount of dragons and shiz.
Edit: not being sarcastic btw, genuinely enjoyed this very much. Ending was ice cool.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 12:08:02 PM by Pentagathus »

Jubal

  • Megadux
    Executive Officer
  • Posts: 24971
  • Karma: 111
  • Awards Awarded for oustanding services to Exilian!
    • View Profile
    • Awards
Re: The Breath of Dragons
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2016, 03:30:16 PM »
Thankyou! :)

Hoping to get a chance to actually tell this as a spoken story sometime after Christmas. I've not done enough storytelling in a while.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...