What can I say? I like dragons. Not cute little friendly critters, or big stinking brutes, but something large, streamlined, terrible, and beautiful.

This dragon has taken on the role of a protector, if a cranky one.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Dragon Guard

Two wolf packs poured into a moonlight clearing, moving in a way that was somehow not wolf-like. They moved stiffly, ears flattened, and lips curled to reveal snapping, snarling teeth. The stragglers of the two packs breached the edges of the opposite sides of the clearing and stopped, reluctant to get any closer to each other.

Tense silence fell.

Creeping and slinking, the wolves shifted slowly closer to each other. Suddenly, a large grey wolf whirled on a smaller brown wolf, ripping open a gash on the other animal’s muzzle. As if this was a signal, the packs smashed together. The clearing roiled with fur, and the coppery tang of blood rose over the scent of greenery and earthy decay.

“Would you quit it?” A voice roared.

The two packs froze as the voice echoed through the clearing, bouncing off trees and hurting their sensitive ears with its volume. The wolves disengaged, limping and bleeding, and tried to find the source of the voice, feud temporarily forgotten.

One of the female wolves shifted to human form. “Who’s there?” Trying to sound tough is difficult when naked and surrounded by enemies, but through long practice, the werewolf succeed.

“Does it matter?” The voice grumbled, quieter now and identifiable as female. “I want you all out of my forest. Take your squabbles elsewhere.”

Several wolves shifted to human then, angry. This was an important territory fight, a matter of life or death. Two packs of this size couldn’t share the area, so the fight had to continue until one pack, defeated, fled.

“Squabble?” A man dripping blood from a gash on his cheek asked.

A gusty sigh rattled the tree branches. “Just go away.”

“This isn’t your territory,” he argued.

“I beg to differ.” Something moved in the wood, and glittered in the moonlight as it approached the clearing. Giant clawed feet ripped up the ground cover, and a reptilian head loomed over the trees, carried on a slender neck. Most of the animal remained hidden by the trees, but the moonlight revealed that there was plenty to hide.

Several werewolves gasped.

“I beg to differ,” the dragon repeated. “And I’ll eat you if you keep arguing.”

The werewolves stared up at the creature, whose mouth was large enough to eat any one of them in three bites, and lined with sharp teeth.

“We don’t-” a dark-haired man began, and then fell silent as the head turned and the dragon fixed grass-green eyes on him.

“I said go, dog-breath,” the dragon said. “Get out of my woods, and don’t return.” She raked her claws into the earth, leaving deep furrows, eyes fixed on the wolves to underscore the threat. “You shouldn’t fight, anyway. There’s far too few non-humans these days, even mongrels like you.”

A werewolf growled from deep in the group.

“Mongrels?” The dark-haired man repeated.

“What species were you born as?” The dragon asked, and then answered without waiting for a reply. “Humans. You’re half-human still.”

The man opened his mouth, and then closed it. He looked at the wolves standing opposite him. The territory fight didn’t seem quite so important with the green-brown dragon glaring at them all. If she started killing wolves, they’d all die, and likely not have enough to rebuild, afterwards.

He took a step back, moving sideways to the dragon so he could keep an eye on those wicked teeth. Possibly a pointless gesture, but he couldn’t bring himself to turn his back on her. A few of the other wolves copied him. Within moments, the dragon was alone in the clearing. All that remained was scuffed plants, splashes of blood, and a few bloody tufts of fur.

“It’s okay, you can come out now,” the dragon crossed her forelegs, and lowered her head to her clawed hands.

Delicate deer-like beings with single curved horns, humanoids with moss-green skin, small winged beings, and cat-like creatures moved into the clearing. They examined the damage, some sniffing the blood, others beginning to repair the ripped plants and disturbed earth.

“Werewolves,” a cat-creature sniffed.

“I think it’s because they get the wolf so late and with such savagery,” the dragon said. “They can’t reconcile their two halves. When you fight yourself, how can you not fight each other?”

One of the green-skinned men patted her leg sympathetically.

“Poor things,” the dragon said, “I hope they stop killing each other.”

“Do you think they will?” a horned deer-like creature asked,

“Probably not. Unless I scared them so badly they unite against me.”

“You don’t think they’ll be back, do you?” The deer-like animal lifted a foot nervously, poised to flee.

“No. They never come back,” the dragon said, closing her eyes. The creatures drifted around her as she slept, ranging out but never too far. After a time, they arranged themselves in sleep around her.


About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

2 responses »

  1. bellesogni says:

    Again, I’m smiling!

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