Draconic Bargain

While a gnarled man with wild white hair walked in front of his bookshelf, his finger traced the spine of each book on the fifth shelf from the floor. When he felt the one constructed with dragon scales, he stopped and grinned. He pulled the volume from its fellows and clutched it to his chest, marching for the table in the middle of the room. “Semil, where are you?”

“I’m doing what you instructed me to do,” the young man replied, rushing into the library. He peered over an eclectic collection in his arms. “Or do you want me to throw these ingredients away?”

The elderly man thumped the book down and pulled his robes tightly against his chest. He waved his hand across his throat, screaming, “Silence!”

Semil frowned and tried to reply, but nothing escaped his lips. With his eyes narrowing to slits, he dropped his load. He tapped his neck and shoved his fingers towards the old man.

With a sigh, the older man opened his tome and began flipping through sheets until his mouth curled into a smile. He jabbed his finger down and dragged it across the lines. When he finished absorbing the information, he pulled the ribbon out and laid it between the pages. The gnarled man circled the table and rummaged through the components scattered about the floor.

The silenced Semil stepped on a groping finger and tapped his throat.

With a wave of his free hand, the wizard brushed the boy off and rose, rubbing his extremities. “That was unwise, Semil.”

The boy’s finger dug into his neck as his eyes bulged and his lips curled into a scowl.

“Fine,” the mage said with another complex motion of his fingers. “But remember your place.”

Semil rubbed his jaw as he pulled the open book towards him. “I am sorry for my tone, Milos.”

The wizard continued examining the trinkets and declared, “I need you to fetch me the dragon’s tooth and the diamond dust.”

“Why are we summoning a dragon?” Semil backed up as his eyes widened. “Calling upon dragons is never wise. You told me that!”

“I’m well aware of your lessons. And for you attempting such a thing is beyond foolish.” Milos thumped his chest and continued. “While there is a slight risk for me, the potential gains outweigh it.”

“The initial page of this book is a warning not to summon them!”

The wizard rose and pulled the tome out of his apprentice’s hands. “Events that don’t concern you are coming to a bursting point. Suffice to say defending my lands will require a dragon’s unrelenting strength.”

“Do you believe the diamond dust will be enough to placate something as proud and as temperamental as a dragon?”

Milos slammed an iron bar down. “Do as you’ve been instructed! I need those ingredients sooner rather than later.”

“As you wish,” Semil said, offering a stilted bow before hustling into the depths of the fortress.

Milos confirmed the list in the book and gathered the components strewn across the floor. He returned to the table and arranged each around his tome. He retrieved a mortar and pestle from a small cabinet and began chanting as he crushed the ingredients into a paste.

“Your claw and diamond dust,” Semil declared, dropping them onto the opened pages.

The wizard scooped the tacky mass out and smeared it across the talon. Milos wiped the excess off on the table, and cleared his throat, resuming his chant. When Milos’s words repeated, the book’s text swirled forming a vortex.

The funnel spun faster as it receded into the pages, and Semil mumbled, “This is a mistake.”

As if on cue, a white dragon launched out of the maelstrom and grew. Smoke billowed from the flying creature as it swelled, while the wizard continued to chant. By the time it finished growing, Milos backed into the far wall. Its wings brushed the ceiling as the clawed feet made furrows in the stone floor. Its head reared up and unleashed a roar, silencing Milos. “Why did you summon me?”

Milos bowed his head and proffered the bag of diamond dust. “I have need of your strength.”

The dragon gently lifted the pouch with the tip of a talon and judged the weight of the offering. “What do you want from me?”

Milos’s hand pointed to the west. “There is an army marching towards my home.”

“And that means what to me?”

“I desire that you destroy it,” Milos declared pointing at the bag hanging on the claw.

“And this is all you offer?”

Milos stood straighter and asked, “What else would you require to honor this request?”

The dragon’s neck swiveled about the room studying its contents. Eventually, the white dragon closed its eyes and took several deep breaths. The thin lips curled up revealing its wickedly sharp teeth. The serpentine neck dropped placing an opening eye next to Milos’s. “You’ve embedded great power into this place.”

“It’s not enough to deflect the approaching menace.”

“But it would make a wonderful home,” the dragon replied.

“You want my land?”

“I’d be willing to share it,” The dragon answered.

Semil edged around the dragon clutching Milos’s arm. “You shouldn’t agree to this.”

“How would that arrangement work?” Milos asked backing away from the dragon.

“You will create a place for me under your keep, and we’ll ignore each other. And when invaders come for you, I’ll defend my home.”

“Done,” Milos declared.

“Excellent,” the dragon cried out as it shrunk. The diminutive form flew out a window and once freed from the confines it grew to its full size and raced off towards the approaching army.

“Deals with dragons, are never simple,” Semil muttered.

“True,” Milos agreed. “But without its help, I would lose my home.”

“I fear while you’ve defended your fortress, you have traded one danger for something worse.”

“You worry too much, Semil. Now leave me, I must hold up my end of the bargain.”