A debut story for Anotherealm.com - apropos for a new year

Portrait of a Dragon Slayer
by Ellen Denton ©2013

"Kill them. Do it tonight."

"I can't. I hate them, but not that. I can't do it."

"So what's the alternative? More shank-cranking fantasies about chopping their arms and legs off with a broadax or gouging their eyes out with a pitchfork? What's that going to accomplish?"

Abram shrugs and looks away. As usual, Sylex is right, but his stomach turns into knots at the thought of doing for real what the dragon is suggesting.

"Can't you do it for me? You're a dragon; you've already got plenty of blood on your hands."

"You know what Abram? That's a cop out. Do your own dirty work. I'm out of here."

"Will I see you later?"

A void of silence fills the space.

He sighs with loneliness when he looks up. The dragon has already turned and walked off through the woods. Abram wonders how it could be so big and yet move so quietly.

***

He despises his loathsome family: his oppressive parents, his two bullying, older brothers, and his whiny, selfish, younger sister. At least half his waking hours are absorbed with day-dreaming about torturing and killing them. Sometimes, at night, he lurches up out of feverish sleep, his fingers rigidly curled around one of their necks, only to realize it's a dream, and there's nothing between his hands but air.

Unbeknownst to him, Sylex can see him whenever he wants to, because he has the Dor-Sight. He can look into Abram's world as though through a magic mirror. He now observes him bending over his meager cache of weapons and feels disgusted by his ineptness, cowardice, and indecision. Sylex knows he's going to have to do something. He spits a glob of flame and ash into the fireplace.

***

Abram climbs over the fence and quietly makes his way through the trees, careful not to be seen. He gets to his spot and crouches behind a small, windowless, stone building set off from the road and concealed by brush. He doesn't know what the structure is for, but it provides him with a hiding place where he can watch the princess come and go from her castle. He has been watching her for almost a year.

While killing or torturing his family occupies his thoughts for half his waking hours, thoughts about the princess occupy the other half. In his daydreams, he rescues her from marauders, jousts with worthy opponents as she looks on with admiration from a raised arena, or engages her in witty banter as they stroll through the castle gardens. He has watched her on many afternoons from this secluded spot, and has decided that, if she passes this way today, he will muster the courage to speak to her. He sits down and waits.

And waits. Two hours later he sees her exit the castle and get into a shining green carriage with her father. They leave, so he waits for her return until past sunset. Four more hours have passed since they drove away, but she doesn't come back. He will though--tomorrow. He leaves and, again, careful not to be seen or heard, climbs back over the fence. Sylex watches him with contempt through the mirror.

***

When he wakes up the next morning on his hard, narrow bed, the domicile is quiet. Too quiet. It's late Saturday, so his whole family should be home and awake--his parents screeching at each other, his sister complaining in her high-pitched, griping voice, his brothers barking out explosions of crude, raucous laughter.

He walks through the halls and into each room on both floors. No one is there. He goes down to the scary stone place underground--a cellar his parents used to lock him in as a child.

Putrid-smelling smoke blows out of the entryway when he opens the door. He covers his nose and mouth with the sleeve of his robe and goes down the steps. His parents and siblings are on the floor ringed by ash. He walks round and round their charred bodies, horrified, nauseous . . . and meanly elated. Their remains are twisted branches of bone and tatters of fire-black flesh. Two of them have their now-skeletal arms raised over their faces in frozen death. One--the biggest, his oldest brother--has his hands gripping the hilt of a knife that is still stuck into the strings of burnt meat that were once his neck. The other two lie on their backs as though burned while asleep or already dead. One of them has a blackened broom handle projecting out of an empty eye socket.

He kicks some of the arid ashes up into the air then vengefully sloshes water from a bucket onto them; it's all he has the courage to do. Sylex has done the rest. He suddenly senses someone behind him and spins around. He looks directly at the spot where the dragon-mirror is. This causes Sylex to draw back reflexively, but he knows Abram can't really see him.

***

Later that day, he returns to his watching place. He is there no more than ten minutes when he sees the princess--her name is Elisha--making her way across the castle grounds on the road that will take her past his hide-out. When she is close to him he steps out and says hello. She lets out a startled cry, and frightened, starts to back away, but then gets a good look at him and stops.

"You look familiar. Where do I know you from, and what are you doing here?"

"I'm Abram. You've probably seen me at the academy. I just wanted to say hello."

"The academy?" She now looks at him; doubtful. "You'd better go. This is private property. Don't come here again." She can almost smell sickness on him and backs away.

He continues to stand there looking at her. He again gets the feeling of someone standing behind him watching and realizes Sylex is somewhere close by. Abram wants to say something else to the princess, but is afraid that, if the dragon steps out onto the road, it will make her feel more frightened than she already is. He says goodbye and leaves.

***

He meets Sylex in the woods before he goes home.

"You must go away, Abram. I took care of your family. They're gone, but you can't go back there again."

"I know. Thank you Sylex. I must return there one more time to bury them. I'll wait until it's dark."

"Listen to me, Abram, you can't go back. Not any more. What you have to do now is kill her", Sylex gestures with his head in the direction of the castle, "and then yourself. That way, you can prove your courage and at least have her in death." The dragon's voice is calm and commanding.

Abram knows he's right. The princess looked at him as though he were a repulsive bug. With his family out of the way, though, he feels fortified and brave and he decides to go back to his house two days later. He walks through the woods at night, shambling toward the ramshackle structure as though in a trance. He gets close to his home and sees lights flashing. They're from police cars parked at angles all up and down his street. He walks towards them. He passes a man talking on a cell phone. The man stops mid sentence and almost drops the phone when he sees Abram. He passes a teenager he has never seen in the neighborhood before. The boy lurches backwards and stares in shock when Abram goes by.

He approaches the house carrying the hacked up, upper torso of Elisha and some of her other body parts. He will dig two deep holes in his back yard. In one he will place his family, in the other, him and Elisha - his princess. All the policemen stop talking and turn to look at Abram when he appears under a street lamp. Sylex is also still watching through the mirror. Abram knew he was there this time, because, as he walked towards his house, he could see the dragon's reflection in the darkened car windows he passed.

x x x

A rough hewn beginning for 2014; there was a dragon; there was a slayer. And the dragon was also a slayer. So the title sorta kinda made sense. Comments for this one appreciated in our BBS - GM

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