The Rider

He watches the gulls circle.

They have the scent. They screech and caw, and circle and dive plunking at the soft bits, avoiding the scales and the still twitching clawed limbs. They scream with victory when able to take bits of brain or an eye airborne.

The crabs will work the soft underneath, maybe come in through the exit, or slip through the mouth and then eventually the fish will have their turn.

The sun glitters near the horizon reflecting green off the shiny scales of the giant lizard and the wind blows hard and cold and he can’t remember his own name.

Only that they saved her. That much he knows. But he can’t picture who they saved, or who they are. He only knows he is broken and done, like the beast that lies lifeless in front of him swallowing his view of the steel grey ocean.

He sinks a bit into the wet sand.

The tide is coming.

Salty water rolls in white with loose sand and a giant roar before breaking against the shore washing over him and pulling the great wyrm a bit farther into the drink.

The beach is polluted with the stink of dragon blood, like rotten eggs cooked over low heat.

An inky blackness flows from the dragon’s ruined skull staining everything.

A six flue harpoon dips as a couple albatross settle down on it to scout out some choice vittles.

He can only marvel that the harpoon found a soft spot. He forces a painful chuckle to stop around the thought of a soft spot. The barbed projectile found a hole in the great beast’s head. It found an ear and then a brain and then an exit through the bony ridged socket surrounding an eye colored a pale-yellow and tinged with lime-green.  

How they did it, he can’t recall.

A lucky shot. It must have been.

Lucky.

He is cold and wet and dying.

Ruined.

His body is smashed. He feels his armor tight against his rapidly swelling flesh. He tries to move but feels strapped down. Numb. Nothing cooperates. But then he makes a foot scoot across the beach and hears the jangle of a spur pulled off his heel and sitting wrong on his ankle. It gives him hope until another wave washes over him and he sputters brine against his sinuses.

Soon the waves will knock him down and current will drag him out to sea. Maybe the crabs will start working on him also. Hopefully he will be dead by then. A memory. A hero. He coughs.

Hero feels wrong.

He coughs again.

Bright red blood drips from his gauntlet covered hand. A hand that feels crushed and useless. A hand that felt the inside of a dragon’s mouth pinned between two wicked sharp teeth like a piece of meat in need of picking.

The waves come again and he sinks further into the sand.

They saved her.

Her.

Her?

He can’t summon her, but then he does. Her image floats in his mind. She has hair fine like strands of gold, blue eyes, bright and sparkling like a summer sky clear of clouds. A laugh like music, a voice like song. He takes a sudden deep gasping breath. He wanted her badly, but now will never have her, or anything ever again.

Another wave and his body sinks further which makes his head dip low. A fiery pain races down his spine. He now sees his other hand sitting on a silver pommel carved with a richly decorated wyvern head. The sculpture has its mouth opened wide as if diving for an attack.

The dying light sparkles in its rich folds and details.

He is mesmerized by it’s artistry.

He knows it will be the last thing he will ever see.

Until a set of boots set themselves under his gaze.

At first the black leather footwear surprises him.

Wet sand is flecked on glistening polish. The foot within is wide, but not long. Then two huge fists, one clamped around a harpoon similar to the weapon that took down the dragon and the other takes his chin and makes him looks up.

He feels no pain or anything else.

His eyes journey up legs encased in the finely hammered mesh. Mithril, white and glowing, expensive craftsmanship he decides. Black leather leggings underneath protect the skin. A thick black leather belt circles a belly indistinguishable from a barrel chest  marked with the symbol of the Dwarf God Moradin. Round muscular shoulders and biceps strain against the chain surrounding them. Then a fierce face surrounded by a flaming red beard and a bulbous nose over a bushy mustache almost hiding a thin angry mouth.

Two huge black mirthless eyes glower under rusty-eyebrows scrunched into a furious scowl.

He notes a steel skull cap glittering with gems.

His gaze is on eye level with the dwarf. He knows the man. He knows him well. Maybe not a name or places or deeds, but him, the idea there will be no decision making to be had here, that has already been done.

As expected the iron hard fist equipped with the harpoon  is raised and plunged through his jowls. He chokes on thick blood and shattered bone, but no pain until the dwarf speaks.

“For the sake of mercy,”  he growls before shoving the vicious weapon up through the brain pan. “Tis better then you would have showed her.”

 


dead_dragon_orm

 

by: Rasmus Berggreen

 


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Author: Bryan Aiello

I call NYC home and wish the subway went everywhere and Times Square didn't suck. I saw John Turturro once. Maybe it was him. He was wearing a yellow shirt and smiled at me like he knew I knew. I am an Army vet who writes. I like characters who want more then they deserve. I like genre fiction. I love space. I love paladins. One day I might write a paladin in space story. Just you wait. The university of South Florida spit me out with a degree in creative writing and I find myself questioning the sanity of going to a school that advertises a fake beach on its brochure ever since. I intuit grammar. I Got married in 2012 We had twins in 2015. I do a lot of cooking and dog walking and ranting about the unfairness of sentience. You can follow me on Twitter: @bryaiello Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/BryanAiello My Subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Voyage_of_Roadkill/ My Reddit profile: https://www.reddit.com/user/Voyage_of_Roadkill/ Like my work? Become a patron at: https://www.patreon.com/BryanAiello

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