Finding Gratitude, Part 23

The wyvern was there. And it knew we were, too.

Legends about dragons are just that, legends. Nobody seems to have actually seen one. Or if they have, they’re not talking. So everyone has their own opinion about what a dragon looks like. Scaled monstrosities, little lizards, or shape changers that can do anything. A total mystery, with only one consensus. A raging dragon is big.

If this wyvern was a little cousin, I would have to rethink wanting to meet a dragon.

It twisted around the top of the tower. Its frame was almost two stories long, and all of it seemed to be muscle and wrath. Its sinuous body was made of spines, wings, and an angry mustard-yellow complexion. It looked down at us with red slitted eyes, daring us to come any closer. We had wandered into its territory, but were we other predators, or easy prey?

“What do you think, witch?” Lady Violet asked. “Play it safe, or sound the trumpet?”

Time to look at its weapons. The wings had claws at the apex, and its taloned feet tore into the stone. No arms, just the legs and wings. But a tail with a spike at the end curled and snapped. This was a predator that could defend and attack at any moment.

Then again, it was in a mortal city, not out in the wild. Maybe it didn’t like a challenge. I pulled up my hood, and pulled out my staff. “Darkling, flank around, but keep in range of us. Any fight that takes place in the sky is one we’re going to lose.

“Lady Violet, circle right. I’ll call it out. We want close quarters, so back into the alleys. But we keep this to the ruined six blocks. No casualties, got it?”

She was already moving away. If the wyvern came too close, Sir Violet would make him pay.

Ok, time for my entrance. I concentrated, and let the magic flow through me. It filled my hands, my lungs, my heart. I could feel more alive, and suddenly more free. The magic in Gratitude was the same as back home, and in Leftarch. It all came to me just as readily as the first time I picked up a wand.

I could do this. We could do this.

“Wyvern!” I shouted, my voice amplified with green energy. “You have caused property damage, killed citizens, and disrupted the entire city with your ways. You have staked claim in a city that is under new protection. This is your one and only warning. Leave, or die.”

The wyvern howled in response. It could have been laughing, or accepting the challenge. It certainly didn’t look like it was swayed by my words.

Especially not when it spat lightning straight at me.

I almost laughed. So that was what happened our first night in town. The welcoming committee was a dragon. Wyvern, whatever. But I had seen this once, and with magic.

I thrust my staff out, and barked a command. The bolt of lightning struck the staff, drawn in by my power. I held it, and almost lost the staff. The electricity shook the wood, threatening to shatter it.

I aimed the staff, and spoke another spell. The new energy shot out like an arrow, arcing straight for the top of the spire. A peal of thunder crashed as it hit home. Rock and dust pelted through the air. They rained down around us, smashing to powder.

The wyvern flapped its wings, staying airborne. It didn’t even look scratched.

Round one. A draw.

copyright 2018 Jack Holder