Stryker grunted and shifted his position on the rather lumpy pile of coins he lay on. The cave had been roomy enough…many years before…but now it felt a little cramped.
“Why do these things shift so much?” he wondered as the pile slid suddenly, leaving him uncomfortable again. “Who’s bright idea was it that dragons should sleep on this anyway?”
He grunted, breathing a bit of smoke out one nostril, then heaved his three thousand year old frame up and wandered to the front of his cave. “I’m bored,” he thought, staring out into the wilderness below his mountain. “I need something to do.”
His gaze wandered over the trees below and he yawned then paused. Looking closer at the forest he could see a wisp of smoke rising in the distance.
“Well, well, well,” he thought, studying the smoke. “I wonder if that’s what I think it is.” He glanced up at the sky then looked back down at the smoke again. “No clouds,” he thought. “Can’t have been lighting. Must be humans… unless the wolves have learned how to start fires.”
He leaned up against one side of the cave mouth and scratched an itch on his backside, then studied the smoke again.
“I think I’ll go have a look-see. Been a long time since I actually saw a human. Been almost… six hundred years. I thought they’d all become extinct.”
He launched himself out of the cave and soared soundlessly across the forest, sailing high up in the sky and out of sight. The forest flashed past below him and within a few seconds, he could see the source of the smoke.
A large glade came into view and in the center of it was a tent. Next to the tent a small campfire smoldered. A horse was tethered near the tent but of the occupant, there was no sign.
“Wonder where the human is?” Stryker thought as he sailed over the glade. He banked and climbed up into the sky, then circled around.
Passing overhead again, he studied the camp and noticed that a small target was set on a stand at one end with several arrows sticking out of it.
“Ah… perhaps it’s a hunter?” He climbed up into the sky again then banked for another flyover. “I wonder where it is.”
He dived and landed on the edge of the glade, downwind from the horse which eyed him suspiciously.
“Hello dinner,” he said to the horse, showing a large set of pointed teeth.
The horse put it’s ears back and snorted.
Stryker chuckled. “This could be fun.” He sat up on his back legs and swung his massive head from side to side, listening to the sounds of the forest and testing the scents in the air. “Odd noise,” he thought as he swung his head back to look at the tent. “I wonder what is going on…”
He folded his wings and dropped to all fours then walked toward the tent, his tail swinging from side to side. The noise got louder as he approached the tent and he listened for a moment, then stuck his head in between the flaps.
Bags and paraphernalia cluttered the tent, strewn about haphazardly. A loud rasping noise emanated from a large pile of blankets in the center of the tent but Stryker saw no sign of the occupant. He tilted his head and sniffed then stretched his neck in for a closer look.
The blankets stirred as his head neared them and a man sat up. His jaw dropped open and he stared at the dragon then let out a piercing scream.
Stryker bellowed and jerked his head out of the tent. The horns on the back of his neck caught on its fabric as he pulled his head away and the tent ripped lose from the ground, settling down over his face.
The man screamed again and scrambled out of the blankets.
Stryker roared in frustration and shook his head violently, trying to dislodge the tent.
The blankets had become tangled around the man’s feet, so wild was his attempt
to get away, and he fell.
Stryker reached one massive claw up and ripped the tent off his face then dropped it… right on top of the man on the ground.
The dragon snorted angrily, blowing smoke into the air in the direction of the horse which neighed in terror and reared. Its tether pulled loose of the stake it and it fled into the trees at full gallop.
“Well,” Stryker thought, watching the frantic movements going on under the canvass. “At least I’m not bored any more.” He reached a claw down and pulled the tent off the man.
“Boo,” Stryker said as the man resurfaced.
“YAAAAAAAAAA!” the man screamed again, wetting his pants. He scrambled to his feet, tripped and landed sprawling on his face in the dirt.
Stryker chuckled, enjoying the man’s panicked attempt at escape.
The man rolled over on his back and propped himself up on his elbows then eyed the dragon.
Stryker bent his head and looked down at the man.
The man slowly regained his feet and began backing away.
Stryker puffed a bit of smoke out one nostril in his direction.
The man whirled and ran for the target then hid behind it
Stryker cocked his head to the side and waited.
A hand snaked around to the front of the target as he watched, grabbed an arrow, then yanked it loose. A moment later, the man stepped back out from behind the target, armed with a bow. He fitted the arrow to the bow and loosed it in Stryker’s direction.
The dragon watched him pull the bowstring back, and then puffed a tiny bit of flame
one nostril, catching the arrow in mid flight. It flared and turned to ash.
The man turned white and stared at the dragon then backed toward the trees.
Stryker snickered to himself, jumped into the air and spread his wings. Soaring up into the sky, he banked then looked back down on the glade. “We’ll meet again,” he thought. “Perhaps.” He circled over the glade and headed for home.
Below in the glade, the bowman watched him soaring away. “We’ll meet again,” he thought. “And next time, I’ll win.”
Stryker, the dragon, is bored and looking for something to do. What he finds is not quite what he had in mind.