The dragon slowly awoke to the feeling of something tugging insistently on his face. It wasn't painful, more as if somebody had hold of his mustache and was gently pulling on it. He opened one basketball-sized eye a crack and discovered a small boy, about eight years old, dressed in some sort of colourful costume. The boy had hold of his whiskers and was yanking as hard as he could. Being a dragon bigger than a city bus, it didn't feel very hard. He opened the eye a little wider and looked at the boy, who froze in mid-yank.
"Kid," he inquired quietly, "do you really think that's a good idea? Pulling on a dragon's whiskers like that?"
The boy let go and stepped back, putting his hands behind his back.
"That's better," said the dragon, then yawned widely. Teeth the length of the boy's leg flashed briefly in the light of the lamp the boy had brought, long forked tongue curled up, then he closed his mouth and smacked his lips a couple of times. "Ugh, jungle mouth," he muttered.
The boy backed up a couple more steps, but didn't run away.
George looked at him skeptically. "Still here, kid?"
"Ah, if it please you, your Greatness, I am sent here as a sacrifice to propitiate your righteous temper," the boy stuttered. He was clearly reciting something he had been taught, hesitating on pro-pit-iate in an attempt to get it right. "Please consume me, as is your right."
"You're shitting me," said George flatly, opening both eyes widely to examine the child closely. "Where's your mom and dad?"
The dragon was off-script. The boy got a panicked look on his face, because none of his lessons contained an answer for that. "Uhm," he managed, and began nervously shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
"Let me guess," said the dragon sourly. "Based on the shocking condition of you, you're an orphan. The village elders keep you around to do all the shit jobs nobody else wants, and the sons of bitches beat you every day. They trained you with a bunch of fancy speeches to keep me happy so I'll do what they want. Right?"
"Uhm, yes?" ventured the boy. "You're supposed to eat me."
"Oh, well let's get right on that," said the dragon sarcastically. "You want me to eat you?"
"It would be easier," said the boy sadly. "They'll kill me for sure if you don't. They don't like me, the villagers."
"Okay then," said the dragon. "C'mere, kid. Let's see what's going on with you." He reached out a foreleg and grasped the boy in a surprisingly dexterous forepaw. The child gave up completely, assuming the monster was going to bite him in half and resigned himself to death. The dragon sniffed at him, licked him with his immense forked tongue, looked into his eyes one at a time, then considered him at some length. "You are a mess, kid. You've got damn near everything wrong with you there could be. I'm surprised you can walk."
"I'm sorry I'm not a good sacrifice, Great One. I'm not good at anything," the boy sniffled.
"Here now, no crying," said the dragon sternly. "If you want to be a proper sacrifice you have to be brave. Buck up." The dragon poked the boy gently with his nose, and the boy subsided. "That's better. You're a tough kid. Now, I have to test your blood. I'm going to take a single drop from your finger. Hold your hand up for me."
The boy dutifully held up his hand, and the dragon pricked a finger with one claw. It was so sharp the boy didn't even feel the prick, then a drop of red swelled on his finger. The dragon carefully took the drop onto his tongue, then tasted it for a while.
"Hmm," he said as he tasted. "Malnutrition, rickets, worms, fractures, starvation, and there's something weird going on with your liver. Nope, sorry kid. Can't eat you. You taste bad."
The boy was crestfallen at that.
"Seriously, you're sad I'm not going to eat you?" snorted the dragon. "Tell you what, kid. You can be my assistant. First job you have is to hold still while I fix all that stuff that's wrong with you. You're no use if you're fainting from hunger all over the place."
The dragon rolled his eyes and felt around in his mouth with his tongue, then extruded a large dollop of viscous purple goo onto the forked end. This he slathered on the child liberally from head to foot, front and back. The boy made a face because it was slimy, but it sank into his clothing and skin leaving him clean and dry.
"That's better," said the dragon as he surveyed his work. The boy's colour was already improving as a billion nanobots invaded his tissues and began the long job of repairing all the damage there. "Ready to go to work?"
"As you wish, Great One," said the boy bowing. "What would you like me to do?"
"We're going to go have a word with the village elders who thought it would be a good idea to wake a sleeping dragon," he said with an evil glint in his eye. "Then I'm going to get a coffee. You're going to find me a coffee shop. Sounds good?"
"Yes sir!" said the boy enthusiastically. Going for coffee sounded a lot better than being eaten, whatever coffee was.
Monday, April 06, 2020
The Dragon Awakes: a snippet.
This is a random scene I've had floating around the back of my mind for a while. Today was the day it made it out into the world. Enjoy! ~:D