Friday, September 21, 2018

#FridayFlash - Training the Brood

This is a piece I submitted to an anthology with very limited space. Obviously, I didn't make the cut. But I think you all might enjoy the quick read.

***

Malbec crossed his arms, staring down into the training ground a goblin minions prepared for his assessment. A village of flat wooden houses were erected, stuffed farm animals placed in reed pens, and mannequin soldiers placed in patrols around the perimeter. “Is all this necessary? Can't you simply explain the problem?” the dark lord asked, glancing at the master-of-dragons beside him.

Tural shrugged, keeping his head down. “Well, if I went and told you that the fledges aren't performing like they should, that they were too dumb to be trained, you'd ask me to prove it to you before you'd go get me some new breeding stock, and I'd basically have to set this all up to show you that they're too dumb to train, so why not save us all a bunch of time and have you just come right down here to see why you need to invest in new breeding stock if you want to keep using dragons to terrorize the villages.”

Malbec sighed, exhausted by the hobgoblin's run-on sentence, and crossed his arms over his chest. Despite the absurdly long explanation, there was a certain logic to what Tural said. “Begin your demonstration.”

The hobgoblin leaned over the balcony, barking orders. “Workers, clear the field. Girls, take your positions.” She-goblins in white dresses swapped places with the males in rough overalls, taking up spots around the fake village. “Send in the first dragon.”

A heavy iron gate rattled open at the far end of the training ground, but nothing came through. Malbec waited for many long seconds, but no dragon emerged. He let forth an exasperated sigh, staring holes into the back of Tural's head. Just what had been happening down in his dragon pens?

The fledgling dragon finally entered the training arena, prodded by a team of goblins behind tower shields. Squat and pudgy, the young dragon looked neither lethal nor powerful, nor like its wings could bear it into the sky. Pastel in color with rounded horns, it looked like a child's crayon rendering.

It casually waddled into the village, tongue lolling from the side of its stubby muzzle, where it began nosing at the faux buildings. One display fell over, then another, and the dragon made a game of tipping them over.

The she-goblins scattered, running wildly through the set, catching the dragon's attention. It trumpeted, a sound more gleeful than frightening, and began pouncing at the pretend victims.

It chased one, then another, ineffectually grabbing at the she-goblins with blunt claws, knocking more buildings over, raising clouds of dust with each so-called attack.

Malbec narrowed his eyes in anticipation when the dragon finally caught a virgin; the instinct for violence would surely rise to the surface, and it would eat the she-goblin. Tural had certainly exaggerated the situation.

The dragon licked the she-goblin's face with a sloppy tongue, wagging its tail.

Malbec turned away, jaw clenched with suppressed rage. “They are too dumb to train. You will have new breeding stock in the morning.”

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