Dragon Tamer

“They have come so far, have they not?”

Elka turned, startled, “Yes. They have grown to twice their size since I last saw them.”

The Tamer smirked, “Thrice, in fact. Almost full grown.” Elka smiled and looked back at the creatures swirling around each other in the distance. Stepping back from the cliff edge, she fiddled with the ring on her finger.

“It has been some time,” She looked down, unsure how to continue, “I thought you would return,” she spoke in an accusatory tone, masking the hurt beneath, “you never did.”

The Tamer held out the bouquet of wildflowers in a jokingly courteous manner, “I’m here now, am I not?”

Elka was unimpressed but smiled nevertheless. She turned back to the cliff edge, watching the creatures circling in the afternoon sun. The largest, Embros, flew a little further from the others, his large neck craning to scan the ground below. His dark scales shone golden in the sunlight, highlighting his muscled body, tense, ready for attack.

There were three in total, though there had been four once. The youngest had died shortly before they left the kingdom. Dragons were notably sickly creatures, once the strongest and most powerful animals, their magic had begun to fade over time, and they had become increasingly harder to feed. And so they had left.

It was a cold, midwinter morning the last time she had seen them. Elka was told at dawn that they were leaving, having little time to say goodbye. She had waited as two more winters past, but she began to give up hope of their return.

“I couldn’t wait for you.” Elka stated bluntly.

“I wouldn’t expect you to.”

“I tried,” they shared a stubborn yet kind look, “Seasons passed, I heard nothing.” The Tamer said nothing but looked away. Elka was unable to read their face. She sighed, annoyed.

“What would I have said-“

“I thought you had died!” Elka caught herself, swallowing her anger, “I thought you- all of you- were dead.”

“I’m sorry.”

They were silent for a moment, tension hung in the air as they both struggled for words.

“I heard you married” Elka snorted at the blunt remark, “are you happy?”

“It was arranged, if that is your question. I wished to marry for love, but my love left me alone. The kingdom could not wait forever for your return.” In a rare show of shame, the Tamer bowed their head, unable to meet her gaze. “I would have though.”

Their eyes met once again. Elka stared vulnerably into the eyes she once loved, still loved. The eyes of the person she had spent her life with, the person she had longed for with all her heart, the person that left her alone.

She knew they had to leave. The dragons could not have survived here, the frosts had limited their food supplies to barely sustain the townsfolk, let alone three growing dragons. But that bitterness was still there. It would always be there. And now it didn’t matter. She had married another, her Fathers wish of course, but an eligible suitor nonetheless.

She broke the gaze, composing herself. “Stay as long as you like. We can offer you sustenance through the summer but we will not have enough once winter comes. You must move on by then.”

The Tamer was clearly taken aback but bowed politely and nodded, “Thank you, My Lady.” And with that, she returned to her duties, not unaware of the longing eyes burning into her as she walked away.

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