This very short dragon tale first appeared in the Almost An Inkling writing contest sponsored by Signum University, in which it won a literary honorable mention, October 2015.
It did not have a name for itself. Its Creator did not have a name for it. Names were vulnerability, after all, and it was to be invulnerable. The people had called it by many names of their own making. Name your fear, little ones. Let me in.
Neither had it a body to be stabbed, burned, drowned, or be-spelled, not until the people’s minds formed it. It took shape the moment they thought of what they could never conquer. The people in this time and place called it Dragon and formed it into a thing of fire and iron.
It was made of hate and it cast hate upon the waters and it could wait a very long time for the interest of hate to accrue and come home. It made the path to itself long, placed one rumour here, another there, scorched earth pointing yet another way. A long road allowed it to savor the meal one delicate morsel at a time. Contradictions drew out the hunt. Opportunities to learn the sure stab or the perfect shot or the way of magic could tempt the treats to steep themselves in vengeance like the cherries steeped themselves in rum. Finally, just as the bite was seasoned with despair, it moved into the mortal’s path.
The widow named it as she hunted, named it with her own vital, writhing hate. Butcher. Tormentor. Defiler. It tasted the names and nourished itself on the choice viands. Paths turned, patience burned, sanity slipped – oh! so tasty. Time to consummate the meal.
It placed itself on the rocky mountaintop which the widow had set in her sights. It decked itself in razor scales and reeking fumes. It sniffed delicately for the sword. “Rub it every night, ” the mysterious wise man had said, “with the blood of your revenge, ” and after so many hundreds of nights the sword carried the scent of the blood from the funeral clothes and of the village which had turned her out for defiling graves.
It smelled her, felt her, saw her and she was here. She gripped her weapon.
Come to me. Be perfect. Nourish me with perfect hate. We will be one.
She screamed her puny words, giving voice to fury. She could not understand its magnificent ones.
It leaned in to her, eager, hunger drawn out to so very, very sharp a point.
The lightest breeze ghosted past them.
She read the want in its eye.
Sword tip low, feet feeling for each step, she backed away. She squeezed the ring on her finger and drew in the fresh air.
“You might eat me, ” she whispered, more to steady herself than to communicate. “You might eat me, but I swear you’ll starve.”
She remembered then, and wept, and loved.
And it crumbled to ash and putrescence and lay until the people did not believe in it and made it a new name.