Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash
He stumbled past the palace guard, wheezing and collapsing as the men at arms glanced condescendingly towards him.
“Yeah, nah.” The Dragon Fighter rasped with watering eyes. “I’m good.”
“Just move along.” The guard said. “We don’t want your smell choking up the place.”
The Fighter glared at the pompous prick, “Smells like shit anyway.”
He shoved up with effort and carried on through the tall doors. He entered a lavish court with soft velvet carpets over stone. The walls were adorned with water features that fed pools along the edges. Vases floated in them with a wide array of colourful plants. The air was clear of the smoke from the dragon fire – this place was clean – save for the ash that the Fighter spread in his wake.
The King looked up from his attendants, wiping the dripping ale from his smug mouth.
“Dragon Fighter, how goes the day?”
Through his clogged throat, the Fighter bellowed. “Where were you?” He lurched down the courtroom to the throne, guards closed in as attendants scattered in fright.
He collapsed against the shoulders of two encroaching guards.
“What did you want me to do? Fight in the front lines? I am your King.”
“Perhaps if we had something, some leadership when the dragons wreaked havoc on our lines we would not have broken so easily, we wouldn’t have lost ground, homes and lives by the minute if the King was at his post! Perhaps if our artefacts weren’t stripped and sold we could have resisted the terror that they wrought! Perhaps if you had negotiated with the dragons instead of holding stubbornly to your pride we could have avoided this conflict all together!” The Fighter’s voice cracked.
“The dragons attack every year,” The King shrugged.
“Not like this. We pilfered their hoards at the expense of the land, despite our wise men’s warnings.”
“Didn’t you want to be there? You chose this profession!” The King offered.
“It chose me.”
The King’s brow furrowed as he rose and waved the guards off.
“I had no idea I was causing undue anxiety,” He reached for the Fighter’s hand; the Fighter pulled back but was held in place by a guard. The King clasped on firmly. “But I’m here now, and the dragons are repelled. Be patient and it will all sort out, maybe you can watch the jousts? That will take your mind off it.” His grin broadened.
The Fighter tore his hand away and shoved to the nearest window between the cascading water features. He threw open the shutters, letting the sepia light ooze through.
“I don’t think it will!” He proclaimed.
The court gasped.
It was noon but the skies were black. Fires raged in the distance, encroaching on the haze choked city.
The Fighter turned, staring accusingly at the King.
His eyes widened, the King had shrugged and sat down with his ale.
“It’s for the Mayor now, not much I can do.”
With a strangled gasp, the Fighter collapsed onto his knees, weeping.
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