Saturday, July 8, 2017

Shorter Dragon story 2,440 words

July 8 a fantasy tale with dragons again.
I forgot to mention this last week but while I was working on the second part of “What?” (if you have not read it scroll down on the blog's main page) I decided to do some stories with dragons in them. I realized that “What” had a dragon so it was the first of five stories. Today’s story is number two. This tale is only 2,440 words longs so it is in one episode. The next story may have three or four episodes and the next one the same. The last two will be flash stories and I will post both on the same Saturday. I need to write that second flash, but I have a six to eight weeks to do it.
This story is an older one that I like so I have revised it three times over the years and I today I revised the opening again. It probably needs more work but we have had a situation with my Father-in-Law again being in emergency again and that is taking up more time. But I think this is still worth reading and will be enjoyable since it is light hearted and maybe a tiny bit humorous. And as I keep saying comments-either way-are allowed and appreciated.

So enjoy:

Hoodwinker In The Wilderness

Jordan C. Calhoon made his way slowly through the narrow rock strewn ravine. He walked with extreme caution for it would not do to either twist an ankle, or get eaten. There were rumors that a dragon lived in this wasteland. His tunic and trousers were a grey color so hopefully anyone who looked down here would see him that well. He could reach the walls on either side if his reach was only thrice what is was. The walls went five feet above him, so No plants grew here because of the dryness, but he managed to grab two skins for water before he left. That should be enough for the length of this.
He decided to chance this route because he had needed to get out of the village in a hurry, for his health. That was why he was traveling through the desert, right next to the mountain, instead of taking the easier, longer way to the next county.
The beast’s hunting grounds was supposed to be a mile, or two east of here, but one never knew how much of a rumor was true, or not. True or not, he had to go this way to avoid the irate villagers, who wanted to hang him.
He cursed, took a drink of water, the place smelled of dust and dirt, then said to the rocks, “Its my misfortune to have allowed myself to be chased out of that village I was working in. I almost had them too.”
He stumbled on a loose rock and said, “People just won’t understand that I have a talent I need to use. It was the gift I was given after all, and I only take money from people who don’t know what to do with it. That village is growing, in spite of the dragon rumors, therefore I thought it would be a good place to practice my gift. The village leaders would have more gold to spend for the village and many of the long time residents would have more gold and sliver then they were used to spending. It was more silver then gold, but it was still worth working for.”
Jordan used one hand to steady himself against the side of the ravine as he made his way around a boulder, then continued with his compliments with a sigh, “It was my fault for allowing myself to be run out of the village like that. I’ve been in this business long enough to know how fickle the emotions of the masses can be. I should have stepped in when Joshua first started speaking against me, but I thought I had a better hold on the villagers. I saw the warning signs and ignored them. Somehow he managed to convince two or three of the citizens that I was up to no good. It took them a few days, but he was able to show more and more of the others the logic gaps in my promises. Most people want to believe what I say. I can sound convincing, friendly and authoritative at the same time while I play on their fantasies and hidden wishes. They don’t allow themselves to see the flaws in my statements, unless somebody they trust gets their attention. Its happened before. I’ve learned how to deal with it when it does, but this time I got lazy and overconfident.”
He shook his head as he spoke to himself, “now I have to make my way through this wilderness to escape those who want to hang me. I have to keep one eye on the rocks, and scrub brushes and the other watching for snakes, and the dragon. If I keep close to the mountain I can stay clear of where the dragon is supposed to be hunting, while at the same time taking less time to make my way into the next country. On top of that, the villagers won’t expect me to take this route.
“There is no talking to people that angry, and I didn’t even take that much money yet”, here he jingled his half filled money pouch, “only a few gold and silver coins.”
Six minutes later he came out of the ravine and into a wide gully. The slope of the mountain made up one side of the gully while the other side was made of dirt cliffs ten feet high. There were bigger boulders near the far side, including one very large one.
Jordan stopped a few steps into the gully. Something wasn’t right. He looked around. Everything looked normal. The floor was covered with small bushes, rocks were strewn all over the place and he could see snake holes. All kinds of things to twist his ankle if he had to run for it.
His breath caught and his stomach froze as he realized what had caught his attention. It was a lot warmer here then in the ravine.
Jordan said, “Oh oh”
The temperature change could be natural, since it would be
cooler in the ravine, but he didn’t think so. His head jerked back as a sudden thought came to him. A quick look showed the sky was empty, except for three, very normal looking clouds. He looked up the mountain side and still nothing. The dragon could be on the top of the cliffs, just out of his vision angle. He didn’t think so, though.
He relaxed a bit taking another step. He thought about picking up one of the larger rocks, but what good would that do against a dragon?
Jordan took another step as he looked around. The stories about the dragon must be making me paranoid he thought.
His stomach sank and his heart froze, when he heard a deep, raspy voice say, “You should give me proper reverence.”
Jordan's head spun around as he looked behind him, nothing. He looked upward again, still nothing. He’s eyes jumped to the large rock against the wall opposite his position. He watched in terrifying fascination as the upper one third unraveled. It went from being a solid boulder to being a long, snake like neck. The bulging end shot his way stopping a few feet in front of him. He had an impulse to run back into the ravine. It wouldn’t be able to fit in there, but the thing could either fly, or leap to the top of the ravine. That neck could reach into it to scoop him up, or bite him in half. He fought his instincts to flee screaming, and moved forward to meet that horrible, ugly head.
For a few seconds he stared at he head of the dragon. It reminded him of an alligator’s snout he had seen once. Only this snout had teeth along the outside of the mouth and it was almost as long as he was tall. It was wider then he was. The rest of the creature’s face, the eyes and forehead, looked very much like a snake’s head. The shape of the eyes, as well how far apart they were, and the slope of the forehead all gave the impression of a snake. The color was three shades of gray with small spots of green and light browns.
He got his mind working again and said, “Great Being, I have a proposition for you that I need to tell you about, before you eat me.”
The great head titled to one side and the gravely voice boomed, “What type of proposition could you have that a being like me would be interested in?”
The breath was very warm and stunk of bunt meat mixed with other unidentifiable smells, he didn’t want to know what it made up that stink.
“One by which you could eat to your heart’s content, while people of all types paid you the homage you deserve.”
“I can eat all I want to now,” it said while moving its snout in a significant manner, closer to him,
“Yes this is true, but you still have to catch what you eat, or wait until something gets close enough to you so you can grab it. What I propose would allow you to eat all you want, without having to work for it. Cows, and sheep would be delivered to you, waiting to be eaten.”
”I can eat everything, including humans, that come onto my land.”
“Of course you can, but cows are larger then humans. They are longer, fatter and weigh three to four times as much as a man would. One skinny human isn’t all that much of meal for someone like you.”
“True, most humans are on the thin side, and I’ve eaten cows before. They are bigger. Humans are usually gone in one gulp,
but I have to take three bites to finish off a cow. I like variety though.”
“I would be able to get you an oxen or two. They are even larger then cows and perhaps even a deer now and then. Deer are smaller then cows, but still larger then a person. I might be able to get you an elephant now and then too. You do know how big an elephant is?”
“Yes I have heard of elephants. My cousin described them to me. They would make a large meal.”
 “One fit for the Monarch of all animals.”
There was a pause, after which Jordan continued, “And as I said people would give you the reverence you deserve... I would imagine you don’t get much of that out here.”
“I have been getting very little reverence lately. The last maiden I ate punched me in the nose first. While she wasn’t strong enough to harm me of course, she should have felt more awe of me.”
“I agree she should have been too awestruck to punch you. It was a good thing she wasn’t a sorceress though. You do realize there are more sorcerers, wizards and the like throughout the land. They can be very dangerous even to an animal of your magnificence.”
The dragon grunted. The hot air it expelled reminded Jordan of the air billows blew across a blacksmith’s fire.
Jordan said, “You said that a maiden punched you, what would have happened if she had been a sorcerous with a fist full of magic powder. Those sorcerous powders can do all sorts of harm even to beasts of your stature.”
“I know,” the great beast said with a growl of fire, “another cousin of mine was killed be a wizard just last month.”
Jordan flinched at the voice, but said, “I’m sorry to hear
that, my condolences to you. But if you come with me no sorcerer, or wizard would come after you. And as I said you would have all you could eat along with people paying homage to your regalness, great strength and nobleness.”
“Would I be able to eat any of those who come to watch?”
The man shook his head, “That would not be a good idea, if people thought they might get eaten, they would not pay gold to see you.”
“But I like humans.”
Jordan looked thoughtful, “Well... if you really wanted one maybe we could get a village to give us, or better yet, pay us to execute a condemned man. It could save them time and money. I should be able to talk village elders to do that if you promise me you only eat the people I say you can.”
“You promise me that I can eat all I want with little work?”
“I can promise you cows, oxen, a deer now and then, and maybe an elephant once in a while.”
“What would I have to do for this?”
“Let people look at you and be awed. Do a little flying, breath fire now and then. We can set up some logs, maybe build a few huts you could swoop down on and breath fire on.”
The dragon pulled its head back, and asked “People would give you gold to watch me?”
“A magnificent beast like you, of course they would. You would have people coming out to see you now, if they weren’t afraid of being eaten, or twisting a leg on these rocks.”
The dragon titled his head looking thoughtful, “What would you get out of it?”
“I would get to keep half the gold and I would be known far
and wide as the one who was showing such a wondrous dragon.”
He added to himself and I would not get eaten.
The dragon suddenly snaked its head toward Jordan. It stopped it right in front of man’s. It was all Jordan could do to stand his ground.
The dragon stood there a minute then said, “Its a deal.”
Jordan let out the air he didn’t realize he was holding then said, “we can start in the next village. It might take them a while to see that you don’t want to attack, and that they can see you close up if they pay. I should go in first with you waiting outside the village until I call you.”
“I can do that.”
The dragon unlimbered himself and man and beast started walking down the gully together.
Jordan was thinking as he walked next to the dragon.
Its a good thing that I had heard that dragons were lazy and egotistical. And it was a good thing that I came up with the beginning of what I said while walking through that ravine, just in case I ran into the dragon. With my experience I was able to come up with the rest of it as we talked. I will have to remember to continue my act at all times.
The dragon was also thinking as he waddled alongside the human.
Its a good thing I had heard that humans are egotistical, and that they do think they can talk their way out of trouble. I was hoping to find a human that would offer me a deal. I’m getting old and running down food is getting a little hard, and he is right there are more sorcerers and wizards around these days. I thought I could find some one who I could talk into helping me. I don’t
really like eating humans all that much. They are small, and their clothes taste nasty sometimes. They can have all sorts of sharp, or hard objects in their clothes. Swords, and knifes sometimes get stick into my mouth, and any type of metal is hard to digest.
He shook his great head, thinking that he would have to remember to continue his act.
The end

Wonder who is the hoodwinker :)

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