Free Write Friday #10: Dragon's Eggs

"I don't need to tell you that the war isn't going well. The Elves have their golems in the north and the southern dwarves have those damned walking engines. In ten years, our empire will be going. So you get me those dragon eggs, captain. Or don't come back at all."

"Don't come back at all." Captain Vasili Borogov said in a mocking tone of voice. "Easy for him to say, he's not here."

Here, was balancing on the edge of an active volcano- well, not exactly active. There wasn't lava spewing out of the crater below. Poisonous gases and boiling hot rocks being flung into the air weren't pressing concerns- at least not yet. But it was hot. Really, uncomfortably hot. Borogov was dressed in thick leather from head to toe and metal plated armor to protect him from the heat- but in reality it was making him sweat profusely. It was, in short, awful. But it was, Borogov had to admit, somewhat necessary.

The General had been right. Granted, he had issued his order from a marble courtyard that was draped in soft curtains that swished as the warm wind had blown up from the Margolin Sea. It was beautiful. It was decadent. It was also exactly the kind of plumb assignment that had kept Borogov in the military for this long. Ten years of scraping and bowing and kissing ass and he had finally made Captain just as the long war against the elves and the dwarves had taken a turn for the worse.

They were holding their own right now, but they needed a tactical advantage of some kind- the golems were slow moving, but destructive. It took too much time and too many men to bring them down. The walking engines were even worse. The had been forced to give too much ground in the mountains of the south and were reduced to launching stinging raids on them as they advanced- trying to do what damage they could. The only advantage they had against the dwarves were that the walking engines were fiendishly difficult to produce. There were only four of them so far and they had managed to disable one in a fierce battle near Mount Tambora last month.

So, dragons. The nested far out in the Great Western Sea, so one airship (the Phoenix) and one crew (there were ten of them-  four men,  two women, a couple of half-elves and one of the western dwarves and him) later they had taken to the skies, riding the warm winds of the Margolin Sea across to the great grasslands and high over the great twin coastal cities of Felun and Markab and out over the Great Western Sea. They had skirted the southern end of a typhoon that looked to be heading for the Elvish coast and then they had seen the rocky peaks of the Dragon Islands emerging ahead of them.

The ground lurched under Borogov's feet and he swore loudly as he struggled to keep his footing. "Earthquake!" Came the shout from above.

"Thanks!" He roared back. He fell to his hands and knees and held on for dear life for a moment as he hoped no rocks had been shaken loose from above him. When the shaking subsided, he waited for a moment to make sure that it had stopped fully, then he pushed himself upward and began to run awkwardly toward his quarry. There were eight of them in a nest about thirty yards away from him, their metallic shells shining in a kaleidoscope of colors. He had wanted to take his time and be somewhat careful, in case the mother dragon returned from hunting or woke from slumber, but the sudden earthquake made it impossible now. Speed was his friend- if there were aftershocks- or worse still, if the volcano actually began to erupt then his mission was doomed anyway.

He covered the ground quickly and, with a glance around to make sure the mother dragon wasn't around, took the satchel from off his shoulder and opened it, using his gloved hands to place the eggs inside the satchel, one at a time. They were heavy and they were warm- almost hot. But nothing happened, so Borogov kept working. Finally, he reached the eighth egg and placed it in the satchel and, closing it, he made sure the buckles on the satchel were fully secured and then, more carefully now, he slung across his back and stood up.

Unfortunately, as he stood up, an ear splitting roar filled the air and, by the urgent shouts from above him, Borogov realized that the dragon had returned. He began to run as fast as he could for the rope ladder he had descended from, feeling the flap of the dragons wings and feeling the earth shake as the dragons paws crashed into the lip of the crater. As the dragon got closer, the rope ladder seemed to be an impossibly long way away but when he felt the dragon suck the air in, preparing to blast him with fire, he found a burst of speed he didn't know he had and closed the distance to the ladder and flung himself onto it, screaming, "Go! Go! Go!"

His crew didn't hesitate. He felt the engines of the Phoenix roar to life as she pulled sharply away from the lip of the crater and Borogov saw the ground below him drop away. There was a sudden blast of heat from behind him as the mother dragon's fire blasted where he had been just a moment before. He climbed as fast as he could, feeling the rope ladder rise as well and, glancing over his shoulder, he saw that the mother dragon had taken flight and was in pursuit. "Load all cannons and fire!" He roared up at the ship and a moment later, the first concussive thumps of the cannons of the Phoenix echoed through the sky.

Finally up to the ship, the two halflings, Dravon and Lurtan pulled him up through the porthole and out onto the deck. Borogov took the satchel off and thrust it at them. "Get the eggs below! Now!" The two of them nodded and moved off toward the door that lead to the lower decks.

Borogov stood and strode over to where the first mate, Valentina, a one eyed mercenary with a braid that went all the way down to the small of her back stood clinging to the wheel.

"What's our situation?"

"Not good," Valentina replied. "We're being chased."

"I saw," Borogov said. "Bring us about and then charge her."

"What?"

"I want to send a cannon ball straight down her throat."

"And if that doesn't work?"

"Well... then, we die," Borogov said. "But it's gonna work!" He said, seeing the expression on her face.

"It better," Valentina replied. "You owe me forty ducats for that barrel of wine you made me buy back in Markab."

"It'll work!" Borogov said. "Hard about!" Valentina began to turn the wheel and the Phoenix responded, turning directly into the dragon's oncoming path.

"When she opens her mouth, fire everything directly at her!" Borogov roared to the crew. They all nodded. The Phoenix and the dragon got closer. Closer. Closer. And then the mother dragon began to open her mouth and Borogov roared "FIRE!"

Four cannonballs didn't miss. Valentina swung them up and over the dragon as it fell, mortally wounded the the sea below. A great cheer went up from the crew and Borogov grabbed the railing, sagging in relief. They had the eggs. The war was sure to be all but won.


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