Here is another quick piece from a writing prompt taken from the same site I used before. It took me a while to finish it, though, because I really wanted to bring some detail to the dragon. So I used a picture by Ben Wootten as the basis that description.
Writing Prompt #3: After the first snowfall of the year, a man who lives alone in the woods sees a giant set of footprints leading up to his barn.
Ice and Scale
On the morning following the first big snowfall, Dane spotted the giant set of tracks leading from the woods into the barn. He had suspected something snuck around at night, a number of chickens and younger animals had been lost to the creature over the weeks building toward winter. However, standing at the barn entrance, staring at the prints, a feeling of dread washed over him as he realized to what manner of creature they belonged.
Splayed, taloned toes numbering three with a fourth, rear-facing, the prints had the look of something large and reptilian.
For generations, longer than the Dane’s family had even lived in the woods, a dragon had terrorized the area. Its schedule seemed random, burning and devouring for a season or two and then disappearing for years. He had thought an adventuring band had taken care of the dragon several years ago, but now this.
Then, he looked at the marks again and realized despite how big they were, these were not the prints of that great, old dragon. One of that creature’s talons were said to be the length of a man’s height.
Wishing he had studied magic instead of animal husbandry, Dane grabbed the most dangerous-looking implement he could find. It turned out to be a pitchfork. For the footprints only went in one direction, telling Dane the creature was still inside.
The barn door creaked in protest on its old hinges, stealing any chance of surprise. Dane pushed his lantern out in front of him.
Feathers still fluttered down like so much snow, but the barn was quiet except for the impatient stomping of a mare’s hooves in her straw-lined stall toward the far end of the barn.
Dane caught sight of a movement that was not a horse to his left. Shadowed by the overhanging loft the beast crouched. Its yellow eyes, glowing like tiny intense lanterns, first drew his gaze. Those eyes watched him without blinking. He gaze next fell to the sharp teeth protruding from the creature’s mouth. A bloody feather was still caught between two of those teeth, and seeing it made Dane shudder.
The green scaly face was flat and mostly squared off except for a large horn protruding from above the creature’s nose and a pair of spiky crests that swept back from the ridge of each of its eyes. It possessed front claws that closely resembled hands, each finger ending in a large, sharp talon, all of which at that moment gripped a very dead calf laying disemboweled upon the floor. Large wings the color of spring grass folded tightly against the young dragon’s sides, and Dane was certain if it unfurled them they would take up more room than the inside the stall area it occupied.
As Dane continued to meet the dragon’s gaze, it snorted angrily and stood easily to full height on its hind legs. Even for the small specimen it was, the dragon easily doubled Dane’s height and he imagined it outweighed him by four times or more, and that did not even take into account the thing’s teeth and claws. Its long, thick tail twitched anxiously behind it as it approached the farmer.
Wasting no time on pride or stupidity, Dane backed out of the barn, not taking his eyes from the dragon. As he reached the door, he bolted around the corner and sprinted for the house. There was no way his pitchfork would be of help against the creature, which seemed fairly irritated at the interruption of its breakfast.
With a roar that was more of a rumbling squawk, the dragon followed. It squinted at the brighter light of the early dawn as it looked to the sky, and snapped its expansive wings open. A hop from its powerful legs caused it to awkwardly launch into the air, and within moments it was gone.
Dane exhaled in relief, glad the dragon had left without further incident. But a sobering realization made his joy short-lived: it was going to be a long winter.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Awaiting the Muse by Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.