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Happily ever after

By @Michellzebub

Story story

Dragonfire pulsed hard against his shield; he could barely maintain his footing as he was being pushed back. After this onslaught he knew he would have a good few minutes before the dragon could rain down its breath again. A few minutes was all he really needed after the last crushing blow. He had seen to removing a few scales from the dragon’s jugular. It was just enough exposed area for his sword to pierce through the dragon’s natural armor. This might not be enough to take the beast down but it would give the knight a fighting chance.

The fire began to die down to spittle and the knight readied himself to dodge the incoming claws. Slingling the shield on his back he ran forward, dropped down, and let the shield help him slide past the dragons claw. There was his opening: he thrust the sword into the dragon’s jugular, directly in the perfect spot, but he was sliding too fast. His hands, covered in blood and sweat, were unable to maintain his grip and while he pierced the dragon to the hilt he lost grip of his sword and slid almost to the edge of the cliff. Quickly he ran to get his back away from the edge of to avoid being knocked off. As the knight ran he noticed the dragon had not moved, The dragon was heaving something from its mouth; a super heated orange liquid. The dragon wavered and fell on its side.

The knight was out of breath but thought for a second this might be some sort of trick. Dragons were not known for tricks but not many dragons had been slain either. A voice came from behind him. 

“It’s dead! Oh my lord! Thank you!”

The knight turned around to see the Duke’s daughter locked in a cage behind him. She’d been missing for a little over a week; she was the reason he was here. The Duke was a cousin to the king, when the king got word of her disappearance he offered her hand in marriage and a substantial reward. The knight felt this was his chance to get out of servitude to the king and build a life for himself; A proper one. It also helped that she was pretty.

Unfortunately the knight didn’t read the fine print. All of the dragon and it’s treasure now belonged to the king since the knight had done this under contract and his expedition, armor, magic shield, and magic sword had all been funded by the king. He was given a nice home inside the walls but would still pay taxes. His reward was generous but not enough for him to stop serving the king. His wife was beautiful but he hardly knew her.

The Duke’s daughter was used to living a rich life. She was also used to having servants and being waited on. She was a bit more than the knight could afford so he took on side work ridding the villages of bandits or monsters. Usually he would sign up with a company to get the job done but as money got tighter and now he had 4 mouths to feed he decided to take on an ogre job solo. The job had been rough; he could feel age catching up with him. He thought, no he had hoped, several times the ogres would kill him. After that he kept taking on dangerous work hoping in the back of his mind he wouldn’t return home.

The knight was making good money. His wife was happy but also yelled at him for never being home. His children took queue and scolded their father for being a poor husband while they had a table full of food, nice beds, and many things other children would never own. He often thought back to that dragon and how hard he’d fought for all of this. How he wanted a proper life without servitude. He wondered if that existed or if every person lived in some sort of servitude. His eyelids felt heavy from the moment he woke up to the moment he tried to sleep. Days would pass, then weeks, then months. His spoiled children would ask for more presents and his wife for more jewelry. He was so tired.

It was a grey winter day when he decided to take a walk through the forest. The snow was deep and the air was cool. He came upon what he found to be 2 perfect rocks; neatly nested side by side. He thought they seemed perfect for each other. The dragon came back into his mind; The perfect spot. He drew his sword and placed the hilt between the rocks. He found his perfect spot and fell forward. 

“This is the perfect spot” he thought as he coughed, watching the snow fall and his vision faded.

It was a few days before they found him and were able to inform his wife and children. His children spit, muddering, “What a bad husband”. His wife just stood in the doorframe not yet knowing how to feel. Her father was still the duke and surely he would help her remarry or at least send finances for their lifestyle. Indeed he was willing to help his daughter but the years had not been kind to her and remarrying proved to be difficult. Her brother would become duke once her father passed so there was no notoriety in besides a title and debt in wedding her.

Years passed and one by one her three children left home to start their own lives. They promised to write or return but none ever did. Then came the day her father passed. She stood by his bedside and wept! her 2 brothers comforted her. After the burial rites the new duke took her aside and discussed the family’s financial situation.

They needed to sell her house to finance a small army to protect their villagers. Her brothers had seen to it that she would still live comfortably in a small cottage just inside the woods. Their huntsman would provide her with food and the villagers would provide her with grain and vegetables. The feeling from the day in that doorway came back; she wasn’t sure how to feel. This wasn’t the life she planned, but she had no choice.

Her brothers had a few things moved into the small cottage inside the woods. It was one room with a loft; Just enough to live in. Her brother said they would write and visit but never did. Years passed. Her eyelids grew heavy from the moment she woke up to the moment she layed down. One day she heard something small strike the roof, then again, and again. She lifted her aching body on to her tired legs and looked outside to see what was happening.

Two young boys dropped behind some bushes. She could vaguely make out what they were saying.

“Did you see her? Huh? I told you a witch lived out here! Let’s run before she eats us!”

The two boys got up and ran through the woods as though they truly feared for their lives. She went back inside and closed the door. Then she laid down. She was just so tired.

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