The Archer and the Behemoth

This is based on a story prompt provided by the Story Engine. It’s pretty cool. I will not reveal what I drew until the story is done.

“Captain, you’re not supposed to be here.”

Ron looked up briefly before going back to the books, reviewing the day’s visitors.

“Yeah, there’s something going on, and I wanted to look into it personally.” Claire closed the distance between her and Ron at nearly a jog.

“Oh? What is that?”

“Someone wants to release the behemoth.”

That got his attention, much to Claire’s annoyance. She should have guessed that, but it didn’t matter.

“That would be catastrophic. We need to alert the—”

Her hand went to the top of his head, and slammed his face into the table.

“Huh,” she muttered. She didn’t think it would take the one strike, but she was glad it did. Checking his pulse put her at ease, and she continued past him, up the marble stairs into the Palace of the Abomination.

Black columns spiraled up to hold up the gold roof, each one fashioned as a dragon of old. But dragons were either dead or, more likely, just a myth. Either way, dragons didn’t get Claire what she was looking for.

A few guards walked the catwalks above the great sleeping behemoth. The beast had skin like charred meat, some of it falling off from time to time, though they were scales. An eye opened, the amber pupil slit vertically. A purr let out, and the guards paused, looking down at the behemoth.

“Hey, lights are out, and you’re quiet. Knock it off or we’ll—”

The hulking mountain sighed, and with the sigh the mass lifted up, then caused small gales as he exhaled. “Or you’ll what?” he growled.

Claire spent enough time with the behemoth to know he didn’t mean to growl. It’s just how he spoke. Everyone else took it as a sign of how dangerous the abomination was.

The two guards sputtered for a while, then said, “We’ll report you to the council, and they’ll deal with you.”

The amber eyes rolled up, then he closed his eyes. “Oh how intimidating. I will rest here forever, enslaved by you stupid mortals.”

“No. You’ll be slain by the Saint of Eastern Pallor”

That elicited a laugh. “Yes, your little saint. Please, will him to arrive a little faster so I can be done with your pilgrims.” He grinned, and teeth five feet tall showed. They were still red from dinner.

The guards mumbled, then went back to their patrol. In about five minutes they would go to their station for a few minutes, and that was Claire’s opening. And while Claire waited in the shadows, the behemoth kept an eye open, staring at her.

Please don’t eat me, she thought to herself.

Then the guards were gone, and the only sound was the purring breath of the abomination.

Claire walked out into the lantern light.

“What do you want, Captain? This isn’t an official visit, or you wouldn’t be sneaking in.”

“No, nothing official today.” She stood a few feet away from the behemoth. In a second he could snap her up.

Then she knelt on a knee, arm across the bent knee so she could rest her head. A bow was in her hand.

The behemoth huffed and raised his head.

“I, Claire of the Day, wish to pledge my allegiance to the Abomination to be Slain by the Saint of Eastern Pallor.”

There was a long moment, sweat pouring down Claire. She was sure it felt longer than it actually was, but she was terrified he would snap her up.

Earth shook as the behemoth put his head back down. “Why would I do that? We go on the run from your armies waiting for them to track and kill us? I cannot hide my tracks like you with your tiny feet.”

Daring to look at him, she lifted her head. “Your people. You want to see them, yes?”

“They’re dead.” He looked away.

“That’s a lie. You know it’s a lie. I’ve found where they went, and I want to return you to them.”

This brought his gaze back on her. “You haven’t told your people where they are?”

Claire shook her head without a word.

“You would be made royalty with that find. Why pledge to me instead of take your place as a savior to your people?”

“I read the old stories. You give power to those sworn to you. I want that power.”

“For what?”

“Look, we are out of time. Yes or no? I’ve knocked out a guard, so I’m running tonight. Are you coming with or not?”

The behemoth huffed. “So be it.”

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