It had come to this, finally, and the ending was near. Trenton, Samuel, and Zonal took significant damage and became disarmed. The paladin and cleric began to say prayers to their Maker. The fighter, thinking he lost enough blood, believed himself delusional.
He watched Ellen, the bard, closely. She set her harp and bow aside. Both were useless, nearly unrecognizable; the dragon’s talons had their way. Zonal could not believe or understand what he saw.
Ellen stood only yards from the cruel beast. She had a small black notebook in her left and what must be a ruby pen in her right hand. He could not imagine writing poetry or songs in this dread situation. He had marked the bard as a unique character, but she must recognize the danger to them all. What could she be thinking?
The gigantic dragon shifted its weight upon its priceless bed of treasure, which included golden coins that scattered and clinked. The dragon’s richly furnished hoard was collected over many lifetimes of humanity.
Ellen stood exposed, writing, glancing at the human-killer occasionally, probably checking that it remained relaxed. Zonal guessed she wrote more than one page. He was aware that a bard might be akin to a mage. There was no prior evidence of this in their adventuring.
As she wrote, the notebook covers began to give off an ebon glow, and the pages lit her face with a creamy shine. The dragon growled like nearby thunder and shifted its dinosaur-like head in the bard’s direction.
She made a few additional notations and put the ruby pen in a pocket. She straightened her robes and seemed to stand straighter. Her emerald eyes almost sparked as she entirely focused on the dragon, Raptadorn.
She began to speak in her clear melodious tones:
“I stand before you honored Raptadorn, a bard of lesser renown, Ellen Whitskiene. I have heard your exploits and famous legends of the many humans you have removed from living lands.
Now, if I may but bring your attention to the fact that you grow less ferocious and decline into age. It is not my place to force you, but I think you must agree; it is time you retired into a pleasant secluded place. There no one would disturb your restful peace.
My friends and I shall take command of your hoard of money and rare items, which you may sign over as our reward. We will then refrain from killing you. We will make sure all you leave we competently disburse, so you need to suffer no remorse or lingering regret.”
Zonal could not believe this wisp of a woman was a bard powerful enough to enchant the deadly dragon. He watched Rathadorn as Ellen spoke when he could draw his eyes from her. All during the speech, the beast grew smaller. The creature, reduced in size, had humanoid proportions. Her voice seemed a melody. Zonal could almost remember the tune, but it was the most beautiful ever. He decided incredible magic was in play but was it the book or the words she said?
Where did this notebook and ruby pen originate? He concluded Ellen was no rookie bard. How had she hidden herself and the truth away?
The dragon becomes an aged man with an ivory staff and walks confidently over to Ellen. She retrieved her pen, placed it in Rathadorn’s hand, and held the notebook for his signature. After the elegant script swirled onto the page, she looked into his golden eyes and said, “Go now in peace, Rathadorn, and trouble the world and humankind no more.”
Zonal, Samuel, and Trenton watched as what was once a fearsome and magnificent dragon turned into a pure gold mist then disappeared.
Ellen looked at her companions and said, “Well, we have to rid this place of all the signs of dragon lair and treasure hoard quickly. Our trucks stand by; we have maybe a half-hour before the androids discover what we have done.”
The three look at one another and, in unison, say, “What? What just happened?”
© Jo Ann J. A. Jordan