Flash Friday 24/05/2013: Tower Troubles
Keira sighed to herself, the only entertainment in the containment room in the tower being a mirror to sigh to herself at. Being a damsel was great; the distress part was definitely a chore.
She once again went through her escape plans. All of them involved different ways of climbing through the window, and all of them ended with her falling the full hundred-feet drop with a less than ideal ending. One of them had her insult the dragon that rested atop of the tower’s roof as she fell. At least she’d die with a smile on her face.
Her thinking was interrupted by the sound of something knocking against the side of the tower, just to the right of the window.
It was the first sign of outside contact since last night, when she was locked away. Slowly crossing the room out of sheer curiosity, she opened the window and stuck her head out, peeking to see what had made the sound.
It was a ladder.
She looked down in time to see the man climbing it. He had already almost gotten to the same level as the window, his speed showing great skill at climbing abnormally tall ladders. Keira breathed a sigh of relief. She was saved.
“Good sir,” she called out. “Are you here to save me from my awful fate?”
“You what?” the man said, now at the level of the window. He jostled the bucket he was holding on his arm, a foul stench coming from within. “I’m here to feed the dragon, that’s all.” Without another word, he continued up the ladder and towards the roof.
“Feed him?” Keira said, tilting her head upwards to watch him. “Why would you do such a thing?”
“Well, I’m the dragon keeper, aren’t I?” he said. The dragon had taken notice of the newcomer, and seemed more than pleased about it. “Have to go around all these towers, feeding all the dragons. They get peckish otherwise, start eyeing up their damsels and licking their lips. That’s never going to be good for business.”
“You’re being paid by my capturer to feed that ugly thing?”
“Ugly?” The dragon keeper broke his concentration to glare at her. “I’ll have you know this is a fine specimen. Lovely earth dragon. Absolute shame that its owner stuck him up here, though. It’s in the name — earth dragons needs to spend most of the time on the floor, where they can graze on small animals. Of course, they don’t give a damn about that. They just see a shiny green dragon and chain him to the top of a tower so he can look good. Absolute disgrace to such a lovely beast.” He held out a handful of meat to the dragon, who delicately took it from his hand. “All the lords and ladies, going out and buying dragons from stores without having a clue as to how to keep them. Then they go ahead and hire people like me to take care of them so they don’t have to. No bloody justice in the world, that’s what I say.”
“Oh. That does sound rotten.”
“Well, that’s another one fed.” The keeper started to descend the ladder. “Time to go over to the other tower. Maiden trapped with an ice dragon over there. You ever wonder why they stick women in these things? It’s kinda creepy.”
“Uhm, while you’ve got the ladder up,” Keira said. Her words stopped the man in his descent. “Do you mind if I could come down with you?”
“You? I don’t think you’d be allowed to. Health and safety and all that. You need knee pads, elbow pads, and a helmet in order to use ladders. Management would flip if they heard one of the assets I’m helping to protect ended up dying because of me.”
“But you’re not wearing any safety gear yourself.”
“Oh.” The man patted his head in search of his helmet. “Well, now that you know I’m going against my management’s rules, I’m definitely not going to let you down.”
“I promise not to tell.”
The man gave a heavy sigh. “You know, someone out there has probably already set off on an epic adventure to save you. Sure, they’ll probably murder that beautiful specimen on the roof, but that’s what he was bought for. Point is, it’s going to go down in history, no matter what happens. What would you prefer? Being rescued by a courageous hero, wedding him and living happily every after, or being helped down by your local dragon keeper with a ladder? Because you’re not coming home with me, that’s for sure. My missus wouldn’t be too happy.”
“How long do you think a hero will be?”
“How long you been here for?”
“Just a day.”
“Give it three more. You can tell they’re coming because they’ll yell something about saving you under the name of some kingdom or god or some bollocks. It’s all for show, really, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Trust me, I’ve seen loads like you before. Always get their fairytale endings. Probably because it’s an actual bloody fairytale.”
“Very well. I shall wait here, if it is only half a week away.”
“Alright. Say hi to Dave for me. He does what I do, but for damsels. Don’t worry, the food’s a lot better. Cheerio, then.” Resuming his descent, the dragon keeper made his way down the ladder as quick as he came up.
“Say hi to the other damsels for me,” Keira said. She had to find out where she could buy her own dragon someday.