Fire-Blood (691 Words)
The downstairs infirmary was silent and empty. Medicine jars and torn blankets were shattered and strewn across the floor.
Sister Bierce was glad for the disarray only in that it emphasized abandonment and disuse. Dragonkind was not permitted in the abbey and allowed on the outer courts only by special exception. And here was Khaz, never one to win favor with the abbot, following her in the sharp, jerking motion of a fire-blood who has forgotten his human form, his mind trapped in lizard shape. If he was seen he would be killed, and wounded as he was he could not defend himself.
The sister barely caught him as he fell. Khaz was heavy in her arms, too heavy, his blood hot on her hands. Bierce sank to the floor with him, laying his head to rest on the flagstones.
“Be easy, dracinne,” she said. “Give me a moment.”
He was white with pain, his features damp with sweat. His reply was in the dragon tongue, and her loose understanding of the language was not enough to recognize the barely pronounced words.
Rising, she swiftly gathered worn sheets from a bed and what was left of a poultice. Kneeling by Khaz she unfastened his robe. The other dragon had hurt him badly. The cut across his chest was almost bone deep and even without the aid of touch she could see through his pale, taught skin the crooked angle of a broken rib.
Khaz turned to one side, his body twisted in agony.
Bierce’s heart beat fast. Dipping her hand in the poultice she applied it firmly to the dragon-knight’s wound.
“Drink this,” she said, reaching within her habit for Brother John’s flask.
Khaz did not argue. He drank.
Bierce’s hands were shaking. She did not know if John’s remedy would help Khaz, however much the good-hearted old fellow swore by it. She could only pray God there was some strength left in the dragon. She bound Khaz’s wound, murmuring quietly when he hissed in pain.
When she finished, Khaz was motionless. He looked as if he were sleeping, his black hair clinging to his face and his thin breast rising and falling beneath her hand in a shallow, quick but constant motion. Bierce smoothed his forehead, wet strands sticking to her fingers. His drawn face softened at the motion, though he was unconscious.
“Sister Bierce. What have you done.”
Bierce turned with a gasp. Shaking, she stood.
“Forgive me, Father Abbot,” she said. “I—”
“Brought a dragon, a fire-blood, into our sanctuary,” said Jareth.
His voice was mild, but the young woman flinched.
“Please, he was badly wounded,” she said. “He fought on our side, our behalf.”
“That is not enough to redeem his curse.”
“Is it a curse if God made him so?” The little nun’s hands balled into fists. “Is it a curse to be God’s creation? Did He not make all kinds and colors for His pleasure?”
“Be silent.” Jareth stood by her, looking down on the fallen dragon. “Is he dead?”
“Nearly.” Her eyes burned.
Her heart stopped when the abbot took the knife from his belt. With a sob she flung herself on her knees, shielding Khaz’s body with her own.
“Move aside, daughter,” said Jareth. “I can at least remedy your error.”
“He would have given his life for me,” she threw back. “At least I can do the same.”
“You are being foolish. This behavior will not—”
“Father Abbot, sir.” The cool voice of Father Willem startled both Bierce and Jareth. “Her actions are noted by all of us. As were the dragon’s. I can vouch that he has taken our side, defended our abbey. Come, is it in the Good Book to deny anyone help or shelter if they serve the Light, as this one has since the beginning? God knows he is not perfect, but neither are we. No matter how you despise him, or how he has scorned you, be merciful. You have no choice.”
“You defend a dragon,” said Jareth, lowly.
The monk stepped past him to bend by Bierce.
“I am defending one of God’s creatures,” he said.
Written in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt. Check it out! Photo (c) Sue Vincent.