tagNonHumanΔράκος, or A Story of Dragons

Δράκος, or A Story of Dragons

byleejames©

His nostrils flared, watching the movements in the main village of Larkinshire, his brute mass hidden away in the Forest of Ne'er Returns, where no villagers dared to go. It could hardly be called a village, at that; it was the capital city of the entire country, and a place he did not frequent often. The King and his beloved Queen lived here, along with their only daughter, much to the king's distress.

Although dragons were typically not drawn to humans except to devour them if prey was scarce, he found that he delighted in watching the girl every day as she wondered about the kingdom, often riding a pure white stallion which he fancied would make an excellent dessert. Her hair was golden, pure gold as the treasures he hoarded, and her eyes were the deepest lightest blue he'd ever witnessed. His exceptional sight told him all this, his senses relaying the daily report of what all she had done while he was away hunting. She often ventured too close to the forest, staring into its darkness, and he could see a stubborn, obstinate streak in her eyes.

She is fighting a battle of wills, she longs to enter the forbidden...he thought to himself, still as a cat prepared to pounce on its delicious treat. They sat that way for long moments, the princess unaware of his existence, the dragon stealthy and patiently waiting. Finally, she turned and continued on her ride across the meadow that bordered the forbidden land, and he let out a snort that disintegrated the tree he sat facing. With a long cat-like stretch, he spread his ebony wings and lifted himself into the sky, blocking out the sun's light for a moment with the mass of his great form, and began a slow, patient purveyance for that day's lunch.

*****

Layra bathed in the cool lake, swimming about in the water in naught but her skin. The horse she often chose was grazing off to the side, as was his routine every day. She loved the warm summer air that permitted her to take advantage of the kingdom's hidden springs, and she doubted she'd be found by anyone, all of the villagers were busy working, toiling away at their chores. She had no idea what that was like, she didn't even dress herself in the morning. She'd heard stories lately, about a dark, evil magic in the Forest of Ne'er Returns that bordered her father's kingdom, and she was particularly anxious to find out just what that might be. Foolhardy and conceited, if she had truly known what was best for herself, she would've stayed away, but as it was, she was just an exceptionally spoiled princess who was used to getting her own way and never being in danger.

She swam idly, thinking over what her father had most recently said to her. She was about to come of age, of marrying age, and her body was already on its way to full development. Suitors would begin to call, princes and lords wanting the kingdom that was to be hers, and she would have to choose one of them. She snorted, startling the horse, and closed her eyes. All the men she'd ever met at court had been pompous and, to put it plainly, big balding babies. Not one of them could ever really face a man in battle. Though she was pampered, she longed for a knight courageous, tough, and rugged, whose ferocity in battle was matched only by his ferocity in bed. She giggled to herself at the thought and began to swim over to the bank, opening her eyes. She gasped and backpedaled quickly at what she saw. A man was standing on the bank, staring at her, his eyebrows raised quizzically. She looked around for her horse- it was gone. She drew her courage up, though kept her body underwater, and tried to retain her most royally imposing demeanor.

"Sir, don't you know who I am?" she asked, feigning power.

He laughed, and she could feel the power of such a laugh shaking the water she swam in, it seemed to make the whole world shudder for a moment. She stared at him, her eyes wide, wondering who this man was. He was tall, taller than any man she'd ever seen, and lean, like a wildcat that was in perfect condition. His hair was jet black and hung long down his back, though braided to keep it out of the way, and his eyes were an unsettling gold. Not yellow or orange, but gold as golden as her hair. He moved almost snake-like, graceful and coiled, and crouched at the edge of the lake, looking as an animal ready to spring on its prey. She found herself suddenly very afraid, but incredibly aroused, by this dark man. When he spoke, his voice was deep and it reverberated the entire clearing, but she thought maybe she was imagining that vibration.

"To me, you look like a young, helpless woman in a clearing whose screams wouldn't be heard by a single person," he spoke very clearly, as if he was foreign and had been trained in English too skillfully. It is a generalized fact that foreigners speak another's language much more clearly than the natives. She shook at his words, feeling suddenly very cold, and very alone, but was too foolhardy to realize what danger she was in.

"Sir, I am the Princess of this entire wood, my father is the King. If you leave this glade at once, I will not demand your beheading when I return home," she sniffed at him. His golden eyes swirled darker and darker, and she found herself staring into the depths.

"Who says you are returning home, Princess?" He smiled wickedly as he saw his words register on her face. "A princess is extremely valuable...and from what I understand, extremely...delicious." His eyes turned to her, a feral grin on his face, as she choked on the air she had sucked in so quickly.

"You're going...you want....you want to eat me?!" she cried, her terror escalating. All pretenses of power were now gone, as the thought of her impending death settled more clearly in her mind.

"I'm sure you're nice and soft, you've probably never worked a day of your life. I can just imagine how tender you are," he grinned, now leaning back on the bank, idly stretching.

"How dare you!! How dare you say such things to me, you loathsome pig!! I WILL have your head for your insolence!" Layra spat, rage filling her.

The man sat up swiftly, and suddenly, she realized she was right against the bank, not a foot from where he was. She didn't remember drifting so close. The next moment, she was on the bank, her naked form pressed against the long wispy grass, her captor holding both of her wrists easily in one hand while he ran a hand along her belly with the other. How he had hauled her out of the water so quickly was something she couldn't explain, but she was furious and humiliated to be naked before this stranger, and to have his hands running over her body as if she was a possession. She writhed and went to scream, but suddenly, she couldn't find the air to do so, it was like it had evaporated. She looked up at the man's eyes, that were dangerously cold, and she froze when she saw the pupils were in cat-like slits, not the normal round shape of a human. He growled and she saw his nostrils flare with some kind of light, scaring her further into holding still, lest he kill her right there.


"You insolent little girl! You will not speak to me that way! If you ever speak to me that way again, I shall cut out your tongue!" His voice was deeper, throatier, and Layra got the sense that his temper was hardly restrained. His grip did not soften, but his eyes slowly swirled less and less, until the colors were back to a normal gold. She realized he was still holding her down, and his hands were still roaming over her. She went to twist, but the memory of his lit nostrils made her think twice. If she could just hold still, maybe he would change his mind and let her go. That did not seem to be what he had in mind, for he stopped suddenly, and looked down at her.

"Still a virgin, are we?" Her eyes widened, and in shock she nodded docilely. How could he have known that, just from touching her stomach?

He moved his hands down between her thighs, and gently-she almost thought tenderly, if she had known what that felt like-felt her innermost secrets against his hand. He stopped for a moment, and pulled his hand back to his face, staring at the glistening she had left on his fingers. He showed her also, and she turned her head away in shame, humiliated that she was getting turned on by such brutal handling. He laughed softly and put his fingers to his lips, and to her shock and horror, sucked each of his fingers dry. Still crouching over her, he pulled her wrists so that she was half-sitting.

"You are so beautiful...maybe a little bit of a shrew, but I will change that in time," he murmured, reaching for her clothes. She shuddered at the delightful tremors his voice brought to her, furious to be so controlled, yet delighting in such an unknown.

"I am going to dress you now, myself. If you so much as think of running, I'll tear both of your legs off," he said, matter-of-factly, and she knew his voice allowed no disobedience. She was shocked that he was dressing her, instead of raping her, but she obeyed, not doubting for a second that he was capable of such an amputation. She lay where he instructed, and raised her arms as he pulled her white cotton dress on that she always wore on her rides. He delicately tied it in all its places, lingering along her throat and the curves of her waist, and then took her golden hair that she had left down and braided it.

"I want you to keep your hair in this braid at all times. You may take it down to wash it, but you must put it back when you are done. If you do, I will bring a great present for you. If you do not, I will not bring anything," he said to her, finishing her braid quickly.

She suddenly realized how quiet it was and whirled around, but no one was there. She went to undo the braid immediately, telling herself she did not want to ever see this man again, but as she reached for it, she stopped, smiling softly to herself. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to see him again, she thought to herself. After all, he hadn't hurt her, and he was so different from the other men at court. She looked at the sky, the sun was sinking. Suddenly desperate, and realizing her horse was still gone, she whirled around, towards the path they had come here on. Walking towards her was her white horse. Her eyebrows rose and she quickly tried to figure out how that had happened, but not wanting to waste time, Layra resolved to figure it out when she arrived back at home. She mounted up and urged the horse into a gallop, her eyes glued to the glowing castle lights ahead of her. It was not wise to be out after dark in the outskirts of the kingdom, she had been told. Dragons lurked out there.

*****

Layra was awoken by screaming in the castle. She shot up and looked around, confused. Two lady's maids bustled in, as if to awake her, but seeing her already coherent, they grabbed her hands and pulled her down the hall, one putting her robe on as they went.

"Oh Princess Layra, it's your mother! She is in the throes of labor and no one can pacify her! She calls for you!" One of the maids gushed to her. Layra closed her eyes for a moment as she was pulled along, trying to get her wits about her. Though her mother was satisfied with their one child, her father continuously demanded to have a male heir. So they had kept trying, though every attempt had ended in a stillbirth or a miscarriage. Layra hated her father for continuously forcing her mother; she knew it would be the death of her. She burst into the room, and was shocked at what she saw. Her mother lay in the bed, weak and frail, with a mid-wife holding her hand. Her father was nowhere to be seen. A lady's maid was holding something that was making a terrible racket, and she realized it was a baby. She couldn't help her elation at finally having a sibling. The lady's maid exclaimed loudly, "It's a boy! The king has an heir!" Everyone laughed and cheered but her mother, who beckoned her over with a weak gesture. She pulled her closer, until her ear was even with her mother's mouth. She tensed, wondering what the queen wanted to say so privately, but only one word was uttered.

"Run."

Layra pulled back, startled, and went to ask her mother what she meant, but the lady's maid pushed her aside.

"The Queen!!! She is dead!! Run, hurry, and fetch the doctor! Wake the king!"

Layra stumbled out into the hallway, still staring at her mother's lifeless form as she was pushed aside. She turned and fled, running down to the stables and leaping onto her white steed, kicking him to run as fast as he could. Without direction, the horse took off, away from the bells in the town, away from the screaming and wailing, towards the meadows, and without her knowledge, towards the pool where they always went. The horse was only a creature of habit after all, and without a word from its mistress, it simply took off in the direction she had most often requested of it. They made it to the glade and she slumped off the animal's back and onto the ground, curling into a fetal position and crying herself to sleep.

*****

Layra awoke again sometime in the night, not knowing where she was. Her bed was cold and hard, her clothes were torn, and all around her it was pouring down rain. She could see it clearly outside of the shelter she was in. She started, suddenly...she hadn't found a shelter last night. She had taken off into the night when her mother had slipped from this world...thanks to her father's doings!! She was furious, and leaned back against the wall of the shelter, surprised at the intense heat emanating from it. The wall was hard and yet soft, and when she turned to look, she realized it was not a wall, at all. It was...scaly. And the blackest ebony she had ever seen. She tensed as she followed the wall up to the ceiling, where she saw a black membrane stretched out over here, longer than she knew how to measure. This wasn't a shelter at all...it was...

She stretched her neck around, craning to see past the "wall" in front of her. She looked down beside her and gasped, backpedaling quickly until she tripped and fell. Lying in front of her, its head larger than her entire body, was the blackest dragon she had ever seen.

She tried to regain her composure and looked around, trying to find a place to hide. The dragon had them both securely wrapped up and dry, and she couldn't help her curiosity as she moved a little closer to it. She reached up, touching the animal's cheek gently, and smiled at the feeling of the cold scales but fiery skin. She continued to explore the animal, trying to be careful not to wake it, lest it be keeping her only for a snack. She'd heard stories about dragons, but never seen one up close. From what'd she been told, they were evil, dark creatures that gobbled humans up faster than you could blink, and if you were to be caught by one, it'd be better to stab yourself with your dagger first, because it would torture you if you were still alive. She'd been told they looked like snakes and had eyes that pierced your soul, but this animal before her looked like a giant kitten curled up after a bowl of milk.

She ran her hand down between its eyes slowly, but jumped and yelped with one orb opened and stared at her, unblinking. The dragon's eyes were larger than her head, and they were the purest gold she could remember. Almost exactly like the knight's eyes yesterday, she thought to herself, trying to hold still, hoping it wouldn't see her. The animal did not move any other part of its body, but kept its eyes open, and spoke in a voice that made her body feel like butter dripping down.

"I see you are awake now, my little one," he murmured, and she was sure he was speaking gently because his regular volume would've shattered her ears. She looked at him, still terrified, too scared for her stubborn streak.

"Yes....where did...what are...how....are you going to eat me?" She finally spat out.

He laughed, a deep laugh that reverbe- wait, hadn't she thought that before? About someone else?

"No little darling, dragons do not eat people, especially beautiful little princesses like you. That's just a story nannies tell their little children to keep them out of trouble," he said. "Do not worry...I will not harm you. Go to sleep now, wait until the rain passes."

She shook her head, curling up against his cheek, warmed by the fire in his skin and the gentleness in his voice. "I cannot sleep, I am overcome with sadness. My mother passed away giving birth to my baby brother, and he will inherit the kingdom. The last word she said was to me, and it was "run". Dragon, what does that mean?"

Layra had never had a friend. The ladies of court despised her, and the peasant girls feared her. She had truly been alone most of her life. She might have found it odd to take comfort in a dragon, even if it was a dragon that was protecting her from the rain and cold, but at this point, why not?

The dragon looked at her, his cat-slit eyes thoughtful. "I am sorry you have had such a night, little darling. I knew this would be a difficult time for you. Yes, I knew what would happen," he answered the surprised look on her face. "I believe your mother fears for your life. With her gone and a new heir to the throne, a male at that, what use are you to your father? He might kill you, or keep you as one of his consorts."

Layra sat straight up, shocked at what the dragon was saying. "My father would never! He loves me and would never inflict harm on me, by death or rape! You know nothing, dragon!" And with that statement, she hit him on the scaly cheek she had been using as a pillow, so enraged she was.

The dragon growled and lifted its head, though still not removing it from the cover of its wing. Layra saw its nostrils flare with a light of fire and she dropped her head, ashamed.

"I'm sorry, Dragon, I did not mean to hurt you! I'm sorry, you have been so...."She paused here, not sure what to say. Nice? Comforting? Loving? Could dragons be any of those things? Without realizing it, she kneeled before the animal, trembling with some fear and grief. The dragon lowered its head, and she was shocked as its tongue dipped out over her hand, wiping away the blood dripping down from her cracked knuckles. A couple more licks, and her fist was healed completely.

"You will do well to remember to never hit a dragon," he answered in a deep voice. "And also to never speak to me that way. I will let it pass without punishment this time, because I know you are overwhelmed with grief. Sleep now, little darling, you have had a wearisome night and require the rest. I will keep watch."

She settled against his cheek once more, sighing in contentment. She doubted anyone was foolish enough to take on a dragon, especially one larger than any she had ever heard of. She drifted off into peaceful, happy dreams of soaring.

*****

Layra awoke in the clearing, feeling safer and warmer than she had in many nights. She stretched languidly, looking around, but seeing no sign of the dragon from the night before. It must've been a dream. Remembering the events from the night before, she felt no urging to return, so she moved towards the pool, dropping her white covering onto the bank and stepping in. Remembering the knight's words, she removed her braid and cleaned her hair, washing the feeling of sweat and tears off, and then rebraided it swiftly, though for what reason, she didn't know. She continued swimming around the little spring, dog-paddling, when she heard an approach. Hoping it was the dragon, or maybe even the knight from the day before, she swam towards the embankment.

"Hello, Dragon!" She called out, hopping out of the water and moving towards where she heard him. She backpedaled quickly as three large, burly brutes came into the clearing, leering grins on their faces. She made to grab for her dress, but the closest man reached for it and ripped it away. She gasped and went to scream, but a dagger was lifted to her throat, and she immediately clapped her mouth shut. Where was the dragon? Why did he leave me here? She thought. Unless it really was just a dream...

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