Rise of the Thrall Lord
The Battle of Fisheye Cove - Part 5
Wexel Hookwright was practically numb with fear, or it could be cold. Even in the bright sun, the waters near the huge ice boulder were frigid. He looked over towards his brother-in-law, Hevik Fichgotz. Ever since the sea dragon had whispered to him that his children were safe, he seemed drained. Wex had to physically restrain him in the cove when they saw that red dragon with Meri and Gully. He was certain he had saved Hevik’s life, and he was equally certain he had a black eye as thanks for it.
Most of the ice was well under the water, and beneath that, their mysterious sea dragon ally was carefully pushing the frozen boulder further down the coast. He must be getting used to dragons he thought, for this great, but smaller, beast beneath the wave evoked no fear in him now.
When the dragons flew over the cove he was in awe, it was like a wonderful dream come to life. He recognized the first dragons from his grandfather’s stories, the great bronze-scaled sea dragons. Old sailor tales were full of them. They were sometimes punishers of the foolish or evil, but usually they were depicted as protectors of the good and saviors of sailors in trouble.
The second bronze dragon actually spoke to them; he thought it was inviting them to swim out to sea with them before it dived into the ocean. A foolish notion, but he was tempted.
Then the dream suddenly turned to nightmare.
A huge red dragon swooped down and landed on the south breakwater opposite them. A smaller white dragon descended like an arctic wind and began freezing the ocean right outside the cove. And then with a thunderous clap, a large blue dragon shattered the Foam Lady’s keel with a blast of lightning.
In a few moments, the pleasant cove was transformed into a death trap.
“Gully!” Hevik’s screamed as they saw what looked like a rag-doll in the huge red’s claws. They dropped their nets, and began to swim that way. What they would have done, Wex had no clue.
But all strength seemed to leave them as they saw the blue dragon come around directly towards them for another pass. Its great mouth opened and the clap of thunder echoed across the cove.
Not only did the bolt miss them, but it seemed to arc and ricochet off the waves to hit a black colored dragon that had just entered the cove. The gods themselves must be protecting them! As he tried to blink the spots from his eyes, not quite believing the miracle, he thought he saw Meri in the water making a very unladylike gesture at the dragons. He blinked again, and the image was gone.
From down in the water, he couldn’t see where the blue dragon had flown off to, but he heard a great roar and splashing from the seaward side of the breakers. Then all became silent for a few moments as each of the dragons stared out to sea, their horrid visages unreadable.
A faint but familiar sound came from across the cove, one both men had heard a thousand times; Meri was yelling at Gully. Both men strained to see, and were dumbfounded by the vision of little Meri swinging an axe at the dragon. And then a second miracle happened, the huge red dragon released Gully, and backed away from Meri’s onslaught.
In a flash, the children were gone from sight, a small bronze dragon in their place. Multiple bright lines of electricity, like from storm clouds over the ocean, arced up from the bronze body into the red dragon that had pounced on it.
And then they witnessed the fire.
“No!” Hevik yelled, but his voice was lost in the infernal roar. Unlike the quick lighting strikes, the fire seemed to go on for an excruciating eternity, although it could only have been seconds. Wex grabbed his brother-in-law as he tried to swim by. They flailed at each other briefly and went under.
When they surfaced, their struggles ceased, and their eyes went wide at what they saw. Two elemental beast of legend faced each other. The terrifying fire dragon, its eyes aglow, with smoke still streaming from its mouth faced a new adversary. Its bronze scales glistening with sea spray, the waves crashing with unnatural vigor at its back, a mighty sea dragon had come to challenge the interloper in its domain.
The two dragons roared at each other in some ancient language of a forgotten time. The challenge seemed to echo with the crash of wild ocean storms, and the response burn with the fires of the deepest pits.
The heavens themselves resounded with the clash as the two dragons collided. The air alternately sparkled and burned. A great wave hit them as the beasts were off the rocks and writhing in the surf of the cove. As they righted themselves, Wex saw a lightning blast erupt from the waves of the cove to strike the black dragon that had tried to return to the fray. The ocean itself was fighting for the sea dragon!
A glistening white fog seemed to envelop the thrashing beasts, obscuring them briefly. When it cleared, the red dragon was flying west over the hills, rapidly dwindling from sight. The bronze dragon leaped into the air and flew east out over the ocean and was also gone.
On the far side of the cove, the little white dragon was busy trying to pull the body of the large blue to shore. There was no sign of the black.
The two men tiredly tread water, unsure where to go. There was no sign of Meri and Gully, and little chance that they could have survived that battle. And for the first time, Wex wondered what had happened to Hevik’s younger brother Perovich. He had supposedly gone into the woods to look for sweet roots, which usually meant he would dig up a few and nap. The thought that the loafer had slept through the greatest battle in Hookwright or Fichgotz history was almost amusing if it wasn’t for the fact there was still a white dragon on shore, and a black one somewhere in the woods nearby.
A small sea otter was floating in the waves next to them, seeming to survey the shore the same way they were. The poor thing must have been caught in the dragon fight; the fur on its back was blackened and nearly singed off in some spots.
The otter waved to them like it wanted their attention, then put a tiny claw to its mouth in the same manner a person would indicate silence. It made a series of odd gestures with its hand-like paws, and swam a short distance towards the icy bolder in the mouth of the cove. When it popped back up again, this time it was obviously waving for them to follow.
“What is that crazy thing doing?” Hevik wondered. Wex smacked him upside the head as firmly as he could while being quiet.
“We can’t leave yet, where are the kids?” Hevik at least whispered this time.
“They’re fine, the otter told me,” Wex lied.
When they reached the far side of the ice, the otter had vanished under water. There was a faint cracking sound, and at that moment the little iceberg broke free.
Wex nearly screamed as a dragon’s head emerged from the water inches from Hevik and him. It was the ‘smaller’ sea dragon, but its head was as large as a man’s torso, a frill of horned projections framed its beaklike mouth on either side. Its most striking feature was its eyes, large luminous green with amber flecks, they regarded the two men. At this range, he could feel its breath upon his face, carrying the salty scents of the sea.
“Do you think it can talk?” Wex whispered.
“Yes,” the dragon responded, “and with a better mastery of pronouns than some.” The voice was clear, surprisingly gentle, resonant, but soft, probably so as not to attract attention from shore. It was also young and decidedly female sounding.
Wex’s mind raced wondering what a pronoun was, and if he had in some way insulted the dragon. “Ah m’lady dragon, I’m sorr…” Wex swallowed quite a bit of sea water as the dragon pulled him under.
He was too tired to even struggle at that point. The irony of surviving the huge dragon battle only to be drowned because he inadvertently insulted a lady sea dragon seemed somehow an appropriate end to his life. As he was pulled deeper into the cold depths under the ice, he took one last look towards the surface thinking of how all his life he loved the sea. He always knew he would die in its embrace.
Through the rippling waves, he could see a white winged form circle the ice bolder twice, and then fly off.
“Next time you hide underwater, try not flailing around and blowing bubbles so much.” The dragon whispered after hauling him back to the surface. “By the Eternal, you’d think I was trying to drown you or something.” Wex definitely thought he detected amusement in her tone.
“M’lady dragon, have you seen my son and daughter?” Hevik asked hesitantly. He seemed none the worse for the dunking, and it was not fear of the dragon that made his voice quaver; it was fear of her answer.
“The valiant Meriwynn and her brave brother are safe.” The dragon’s voice trailed off, and she looked at the ice, as if she could see through it back to the cove.
Wex wondered what the kids were doing right now, and for how long they would be safe.