Flash Friday 23/12/2016: Present Moment
Ever since the now-charred and blackened town of Eastshire fell to the might dragon Galrosh, nobody had set foot within its borders. Deep within Eastfall’s cathedral, resting under half a roof, Galrosh rested upon his hoard of spoils, collected from centuries of people who fell to his black scaled wrath.
He was usually alone. Today, however, he wasn’t.
A young boy by the name of Toby had stumbled upon the ruins of Eastfall looking for shelter. At first sight of the huge black dragon, he almost turned and fled, but Galrosh took pity and told him that if he wanted Toby dead, he would have done it long ago. With not much else providing for him elsewhere, Toby cautiously stepped into the main cathedral as Galrosh flew through a large hole in the ruined ceiling.
“So, then,” Galrosh spoke. His voice was smooth like honey, yet had an aura of poison about it. Galrosh settled himself down on his golden, glittering hoard in front of a large stained glass window at the back of the cathedral. “Just a quick rule; please don’t touch the hoard unless I tell you that you may. Dragon’s nature to keep everything as it should be, you see.”
Toby nodded meekly. “I won’t.”
“Excellent. Then we won’t have any problems. If you’d like to find somewhere within the ruins of Eastshire that you’d like to stay in, be my guest. I do admit, however, that I did quite the number to this place, but I’m sure there’s some house or barn I left unscathed. Why don’t you go along and explore it, hm? I’ll be right here.”
The boy didn’t move. He simply stood there, looking meek.
“What’s wrong?” Galrosh said. “Something the matter?”
“I think I’ve heard of you,” Toby said. “You’re Galrosh the Black, aren’t you?”
Galrosh nodded slowly.
“I’ve heard stories about you. They say you murder all you come across and feast on their bones.”
Galrosh snorted. “Yes, of course they would. Humans typically do. They seek nothing but to spread rumour of our behaviours and send more knights and adventurers after us.”
“But why did you take me in?”
“It’s almost Christmas. Nobody should be alone for Christmas.”
“Even though I’m a human?”
“You don’t look to be hunting either my gold or my head, so yes, even you. How did you come about to be homeless, anyway? Did something happen to your family?”
The child looked to the floor. “Orcs.”
Galrosh snorted. “Horrible beings. Us black dragons may be reputed for being evil, but at least we don’t murder people for no reason. What colour was their face-paint?”
“Ah. Bloodthirst Clan. Very well. Hopefully they still line their hut roofs with that flammable tar they love so much. But where are my manners? It’s almost Christmas, and you haven’t got any gifts to celebrate it. Stay still.”
Galrosh rose from his hoard and began digging through it with a claw, sending expensive goblets, giant gems, and jewel-encrusted weaponry tumbling down its sides. Eventually, he plucked out a dark swirling orb between two claws and dropped it into the cupped hands of Toby.
“This,” Galrosh hissed, “was the Orb of Slaughter I took from the corpse of a shadow thief who tried to take from my hoard. I suppose he thought it would work on me, but we can both see how that ended.
“Simply envision a being in your mind while holding this orb and it will tell you all of their weaknesses. Their injuries. Their flaws. Their insecurities. With this orb, you can become very powerful, Toby. You can kill anyone who stands in your way and become a feared man, indeed. After the world took everything you hold dear, why not pay it back for its treachery? So? Won’t you take it? Won’t you become powerful?”
Toby turned the orb over in his hands, peering into the black mist that spiralled around in the orb. Looking back up at Galrosh, he said, “it sounds lovely, mister, but what I really wanted for Christmas was a hobby horse.”
“There are no hobby horses in my hoard.”
“Oh.” Toby’s face fell. He went back to peering at the orb, this time more halfheartedly. “Maybe next year, then.”
The pair shared a small silence as Toby continued to look sorry for himself.
“Oh, alright,” Galrosh said against his own will. “The next time I find myself razing a town, I’ll keep an eye out for one. But you have to be good and not get into any trouble, okay? And I want the orb back.”
Toby held it out for Galrosh to take. “Will there be a Christmas feast?”
“Oh, yes, I suppose you humans have those, too. What do you prefer; chicken, beef, or pork?”
“I like beef, myself.”
“Excellent. Cow farmers are pretty bad at keeping an eye on their livestock. I shall be back with food, and perhaps a hobby horse should a town be stupid enough to attack me. While I’m gone, please, please don’t touch my hoard. I will know, and I will get angry, and I will have to exact justice. Understood?”
“Excellent.” Galrosh began to clamour up the side of the cathedral walls toward the hole in the ceiling. “You go ahead and scout out the town for somewhere you’d like to stay. Should you need to, you’re always welcome to stay here in the cathedral, but I have a tendency to sometimes spit fire in my sleep. Find somewhere you can truly call your own without having to share cot with a dragon. Oh,” Galrosh said, with a toothy smile that was both heartwarming and sinister at the same time. “And Merry Christmas.”
Then, with a thunderous boom of his wings, Galrosh took off through the hole and into the sky.
Toby slowly turned and shuffled his way toward the cathedral entrance. Perhaps the Eastshire school had some toys that managed to survive the attack.