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by on July 6, 2015

Evinrude had never before seen black sand. The volcanic cone of the island towered ominously above him, and threatening rumbles shook the ground on which he stood. Still, he was almost happy. After twenty days of sailing, he had finally reached the island Rowena had indicated. That island sheltered the dragon that had killed Eulalie. Evinrude carried a sword, thrown at him by a strange woman in a pond, which legend said was terrific at slaying dragons. Evinrude intended to use it.

His ship had dropped anchor just moments before. Evinrude was the only one on the beach. The captain had offered to send soldiers with him, had even volunteered to accompany the prince himself. Evinrude had turned down the offer. “I’m doing this alone,” he said. “Just me, and the dragon. No one else.” Then he leapt ashore and marched bravely off into the nearest cave, certain that was where the dragon lay.

He had no idea that he had given offense. If a prince had to go and slay a dragon, he had to do it himself. It lent an air of heroism and adventure to the thing. This was especially true if he was avenging a lost love. The captain couldn’t have cared about Lady Eulalie, could he?

As it happened, the captain did care. Maxwell Valerian hadn’t always commanded a ship. He had once served in Lady Eulalie’s Guards. In that post, he had fallen hopelessly in love with her. Of course, bodyguards weren’t supposed to develop feelings for their charges. So Maxwell Valerian, being an honorable sort, had kept quiet. He considered himself strictly professional. He didn’t even take steps to become friends with her. So when Eulalie decided to slip off on her own to a quiet beach, she naturally hadn’t thought to tell him. Then she had been flamed, and in the chaos following, he had been reassigned to a naval command.

Maxwell had welcomed this. He thought he could get away, escape the guilt that tore at him for failing in his duty, for failing in his love. But it kept after him all the same. Eulalie shouldn’t have been alone. He should have done something. Someone should have. Then Evinrude showed up, waving his enchanted sword and announcing to one and all that he would avenge the princess. “Why didn’t you slay the bloody dragon before it killed her?” Maxwell muttered darkly.  He had, at last, worked out who to blame.

It was unfortunate when Evinrude went off on his solo adventure. Maxwell had to improvise. He waited until a decent interval had passed, and Evinrude had not reappeared. “Better go and check on him,” he said to his first mate. “Nah, I’ll do it. I don’t think there’s really a dragon here anyway. I’ll take a bow and a few arrows just in case. Swords are all very well, but arrows, now…”

He approached the cave cautiously, expecting to feel a blast of hot air against his face. Maxwell had heard of dragon caves, heard of their notorious treasure hoards, heard of the burglars that occasionally attempted to make off with some of the smaller shiny bits. He had also heard that dragons usually lay about their caves, snoring and breathing fire. He was therefore surprised when he found the cave cold and clammy. The floor squelched beneath his feet. A pale blue light flickered on the walls. Maxwell wondered if this cave really did belong to a dragon.

He was just starting to inch forward when Evinrude came dashing towards him, eyes wide with alarm. The prince was yelling something at him. Behind the prince lurched…a Thing, green and sticky, smelling like the foul fumes of a million chamber pots all gathered together. Maxwell Valerian could’ve shot it with an arrow in that instant. But he didn’t. Then Evinrude tripped. The Thing gurgled forward. Maxwell Valerian bolted back to the ship. He looked back once. Evinrude wasn’t behind him.

The crew was greatly dismayed at the news, but Maxwell headed off a rescue by describing the monster in all its slimy detail, and then point-blank ordered them away. He returned to Isle Turtledove with flags lowered. The word spread quickly. Pirates on their vessels, the new Prime Minister Philip in his army headquarters, Rowena on her lonely island, everyone assumed that Evinrude was no more, another egg broken to make an omelet of ambition or betrayal or power. They were all wrong.

  1. Can’t wait to read further.
    It is such an interesting work.

  2. Jennifer G. Knoblock permalink

    Love this: “another egg broken to make an omelet of ambition or betrayal or power.”
    And is Maxwell a good or bad egg? I’m intrigued by his character and choices.

    • I think Maxwell started out as a good egg, but he made a bad choice in not firing the arrow and attempting to help Evinrude there. And choices, as always, have consequences. 🙂

      • Jennifer G. Knoblock permalink

        Maybe redemption is in his future?? 🙂

      • Maybe. I haven’t quite decided yet. 😉

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