To Catch a Dragon
Ndrek sat behind the bar and studied his mid-afternoon customers. Some had started drinking early, others had rented a room for the night and were just starting their day. Nothing terribly interesting among the entire lot.
Perhaps it was a good time to start work on the new spell he’d discovered.
As he slid off his stool, the door to the bar opened and the man that entered stooped to get under the door frame. Sir Leopold’s shoulders matched his height, and the gold dragon on his breastplate seemed to glow in the dim light.
The archetype for the Knights of Valor.
Now was more definitely not a good time to work on the spell.
Sir Leopold grimaced and lifted his boot off the sticky floor.
“To what do I owe this…” Ndrek paused. “Honor?”
The Knight leaned against the bar, his back to the wall as his faded blue eyes surveyed the tap room. “Don’t believe for a minute you’ve settled down as a barkeeper.”
“That is not what brought a High-Knight to my humble establishment. Perhaps you came for a Fire and Brimstone? My establishment is said to make the very best.”
Leopold stared at the pristine glasses behind the counter. “At least those are clean.”
“Too much cleanliness would scare away my best customers.”
Leopold’s eyes narrowed. “Not what I came to see you about, though I probably should.”
“Your presence is not conducive to my business. What has brought you here so you can be on your way?”
The Knight ignored the jab, reached into his cloak, and withdrew a sheaf of papers imprinted with the wax seal of the dragon church.
Ndrek sucked in a breath as he studied the sealed documents. “You have an army of Knights blessed by Dracor Himself. Why would you have need of me?”
“We’ve been issuing more of them lately. Not enough Knights to oversee all of Tamryn and the eastern provinces.”
“Then you need more Knights.”
“That’s up to Dracor,” Leopold said.
Ndrek bit back his quip about fickle gods. Knights were notoriously touchy about such things.
“Figure you’re getting bored about now. This’ll keep you busy and out of trouble. Pay’s not bad either.”
Ndrek grinned and took the papers, but he frowned as he read them. “This is a goose chase, as you Tamarians say. Dragons have been extinct since before men walked these lands.”
“Locals of Kelleran don’t agree with that assessment.”
“A dragon.” Ndrek rocked back on his heels as he tried to wrap his brain around the idea. “Are you sure?”
“Nope, but that’s where you come in.”
“Would not the followers of the Dragon God Dracor wish to be first on the scene?”
“Already sent a contingent of Knights.”
“They did not return?”
“Of course they returned. They didn’t see any dragons, and they didn’t find any proof that there’d ever been any.”
“Then why send me?”
“Found a few things that made some folks worry there might’ve been a dragon. Knights couldn’t tell if it was real or a hoax.”
“Would not the Knights know this best?”
“Dracor might take the form of a dragon, but dragons are magical beasts. Or they were.”
“No wizard was with the team you sent?”
Sir Leopold shook his head.
“So you think I will be able to tell for sure.”
“That’s the reasoning, anyway.”
Ndrek stared at the bundle of papers, including the generous payout. Far more interesting than tending bar.
Sir Leopold pushed off the bar. “I’ll send Knight Kailis over. She was on the original expedition. And Priestess Vaiya.”
“Was she on the original expedition as well?’
“No, but I figure if you find a dragon, you’ll want the healing skills of Priestess of Thalia on your side.”
Ndrek frowned. “You think there might actually be a dragon.”
“Doesn’t much matter what I think. It’s what you find that counts. I’ll send Knight Kailis over in the morning.”
The High-Knight nodded to him and left the bar, leaving Ndrek with the writ in his hands.
If Sir Leopold thought it was a goose chase, he wouldn’t be sending Ndrek, a Knight, and a Priestess of Thalia to investigate.
Sir Leopold also hadn’t become a High-Knight by being wrong.