All he could see was the tall grass as he laid face down hiding from sight, fearing the beast would see him. The element of surprise might give him a fighting chance against those razor-sharp claws and rows of pointy teeth. Tark the warrior lay in the grass waiting patiently for the beast to show itself. For once the hunted would be the hunter as he had to slay the beast before it would slay him and everyone in his village. The great and powerful scaly green dragon had begun terrorizing his tiny village weeks ago. Since it began its reign of terror it had killed many a peasant as well as many brave warriors. He could wait no longer for the council of elders to send more champions. He was the youngest of the warriors in his tribe but he had the most courage.
Also, he had an advantage over all the other warriors of his village as only he possessed the sword of dragon slaying. It was a magnificent sword with intricate gold carvings and green gems decorating the hilt. The long etched blade itself was so sharp it would easily cut through the beast’s thick hide. It contained the magical power to drain the life from the dragon with every blow.
The great Sorceress Tabitha had given him this blade so that he would have a better chance to slay the foul beast and save the village. She knew its magic would only work in the hands of a true and noble warrior. No other in the village could wield it, she had said. This is why she had not given it to anyone until now.
But first, he would have to get close enough and its breath of fire would burn him like many of the other warriors who tried their hand at slaying the beast. But again he felt he had no reason to fear the dragon’s breath. The Sorceress Esmeralda, sister of Tabitha had gifted him with a magical silver and gold breastplate that would protect him from the dragon’s fire. Armed with great courage, the magical sword and shield while wearing his armour, he thought himself near invincible. He knew to avoid attacking from the rear as its tail was too dangerous. Best to face it head-on as it was the only way he would stand a chance.
The grass was so tall he could barely see anything as he lay in it. The mighty Tark crept forward, inching his way towards a copse of trees up ahead. He knew the trees would provide cover from above as it should be flying in anytime now like it had done every afternoon for the past few weeks. Soon it would swoop down and carry off another helpless victim unless someone was there to stop it. He waited under the cover of the biggest tree, its branches reaching towards the heavens as if trying to touch the clouds. Its abundance of large green leaves creating a canopy for him to hide under and wait. The trunk of the tree was so large that he could easily hide behind it without being seen.
The dragon had often landed in this very field before flying into the village to choose its next meal. The field was a bit elevated and so the creature would look upon the village and watch as the villagers ran and hid from the large hungry dragon.
He intended on surprising it when it did, hoping that he could strike before it could fly off. His mindset on wounding its wings so it would not be able to escape his mighty blade.
His heart started to race as suddenly he could hear the flapping of wings in the distance. Would his courage hold up he wondered as the moment of truth arrived? He crouched down next to the trunk of the huge tree and watched in awe as the powerful wings brought the evil creature gracefully to the ground.
The creature paused momentarily looking down upon the village as if choosing carefully where to strike. At that moment the warrior sprung from the tree that concealed him and without uttering his usual battle cry he lunged forward at full speed. His blade gleamed in the sunlight as he cut through the right-wing as easily as cutting through air. The dragon shrieked and jerked his wing back in pain. It took a quick step back and turned to face the puny warrior who only stood about knee-high to the beast. A loud roar echoed through the cluster of trees but the warrior didn’t back down. Instead, he stepped forward and jabbed at the stunned beast as it was still reeling from the surprise attack.
The creature spread its wings as if to lift off the ground. With a flap of wings, it shrieked and remained grounded. The warrior’s plan had worked as the beast no longer could fly away. A giant tear in the leathery wing of the beast was the first of many wounds the warrior would inflict as the creature was not used to his food fighting so fiercely. Most would cower and hesitate long enough for him to strike them down or bath them in a sea of flames.
As the dragon staggered backwards the warrior lunged forward slashing away at the belly of the beast. With each swing of his blade striking home cutting into the flesh of the dragon he felt confident he had already won the battle. But his confidence faded when he saw the beast take a deep breath as it was about to breathe fire upon him. For the first time, he took a step back. Raising his shield and praying to the Gods that the breastplate given to him by the Sorceress would indeed protect him from the dragon’s breath. The dragon blew with all his might at the warrior covering him completely in a giant spray of orange and red flames. It took a moment for Tark to realize that the flames were washing over him like a cool breeze. But soon he realized that even though he was protected from the flames he couldn’t breathe. The rain of fire was taking away all oxygen and he would drown in this relentless sea of fire. Losing track of how long the dragon spewed forth the flames he staggered in them blindly until they simply vanished from around him. The dragon reeled as if gasping for air as it staggered unsteadily on its giant back legs.
Being so used to nothing surviving its breath attack the dragon was surprised as out of the flames the warrior appeared unharmed. Tark lurched forward as the beast drew breath and struck, plunging his blade deep into the belly of the man-eating monster. In one last desperate attempt, the dragon leapt upwards and flapped its giant wings as if to take flight. With one wing badly cut open the dragon lurched upwards and sideways as one wing trapped the air like normal but the other did not. Because of this, it spun and collapsed on its right side pinning its wounded wing to the ground.
With the dragon in this suddenly vulnerable position, the warrior dealt a death blow with all his might cutting the dragon’s head off in one stroke. Staggering from the effort with sweat dripping from his brow Tark raised his sword in the air in victory.
In that instant, the mighty Tark heard what sounded like a shriek coming from the village below. With his tired arms now hanging at his sides he turned to look toward the village. His head cocked to the side as if listening intently. At that moment he heard the shrieking again and this time he recognized it. Even though he was weary from the battle with the dragon, Tark ran as fast as he could towards the village. As he approached he would see that it was the Sorceress sisters that were calling him. They bid him to come quickly as they stood before the great keep awaiting his return.
“Did you slay the dragon?” Tabitha asked, smiling warmly.
“Yes,” Tark exclaimed proudly as he rushed headlong past the sisters entering the keep without hesitation.
Now that everyone was inside.
“Shoes!” Tabitha shouted.
“Sorry,” came a reply from a short distance away
“That sword and shield was the best gift I ever gave him, who knew that a few plastic toys would entertain him so much,” Tabitha said as she slipped on her oven mitts and opened the oven door. She pulled out a steaming hot homemade pizza and set it on a cutting board.
“And that breastplate you bought him was the icing on the cake for Tobey. He wanted to wear it to school at first. It took a while but I talked him out of it,” Tabitha continued.
Tobey walked in smiling from ear to ear still wearing his grass-stained t-shirt and jeans and his plastic breastplate.
“Did you wash your hands?” Tabitha asked as she rolled the pizza cutter across the steaming pie.
“Yes, mom,” the boy replied as he showed her his still wet hands.
“Come give your Aunt Esmeralda a huge. I haven’t seen you since your birthday party two weeks ago,” she said with open arms while smiling at the boy.
“Did I tell you he made me call him Tark for a week?” the boy’s mother added as she took out plates and silverware. “And we haven’t seen any trolls, goblins or dragons near the house since his birthday. Tark slays them all and protects the village and all who live in it. Right, Tobey?”
“It’s Tark, mommy,” the boy replied as he sat waiting for his favourite homemade pizza.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pierre C. Arsenault is the youngest of eleven children and grew up in the small town of Rogersville New Brunswick. As a cartoonist, Pierre was published in over a dozen newspapers. As an author, he has five titles published so far:
- Dark Tales for Dark Nights (2013)
- Sleepless Nights (2014)
- Oakwood Island (2016)
- Poplar Falls – The Death of Charlie Baker (2019)
- Oakwood Island – The Awakening (2020)