--Chapter Thirteen: Recovery, Someone, and a Coming Winter

Four days after the battle, all was almost as if nothing had happened at The Windmill Road. The only major change in the town is that the road east of the village remained covered in ash, but that too would blow away with the autumn winds, and greenery would inevitably return the next spring. To all the travelers who asked what had happened to the road, the village residents would answer half-truthfully, “There was a fire.”

Business picked up after the summer trade session. When fall came, and the final traders’ meeting took place, Isa looked for Garroner among them. For one thing, she was curious how he had fared out west. For another, she was wearing the white dress and hoping to show off how well it fit. Garroner was not there, though. In fact, none of the tailors were. This disappointed Isa, but she would not let her spirits down just because of this.

The next day, a dragon slayer came by—oddly enough, the first Isa had seen since the battle. He was tall, dark, and handsome like most of the ones who came before him. He was going through the typical introduction monologue when Isa interrupted him and said, “Save your strength. You won’t beat the dragon. Go back home.”

This was a very confusing statement to Someone, son of Someone, son of Someone, son of Someone, son of Someone (as Isa knew his type well enough, they might as well all have the same name... even if “Someone, son of Someone” was a bit of a tongue-twister).

“But...” said Someone. “But... there’s... a prophecy! It says that only the purest of heart will defeat the dragon, and I’m the purest in the land!”

“Oh?” said Isa. “How’s that?”

“Uh... Well, I’m a virgin...”


“I’ve got a sword that has a bunch of writing on it...”

“No doubt you do.”

“And... and...”

Isa took a deep breath. “And you want to defeat the dragon so you’ll get all this praise from the folks back home because you’re some type of hero for defeating a fire-breathing creature that didn’t attack you or otherwise give you any legitimate reason to attack it. Maybe there’s a sibling you want to show up. Maybe there’s a maiden you’re thinking of—though the way you’ve been looking at my breasts all night makes me doubt that. Maybe you’re a coward and you’re doing this to get out of going to war and dying that way. Maybe you aren’t aware of the fact that dragons are thousands of times more dangerous than any soldier. Maybe you should give up at this point, go home or to some new town, and start fresh. Raise a family. Do something constructive. How does that sound? Better than chasing some stupid ‘prophecy’ on which you probably paid money to get what was, unbeknownst to you, faulty information?”

Someone was silent for a good thirty seconds.

“Want another pint?” asked Isa. “Alcohol ought to soothe that unhealthily humongous ego of yours.”


One hour and two pints later...

“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Someone said between tears. His head rested against the bar, and Isa patted it from time to time. She was fully aware they were making a scene, but because most of the humor was at Someone’s expense, Isa was able to join in the audience’s amusement.

“I mean, I try and I try and I try,” continued the dragon slayer, “but does she understand? No. No she doesn’t. For years I’ve tried to tell her I love her, but she only turns me away and never tells me why or what’s wrong...”

Hmm, Isa thought sarcastically. There’s a woman out there who’s actually not interested in Someone? I wonder what could ever be the problem with him!

“So I tried to get my hands on a sword or something, and we had this one in the family for generations, and I thought it looked neat, and then I thought... I...”

“There, there.” Isa said, resuming the head patting. “Maybe there’s someone else out there for you. I’m sure there are lots of girls who would like such sensitive men.”

“Do you like ‘sensitive’ men?”

“Uh... yeah... sort of... Let’s put it this way: you’re not exactly my type, but then, different women, different tastes.”

This only made Someone cry harder.

And THIS man wanted to defeat a dragon? Isa thought. The rest of the people in the tavern, staff included, were now laughing at what they saw. Isa decided to end this before it got even further out of hand. She walked around to the other side of the bar and picked Someone up from the table by his collar. Then she slapped him.

She said, “Get a hold of yourself, man! You look like a baby. What happened to ‘I’m Mr. Brave Man out to fight the mighty dragon?’ You can’t even face the women back in your home town! I’ll tell you what you do: first, you pay your tab, since you’ve drunk three full pints and had a massive beef dinner, and I’m not going to let you out of here until you fork over the due amount. Second, you go home at once and ask this girl once and for all if you have a chance with her. If she says yes, well, fine. If she says no, then you’re just going to have to take it like a man. Get it? Or do I have to go to your town myself and explain to this woman that you made a fool of yourself here and cried over her?”

Someone nodded vigorously, paid his tab, and ran out the door. Everyone in the tavern applauded Isa afterward. Isa curtsied but did not take much time gloating. She said, “It’s almost midnight, people. Last rounds now.”

She wondered if every dragon slayer in the future would be that emotional. She doubted it... But then, if anyone in Aren Country could have been said to lack stable mental capacity, it was the type of person who chased the deadliest creature on the planet and boasted a prophesied victory in the process.

Much to Isa’s regret, no more especially memorable moments occurred by the time the first signs of winter came to The Windmill Road. All the farmers’ almanacs predicted a mild winter this year. All the traveling prophets said there would be massive blizzards. Based on these two common views (and from whom they respectively came), Isa determined that she probably would not even need an overcoat until the season was halfway over. She was right.