Invasion

Here we are at Week 19 at More Odds Than Ends. A story appears to be working its way into these prompts so I’m rolling with it. I am sort of at loose ends, but not really. I’ve discovered that the same feeling I had when I sent off an article to a journal – well, that’s done, now I can ignore the rest – is occurring when I finish a book or short story. I just sent in my submission for a YA anthology and mentally brushed my hands off and promptly went down rabbit holes of reading for fun, random research that may or may not prove useful later on, and general farting around. So then this prompt shows up and my brain went “Oh! A new story! That’s ever so much fun!” Whatever, brain. Just stop. We have other things to finish first.

Anyway, Brain insisted, so here’s another snippet of what I’m calling Scarwood Keep. So far there are elves and dragons, so I guess it’s going to be swords and sorcery. We’ll see. The prompt came from AC Young: Person 1: “That’s a strangely shaped cloud.” Person 2: “That’s not a cloud. It’s a dragon – possibly a Small White or a Draco’s Grey.”

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Invasion

Eirwen stood on the parapet and stared at the sky as she had for the last four days. Her maid, Lowri stood beside her, armed with a bow. A quiver filled with saw-edged arrows rode on Lowri’s back.

“Dragon hide is tough, milady, even where it is thinner,” the maid had explained. “But I aim at the wings. The jagged edges of my arrows tear greater holes in the wings and thus do more damage than traditional arrows.” Her voice was flat and her eyes constantly scanned the sky.

When word of the invasion had first reached Scarwood Keep, Lowri had pulled the bow and its quiver of arrows from some hiding spot in her room. Eirwen knew that Lowri had arrived at Scarwood as a small child with her mother. What she hadn’t known until four days ago, was that Lowri’s father had been killed in the last dragon invasion. Lowri’s mother had carried her husband’s bow and wing-tearing arrows with them as they fled to the west and gifted them to Lowri when she was old enough to use the bow.

When they’d been warned about a dragon attack from the east Eirwen had ordered all the farmers, their livestock, and all the grain they had be moved into the keep and the caves just behind it. It was crowded, dirty, noisy, and fearful. But everybody should be safe.

Balar, her stablemaster, had proved to be a veritable fountain of information during the controlled chaos of preparing for an attack. He too, had survived the last invasion as a soldier in the old king’s army. Eirwen was too young to remember the last invasion, but she was not certain that the current king was as astute and prepared as his father had been. Which meant she could not expect any help from that quarter.

She stared unseeing at the clouds as they drifted overhead. Father, I can’t decide if I wish you were here, or I’m glad you don’t have to see this.

“That’s a strangely shaped cloud,” Eirwen commented to Lowri.

“That’s not a cloud, milady,” said a deep voice behind her. Eirwen turned to the speaker.

“That’s a dragon. Could be a Small White or a Draco’s Grey. It’s a scout,” Balar continued, staring at the shape in question.

Eirwen took a deep breath. This was just the beginning.

“What do you advise we do, Balar?” she asked. She was proud of the fact that her voice didn’t shake.

Balar turned and bellowed down into the courtyard. “Davan! Cover, now!”

Eirwen could see the young stable hand waving to several others in the courtyard. They in turn started moving the farmers and their families under the limited shelter created by the walls and overhangs of the keep. Eirwn reflected that if this were to become a regular occurrence perhaps she should have more permanent stone shelters incorporated into the interior of the keep. She resolved to speak with Balar about it after they got through this nightmare.

Whatever Davan and his friends were doing, they were doing it very quickly and efficiently. Within minutes the courtyard was empty. The only movement visible from where Eirwen stood were the men on the battlements.

“The rest of them will be here tomorrow milady.” Balar grimaced.

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Image by Prettysleepy from Pixabay