For the A to Z Challenge, I'm having twenty-six flash fiction pieces from my Foxwick Kingdom and its surrounding neighbors. Soon A to Z Flashes of Foxwick will be available in e-book format. You can add this to your Goodreads list here.
Attor edged closer to the cabin. Smoke twirled from the chimney in thin wisps. Lambs gently bleated, so they must’ve known he was near. Sheep always feared the predator, but he couldn’t stop his forward track. Hunger gnawed his insides. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. When did his mother die at the hands of the king’s knights? Two nights ago? Three? The past few days had been a blur.
He just had the pain in his heart and the ache in his stomach.
He crept near the tree line. His gaze focused upon the cabin, but no one seemed to notice the horse-sized dragon. Each step placed him closer to the field, the sheep. He could smell them. Drool pooled in his mouth and seeped from his lips. A nice sheep would stave off the insistent hunger.
The forest stopped, and open fields lured him out. His wings fluttered at his sides, but he stumbled and nearly crashed. He pulled up and hovered inches above the ground. His claws skimmed the grasses as he neared the nervous herd.
When he was about to attack a young lamb, a girl rose from the livestock and wielded a shepherd’s crook in front of her. A gentle breeze blew violet strands across her face, but she didn’t take his eyes off him.
“Stop.” She raised her staff.
He growled lowly and swished his tail. Would a human be as tasty as a lamb?
“I’m about as tasty as a head of lettuce. Why aren’t you capturing the forest wildlife? Leave my father’s sheep alone.” She swiped the staff toward him.
He stumbled backwards. You heard me?
“Of course I did.” Her mouth dropped open. “Wait. I did!”
He lowered himself down into the grass. His stomach rumbled, louder than his growl. Please, just one little lamb. I’m starving and alone. Please.
Her jaw jutted out in defiance, but it soon quivered. Her large eyes softened into pools of compassion. “What happened to you?”
He saw the crook drift to her side. If he was quicker, not so hungry, he could’ve taken her, but he was too weak. Men killed my mother. I need food.
She stepped closer to him with her hand outstretched before her. “You poor thing. I can help you, but you can’t have the sheep.”
He held his breath as she touched his snout. Shouldn’t he be afraid of her? But he wasn’t. She was as young as he was. And she could speak to him. What’s your name?
“I’m Vesta.” She dug into her pouch and produced some dried meat. “I know it’s not much, but I’ll go to the market and find a chicken for you. So, what’s your name?”
His forked-tongue darted out and lapped up the dried meat. He eyed the sheep. I think I’m hungrier now than I was. And I’m Attor.
“Well met, Attor.” She smiled at him.
The violet hair was familiar, like a legend his mother used to tell him. Something about the dragon seers, their companions. Was she one of them? His stomach roiled again. More food.
She glanced between him and the sheep and pointed to a three-legged lamb. “Father will kill me if I lose one, but I know you’re hungry. He’s mentioned putting that creature out of its misery, so if you were to take one, you can have it. Okay? But I don’t want to look.”
He didn’t wait for her to change her mind. As soon as she covered her face, he picked the lamb from its fold and breathed in a breath. Flames burst from his mouth, and the lamb screamed once before it was silenced. And charred to a crisp. He moved over and dug into the hot meat. He’d never tasted anything so good. He ate every last bit of the flesh, and then he heard soft sobs coming from the girl.
Shame filled him. If he wasn’t green, then he would’ve turned bright red. He crawled over to her and lay beside her. I’m sorry. I was so hungry. Please, Vesta.
She sniffled and wiped the tears from her face. “I know. I know.”
Her hands ran over his scales, and he rested his head on her lap. I miss my mother.
“You can stay with me.” She leaned down and kissed the top of his head. Her compassion warmed him. He wanted to please her, love her.
He’d found a home.