The Dragon and The Wurm - a short story

Above a vast and endless desert, a majestic beast soared. A great sand dragon, king of his land returned to his den. The shimmering golden scales which ran from the tip of his snout to the end of his tail reflected the hot light of the sun. His great wings cast shadows on the dunes below him. Before him was a large cliff face. At the top of which was a lush and expansive forest, but the dragon cared not for the greenery. The sands were his kingdom. They provided all he needed. Quickly the dragon approached a large cavernous den carved into the side of the cliff. After a long patrol of his territory, it was comforting to return to his dark and chilled home.

Once inside the king nestled down for a rest, looking over his vast lands. Then something caught his attention. One of those overconfident apes was leading a herd of camels across the desert. The dragon rose to his feet. Such silly things the humans were, thinking themselves to be above nature. An easy meal this would be. But then he noticed something else. Something that the human was holding. In its hand was a long stick with a crystal embedded in the top. The sight of such a thing reminded the dragon of a previous encounter. The last time he fought a human with a stick like that, it did things only a dragon should be able to do. Tenitavely the old king reached up, and gently touched a long scar that ran across the side of his neck. A painful reminder of what those apes were capable of, harnessing a power that did not belong to them.

The dragon decided then that it would be best to let this meal go. He would find more prey, and this wasn’t worth the risk. He layed back down and readied for a nap, but just before he closed his eyes, the sand dragon saw something he couldn’t believe. The human suddenly sunk down into the sand without warning. Gone in an instant. Then one by one, the camels behind it followed. The desert was capable of many strange and mysterious things, but things did not simply vanish beneath the sands. Especially light-casting humans. Something was amiss in his land, and he needed to find out what it was. Spreading his great wings the dragon glided down to investigate. The mighty beast paced around, looking for anything that was unusual. He dug at the ground with his claws. Something was wrong. But what could it be?

Then he heard something from behind. A shrill and devilish cackle. The dragon whirled his head around to see what had made it. But all he could see was a cloud of thrown sand. Then for a brief moment he felt the ground â– â– â– â– â–  beneath his feat, and he could hear the same shrill laughter behind him again. The golden beast turned around again, only to again be met with nothing. The king was quickly losing his patience. When he heard the cackle for the third time, he turned and lunged blindly. He felt his teeth collide into something smooth, yet hard like rock. With his jaws gripped tightly on the mysterious enemy, he wrenched his neck back and threw the creature to his side.

Now he could finally get a good look at the invader. Much to the dragon’s surprise, the creature he faced was none other than a Dune Wurm. A large bug-like beast not much longer than himself. Its body was made of many identical segments. Each part was made of a round black shell with numerous legs on the underside. At the front end of the creature was its head. Six piercing, glowing green eyes set above a complex set of mandibles and mouthparts. Dazed, the wurm looked up to see the snarling face of the dragon. His head reared and snarling. A bright glowing flame growing in the back of his throat. Quickly the wurm dove back into the sand, just before a jet of fire seared the spot it once occupied. The dragon angrily pounced on the blackened and scorched sand. Feeling the burning earth between his claws.

Then the wurm emerged just a few feet away. It sat upright, halfway out of the sand. It waved its many legs tauntingly at the dragon while laughing in its shrill and grating voice. It spit out something at the king’s feet. The light-casting stick which formerly belonged to the human he saw. The dragon fired again, only for the wurm to retreat back into the earth. Again it shot up and taunted the king, just before he could burn the infuriating intruder. The wurm did this again and again, until the king of the dunes had lost its temper. The sand dragon beat its mighty wings, rising into the sky. In a fit of rage he spit flames all around him. Burning the ground for as far as his fire could reach. For a moment the king felt content, having thought he had won this fight. Only for the dune wurm to rise from the blackened sand and taunt him once again.

But this time the dragon acted before the wurm could retreat. He dove on the wurm, pinning it to the ground. His claws held it in place. There was no escape for the invader now. The wurm looked up at the sand dragon with shock and fear. It watched as the king reared its head once more, ready to fry this pitiful bug once and for all. But the king produced no flame. Instead he threw up a large mass of flammable bile onto the wurm. For a moment the two looked at each other in equal surprise. Then the wurm began to laugh uncontrollably.

The dragon couldn’t believe this. In all his anger he had burnt himself dry! He hardly thought it possible. He always took great care to never run himself empty. Yet this creature, this intruder on his land managed to drive him to it. This in turn only made the king angrier. He gave one bellowing, furious roar, thoroughly terrifying the wurm. The dragon then lifted off of the invader. Now free, the wurm burrowed back into the ground and dug away as fast as possible. The king then returned to his den, feeling furious and undignified. As he walked back into the depths of his den, he reflected on what had just happened. How dare that creature not only trespass into his territory, but taunt him, make a fool of him in his own lands, and drive him to burn his flames dry! The dragon could not remember the last time he felt so insulted.

Once he reached the very back of his den, he scratched and dug at the wall. The rock easily gave way to his tough claws. After only a few minutes of searching, he finally found what he was looking for. A shiny black mineral that all dragons needed to breath fire called Spark-Stone. It was a rather large deposit as well. Casually the golden dragon knelt down and quickly ate up the mineral. The nice snack helped to clear his mind. As infuriating as the encounter was, he still managed to scare it off. And besides, dune wurms were never known to stay in one place for very long. Come tomorrow morning the intruder would be long gone, and he’d likely never have to put up with it again.

The king of the dunes walked back to the mouth of his den. The blazing desert sun quickly set beyond the sandy horizon, and the sky grew dark before filling with a sea of stars. A beautiful sight to say the least, but the dragon had little time to admire it. A king needs his rest after all. Walking back in not too far from the den entrance, he tread over an old bed of coals. He paced in a circle while heating the bed beneath him with a jet of flame. He nestled into the comfortably burning coals and embers. The hot bed would keep him through the cold desert night. Slowly the king closed his eyes. Another day ended. Another day to come. And peaceful slumber to bridge the two.

The next morning the dragon was awoken by what sounded like colliding rocks. The first booming crash ripped him from his slumber. The noize confused and angered him. The sound echoed through the den a second time, forcing his eyes open. A third time, and the dragon stood and stretched. What could that confounded thundering possibly be? The crash sounded a fourth time as he walked towards the mouth of his home. He could see the sky slowly brighten. Day had broken, but the sun had yet to rise above the cliffs he called home. However he only had but a moment to admire the view of his land, as large stone as big as his head came hurtling towards him. In reflex the king half turned and batted the boulder back with his tail. The rock flew back and collided with something down below, shattering on impact. Looking closer he was able to see what was happening.

Down below a fair distance away from the base of the cliff was the dune wurm. Next to it was a pile of large stones. The wurm grabbed one of the rocks with its mouth, and with a whip like motion of its long body, flung the rock at the dragon’s den. With a loud crash it struck the cliff, just to the side of the den’s entrance. Enraged at the wurm’s persistence, the desert king flew down to the intruder. This time he would not let it get away. This time he would end the wurm with his dragon flame. But once he landed on the ground to confront the creature, what it did surprised him.

The dune wurm dug into the ground and began to move around the dragon. Keeping its back and eyes above the surface it swam through the sand, circling around the king. It stopped in front of the dragon and rose out of the sand. The way it looked at him was confusing. It wasn’t smug and taunting as it was the day prior, but instead it seemed more friendly and almost playful. The king was confused, and very unsure what to do. He backed away from the wum one or two paces as he considered how to handle the situation. Suddenly the wurm dove back into the ground. A few moments later it reappeared with the limp carcass of a camel in its complex and segmented jaws. It dropped the creature on the ground, and then looked up at the dragon. It looked as if it was expecting something.

The dragon bent his neck down and looked over the body. The fur was matted and covered with sand, and there were obvious puncture wounds where the wurm had bit into the animal when it killed it. The body had clearly been kept buried for a long while. Likely overnight. But why would the wurm present this to him? Was this supposed to be some kind of apology for yesterday? That would explain the wurm’s change in attitude. Perhaps it never meant any mallace when it taunted him the day before. It very well could have been the wurm’s own form of play. In his many years of life and regal disposition, fun was something he hadn’t thought about in a long time, but he couldn’t exactly fault another creature for having it in their own way.

Gingerly the dragon bit into the offering and lifted it off the ground. The grit of the sand in the fur, and the light tinge of the wurm’s venom were unpleasant and off putting, but seeing the exciting expression of the wurm and considering how he had treated it yesterday when it was only trying to play, in a way it made the dragon feel guilty. He flew up back into his den. Leaving it in the cool and dark depths away from the sun would hold off rot until he had time to eat it. With that taken care of he returned to the edge of the den. Now was time for his regular morning hunt. But before he could take off, he noticed the wurm was still where he left it. Why? He had accepted its apology. The two were even now. What reason did it have to stay?

The desert king leapt from his perch and took to the air, as he would normally do when beginning the hunt. However, instead of scanning the land beneath him for prey, he kept an eye on the dune wurm. As he thought it might, the wurm was trailing behind him as best it could. Something needed to be done about this before he could hunt. As little sense as it made, he couldn’t go about his day with a dune wurm following him wherever he went. So quickly the dragon doubled back to the cliffs, and the wurm eagerly followed below. He landed at the base of the cliffs just below his den and waited for the wurm. He watched the creature as it moved towards him, keeping its head just above the sand.

The king looked at the wurm with a quizzical expression. He had never known dune wurms to be social things, and as a dragon he preferred a solitary lifestyle himself. But the whys and hows didn’t matter at the moment. For whatever reason this wurm had taken an interest in him, and at this point there wasn’t much he could do about it.

Once the wurm caught up it fully emerged and looked up at him. The dragon then turned around began batting and clawing at the cliff, slowly digging out a small den. Once the hole was large enough for the wurm to fit comfortably he walked out and looked at the wurm, who seemed to understand his intent well enough. The dune wurm completely lifted itself from the sand and scuttled into the small fresh den. It curled around itself and began to rest. With that dealt with, the dragon took off and reflected on what had happened.

As he flew over the vast desert, his great wings casting shadows below. He scanned the ground beneath him in a search for food. Yet his mind was elsewhere. The dune wurm was a strange creature. Both by his own standards, and compared to what he knew of its kind in general. Yet there it was, and there it seemed to stay. So the only way to go would be to make the best of this situation. In honesty the dragon could not find the company to be entirely unwanted. But it would certainly make his days rather interesting moving forward.

4 Likes

Dude, I love it! But, if I may make a critique, the ending felt it bit rushed. Maybe it’s because I read the story in two sittings, but it just felt like the dragon came around rather quickly. Other than that, I really liked it!

1 Like

That’s because the ending was rushed. This was for a school project and I was getting close to the deadline.