Ear-piercing screams split the silence of the seemingly tranquil valley. Towering pines reached up to the sky with their wooden arms. But a terrible force was making them quiver and shake and groan.
A flash of blue and of blinding white interrupted the dark brown of tree bark and deep green of leaves. The fighting pair hit the base of a tree, causing it to shudder alarmingly. A cloud of birds rose angrily above the tree tops, screaming their anger at their ejection from their homes.
But the attackers were oblivious to everything but each other. One of the opponents was a graceful unicorn, his horn gleaming in the dim light that shone through the leaves above. The other was a dragon, his scales the same shade of blue as the sky, his teeth glittering with savage beauty, not yet covered with the unicorn’s blood. The unicorn’s light brown eyes shone with a dangerous anger. The same story was reflected in the dragon’s intelligent blue gaze.
The unicorn dipped his head, stabbing at the dragon. The dragon dodged the horn, managing to twist towards the unicorn, gouging at his belly with deadly claws.
But the unicorn managed to get under his attacker’s guard; he managed to pierce a wing, causing the wounded dragon to howl in pain and rage. But then he began flapping his wings; they might have been wounded, but they still worked.
He rose above the unicorn, and began to soar away, then he turned around and glided the other way. The unicorn, thinking the fight was over, lowered his head. The dragon silently hovered above the unicorn’s back, then dropped like a stone onto the unicorn, landing with claws extended.
The unicorn gave a whinny of pain, and bucked, trying to dislodge the dragon. But the dragon clung on harder, burying his claws into the pained animal’s back. Then it bent its knees, rolling over. The dragon would have been crushed if he hadn’t leapt clear in time.
He landed on his feet, hissing angrily and breathing out tongues of flame at the wounded unicorn that clambered laboriously to his feet. He didn’t allow the unicorn any time before he leapt again, gouging at where the eyes of the unicorn would have been, if the unicorn hadn’t lowered his lead and lunged forward, the point of his horn gleaming, hungry for the boiling blood of a dragon.
The dragon tried to evade the long pointed horn, but was too slow; the horn pierced his unprotected stomach, not piercing any organs, but hurting incredibly. The handsome creature fell to the ground, breathless, helpless.
The unicorn stepped forward, looking with fury glinting in his dark eyes, raising his hoof, preparing to end this pathetic creature’s existence. But he couldn’t. He would gladly kill it in battle, but he couldn’t kill it when it was helpless on the ground, looking at him with fear in its eyes. So he kicked him softly in the head, not hard enough to kill him, but hard enough to knock him out. The dark blue eyes disappeared behind scaly eyelids, and he fell limp to the ground, senseless. The unicorn could see he was breathing, so he wasn’t dead.
With that, he snorted softly, and galloped away into the forest, not looking back. The dragon was left lying on the ground...
When the dragon awoke, metal bars surrounded him, caging him. The babble of voices broke like a tidal wave over his mind, extinguishing all other sounds. The scent around him was humans: perspiration, mixed with some foul scent.
Then everything that had happened came back to him: the fight with the unicorn, the soft kick in the head... now this. He would be imprisoned, made fun of, and gawped at.
He gave an angered hiss, alerting people that he was awake. Instantly, a sort of panic enveloped the camp; women screamed in fear, and men pointed and whispered to each other. The dragon reached out with his mind, disdainfully sweeping aside their feeble defences. Once within their mind, he searched through their memories, looking for a picture of the man they bowed down to. He found one. The man was middle-aged, with dark hair, and fierce eyes, with a temper to match.
Once he was armed with this information, he scanned the camp with his eyes and mind, searching for the leader. Once he found him, he tried to gain entry to his mind, but found his defences more withstanding than the others’ feeble ‘walls’. Even so, he swept it aside. Once he was in, he discovered what was most dear to the man: his wife, and his baby, who wasn’t even one year old.
Once he learned this, the dragon spoke from within his mind. As soon as he heard the dragon’s voice, a voice of unrestrained power and intelligence, he spun round wildly, searching for the source of the sound. He looked suspiciously at the caged dragon.
“Release me, or your wife and child will die!” growled the dragon, providing the terrified man with images of his wife and child dead, slain by wild animals. The man began to sob; the dragon could feel his sadness.
“Alright, alright, I’ll free you! Just stop this torture!” the man pleaded.
“Good,” said the dragon, and promptly withdrew from the tortured man’s mind.
“Get me the keys to the dragon’s cage,” he snapped to a man who wandered by. The man jumped, and scarpered away. The man walked towards the dragon, which was watching him with intelligence gleaming from his deep blue eyes.
“You’ll be out in a minute,” he assured the magnificent lizard. Then he turned to see the man scurry up to him, the iron key dangling like a pendulum in his grip.
“Wait,” said the man, who was a man called Ronald. “What do you intend to do with the key, sir?”
“Who are you to question me?” demanded the leader. “Just give me the key!”
“I’m afraid, sir, that I can’t do that. You see, if you let the dragon out, a great chance will be lost,” argued Ronald.
“Are you refusing a direct order?” hissed the leader, who was a man called Shaun.
“I have an order from a higher authority than you!” roared Ronald. Shaun gave up and snatched the key from his grip. Ronald’s face reddened with anger.
“Well I have an authority higher than anyone,” smirked the leader, and inserted the key into the lock, and turned it.
As soon as he heard the lock click, the dragon, a large blue creature by the name of Gawain, pushed the door open … and leapt at Ronald. The stricken man screamed and ran, but was not quick enough to escape Gawain’s claws. They closed around his waist, and threw him into Gawain’s awaiting jaws. He stopped screaming as a great tongue of flame leapt from the dragon’s jaws.
He licked his lips, then looked down at the man who had released him.
“Thank you,” Gawain whispered to him within his mind. “By the way, you do know I couldn’t have killed your wife and child from within my cage.”
With that he spread his wings, and disappeared over the treetops, and was never seen again.