Liathara of Woodley
“Tell us a story — fiction or non-fiction — with a twist we can’t see coming.”
The girl walked fearfully across the wooden bridge to the woods, keeping the tears in. There was no turning back. She had said her good-byes and there had been tears. Many tears all round. Even her father had got something in his eye after a very tight hug. Liathara was left with no doubt she would be missed.
Walking the path, she said to herself “I am Liathara of Woodley and I feel no fear.” Keep saying it as a litany to strengthen the heart they had said.
She could run away, hide in the woods and be safe. No. No way. No fear. Liathara is no coward.
“I am Liathara of Woodley and I feel no fear.”
She came to Dragonwood clearing. The villagers left fine gifts there to keep the Dragon happy and the people safe. This was a tradition and a necessity of many generations and those who did not give what they could were punished. It had been made known that the brightest, strongest virgin would be required as a gift and Liathara had the honour of being chosen. For the safety of her sisters, her family and her people. She knew she had to be strong.
Tremulously: “I am Liathara of Woodley and I feel no fear.”
A few steps into the clearing.
“I am Liathara of Woodley and I feel no fear.”
“I AM LIATHARA AND I FEEL NO FEAR.”
There was a quiet voice: “Shhh. You might wake the monster.”
Liathara closed her eyes. “I am Liathara of Woodley and I am here for the dragon. Please make it quick.”
“You sound fierce enough to kill a dragon even at your size.”
Footsteps as something or someone came into the clearing. “You are ready to face death for the sake of the village and you are pure in body and mind?”
“Then you will do. Open your eyes.”
She did and there was a woman in a fine blue dress standing there.
Liathara took a step back. “Who are you?”
“I’m your dragon, if you like. Yes. Come closer so I can see you better.”
Taking a step closer, Liathara could see a power in her. So self assured for a woman alone in these woods. The dragon surely would come soon. “Where is the dragon?
The woman’s hair was long and white and her face showed many years. She smiled. “The dragon is here. I can show you. Do you know what an illusion is?”
“Yes. Magic tricks?”
“Something like that. Ready?”
Suddenly the dragon was there, huge and gleaming, with wings that spanned the clearing. Liathara had never seen it so close and she was awestruck, fixed to the spot. Its breath was loud in her ears like the roar of a furnace and hot, hot like a house on fire. She shouted “I AM LIATHARA AND I FEEL NO FEAR.”
The woman patted the dragon on its immense flank like you would an oversized horse. “Good. You have character. You will need it.” Just as quickly the dragon vanished like it had never been there.
Liathara stood there in disbelief, her world shaken. “I.. I’m here for the dragon. I was..”
“Like I said. I’m your dragon. Now stop shaking. I’m not going to eat you. No-one is going to get eaten today. Relax.”
“What do I do now?”
“Come with me. I want you to be my apprentice. I won’t live forever but the dragon must live on. You will learn the magic of the dragon and protect the people like I have all these years. Do you agree?”
“Yes. I want to help.”
“You will give your life to protect the village, not by dying, but by living in secret.”
“Do I have a choice?”
“No. There is no choice. You have been chosen. But it helps if you are willing and strong. My time is nearly over so you must learn quickly. I hope you are as bright as you seem.”
Liathara nodded, her eyes bright.
“Now. The village expect to see a Dragon in the sky. Watch me carefully. I’ll be asking what you saw me do.”
The folk gathered in the village square saw the dragon in the distance fly down to the clearing and then fly off on its powerful wings towards its mountain home. Many of them cried. All of them were glad not to be in her place. What little they really knew.
Liathara was thrilled to be herself as she flew through the skies on the back of the dragon. She sat behind the dragon-woman, the two of them blending in, invisible, part of the dragon as it flew.
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