I breathe. A wave of flame sweeps across the fields of grain. It was waiting, ripe, dry. The fire engorges as I feed it. The air around it swirls into a vortex.
I told them this would happen. I deliver on promises, especially promises of destruction.
For I am Srudach, the dragon of the plains, and this is my domain.
I walk from the burning fields. The townspeople, no bigger than one of my legs, watch from the shallow hills.
I took a deep breath, and then bellowed with fire.
“What did I demand of you?”
The question was a reminder. More knights. More warriors. I ate them all.
The townspeople would tell them I had taken women, or gold. Upon the warriors arrival their eyes would widen when they saw the bones and bits of armor.
You have been betrayed by a lie. There is no glory for you, no riches, just the exact opposite you were expecting.
I burned them, and then took my time picking at the meat.
This last week there was no warrior. I was a little bit hungry, but I enjoyed their look of horror. It’s what made the rest of the week bearable.
One of the ragged liars approached from the hills to speak.
“You would approach Srudach? What do you have to offer?”
“Please, my lord. The lords have spread word of the ruse you created. Warriors do not come here. They refuse to die like you desire!”
I gave him a quizzical look, and then bathed him in my breath of destruction.
“I will eat this one. Bring me warriors!” I hissed at the group of humans.
Not long after I had a feast. The king finally got a group together to attempt to slay me.
The fools. They battered at my thick scales with dull swords. They shot arrows of pitiful wood. It was embarrassing.
As they went, I picked them up one after another, crushing their puny bodies in my grip. Their innards spilled in my cave. But the look of horror was gone.
They were there for a warrior’s death. Greed was not guiding them. It was duty. If I killed them, they won. This would not do.
I feasted that day, but it was hollow. The meat was unsatisfying.
Hordes of unprepared soldiers flowed inwards, eager for glory. With their fellow soldiers there to witness their death, they would get it.
So I took them one by one. I flew with them in my claws. After I was well away from their brethren, I killed them unceremoniously. It was a wonderful feeling. To deny the small creature the only thing it had left to gain.
Their numbers dwindled until one remained. A single soldier, standing with his sword in one hand, and his shield in the other.
“Allow me to live. And I will bring more soldiers for you to feast upon,” he said.
I chuckled. His attempt at manipulation was amusing.
“Go. Bring me an army.”
He backed away, and then turned to run.
“Wait,” I had an idea.
I walked to him, and took his shield. With a claw, I scratched a threat into the metal. It said, “I will kill your king.”
A week passed. Then two. I was forced to eat several townspeople. They had terror, but I do not think I took much from them. They were not after glory or riches.
The army arrived. There were siege weapons. Giant weapons designed specifically to pierce my scales. It was flattering.
I flew away from them, making my way to their large city. I looked for the most ornate building and razed it from all the doorways I could find. Satisfied, I left.
When I returned the soldiers were tired, and sleepy. I burned them all, starting with the siege weapons. No glory, only fire.
I feasted on victory and meat.
A week passed, then two. The whole region was bound by fear. I went where I wished, ate as I pleased, and horror followed me wherever I went.
I went to leave my cave upon feeling my stomach grumbling. But it was blocked. The humans had placed a large stone at the entrance. It fit the opening well enough to slide into place. I could not see the stars.
I took a deep breath and then bathed the rock in fire. Perhaps there were cracks that the fire would leak through, igniting some unlucky townspeople.
“This. Will not be forgiven,” I bellowed.
I scratched and clawed, but the rock did not give way. I went to the farthest end of the cave, and then smashed into the blockage. Nothing.
“You FOOLS!” fire licked the air around my head.
“I will burn your cities! I will eat you all! I am Srudach! I will not be confined!”
I beat at the stone, I clawed. It meant nothing. The air ran out and I passed into the realm of sleep.