© 2000 Ree Tjeerdsma

I wrote 'Dragonette' in 2000 and posted it to the now-defunct SciFiVine. My character's shrouded past and knighthood inspired me to summon this tale into being. I can't say I created it; it just came into being through my fingers by the grace of some kind muse.

A ruckus outside the window cut short Cathal's study of courtly manner. Grateful for the distraction, the young knight gently laid his worn manuscript on the desk. Quickly he leapt onto the windowsill and swung himself down to the yard below.

A number of pages and squires, most too young to shave, poked at something. Cathal elbowed his way closer to the object of their torment. "Whatever are ye doing? Ye'll get extra hours of study for whatever it is!" This Cathal knew all too well. Had he behaved himself during morning chapel, he could have gone swimming in the lake with the other lads. Since he didn't dare swim, he had started a fistfight with a bully. It had been good practice as well.

"Someone's coming!" a small lookout hollered, and the lads scattered. Cathal forgot all when he saw the target of the blows he had heard in his room.

Covered in mud, blood, and bruises lay a tiny, helpless little dragon.

Cathal hunkered down and carefully eased the unconscious creature's head onto his lap. Some delicate bathing with the lad's saliva revealed a rainbow, iridescent wing. The wounded beast had two forelegs and two hind, one of which had a nasty gash deep in the thigh. Even if this animal had been bipedal, there was no way it could walk now. There seemed to be a tear in one wing, but it didn't cross the wingsail. Perhaps with help the scrapes would heal.

The lad grimaced then. He couldn't take the dragon anywhere. Cathal had no horse of his own yet. As a visiting squire, he was supposed to tend only to his knight, not run off saving animals. He bit his lip.

The dragon shifted in his lap. It was waking, and doubtless the pain would make it screech for hours. The racket would get Cathal in trouble for leaving his studies, and the knights would probably order the poor baby killed for their meals. Not every knight could boast to having eaten dragon meat, now that the legendary wonders were either hiding or dying out. Cathal suspected a little of both, with a larger portion being killed for trophies rather than safely hidden in a cave somewhere.

Deciding, Cathal unsheathed his dagger and pressed it by the dragon's throat. Perhaps sensing the danger presented by the blade, the dragon subsided into a faint. Cathal merely stared. Local tales said that dragons were keepers of wisdom, that their race was far more civilized than men would ever know. A dragon could learn powerful magic to curse its foes, or use a single talon to destroy an entire army of would-be dragonslayers. Certainly this specimen of the breed seemed cognizant of what threatened it, despite it weakness. Now that Cathal had made up his mind to kill the gem that lay covered in soil, he could not bring himself to do it.

"...more civilized than men would ever know?" The phrase echoed in his head.

"I cannot help you, sir dragon. I am sorry. I cannot save you," he murmured to the mess that hid draconic beauty.

An image formed in his mind. It showed Cathal himself, again holding the dagger. This time he carried through --

"No!" he shouted in fear. Magic! He hated magic!

Inside, voices responded to his yell.

Blindly Cathal made his way to the window. His feet slipped in the puddles yesterday's rain had left, and the brick wall was pure treachery to climb. He had to get away from the dragon's mind-twisting magic before it cursed his disobedience. That was all he knew.

He struggled over the windowsill and back into his seat. In this deserted hall, no one had missed him while he was outside. There would be no penalty for his --

-- for his moment of emotion, of caring.

Another image began to cloud his mind's eye: a lord's castle with animal heads mounted on the walls. Outside the window crimson spread through the ground, and children gathered talons and scales as their own cruel mementos of mortality. The image was dark, ringing with fear of the vision becoming truth.

Cathal picked up the parchment and began to read.

The door opened suddenly. One of Cathal's instructors came in. "I see ye've paid your dues to Brother Rory for your disrepect?"

"Yes, Sir Felim," Cathal bowed his head slightly.

"Then ye may join me in the celebration tonight, lad! Should be a grand time."

Something jarred in Cathal's mind. "Celebration, sir? May I ask what we celebrate?"

Sir Felim grinned cruelly. "Why? I've earned myself a new title, lad! I've the proof on m'lord's wall. Ah, that reminds me. I've also a gift for ye, if you give me yer oath that 'twill be yers and only yers til ye die."

Uneasily, Cathal acquiesced. "Ye have my word, Sir Felim. Whatever gift ye give me, 'twill be my honor to bear to my grave."

"Here ye be, lad. An unnamed sword all yer own. Thought it was high time. I found it in the belly of tonight's dinner. Queerest thing."

Gingerly the lad hefted his new prize. The glint of something on the hilt gave him pause. Shakily, he stated, "This... this is a scale."

"Right ye be, lad. 'Tis from a vicious dragon. And that be my newest title: Sir Felim the Dragonslayer." He turned to leave. "Mind you come to the hall tonight, lad! All the liquor ye can hold, and hear the tale of the slaying!"

Cathal didn't need to look out the window to see the bloodstain spreading over the ground.

This is the end. If you haven't followed a link yet, perhaps you should take it from the top.