An Unexpected Fall

The precipice rose above him until it finally disappeared from view. He glanced around. Yep, still falling. Two minutes ago, he’d peered over the edge, trying to get a glimpse of the bottom of the canyon. The powerful shove between his shoulders caused him to stumble and sent him tumbling over the edge. But he would swear on a stack of whatever holy book anyone wanted to put in front of him, that there had been nobody around and he’d passed no-one on the trail.

Now, two minutes into his fall it became clear that this was no ordinary fall and no ordinary canyon. The rational part of his brain slowly began to come out of its fearful crouch in the back of his head and look around. The primal part of his brain was still screaming in fear, albeit less so as more time passed and he failed to hit bottom.

Yet another part of his brain (the part that always came up with the most inappropriate responses) checked for falling whales or bowls of petunias, and commented well, it’s not really the fall that kills you, but the sudden stop at the bottom.

Preston shook his head. “Okay. So this is really weird. Let’s try, emphasis on try, not to panic, at least until I know I’m going to hit something,” he muttered. He tried to shift himself around so he wasn’t flying head down. If he landed on his head, he definitely wouldn’t survive. On the other hand, there might be a small chance of survival if he could land on his butt.

He was in the middle of awkwardly squirming around in mid-air when a shadow fell over him. Preston spared a quick look upwards and immediately panicked again. Well, it was probably more accurate to say he added to his already existing panic.

A dragon was drifting overhead.

The iridescent blue dragon dropped down to eye-level with Preston.

“Um, excuse me,” it rumbled. “But why aren’t you using your wings?”

Preston’s eyes widened. “Uh, I don’t have any wings?”

The dragon glanced at Preston’s back. “Oh, I see the problem. Your wings are too small to give you enough lift. You’re in a dangerous situation. Would you like a ride to the valley floor?” he asked politely.

He had wings? Preston felt his brain start to take off down yet another panicky direction and he stopped it quickly. It was better to simply roll with the weirdness of his immediate situation so Preston nodded. “Yes, please. I would greatly appreciate it.”

The dragon maneuvered itself under Preston and turned its head. “It’s best if you aim for the area just above my wings, at the base of my neck,” he said.

Preston nodded again, and sort of waved his arms like he was swimming in what turned out to be a mostly successful attempt to orient himself above the thick neck and in front of the huge wings, as the dragon watched. When Preston was hanging mostly upright in the air, the dragon rose until Preston could settle himself on the shiny purple-blue scales of the dragon’s back.

As soon as he felt himself on the dragon’s back, Preston squeezed his legs, and leaned forward to wrap his arms as far as possible around the sinuous neck. He buried his face into the crook of his shoulder and let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

“Are you secure back there?” The dragon’s deep voice rumbled through Preston.

“Yes, as well as I can be, I think,” Preston replied without lifting his head.

“Good. Hang on and I’ll have us down on the valley floor in a few minutes,” the dragon said.

As promised, the dragon landed gently in the middle of a large meadow a few minutes later. It took Preston’s still-panicky brain a few moments more to register that for the first time in what felt like years, he wasn’t falling or moving. He gradually raised his head and looked straight into a huge golden, reptilian eye. A bright blue ridge curved above the eye, and he noticed two eyelids as it slowly blinked.

“Thank you.” Preston breathed a sigh of relief and pushed himself into an upright position on the dragon’s back.

“If you swing one leg around, you can slide down my side to the ground,” the dragon told him.

Preston glanced down and saw that the dragon was crouched on the ground, shortening the distance he’d have to fall. Carefully pulling his right leg over the dragon’s neck, he slid down the scaly side of the dragon and dropped onto the lush, green grass.

The dragon shifted slightly and nodded to Preston.

“Well done. I am called Nydyr. My friends call me Ny,” the dragon said politely.

Preston returned the nod. “Preston Warner. I deeply appreciate you saving my life. I don’t know how I can repay you.” He gazed around at the meadow and surrounding forest. “I don’t even know where I am.”

Nydyr cocked his head to one side. “Well, Preston Warner, judging by the nascent wings on your back, you belong here. Here being the Druston Valley in the elvish kingdom of Graenyth.”

Preston’s stomach clenched at the mention of wings and he fought down hysterical laughter. Nydyr had said something when he was falling, but Preston had ignored it in the panic of the moment. Now he twisted his head around to try to get a glimpse of his back.

“Wings? What are you talking about? I don’t have wings! I’m human!” He winced at the squeaky note of fear in his voice.

“No, you have wings. Trust me. You’re dragonkin, but for some reason you decided to jump into Graenyth before your wings were ready,” Nydyr said.

“I didn’t jump! I was pushed!” Preston fought to keep a new wave of panic at bay. He could still feel the pressure between his shoulder blades where the hands had shoved him.

“Pushed? Are you certain?” Nydyr’s brow ridges lifted in surprise.

“Yes, I’m certain. I was a safe distance back from the edge of the precipice looking down, just to see what was there, when I felt hands on my back, and somebody shoved me. Hard. I lost my footing and slipped over the edge. I’d been falling for at least a couple of minutes when you found me. Or at least it felt like that long. No way would I have jumped,” Preston said firmly. His hands were shaking as he stared up into the dragon’s eyes.

“This puts an entirely different spin on matters,” Nydyr said quietly, gazing into the distance. He looked back down at Preston. “You will stay with me until we get to the bottom of this mystery. I don’t like that someone pushed you. Come. We will go to my castle.”

Preston stared after the dragon as Nydyr moved away through the woods down a wide path that Preston hadn’t noticed before. Not knowing what else to do, and not wanting to be left alone, he hurried after the dragon. Whatever happened, it was going to be an adventure the likes of which he’d never experienced before.

He shrugged. And it beat going to work on Monday.      


This weeks MOTE prompt challenge was issued by Fiona Grey: He was falling, falling, until the precipice was out of view, and still he had not landed… while mine went to nother Mike. This one, like some of the more recent prompts, feels like it might go somewhere. We shall see. In the meantime, when you need a break, mosey on over to More Odds Than Ends and check out everybody else’s responses.

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