The End

Of mighty dragons, proud knights, sacrificial virgins, and digestive upset:

The ceremony had been real pretty, Mira conceded. The liturgy was poetic in its own way and the priest had been quite handsome. She hummed as she pictured an idyllic future with him, imagining the brood of children playing on the floor. Pity she’d be dead soon.

The chains bit into her wrists as she writhed against the cold stone wall, trying not to think about the bones around her. Sir Boden would come for her, she was certain. She could almost see his dashing figure riding over the hill, his lance leveled as the sun glinted off his helm. When he came he would slay the dragon, cut her bonds and carry her off into the crimson sunset. He would take her to his father’s house and marry her, ensuring she’d never again be the victim of a virginal sacrifice.

She did wish he would hurry, though, as this was not at all a comfortable position in which to be strung up and the flimsy dress they had put her in was useless in defying the wind. Why did they insist on dressing up sacrifices in skimpy clothing as if to advertise to just any passer-by ‘eat me’? After all, it was not as if she could hold the skirt down when a sufficiently strong gust blew past.

Keeping herself occupied was hard; thinking of anything besides her impending doom was difficult at this point, really. Before long the wind subsided and the sun warmed the air. She dozed as the day lingered, her eyes closing against her own good sense until her semi-conscious mind thought she heard an echo of hooves on the dry ground. What roused her fully, however, was the unearthly growl that emanated from the mountain’s cavernous mouth.

She watched the mist issue forth, curl about her feet and slip down the hillside in diaphanous tendrils, which, under better circumstances, would have been real pretty, too. Thunderous footfalls rumbled through the ground, setting some of the smaller rocks dancing. Undoubtedly, this was a bad sign.

The rank foulness of the creature could be smelt long before its massive form lumbered from the darkness. Sable scales covered the hulking frame, claws sharper than spears protruded from cumbrous feet, and teeth more terrifying than… than… well, Mira couldn’t think of what they were more terrifying than; the threat of looming death was effectively driving such imagery from her mind.

What did not leave her mind were the most eloquent of curses against Sir Boden as she took what little pleasure she could in questioning his parentage, legitimacy and sexual potency. Hope was fading as the dragon’s eyes landed on her, so it was with great relief that she spied the feathered helm atop Sir Boden’s head come into view over the crest of the hill, followed soon after by Boden himself atop a dashing white steed.

Ribbons streamed from the end of his lance and a pure, ringing note sounded from his trumpet, echoing over and again through the vale. He looked like the prince from a fairy tale tapestry as he galloped up the hill, a dashing figure bathed in sunlight, exuding glory and honour.

The dragon turned. First its neck arched around to get a look at what was approaching, then its behemoth body followed, massive hindquarters swinging out behind.

The lance lowered, the horse charged. The dragon let out a frightful bellow. The ground between them quickly shrunk. The dragon lifted its foot and smashed Sir Boden flat.

Disappointing was not the word for this.

The dragon took little time consuming Mira’s would-be rescuer. She could not even say she was feeling sorry for him – maybe for his horse. Her feelings were more a resigned hopelessness for herself bordering on irritation at having no chance for a proper rescue now.

Neither lasted for Mira soon became dessert, savored for all of the five seconds it took the dragon to pull her from the rock face, chains and all.

It would be prudent at this point to note the true cause of the mass extinction of dragons is grossly misunderstood. It was not brought about by the brave knights who were quested to destroy them for glory and fair maid’s hand, but rather by the advent of metal armor that invariably mucked up their insides as dragons rarely bothered to strip victims before consuming them.

So it was that this dragon suffered from an acute case of indigestion brought about by Sir Boden’s mail and Mira’s chains and expired not long after. Mira allowed herself a bit of smug satisfaction over that.

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