Grilland was restless. He knew that Ember was training dragons better and faster than he was. He knew that he should start using her tactic, but he didn’t want her to see him using it, and then she would boast.
Slowly, he slipped outside, making sure Ember was still not back from her dragon ride. He ran over to his dragons, and gently dropped his whip to his belt.
The dragons peered curiously at him. He held one hand forward, talking and smiling as gently as he could.
One of the dragons leaped back in fear when Grilland held a hand out to it. It snorted in rage and leaned forward menacingly.
“It’s not working,” Grilland sighed sadly.
“You’re just not doing it right,” Ember said from behind him.
He leaped, yelled in surprise, and whirled around. All the dragons in the stable began laughing in their strange, screechy way.
“Y-you … surprised me,” he said lamely, scratching the side of his head.
Ember just grinned, and then walked up to the dragons.
“Don’t walk straight toward them, wait for them to come to you. You’ve beaten these dragons a lot so that it will take some time to get their trust back.”
“Trust?” Grilland snorted. “We don’t need their trust!”
“Yes you do. If they don’t trust you they aren’t going to learn as fast. You must make friends with the dragons.”
“But they’re just animals!” Grilland said.
Ember whirled on him.
“Intelligent animals. And I don’t like calling them animals. They are creatures. Intelligent creatures.”
Grilland nodded slowly.
“I get it now,” he whispered. “I thought it was easy, but I think I get it now!”
“Then I will leave you to your dragons,” she chuckled, and walked out of the stables.
Grilland turned back to his large dragons and gulped. They all stared at him smugly. He growled.
“Oh, stop that grin!” he said. “It’s bad enough that Ember, one of my lower workers is telling me what to do.”
The dragons began laughing again.
“It’s like you can understand me,” Grilland mumbled.
He grabbed some food and held it out to one of the dragons. It reared back in fear, then slowly leaned forward and nibbled it.
It gurgled in pleasure and ate the rest, lapping it up like a thirsty dog.
“That’s what they are,” Grilland said, grinning happily. “Huge dogs!”
He fed them all, and then taking a great risk, he dropped his whip from his belt to the ground, and entered one of the dragon’s stalls.
He slowly reached a hand out and brushed it along the dragon’s scales. The dragon shied away at first, but then came closer and sniffed Grilland all around. Finally, he lay back and enjoyed the petting.
“I should give you a name,” Grilland told him, and thought about it. “Roller. Is that good? Roller?”
The dragon squealed and bumped around.
Grilland went to all the dragons and named them and petted them until the sky was growing dark and the sun had almost disappeared.
He walked out, feeling better than he had in a long time.
“Grilland?” Roci asked as he walked up toward the man.
“What?” Grilland said through a mouthful of meat and biscuit.
“Another dragon escaped this morning, sir,” Roci grimaced at what was about to come.
“What?” Grilland leaped from his seat and spun around, a chunk of beef and half a biscuit still in his hands. “Who’s going after the dang thing?”
“Ember’s cleaning all of the stables and I need to make a run to the village to get supplies,” Roci grimaced. “The three others are out catching more dragons.”
“Why? We don’t even have the next batch out to the army yet and they are already getting more? Oh, this is terrible!” Grilland paced the room, his meal completely forgotten, and then he wheeled on Roci. “Fine. I’ll go and get the dragon.”
“Thank you, sir,” Roci smiled weakly.
Grilland stamped passed the tall, thin man, grumbling loudly. Roci heaved a great sigh and quickly followed.
Ember was outside, a large broom in her gloved hands. She squinted and looked as he leaped from the building.
“Going after the dragon?” she asked him.
Grilland nodded angrily.
“Yeah. I’ll teach that dang beast never to escape again. Which one is it?”
“The same one that you caught a little while ago,” Ember said.
Grilland was surprised.
“That one? Oh my! I would have thought I had taught it a lesson! Well, I’ll …” Grilland reached for his whip as he trailed off.
Ember leaped over and snatched the whip from his grasp.
“Hey, I need that thing …” Grilland protested.
Ember shook her head stubbornly.
“You already have what you need, Grilland,” she smiled ever so slightly and touched where her heart was, and then walked away.
Grilland grunted, and then nodded slowly.
“Oh … I get it! Thanks, Ember.”
Grilland turned to run.
Roci stared as the short man quickly disappeared over a hill.
“Did I miss something? It was like they were talking without talking! Huh.”
Grilland ran as fast as he could, not stopping for a break. He just ran. The sun moved fast in the sky, and began setting.
Grilland stopped for breath. He had been running for several minutes now. Perhaps an hour. He looked around. The dragon couldn’t have gotten that far away. They tired out as well.
He began checking the caves in the mountains once again, but he doubted it would be in one of them. The dragon’s usually didn’t hide in the same type of place the second time they escaped. The dragon would find a better place.
Grilland sat down on a rock to rest. The sun was going down. The shade was nice. He would stop for a rest, yes, just a quick rest. Not too long, but a little bit …
Grilland jerked awake. He had fallen asleep! He looked around, and froze. Not ten feet away from him, was the large purple dragon. There was still dried blood on it’s scales from where he had beat it a few days ago, and it growled menacingly.
Grilland grabbed for his whip, and then remembered that Ember had taken it from him. He gasped just as the dragon pounce. It knocked him flat on his back and his breath left him with a huff. He gulped as the dragon growled in happiness.
It reared its head back and roared.
Grilland wished he had his whip, and remembered how happy Ember had looked when she had snatched it away. If only she knew that she had practically killed. Then he remembered the words she said after she had taken it.
“You already have what you need, Grilland.”
And then she had touched her heart.
Heart? Love? Kindness?
Grilland slowly reached up a hand.
“Don’t worry, I don’t have my whip,” Grilland said as softly as he could. “I just want to bring you back. Back home. I won’t ever hurt you again. Ember was right. Love and kindness is better.”
The dragon growled, but it sounded more questioning than menacing.
Grilland smiled and slowly touched the dragon’s nose.
The dragon slid back, scared, but curious. It leaned forward. Grilland touched it again. It didn’t shy away this time, and nudged closer.
Grilland began petting it, and sat up. Then he stood up. The dragon rubbed it’s head against his chest.
“You’re not so stupid after all. You guys are really intelligent,” Grilland smiled. “Hey, can we be friends?”
And the most surprising thing that Grilland noticed, was that he actually meant it. Deep down in his heart he started loving this dragon. It wasn’t much, and it might take time for his heart to fully open to this dragon, but he meant it.
Grilland walked back to the training grounds, with the purple dragon at his heels. He had named it “Hallk”, and the dragon seemed to like it.
Ember saw him and ran over. She grinned broadly.
“I see you have become friends!” she chuckled.
Grilland laughed and nodded. He patted the purple dragon’s head.
Roci leaned out of the doorway of the training building and gaped.
“Well all be!” He chuckled suddenly. “Grilland’s become a dragon lover! Who would of thought of that?”
Dragon Ways: Part 2
Caleb E King
Copyright © Caleb E King
All rights reserved.