Wendell and the Dragon's Heart

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Chapter 9

Wendell sat on the ground by the miller’s wagon in a heap. Terrible things shivered through him. He looked down at his hands, which lay shaking before him. He had never felt so afraid before. If he were standing against some terrible dragon or monster he would simply run away, like in every impossible nightmare.

But there was no nightmare to run away from, nothing but the calm silence of the fields that mocked him. It was a fierce something within that trapped him, which rose up in its hideous strength and hurled him against the fear, even as he howled the nightmare scream of every child before they wake up.

But how could he wake up?? He gasped and pleaded not to face the monster again, the ravenous dragon which twisted inside and told him that his worst fears must come true, have to come true, please don’t let her die! But he knew there was no one to turn from, he was pleading with himself, telling himself to forget about it. Let someone else deal with it. Can’t you see? I’m only a boy. Please please I can’t do it. We saw those guards. They’re dressed in heavy armor. What if they won’t let me through? What if they catch me? Don’t think of that, please don’t think of that, see, we’ll just go to the king and he’ll say no and then there’s nothing else we can do, yes do think of it!! See, it’s impossible. Let’s just go back to the Black Mongrel. What am I saying?! She can’t die!! I still remember... don’t think of it... no I have to!! Who cares about the guards?? I’ll cut them to pieces! I’ll beat them into dust!

No, their spears are so sharp. What if they caught me sneaking past?! I’d have to fight them, or get thrown in the dungeon!! I went there with Derrick, and I saw them. If we ran up to them then, they wouldn’t even be afraid of us!! No no I remember her face so well, she was laughing about something, it made her so happy, even though she was so bored from sitting still, what could it be?... why did this happen, I don’t want this to happen... I’ll just forget about it all... there’s nothing I can do... how can I say that?!

No, we’re going to go. We’re going to go up to those guards and go to the king, one way or another. I’m so afraid. I’m so afraid. I can’t do this. This isn’t real. This all can’t be happening. Why did this have to happen? I can’t believe I’m going to do this.

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