Dragon Parleyer by K. A. Williams

Dragon Parleyer
K. A. Williams

“Rumor is that a dragon is terrorizing your village,” I said.

“You’re not a knight, you’re not even a man. What could you do?” The elder regarded me with a scornful expression as he turned to enter his hut.

A mighty gust of wind swept the man off his feet. I managed to keep my balance and looked down at him sitting there in an undignified heap, a purple robe halfway up his scrawny bare legs.

“I can see that you have everything under control here, I’m sure the dragon is very impressed. I certainly am.”

Actually, I wasn’t sure if the golden dragon flying by overhead had even noticed us. I mounted my skittish horse, and started to turn him.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m leaving. I’ll tell the next knight I see about your problem.”

The elder scrambled to his feet. “But can’t you help us?”

I stopped. “For a price.”

“We’re a poor village and can’t pay much.”

We negotiated and when he gave me a few coins I said, “All right. I’ll see what I can do.”

***

I left the village and followed the sound of a squealing pig. A golden dragon squatted on the ground with its wings furled. As I got closer I could see the brown band around her neck that signified a female of the species. She held the pig with her front legs and cooked it to her satisfaction by blowing short bursts of fire upon it. My horse must have thought she would eat him next because he bucked and neighed in fright.

Unafraid, I walked over, and waited until the dragon had consumed her last bite.

“Hello, I’m Yurla, what’s your name?”

“Simykat,” she answered, in breathy but understandable human words. “That was very polite of you to wait until I finished eating to speak to me, Yurla. Although I am surprised you approached me at all. You are the first human to ever do so.”

“I’m a dragon parleyer.”

“What’s that?”

“Villagers pay me to talk with dragons and see what they want in trade for not eating them.”

“We don’t eat people, not even those pesky knights.”

“I know that and you know that, but they don’t. If they did, I’d be out of business. And you wouldn’t get anything in trade. What do you want, Simykat?”

“A mate.”

“Oh.”

“It will be time for me to mate in a month and I haven’t seen one of my kind for ages. Have you?”

I thought about it. “Not recently. If you like, I can help you look for one although I can’t travel as fast.” I pointed. “I’ll go in that direction, you go the other way, and we can meet back here in a month. Hopefully, one of us will find you a mate.”

“Okay.”

***

I saw dragons, no golden ones though, and parleyed with a few villages on the way. All those dragons wanted were pigs.

At the end of two weeks, I turned around and began my journey back.

***

During the third week I saw a golden dragon flying over a meadow, chasing a wild boar. After playing with the boar for a few minutes, it roasted and then devoured its prey whole. As I got closer, I could tell that the dragon had no brown band and was therefore a male.

“Excuse me,” I called.

The dragon continued to pick his long, sharp teeth without looking around. “What do you want?”

“Are you interested in mating?”

He stopped picking his teeth and turned to face me, inspecting me curiously before smiling. It was a rather frightening sight even to one familiar with their customs. “Well, you’re pretty enough for a human, I guess, but I’m rather partial to dragons, myself.”

“Not me,” I said, trying to control my agitated mount. “I’m asking on behalf of a golden female.”

“I’m too young. She’ll have to wait another year.”

“Sorry to bother you.” I prodded my horse forward again.

“Just kidding,” he said. “Humans have such expressive faces. Of course I’ll come with you. She’s a lucky dragon. I’m Witmahl, what’s your name?”

“Yurla.”

“Well, all right, Yurla. Lead the way and I’ll just follow you then.”

My horse plodded along at a steady pace while Witmahl circled around overhead. After awhile, he flew lower to complain. “Can’t that dumb beast go any faster?”

“It would tire him and we don’t have to hurry. Simykat won’t be there. Our rendezvous isn’t for another week.”

“I’m bored with flying around in circles. Let’s just get there and wait for her to show up.”

I ignored him and didn’t increase our speed. In a few minutes, I felt a hot wind upon my back, just before my horse neighed, bucked me off, and fled.

“Your horse doesn’t look tired now.”

This wasn’t the first time I’d been thrown from my horse because of a dragon. Now I kept my supplies in a backpack.

I got to my feet and glared at the laughing dragon. “We’ll be late now because I have to walk to the next village to buy another horse.”

“No problem, I’ll fly you there. Hop on.”

I wasn’t sure I would enjoy flying but I had no choice. The dragon flattened himself on the ground and I climbed up onto his back. I got as comfortable as I could before he unfolded his wings and almost unseated me. The rush of air nearly swept me off, even though I’d wrapped my arms tightly around his neck.

“Which direction?” he asked.

“Fly along the trail toward the setting sun.”

***

“There’s a village!”

He landed in the midst of a bunch of screaming people.

I dismounted quickly and tried to calm everyone down. They were in awe of me. I liked the feeling. And I especially liked the food and coins the elder brought to persuade us to leave. Witmahl whispered something to me.

“Bring this dragon a pig before he eats one of your people,” I said to him.

He bowed and clapped his hands. “Get a pig, now!”

A man ran from us, and returned quickly, leading a big pig. I removed the leash and handed it to Witmahl.

Everyone, including me, backed away while he roasted the pig and gulped it down.

“I didn’t see any horses at that village,” he said, once we were back in the air. “I don’t mind flying you around.”

***

Witmahl landed at another village on the way to the rendezvous, and ate two pigs while I got more food and money. When we arrived, Simykat was back, but another golden dragon was with her. She’d found her own mate.

“Do you want to land and fight that other dragon for her?”

“Are you kidding? Absolutely not!”

They never noticed us as we flew over them.

“I’m sorry you came all this way for nothing.”

“It’s okay, I was bored. Why don’t we just keep doing what we’ve been doing? It’s fun and you’ll get rich.”

Villagers had always treated me rudely and paid poorly, so I didn’t need long to consider his suggestion. I made my decision instantly. “That would be a wonderful idea.”

The End

Dragon Parleyer by K. A. Williams 1

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