ForevaXena's FanFic . . .
Hunt Of The Dragon
by J Falconer
Disclaimer: Xena, Gabrielle etc belong to MCA/Universal and Ren Pics, and anyone else who has an interest in Xena Warrior Princess, not me.
Copyright © 2000: The characters in here belong to me. All rights reserved. No part or whole of this work may be copied or used in any shape, form, or manner whatsoever without the author's express written consent. If you want to use them, all you have to do is ask ... nicely.
Violence disclaimer: This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Nothing too graphic (enter, stranger, at your risk -- here there be icky bits), but readers who are disturbed by or sensitive to this type of depiction may wish to read something other than this story.
Love/Sex warning: This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live - move along, move along, nothing for you here ...
like it, let me know. All comments except for nasty ones are welcome!
Major vote of thanks to my ever-patient beta readers ForevaXena and Tragic Prose for taking valuable time out to read this, and very helpful suggestions on improving this little tale.
Cover by ForevaXena
(Click photo for larger image)
Once upon a time, there were three
beautiful Kingdoms, set close together and surrounded by lush, green forest. The
Kingdoms were prosperous, the villages within filled with satisfied farmers
joyous with their good fortune of bountiful crops. They traded the fruits of
their labours peacefully, and celebrated their prosperity with great goodwill
and kindness to one another. Under the guidance of generous and wise Kings,
peace and contentment reigned for generations.
That was until the Black Dragon came.
An extraordinarily beautiful
creature, covered in shimmering black scales, with piercing red eyes, it swooped
over the two larger Kingdoms. It terrorized the inhabitants, demanding human
sacrifices in exchange for not burning all within to the ground. Panicked, the
two Kingdoms offered forward their people, one by one, until none were left
except for the old and sick. Defenders came to the Kingdoms from miles around to
kill the Dragon, but all were unsuccessful, their bones lying forgotten around
the entrance to the huge black cavern the Dragon called home.
As the sacrifices were given to the
hungry dragon and the people became fewer and fewer, it became angrier and
angrier, burning bits and pieces of the two Kingdoms until nothing remained. All
the inhabitants had been slain by the Dragon.
Seeing nothing more to consume, the
Dragon left, flying over the beautiful green countryside, until it saw the third
small Kingdom nestled in the green hills. Seeing a meal, the ravenous Dragon
swooped low over the villages, causing much consternation and anguish, then
spied the castle in the distance with its keen eyes.
The King and Queen were blissfully
unaware until a huge black shadow fell over the castle. They ran to the
battlements, guards in tow, and saw the Dragon hovering easily, its huge black
wings outstretched over the castle, casting deep shadows. They gasped and
exclaimed in terror.
“Why are you here?” asked the
King and Queen together.
“I AM HUNGRY!” roared the Dragon,
jetting flame over the battlements, setting fire to the King’s Standard, and
causing the assembled throng to dive for cover, where they trembled in fear.
“I have come to destroy you, your Kingdom and your castle. I will let you live
on one condition. Every day, one of your people must be staked to the hill
outside the castle confines -” it pointed with one of it’s huge, pearlescent
claws to a rock in a clearing some distance from the castle “- and if this
demand is not met, then I will KILL YOU ALL!” It bellowed, and jetted more
flame. To demonstrate it’s power and intent, it quickly speared one of the
cowering guards with a massive claw and swallowed the screaming man in one gulp.
Finished with its meal, satisfied they were going to yield to its demands, it
flew off with a mighty roar, wings flapping. Howling wind swept the cowering
King and Queen out of their hiding places as it soared off into the distance
searching for a new place to call home for a while.
“Quick, fetch my scribe!” ordered
the King when he had collected himself off the ground. “A proclamation is to
be issued, ordering all my subjects to surrender their first born to the Dragon.
Fetch my messengers! They are to travel far and wide searching for Dragon
The Queen wept.
So it was done.
Sacrifices to the Dragon’s
appetites were found, reluctantly called forward to serve their King and
country, defenders appeared high and low to attempt to slay the dragon.
All were unsuccessful.
Finally all that remained of the
firstborn was the King’s daughter, Bronwyn. With heavy hearts, the King and
Queen personally escorted the Princess to the huge rock, bones littering the
barren ground, chains hanging. Tearfully they shackled their daughter to the
rock, bid her a sorrowful farewell, and went back to the castle, resigned to
The young blond girl with emerald
green eyes, innocent and pure, alternated between terror and prayer. She hoped
against hope that a defender would appear to rescue her from the dragon’s
stomach. In the distance, she heard the mighty roar of the dragon, the whoosh of
its wings, and the charred trees surrounding the clearing she was chained up in
burst into flame again, as the dragon’s foul breath ignited them.
“AH HA!” roared the Dragon, as it
gracefully landed in front of the quaking Princess. “I HAVE ANOTHER SACRIFICE!
PREPARE TO MEET MY WRATH!”
With those simple words, the dragon
lifted a sharp white claw and carelessly snapped the chains binding her. Unable
to move a single limb, she quivered, alternately mesmerized by the beauty that
stood before her, in all it’s terrible glory, and the dark knowledge that she
was about to be devoured.
The Dragon leant down, drooling,
opening and snapping shut it’s jaws, breath reeking of rotting flesh. Bronwyn
said her last prayers, as out of the smoke galloped a huge black warhorse
carrying a fully armoured red knight, with a black plume in his helmet, black
dragon crest on his breastplate. A huge silver sword suddenly appeared in front
of Bronywn’s face, causing the dragon to pull back its serpentine head to
avoid its tongue being severed. The powerful arm grabbed her and whirled her out
of the way, as the Dragon roared in indignation and jetted thick grey smoke.
Wasting no time, the Knight scooped
up Bronwyn with strong arms, draped her over the front of his saddle, leapt up
onto the back of the snorting charger, and galloped full speed out of the smoky
clearing. Columns of scorching blue flame followed them, as the dragon attempted
to incinerate the knight. He rode harder as the Dragon took to the air. Bronwyn
clung onto the saddle for dear life bouncing uncomfortably as they dodged the
dragon, charging into a heavily wooded section of lush green forest.
The dragon took to the air, and
finally caught them when they hit a clearing, coming in for a heavy landing in
front of the horse, which reared wildly, throwing off rider and passenger in an
ungainly, bruised heap. As Bronwyn groaned, the Knight was already on his feet
wielding his sword, lunging fearlessly at the dragon’s head. The horse took
off at a wild run, and Bronwyn crawled and hid behind a thick tree, grasping at
the rough bark, breathing heavily, and trying to stay hidden.
The Dragon roared; the Knight lunged
and defended; the battle continued on for a full day and a night, Bronwyn
watching her defender avidly, marveling at his grace and courage in battling the
At the dawn of the second day of
fighting, both combatants were flagging, on the point of dropping from fatigue.
Finally the Dragon gained the upper hand and pinned the knight with one massive
fore claw. It leant down and eyed the Knight closely with its fierce red eyes.
“Manling,” it breathed. The
Knight coughed in the face of its foul breath. “No one has ever battled me
with your courage and skill. For this reason alone I will let you live. I will
also grant you one request, you have but to name it.”
“I ask that you let this poor
innocent young girl live, and that you leave the Kingdom in peace, never to
return. I also ask that you assist me in ridding myself of an Evil magician that
holds my Kingdom to ransom.” Bronwyn did a double take as she realised her
spirited defender was a woman.
“Arrogant mortal! That’s two more
requests than I granted you. Perhaps I should kill you anyway Knight,” said
the Dragon coldly, ruby eyes narrowing dangerously, putting more pressure on the
claw pinning the Knight to the earth.
“No you won’t,” responded the
Knight in silken tones.
The Dragon laughed. “And why is
The Knight tapped the Dragon’s
claw. “That claw is sitting on your heart, Dragon. I think you know why.”
There was silence for a moment, as
the Dragon sized the Knight up with a calculating stare.
“So it’s you,” the Dragon
hissed coldly. “I will aid in your quest, and I agree to your other terms –
I have wanted to kill that magician for a long time.” The Dragon snorted
another thin tendril of smoke directly into the heavily visored face, causing
the Knight to cough again, lifted the claw off the Knight’s chest and offered
it to her so she could lever herself to her feet. The Knight accepted
“Then we have a bargain?” asked
“We do,” replied the Dragon, and
offered it’s huge claw, which the Knight shook.
Bronwyn took her courage in her
hands, stepped out from behind the trees, and spoke.
“What is to become of me?” she
asked in a small voice, as the Dragon laughed.
The Knight and Dragon both turned to
her simultaneously. The Dragon looked thoughtful, the Knight inscrutable through
her heavy helmet and closed visor.
“I will not kill you, I have given
my word to the Knight,” replied the Dragon evenly.
“The proclamation the King put out
stated that your fair hand was offered in marriage to the knight who killed the
dragon,” said the Knight thoughtfully, and then turned to face the Dragon
again. “I have no intention of killing you, Dragon.” At this, the Dragon
snorted, amused, and raised one jewelled eyebrow.
The Knight turned back and spoke to
Bronwyn. “It seems you are free to leave if you so desire. What would you like
to do? Would you like to return home or would you like to come with us?”
Bronwyn didn’t have to give it a
thought. She had always had an adventurous spirit and had longed to see the
outside world. The problem was that her parents had spent most of her life
trying to push her into marriage with one boring noble or another, so for her it
was no contest. “I’d like to come with you,” she said, green eyes shining
The Dragon’s face creased in an
enormous, unusual, toothy smile, fangs bared, red eyes glittering. Bronwyn
couldn’t see through the Knight’s visor, but she could feel her grin.
“It’s settled then,” said the
Knight. “I’ll just get my horse, and we’ll be on our way.”
She whistled, and the horse came,
stomping and snorting, eyes rolling in fear at the Dragon. The Knight spoke
gently to it, and the animal calmed considerably. She mounted, offering a strong
hand to Bronwyn who gratefully took it, pulling her up into the saddle to sit
comfortably behind the Knight.
“Wow,” said Bronwyn, fear of the
Dragon forgotten in the wake of her excitement at real traveling. “This is
exciting. I’ve never been out of the Kingdom before. You know, this reminds me
The Dragon and the Knight exchanged a
look as they set off, the Dragon’s huge body cutting a swath through the
ancient forest. They sighed, thinking it was going to be a long trip.
They traveled for a year and a day to
the Knight’s beleaguered Kingdom. During that time, they became firm friends,
and Bronwyn came to deeply love both her companions. The Dragon proved to be a
wise, intelligent and oddly gentle creature, with legends of ages past that
never ceased to fascinate Bronwyn. The Knight was pure of heart, courageous,
performing many great deeds of valour. Bronwyn and the Dragon had never seen the
Knight’s face, as she was always fully armoured, helmet and visor firmly in
Though she became worldlier, Bronwyn
remained a compassionate, sweet girl, unable to harm a single living creature,
her stories enchanting all that heard them. Far and wide her tales became
legend, and new ones were told by others of the deeds done by three very
different companions – a very beautiful girl with hair the color of the sun, a
dashing brave Knight in shining red armour, and a fierce, loyal Dragon. They
took great pleasure in each other’s company, the Dragon no longer willing to
consume Princess Bronwyn. The giant beast and the Knight had come to love her as
much as she loved them.
One day, as they were walking across
a sickly meadow, Bronwyn spoke.
“Where are we?” she asked.
The Knight was silent for a moment,
and then responded in a voice filled with pain, “We are on the borders of my
home, now but a day away from my castle.”
A gentle girl, Bronwyn hugged the
Knight around her waist. The Knight laid an armoured hand on her wrist, quietly
thanking her for the support. The Dragon surveyed the suffering countryside
around them and snorted in disgust as its keen eyes took in every nuance of
decay surrounding them.
The meadow had started off green,
then faded to a sickly yellow before it finally died. A misshapen and gnarled
border of trees twisted up to the heavens in tortured pain on both sides of the
unsightly grass. The hot sun shone down relentlessly on them, the Knight showing
no signs of discomfort at the increase in temperature. Bronwyn pushed up the
sleeves to her shirt, sacrificial gown long since disposed off in favour of
breeches and a white shirt, showing her shapely body off to good advantage, much
to the discomfort of her companions. The Dragon began to pant, breathing out
great gusts of warm breath, doing nothing for their comfort levels. Bronwyn and
the Knight had long since tactfully discussed with it the wonders of oral
hygiene, and much to their mutual relief its breath was no longer carrion.
As they got closer to the Castle in
the center of the Kingdom, they were assaulted by an even more repugnant smell
of decay and death. All around them, in the small village they traveled through,
scavengers had feasted on the multitude of dead animals and citizens, all lying
in various states of decay where they had dropped in gruesome death whilst
performing their daily routines. The Dragon raised an eyebrow at this; Bronwyn
took shallow breaths and kept her head firmly against the Knight’s hot back.
The Knight stared ahead grimly, clearly forcing herself not to look left or
right at the sights. Suddenly she stopped, leapt from the horse and dived into
the nearest abandoned house, returning seconds later with a bowl. She swiftly
packed it into her saddlebags. Bronwyn and the Dragon exchanged surprised
glances, but said nothing.
They continued on out of the blasted
village, and headed towards what had once been thick wood. Again, the Dragon cut
a swath through the wood, and all grimaced as the huge body squashed the trees
into thick, watery pulp. Deep inside the ailing forest, there stood an unnatural
tree, vibrant green, growing rampant in grotesquely cheerful defiance of nature
amongst its dead neighbours. The Knight abruptly stopped, and the Dragon looked
at her questioningly.
“Knight, why is that … tree …
still alive and why are we stopping?” asked Bronwyn, disgust written plainly
on her delicate features.
“That is the Guardian. We need the
root buried at its base,” said the Knight.
As soon as the Knight had spoken, the
tree abruptly appeared to swing all its branches towards them. The knight again
climbed down from the nervous horse, this time gently helping Bronwyn to her
feet. With a nod to her companions, the Knight leapt forward as the tree’s
branches reached towards her. Grimly she began hacking away at the writhing
foliage, and the Dragon quickly took to the air, anxiously snorting smoke,
hovering over the roiling greenery, waiting for a clear shot. Bronwyn ducked in,
trying to get to the base of the tree, but a branch grabbed her about the waist,
threatening to tear her in two. Her breathing was laboured as the life was
slowly crushed out of her.
“Knight!” she wheezed, struggling
futilely with the virulent limb. “Dragon! Help me!”
The Dragon heard her plea, and came
to her rescue. It directed a careful nostril of flame at the base of the rubbery
branch, which howled in agony as the hot blue flame consumed it.
The Knight was faring much better as
she hacked the foliage away from the tree with her mighty shining sword. As the
sap hit the ground, it hissed and splattered, melting all in its path. Yet the
Knight remained unharmed as droplets splashed harmlessly against the unmarked
The Dragon burned all it could with
thin streamers of fire, struggling not to hit Bronwyn, and to protect her from
the acidic sap. Bronwyn managed to dig a small way into the foul earth near the
roots, and grasped a vibrant green nodule, pulling with all her strength.
Abruptly the tree shivered, and began to renew its efforts to stop her, thwarted
by the Dragon and the Knight.
Suddenly, the tree screamed. The
Knight had swung her sword in an effort to cut a branch snaking towards her,
missed, and hit the trunk of the tree. The tree bled great gouts of black blood,
as the Knight lunged forward and pierced the trunk. The tree howled in agony,
the sticky blood hissed and sizzled, and the struggles slowly began to cease.
The Knight pulled her sword, remarkably shiny and untouched, from the trunk as
great clots of bark and pestilence fell off to sink into the crying earth as it
All three companions grimaced.
“Here is your root, Knight,” said
Her nose wrinkling in disgust,
Bronwyn handed the Knight the root she had collected and wiped her hands on her
breeches, trying to rid them of the offensive soil. The Knight whistled for her
horse, which had run when the fighting started. It returned, tossing it’s mane
and stamping. Wordlessly, the glittering red visor faced her; an armoured hand
took the root from Bronwyn, crossed to the horse, and packed it away in the
Silently the Knight and Bronwyn
climbed back aboard the horse, and the companions continued on.
The noxious forest began to thin out,
and Bronwyn, who had taken to walking to give her backside a rest from the
horse’s uneven gait, tripped over a stone sticking forlornly up out of the
soggy black ground. The Knight sprang off her horse, and took her gently by the
arm to steady her.
“What was that?” asked Bronwyn.
“A headstone,” responded the
“This is a cemetery.”
“Knight,” chimed in the Dragon,
“what are we doing here?”
“In the center of the cemetery is
the Royal Tomb, where the first King of this land is laid to rest. His body
bears a medallion we require.”
“Why don’t you have it already?” asked Bronwyn apprehensively, scanning the muck beneath her feet, as it began to stir uneasily.
“Because the Tomb is too heavily
guarded for one person to enter,” said the Knight, armoured head whirling and
frantically scanning the ground. A withered hand suddenly shot from the uneasy
earth nearby, creakingly fingering the humid air experimentally.
The damp, fetid earth began to break open with great clots of mire flying
in all directions, as the guardians of the cemetery stirred from their rest.
Bronwyn blanched, partly at the sight, more fearful of what the awesomely
capable Knight considered too heavily guarded.
“That way,” yelled the Knight,
pointing to the deepest part of the shadowed cemetery and setting off at a dead
run, gracefully avoiding the rapidly appearing, questing bones.
“Figures,” mumbled Bronwyn,
following close behind, leaping over more emerging zombies, Dragon’s mighty
limbs popping and crunching the emerging fiends into pulp.
More of the withered, slimy half
people struggled forth from the reluctant earth and lurched painfully out to
intercept them. The Knight cursed, pausing for a second to swing her sword, wet
ripping sounds punctuating the tearing of rotting flesh, the splintering of
fragile bones. She continued to run and swing her sword, Dragon and Bronwyn
“There!” exclaimed the Knight
during a particularly vicious blow to one of the denizens, shattering it into a
million fragments. She ran harder towards an ancient, unkempt, vine strangled
tomb, dragging Bronwyn with her, Dragon uneasily bringing up the rear. Suddenly
she stopped, and Bronwyn crashed into her broad metal back. Bronwyn grunted and
peeked over her shiny shoulder.
“Uh oh,” she said, as the dull
green rubbery vines surged and heaved and heavily armoured skeletons, seated
proudly on skeletal horses, trotted forth to meet them.
Cold as death, the dead knight’s
horses blew moribund air from remembered lungs. Grimly, the Knight raised her
sword, and prepared to meet them.
“Nay,” said the Dragon, “let me
It sucked in a huge lungful of
stagnant air, and blew out a mighty breath of pure blue flame. It washed over
the hellish defenders, bathing them in cleansing fire. When the Dragon had run
out of air, the flames ceased and the thick grey smoke cleared uneasily. The
Dragon peered, red eyes glittering, and with it’s keen sight, could still see
the defenders standing whole and untouched, smoke enshrouded in front of the
tomb. The skeletal horses trembled with obscene life as they pawed the sodden
earth, anxious for their long dead masters to flay the intruders.
“What now?” asked Bronwyn,
fearfully eyeing the spectacle, Knight sizing up her malformed, shrouded, grimly
“Not to worry,” said the Dragon
firmly, spreading its thick wings to cover the Knight and Bronwyn as they
anxiously turned to eye the steadily lurching, ragged bodies behind them. It
sucked in a huge lungful of the fouled air and blew as hard as it could. The
skeletal knights instantly shivered in the turbulent wind, and there was an
unearthly crack as the bones shuddered and flew apart at the joints, splattering
against the dull, mossy stones of the tomb, and lay still.
Slowly the decaying zombies dragged
themselves to the rear of the Dragon. Swinging to meet them, the Knight’s
sword moved faster than lightning, hacking and slicing, and Bronwyn picked up
dirty rocks and hurled them into the midst of the disorganised rabble, careful
to avoid the Knight. The zombies began to splinter, the carelessly severed limbs
quivering as they tried to come together to make whole bodies again. Despite the
spirited Knight’s killing strokes, and Bronwyn’s true aim, the number of
reforming corpses was slowly starting to overcome them.
The Dragon carefully eyed the
scattered bones in front of it. Suddenly they quivered eagerly, then flew
together with blinding inhuman speed to reform the ghastly knights. With great
grinding and creaking of uneasy bones, they presented arms, and spurred their
steeds to charge the Dragon.
The Dragon sucked in a great gust of air and blew with all it’s might at the two dead knights. They rumbled, and slowly came apart at the joints, rotting cloth dispersing uneasily in the howling wind. They shattered into a million pieces, as the Dragon collected itself, and prepared to blow once again.
“Get your medallion Knight!” it
yelled between puffs. “I can’t hold them forever.”
With one last vicious swipe of the
silver sword, the Knight and Bronwyn ducked past the Dragon’s protective
wings, through the stubbornly quivering bones, and thundered across the
unhallowed ground to the tomb. With a single blow of her mighty fist, the Knight
shattered the ancient rusted seal holding the heavy old iron door closed. She
lost her sword as another great gust of warm wind from the Dragon threw them
headlong down hidden, slippery stairs into the impenetrable blackness of the
tomb. Bronwyn screamed as the door slammed shut behind them with a resounding
In the grim, expectant blackness,
Bronwyn felt her Knight’s arms surround her, soothing her, guiding her gently
to her feet. Suddenly there was flickering light as long forgotten torches
hissed and popped to life one by one all around them. Bronwyn blinked at the
unexpected brightness, and surveyed the room they found themselves in. It was
two tiered. Bronwyn and the Knight were standing at the base of stairs they had
rolled down. In the center of the sunken cavity, there was a huge crypt; it’s
uneven surface dancing with the deep shadows cast by the flickering torches.
Suddenly the light became brighter,
the flickering of the torches was no longer noticeable, as light from another
hidden source starting to overpower them. The Knight and Bronwyn glanced around
“What now?” asked Bronwyn, and
the Knight gently shushed her.
“Look,” said the Knight
reverently, pointing toward the crypt.
A ghostly outline, the source of the
gentle golden glow, lay on top of the cold stone of the crypt, steadily
increasing in solidity and brightness.
said the figure, sound echoing eerily off the ancient stone of the tomb, rising
to it’s booted feet to greet them. It was a grey bearded middle-aged man, in
shiny chain mail, with an ornate gold crown resting on his head surrounded by a
clear golden aura.
The Knight sank to her knees,
dragging Bronwyn with her.
me your heart, brave knight it said, unearthly
voice ringing against the stones, torches flickering in cadence, walking slowly
to the kneeling Knight. The Knight looked up straight into the spectre’s
sharp, hawk like black eyes.
Suddenly Bronwyn was pushed aside,
crumpled against the damp stone, and the Knight froze, eyes locked with the
spectre, both bathed in the fierce golden glow. It nodded slowly, and the
moribund voice boomed again.
you seek is in the crypt. Be warned Knight - the medallion will protect only the
person wearing it.
The Knight’s visored face remained
locked with the bottomless eyes of the spectre.
“How are we going to get out of
here?” asked Bronwyn, staring at the apparition uneasily.
take my sword.
The ghost drew it’s sword, and
handed it easily to the Knight. When the Knight took it, it became solid. It was
almost five feet in length, solid gold with black jewel encrusted hilt. She
bowed low to the ground, accepting the sword reverently.
have my blessing fearless Knight, he said, as
he gently laid his ghostly hand on the Knight and her armour began to glow a
fierce red, then faded as the man began to fade. Slowly, all became quiet, and
the torches flickered once more on the walls, as peace flowed through the Knight
The Knight took the golden sword,
gave a few practice swings and nodded appreciatively as Bronwyn looked on. Then
she put it into her scabbard, moving towards the crypt, as Bronwyn rushed to
An almost obliterated outline of a
once powerful King adorned the old stone lid. They grasped the edge, and began
to push, heaving and straining. Despite the Knight’s formidable strength, it
took every ounce of their combined strength to move.
The stone slid back with a heavy,
hollow scraping sound, and they peered inside at the skeletal remains, still
shrouded in half remembered chain mail, cloth long since rotted away, ancient
crown dulled by the long passage of time. Around it’s neck hung a shiny chain
with a solid ruby medallion resting easily on the chest.
The Knight slowly leant in, as
Bronwyn asked, “How are you going to get that off?” She was expecting the
Knight to tug the chain.
“Like this,” responded the
Knight, slipping the chain over the remains of the head with reverent, gentle
fingers. She brought the medallion to her visor, evidently kissing it, saluted
the long dead King, and slipped the chain over her helmet, to her neck, ruby
medallion resting almost unseen on the red shiny armour of her chest. Bronwyn
tried not to look surprised and decided to say nothing. The peaceful air swiftly
dissipated, to leave a darkly expectant atmosphere.
As soon as the medallion had been
placed around the Knight’s neck, the torches flared and guttered out, and in
the advancing inky blackness, the Knight dragged Bronwyn up the slippery stairs.
As the darkness reached out to enfold them, sighs of waking voices turned to
outrage at the living intruders.
Voices whispered and exclaimed behind
them, as the Knight felt her way to the door through the blackness, Bronwyn
clutching her armoured back in terror. She ran her hand across the rough surface
of the mass in front of her, and found a crack. Her fingers slipped into the
crack and Bronwyn clung to her as she heaved the door open. Swift footsteps
mounted the mossy stairs below and behind them, reaching for them, as they
launched themselves out of the door. The Knight slammed it shut behind them, and
there was a bang on the door as an unnamed thing tried to follow. She pushed the
door again, and frantically grabbed her shining silver sword on the ground near
her feet, using it to seal the door once again. A thwarted, funereal howling
began from the tomb, as their unseen assailant realised it could not realise
it’s intent to embrace them.
Bronwyn blinked frantically, rubbing
her eyes, as she slowly became aware of the black Dragon’s plight. Zombies
swarmed around it and on it, twisted and rotting figures clawing and biting its
exposed flesh as it reared and roared, and tried to shake them off. It swung
around and beat it’s wings, trying to dislodge them with limited success, as
it tried to destroy the knights advancing on it with rotting horses.
The Knight yelled, drew the golden
sword, and jumped into the fray, Bronwyn close behind.
As the Knight swung her sword, all that it touched shattered, spasmed and then lay still, littering the rotten earth. Bronwyn leapt to the Dragon, trying desperately to avoid it’s head and teeth as she grimly tore at the figures tormenting it, chunks of soft slimy flesh and bone coming off in her hands.
When the Knight turned to the demons
on the horses, she swung and scored two direct hits. They screamed, high and
keening as they slowly began to dissolve into a greasy, greenish powder. The
Knight watched this then turned to assist the Dragon and Bronwyn. She began to
pick off the zombies, one by one. Gradually all lay still on the unhallowed
ground, shattered to memory by the companions.
“Thank you Knight and Bronwyn,”
said the Dragon, puffing from exertion.
“You’re welcome,” responded
Bronwyn, eyeing the beast with concern. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, thank you,” said the Dragon
“Thank you Dragon,” said the
Knight evenly, and saluted it with the golden sword; the Dragon grinned.
Slowly, distastefully, they made
their way back through the ruined earth of the graveyard and back into the
forest. The Knight whistled for her horse, which appeared tossing it’s mane
and stamping its hooves. The Knight and Bronwyn mounted the horse, and continued
out of the crumbling cemetery back to the hellish forest.
They had not gone far when the thick
forest of decaying trees slowly petered out and stopped, and they saw the ruins
of a castle in the distance. Its battlements were black and twisted, stone
crumbling, surrounded by a foul smelling moat full of dark, oily water. There
was no apparent way into the castle, as the drawbridge had long since rotted and
fallen into the murk below, twisted wreckage clearly seen on the other side.
They stopped at the shore of the
moat, and pondered what to do next. The Dragon grinned, baring huge fangs, and
said, “I believe I can help. Bronwyn, may I have two strands of your hair?”
Bronwyn sighed. “Yes,” she said,
as she plucked two strands of her hair from her head, and attempted to hand them
to the Dragon, who shook its head.
“Nay,” it said. “Lay them on
the ground as close to the … water … as you can.”
Bronwyn complied, and the Dragon sat
back on its haunches, closing its glittering red eyes. It took a deep breath,
and both the Knight and Bronwyn stood back spellbound as it sang. On a thousand
delicately made wind instruments, a song wound forth, surrounding them and the
castle. The strands began to stir under the gentle, feather light caress of the
melody. Slowly they began to wind sinuously forth, stretching and growing until
suddenly a huge drawbridge of solid gold spanned the distance from the shore
where they stood to meet the stumps of the old drawbridge at the castle.
The Knight and Bronwyn were both
speechless when the Dragon finished. Its grin had gotten bigger, if that was
“That was so beautiful,” said
Bronwyn with shining eyes.
“If you have magic, then you could
easily have killed me rather than fought me,” added the ever practical Knight
in her sultry voice, and crossed her arms.
“Thank you, fair Bronwyn,” said
the Dragon, bowing. Then it addressed the Knight. “Where’s the sport in
that?” it asked, grinning. “Besides, who said I wasn’t using it?”
“Good grief,” muttered Bronwyn,
feeling the Knight roll her eyes and nod in agreement.
The Knight said nothing more as she
climbed back aboard the horse and began to move towards the drawbridge, Bronwyn
and the Dragon following tensely behind.
They entered the courtyard littered
with skeletons and thick dust. A black miasma of foul air congealed in one
corner of the courtyard, seeping down from one of the huge ruined towers, slowly
spreading obnoxious feelers towards them.
“Up there,” announced the Knight
unnecessarily, and the Dragon arched an eyebrow at her, as Bronwyn stared.
“Sorry,” she muttered, and set off towards the ruined stairs leading to the
tower, Bronwyn running as fast as she could behind her
“I’ll just meet you at the
top,” said the Dragon from behind them. The Knight ignored it and Bronwyn
turned and waved an arm, then continued in her hot pursuit of the Knight as she
fearlessly urged her horse forward. The horse skidded to a stop at the bottom of
the stairs, rolling its eyes, unwilling to carry the Knight further, as the she
attempted to spur it on. Finally she relented, jumped off the horse and slapped
it’s rump. It instantly bolted back through the ruined courtyard over the
golden drawbridge. Up and up the crumbling, slippery stairs they climbed,
Bronwyn miraculously never tiring until they reached the top. Outside the heavy
oak door, the knight paused.
“Bronwyn,” she said. “Know that
I love you whatever happens.”
She slipped in close to the Knight.
“Knight,” said Bronwyn gazing deep into the shiny visor, unable to penetrate
the inky blackness behind it. “I love you too. Please come back to me.”
The Knight pulled her in close, and
Bronwyn melted against her cold embrace, tears in her eyes.
The Knight gently pulled back, took a deep breath and smashed the door open with a gauntleted fist. Bronwyn followed close behind her. She burst into the room, plunged in filthy blackness, torches burning cheerlessly on the walls of the circular room. In the center of the floor was a pentagram and a cauldron bubbling over a green flamed fire. An extraordinarily ugly old man, bent of limb, twisted of eye, coarse haired with clawed, wizened hands bent intently over the foul brew, bubbling away with the most obnoxious smell roiling forth from it’s uneasy depths.
The Knight lunged forward, towards
the hideous apparition. The magician, keen of hearing, saw the blows coming,
flicked a claw, and a broken shield flew off the stone wall, colliding with the
Knight so she was knocked backwards off her feet. She skidded across the room,
ruby medallion flying off, armour showering sparks until she crashed into a far
wall with a clang. She easily got to her feet as Bronwyn turned to run toward
her, and lunged forward again, crying “Dragon! Breathe your fire!”
Jets of flame shot through an unseen
window, and bathed the magician, dissipating harmlessly over the sphere of power
he had erected around himself. He looked up; milky cataracts aimed towards his
long-lived foe, and began muttering.
The Knight froze, as a thin layer of ice began to form in the joints to her armour. A siren song called to Bronwyn, slowing her down until she felt as though she was trying to walk through thick molasses. She felt her will slowly being drained from her, as she struggled to turn and face the magician.
The Dragon continued to stream fire
at the wizard, as the Knight began to freeze solid. Bronwyn slowly felt her
limbs seizing up as the hypnotic song continued. She crawled across the miles
separating her from the Knight, reaching out slowly and painfully for the
medallion, lying discarded at the base of a misshapen pillar. Her leaden fingers
closed around it and life began to flow back into her aching limbs. She
struggled to her feet, and dragged herself over to the Knight on protesting
legs, fumbling the medallion around her neck. The Dragon’s flame began to melt
the ice, as Bronwyn collapsed again, firmly in the grips of the spell the
magician cast. Sweat appeared on his vile brow as he struggled to maintain
control. Great chunks of ice fell off the Knight’s armour, and she leapt
forward on unsteady legs, drawing her golden sword.
With tremendous concentration, she
hurled the sword, straight and true, through the sphere of fire. It embedded
itself into his wrinkled neck and he uttered a high keening, bubbling scream as
his flesh began to melt off his bones in great wet chunks. The spell of
protection wavered and collapsed, and the Dragon’s blue flame burst through,
consuming the magician in a thousand tongues of superheated fire. With it’s
master incinerated, the magic brew, now defenseless, began to evaporate away. As
the liquid boiled, a million souls in torment screamed their agony to the dead
The Knight grabbed Bronwyn’s still
uncoordinated body, cradled her with cold arms, running back down the stairs as
fast as she could. She screamed for the Dragon to back away, as her headlong
rush down the stairs continued. The Knight was knocked off her feet by the
heaving earth, and she protected Bronwyn as best she could as they rolled the
rest of the short way back down the stairs out into the dead courtyard.
At the bottom, the Dragon swiftly
covered them both with one of its great wings, as the Tower exploded into a
million glittering fragments. Great sheets of flame erupted from the shards of
the tower, then were viciously sucked inward into the dark hole of uncontrolled
magic, air rushing inward after them. Abruptly the unrest ceased, leaving a huge
crater where the tower once stood.
With a sigh, the three friends picked
themselves painfully up, as the horse guiltily galloped up to join her relieved
Bronwyn looked around her, and still
saw the same state of decay she had become familiar with. “Why hasn’t
everything turned back?” she asked.
“There is one thing left to do,”
responded the Knight, exchanging a look with the Dragon.
“It’s time,” the Dragon said
simply, nodding its great head sadly.
“It’s time for what?” asked
The Knight quietly took the root from
her saddlebags, along with the bowl, and crushed it with her gauntleted hands
into a fine powder. With the most gentle of fingers, she lifted Bronwyn’s
hands, and poured the dust in them. “This dust,” she said softly, “must be
scattered all over the Kingdom. It will restore life to my land. Go with the
Dragon, and give life back to my people.”
A tear escaped from Bronwyn’s eye,
as a doomed feeling broke through her rigid self-control. “What are you going
to do?” She cupped the dust with reverent fingers.
“I’ll be here waiting for you,”
said the silky voice, as the Knight pulled Bronwyn in for a tender embrace.
Bronwyn began to cry in earnest, and the Knight gently wiped away the tears,
gauntlets hard and cold on her soft skin. “I love you my sweet Bronwyn.”
“I love you my brave Knight,”
Bronwyn said, voice breaking, tears trickling down her face, as she looked deep
into the impenetrable blackness behind the Knight’s visor.
Dread settled firmly on her
shoulders, Bronwyn gently disentangled herself from the Knight, sniffling and
looked at the Dragon.
“I’m ready whenever you are,”
Bronwyn gingerly climbed aboard the
Dragon with the Knight’s assistance, making sure not a drop of the sand was
spilled. The Knight’s gentle hand steadied her as she more comfortably seated
herself. The Knight stepped back as the Dragon launched itself into the air.
Far and wide it flew, Bronwyn
sprinkling the dust over all she saw with a heavy heart. Below her, she could
almost feel the earth sigh in relief as it was released from its torment, and
the ground grew from barren and sterile to vibrant greenery again. The villages
were rebuilt, the skeletons rising from the earth to gradually become whole
people again, cheering at her passage.
Finally the job was done, and the
Dragon was in sight of the castle when she felt a tremor in the great body. The
Dragon suddenly howled in anguish and screamed in pain as Bronwyn clung
frantically to it’s back.
“What’s the matter?” she
“My heart,” wheezed the Dragon,
tumbling towards the earth, ending in a graceless landing in the courtyard.
Bronwyn had been thrown clear, and picked her bruised body off of the cold
stones. She spied the fallen body of the Knight, shining sword sticking out of
her chest. Bronwyn moaned in agony and denial, as a flood of tears streamed down
her face. She crawled to the fallen Dragon, and tried to cradle it’s great
“When we are both gone, you must
burn our bodies, gather the ashes in the bowl and scatter them all over the
castle. When you are finished, cast the bowl into the moat,” gasped the
Dragon. “Promise me!”
Bronwyn sobbed brokenly as she
whispered, “I promise. I love you my Dragon.”
“Do not grieve for me,” the
Dragon said, voice fading, fire seeping slowly from it’s fierce red eyes. “I
have lived a long and full life, and I have once again known love.”
With that, the great chest stopped
heaving, they ruby eyes flickered shut and its scales became dull, as life
seeped from the body.
“Why?” wailed Bronwyn, as she
left the Dragon’s side to go to her love, the Knight. She gently leant down to
cradle her body, and the empty armour fell apart in her hands. She screamed in
horror and disbelief, and bowed her head in desolation. The Knight’s horse
nuzzled her in sympathy, and wandered off.
Finally, drained, she gathered debris
from the castle, and built a massive pyre for her Knight and her Dragon. She lit
a discarded torch with the Knight’s flint and threw it onto the pyre, watching
them burn, heart and soul aching for her brave Knight and fierce Dragon. Slowly
the fire consumed both bodies until nothing but a cold, fine grey ash remained.
She gathered as much as she could in the bowl and traversed the black and dead
castle, scattering what she could as her friend had asked.
Done, she made her way back to the
courtyard, unrestored by the dust as the roots had healed the land. She sagged
to the ground, head hanging in defeat, tears still flowing.
Rage overtook her, and she thundered
to the drawbridge and hurled the bowl into the murk, tears dripping from her
eyes into the still water below. She watched with dead eyes, as the water became
clear, the brick of the castle becoming whole once again, shining white in the
healing sunshine. From behind her, she heard the sighs and murmurs of people
climbing slowly to their feet as life was breathed into them again. Gazing into
the crystal clear water with empty eyes, no longer with the will to live, she
didn’t hear the footsteps coming slowly behind her.
“Bronwyn,” came the deep sultry
voice from behind her, which she had never thought to hear again. Spinning
around in recognition and hope, she saw the most beautiful woman she had ever
seen in her entire life. She was tall, a shade over six feet in height, a simple
circle of gold resting on top of a flood of black hair, cascading down the back
of her simple white gown. Her features were cleanly sculpted, and the most
stunning sky blue eyes Bronwyn had ever seen burned into her with the same love
and desire that she felt.
Bronwyn never hesitated. She ran
forward and threw herself into the waiting arms, tears and anguish forgotten.
The Knight held her close, looking deep into her eyes. She had already captured
Bronwyn’s heart, and now leant down to claim her lips. They kissed deeply and
passionately, Bronwyn breaking it regretfully, never wanting to let her brave
Knight go, breathing ragged.
“I love you with all my heart,”
she said simply.
“Dearest Bronwyn,” responded the
Knight. “I love you and I want you to be my Queen. I have ever since you
agreed to come with the Dragon and I on our quest.”
“I want nothing more than to be
your Queen, and to be by your side.”
Bronwyn kissed her, and allowed her
hands to begin to explore the Knight’s long, muscular body.
“What happened to my beloved
Dragon?” she asked when they broke again for air
“When the Wizard stole my Kingdom,
he cursed me and split me up into two half beings – one a Dragon, the other a
Knight. If either one ever killed the other, then the curse would continue on
forever. If either half had killed themselves, then my Kingdom would never
escape from the Wizard. He did not believe we could overcome our differences and
work together if we ever met.”
Bronwyn smiled, knowing her fierce,
beloved Dragon was also standing in front of her.
Safely nestled in her love’s arms,
Bronwyn allowed the Knight to gently steer her back across the shining
drawbridge to her cheering subjects and her new home.
The Knight and Bronwyn sent word to
Bronwyn’s parents, inviting them to the wedding. When they arrived, Bronwyn
forgave them for attempting to sacrifice her to the Dragon, and thanked them for
leading her to the love of her life. There was much rejoicing by both Kingdoms
at the slaying of the evil magician, the departure of the Black Dragon, and the
new life and peaceful prosperity granted to both Kingdoms. The Knight and
Bronwyn ruled for a long time over their Kingdom. It came to be known as a
shining habour of wisdom and justice throughout the land.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Go to "ForevaXena . . ."