The Dragon's Gem Heart
A Flash Fiction Challenge. Inspired by artwork from @lucasgracianoart.
Thris sifted through the bowl of furs, feeling for the precious gem she had stolen. Her brother would kill her if he found out what she’d discovered the night before they trekked over Herothgrin Pass.
“Dragon!” the warrioress shouted.
Thris’ paranoia became reality in that single word of warning. The rumors were true, but stealing the gem was worth the risk. Even if the beast claimed their lives on the mountainside, Thris would die knowing she tried her hardest to give her people the protection they deserved.
“Run!” the warrioress screamed at Thris.
Thris gripped the bowl of furs, where she’d buried the gem within. She looked all around for something safe to run to. There were no stone buildings, no walls of defense. They were on the edge of a snowfield, surrounded by rocky scree fields and jutting cliff faces. The slope left them completely exposed and without protection. The enormous dragon rounded the mountainside and into full view. She was a massive bronze dragon. Unable to breathe fire, but fierce with her sharp claws and pointed teeth. She headed right for them.
“Thris, hurry,” her brother, Juprin, called to her from the edge of the snowfield. He, like their trekking guide, had gathered nothing from their supplies to flee from the dragon. All he had was the Dirka fur cloak wrapped around him.
Thris ran, carrying the bowl with her. She would not leave the gem behind for the dragon to reclaim. She quickly caught her brother and slowed as their steps sank through the knee-deep snow. Thris could hear the dragon’s wings beating as it neared. She saw nowhere for them to hide. She did the only thing she could, follow their guide and hope he knew of a cave in the cliffs near the snowfield’s edge.
The mountainside trembled as the bronze dragon dropped onto the slope. Thris looked over her shoulder, dreading to see how close to death she and her younger brother were. To her surprise, between where the bronze dragon and the warrioress behind them were standing, a second dragon faced off with the first. Thris knew an arrival of another dragon, even though it was a smaller green drake, was not possible. The green drake was defending them, moving in time with the warrioress’ dog. Thris wondered why the warrioress brought the hound with them, seeing as dragons were the only dangerous predator who came this high, but the hound was lunging at the dragons, snapping his jaws and moving in perfect timing with the smaller green drake. That’s when Thris realized. The smaller green drake was an illusion. She didn’t understand illusionary magic but heard enough about it to know most illusionists used other living things to project from. That’s why she brought the dog. He wasn’t able to cause damage, but sometimes the threat of another dragon willing to fight was enough to scare the aggressor off. Thris knew, though, that the bronze dragon would not back down. Not with her gem heart so close.
Thris tripped over her footing, planting her hand in the snow as she trudged as fast as she could away from the bronze dragon looming behind them. It was a matter of moments before the bronze dragon attacked the green drake illusion and realized there was nothing stopping her from taking the gem heart. With Juprin’s worried whimpers in her ear, Thris glanced up the slope, glimpsing a dark hole in the cliff wall near the base. The guide was leading them right for it. Thris doubled her efforts and heard the wail come from the dragon as she realized the warrioress’ trick. Thris’s footing caught again, and she fell, dropping the bowl of furs. It slid away from her. The dragon’s gem heart was the only sure thing that would buy the protection of the Othgrin Mages, and it was rapidly descending the slope.
Juprin helped Thris to her feet, shouting, “Make for the cave!”
The bronze dragon’s massive paw swatting at the warrioress overwhelmed his voice. Thris and her brother had just enough time to make it to the cave where their guide was entering safely. Thris looked down the slope, seeing the bowl crash into the scree field below. She needed the gem, and she needed to risk everything to get it. Thris broke away from her brother and made for the dragon’s gem heart.