Jennifer R. Povey is in her mid thirties, and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband. She writes a variety of speculative fiction, whilst following current affairs and occasionally indulging in horse riding and role playing games. She has prior sales to Analog and Digital Science Fiction. Her first novel, "Transpecial," was published by Musa Publishing in April, 2013.
Derik had no magic. To his people, in his world, that was like being born without a sense or a limb.
He had no magic, and thus he was suited only to the most menial of tasks, and employed out of pity in a job that could have been done by an ensorcelled beast or, perhaps, a golem.
He had no magic, and thus the village girls passed him by, for none wanted to risk passing on such a disability to her children.
He lived alone in a small house that he kept up with an odd, almost pathological neatness, as if to prove that he could do some things well. The children called him Nothing, when they called him anything at all. They mocked him, casting their little cantrips and then running away.
Derik had no magic, and thus he was the least of men.
When the dragon came, it came as they often did. Out of the northern sky, from the mountain fastnesses where its kind lived in whatever society they held amongst themselves.
It took five of the children as hostages, for dragons always take hostages. And always young and attractive ones, as if young humans were, somehow, attractive to them. And from that it forced the villagers to labor for it. All counted the days until it would depart, for dragons always departed, in the end. Always flew away, but this one seemed bent on remaining. This one had them build it a great pavilion, large enough to contain its silvered-grey bulk.
Derik had no magic, and thus the dragon ignored him. It took their labor and their magic, took everything but what they needed to barely survive. When somebody tried to attack it with an ancient spear, it ate one of the hostages, then demanded five more.
Derik had no magic, and he had no care for those who had always treated him ill because of it. Yet, some few had treated him well, with pity if not sympathy or understanding. Pity that was at once better and worse than their hatred.
The dragon ignored him. It ignored him even as he sneaked into its pavilion at night, when it slept. Derik did not release the hostages nor did he steal the dragon's accumulated treasure. He merely studied its dormant form, taking the measure of its jaws, its eyes. Of its head, the size of a small horse.
Derik had no magic and thus was always ignored. Three times he sneaked back, three times he found the dragon asleep. On the third time, he opened the doors of the gilded cages that held the children.
On the third time he plunged a pitchfork right into the dragon's eye, with all of his strength. It sensed no magic and thus it did not awaken until it was too late, until agony went through it in the moments before its death.
They did not give Derik a hero's burial. The dragon's death throes had not left enough for that. But they named him hero, and they drank to him in the bars and the taverns.
Serena had no magic...