A Hazy Day
The black bird flew overhead. Treacherous mountains were all it saw. Letting out a 'caw', it dove down at a lone insect. Only an inch away from the bug, an arrow whizzed by. The bird screeched and flew off rapidly, making a note to stay from the area for a while.
Haze rolled the hilt of the sword in her hands. She looked down, knowing the serious eyes of Relimar, the cavalry commander, were on her. Relimar sat atop his black mare, much taller than Haze. Haze nervously kicked at the stirrups of her saddle as her horse nibbled on weeds and shoots of grass. She'd only been accepted into the troop because her father was the Baron and it was only proper the Baron had one of his children in the Regiment. Haze gradually looked up. She saw the side of Kire, Relimar's horse, then Relimar's boots, next Relimar's gauntlets, then his face.
"Haze." Haze shifted her gaze back down to Relimar's arm. He had a tattoo of ivy winding around a dagger. The symbol of their troop. Haze's horse snorted and tossed its head.
"Yes?" Haze mumbled, knowing well what he was going to say.
"Why did you shoot that arrow?" Haze fidgeted in her saddle.
"I was kind of hungry, sir..." Relimar raised an eyebrow.
"You shot at a crow because you were hungry?"
"Yeh... I mean, yes, sir." Relimar laughed.
"You could have at least shot at something worth the arrow. The wood in the shaft cost more than the whole crow put together. If you weren't the daughter of the Baron, I'd give you half rations to pay for that arrow... but since it is your father who pays for most of them." Haze smiled inwardly. A benefit of being daughter of royalty. "But don't do it again. You are lucky the enemy didn't see it." Ralimar clucked to his horse and rode to the front of the procession. Haze sheathed the sword, which she had nervously fussed with. A few of the elves in front of her grumbled about being delayed because of a stupid arrow.
Haze's horse went slowly. Haze had never ridden this long and she was getting sore in places she didn't know she had. There was a long line of about fifty horses, with elven and a few halfling riders. The infantry was close behind. They were winding up a steep mountain. Haze knew that a couple of the horses had fallen, along with their riders, off the mountain to a painful death. She had heard the screams. You had plenty of time to scream before you hit bottom. She shuddered to think about it. Every time her horse kicked a rock, she'd grab tightly to its mane and squeeze her eyes shut, expecting at any moment to plummet downward.
Abruptly, the line halted. Haze's horse almost tumbled into the horse in front of them. Haze couldn't see why they stopped. But then she felt a great wind. Haze looked up to see a silhouette of a dragon overhead. It swooped down with the grace given to a beast of its kind and landed in the middle of the war parade. This, of course, scattered a few horses and at least four fell off the ledge. Haze winced as the screams disappeared, just memories of them remaining. She could see far enough to view Relimar ride up to the dragon, careful not to knock anyone else off the edge. Relimar was obviously irritated.
"Do you think you could have found a better place to land?" Relimar questioned the dragon. The dragon was at least four times as tall as Relimar on its hind legs.
"I think this spot suits me." The dragon replied, clearly missing the note of sarcasm in Relimar's tone. Relimar sighed.
"Well, what do you have to report?" The dragon scratched a wing.
"Before I tell you, you must pay me." Many wonder what a dragon would do with gold coins and other such things. Most of these are humans. Almost anyone with a bit of sense knew they hoarded it away, sometimes using the diamonds for armour, protecting their soft stomachs. Not all dragons are like this, though.
Relimar took out a bag of gold and put it in the outstretched claw of the dragon.
"Now, tell me." The dragon slipped the bag into a sack attached around its neck.
"The necromancer an' his crew are up top of th' mountain. An' that reminds me..." The dragon takes the bag of gold out of the sack and holds it, weighing it. "Hmm... Need two more pieces of gold for th' arrow wound I got. Not nearly enough, two coins, but I'll jus' have to tough it out." Relimar snorted.
"What wound?" The dragon pointed to a small cut in his wing. Relimar rolled his eyes. It was no use to fight with a dragon. That was the danger in hiring dragons for battles and scouting. Relimar rummaged in his saddle pack and took out two coins. The dragon gingerly put the gold coins into the bag, put it back in the sack around his neck, and patted it.
"If you ever need another place scouted..."
"Yeah, we'll get you."
"You kin always find me..."
"At the Drake Crystal."
The Drake Crystal was a cave dotted with diamond, silver, gold, and, plainly, crystals. A manifold of creatures had inhabited it. From centaurs to gryphons, it housed them all. But not all at the same time. Over the years, it was conquered by many. It just happened that now this dragon lived there.
The dragon flew off, muttering of ungrateful elves and gold. The horse behind Haze was carrying a halfling warrior, Zethre. His mother was an elf, but his father was a human. He was often ridiculed for that. Haze saw nothing wrong with Zethre or his parents.
"'Ey." Haze hissed at Zethre. "Zethre, pssst, d'ya have any rations left?"
"Then, do y' 'ave any bread. Not that hard junk they call food, the other stuff."
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. 'Tis th' type ye like so much." Haze, without noticing, had eaten all her rations. Bored, probably.