“Mhm. Yeah. I think I understand. So when you step into the rain, you’ll be the girl we were looking for?”
Small pause. Finn’s eyes flicked open.
“Oh. I see. They already know. That’s not good.”
Finn sat up faster than he meant to. Black spots danced in his eyes from the sudden movement. He rubbed his eyes and subconsciously checked that his sword was still on him. It was. Finn hated that gut reaction. It was a bad itch in a place he could never reach.
“Arven? What’s going on?”
“Wrong!” Arve yipped from the other side of the cave.
“Right, sorry. Arve. What time is it?” Finn tried again.
“Nearly six in the morning, I would say. Get up, we are losing daylight!” Arve clapped his hands together to wake Finn up. Finn glanced outside and groaned. The sun was not even up. Wasting daylight? As if. There was no daylight to waste.
He stood and stretched his arms above his head. His skin crawled. It has been a long time since he has unleashed his beast within.
“Who were you talking to?”
“The princess.” Arve jumped to his feet. He tugged at the paw of the giant dragon. He was trying to drag the dragon into the rain. It had been raining consistently for a few hours. Arve had gotten up around three in the morning and engaged himself in a conversation with the dragon. Only, as he is often off track, they didn’t get to the cursed part until a few moments ago.
“Maybe you shouldn’t try dragging a dragon...” Finn was cut off when Arve was able to pull the dragon off balance and straight into the rain. Finn blinked. Arve was barely five feet tall. He was eleven. This five foot tall eleven year old should not be able to drag a dragon anywhere. But then again, Finn just witnessed him do it.
Finn watched as the dragon shrunk. The dragon shrunk! It was nearly half the size of Arve’s boat and now it was only about as tall as Finn was! Arve and Finn watched as the dragon changed some more.
The dragon’s skin turned from a sky blue to a caramel color, and the scales subsided into soft smooth skin. A girl appeared from the dragon, with dark smooth skin and long black hair. She was beautiful, but all Finn could focus on was that she was a dragon a moment ago!
“What- what just-”
“She is cursed. Like us.” Arve told Finn.
“I am Princess Emelia Vandleheart. But you can call me Emma.” The girl held out her hand to Finn. Arve waved his hello like a child would, but Finn just stared. Emma wore a white dress that had her name embroidered on the bottom left with flowers around it. A sign of having money to burn.
“Emma, you have to return to the kingdom! They cannot kill a royal!” Arve sounded like a small kid whining while pulling on her arm. Finn was stunned by the beauty of the girl. Even in a simple white dress and barefooted, she was alluring. So much so that Finn couldn’t figure out how to speak again.
“They will kill me if I return. But I can’t leave my kingdom like this. And these dragons-” she pauses to gesture toward the three greenish dragons still resting in the cave “aren’t safe here anymore. My people are killing these beautiful creatures for money. It’s shameless.”
Arve was about to tell her that he could take the dragons somewhere else, but something stopped him. He heard something. A crack of a branch, or the crunch of a leaf under someone’s foot. He held up a hand to keep Emma and Finn from saying anything as he listened. His hand reached for the silver dipped knife in his coat pocket.
Another sound. A crunch. A crack of a branch.
Arve instinctively moved forward, and motioned for Finn and Emma to move back. Emma and Finn backed themselves into the green and yellowish dragons. The eldest green dragon had shushed her little ones at Arve’s command, and huddled them close.
Arve peaked around the cave and came face to face with a tall, and quite gross looking man. If the childish kid hadn’t been in his cliche “protect mode”, he would have chastised the fat man for being so sweaty. The kid held out a knife toward the unsuspecting man.
“What do you want?”
“Hey, kid. I’m not going to steal your bounty for the other dragons. I just want the blue one. That’s all.” Sleezy. Disgusting. Arve growled again.
“I’m not a kid. And you can’t have any of the Dragons. They are under my protection.” Arve shoves his short dagger in the way of the man. The man wipes his sweaty hands on his tan button up shirt and takes a deep breath. He pulls a revolver from his back and holds it up against Arves forehead.
Finn isn’t sure what to do. If he moves forward, the man will see them, and shoot Arve. Emma covers her eyes, and even went as far as to bury her face into Finn’s shoulder. The juvenile dragons let out a short whimper.
Arve doesn’t hesitate to press the barrel of the gun to his forehead as he takes a step forward. With a sound resolve, he lets out a laugh.
“Bet you won’t,” His voice rumbles low with a dangerous dare. The man scowls. He had intended to just scare the kid off, but now he had to do it. His pride as a man was being tested. Dared, even. The man’s finger rested on the trigger, and with a solid resolve, he released the bullet.
Emma let out a wail and ran forward. She lost her regard for the man with the revolver completely. Finn quickly followed after. The princess fell on her knees before the small boy and tried to call out his name. She yelled wake up, wake up. Over and over again she yelled and shook his shoulders. But he was dead. And you can’t wake up the dead.
The man seized Emma and held her at gunpoint. Tears ran down her cheeks. Finn grabs his sword handle. He can’t do it. He’d kill Emma too.
And then that familiar laugh started up again.
Arve sat up and wiped away the near dried blood off his forehead. Revealing no wound, or hole from a bullet. Arve pushed himself up off the ground with a cautious smile. The man stared as if Arve were a zombie rising from the dead.
“I’ll hand it to you, I was surprised. Didn’t think you had it in you.” And then Arve punched the round man, and sent him flying. The punch was solid and unforgiving. The man tripped and started rolling down the mountain side with no sign of stopping. Emma hugged Arve in a tight embrace, and Finn let go of the handle in his relief.
A crunch. A crack of a branch. There were more.
“Finn. Get ready to fight.” Arve pulled out his own sword that hung on his back. Finn shook his head. No. He can’t. He would kill everything in his path. Well, maybe not Arve, since his new skill happened to be “not dying”.
Arve had a brilliant smile. Bright white teeth that gleamed in the early sunlight. His smile always said exactly what Arve was thinking though. A flaw that even Arve is aware of.
Arve grabbed the sword handle at Finn’s belt, and pulled it from its sheath.
“No!” Finn yelled, but it was too late. The lines of fate twisted around his skin, and his eyes tightened in black. The lines traced up his skin in thick black tattoo ink to match his soulless eyes. The lines tightened like puppeteering strings controlling him. It felt good. Finn loved the release because he skin didn’t crawl anymore. He didn’t fidget or fight with himself anymore. He was, somehow, finally at peace.
Arve chucked the sword in the direction of the noise.
“Have at it.”
Finn was no longer in control. He was forced to the back of his mind where the monster normally lurked. The monster was in charge now. It growled and chased after the sword. Kill. Murder. Destroy.
Arve watched as the caveman chased cluelessly after the sword. With a short snicker, he said, “They aren’t much different at all. Always chasing that damned sword.”
When Monster Finn reached the sword, and relief swept him like a wave. A crack and a crunch, and the monster was face to face with a herd of angry men. It narrowed its eyes at the hord. They held torches and guns and dragon hunting weapons. The monster grinned a fanged smile. Kill. Murder. Destroy.
Arve led Emma to the other dragons. Working around them carefully, he tapped the eldest dragon’s wing for permission.
“We are going to have to fly to escape. I can get your family to a safe place if you help us escape.” Arve soothed the mother dragon. Emma was aware of the ability to speak to dragons. She too, once possessed this gift. But has long since lost it, just as she has lost her kingdom.
Monster Finn cut, bit and ripped his way through the men. Nothing hindered him, and nothing hurt him. The monster within was at ease here. Killing these innocents. Finn screamed for the monster to stop, but no order could be obeyed with the sword unsheathed. Finn was yelling into a soulless abyss.
The monster plunged his sword into someone’s abdomen. Finn screamed for the dead man’s pain. Kill.
The monster ripped a man’s arm clean off, and then sliced through his head. Finn rambled a hopeless plea. Murder.
The monster caught a sword with its hand and snapped it in half. Finn weaped from the slice in his hand. Destroy.
The monster came face to face with a man dressed in battle armor. A real warrior, he thinks. It raises the sword high in the air as a challenge and-
“No! Stop! That’s my father!” Emma wailed from the cave entrance. She attempted to run forward, but Arve effortlessly held her back. Why wouldn’t he let her go? She pulled at her wrist until it burned. Her father was there in front of this monster. Emma couldn’t watch her father die.
“Please,” She whimpered in between tears. Emma wasn’t sure if she was talking to Arve or to Finn now. “Please don’t kill him.”
“Finnigan, we have to go now.” Arve’s voice lacked emotion. He spoke as if he didn’t care at all. Finn tried to yell. Get away. He isn’t safe in front of the monster. Emma climbed atop the mother dragon, and stared at the tragedy before her eyes. The murderer in front of her. Monster.
“Finnigan.” The monster echoed.
“Finnigan. We have to leave here.”
The monster stared. It rocked on its heals. The sword hadn’t moved from the King’s neck. Back and forth, the creature rocked. Finnigan. Finnigan. He knew that name. His name? No. Wait, maybe? Finnigan.
“Get on, Finnigan. We have to leave here.” The monsters head snapped in the direction of Emma. There were still tears on her cheeks, and the look of disgust- the monster looked away. His eyes were black and all he could see was blood and death. Destruction was all he wanted to feel.
“No.” The voice of the monster had never been heard before. Not by Finn. Not by anyone. No one had ever lived long enough to talk to it.
“You don’t have to go back into the sword. But you have to come with us.” Arve held out his hand. The monster growled at the sudden movement toward him. Fangs hung low and the lines on his skin stretched in tension. The sword at the king’s neck was lowered.
The monster lurked nearer to the dragon. He handed the sword to Arve. A sign of not hurting anyone. Yet. Finn screamed in his own mind. Don’t trust the monster, he screamed. Don’t ever trust a monster. It climbed onto the dragon with no hesitation and gripped himself tightly to Emma.
His claws dug into her waist but she held in the gasp of pain. If Arve trusts this monster, than she ought to as well. Any flinch of fear could set off this monster. Emma understood curses. She understood that it wasn’t his fault, and that this wasn’t Finn. But it hurt to know it all the same. It would have killed her father had they not stopped it. Her Carnil upbringing seemed to rest deep in her lack of tolerance toward other cursed souls.
Arve got on and clamped himself comfortably onto Finnigan’s back. The growl echoed low in Emma’s ear.
“Emilia. You have to come back to the castle. Face your people and atone for your sins!” The king yelled from his spot on the path. He hadn’t dared move from the spot he had faced death in moments earlier.
“I’ll make this right, father. I’ll make this right and then I will come to face my people.” She cried harder. Her own father refused to see her as anything other than a monster.
The dragon took off, and her young juveniles followed. The ground beneath the giant dragons feet cracked and crumbled from the weight. The dragon’s wings pumped up an down as the ground fell from their feet. The monster’s claws dug in through Emma’s dress and almost through her skin. She let out a gasp of pain and the monster growled in response. Arve was bound to cause unwanted trouble.
After long minutes, the coastal town came into view. Emma’s tears had slowed but her cheeks were wet and cold from the wind.
“Hey, Monster Finn, what-”
“Finnigan.” The deep voice growled.
“Finnigan. What would you do if I dropped this sword right now?” Arve laughed evilly. The boat harbor was in sight. They were so close to a clean getaway. They weren’t even running from anyone anymore. Emma panicked and turned back. She shook her head at Arve because she knew what he was thinking. His smile said it all.
He held out the sword for Finnigan to see, and then dropped it. The sword flew down toward the harbor dock. People crowded, pointing at the dragons. Men and women alike grabbed whatever they could find to shoot down the winged creature.
Finnigan plummeted toward the ground chasing after that damned sword.