Dragon Fire Episode 43

When Terrin opened his eyes, he saw the night sky overhead. Dark clouds drifted across the face of the foggy moon. His head ached, and his mouth felt dry. Slowly he pulled himself up and looked around. He was lying on a bedroll beside a crackling fire in a small clearing in the forest.

As he gently rubbed his throbbing head, he called, “Atol? What happened?”

“It seems, young prince, that you have many secrets,” Atol answered from somewhere deep within the trees.

“What do you mean?” Terrin asked, turning toward the voice. “Where are you?”

He saw a quick movement in the shadow of the trees and Atol appeared.

“Idrian’s wound. How is he?” Terrin asked.

“He will heal, but he is weakened,” Atol said. “Just as you fell asleep, a great dragon dropped from the sky and attacked the bear.”

“A dragon?” Terrin asked. “Dragons no longer exist.”

“Some believe they still live but hide from the face of man,” Atol said. “And today you summoned one to our aid.”

“Why do you think I called this creature?” Terrin asked.

“I saw what happened. When you learned of Idrian’s wound, you became distraught, insisting that we help him. Then just as you fell into a sleep, the dragon suddenly appeared and fought against the bear,” Atol answered.

“But how could I have called this dragon?” Terrin asked, still in a daze.

“It would seem that the one who gave you the gift of fire has also given you a way to call for help when you need it,” Atol proposed.

“I do not understand,” Terrin said.

“We shall talk more of this when I return,” Atol said.

“You are leaving?” Terrin exclaimed.

“I must get supplies. You will find bread and water in the satchel. Eat and regain your strength. You will be safe. At first light, I will be back,” Atol replied.

As Terrin struggled to stand, Atol crept back into the shadow of the trees.

“You are too weak for a journey. Rest, young prince, and I will soon return,” Atol said, his voice growing fainter as he moved further away.

Too lightheaded to stand, Terrin stumbled backwards and fell into a deep sleep.



*          *            *


Lumbering through the trees, Kimil and Undal at last broke into the clearing. Up ahead they saw a campfire with a man sleeping nearby.

“Him?” Undal asked. “He little.”

“Yes, but master say he dangerous. Must lock away,” Kimil replied.

“Dangerous?” No. He little. He little,” Undal laughed.

At eight feet, Undal was a foot shorter than his brother Kimil. Their dark yellow eyes, set in moss green skin, blinked as they turned their heads to watch the sleeping prince.

“Master say he dangerous,” Kimil scolded, a drop of spittle falling from his gnarled teeth.

Running his gray spotted tongue over his lips, Undal laughed.

“I step on. No more danger.”

Kimil struck his brother in anger.

“No! Master say he dangerous. We take him to Copperhead Camp.”

Undal growled in disagreement.

“I hold him. You put in bag,” Kimil continued.

“In bag,” Undal laughed.


*          *            *

As the upper edge of the sun first appeared over the eastern horizon, Atol walked out of the trees. When he looked toward the camp, he saw that the fire had burned out.

“Feeling better?” he called out to Terrin.

When the prince did not answer, Atol stopped and looked around.

“Hello?” he called.

Suddenly, he smelled something in the air, the foul stench of sweat and rotting food. A chill worked its way up his spine. Atol dropped the supplies and ran to the camp. Large footprints covered the ground, and he saw that a struggle had taken place.

“Terrin!” Atol exclaimed. “No!”

Atol bent down and carefully examined one of the footprints then crawled over to a small pile of colloidal gel. The smell was unbearable. He saw that the footprints headed west.

“Trolls,” he shuddered.

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