Meet Cute #19: Gavalier and the Dragon

Gavalier had never been more afraid.

He snaked toward the dragon cave on his armor-clad belly, sword at the ready.

A huge boulder lay at the cave entrance. From around its edges tendrils of steam escaped.

The steam was the breath of Fluvé, the dragon that had tormented Gavalier’s town of Rouen for decades. Other knights had wounded the beast but never killed it.

Lately, Fluvé had taken to snatching old ladies from their beds. No one had ever seen an abduction occur, but the charred pillowcases were a dead giveaway. One of the old ladies had been Gavalier’s grandmother, which is why the king had tapped him to seek out the dragon.

Gavalier was inches away from the entrance. He squinted his eyes to see if he could see past the boulder and into the cave. No. He perked his ears — still nothing. Not the cry of an old lady, not the panting of a dragon.

There was nothing left but to ambush.

He stood, unable to keep his armor from clanging. Still, there was no disturbance from the cave. Was it possible the steam came from some other source? Or that he’d come to the wrong cave? Could the dragon be sleeping soundly? (Oh please…)

Gavalier turned to his side and edged past the boulder, into the cave.

For a few moments, he was blinded by the sudden switch from sunlight to dark.

As he strained to adjust, swirling shapes danced before him, deep purples and reds.

Then they stopped moving, solidifying into the shape of — a dragon.

An awake dragon, its eyes open and alert.

Gavalier sharply inhaled. But the dragon made no move. It simply sat against a near wall of the cave, watching.

“Good afternoon, sir,” Fluvé said. The dragon seemed to be smiling. It rested its claws on its belly, yellow talons strumming against red skin.

Gavalier was speechless with terror.

“It took you long enough to come in, didn’t it?” the dragon asked. “I’ve been waiting what seems like hours for you to work up the courage.”

Still Gavalier could not speak.

Impatiently, Fluvé stood, letting out a huff of steamy breath. Gavalier quaked but stood his ground, remembering his training.

Fluvé took a few steps toward him. “The elderly human females are eaten and gone, if that’s what you were hoping to find.” The beast paused. “My goodness, sir, are you a coward? Draw your sword! Or speak, at least.”

But Gavalier’s boots remained rooted to the cave floor. He was willing himself to draw his sword, but his arms wouldn’t move.

“Oh for heaven’s sake,” Fluvé was saying. “I don’t have time to stand around waiting for you to feel adequate to the task. I’m more than just a metaphor for your fears, you know. I have needs. For example: Food.”

Fluvé took another step forward and swiped at Gavalier with a scaly claw. The beast had been so slow-moving up to this point, so lethargic, that Gavalier was shocked at the swiftness of the motion. It propelled him to action. He drew his sword.

“Ah, there we are,” Fluvé said. “I do prefer a fair fight.”

“Is that why you snatch helpless old women?” Gavalier sneered. It was as if the action of freeing his sword had unblocked his voice, too.

“Ladies and gentlemen, he speaks! And he’s a smart-ass!”

Fluvé’s breath became more thunderous, sparks flying on the exhales. The dragon took another few steps toward Gavalier, who danced backward, pressed now against a cave wall.

He couldn’t stay pinned like that — not for another second. He sprang away and pivoted to the right, evading another swipe. The cave entrance was far away now, behind the dragon. In a matter of a second, the comforting possibility of escape had disappeared.

Gavalier’s senses sharpened as he regarded his opponent.

Legend said Fluvé could be killed only by a direct hit to the heart, which lay not in the beast’s breast but in its right foot. Gavalier tried to fix this spot in his view. But the dragon hopped and lunged, its right foot in constant motion.

Gavalier made a few wild stabs, but none of them landed.

Fluvé breathed pure fire now, flames slamming against the cave walls. Something on the ground ignited — the old women’s clothes, Gavalier realized. The heat was becoming unbearable, the flames devouring what little oxygen had existed in the tiny cave. Gavalier choked with the effort of breathing.

He needed to leave. He really wasn’t prepared.

The dragon reared back, winding up for another strike. Just then, Gavalier noticed a space open up between the beast’s legs. He dove, arms first, skidding through the space and out the other side.

When Gavalier again stood, Fluvé was still facing away from him, confused. Gavalier darted for the cave entrance, slipping with a clatter of armor through the opening.

He ran and ran, sightless again from the transition in light. He heard no sign of Fluvé following.

He arrived in town, where he realized the surviving had made him eager to return.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *