Brakyn pushed leaves into the corner with his snout, arranging them just-so before plopping down to rest. He shifted back and forth, burrowing into the pile until he was satisfied, then curled his long neck around his side and settled his head on his haunch.
“Ahhhh…” he murmured, closing his eyes. He listened to the wind outside, whispering through the trees beneath his cave. A bird chirped. An owl hooted. A horse snorted.
A horse? Brakyn lifted his head and perked his ears. It’d been awhile since he’d savored horse flesh.
The steady clop-clop of hooves on stone grew louder…then stopped. They were replaced by the quiet tread of human boots.
Brakyn fixed his gaze on the cave entrance, a shadow bobbed on the rocks outside.
“You dare to enter here?” Brakyn said, lifting himself to his full height to tower over the boy who’d just entered his cave. His yellow eyes narrowed, taking in the boy’s tattered attire and messy brown hair. “Oh good, another scrawny peasant boy,” Brakyn said, frowning. “Go away.”
“I—I’m not scared of you,” the boy said, taking a step back.
“Oh?” Brakyn stretched his wings to their full width and flexed the powerful muscles beneath the rows of green scales over his shoulders and forearms.
“You’re a has-been,” the boy said, pointing. “Just an old, worn-out dragon that doesn’t come out of his den anymore.”
Brakyn extended his long tail, winding it between the jagged rocks like a slithering snake, then flicked the dirt at the boy’s feet. “I could kill you without lifting a claw,” he said, yawning to show off his long sharp teeth.
“Not if I kill you first!” The boy said, brandishing a sword he’d had hidden behind his back.
Brakyn’s chuckle rumbled up from deep within his belly, then echoed around the cave. “A wooden sword? Surely you jest?”
“It—It’s a magic sword!” the boy said, his voice trembling.
Brakyn stomped his front feet on the cave floor, raising a cloud of dust. He snorted smoke through his nostrils, then leaned closer to the boy, his breath tousling the child’s hair. “What do you know of magic, human child?”
“I know that the less people believe in dragons, the weaker you become!”
“You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t believe,” Brakyn said, sneering down at the child.
“I believe you’re a fake! A phony!” The boy said, lifting his sword higher. “You’re not even a real dragon!”
“Well then,” Brakyn said, drawing himself up to his full height again. Heat built in his throat, rising…rising… He breathed the flames onto a boulder near the boy, scorching it black. Then he snarled, drool splattering from his lips. “Do you believe in me now, boy?”
The boy lowered his sword, then smiled. “That was great! Do it just like that for the audition and they’ll pick us for the Dragon Festival, for sure!”
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A Dragon Tale by SR Olson
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