The Broken Crown

Amphibious terror

They’d been on the boat for an hour or so now, and Helge had got used to the wind and salt in his face, if not the rocking of the horizon line, which was horribly reminiscent of sea-voyage that saw him set off on this meandering journey.

He and Jason had volunteered to row the small fishing boat they’d chartered, seeing as Wrenn’s short stature made him less suited to the task, and Enna… well, Enna hadn’t offered. Jason seemed to have no problem taking a break and wielding the strange artifact the arcane institute had dropped into his outstretched but clearly nervous hands, and the party was heading off to the next segment of the bridge.

Rowing along, thinking of what interesting herbs might be growing in the crevices of the stonework that formed the gargantuan bridge that roofed their path, Helge’s reverie was suddenly disturbed by Jason pointing out an object flying way out in the distance towards the north west. He hadn’t had time to focus on it before Jason jumped up, nearly dropping his oars, barking ‘Dragon!’.

The whole party froze to watch distant, but clearly huge, leathery wings contract into the creature’s body as it plunged into an impossibly fast dive into the sea, barely making a splash.

After a minute or so they resumed rowing, silently, tensely.

Before long they began to sense a rocking in their boat. Once again, Helge was choked by fear. He had read some thing of dragons, and knew that they varied greatly in size, shape, and… temperament. The party exchanged terrified glances, and, wordlessly, Wrenn bravely peered over the side.

There was an agonising moment wherein Wrenn waited for the giant, horse-shoe shaped crest of wave to resolve itself into some indication of what was now swimming directly towards them. With a sigh, Wrenn, presumably better read on dragons than Helge himself, uttered his relief: ‘It’s ok, it’s a bronze’. Bronze dragons are known to be good-natured, friendly and inquisitive, in general, at least. Helge relaxed a little.

Jason was staring open mouthed at the dragon swimming serenely towards the boat, and then turned to Wrenn as he heard him whisper: ‘Jason, do you speak dragon?’.

‘I do!’ said Jason, as if suddenly remembering, and immediately leaned forward and shouted what was presumably some sort of greeting. The dragon returned his greeting in common: ‘Well met’.

At this point, Helge saw Jason’s smile falter for a second, as he noticed the fierce grip Enna had on her bow, and the way her eyes darted all over the dragon’s body, looking for weak spots. Jason placed a scaled hand on her arm to bring her to her senses.

The dragon spoke with amity to Jason, perhaps recognising in him some sort of kinship. He asked for news on the days fishing and related to us with moving sadness that he’d been asked to steer clear of the towns, before wishing us well and departing towards open sea, causing the boat to rock violently once again as his mighty bulk broke free of the water.

Once the party had watched the dragon shrink some way into the distance, they all relaxed and saw the relief in one another’s windswept faces, sharing a bout of nervous laughter.

‘I thought it was going to kill us’, laughed Enna, still holding her bow.

Their laughter subsided.

‘Let’s just get this done’, said Jason.

The party rowed on with renewed vigour.

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