The World of Stories and Fables Chapter 2

Katy Abbe, Columnist

The mighty beast towered over me, ready to scorch my skin with its electric blue flames. I held the plank of wood in my arms over my face, as if the pitiful weapon would be able to protect me from the oncoming pyre. I felt small waves of heat ripple in the air and I shut my eyes tightly. The sound of crackling flames sparked in my ears and I pushed myself further into the tree.

“DUCK!” A voice shouted. My eyes popped open and my gaze whirled over to a man rushing towards me and the beast, waving his sword in hand. He repeated his command and I flung myself in the only direction I could: down towards the dragon’s claws as a stream of flames slammed into the tree. The man yelled again and I covered my head as he leaped at the dragon. The dragon let out a thunderous roar and I felt droplets of liquid splatter against my arm. The ground shook as the dragon scrambled towards the man and I whipped my head up as I watched the dragon swipe at the man. The man, who I assumed was a knight from his chainmail and sword, jumped at the dragon and slammed the edge of the blade into the dragon’s already bleeding snout. Dark crimson blood poured from the snout and dribbled to the ground.

The beast howled in pain and growled at the man. The man smiled confidently and dodged a trail of flames the dragon spewed. He vaulted towards the dragon once more, crying out as he thrusted his weapon against the monster’s jaws. The dragon bellowed out an earsplitting roar. I covered my head as the violent creature took off into the sky. It watched the man cautiously and continued to screech at him as its large red wings beat against the air. The dragon turned towards a place beyond the forest and howled as it rumbled across the sky.

“Shouldn’t we go after it?” I cried, scrambling to my feet.

“No,” the man smiled gently, wiping his hand across his brow and brushing aside his dirty blond bangs. “It won’t come back anytime soon, dragons happen to be very prideful crea-”

“The knight!” I interrupted with a distressed jump, “the guy that came to save me! And Chase! Is he alright?” Before the man could respond I was already sprinting down the path.

“Arty?” The man called as he caught up to me. “He’ll be ok, good old Arthur can handle a few dragon flames.” I met the man’s earthy brown gaze. His eyes were sparkling tenderly and with confidence.

“Okay,” I answered as we ran. “I hope for Arthur’s sake you’re right.”

Soon we had reached the knight, Arthur. He had propped himself up against a tree and lay with his eyes shut. He had his hand over the gash in his arm and his chest was rising rather jaggedly as he breathed. His horse lay a yard or so away from him, heaving as it slept.

“Arthur, are you alright there?” The man next to me called out as we slowed to a jog. The man gestured for me to tend to Arthur as he headed towards the horse. I skidded to Arthur’s side and brushed the burnt tips of his hair out of his eyes.

“I’m holding up Kay,” Arthur mumbled quietly to the other man. Kay, I made a mental note as I let my gaze briefly flicker over to the man who had chased away the dragon. Arthur grunted and I looked back down, appraising his bruised body and oozing scratches. He shifted in his spot as I reached for his hand that was wrapped around his arm. He hissed as my fingers brushed against his and his eyes snapped open. He leaned forward and his deep blue gaze bore into mine. I recoiled. A look of recognition passed over his glare and he visibly relaxed.

“Thank God you’re alright.” He leaned back against the tree as he closed his eyes again. “That was horribly stupid of you, though.” He added with a bitterness to his voice. “I can’t believe you would use yourself as dragon bait.”

“Oh, Arthur, relax,” Kay called from his perch by the horse. “If that little lady hadn’t come along you would have been that monster’s breakfast.”

“Good.” Arthur grumbled as he removed his hand from his arm, letting me tend to the still oozing gash. Without opening his eyes he slipped his blood-stained hand into his tunic pocket and pulled out a large handkerchief. He held it out to be and continued as I took the wide piece of cloth, “I would rather be responsible for my own life that someone else’s.” He opened his eyes slowly and watched me as I gently wrapped the cloth around his arm, doing my best to close off the majority of the open wound. My gaze flickered to his deep blue gaze before back to my task of keeping the life blood inside of him.

“Promise me you won’t ever do anything like that again.” He demanded. Despite everything that had happened, I smirked. I held back a laugh and met Arthur’s gaze with a confident smile. He raised a tired eyebrow, probably thinking I had gone mad.

“I will not promise a thing.” I assured him. “If there is a vicious dragon plaguing anyone, I will help them fight it off.”

“You’re absolutely daft.” Arthur appraised me with surprise while Kay laughed heartily.

“I don’t know, Arthur, I like this one.” Kay chuckled. I turned my head and shared a beam of delight with the large knight.

“Kay, it’s a knight’s duty to protect the people, not the other way around.” Arthur sighed.

He took in a sharp breath and returned my focus to his arm. I loosened the handkerchief a tad and he shifted himself with a grimace.

“I suppose,” I interjected softly as I quickly scanned Arthur for any life threatening injuries. “A knight isn’t much of a knight if he can’t help people, but one knight can’t be expected to do everything, right?” Satisfied that I could not find another life threatening wound that needed immediate attention, I met Arthur’s steady gaze gently. “Sometimes you guys need help, and I am certainly not going to withhold it should you need my assistance.” Arthur frowned but Kay cheered behind me.

“Well, there you have it, Arthur, this one isn’t going to stand down to anything,” Kay smiled as he leaned back by the horse. “Now, why don’t you two head off to the castle and send someone to help me bring back old Destiny, I don’t think she’ll make it home if she needs to walk.” I nodded and made my way to Arthur’s least damaged side.

“I’ll protect you, Mr. Knight,” I grinned. He left out a huff, but draped his good arm over my shoulders any way. I got myself into a standing position, and steadily pulled him up. He groaned in pain from the movement, but by working together, we managed to get him upright.

“You going to be alright there, Arty?” Kay smirked as I struggled a bit under Arthur’s weight.

“I’m fine.” He snapped at his friend, his deep blue eyes glittering with anger. He turned to me with the scowl still etched into his features. “Well? Are we going to go or not? I’m tired of having to deal with that idiot.”

“You’re the light of my life too, Arty.” Kay snickered.

“The love between you two is overwhelming,” I teased dryly, leading Arthur slowly towards the path.

“It’s quite non-existent, I assure you.” Arthur glared at me. I readjusted his arm as I giggled.

“Stay safe you two,” Kay called as we slugged down the trail. “I’ll meet you back at the castle soon enough!” I called back in agreement before disappearing into the forest with the grumbling knight.

At first, we walked through the forest silently. It was slow going, as I didn’t want to cause Arthur any unnecessary pain. Though he still did wince a few times, and took in far more sharp breaths then I would have liked.

“Are you going to be ok?” I asked gently after he made a particularly painful sounding noise.

“I’m fine.” He said through gritted teeth. I shifted his weight a bit and he looked as if he was holding back a groan. “I’ll be alright, I’m just trying to take my mind off of my arm.”

“Is there anything I can do?” I offered, my eyes flickering over to the handkerchief that had become completely drenched in scarlet blood. Arthur sucked in a breath and bit his lip. After a moment, he nodded.

“Distract me.” He pleaded. “Tell me about yourself, I don’t think you gave me your name.”

“Ahhmm…” my eyes grew wide as I recalled that I couldn’t exactly answer that question. He gave me a confused look and I let out a soft moan. I might as well tell him, right?

“See, I don’t really remember anything.” I explained. He raised his light brown eyebrows and waited for me to continue. “Nothing. I can only recall waking up earlier and wandering around the forest. That’s when I ran into… Chase, right? And then the dragon.” I met his deep blue irises with a shrug. “I’m not sure what happened.” He stared at me for a moment with an indiscernible gaze and then shook his head, a mixture of concern and bewilderment entering his blue eyes.

“You have no idea who you are, or where you came from?” He repeated.

“I didn’t even know dragons existed until I saw that monster.” I admitted. I chuckled a little, “That was quite the wake-up call.”

“Wait.” He stopped, causing me to stumble a bit. I quickly recovered and waited patiently, meeting his gaze expectantly. “You didn’t know that dragons were real, and as soon as you see one you enter into battle to help others as they fight them?”

“Yes,” I nodded with a smirk, “is that bad? I couldn’t just leave you or your brother.”

“You’re either the most courageous maiden I’ve ever met, or the biggest fool,” he nudged me, signalling for me to walk again. I continued leading us down the trail and he added, “you do not remember your name? Is there anything I should call you?” I shrugged.

“I really don’t have a preference, give me a name and we’ll see if I like it.” I instructed. Arthur frowned and tilted his head. He watched me for a few moments before making his suggestion.

“Alissa, that’s a lovely title.” He offered.

“Yeah, no.” I stuck out my tongue. “I don’t like that, try something else.” He furrowed his eyebrows curiously, trying to think of something else.

“Lorelei?” He asked, “I think that may fit you…”

“How?” I wrinkled my nose. “It sounds too delicate, I just made myself dragon bait to save your butt, I am not delicate.”

“You could be Artemis.” He mused, “the goddess of the moon and the hunt.” I hummed, thinking about the name. “Artemis is a warrior, not as delicate as Lorelei, yet a name filled with grace and elegance,” he continued, “while managing to strike fear into any beast.”

“Hmmm… Artemis…” I tried the name, letting it roll over my tongue. “Alright, Sir Arthur, I am henceforth Lady Artemis, the lovely maiden whose courage has matched that of a knight’s.” I tipped my head in a small bow. Arthur let out a cough before smiling weakly.

“Very well, Lady Artemis, I hope your foolishly brave heart doesn’t get you into anymore trouble.” He teased.

“It won’t,” I returned lightly, giving him a smirk. “As long as you don’t get yourself into anymore situations that require a foolishly courageous heart.” I beamed up at him and he let out a dry chuckle.

“Fair enough, Lady Artemis,” he said as we continued down the trail. “Fair enough.”