Continuing the narrative of Louis Baston’s first case.
Louis Baston struck a match and touched it to his pipe. His hands were trembling as he coaxed the pipe to glow.
“Chilly, perhaps?” said Rosa de la Croix. She was leaning against a blue roadster with a map of the French Alps in her hands.
“Yes, just a bit,” Louis replied. Both of them knew that the brief encounter with the dragon was the cause, but neither cared to address the real reason for the trembling.
It was odd to Louis. When he was a arm’s width from the beast’s jaws, he’d just stood there mesmerized by the creature. It was only later, when he had time to reflect on it that he began to shake.
“He’s a big one, and quite cranky as well,” Rosa said. “I can only dare to imagine what will happen when he decides to wander down the mountain. Killing a few sheep won’t satisfy him for long. With his temperament I’d guess we have less than a month before he grows bored with sheep and decides to hunt farmers.
Dragons weren’t common in the French Alps nor any other mountain range it particular. They seemed to wander up from some crack in the ground with no rhyme or reason. The ones that emerged in isolated areas of the world were often content to stay away from human civilization. On occasion a one may crawl from the ground and make a nest so secluded that humans will never know about them.
Others met humans head on with all the fire and destruction they could muster. Learning to know which is which was now Louis Baston’s job. He’d only been appointed as Secretary of the Bureau of Dragons for one week and here he was in the thick of things. How in the hell, did I get here? he thought. Someone’s made a mistake. What do I know about dragons?
As if reading his thoughts, Rosa turned to him and smiled, “You’ve done quite admirably, Monsieur. Why, most people would be in shock, worse off…dead. I’ve been at this for nearly eight years and it shakes my nerve seeing them up close.”
“Rosa, what made you become a warden?” Louis had read the dossier on her and how at the age of 17, she had single-handily slain a large dragon in the Spanish Pyrenees. She had saved her village from certain destruction, yet became looked upon with superstition. People couldn’t understand how she had done it.
“I guess you could say dragon hunting is in my blood,” she smiled.
“Wardens don’t kill dragons, at least that’s what I’ve read, ” Louis continued, “In fact–”
“Facts only get you so far, Monsieur Secrétaire. You do realize that the French government is fabricating a story to explain the disappearance of the herds of sheep in this region? Wardens are honor bound not to kill, but I would readily defend myself if pressed to do so. I killed a dragon to keep my village safe, now I serve as a warden to protect dragons too. Trust only what you see, hear, and touch for yourself. There is more out there than we know.”
What a remarkable woman, Louis thought. She has lived most of her adult life in pursuit of dragons, but has the sensibilities of someone three times her age. Louis didn’t think her overly pessimistic except when discussing politics, yet he admired her courage and strength.
Rosa folded up the map neatly and placed it in her rucksack. She brushed a leaf out of her dark hair and stood up. “We’ve got plenty to do before sunset. There’s a small town nearby, Bonneval. There we may find our hero.”
Louis stood up and stretched. He still had a kink in his back from ducking for cover when the dragon had swooped at them. “I hope Bonneval has a nice warm inn…I remember reading that–”
But Rosa was already putting the roadster in gear. It was all that Louis could do to hang on as she raced down the narrow mountain road.
Somewhere high overhead, the dragon took wing. Flapping his leathery sails to gain altitude, his blood was up from the chase of two creatures. They were not sheep and that’s what thrilled him all the more. This was something different. His curiosity got the better of him and he turned on one large wing and made a lazy arc towards the town of Bonneval.
Visit the Bureau of Dragons again for our next episode.