How long had it been since Spartypuss had brought Daryl here? A few weeks, a month? Months here had only thirty days, and despite now having a calendar, he still couldn’t get used to it. Was it October or November or maybe even December? It still felt like October, and Daryl used to tell the time by how it felt. No, ‘Halloween’ was at the end of October, and people were no longer dressing up as witches, thank goodness.
Perhaps he couldn’t tell the time because of how boring this place was. True, his new flat, with actual toiletries and more room to walk about in, was an improvement over the room Aosoth had given him. Still, it was strange how every invention in this world, wondrous, varied things, could lose their novelty after a while. Listening to the brrm brrm of the cars outside, Daryl chuckled to himself at how he could ever be frightened of those things. He had little use for an oven, as he preferred his meat raw.
Still, it was better than being chased by the villagers with their weaponry, and there was no chance of a pitchfork in the backside. Being persecuted wasn’t boring, and neither was committing the acts he so regretted, so surely there’s a bright side to boredom, isn’t there? Yes, boredom meant no thoughts, and no thoughts meant no head monsters. Yes, boredom is the best way to a clear head.
But, wait. Wasn’t he thinking right now? And about things he’d rather not think about? That’s right, boredom did lead to thoughts after all. His mind subconsciously trying to keep him occupied. So, boredom wasn’t a good thing after all, then.
Oh look, the mail’s here.
Shifting through the mail with his claws, Daryl ignored the bills – that was custom around here, he had heard – and opened one to find the application form he had asked for had arrived. Tearing it open with a claw, he set it on his table and took a quick look through it.
It involved writing.
Beside the torn up envelope and its many contents, there sat a pen and a notepad. On the notepad was the word ‘Daryl’ scribbled over and over again, in varying degrees of neatness. Once more Daryl picked up the pen and tried to write his name again. It wobbled as he held it, but he did the D fine. Then the A. R…oh no. The R had become a deformed A. With that, Daryl reduced the sheet to a tiny ball and threw it across the room.
Let’s try again. D is fine. A is all wonky. Crumble up, try again.
Oh, he wrote it quite neatly this time. Now for the surname. Blitherblot. Daryl Blitherblot. B is neat. Take time with the L. Oh yes. And now the I…the T…
The T was a deformed mess.
Instantly, Daryl threw the notepad to the floor, and swept away the application form, pieces of paper fluttering to the floor. He looked at the claws that had caused all this mess, both of them shivering. If he couldn’t fill out an application form, what could he do? Was he supposed to do nothing but destroy? The screaming and burning humans flashed past his eyes again, and his trilby rumbled. Holding tightly onto its brim, Daryl closed his eyes and tried to think of something else.
Oh, if only Spartypuss were here. Oh, but he had to leave to let Daryl get on by himself. That’s what gods do. Spartypuss couldn’t give Daryl a nice house right away, Daryl had to work for it.
Daryl wanted that, didn’t he? Good chance to make himself feel better about himself? A way to gradually atone for all the destruction and chaos he caused? In a way, penance?
That’s a good way to look at it, yes. The trilby stopped shaking.
‘Now let’s try this again.’
Dodging another sword attack, Denise slid down the temple, noticing Aruff slumping his shoulders and sitting down. ‘Training will have to be cut short today,’ said Aruff, looking at his wrist, which had a strange white light wrapped around it, ‘I have to give a speech at the feast of Coover.’ Sighing, he walked over to Denise. ‘Maybe you should come.’
Denise folded her arms, her eyes narrowing. ‘I can’t. Humans still don’t trust dragons. That is why I’m here, after all.’
‘Ah yes,’ said Aruff, putting a finger to his chin, ‘You know, that gives me an idea.’ He snapped his fingers.
‘What did you just do?’
‘Oh, I just created a giant monster to attack the feast,’ said Aruff.
‘You did what?’
‘It would have been boring anyway.’
After giving Aruff a displeased stare, Denise flew away. Although she originally had no intention of going, Denise knew where the feast was being held. All celebrations in Kirkalan were held where the battle of Krokengar’s defeat was held. For a few seconds, Denise fantasised about having a memorial of her own, but shook her head, trying to focus. In a few seconds, she had flown to the battlefield, where a huge pink lizard had whacked over the table with its tail. As she flew closer, she noticed several people backing away from the creature, some trying to run away, some holding broken chair legs and other objects like swords and others cried Coover’s name.
Wonderful. An audience.
Swooping down, Denise grabbed the lizard by the neck, wrapping her arms around it. Her arms were too small to strangle the thing, but she still pulled on it until she landed on its back. As she clung on, the beast roared, and tried to swipe at her. Taking to the air again, narrowly dodging the pink lizard’s grasp, she turned her attention towards the monster’s head. She dove right for the eyes. One claw outstretched, she quickly jabbed it into the monster’s eye, and she watched it scream in pain.
Making monsters never was one of Aruff’s strong points.
That criticism was further proven when Denise dug her claws into the beast’s neck, slicing it open. With a final bellow, the lizard fell dead, landing next to a sword-wielding Coover.
‘Look!’ said a man, peering out from behind a stone, ‘The beast is dead!’
Hearing this, Denise felt an urge to flee, but forced herself to stand atop the slain beast, even though she felt her legs begin to ache. She looked down on the people, and while she did feel a rise from having saved them, there was still an annoying little slither that struck her heart.
‘Coover has saved us again!’
Looking down from her perch, Denise saw Coover lean on his sword, plunging it into the ground, holding his head up to the sky. The people all came towards him, singing his praises, yelling his name, ignoring Denise. At least for a while.
‘Coover!’ screamed a rather fat man, pointing upwards, ‘It’s another of them bloody dragons!’
Now was the time to listen to instinct. Denise’s wings told her to fly away, and fly away she did. No spears this time, just gobs of food picked up off the ground. Her wings beat faster, propelling her above the clouds, where she hoped the light there would soothe her. She needed to relax after things like that.
After bathing in the light, she dove, heading for her village in the mountains. Down she fluttered, landing right next to the statue of Daniel too, her preferred spot to land. Inspiration and all that. Sadly, Dennis was nowhere to be found. A conversation with him always lightened her mood. So off she went for a lie down then.
She entered her hut, and took from beside her bed a book. Poetry written about the conquests of Daniel and his father, Darren. Darren had freed his race from the tyranny of Landorm, the powerful dragon who had forced others of his kind to use their power to destroy and aid the evil warlocks of Kirkalan. They were born to spread fear, that was his philosophy. The other dragons would have objected, but having willingly co-operated with so many warlocks had given him a dark magic of his own. Daniel’s father, however, was the first dragon brave enough to stand up to Landorm, and rallied several other dragons against him.
A fight ensued, and Darren and his men were victorius. With a supplier of evil aid vanquished, he believed this to be a new age for both dragons and humans alike. Unfortunately, the dragons were not forgiven easily, and they were still hunted and persecuted by the humans. Thus, they had to relocate. After that, he set out to protect the people of Kirkalan from any disaster that might fall their way, and trusted his son to carry on his legacy.
Daniel did as his father wished him to do, and made his mark by finding the Wand of Warton and using it to obliterate the evil tyrant Asteroth. Alas, Asteroth’s daughter, Aosoth got her revenge. She challenged him to a battle, and with a single blast of magic, killed Daniel instantly. After that, she sent her henchmen out to kill Daniel’s wife and any children, which forced the dragons to relocate again, to this village in the mountains.
Remembering Aosoth and her kin, Denise threw the book across the hut before letting loose a small piece of fire. Just then, Dennis came in. ‘Whoa! Something the matter?’
Taking a deep breath, Denise eased down onto her bed. ‘It’s nothing. I was just thinking about Aosoth.’
‘Well, she’s dead now, ain’t she?’
‘Yes,’ said Denise, twiddling her claws, ‘But it is a shame that none of his children were able to kill her.’
‘’is? Oh, you mean Daniel!’
‘Of course I do.’ Lying on her bed, she took another deep breath. ‘I wonder if this whole thing will be worth it.’
‘Sure it will,’ said Dennis, his usual peppy self, ‘There’s always monsters and creeps out ‘ere that need a good talking-to.’
‘Yes,’ said Denise, her eyes narrowing, ‘but knowing some of the people around here, the monsters and creeps may very well be an improvement.’
‘Oh dear,’ Dennis approached Denise’s bed, putting a hand on her shoulder, ‘I’ve ‘eard this sorta talk before. And the people who say it usually end up becoming evil.’
Denise sat upwards, looking at Dennis. ‘Hmm, that’s a risk I might be taking,’ she noted, rubbing her chin. ‘Greater heroes than me have been known to go down the path of darkness…I just hope it doesn’t happen to this Coover lad. That would be hell.’
Dennis chuckled and decided to leave Denise to her reading.
It was a work of beauty, at least, by his standards. Daryl had spent the last hour or so admiring his completed application form. Filled out in block capitals and black ink as the letter had told him to do. It may have been a day or so since the letter was sent to him, but it was completed now, and was probably the best thing Daryl had done. Thus, it did sting him a little to put it in the envelope and put it in the postbox, but that small amount of pride he had prevailed. It kept with him as he walked back to his flat, and when he switched on the television again.
Laughter. That always calmed him down, and thus lessened the chance of more head monsters making their appearance. On went a show about people at desks chatting about various things, all the while chuckling and smiling. Putting up his feet, Daryl hoped to do the same as they did.
Apparently this show talked about current events too. It would help Daryl understand this place.
As he watched, he went over what he had learned so far in his head. Post is delivered by men and not eagles. They have a Queen but no King, and the Queen’s guards wear funny hats. Everybody was low on money at that moment; a thought that made Daryl’s stomach sink before he turned back to the TV. Oh, right now they were talking about that lack of money. Photos of men in smart suits lying on the streets filled the screen, punctuated with raucous laughter.
Daryl switched the television off.
There was always the possibility he might not get a job at all, and the amount of money Spartypuss was allowed to give a mortal was limited, but perhaps living in a cardboard box in this world would be better than being hunted in Kirkalan. People might actually try and help him.
No, that would likely come with a lot of stress, wouldn’t it?
With the TV off and nothing else to do, Daryl picked up a notepad.
‘You know,’ said Gangrene, pouring the tea, ‘I think you should be taking a break. Aosoth had no heir, and she and her family was more or less the only true threat Kirkalan ever really had.’ He set the tray of tea down by Denise, the latter restless on her seat. ‘Then again, I suppose you cannot join the celebrations now, can you?’
‘I’m not sure about that Coover boy,’ said Denise, picking up her teacup, ‘Are you?’
Gangrene gently sat down beside Denise, adjusting with his hat as if it would help his thoughts flow better. ‘I admit I had my doubts about him, but still. He was the one the prophecy said would destroy Aosoth and then he went and did just that. We should admire him for that.’
‘Of course,’ said Denise, eyeballs to the ceiling, ‘Yesterday, though, I defeated a creature Aruff had created. The people thought Coover had done it, and he went and took that praise.’
Gangrene chuckled. ‘I sense a bit of jealously there.’
‘I told you,’ said Denise, taking a sip of tea, ‘people need to understand that we are not savage. I’m trying to reclaim what we should have.’
Slouching, Gangrene looked at Denise with narrowed eyes. ‘I’ve been around enough heroes. I know it’s just becoming a popularity contest these days.’
Denise rolled her eyes. ‘I hate it when you get like this.’
‘I am merely saying what I have observed. That is what you want from me, isn’t it? And I suppose you want to know what Aruff observes too.’
‘Indeed,’ said Denise, ‘I still feel I have a lot to learn.’ Placing her arms behind her head, she kicked her legs in the air as she thought about her re-reading that week. ‘I don’t think there’ll be another like Daniel.’
‘If it makes you feel better,’ said Gangrene, ‘I don’t think there’ll be another like Aosoth. With her dead, the best, or the worst, what we have is that Martin Muchter.’
Denise smiled as she reminded herself of that character. ‘Remember when he thought knocking on doors and running away would cause Hordton to spiral into chaos? Still, I wish we still had Daniel.’
‘As do I,’ said Gangrene, stepping out of his chair. ‘He was a good warrior he was. In fact, you did remind me of him during our moments of training.’
‘Oh,’ said Denise with a slight chuckle of modesty, as she got out of her chair to wander about with Gangrene. ‘We both know I’m not that great. If I were, the people would be more welcoming of my kind right now.’
Gangrene sighed. ‘Sometimes I think you give people too much credit.’