She ran as fast as her weary legs could carry her, chest burning with every heaving breath. Yet still the beasts chased her, relentless in their pursuit. If she could make it to the mountain caves she might be able to escape their wrath.
She could no longer hear them, but she knew they were there. The smell was unmistakable. Sweat, earth, and hair – she had come to loathe the sickening aroma.
Pain radiated from her shoulder with every step she took. One of the beast’s stingers had found its mark deep within her flesh. Every stabbing, throbbing pain was a reminder that she would never be the same again. She winced as she looked over her shoulder for signs of her pursuers.
She cast an envious glance to the sky. If only she had two wings like the birds above. She could take flight and be free. The sound of a breaking branch birthed a renewed sense of urgency. They were gaining ground.
She stumbled out of the forest and found herself at the water’s edge. The glassy waters of the mountain lake were all that separated her from the safety of the caves. The landscape beyond the water was desolate. She would never make it to safety before those creatures burst from the forest – not without cover. Making the only choice left to her, she turned to face them.
Smooth stones made up the shoreline, and sent a cooling comfort up her battered limbs. Even a small comfort was a welcome one at a time like this. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply of the mountain air.
The forest erupted with savage cries. The trees gave way to the might of the beasts as they broke upon the shoreline that had been tranquil only moments before. They bared their teeth and called out to one another in a grotesque language.
Her wound had weakened her to the point of exhaustion. She was trapped with the lake at her back. Still they continued to press in, ever closing the gap between them. She had but one weapon to wield, and weild it she would.
There was no choice, she had to attack. She lunged at one of the beasts just as the sting of the other landed squarely on the back of her neck. She fell to the ground. A faint hissing sound was heard as her chest came to rest on the damp stones of the shore. The light of life dimmed in her eyes and was replaced with the stillness of eternal rest.
“What a trophy my Lord! Songs will be sung of you for generations to come.”
“It was a shared victory my cousin.” said the young noble wiping sweat from his brow. “If you had not removed the beast’s wing it surely would have took to flight and eluded us. Come, let us search yon mountain for this creature’s lair. We would be foolish indeed to pass on a chance for both renown and riches!”
“Yes, my Lord. It is a rare thing for knights to return with the head of a dragon in hand, and its treasure in tow.”