Genevieve was comfortable with her role as a woman of the night. She was good at it and had a knack for being able to spot the guys nice enough to be grateful but still street-smart enough to know they had to pay. So, as she walked into the Pumpkin Hut that night, she knew her mark without a second glance. Sitting alone at the bar staring infinitely into his beer, so distracted that he failed to notice a beautiful woman take the seat next to his. She waited until her drink arrived before turning to face him and saying.
“Haven’t seen you here before. Are you new to our fair town?”
Her voice was smooth as silk and oozed seduction. but he either didn’t notice or didn’t care, as it seemed to go right over his head.
“I’m new in every bar I drink in. We never stay anywhere long enough for anything else.”
“Oh? A traveller, that sounds interesting, you a salesman of some kind?”
His voice was flat and distracted.
He finished the last half of his beer and signalled for another. Her smile grew and she put a gentle hand on his arm.
“Dragon hunter? That sounds dangerous…’
Her voice turned into a low whisper as she said.
’which we all know is just another word… for sexy.”
He rolled his eyes.
“Do we? Is that what we know? Have you ever actually seen a dragon?”
“Well, no, but…”
“I have, and let me tell you there is nothing ‘sexy’ about it. They’re huge, practically immortal, their scales are the hardest thing known to man, they’re smarter than we are, stronger than we are, and, oh yeah, they’re fucking made of magic.”
He shrugged exasperated and drank another large swig of beer.
“So… so why do you hunt them, if that’s how you feel?”
His face slipped into tragedy for a moment.
“It’s the family business. We’ve been hunting dragons for over sixteen generations, and I firmly believe the only thing scarier than a dragon... is my father, should I tell him I’m not going to cast spells for him anymore.”
Genevieve’s eyes suddenly grew wide, and she leaned close to whisper as if confessing a secret.
“You’re a mage? Should… should you be drinking?”
He looked down at his beer and said plainly,
“No, not really, and I’m a warlock.”
Noticing the confused look on her face he shook his head, slightly annoyed.
“Dark magic. I can channel the power of ancient demons. Super rare, mostly comes about through some mage family dabbling in things they shouldn’t be dabbling in. In my case The School of Magic believes it has something to do with just how much dragon blood my family has spilt over the years.”
“You went to The School of Magic?”
“I know, right! I could be a teacher, wandering wise man, advisor to the king. But no, I’ve got to be the good son who gets up before sunrise and goes out into the Gods forsaken badlands to hunt dragons and make my family proud. I mean, what the fuck, right?”
She stared at the man for a minute, wondering if she hadn’t made a mistake trying to bed this particular stranger, but at the same time, her curiosity was peaked.
“If you went to The School of Magic, then what’s your name?”
He took another long drink, scratched the back of his head nervously and said, slightly embarrassed,
“I know, I know, you were expecting something epic and magical. Someone the wise, or something the powerful? Everybody does.”
“Well, it’s just that normally mages have names like that.”
“Warlock, and yeah, normally they have better jobs too. But you want to know the worst part?”
Jeff took yet another large sip, giving just enough pause to seem like he cared about her answer, but not enough time for her to actually say anything.
“Warlocks are incredibly powerful. The most powerful a human can be actually. You can’t learn the kind of power I have; you have to be born with it. Kings, Emperors have specifically asked for my counsel, offering me a place in their courts, but no… oh no… my place is with my family. And do you know what the only thing more powerful than a warlock is?”
She thought the word but didn’t even try opening her mouth, knowing exactly where the conversation was going, and it wasn’t to the bedroom.
“Dragons… because they’re fucking made of magic.”
He finished his drink, again, and started looking around for the barman, while Genevieve turned to try see if there was anyone else in the bar she could work on. Realising it was a slow night, she let out a low sigh and said.
“Well, Jeff, I feel for you, I really do, but it’s getting late and I think I should be heading home.”
“Why? We’re here because there is a red dragon in the mountains over the town. We’re either going to kill it in the morning or anger it just enough that they destroy this whole place and kill everyone who lives here. I’m either about to become the richest man here or we’re all going to die. Gods help me, what kind of life is this!”
The cold touch of too much reality reached Genevieve’s heart, and she stared at him blankly. Then her gaze shifted to an elderly woman making her way across the room towards them. Jeff turned to look at her, then turned to see what she was looking at and instantly started yelling.
“Nobody touch her! Everyone get back!”
The woman leapt out of her robes and hit Jeff hard, knocking them both to the floor.
“What’s the matter dearie, you used to like playing murder games! You used to cry when nobody died? You used to cry at night when nobody died, what happened dearie?”
The creature’s voice was shrill and she sat on Jeff’s chest with her too-long fingers firmly around his neck. Her arms were long and stick-thin, and when she smiled you could see her razor-point teeth. Genevieve, having been working the bar scene for a number of years, knew the true value of breaking a chair over someone’s back, and knew that if you could break it over their face it worked far better. As the seat of the barstool slammed into the creature’s nose it lost its grip on Jeff just long enough for him to utter a single word. But that was all he needed. For a moment his eyes burned crimson and the creature erupted in unholy screams as its head caved in. With a bit of effort and a short grunt, he pushed it off him and get back up to his feet, only to see Genevieve and everyone else in the bar staring at him in horror.
“Ghouls, am I right? Ha, yeah, they… they can, uummm… they’re… drawn to dark magic. Sorry, I guess.”
Genevieve grabbed his arm in mild fright.
“You killed it, you killed it with a word, just one single word.”
“And you’re scared of dragons?”
He winced a little, knowing what was coming.
Her face turned ghostly pale.
“What am I still doing here? I need to get out of this town!”
He thought for a moment about trying to reassure her. But before he could find words two large heavily armed and armoured men burst into the room yelling with all their might, causing Jeff to once again roll his eyes.
“It’s alright, Dad, it's dead.”
The larger of the men punched the other in the arm.
“I told you we shouldn’t have left him alone, we almost lost our wizard, look at his neck.”
Genevieve, who was still standing next to Jeff, heard him mutter ‘Warlock’ under his breath. His father grabbed him by the arm and began pulling him away, talking about how he should get some rest before the morning, and how they still had a lot of planning to do. She then took the opportunity to slip out without paying for her drink, loading her horse with everything she needed and disappearing into the night. Desperate to get as far away as she could.