This is a story that came to mind after a talk with a friend about two character personas of ours. Hopefully you enjoy it if you choose to read.
==Fox Scales and Dragon Fur Chapter 1==
Twelve men rode on horseback through the forest of Evanthral, the sun to their backs as it began its slow descent below the horizon. Their aim was a cave to east of Evanthral, where vicious attacks had been reported and many ended up dead at the hands of a dragon.
Eleven of the men kept a formation in front, almost a line but a slight V-like bend to it, what was assumed to be their commander in the middle. The men were armored, save for two who were dressed in oddly flowing robes, and there was no question that they were knights. The ones in robes were mages, brought along for their invaluable talents. From the bored look on their faces, it could also be assumed that they were used to these excursions.
Indeed, their king had been on a bit of a rampage as of late, having them go from dragon lair to dragon lair collecting the rare gems they were rumored to hoard. And hoard they did... the gems they had found were like no other. It had pleased their greedy king greatly.
However, they were a bit surprised that their king was following them for the latest run. The twelfth man, riding a white horse behind his knights, was their king himself. It may have been because this lair was so close to home. Maybe it was the fact that this dragon had killed so many of his people and the young king wanted to see revenge with his own eyes. Whatever the reason, the proud king, barely a man, followed behind his knights with a smug look to his face. Total confidence that things would go smoothly.
They approached the entrance of the cave, where several trees had been torn down into a makeshift clearing, and learned right away that the rumors were not unfounded. Indeed, people had died here. Nothing remained of course, but nothing could cover up the color and smell of blood.
While the sun had to fight the trees to get to them, it was still enough light to beam into the cave at the angle it was at, lighting the way for them better... the sole reason for coming at this time of day.
The men dismounted and made their way into the cave, their king hanging back behind them a bit, his eyes alight with curiosity as to what they'd find. The captain didn't have to walk in far before something dark and long lashed out from the depths of the cave and smashed him with tremendous force into the wall of the cave. He pulled back several feet, feeling disoriented from the strike. The impact had been enough to even dent his helmet in something nasty. The tail that had knocked him aside slithered back into the darker part of the cave where a pair of glowing teal eyes watched them with a menacing growl.
Behind the knights, the two mages closed their hands as if prayer, murmuring an incantation under their breath as the knights advanced forward, swords out. Though the dragon had gotten the drop on them, they weren't afraid. This hadn't been the first dragon they'd killed and it wouldn't be the last.
The men rushed forward toward the dragon, who reared a bit in surprise at the fearlessness toward him they exhibited, but it quickly gave in to rage and he let out a piercing roar, shaking the cave as he swiped them with his massive claws. He was met with a sword through then and roared in pain, his wings flaring out against the sides of the cave. The cave was too cramped for him to fight but that seemed to be the plan all along for the knights. It made dragons that much easier to deal with.
The captain held on tight to his blade as the dragon raised its claws again, shoving his feet against the paw holding him up and pushing with his feet to help pull the sword out. The dragon made to eat the man off his claws if not for several points of pain in his other arm where several knights had stabbed into him. He roared in pain but with one arm aloft and the other buckling under him in pain, his front of his body collapsed, his head and neck within their range... the worse position for him.
He saw the sun gleam off their weapons as they took cue and turned toward his head, baring his teeth and trashing his head toward them as he flung the captain off his paw. Their captain landed in a roll but got up quickly enough, if not looking a little disoriented again. The dragon turned his head as a few of the knights tried to quickly get him in the eye, their swords piercing just under it. He let out a pained roar and thrashed his head, the knights jumping back to avoid getting hit.
Every eye turned toward the mages, whose voices had raised loudly by the end of their chant. The dragon had no time to prepare before chains seeming of light sprung from the ground and bound him to the floor. The dragon snarled in outrage and tried to thrash out of them but the chains bound him too tightly.
The king, who through most of the fight had looked on it fear, now once again had that smug look on his face and made his way over to the dragon, looking down on him, "This will teach you to kill my people, beast. As payment for your deeds, I'll be taking whatever treasure you possess. But first..." He leapt down from his horse, taking one of the knights' swords and striding up to the beasts neck. He stabbed the dragon in the neck, smirking at its cry of pain. He pulled it out to strike again but instead handed the sword back to the knight and moved in closer through the cave, "Come, let us see what we have to bring back."
One of the mages came forward wearily and created a fireball to dimly light the way forward, the other sitting slumped against the side of the cave, too exhausted from the spell to do much of anything then.
The king and the mage moved toward the back of the cave but saw no gems. The king's expression twisted in displeasure and he motioned forward with his head, "Brighter." The mage groaned in pain but the fireball flared bigger, lighting up the back of the cave brighter, but still there were no gems.
The king gritted his teeth, "What is this??" His eyes saw nothing, but his captain, who had come up behind him, had keener eyes and murmured, "Something is moving in the center there, sire."
The king narrowed his eyes, "Perhaps it has a child? We should kill it to be sure."
The captain looked reluctant but walked forward. With how close he was, he could see that whatever was in the center of that part of the cave was laying on and covered in large furs. He used his sword to pull the furs aside, raising his blade only to lower it, stunned.
The creature on the furs wasn't a dragon at all, but a young girl. She looked no more than ten or eleven years of age but something else in her appearance made the knight consider that her age may not be as apparent as it seemed.
Coming from under her surprisingly clean dress was a furry tail, though the coloration was impossible to tell in the little light they had. Her nails were a bit sharper as well and two ears came from the top of her head. Cat's... maybe fox's... he couldn't really tell without taking her outside and examining her. A demon, then. His hand on his sword tightened. Though he was curious why a dragon would be safeguarding a small demon like this, there was a more pressing issue. If she was a demon then it was probably still wise to take her out before she could bring misfortune to their kingdom.
Then he heard the small sound the furs had been muffling. The sound of the girl's crying. She was looking past him toward where the dragon was, looking like she wanted to run to him but had been told to stay. Even though she was a demon, the captain simply couldn't bring himself to slay a small, crying girl.
It seemed he wouldn't have to, though, as the king came closer, his voice barking out, "Why haven't you killed it yet..." His voice trailed off as he got a look at the girl on the furs. Definitely not jewels but still something rather rare. The girl felt a twinge of fear at the look in the king's eyes... the eyes of a man who desired and desired but was never satisfied. One of the worst kind of men.
The king smirked and turned away from her, motioning over his shoulder, "We'll take her back to the castle. Let's go, the sun is nearly set."
The girl heard their words and shook her head, sitting up and backing away from them, "N.. No..."
The captain regretted what he had to do but knew what the king ordered must be obeyed. He murmured an apology to her before picking her up and putting her over his shoulder as he carried her out. She kicked and screamed, tears running down her face as she saw the trapped and bloodied dragon with their exit.
The dragon, who had been struggling idly before, was now in another rampage, thrashing against the chains that bound him despite his injuries and roaring in anguish. The girl reached out for him and cried out, but couldn't free herself from the knight's grasp.
The king merely smirked toward the dragon, "Leave him there. Perhaps he will think twice before killing my people again."
The men mounted their horses, the captain trying to restrain the girl in his arms but eventually having to strike the back of her head near her neck, causing her world to black out. The last sound that reached her was the pained roar of the dragon left behind, calling out for her...