Rise of the Thrall Lord
The Battle of Fisheye Cove - Part 17
Ratnosk couldn’t help feel the new mistress was somehow displeased with him. And the more he bowed and scraped, the less happy she seemed. Here he was, the first representative of his tribe to be in the presence of a dragon for a dozen generations, and he was failing miserably to please her. Worse, he was failing his whole tribe, and at this rate she would fly off and it was all his fault.
He wasn’t displaying his sincerity enough. He needed to try harder; perhaps with the dance and chant of servility.
“Just stop! Stand still, be quiet, and let me think.”
He froze in place, holding as still as he could. It was an awkward position, and he had to shift his tail slightly to keep from falling over. Even in the smallest things, he could not serve properly. He waited for her to smite him for that transgression, but the killing blow did not come.
“What’s your name?”
Her question startled him. It sounded like she was asking for his personal name. For an instant he entertained the fantasy that he was to be a chosen one, a direct servant of a dragon. But then he came to his senses, she must be asking for his tribe name.
“We are the humble Bendtail clan, Oh Magnificent One,” He replied his voice squeaking in his nervousness.
“How many are in your tribe and how far from here do you live?” The dragon asked, moving lower in the water so she no longer towered over him. Her eyes were now level with his, although they were each almost as large as his entire head. Her jaws could snap him up in one bite and swallow him still squirming; like he would with a small tunnel-runner.
He was taking too long to answer, Ratnosk thought with panic; but he didn’t dare get it wrong. Holding still, he missed the use of his claws to help the count in his head.
“One hundred and forty four, including the latest hatchlings; if it pleases you.” He said, thinking how pathetically small and depleted his tribe had become. “And our current tunnels are a fifteen minute walk, Oh Glorious One.”
He carefully kept his pose and barely dared breathe as the dragon regarded him for a few moments.
“Relax,” she commanded. He found that hard to do, but tried to comply.
“What’s your name little one?”
He could barely contain his joy, she was asking for his personal name. He was chosen! He wanted to dance, but opted for a fourth degree bow as he said. “Ratnosk il Nurhoth trapjack second class of the Bendtail clan.”
“Very well Ratnosk, I am Rukastanna of the Greymantle clan,” the dragon said. “Gather your tribe leaders and have them meet me here in an hour.”
He couldn’t believe his great fortune. “Yes, oh Rukastanna the Radiant and Benevolent, it shall be as you command.”
Then the dragon seemed to grow in size and bringing her jaws frighteningly close said, “These humans and their family are under my personal protection. If any harm comes to them from your clan, then I shall declare vendetta on the Bendtail and expunge them from existence.”
As she looked at him, her eyes seemed to shift from green to amber, the pupils narrowing to mere slits. The dragon opened her mouth wide, and from this short distance, he could clearly see sparks of small lightning arcing across the rows of wicked looking serrated teeth within her great jaws. He could smell the imminent storm bolt on the air. And even through his shadow goggles, the glare building deep within the dragon’s maw hurt his terror widened eyes.
“Are we clear?” she snapped her jaws shut with a rumble of swallowed thunder.
It was the first he saw her truly look draconic, and it sent shivers of both fear and joy down his spine.
“Yes, Oh Mistress of a Thousand Glorious Virtues,” Ratnosk cried as he prostrated himself again before her. “Shall we bring tribute Oh Incarnation of Supreme Generosity?”
“Tribute? Yes, I think tribute would be nice.” The dragon said thoughtfully, her eyes returning to their deep green glow, and her entire aspect brightening.
“Oh, and you wouldn’t happen to have a boat, would you?”