Prompt: No one dared go near the tower; a fearsome dragon sat on top. One day, a knight walked up and asked, “do you need help getting down?”
“Yes, please,” the Dragon said, clutching the sides of the tower’s top with dear life.
The knight shouted up to the Dragon. “Before I return to my kingdom to retrieve enough men to hoist a ladder or some kind of pulley system, might I ask two questions?”
The Dragon nodding, replied. “Yes, you may; but just two! I have been up here for such a long time.”
“My first question is this: How did you chance upon being trapped atop this tower?”
“That is a good question, Knight,” the Dragon said, “but is it not quite obvious?”
The Knight shook his head.
“Well, I will tell you the story, though it is short. I was flying across the kingdom towards my den, which lies in the mountains in the east, but as I was doing so I was attacked by men with bows and arrows. The arrows were never-ending and soon they were on fire. They shot so many arrows they penetrated my scales, and my wings began to hurt and bleed. As you can see here,” the Dragon lifted his wing to show the black and purple bruising and burn marks on the emerald underside of his wing.
“Thus after some time with the combination of flying a great distance and being bombarded by these men, I grew exhausted and was in a great deal of pain. My body weighed heavily in the air and to save myself the trouble of landing on land — for those men would surely kill me — I landed on the first thing that I could find; which is this tower.”
The Knight lifted his arm, pointing his finger, as if he were going to ask a question but was stopped by the Dragon’s words.
“And before you ask why do I not simply fly away or jump down, I will answer that question freely. My wings are far too much damaged to fly so soon, and I must be on the land to fly freely — I need to sprint to gather speed. I do not jump because when I landed atop this tower, the stone blocks became chipped and jagged and are now deep into my claws. I would show them to you, but I cannot lift them without dealing to myself an excoriating amount of pain.”
The Knight nodded. “I am sorry to hear about the flaming arrows and the cuts and bruises and the jagged stones in your flesh, Dragon. Those tan-skinned brutes who attacked you are from the enemy kingdom and we will soon go to war with them. After we win and take their land, you will be allowed to freely fly over those lands without harm.”
“Thank you, that is kind of you,” the Dragon said.
“You are most welcome,” the Knight replied, then asked his second question, “Now for my second question: Has anyone before me asked why you were atop this tower, or has anyone offered to help you?”
“No,” the Dragon said, shaking his head, “never. Not a soul has spoke to me nor offered a helping hand. They have come from kingdoms all over this earth to slay me, or rescue a damsel they believe lives in the tower’s walls — which I assure you, there is not a living soul inside this tower. There may be dust and ash and some old books, but nothing worthwhile.”
“What happened to them? The ones who came to slay you?”
“I killed them. They refused to listen to reason and they simply continued with their barrage of attacks. I did not want to cause them harm, but they left me no choice.”
“I understand, Dragon. Men are fools.”
“Now that I have answered your questions, may you return to your kingdom and return with what you require to remove me from this place? I assure you that I will pay you for your service; I have many riches in my den in the mountains.”
“Yes, I will Dragon, but you must wait fourteen nights for my return — my kingdom is far from here and it will take many days to travel back with men and tools. You understand, yes?”
The Dragon nodded.
“Wonderful. I will bid you farewell Dragon. I will return in fourteen nights.”
“Thank you and safe travels.”
The Knight raised his hand and waved, then galloped away on his stead. Soon he disappeared below the horizon. The Dragon waited.
There were loud, thunderous horns in the distance. There were screams and wailing, weeping, shouting, clashing of metal and hoofs upon the earth. The sky grew dark and lightning coursed through the sky like veins. There was more screaming, clashing of metal, weeping. The Dragon heard this and much more atop the tower, day after day, night after night. His body ached, his joints burned, and the open wounds in his claws made him nearly cry each time he adjusted his weight.
“Please Knight, please hurry,” the Dragon whispered as he closed his eyes, trying his best to sleep.
Fourteen nights passed, then twenty-eight nights, then fifty-six nights, then the Dragon lost count. The once mighty, powerful Dragon was nothing more but scales and bones. He had not eaten since that day he become trapped atop the tower, and only drank when it rained. His claws began to heal but grew around the stones inside his flesh, so now he was bound further to the tower, which steadily creaked and cracked under his weight and weather. His dull, glossy eyes were sunken in his face, and his tail was nothing more than a withered flower stem. He sat, looking out on the horizon, waiting for the Knight, though he knew in the back of his mind that he would never return.
Then at night, in the distance, was a light. As it grew nearer, the Dragon realized it was a torch, carried by someone on a horse. The flame bobbed in the darkness, growing closer and closer. Excitement swelled inside the Dragon and he pushed himself up and a smile grew over his face.
“Oh Knight, you have returned,” he said, cheerily.
But the man carrying the torch was not the Knight. He stopped in front of the tower, looking up. He wore leather and fur, had sharp axes and swords strapped to his waist, and across his back was a bow and a satchel filled with arrows. He was tan skinned and his brown, thick eyebrows threw shadows over his gleaming eyes.
“Can you speak?” he asked.
The Dragon nodded, “Yes, I can speak.”
“Good. We need you to come to our kingdom. We require assistance from a beast who can speak human and dragon language.”
“That is of no importance to you. If you choose not to assist us, we will knock down this tower and burn you in a pit.”
“Then what choice do I have?” the Dragon said, flatly.
“Good. I will return in five nights with men.”
The man turned and rode into the night.
Five nights passed.
The man returned with many other men, ones who looked nearly identical to him. They laid a tall ladder against the tower, and a man climbed up it, then threw ropes over the Dragon, which burned his withered scales. Despite his pleas, the men laughed and carried on. After several ropes were bound over him, the men pulled from the ground. Over and over they pulled until finally the top of the tower gave under the pressure and it and the Dragon toppled onto the ground.
The Dragon’s arms broke against the hard earth and his wings became tattered things as the sharp stones fell onto them. He began to cry but the men poked and prodded him to stand, despite the injured legs. As he stood, the stones in his claws sending sharp pains up his limbs, he said. “May I ask one question, before you take me to your kingdom?”
“Yes, but one question.”
“What happened to the Knight?”
“Knight? What Knight?”
“There was a Knight who came from a kingdom from the direction where you came. He said he would return with men and get me down many days ago, but never returned. Do you know what happened to him, or his kingdom?”
“Oh, yes. We slaid him and his kingdom.” The man said flatly, the others laughing.
The Dragon’s eyes grew wide and his long talons gripped the ground. “What do you mean?”
“I mean we went to war with them and won. There are no more knights in this kingdom.”
A sudden strength exploded inside the Dragon. His only friend in the world was killed by the same brutes, that he knew now, were the ones who shot arrows at him as he flew that long time ago. A grumbling could be heard in his stomach and a heat rose up in his throat, clenched inside his mouth.
The men looked up at the Dragon, wide-eyed, and that was all that they could do before waves of flames, issued from the open mouth of the Dragon, enveloped them.
After they were all killed, their bodies charred, black, piles of ash on the ground, the Dragon limped into the forest surrounding the now destroyed tower. He found a lake and drank heavily. Then he limped and found a thick canopy to lay under and rested for many days upon the grass and roots and soil. Soon his strength returned, and he used his fangs to pull the sharp stones from his claws the best he could. In the evening, he ate what he could find and catch.
A month or so passed, and the Dragon on one of his meandering on the outskirts of the forest, discovered a flat clearing just beyond the forest. In the early dawn, before the sun had risen, he stood in the clearing, took a deep breath, then sprinted forward. His wings expanded and soon caught the wind and he took flight.
He returned to his den, the way he left it a year or two ago. Despite the riches piled to the ceiling and the warmth of his comfortable nook, he felt utterly alone, for the image of his only friend he had known in his life, the Knight, still burned in his mind.
Read my previous prompt, “The Unwanted Elder God.”
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