Fantasy Fiction posted November 3, 2019 Chapters:  ...14 15 -16- 17... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
danger while fishing

A chapter in the book Aaron's Dragons

The Lake

by Cindy Warren

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.

Aaron's dragons are beginning to grow up. Some are learning the hard way about the world around them. A couple have been more nuisance than anything else. Others are proving quite useful.
The first thing Aaron noticed when he awoke was the smell. The Dragoyles had crept out into the bush around the clearing in the pre-dawn hours. They were able to eat again, and were clearing the last of the mushroom from their bodies.

The dragons were unaffected by the stench, and were happily feasting on the insects it attracted. Aaron saddled Demon, sent Duane for some food to take along, and announced "We're going fishing."

Purple and Brown didn't want to come out into the light, and Aaron decided they'd be safe enough in their cave for the day. He had Duane carry Black, and let Sky ride on his shoulder, and the others were able to follow along, with Red and Green keeping watch.

The dragons were fascinated by the lake. Mountain and Yellow proved to be strong swimmers. Sky had been born to dive, and though she couldn't yet fly, she was perfectly at home in the water. The Dragoyles preferred the shallows, where swarms of insect larvae swam.

Aaron sat watching them. As in his dream, White preferred to swim on top of the water, like a duck. Pink was doing her best to copy her. Red and Green flew over top, refusing to dive in at all. Black sat by the shore, wanting to swim, but still too sore to do it. Mountain saw him there and brought him a small fish. Black forgot his misery as he tore into it.

Aaron was considering lighting a fire when Red let out a shriek. Someone was coming. Dragons disappeared into the bush, along with Duane, carrying Black.

Aaron grabbed his weapons and backed Demon against a large tree. Three mounted men approached. These were not farmers, and not any of his own people. He recognized their garments. They were scouts, and that meant there were enemy troops they were scouting for.

"Hand over the horse," called the lead swordsman. "And you might live to see tomorrow."

Aaron, who had his bow drawn, let an arrow fly, striking the man in the shoulder joint.

"Not today," he called back. "Your wound isn't serious. You can ride back and tell your captain the area is well defended."

"By you?" The leader snorted and signaled to his two companions. They raised swords and shields and rode toward Aaron.

Unable to penetrate the shield, Aaron put an arrow in one man's knee. The pain wouldn't stop him, but it would make it difficult for him to fight. The pair advanced toward Aaron, and he knew he was in trouble. He grabbed his sword and shield and prepared to go down fighting.

The third man, sword drawn and shield protecting his body, whooped and charged at Aaron, then toppled from his horse and hit the ground hard. A rock twice the size of his fist rolled away from him. Another rock flew from the bush and hit the second man on the back of his neck. He lifted his shield and Aaron was able to send a second arrow into his hip.

As it dawned on him that his enemy was not alone, the leader called off the attack.

"Get off the horse," Aaron told him. "Or the next one goes through your neck."

With the arrow still protruding from his shoulder, and unable to wield both his sword and his shield, the man dismounted.

"Now you," he told the second man.

Seeing the arrow still aimed at his leader's neck, he obeyed.

"Now throw down the swords. If you can carry the shields along with your comrade, you can keep them."

Aaron carefully studied their faces, making sure they hadn't seen anything unusual. They stared at him in anguished disbelief, but didn't have the look of someone who had seen something supernatural.

"You tell your commander that if he's looking for sitting ducks, he won't find them here. Now, come and get your comrade."

"Is he dead?"

"I don't know." Aaron was not about to lower his weapon to find out. "You want to leave him behind?"

They didn't. With a great deal of difficulty, they dragged him back along the way they had come.

Aaron watched, bow drawn, until they were well out of sight, though he didn't expect they'd come back today.

He gathered the horses and tethered them together, then picked up the swords and tied them across a saddle. Duane cautiously emerged from the bush.

"Are they gone?"

"For now."

Duane studied the horses.

"Take your pick," Aaron told him.

"For real?" Duane could not contain his excitement.

"I think you've earned it. Without those rocks you threw I might not be here right now."

Duane looked sheepish. "It wasn't all me," he admitted. "I threw the second rock. Got the guy in the neck. Mountain dropped the first one."

"Mountain?" The dragon emerged from the bushes, flapping his double set of wings, and launched himself onto one of the saddles, much to the chagrin of the horse.

"He saw you in trouble and he got those wings working," said Duane.

Mountain jumped from the horse into Aaron's arms, tongue flickering toward his face.

"Thanks, little guy. I owe you one." He gave him a hug and put him on the ground next to the water.
"Think you can catch a few more fish? We'll even fry one up for you. Get Yellow and Sky to help you. I think we'll be having some company tonight."

Aaron pulled out a handful of bulbs from next to the water and showed them to Duane. "We'll need lots of these too. They're pretty good roasted. Tonight we're going to light the stove and not worry about the smoke."

While the dragons fished, Aaron turned a large log for Black to forage under and hunted about for mushrooms and other edibles. Soon he had all the saddlebags full. It was time to go.

Duane mounted one of the horses carrying Black. The little Dragoyles had exhausted themselves, and he let them ride too. Mountain was practicing his flying, and seeing this, Yellow was doing his best to copy him. White perched herself proudly on one of the empty saddles. Sky scrambled onto Aaron's shoulder.

Back at the cabin, Aaron sent Duane to unsaddle the horses. He put the fish into cold water to keep them fresh, and after tossing a couple of smaller ones to Purple and Brown, he set about lighting the stove, with a little help from Red. Once it was going, he gathered up some green wood and threw it in, knowing it would smoke, and feeling fairly certain Dylan would get his message. Then he went to help Duane with the horses.

"Get them all out of sight, just in case we attract the wrong company," Aaron told Duane. "I'll help you put the saddle you want to keep in the root cellar. Do you need more time to make your choice?"

"No," said Duane.

"Okay. Get them all out of sight, and we'll get supper started. I'll get the dragons to watch for any sign of company. Dylan needs to know about our little adventure this afternoon."

Aaron and the dragons watched for signs of anyone approaching while Duane fried the fish and prepared the bulbs and greens. Mountain was delighted with the fried fish he'd been promised. When Green landed on the windowsill chirping, he was also rewarded with a piece. Sending his charges out of sight, Aaron picked up his weapons and went to greet the visitors.

"What are you planning to do with those?" Dylan asked, laughing.

"Take out the villains who think they're going to get some supper."

"Was it someone other than you who sent us the invitation?"

"Must have been that witch who lives here. But since you found me, you better get inside."

"Looks like you had a bit of luck," Dylan said when he saw the fish.

"You guys can help yourselves. I have something else for you."

"Can we eat it?" Dylan asked.

"I wouldn't recommend it."

"I don't know if we should eat this." One of the men, who Dylan had introduced as Gareth, said.

In reply, Dylan tore off a large strip of fish and popped it into his mouth. "If Aaron says it's okay, then it is."

"I caught them this afternoon," said Aaron. "Anyone who doesn't want them doesn't have to eat them. Got some roasted roots and greens too."

Gareth's stomach got the best of him. He found himself eating dinner in the cabin he'd wanted to burn.

"Hang on a second," said Aaron. "I said I had something else, and I'm going to need it or you're not going to believe my tale." He went outside to retrieve the swords he'd hidden.

Dylan examined them, impressed. They were well made, strong swords.

Aaron spent the next hour spinning a much embellished tale of the afternoon's events.

"A dozen guys and only three swords between them?" Dylan asked.

"Well, I couldn't get them all. I'm just one man. But I did get these, and two of their horses too."

"All by yourself?"


"Okay. If you trust this helper what don't exist, that's good enough for me," said Dylan. "Can I see the horses?"

"Sure. You make the tea and I'll go get them."

Dylan found the water and put it on to boil. When Aaron got back, he'd have to admit he had no idea how to make tea.

Aaron returned with the horses, spinning yarns no sane man would have believed, but the swords and horses were real, and Dylan knew of his friend's story telling abilities. The number of men had been exaggerated, and he'd most likely had help, but his detailed description of their dress and the direction they'd taken was accurate.

"They look like they've been ridden pretty hard," Gareth said as he and Dylan looked them over.

"They're good, solid horses. They'll be fine after a good rest," said Dylan. "And Aaron, you were right to send that message. Somebody's going to be wanting them back. You might want to take a break from witch catching and ride out with us in the morning."

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