Grandal

byjjcole©

Well fuck, what the hell happened?

I had just awakened to find myself under dead bodies and with an amazingly painful headache. Before I panicked I saw that most of the blood covering me was theirs. I assumed that was also true of the bad smell.

After a few moments I remembered running my sword through the body on top of me, in fact my hand still gripped my weapon. Apparently, although he was already dead he had clubbed me in the head.

The splitting headache had confirmed I was not dead but I felt some regret over that. I wondered how long I had been out. I was still alert enough to listen before getting up and rejoining the fight.

It was very quiet except for a funny sound that I did not recognize. Whatever it was the sound was fading away so I slid up between two bodies and looked around. The only one sitting up was me. No one was standing and no one was moving.

Well fuck, we had wiped each other out.

I was apparently the only survivor of the three hundred men in my battalion. There were no survivors among the savages that attacked us either. A hell of a way to begin a day I thought.

I remembered our troops had just resumed our march south after a restful evening and had entered a small valley when we saw them, savages. They were nearly nude with bodies painted in blue. They carried spears and clubs, we carried spears and swords. One third of our men carried shields.

We readied for battle but were confident they would not attack since there were so few of them and we were obviously just marching through. Next thing I knew we were all fighting for our lives and everyone lost, except me and that was still not at all certain.

I stood but did not have the strength to pull my sword out of the savage so I just left it. I obviously would not need it.

I looked around at the dead around me and saw my uncle Clyde. He had a spear through him which must have pissed him off since there were two savages with broken necks at his feet. Uncle Clyde had been a medic and was in fact training me to succeed him. He had lost his thrill for battle when our last one killed my father, his brother.

I thought about taking the bags of his trade with me but I was too tired. I was certain I would soon be dead anyway.

I wished Uncle Clyde a good trip and asked him to say hello to my Mom and Dad. At that moment I realized I no longer had any living relatives.

I turned to look in the direction of the sound I had heard before, there was another sound in that direction. I saw the creature pick up a man's body and swallow it whole.

Well fuck, a Dragon. Perfect.

I just stood and stared at it for some moments and found myself just marveling at the beast, it was my first such sighting. I had not completely believed they existed and was fascinated by it.

It was not as big as the stories claimed but still it was huge, bigger than four or five horses. Its wings were folded as it walked the battlefield so I figured in flight it would be most impressive. It walked nearly upright with long slow strides, it was graceful, birdlike. The greenish resplendent scales were beautiful and there were yellow and red markings on its wings. I did not remember that part in the descriptions of them, likely because people seldom saw them on the ground and when they did soon became lunch.

Then I thought there may be more than one kind of Dragon, the ones most people described were dark.

Well fuck, it sees me. Umm, it does not seem to be interested in me. I wonder how close I could get before it decides to kill me.

I had already decided I was going to die anyway so I may as well attack it, save the countryside some trouble, or at least have it stop my headache.

I was halfway to it when it stopped and stared at me. It was also the precise moment I realized my sword was still buried in the savage. I looked around me for a weapon but realized I had no chance to mount a viable attack, looking down had made me nauseous, dizzy.

I was also exhausted, the day began in battle and it had taken a while for all of us to be dead. I looked up to see what time it was and the rays of the sun increased the pain in my head by a thousand. It was still morning. It had already been a terrific day.

I veered towards a small area near the Dragon by a stream that had few bodies around it and found a nice rock to sit on. I expected the Dragon to eat me.

"You must love it when humans battle and kill each other; free food." I said to the Dragon.

It turned and walked towards me and I thought it would be a good time to pray but didn't.

"Let me take my chainmail off, I would imagine it really fucks up your digestive system."

It seemed to understand what I said and stopped about one of its body lengths away and sat. It smelled of burnt incense.

"Amazing, I am not afraid to die so what I see in front of me is a gorgeous creature," I said to it.

It looked at me curiously with clear amber eyes, its nose now about two arm lengths away from me, close enough to engulf me if it wanted to. It did not have a beak but a rounded mouth. There were two somewhat larger scales in the middle of where lips would be. Up close and personal it was still a beautiful beast.

I relaxed and caught my breath as the Dragon inspected me closely. I expected to be dead soon so I thought it was the best time to introduce myself.

I said, "My name is Lars by the way. I am from the far north. The others you see here are unknown people who apparently attack everyone they encounter, savages. We were on our way to a distant battlefield when they attacked us.

There were fewer than a hundred of them and I'm sure they understood it would be sure death to challenge us but they attacked anyway. They killed everyone before they were all dead too. I would have rather had them by our side in our battle in the distant land."

I now had no armor, just my tunic. The creature could see that but still did not attack so I took off my tunic.

I chuckled to myself, I was now naked, wounded, nauseous, and talking to a Dragon. The highpoint of my life.

Then I thought, "Oh, I guess you are waiting to digest what you have eaten. In that case I'm going to the shade and take a nap, I have a horrible headache."

I walked to its left towards a small clump of trees opposite a small stream at the base of a tall hill. Midway through the shallow water I took a drink and in my reflection I saw my head was covered in blood. I dipped my head under the water and the stream briefly turned red. The cold water made the pain of my headache instantly worse.

Sunlight and water hurt me, not a good thing for a human. I crossed the stream and settled under the largest tree. The Dragon followed me.

I folded my tunic into a pillow and said, "You do not need to wait for me to wake up, in fact I very much doubt I will wake up at all. At least you have given me a glorious sight before I die. Thanks."

I was sure I passed out rather than just fallen asleep.

I have no idea for how long I was out of it but when I did wake up I thought two different hells were fighting over me.

Well fuck. My Dragon was under attack by a much bigger, dark dragon.

I did absolutely no thinking but ran to the body of a dead savage, picked up his spear and hurled it at the dark dragon. It pierced its throat which allowed my Dragon to retreat before it was killed.

The dark dragon was furious but so was I. I picked up a sword and hurled myself at it piercing its torso as it turned towards me. I felt his body hit me and understood I would soon be a dragon meal but before that happened the dragon lifted itself into the air. I let go of the sword and landed hard but picked up another and chased after it.

I did not have to run far as the dark dragon soon crashed to the ground. The creature had an uncomprehending look in its eyes as if it could not understand how such a puny creature as me could bring it down. It closed its eyes before I killed it.

I hurried back towards my Dragon but did not see it at first. I found it cowering between burning trees.

"Calm down, it's dead and I'm not going to kill you too. Let me clean up your wounds."

I picked up my tunic and got it wet at the stream then dabbed a long deep gash on its side behind a wing. A bolt of fire had apparently actually stopped a lot of the bleeding but there was still a lot of blood. Its blood was a coppery red and had its own smell, not at all unpleasant.

The gaping wound would need to be closed so I told the Dragon not to move and returned to the battlefield and search for my Uncle Clyde. I took his bags and said to him, "I have decided this was my last battle too, tell Mom and Dad."

As I hurried back to the Dragon I wondered why I had rescued it and why I was now hurrying to treat its wound.

"Well fuck, this is a stupid thing to do," I thought.

I used the drying powder on the wound then sewed it shut. I went back to the stream and cleaned myself up then got comfortable next to the creature.

It was evening by then and realized that although I had been out for most of the day I was again exhausted. I did notice my headache was less intense before I simply fell asleep. I expected the Dragon I had rescued and nursed to eat me that night.

When I next awoke it was late morning and I was alone. There was food and clothing around me but no Dragon.

I must smell too bad for it to eat me I thought with a chuckle and bathed in the stream. Then remembered that I had bathed before sleeping next to the Dragon. The smell was coming from the battlefield.

"Well, fuck. I guess the Dragon just did not want to eat me. I feel insulted," I thought with a small laugh.

I wondered if Dragons were capable of gratitude, I had saved its life after all. No, it probably went home or went to die somewhere. The wounds were deep.

I wondered who had brought the food and clothing to me. I wondered if the original owner was still alive. I wondered why I was talking to a crow. I wondered why the crow was listening.

I not surprisingly doubted my sanity for a few moments so I climbed the hill a few steps, turned and saw a battlefield strewn with bodies that had been joined by a large murder of crows. There were no crows around the dead dragon I noted. "Well. fuck, I really had killed a dragon."

I went back to my original spot and saw that the clothes were of a man that would have been a successful merchant and so was the food.

I sat and rested, the very short trip up the hill had exhausted me, then suddenly it was late afternoon, I had apparently fallen asleep or passed out again. The crow was still by my side, it had apparently watched over me. I was grateful it had not eaten my eyeballs so I thanked it.

I wondered where I was and the crow apparently did not know either so I decided it did not matter. In the worlds of fanatics I was dead. I may as well become the merchant. I shared some food with the crow then as I dressed the bird left me for higher ground.

I was slowly following a path east up the hill away from the battlefield and noticed my headache was mostly gone although there was still a loud ringing in my ears. My body did hurt everywhere so I had to move slowly.

Suddenly I was happy. I had just realized I survived a day of savages and dragons.

I was about two hundred feet up the mount when I found where someone had stopped for the night. A horse was there and so were several bags, but no human. There was a crow, likely the one that had listened to my wonderings. This was the direction towards which it had flown.

I looked for signs of a dragon attack and found them everywhere. I was feeling somewhat depressed until I found a scale, it was dark. The dark dragon had attacked the merchant before attacking my Dragon. My Dragon was innocent of murder at least in this case.

I let out a sigh of relief then heard someone giggling.

I looked around and saw no one, then saw a greenish glint in the sunlight.

"Do I look funny to you? You picked out the clothes."

Another giggle and the glint was suddenly gone. I was amazed how something that big could vanish among the vegetation so easily.

Then I thought, "My Dragon is a she."

Then I thought "Wait, I am hearing her inside my head."

But I was not as surprised as I should have been, I knew nothing of a dragons capabilities. I did know that speech would be nearly impossible with no lips and a forked tongue. I also reminded myself that I had just had my brains scrambled the day before.

I was high enough up the mount to have a fine view of the battlefield and realized my late benefactor had seen the carnage below. I wondered it he had still been alive to see my Dragon. I wondered if she had known he was up there.

I was startled to hear the Dragon say, "Yes," we knew he was here even though he tried to hide from us. My sister was with me and the three of us watched the battle from this spot. My sister and I went down when it was over and he saw you talking to me but was not too surprised I did not eat you. He knew I knew where he was and did not eat him.

My little sister had just left when you sat up. It was probably all the noise she made as she tried to get into the air that woke you up. She ate too much.

Much later I sensed the dark dragon coming but the human did not see it until it was too late. The dark one saw me but I just stayed by your side assuming he just wanted to feed on the dead but soon learned he was after me.

I was stunned when you had risked your life to save me, after all I am a Dragon.

I was even more surprised by the ease in which you slew the dragon and realized you could kill me more easily than you killed it. I was terrified when you came to find me but I have never been more grateful than when I realized you were going to tend to my wounds. After you tended to me and went to sleep I slept by your side.

Early this morning I came up to check on the humans riding beast and saw the exterior skins hanging from a tree and his dinner next to a small fire pit. I I took them to you then came back up to find his beast. The two trips exhausted me and I just woke up from a sleep."

I had a million questions which she answered before I asked, "No, I do not know how I can communicate with some beings. For that ability I have been exiled from my roost. The dark one was sent to kill me by my brother. Humans are not the only beings that turn on each other."

"I am sorry to hear that. Why are you not showing yourself?"

"The riding beast becomes terrified when it sees me and I did not want it to run away before you got here. It knows I am close but has calmed some since you joined it. It is sure you will keep it safe."

"You kept it here for me? Thanks, that was very nice of you. How do you feel?"

"I am alive thanks to a kind and brave human called Lars. It hurts to move and it's impossible to fly so I am now as earthbound as you."

"Can you chew on leaves?"

"Yes, at least well enough to swallow them."

"Let me make you something to relieve the pain."

I had learned from Uncle Clyde that the leaf of a certain tree could relieve pain, among many other things. His medicinal bags had little of the stuff but the merchant was apparently a physician, he had a stash of the leaves in one of his bags.

I wondered why I had not remembered about the leaves while I had the headache. Probably because I had a headache.

"These things taste terrible, swallow as soon as you can," I said as I went into the forest towards her. I was startled when I suddenly found her right in front of me. Her camouflage was perfect.

"Why would a Dragon need camouflage?" I asked myself. "Does anything eat dragons?"

She swallowed the leaves quickly and I checked her wound. It was healing rapidly and told her so.

"I would have been dead from it by now if you had not treated it. Thank you for that."

"Thank you for not eating me."

"Yet," she said with a giggle.

Amazingly I laughed. Strangely I felt we were now friends. I wondered how she would react to a kiss and immediately kissed the corner of her mouth.

"You kissed me!"

"Yes I did and there will be many more so handle it."

"Why did you kiss me?"

"I wanted to."

"But why?"

"Well you are my best friend and I am yours. You are a girl and I'm a guy and best friends that are different sexes can kiss if they want to, I wanted to."

"Wow. If I had not already been vanished I would surely be exiled now."

I kissed her again and returned to the campsite. As I walked over I wondered why I kissed her. I decided it was because we were both alone and wounded in a dangerous world and we each needed a friend badly. I was satisfied with that thought and never dwelled on it again.

I made myself busy taking inventory of my new inheritance. The crow was next to me watching how I catalogued the items. It seemed to disapprove of one move so I changed it and the crow nodded.The root I had assumed was food apparently belonged in the medicine bag. The crow must have been the physicians companion.

I already knew they were very intelligent creatures and some had learned to talk. Dad had a personal friend that was a crow he called Henrik. When Dad was killed in battle the previous spring Henrik had stayed with the body even after we buried it.

A caterpillar crawled out of a bag and I gave it to the crow. It may have said, "Thanks," after it gulped it down.

I wondered about the skills of the physician, Uncle Clyde always wiped clean his medicinal roots and leaves before putting them in his bags, that was what I was doing. The crow had not been surprised by the appearance of the caterpillar, that had apparently happened before.

About twenty minutes later the Dragon asked, "We are best friends?"

"Do you have any other friends?"

"No, my sister finds me at times and fills me in on what is happening at the roost but she is my sister. Do you have any friends?"

"I did but they are dead in the valley down there. I was closest to my uncle but he is among the dead. Have the leaves started to work yet?"

"Yes, thank you. They are amazing, I never thought there was anything that could be done for pain."

"Let me know when you need more."

"Oh, one thing, not everyone of your kind died. About one tenth of your men survived and continued south. They did look for survivors but apparently thought you were dead."

"More likely they just missed me, I was buried under dead savages. Can you describe the one who led them?"

"Yes, a big man with a black beard. He was angry."

"He would be. He is a terrific soldier but a lousy human being. I had hoped he would have been the first to die but I am not surprised to hear he survived. I am also not surprised that he didn't turn every one around and go back home. He no longer has enough men to do any good where he is going."

"Are you going to follow him?"

"No, I ceased to be a warrior yesterday."

I decided to camp where I was and make friends with a very nervous horse. I re-lit the doctor's small fire to keep us warm since we were already in the shadows of the mountains to the west.

About ten minutes later she said, "Having a best friend feels very nice."

"Yes it does and you are about to have another."

I led the horse to her and the Dragon froze, she did not want to scare it.

"Can you speak to it too?" I asked.

"Yes, most beasts can hear us but don't want to, we make terrifying sounds so they will become too scared to move. She is alive because she saw the dark one before he saw her and ran into the woods. I will speak gently to her."

I barely heard some cooing sounds then the horse walked up to her and nuzzled to her side.

"You have another friend," I said.

"Thank you."

I caressed her side and walked back to camp, both followed me. We spent the night around the fire. It had been a long two days for us so we fell asleep immediately and slept soundly.

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