BREACHSPACE: Fiendish Profiles, “Gore and Glory in Search of Dragon Death” by E.J. Tett

03-Barbed-Hunter-Inked-360x330The dragon’s severed head dropped to the ground and the body smacked down with a thud. Blood seeped from the neck and soaked into the ground, turning the dust into a thick brown gloop. Irakuda, the Barbed Hunter, set down his twin-bladed glaive, grabbed hold of the beast’s neck, and inhaled the sweet smell of dragon blood. His beard, braided with tiny axes, lapped eagerly at the thick red liquid, soaking up as much as it could.

Irakuda closed his eyes in ecstasy and dropped the dragon neck, which landed heavily and sent up a little plume of dust from the ground. He sighed deeply and then reached for his glaive and cradled it to his chest. He stroked the weapon and spoke soothing words to it as he cleaned blood from the blades with a strip of soft leather.

After strapping the weapon to his back, he returned to the dragon head. He kicked at it contemptuously, spat onto the ground, and then crouched to prize open the creature’s mouth. He pulled four sharp teeth from the dragon’s jaws and pushed them through the scales of his snakeskin belt.

Satisfied, he straightened up, rolled his shoulders, and then moved on. He strode across the dry farmland, knowing that he would have some distance to travel before he found another dragon. His beard was already twitching in anticipation and he felt a knot in his stomach. In the distance, shimmering in a heat wave, was the small town of Ardeal. Towns had townsfolk and while human blood was not of the same calibre as dragon blood, it would do to tide him over.

Beyond the town lay the forests of Mircea where dragons would be slumbering. Irakuda could barely wait to wake them from their sleep so they could meet his glaive. He could almost feel the weapon shiver in eagerness and he chuckled quietly to himself.

“Patience,” he said.

The first few thick spots of rain hit the dusty over-worked farmland around him. Then a roll of thunder sounded in the distance and Irakuda picked up the pace as the clouds opened. The rain poured down, soaking his animal skin cloak and making it hang heavy against his back. He growled in irritation and stomped onwards, becoming increasingly bad tempered.

When he reached Ardeal he pulled the first person he saw into a shadowy alleyway and crushed their throat with his hands. He used the spines on his arms to cut the man’s throat and taste his blood before he dropped the body to the ground and peered out into the street. The rain still lashed down, bouncing off the cobbles and forcing people to stay inside, or hurry, heads bent, to their destinations.

Irakuda stepped out into the street. Nobody noticed him as he walked among them, his beard curling and twitching on his chin like the tail of a hunting cat. He stopped, took the glaive from his back and surveyed the town. A woman squealed and dashed away, her feet pattering on the cobbles. Others noticed him now and Irakuda smiled grimly at their shouts and cries.

With a laugh, he ran, swung his glaive and beheaded a man too slow to get away. He laughed again when the head bounced and the body fell with a wet smack to the ground. He kissed his blade and let the rain wash it clean.

Footsteps running towards him, shouts and then a hiss as men fired crossbows. Irakuda turned too slowly, a bolt thudded into his shoulder and, growling, he pulled it free and threw it down. He roared and charged at the men, taking another bolt before they scattered in front of him. He kept on running, stopping only to lift a manhole cover and drop down into the sewers.

He crouched in the gloom and waited for his eyes to adjust. Above him, he could hear running and shouting as the men looked for him. He smirked, kissed his weapon again and then secured it to his back.

Drips echoed in the tunnels. Rats squeaked and fought and scurried around him. As he walked, his feet sloshed through the murky water and disturbed the smell, sending putrid odours to assault his nostrils. Grunting, he tugged the bolt from his thigh, licked his blood from the tip, then discarded it in the water.

Ahead of him, piled high in the middle of the tunnel, was a colourful mound of old clothing. Irakuda approached it, frowned, and stood still with the feeling he was being watched. Quickly, he swung his glaive and an imp appeared, screeching and chattering in panic. The small fiend flapped its leathery wings and fluttered around his head. Irakuda tried to grab the creature but it vanished in a flash, leaving him alone in the sewer.

He waited. When nothing else appeared out of the darkness, he continued on his way, soon finding another manhole and climbing out into an empty street. The rain still came down but the town was quiet. Irakuda could see the forests beyond, tantalisingly close.

He walked on, soon leaving Ardeal behind. Trees surrounded him, sheltering him from the rain, though large, fat drops still fell through. He walked and walked until his beard twitched and the hair stood up along his arms.

“Dragon,” Irakuda said, taking hold of his glaive. He raised the weapon and ran a hand along the staff. “Soon now.”

Through the trees, nestled at the base of the hills, there was a cave mouth. It would be dry and dark in there. Perfect, Irakuda knew, for sleeping dragons…

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BREACHSPACE: Fiendish Profiles, “Gore and Glory in Search of Dragon Death”, written by E.J. Tett, published by XEI is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.