The Dark Dragon
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.”
“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