Fifteen Minute Ficlets (#15MF) is a weekly Sunday writing challenge hosted here on The Literary Phoenix. Based on a single word, write a short story in fifteen minutes. The word count is irrelevant. Just write your heart out for 15 minutes and be inspired by the word. You never know what you’ll end up with!
1. The time in the morning when the sun appears or full daylight arrives.
2. The colors and light visible in the sky on an occasion of the sun’s first appearance in the morning, considered as a view or spectacle.
Preparing for the Dragon
The high pitched shriek came at dawn.
It was not unexpected. Kesstrel woke with the sun and sat watching it rise on the crumbling ramparts. Even then, the air smelled of sulfur and regret. It could have been worse. She felt the healing magic prick her fingers. It would be needed before the day was out.
Dragons are not easy to kill.
She listened to the rustling below as the mages gathered themselves from their early awakening, quiet murmurs between friends. She preferred to stay clear of the hustle, remain out of the way until she was needed. It was the killing that hurt her, like a blade twisting in her chest. A life giver was not intended to extinguish someone else’s spark.
Swords clattered, a noise loud enough to wake the dead and certainly alert the dragon. In the distance, Kesstrel watched the trees shutter as something large and ruthless moved between them.
“He’s heading this way,” she whispered to the wind.
It heard her, for a moment later, Jessica appeared. The bags under her eyes shone like fresh bruises, but a fire lit her face. “What direction?” she asked.
Kesstrel pointed. Only a fool could miss the trembling canopy.
Jessica nodded curtly and tied her brown hair back behind her head, the way she did when she was thinking, or preparing to fight. Her eyes turned to steel and the ornate staff in her hand glittered in the pink sunrise. It was too fine a thing for such a gruesome chore, but the embedded gemstones magnified her ability so completely that already Kesstrel saw the sky turn black and chilled. Wind whipped around them, one thousand soldiers ready for battle. Neither woman moved while the storm brewed.
The first crackle of lightning was followed by a mighty roar, although Kesstrel could not be quite certain if that was the thunder or the dragon. The movement in the trees had stopped for a moment, but she did not expect the beast to change its path. Dragons never turned up the scent of ripe meat, not even the most intelligent among them. Food was more difficult to come by since magic had been outlawed and dragon-scale armor became a prized bounty. As though this weren’t enough, raw dragon’s eggs had become a desired delicacy at the courtier’s tables. For these reasons and more, it had been years since Kesstrel saw a dragon, but the instinct to fight them came back easily.
Voices drifted up from below, and Kesstrel broke the focused silence to look at Jessica. In the last two years, the rash princess had become a force of her own. Wisdom in the lines of her face aged her admirably. “You much go and lead the defense,” she advised the girl, who nodded solemnly.
It would take more than a thunderstorm and a bit of wit to scare off a dragon, let alone kill it. She only hoped these mages were prepared for the beast’s ferocity.
Jessica and Kesstrel are both characters from THE WIND PRINCESS, which is told through the eyes Princess Jessica fa Laure of Malai. Magic has been outlawed and a new darkness is rising. After being rescued from her own execution, Jessica joins a band of renegade mages who struggle to rescue other magic users while keeping an unknown evil from spreading famine, pestilence, war, and death across the two lands.