So… things could have started off slightly better.
In fact, things could have started off a walloping load better, and if they’d started off only slightly worse I wouldn’t be writing this at all, so I suppose there is that. We hadn’t even crossed the border when, I swear, there was actual snow on the ground. The stagecoach got so cold, then as soon as we were – allegedly – over the border, the driver dropped me off. Very unceremoniously, and not even at anything remotely resembling a way-farer’s station, either. The guards made ‘drawing their weapons’ motions when I protested – I jest you not – and then they all drove away while I was tumbled in the snow. Charming.
I gave the situation due consideration, as well as much swearing, then legged it behind some bushes to put on Gran’s thermal campaign undies. I mean, two generations have passed – whatever might have inhabited them at the time had to be dead by now, right?
Can you believe things actually got worse? They did. I got ambushed in the middle of getting changed. As in hauled out at sword-point, bound at the wrists at sword-point, prodded onto a cart at sword-point. I didn’t even see where they took all my stuff. I ended up sat in the cart with this guy who was gagged and this other guy who just wouldn’t shut up, which is maybe why they’d gagged his mate. And this other guy, who kept telling the un-gagged one to shut up. I guess it was nice nobody thought to comment on Gran’s thermals, which were the only thing I was wearing, except it turned out they had other things on their minds because we ended up at this castle and – I am not joking – the whiny one got shot while trying to run away. The one who’d been telling him to shut up, he got his head cut off, so really, no indications of what was the better move there. Then they told me to give my name and business and – even though I wasn’t on their list of whoever they were after – the guy told me I had to kneel down to get beheaded too. He did apologise for it, so I suppose there is that, but really?
All I could think of was how Stompa managed to get out of beating carpets all summer by just scrawling numbers on a board and pretending to do Sums on them. I hadn’t done anything worse, and now look.
So at the last minute, this actual dragon turned up and burned the place to the ground and I escaped.
Yeah, ha, that sounds really great, doesn’t it? As well as absolutely unbelievable. It was exactly the opposite of all of that. It was all just noise and heat and rubble being smashed down all around me – I swear, every-way I turned it was there in front of me. This guy – the one who had apologised for me being murdered – yelled at me to follow him and we went up this tower. Boom, smash, dragon comes through side of tower. That stone was as thick as my arm-span is wide. The stairs fell in behind us, we had to jump. We fled into another tower, this time heading downward, and I swear to this, too, the dragon actually stuck its head down through the cobbles or whatever into the room we were in. It went away again, but… what?
Well, so, I kinda just did what he said, after that. Yeah, even with him being wrong about everything all the time. I didn’t have any better ideas. Only, first he said we should try and get some gear together, and granted, I felt a bit better about everything when I had some metal between me and the drafts, but then he said he meant weapons, which ha, yeah. Let’s stab a dragon that can stick its head straight through a stone wall with, like, daggers and stuff!
Ha. Turned out he didn’t mean the dragon. He meant about a hold-full of other people we met under the castle, and in this load of caves beyond it. I think some of them might have been on his side, technically, given that they were torturing people in there and seemed quite territorial about the place and all? Except I think some of the other ones weren’t, so what is even going on here with such bad watches being kept? I thought of Gran, and how she keeps saying all she wanted for us all was to be better than hired swords, and how I don’t know anything about using a sword because why would I ever need to. I did a lot of flailing and quite a lot of screaming, and hairy bollocks but I just killed more people today than I’ve ever even kissed. Which is none, so much for college life; but the number of people I’d killed as of this morning was also none.
There were spiders, too – ha, yeah, ‘carpet-spiders can get really big, like the size of your hand’ – no, these were bigger than me, I swear. I… thought crawlies needed warm climates to get big? And a bear. Just, you know, all hanging out in these caves like it was no big deal. I’m amazed I’m here to write this. Like, Dad’s always been all, ‘ooh Corpora’s got your mother’s mighty thighs’ and ‘Stompa’s got your mother’s biceps’ and when it comes to me, it’s always, ‘well, Beshie… you got your mother’s fangs,’ but there’s always this sort of pause? I’m not a runt – I’m nearly as tall as he is – I just haven’t filled out yet.
Anyway. I’m alive, and currently holed up at the mouth of the cave writing this with what I stole, but I don’t think Gran would be proud.
In fact, I think she’s going to be bloody furious, because with hindsight I reckon her tent got torched in the dragon attack. That was the tent she gave birth to Mum in, that was, and the legion just kept on going without her. Sort of a family heirloom, that tent.
I don’t really know what to do now. I guess I’ll go with this guy to his uncle’s place because he’s keeping on and on about how we should get moving. Do they have that thing about chaperones here that some humans do back home? I hope not. Also, I do hope the dragon didn’t burn anything important of his, or we will get such a bollocking when we arrive.