Ch. 320. Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Dragon Fire

Just a moment before the dragon attacked, Lotye was still brushing the dirt off her clothes and picking leaves and thorny twines out of her hair. My hair, dammit! I just had to jump right into that bush, didn’t I? I’ll probably never get all of that stuff out and the next chance to wash will be some ice-cold mountain creek. If there’s one thing I hadn’t missed about the old days …

But there wasn’t much time for vain thoughts like this. Just like there wasn’t any time for her to be proud of her little catch.

Sure, a Brownie hostage might have been helpful had they still fought the tiny Faeries. But now an injured, angry and, most of all, hungry dragon came rustling up the hill towards them. The Brownie won’t even be useful as a diversion, wouldn’t even be an appetizer for that thing. She scolded herself for that idea and then gave it a second thought. Still not very useful.

How a dragon had been able to sneak up on them, she would never fully understand. The clamour of the fight with the Brownies probably had something to do with it. The more she thought about it, the more she was sure that it had been the noise that had attracted the dragon. The beast most likely was very happy about the fact that his food was dumb enough to announce its own presence. Still, Lotye felt a short flush of anger because nobody had heard the dragon in time to prepare for the attack. What was a lookout good for if not for a case like this? Shouldn’t a captain have an eye on his surroundings? And shouldn’t a thief and wayfaring women know better than to run through the wilderness, shouting expletives at a Brownie? All of that while knowing that there was a grounded dragon nearby?

But that anger didn’t really matter, now that an angry dragon burst through the trees and underbrush. Luckily for her, Jeneyeru’s arm hit Lotye before the dragon would have. The beast was still much too close, the full stench of its mouth hit her with overwhelming nausea and disgust, but at least the dragon hadn’t dug his teeth into her yet. At first she tried to crawl away, half backwards, half sideways and at the same time trying to get back on her feet. This time she didn’t wast any thoughts on her hair. This was a situation of life and death, as immediate as she hadn’t experienced it on this journey before. In fact, she didn’t waste any time on thinking about it, at all. Her body just tried to move out of the way of that fire-spewing, scaly, big-as-a-boat, black thing.

Which was probably why she realized just a moment to late that there was still someone else much too close to the dragon. The wizard in his colourful robes looked kind of comical next to those big teeth hung with half-rotten meat, like a jester who had been caught in the act of his pranks. But in this case, it wouldn’t just be a string of expletives, names and more expletives flying in his face, maybe followed by a little chase scene, no, it would fire, gas and acid, almost certainly followed by death.

And again, Lotye acted without thinking. At least she didn’t think about her own life, or she probably would have realized that what she was now going to do was a bad idea. Against all survival instinct, she moved back towards the dragon and his soon-to-be victim Jeneyeru. Still more crawling than running, she tried to tackle the Lord Magus out of the way before the dragon would exhale again. There wasn’t much more to it, no elaborate plan or any real idea of what to do after that. Lotye just had to try and make sure that her new employer, saviour and, probably, friend wouldn’t find his spot as roasted Selkie filet on the dragon’s menu.

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