Avon woke up chained to a post. This produced a snarl and an irritated look in his eyes that read, "Not again" or "Why me?" or some variation like that. He nearly gagged. The stench coming from the…mouth of a cave???...was horrendous. Avon had no idea what he was doing here. All he wanted to do was get out of here and find whomever was responsible for doing this to him and give them his proper appreciation. He had some very nasty things in mind.
Vila's voice came from behind him, "You know, Avon, traditionally, aren't these supposed to be virgin sacrifices. These people said that you were the perfect one. Is there something you haven't told me? I mean, apart from everything else, that is."
Avon tried to twist around and glare at him. "Get me out of here!"
Vila smirked and began working on the chains securing Avon to the post. There did appear to be a lot of them. It seemed these people wanted to make sure their perfect sacrifice didn't run away before he could be eaten. "By the way, how did you get here?"
"I was going to ask you that. I don't remember anything after the dinner."
"Well, you went with the village elder, Dras. He was going to show you something very interesting." One of the chains fell to the ground as Vila worked on the next one.
Avon scowled, "I don't call this interesting."
"Oh, I don't know, Avon…"
Avon was glaring. Or his glare seemed to grow a glare. But it was no use as Vila was behind him. "Aren't you done yet?"
"There are a lot of them," said Vila as yet another chain clanked to the ground.
There was a sound of hurried feet approaching. Vila looked around panicked. "Someone's coming."
"Well, hide! And then go and get help!"
"Assuming you haven't been eaten yet," mumbled Vila as he hid in a thick underbrush.
Brown-robed villagers, headed by the village elder, Dras, came into view. They seemed to be shocked to find Avon still there. Dras said, "Why aren't you dead?"
"Sorry to disappoint you," said Avon dryly.
Dras said, "Not as sorry as we are. I regret having to do this to you, Avon. I didn't want to but she left me no choice."
"She?" Avon normally mistrusted instinct but he was getting a very bad feeling.
"The dragon's mistress."
Dragon? Avon was starting to think that he was really in the middle of some ridiculous nightmare when a bellowing roar deafened everyone within hearing radius. Everyone covered their ears, everyone except the currently tied-to-a-post-and-getting-very-tired-of-it Avon, who could only wince and turn his head in a futile gesture. When the roar died down, the villagers had all fled. Vila was gone too, presumably to get help.
Avon struggled vainly against the remaining chains that secured him to the post. In the distance he could see a figure descending towards him from above, its sweeping wings extended to catch the wind. It was a magnificent creature, not as large as ones of ancient legend but just as fearsome. Its eyes were a deep cooling blue and its surface was a brilliant white that seemed to reflect different colours in the sun.
Avon stood squarely and faced the creature that landed just in front of him. If he was going to die, it was going to be with dignity and a snarl on his face.
The large blue eyes regarded him curiously. It stretched out its long neck and seemed to lunge towards him. Avon steeled himself. The dragon nudged his chest gently and then his shoulder, seemingly trying to test something, or perhaps attempting to determine which part to start its feast with.
Avon said to no one in particular, "If I'm not to your liking, I know a village full of tastier treats."
The dragon pulled back and opened its mouth. Avon grimaced, anticipating the worst.
"Why, Avon, there is no tastier treat than you."
Avon said with shock, "Servalan!"
The dragon regarded him curiously again. Its mouth was still open and wisps of steam escaped. This dragon met all of the requirements of ancient myth, complete with fire-breathing. Or more accurately, fire-expelling.
Servalan's voice responded with the delight of a snake that was curled lovingly around its prey. "I've surprised you? I’m glad."
Avon said with bare amusement, "I shouldn't be. A vicious violent creature. It would have to be you."
The dragon reared up on its hind legs and a different and very affronted voice said. "I am insulted. I am none of those things."
Avon's mouth opened in shock.
Servalan's voice said firmly, "Be quiet, dragon!"
The dragon dropped back on its haunches. It's eyes seemed to swirl slower with displeasure. Avon could swear that it looked unhappy. He noticed a small black device embedded in the creature's forehead and a chain with a bright red jewel around its sinuous neck. Avon realized that Servalan's voice emanated from the jewel as did the dragon's.
Avon asked, "What do you want, Servalan? Why this charade?"
Servalan's voice said, "This charade was not for you. Not at the beginning. But now it is. Imagine my surprise when Dras told me that a man named Kerr Avon had dropped by to visit."
Obviously the usage of their real names with strangers would have to be revisited.
Avon said impatiently, "Get on with it, Servalan. What death defying trap have you prepared for me this time?"
"Why, Avon. One would think that I didn't want to kill you."
An aggressive smile appeared on Avon's face. "Let's not fool ourselves, Servalan. We both enjoy the sport."
A disconcerting laugh emanated from the ominous red jewel and then it stopped abruptly. The next words contained a chill. "Kill him!"
The white dragon reared up on its haunches again and stretched in an angry roar. More wisps of smoke escaped from its mouth. Avon winced at the assault to his ears. He wondered if Servalan had stopped being amused and this was finally the end game.
The dragon lunged forward towards him and gently nudged Avon in the chest. It asked, "Do I have to?"
Servalan's coldly civil voice said, "Do what I say or you will regret it, dragon!"
The dragon reared on its hind legs again and spread its magnificent wings. It bellowed, "I have a name! It is…"
Servalan said, "I don't care what your name is. Kill him!"
No one ordered a dragon to do something it didn’t want to. "I like him. I do not like YOU."
Servalan said angrily, "No one defies me. Least of all an animal!"
The black device on the dragon's forehead began to glow an angry red. The creature bellowed in pain.
Avon thought quickly. Well, as quickly as he could with the creature producing near deafening sounds in front of him. He told the dragon, "If you release me, I can help you."
The creature directed pain-filled eyes toward him. It seemed to nod and then awkwardly walked on its hind legs around to the back of the post. It had been a desperate idea but Avon wondered how a dragon could possibly undo the chains. He didn't have to wait long.
For a moment there was searing heat behind him and then sounds of claws scratching the post. The chains clanked to the ground. Avon nearly fell forward but caught himself. He was expecting the worst when he brought his arms around to look at them. They were red and partially burned but not as bad as he had feared. The dragon moaned in pain behind him.
Ignoring his own injuries, Avon quickly removed a tool from his pocket and approached the dragon carefully. The creature looked at him and then bent its head down so he could reach the device causing it pain. Avon studied it a moment and then set to work. The black device was soon in the palm of his hand. The dragon lifted its head and nudged him gently in the chest. "Thank you."
Avon said impassively, "You're welcome." He dropped the device on the ground and crushed it under the heel of his boot. He removed the red jewel from the dragon's neck and said, "Servalan."
There was no answer. Avon smiled. Thwarting Servalan's plans was one of his most rewarding goals in life.
He asked the dragon, "Do you know where Servalan is?"
"The mean woman?"
"Yes. The mean woman." Avon had a cold smile on his face. He had many more colourful words to describe Servalan.
"No. I've only seen her once, when her men captured me. They aren't there now."
This was unfortunate news. It also meant that it was time to leave before Servalan came calling again with squads of troopers at her heels. Avon turned to the creature. "You said that you have a name?"
The creature's blue eyes seem to swirl with pleasure, producing a mesmerizing effect. "Yes. My name is Ruth."
This was a creature that even in ancient days, people believed only existed in legend. This one was not only real, it spoke and they had just saved each other's lives. It was a rare and intelligent creature and magnificent in its beauty. Avon said, "Thank you, Ruth. I would suggest that you leave. Do not let her catch you again."
The dragon's eyes were swirling slowly, almost gently. "And you as well, Kerr Avon."
The dragon said, "Wait. I have something for you." It went into the foul-smelling cave. Objects began flying in all directions as Ruth appeared to be searching for something. The dragon came back with a large rock in its mouth and extended it towards him.
Avon took the object and examined it. "Saleon crystals!" This was why they had come to this planet. It was needed for the Scorpio.
The dragon said, "I understand they are considered valuable by humans."
"Oh they are." The coincidence was not lost on Avon but it didn't matter. It seemed to be an encounter of fantastic proportions, why not this one?
The important matter was that they had won and Servalan had lost. It was a good day. Avon turned to the dragon. In a manner that seemed to befit the meeting of a man with a creature of legend and dreams, he said formally, "Farewell, Ruth."
Ruth extended its wings and pushed off with its powerful legs. Hovering in mid-air, Ruth turned back towards him and said, "Farewell, Avon!" The great dragon flew off towards the sun. It was a very good day for both of them.
May It Be a Very Good Day For You as Well!