The dragon was too slow. It made no sense. The rumors were that he was fierce and merciless and had burned villages to the ground. This couldn’t be the same dragon. But, there was no other.
He curled his body around a pillar near the back, but his neck stretched out toward the cave opening. The map was inaccurate, and I stumbled over his elongated face.
Startled awake, he lifted his head and rammed it into the top of his den causing boulders to fall. I jumped aside, and they filled the entryway leaving us in pitch dark and me with no escape.
He saw me easily in the darkness as I cowered against a wall. I heard him moving about, but could see nothing. I was afraid.
He wheezed, and coughed, then spoke. “Look what you’ve done!” He snapped with an ancient voice followed by another cough.
“Whyyy dooon’t yoou alll juust leeeavee mee aloooone?” He asked each word stretching with extra syllables, and he slowly dropped his head back to the cave floor causing the boulders to shake.
He breathed a long heavy sigh stirring up more dust, and a rush of hot air hit my face.
Despite his size, after hearing him speak, I was more puzzled than afraid. I lit the torch that I carried and saw his aged, weathered face. He was beautiful with shimmering green and purple scales and deep ruby red eyes that glinted in my torchlight.
“Heh…hello,” I stammered.
“Did the King’s Guard send you!?” He asked, irritated.
“Yes,” I answered.
He snorted; followed by a deep rumble that seemed like laughter. He slowly rose to tower above me. He was bigger than I imagined and I shivered involuntarily.
“You’ve been pranked, boy!” He rumbled again. “I wish you hadn’t startled me, though. Now I have a mess to clean up.”
This was perplexing. “I…I don’t understand.”
“I am 2oo years old, I have no treasure, and I have no captive princess or whatever they told you. You have been initiated into the King’s Guard, and now they will be entertained at your expense.”
He took a deep breath, and I watched his belly expand. He exhaled red-hot flames onto the rocks that blocked the cave entrance. They melted into a puddle in front of my eyes. I thought my armor might also melt just as he ceased.
“In a moment, this will harden, and you can pass. Please don’t return! I don’t like unexpected guests.”
I scratched my head and tried to grasp what he was saying.
They tricked me. They pranked me. The King’s Guard is supposed to be an exclusive, respectable institution. They are nothing more than adolescents! I walked over the hardened rock, threw my torch down, and kicked the dirt. They’d really punk’d me good.
– Written for Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 41, First sentence prompt was “The dragon was too slow.” WC 469. I went over word count and missed the deadline, but thought I would share anyway. Photo from PublicDomainPictures.net.