Together, the two made their way through the town. The signs of spring arriving lined the road with tulips and daffodils nodding their blooms to the sun. Greening grass softened the winter-dried verge. Maaike’s stomach contracted painfully when she caught the scent of roasting lamb as they passed one of the inns along the main road. It had been a full day since she had last eaten. Worry during the journey about her mission had killed any appetite she might have. Merchants displayed goods and every kind of food imaginable on almost every street corner. The bustle of too many people in too small a space threatened to overwhelm her senses.
She felt plucking fingers at her belt. A snap of her wrist against the offending hand drove the pickpocket away. She whirled with a snarl, but no one was there. The guard turned as she did and watched in amusement. “We try to keep the petty theft down, but they will try at every opportunity. Sorry,” he commiserated with her.
They made their way up the main road to the gates of the Dragon Tower. Maaike stumbled to a stop as a dark whirlwind seemed to engulf the figure of a woman standing with her arms raised to the sky. As the churning darkness lifted away, a red Dragon almost two stories tall stretched out its front legs and lashed its tail like a cat. With a mighty yawn showing gleaming white teeth, the Dragon shook itself and stretched its hind legs, shaking each in turn.
Maaike clutched at her chest. She couldn’t breathe. She groped for the guard with her other hand, grabbing his arm for balance.
The Dragon spread its huge wings and thunder rumbled on the downstroke. The wind those wings created pushed against Maaike and the guard, molding her clothes to her body. Dust filled the air as the Dragon rose into the morning sky. It rapidly gained altitude and glided out of view over the wall. Maaike felt the blood draining from her head and she came close to fainting. The guard grabbed her around the waist and held her as she struggled to draw in air.
“First time seeing our Dragon?” he asked with a chuckle. “Does this to most people. There. Feel better?”
“I had no idea. Tales are told along the Traders Road, but…” her voice was faint with shock, her mind struggling to find words.
“Well, thank the gods for her. We’d have lost the first Demon battle without her fire and magic. We almost did lose,” he admitted, loosening his hold. She stepped away from him as she regained her balance.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish