Weekend Wind Down – The Dragon Hunter: Part The Second

The dog pack was slowing its pace. They all entered a long straight street lined with little houses, each with a tiny front garden. With the faultless instincts of all city dwellers, the residents had evaporated leaving only a tall stooped man, dressed all in black leather, walking purposefully away from the end of the street where the chasing pack was gathered.
Willet heard a dragonish voice in his mind. “Is this he?” 
Badger nodded and three dragons materialised at the other end of the street. For a moment, Willet thought that they would scare the dragon hunter into doing something desperate, but they were cleverer than that. The drake was there, looking as if he was being escorted by concerned females.
“Come away,” one was saying while the other seemed to be trying to shepherd the bulky male with her slender body. 
The black-clad man, if indeed man he was, stood a little straighter and Willet could see his throat vibrating as he made a strange humming sound. The drake lifted his head and pointed like a hound on the scent.
The sound of the dragon hunter’s laughter scraped over Willet’s nerves like fingernails down a blackboard. 
T’i’asharath spoke in his mind.
“We need to keep the creature occupied for now while we incapacitate his dwarves and liberate his victims.”
Willet thought he had rarely heard such sorrow in any creature’s mind voice, but he switched his attention to the scene in front of him. The two female dragons were attempting, with a careful lack of success, to head the drake away from the humming hunter. Willet looked carefully at the dark figure and made a discovery. The dragon hunter wasn’t human. He was a lycanthrope. But what was his true form? Whatever he was, he was shielding closely so this wasn’t something easy to find out, but then Willet got a stroke of luck. The hunter was so intent on calling the drake into his murderous clutches that he let his shield drop for a nanosecond. And that was enough. Willet saw; and what he saw was like a punch to the stomach from a mailed fist. 
The creature in front of him was a black unicorn. This was bad trouble. As such it was immune to almost all magics, and its twisted obsidian horn was the most poisonous thing in a city full of poisoners. He bespoke T’i’asharath.
“My lady. We have trouble here. The dragon hunter is a black unicorn.”
“I come. There is only one way to deal with the likes of that.”
The sense of the dragon mistress moved from a distant voice to right overhead. 
“I cannot see it. Its shield is too good. Unless I can discern its true form I cannot do that which must be done.”
“Then I must put a crack in that shield.” 
Willet flowed into his true form, finding Badger immediately at his side. 
“What? Why?”
“T’i’asharath is here. But she needs that thing to drop its shield. Unless she can see its true form she cannot deal.”
“OK. I think. Let’s do it then.”
They moved towards the dragon hunter with Willet’s steel-shod hooves ringing on the cobbles. Badger unfurled his wings and flew at his partner’s shoulder.
Willet raised his voice. “Ho one horn. What business has the likes of you in my domain?” 
His voice held the martial tones of a sounding bugle and the unicorn could not resist a call to battle from another stallion. But still he kept his shields in place. Willet laughed derisively.
“Look at it,” he sneered. “Afraid of who it is. Hiding in the form of the two-legs who gelded it when it was a foal. Look at the poisonous little thing. Singing to dragons. And all because it can never get a mate if it’s own.”
The lycanthrope showed long yellow teeth.
“Go away bird-boy. Lest I put my horn to your chest and stop your breath.”
“Would that be the horn you are so ashamed of that you hide it from the world?” 
“What business is my horn of you?”
Willet bulked his impressive chest and carefully rippled his drum-tight stomach. “My city. My business.”
The dragon hunter made noise that was very close to a growl and fully turned to face Willet. 
“Go away. Lest I kill you.”
“And who will help you to do that eunuch?”
This was enough to enrage the black unicorn who leapt forward, dropping his human simulacrum. As soon as the unicorn was clearly discernible there came a sound beyond sound and the elegant form of T’i’asharath arrowed down from the sky at killing speed. Willet heard the sound of crushed bones as she bit, and the scream of mortal agony from the lycanthrope. He contrived to close his ears to the dragon hunter’s pain and bespoke T’i’asharath.
“Have you rescued his captives my lady?”
“Those that could live. Some have had to be relieved of their agony.”
“I am sorry.”
T’i’asharath inclined her head before roaring to the sky. Four muscular guard dragons dropped to where the unicorn writhed on the ground. They hoisted it between them and winked out of being.
“The hunter faces my mate at Dragonheart.”
Willet and Badger bowed.
“Will you come and witness that justice is done?”
“If it is the wish of Dragonheart that we so do.”
It was possible to feel the queen dragon communicating with her mate even though what they said was outside the comprehension of others.
“It is not required, friend of Dragonheart. Yet we would ask a boon of you and your mate.”
“What would you ask of us?” It was Wenda’s voice coming from behind him and all he could do not to jump or allow his head to snap around to where she stood. Instead, he extended his hand and felt her cool, slim fingers mesh with his own.
“There is one of your own kind. A foal. She has neither sire nor dam. Wilt thou take her? She needs kindness and care.”
Wenda squeezed his hand and he turned to look at her. “It is on your shoulders that the care will fall my dear love.”
Her smile was blindingly bright although her voice was carefully formal. “If it pleases you. It would please me.”
“Very well, my lady bright.” Willet bowed to T’i’asharath. “We would be pleased to take a child into our home and hearts.”
The dragon communicated with some other entity, and a green female dragon winked into being with something small nestled in the space between her wings. As she landed, the baby centaur stood on unsteady legs.
“Mama?” the voice wavered on the edge of tears and Wenda was there like a flash taking the little one in her arms. At once the baby quieted and burrowed into Wenda’s embrace.
“It is well,” the dragon queen intoned, and as she spoke Willet could feel the dragon force leaving the city.
“Call it in” Badger said with a grin. “Tell them the dragon hunter has been neutralised, then you and your wife take your,” he stopped and thought for a moment, “daughter home.”

©️ Jane Jago

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