The Dark Dragon (Lucas)

The Dark Dragon

Lucas

By Jamie Burns

 

I had never really noticed Rachel before, but over the summer she had started really making an effort. It also helped her social status that her two best friends were the beauties of the village. Not that it did much for their personalities. I can vaguely remember Rachel trying to talk to me once before when we were still in child's lessons. Back then she always had dirt on her face and second hand cloths, so obviously it was a short conversation. After all my family had a good reputation and I couldn’t risk talking to just anyone that drooled over me.

Over the summer it seemed Rachel had finally figured out the way the game was played. She had cleaned herself up and stopped bringing her impoverished family in to polite civilized conversation. She was becoming increasingly more lady like and reminded me of my own mother. Something to be gazed at but scarcely forced to listen to.

The summer was winding down and there was a group of us in the town square, enjoying what was left of the warm nights and summer harvests. Rachel and I had become somewhat of an unofficial item. Which meant I spent my father’s coin buying her fruit she wouldn't be able to afford otherwise and she let me get a bit farther than I had with the other girls.  

Rachel fed me slices of the peaches I had brought in the market. I had taken her to a spot my father told me about earlier that year. “Girls love the place.” He had said. It was nice, the perfect spot to watch a sunset. It was a short hike up hill with a nice rock formation that made a natural bench. It overlooked the valley to our left and the cliffed mountains to our right.  As the sun made it’s decent I took the peach from Rachel and leaned in for a kiss. But the moment before my lips touched hers the ground beneath us started to rumble. It was a small tremor but it was enough to pull Rachel’s attention away from me.

“What was that?” She asked.

“I’m sure it was nothing.” I said as I tried to get her to face me again.

“I don’t know. It didn’t feel like……”

The ground trembled again, stronger this time. Ok maybe it wasn't nothing. I too turned my attention to the view. It was easy to see that below in the valley people had started to more around me franticly and some had gathered in the square.

“Maybe we should go back.” Rachel suggested in a way that told me my chances for a late summer make out tonight had dropped to zero.

“Fine.” I said standing up. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw movement along the cliff side trail. I squinted the make out the figure in the growing mountain shadow. It looked like the figure of a man, no a boy. He was definitely smaller than me.

“Isaac?” I heard Rachel say. She too was squinting at the figure on the mountainside.

“Do you know him?” I asked.

Rachel squinted ever harder. “I think that’s my brother.”

“What would your brother be doing out here?”

“Nothing he’s allowed to, that’s for sure. I should probably go get him.”

I guess my gallant side took over because I looked at her dress, then the sharp rocks between where we were and the path he was on and before I knew it I had said. “No, I’ll do it. You head to the square.”

 

As a balanced my way across the rocks to reach the path toward the cliff I reminded myself of how many brownie points this was getting me from Rachel. I would just bring her back to the spot tomorrow and hope for no little brother interruptions. I reached the path we call the Path of Darkness and realized I hadn't been on it for years. I remembered being 11 or so and we all challenged each other to walk the path. I guess it was still a right of passage. I headed up the path trying to catch up to Rachel’s brother. I expected to find him somewhere on the path, that’s what usually happened, kids get a certain distance and then they chicken out. In fact, by the looks of it I was now passed the point I myself had previously made it too.

As much as I didn’t want to admit it, once I made it to the cave opening that same 11 year old fear had returned. Everyone in the village knew that this was the cave of a dragon. People had been telling the story to their kids for generations. I looked around to see if the boy was maybe sitting near by. There was no one. Had he really gone in? Did I really have to go in after him?

It was dark and I hadn't brought anything to light the way so I found myself stumbling more than upright walking. I thought I heard a movement so I abruptly stopped. My head told me to call out. I thought she said his name was Isaac? But something deeper in me said to keep quiet. That was when the next tremor coursed through the mountain. I turned to run back toward the cave opening but it was dark and I’m assuming I tripped and hit my head because that was the last thing I could remember.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Dark Dragon (Isaac)

The Dark Dragon

(Isaac)

By Jamie Burns

 

My favorite part of the day, was always when my dad would finally get home from work and he would tell me stories before bed. Stories about the Dark Dragon. The tales said that the Dark Dragon was over 900 years old! And a dragon never stops growing. He was as tall as a mountain, his scales were like black onyx and stronger than any steel ever forged by man. He had killed by the thousands with his kiss of fiery death.  Some even said there were still bone between his teeth from his last feast on the valley. Not that anyone would have truly been close enough to see it and live. So you know, awesome bedtime stories!

 

I had the great misfortune of having the two most boring sisters in the worlds. My oldest sister Rachel was all about boys, flowers, and I’m not really sure whatever girly crap she liked. She was the worst, but the most fun to scare. One little spider in her hair and she would jump like a frog. Rachel didn’t hang around our house much. I guess when you get older you just get to go out and do whatever you want.

My other sister Mary was not the worst, like Rachel, but she was still boring. I guess you could say she was “in charge” of me. I told our dad I didn’t need a babysitter. After all, I was 12 years old, not a baby. Anyway Mary had become immune to my tricks over the years so scaring her was much harder than scaring Rachel. This fact added to Mary’s boringness.

There were other kids in the village my age and they didn’t have to have a babysitter it was completely unfair. I had had enough. Yet another boring day in the house just me and Mary. I had hoped we would go out, walk around the town square and maybe I could slip away from her. My friends Henry and Philip had been talking about going to the path of darkness. It was the trail that lead up to the Dark Dragon’s lair and everyone who was anyone had been there. I was someone who was no one because I had never been. I was supposed to meet up with them but instead I was stuck watching Mary sew all day. Until luck was on my side.

I sat and watched as Mary’s head kept lolling back and forth. I tried to stay as still and quite as possible because it was my only hope of getting out of there. Her head drooped down totally and I let a good minute pass to be sure. I was out the door and with luck Henry and Philip would still be waiting for me.

 

When me and the guys got to the path of darkness it wasn't as cool as I had expected. I guess I imagined some kind of archway, not just a rickety old sign. We all stood, toes just behind the imaginary line of the start of the path.

“It’s not all that scary.” Henry said. But he glanced sideways at me like he didn’t know if he believed what he said. I know I didn’t.

“I don’t know guys, it looks pretty rockey up there.” Said Philip.

“Are we going up?” I asked

“Well… ya. That’s why we’re here right?”

We had never really talked about what we would do when we got to the path of darkness. Now that I was standing there it seemed obvious that I would be expected to walk that path. The rickety old sign started looking more ominous the longer I stood there.

“I’m not going up there.” Philip backed away from the path.

“What don’t be a coward.” Henry said, but his own voice had a shake to it.

“I’m not a coward. I’m just not going up there.”

“You sound like my baby sister, Philip.”

“Why don’t you just go up there, Henry?”

“Well, technically Isaac is the oldest. So… he should get to go first!”

The two of them stopped their bickering to look at me. Just like that supposed to not only going up the path of darkness but I was to going up it alone. I wanted to say no but something else in me wanted to be brave. The thought of telling my dad I had been to the lair of the dragon sounded great. Sure he would be a little mad at first but then he would think it was cool. Plus none of the other kids my age had ever made it all the way to the lair. What if I was the first? Yes, I would be the first kid in years to make it all the way to the Dark Dragon’s lair.

“Ya, I’ll do it.”

Both Henry and Philip’s faces looked a bit shocked. I thought how that would be the look on all the kids faces when I went to lessons the next day and they heard about my bravery. I started up the path. Only three steps in and part of my father's story came to me. The bones in the dragon's teeth and for a split second I thought those might soon be my bones.

“Wait,” Called Philip.

A wave of relief washed over me. Had he come up with a reason for me not to go? Nope.

“You have to leave and offering.” He pointed to the Sign. Under it sat all sorts of things others had left.

“Don’t want to head up without giving the dragon spirit something.” Henry nodded in agreement. I rifled through my pockets and all I had was a drawing I had done earlier that day as I waited for Mary to fall asleep. I unfolded it and put it at the base of the sign. I didn’t have any other reasons to delay. I wanted to back out, but instead I thought of the blond girl in my lessons and I was on my way back up the path.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The Dark Dragon (Mary)

The Dark Dragon

(Mary)

By

Jamie Burns

 

The legend of the Dark Dragon was always that to me… a legend. My brother and sister always put more stock in the Dark Dragon. I myself was a sceptic. After all no one had seen the thing in a hundred years. Sure the occasional elderly person, village drunk or attention seeking child would SAY they had seen it but really I was convinced it was a hoax.

It was just a scary story to keep kids from going off to the dangerous cliff side caves. Or so I thought till the day my little brother decided he wanted to be a dragon slayer. Not when he grew up though, no he wanted to be a dragon slayer right then.

Being a middle child is like… well it’s like being the middle child. You’re not the beloved first born and you're not the baby, you’re just there. That with the fact I am a girl meant I was basically a built in babysitter for my little brother Isaac. While my sister was becoming the social butterfly of the town I was at home keeping an eye on Isaac and doing all the housework no one else was going to do.

It was pretty normal for it to be just Isaac and I all day. Our father was always working so we could have nice fancy things like food and shelter. My sister was always out of the house doing God knows what with her snooty pack of friends. So there we were Isaac and I holding down the floor boards.

“Can we pleeeeease go outside?” Isaac begged.

“Not today I need to get this sewing done.”

“But why?” He whined and flopped down on the kitchen chair.

I didn’t bother responding, no point in arguing with a 6-year-old. He eventually picked himself up and sat on the floor to color. Relieved he didn’t push the matter and told myself I would take him out when I was done.

With every stitch my head and eyes grew weary. I only had a few inches of stitching to go and….  

I opened my eyes, the light coming in from the window told me it had to be close to sunset now. I must have fallen asleep. I was surprised Isaac hadn't woken me, by jumping out and screaming at me. He loved making me jump out of my skin. My back was stiff from the wooden chair, I moved to stretch out. I looked over to see the pages Isaac had been coloring, but no Isaac.

“Isaac?” I called out, I headed toward the room he and my father shared. It was dark and empty.

“Isaac, where are you?” I headed to mine and my sisters room, no one.  “Isaac if you’re hiding I need you to come out right now.” I stood perfectly still and listened for the sound of movement, but the whole house was still and silent. A shiver took over my body. A gust of wind creaked through the house and a familiar squeak hit my ears. The front door was open.  “Oh Isaac.” I pulled on my boots, grabbed mine and Isaac’s coats and ran out the door.

Two streets over was the town square. I was surprised at how busy it seemed. I started asking all our acquaintances if they had seen Isaac but no one had. There seemed to be more people arriving in the square with every passing moment, the crowd growing quickly.

“Mrs. Norris, What’s going on?” I asked the long white haired elderly woman.

“Oh, hello my dear.” She greeted back to me.

“Hi, um you haven’t seen Isaac have you?”

“No, not since about an hour ago.”

“An hour ago?! Where was he?” I tried not to let panic take over. I prayed he was safe and I would find him before my father found out I had lost him.

“Oh I saw him on the north side of town.”

“Alone?”

“He told me you were a street over and he had to get back to you. I didn’t give it much though dear. Did you two get separated again?”

That little lying munchkin. “No Mrs. Norris he snuck out without me. I need to find him.” The crowd in the square was now so large it pushed against my back. “What is going on?”

“Oh I’m not totally sure dear, there was some rumbling in the northern cliffs and a few people said they heard some kind of noises coming down from that direction.”

Oh no, “Where did you say you saw Isaac, Mrs. Norris?”

“It was on Stable lane on the….”

“North side of town.” My heart sank. Surely he wasn't that stupid. “Ok if you see him at all can you keep him with you please?”

“Of course dear, but where are you going?” She asked as I headed north.

“To slay a made up dragon.”

 

I had only been to the northern cliff side once before. It was before Isaac was born, when my sister and her friends got most of their entertainment from torturing me. It was a dare they found very clever. I found it meaningless and stupid. I was to go into the cliff’s cave and face the Dragon. I only did it because I knew there was no Dragon to face. I had hiked up the mountain side, but during my climb I lost my footing and half fell half rolled down the mountain on the rocks. My sister had to run and get my father for help, it took me a couple weeks to fully recover. I still have more than a few scars from the event. My sister got in big trouble and we were both forbidden from going anywhere near the northern mountains. Not like we were allowed to be there in the first place. My memory served me better than I had expected and I found my way to what the kids called the “Path of Darkness” Yeah, a little melodramatic for my taste but that’s what they called it. It was the start of the Path that lead up to the “Dragon's Lair”. If you believe that sort of thing. Which Isaac did. He had been talking more and more about the Dark Dragon lately.

At the beginning of the path of darkness it was traditional for people to leave a token of some kind. As a way to show who had ventured up. A sign of your bravery I suppose. Then I saw it, plain as day there with other dusty old knick-knacks was a sheet of paper. It had a sloppy drawn black dragon on it and at the bottom of the page was Isaac’s messy signature.

I headed up the path, it would be dark soon. I had only made it a few steps when I decided to back track. I wasn't superstitious and I didn’t really care if people thought I was brave but I took off my necklace and hung it over one of the other tokens that was left at the path’s start. That way if my father made it here he would know that I had as well.

I was halfway up the path when I felt a rumbling through my feet. It had been 4 years since our last earthquake. It had been strong enough to crack the fountain in the town square. It took them two months to repair it. This quake however, was nothing compared to that one. I still didn’t like the thought of Isaac being inside a dark, empty cave when an earthquake hit, small or large.

More than half way up the path and the sun was down but it’s light still kissed the sky. I heard movement ahead of me on the path and stopped. “Isaac?” Nothing.

A few more steps. Then I heard a fast hard patter of small feet running. “Isaac?”

“Mary!” Isaac cried out and he slammed into me with a hug.

My relief was overwhelmed only by my irritation. “What were you thinking?”  I bent down to get a good look at him in the growing darkness. He was breathing heavy, sweat covered his face along with a look of terrified fear that left me cold.

“We have to run!” He said and pulled my hand back down the path.

“Be careful! What’s wrong?” But he didn’t get a chance to answer before the ground shook again. Twice as hard as before. Then the darkened cliff side was suddenly illuminated and instantly grew impossibly warm. Fire poured into the air behind us. I looked up to see the cave opening, orange and red flame plumed into the night sky. In the shadow the fire cast I saw it and finally believed in the Dark Dragon.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED