A young woman comes face to face and befriends a creature out of legend
Skyeboltar & Jess
Jess trudged up the steep grassy rise toward the top of the hill reaching the top she slumped breathless on the damp grass her dark hair blew in the wind. Jess made the trip up mount Tagar every morning the view from the top was stunning; she could see far across Lensifar. Jess believed she could just make the gleaming spires of the Citadel. Whether it was the Citadel or not, she wasn't sure, but she liked to think it was. Jess hoped to go there someday. Having rested and got her breath back, she rose to smooth out the creases of her beige dress. She would need to return soon; there were chores that needed attending to, and her parents would be wondering where she was. Jess walked along the high meadow just a while longer to admire the view then she would return.
From far of, she heard a strange sound, unlike anything she ever heard before. The sound seemed to be calling to her. Jess stopped to look around she could see no one. Again she heard it this time nearer. The sound resonated deep inside her very being. A dark shadow passed overhead. Jess looked up to see a creature unlike any she had seen before. So large and terrifying with a long barbed tail and broad leathery wings. A massive head with short bony horns and maw large enough to swallow a sheep or goat whole. Jess stood rooted to the spot in terror she tried to turn and run but couldn't make her legs move they trembled so much. Finally, she made her body move, turning she ran as fast as her legs would carry her. The creature swooped down coming to land ahead of her; the ground shaking as it landed. Jess fell on her rear she tried back away with her hands. The beast roared its deep blue eyes transfixed Jess She couldn't help but stare at the creature. She remembered reading a book on myths and legends in her childhood; the beast now facing her was something right out of one those books – A dragon.
As the dragon crouched unmoving in front of her, she heard that strange harmonious sound again, and it came from the dragon. Gradually her terror subsided as she stared at the dragon listening to him sing to her. That's the only way she could describe what she felt.
"Be at ease human child I mean you no harm my name is Skyeboltar,” the dragon said.
Jess's mouth dropped open the dragon could speak, “You can talk!”
“Of course I can talk I mastered the human tongue long ago,” Skyeboltar answered his voice weighty yet mellow.
Jess still felt afraid, but she stopped trembling somehow she felt an attraction to the enormous beast crouched in front of her. “Wha... What are you doing here?” She dared to ask.
The dragon regarded the young woman in front of him tiny and frail she may be like all humans, but there was steel in her. Brave, she was to face him now and dare to ask. “You called to me, and I answered.”
“Called to you? I don’t recall doing such a thing,” Jess said, confused, she shook her head.
“But you did maybe not consciously, but you did. Come closer don’t be afraid,” the dragon said.
Jess tentatively edged closer, to the dragon. Skyeboltar’s hide was thick and scaly with ridge spines along the back. She could smell a pungent, spicy aroma coming from him. “What is your name child?” The dragon asked.
Jess still couldn’t get used to talking with a dragon. It was strange and unbelievable enough to see one stood in front of her that alone talk with one. “What, Oh! erm Jess, Jessica Melgin.”
“Nice to meet you Jessica Melgin. I hear someone call you until tomorrow Jessica Melgin.” The dragon suddenly disappeared as Jess stood dumbfounded she looked up hearing a flap of wings and a gust of wind pass overhead but no sign of the dragon.
The next morning Jess made her way to the top of mount Tagar as usual. Today the air was still not the slightest sign of a breeze, and already quite warm. “It's going to be hot today.” Jess sat down on the grass; near the edge, looking out over the vista below. The sun already burned the dew off, so the ground no longer felt damp under her. “Well, where are you dragon?” Jess called out loud she shielded her eyes as she glanced skyward scouring the horizon. “Or were you just a dream after all.” She turned to look in all directions, finally bringing her gaze back forward and about to give up. From far off seemingly from out of the sun, the dragon came. Jess could just make out the shape of the dragon at first then she heard what she decided to call the dragon’s song. The dragon approached rapidly filling her vision and once again making her tremble in fear. She was not as afraid as the first time, however, and resolved to meet the dragon unflinchingly.
Skyeboltar landed on the far side of the meadow the ground again shaking with his sheer size and weight. He started lumbering towards Jess as she slowly and cautiously walked to him. They both stopped this time closer than the first time. Jess held her nerve and tried not looking at the dragon’s jaw but at his eyes. “Hel... Hello again.”
“Hello Jessica Melgin nice to see you again,” Skyeboltar said in his booming voice
“Erm... You can call me Jess,” Jess said hesitantly.
The dragon ponderously nodded his head. “Very well Jess you may call me Skye or Boltar if you so wish.”
Jess began to relax a little more even though she still found it hard to believe she was facing a dragon out of legend; that alone talking with one. “I think Boltar suits you better if you don’t mind.”
“Of course I don't mind Jess. Would you like to touch me?” Boltar lowered his head, stretching his neck forward so that Jess could touch him.
Cautiously Jess reached out with a hand and touched the side of his face. She jumped withdrawing her hand fear and nerves getting the better of her. She took a deep breath and held her hand out to Boltar once more. This time she did not withdraw her hand but stroked his scaly face. Although the dragon’s skin was leathery, it felt warm and smooth to touch not cold and rough as she imagined it to be. Jess grew more confident, and at ease, with the dragon, her fear finally vanished even before she realised it. A soft rumble emitted from the dragon as Jess stroked him.
“Rub under my chin would you Jess I have an itch,” Boltar said.
Jess, without thinking, got closer and reached under Boltar’s jaw to scratch him. “How is that?” She gave a nervous titter.
“Wonderful thank you, Jess. You trust me now and are no longer afraid right.” Boltar said.
Jess nodded surprised that Boltar was right she no longer feared him incredible as it seemed. “I believe I do trust and fear you not . We are friends now, yes?”
Boltar cast his eyes over the young woman before him. “Time will tell that we are much more than friends.” He said mysteriously.
The following morning Jess met with Skyeboltar, as usual, they talked about many things. Jess learnt that there were few dragons left in the world and that they were solitary and secretive beings preferring not to get involved with humans. “Can you really breathe fire,” Jess asked.
“Yes, and No,” Boltar answered.
Jess frowned, “What do you mean yes and no?”
Boltar stirred restlessly, “dragons have two stomachs because of their size food is digested in one stomach and all the digestive gases held in the second. Dragons can control the release of these gases.” He paused, looking down at Jess, who was intently listening. “In fact, the gas need to be released every so often controlled or not. Anyway when the gas is expelled into the air...”
“Whoosh Fire!” Jess interrupted.
Boltar bobbed his head, “You are an intelligent young woman Jess.”
Jess pursed her lips thinking a moment, “Hmm not really, it seemed apparent that's what you were leading up to. There is one thing puzzling me, though.”
Boltar’s tail swished, and he raised his head moving from side to side before resting his eyes back on Jess again. “What is puzzling you, Jess?”
Jess scratched her head, “The first time we met after we talked, you suddenly vanished. I felt the draft of your wings pass over me, but I couldn’t see you?”
“Ah, yes one of my magic tricks, “ Boltar said.
Jess's eyes narrowed with interest, the more she learnt about dragons, the more fascinated she became. “Magic tricks?”
“I can become invisible for a short time, perhaps for a few minutes at most,” Boltar explained.
Again Jess was amazed her mouth dropped open as she regarded the dragon. “Invisible... Wow! That’s a neat trick. Is there anything else you can do I mean magic and such like?”
Skyeboltar fell silent a moment leaving Jess’s question unanswered, “Would you like to ride on my back sometime? You would be perfectly safe. I won't let anything happen to you, and you may enjoy the experience.”
Jess felt excited at the possibility of riding on the dragon’s back that she forgot about all else. Still, she hesitated for she felt afraid of the prospect as well. “Well, It would be amazing... but can you give some time to think about it.”
Skyeboltar nodded his head sagely, “Of course you can take all the time you want to consider it. I won't ask again just tell when you are ready or if you prefer not to I will understand.”
Jess gave a bright smile. “Okay, I have to go now. You’ll be here tomorrow as usual?”
“Yes, I will see you tomorrow Jess.” Skyeboltar sighed, watching the young woman as she descended down the hill.
Jess kept busy most of the day finishing her chores early. The thought of what Boltar asked kept entering her head. The more she thought about it, the more excited she became. To ride on dragon’s back and fly in the sky. Although it also scared her as well, she felt determined to overcome the fear. She couldn’t let the chance of riding the dragon’s back pass. “Boltar said he wouldn’t let anything happen to me, right? It will be okay if I can just do it once. Just a short ride, shouldn’t be too hard or scary. I’ll tell him not to fly too high.” Having reassured herself, Jess was about to go to bed when her mother called her.
“What is it, mother?” Jess asked, facing her parents, she put a hand over her mouth to stifle a yawn. The resemblance between mother and daughter could not be mistaken. Both had long black hair and sky blue eyes and a fair complexion. Her mother’s hair, however, had grey streaks and was tied in a bun at the back. While Jess’s hair shone lustrously falling at neck length above her shoulders.
Her father was tall with sandy hair beginning to turn white and black eyes. It was her father that spoke first. “Jess, you are old enough to be on your own now, right?” Looking seriously at Jess.
Jess nodded, “Of course, father, I’ll be eighteen soon... Wait, you are not sending me away; this is the only home I’ve ever known.” Jess said, suddenly alarmed.
Jess’s mother shook her head. “No dear, don’t worry, this will always be your home.”
Jess gave a sigh of relief her expression puzzled. “Then what?”
Her father glanced at his wife, who nodded for him to continue. “Your mother and I have to go to the citadel on a family matter. We don’t know when we will be back. I’m sure you will be able to manage on your own for a while.”
Jess frowned, feeling more puzzled by her parent's announcement. “Wha... When?”
The day after tomorrow,” her father said.
Jess’s mother stood taking Jess’s hands in her own. “I’m going to miss you while we are away; I’m sure you will cope just fine. Look after things here while we are gone Jess okay.”
Jess nodded a lump coming to her throat; a sinking feeling began to take shape in her mind that she may never see her parents again after they leave. Jess didn’t sleep the whole the night she couldn’t get the thought out of her head. The next morning she met with Skyeboltar and told him about her parents leaving. The dragon was strangely quiet when she mentioned about being uneasy about it. “It’s just because it will be your first time apart,” he had said before changing the subject. On the day of her parent's departure, Jess saw them off. She could tell her mother was a little upset her father as stoic as ever tussled her hair and smiled while her mother embraced her. Jess had trouble holding back tears as she waved goodbye. There was one good thing about being on her own though she would be able to spend more time with Skyeboltar.
The next morning Skyeboltar waited at the usual place on top of the hill. Jess was determined to fly this time. It would give her something else to think about besides missing her parents. “Boltar I am ready to ride on your back now.”
The dragon bobbed his head as he regarded Jess. “Are you sure you are ready, Jess?”
Deep down, Jess was terrified but she tried not to let it show. “Yes but don’t go to high or far.”
“Don’t worry Jess, I’ll not let you fall you be perfectly safe, I promise. Climb on my back near my neck and between the ridge spines.” He lowered his head, and most of his upper body near to the ground as Jess climbed on and settled herself comfortably.