Rumour had it that one only ever entered a dragon's lair uninvited once in one's lifetime -- the unsaid conclusion being that one never lived long enough to leave and re-enter. While some dragons chose to live in the woodlands or on mountain tops, the oldest and most powerful dragons inhabited the bones of the earth, deep in rocky caves. It was such a dragon that Nyx had sought out. An older and more powerful beast that would give her the best chance of fae immortality. Standing in the shadow of the cliff, staring into the blackness of the cavern, Nyx felt her knees tremble and almost buckle. She knew her courage would fail if she stood here much longer, so taking a deep breath, she began to walk forwards into the darkness.
As Nyx entered the dragon's lair and disappeared from sight Tiana let loose a soft chuckle from her perch in a sunny tree-top. The silly sprite had fallen for that old wives tale, just like all the rest. In a couple of minutes, she would be nothing more than ash, incinerated into oblivion. There was no magical path to faeriehood or re-birth as a fae. Once a wood sprite, always a wood sprite -- that was the way of things. It always amazed Tiana how the lesser creatures aspired to being more than they were and their desire to rise above their place in the order of things. Nyx would never be anything more than a wonderful crafter of fine jewelry and she should have been happy with that fate. But alas, like all the mislead, over-reaching lower orders, she chose to sacrifice herself to a dragon because of a silly story the faeries "let slip" when they felt like a little entertainment. Unbeknownst to the gullible sprite, the elixir to enhance her beauty was actually a light oil, to heighten her flammability. Her hair had been laced with fine powders that combusted explosively rather than burned, and her clothing was all of dried materials that ached to oxidise in a most flamely manner.
Nyx felt her way into the cave, her left hand following the rocky wall as her eyes strained to pick out any detail in the pure darkness. Though sprites had very good night vision, superior to an owl's or a cat's, she was unable to pierce the inky blackness. Her soft grey boots made almost no sound on the hard rock and the silence was disturbing, but she was too afraid to whistle or hum to reassure herself. Just when she was about to turn around and give up, a deep voice boomed from above and behind her.
"Oh, what do we have here? A little sprite lost in the darkness, perhaps? Whatever would bring such a creature deep into a dragon's lair? Perhaps you are trying to steal my gold? Or maybe you've come seeking my magical aid? Well, speak your wishes little one so I may decide what to do with you."
Nyx knew that she needed the dragon to unleash his hottest, most powerful flame and that he would do so only when his emotions were at their strongest. She had rehearsed this moment in her mind a thousand times and was ready with a reply.
"I've come seeking a dragon's egg. I'm holding a brunch for all my friends and I have heard that they make the nicest omelettes. Would you happen to have one I could trade for? I have some ogre dung, or some mouldy wormwood I could give you in return. And if those treasures aren't enough, perhaps I could go find you a dead rat to fornicate with?"
Though she had meant to be reasonable and was more amused than anything by this unexpected little guest, Nyx's insulting and derogatory comments irked her, as well as her silly assumption that all dragons were male. It was obvious that she was trying to arouse her emotions, but she was baffled as to the reason why. Something wasn't as it seemed and, as she had learned with age, it was the unknown that was the most interesting and the most dangerous. Somehow she needed to uncover the sprite's motives and understand the situation.
Nyx paused for a moment while the dragon contemplated her words, and then she continued, "I'd offer to copulate with you myself, but even us wood sprites have standards you know. Perhaps I could go find you a nice tree with a hole in it for you to sate yourself? I'd try to be more helpful, but I don't want to tax your feeble, pathetic mind and your frail body. It must be hard being so old and ugly."
Nyx's comments hit the mark, causing her anger to flare. She wasn't ugly! Rearing on her hind legs, she arched her neck, thrush out her chest, and then snapped forward, exhaling as she did. Upon contact with the oxygen in the air, the alcohol saturated breath from her lower lungs burst into flame and surrounded the sprite. She heard the screams of pain as the fire ignited the oils on the sprite's skin, burning it away and exposing her inner core to the flames. Fanning her wings slowly, she added air to the fire and watched Nyx's flesh burn to the bone. In but a minute, all that remained was a small pile of brittle, charred, bones that easily crushed into dust beneath her clawed foot.
A tiny dark belch of smoke trickled out of the cave's mouth. The dragon's fire was hot and nicely incinerated all that it touched, leaving very little ash to darken the air. When Tiana saw the sooty remnants of the completed deed, she smiled and spread her wings in the warm sun. After letting them absorb the last of the afternoon's heat, she fluttered them softly to lift her off from her perch. Her work here was done and it was time to head home. At least she could travel quickly now, no longer slowed down by a plodding and mindlessly chattering wood sprite. Without so much as a backwards glance, she flew off, flittering above the trees. It was good to be a faerie.