Summary: The story of Brigid the Dragon Hunter begins.
Author's Note: Sorry. I'd forgotten I was posting this here. Catching up with what is posted elsewhere.
Word Count: 3,293
"Brigid went on her first dragon hunt when she was sixteen," Brittany said. "She was at one of the King's forts near her family compound, buying supplies for the winter, when she heard that the Princess, a distant cousin, had been kidnapped."
"Rescuing a princess from a dragon, that's a classic," Kurt said, nodding with approval.
"Hummel!" Santana growled. Kurt held up his hands in surrender.
Sighing, Brittany shook her head before continuing.
"Brigid had never gone on a dragon hunt before, but she'd been her father's unofficial apprentice before he disappeared on a mission for the King, his cousin. He'd been very honest with her, explaining that she'd probably never get to hunt a real dragon, because women, especially those related to the king, couldn't be real dragon hunters. But he wanted someone to carry on the family business and taught her so she could teach her sons to hunt dragons."
"That's discrimination," Rachel blurted out. "Women can be just as good hunters as men!"
"Better," Kennedy said, nodding, and winking at her.
Brittany ignored them and went on with her story. "Brigid listened around the castle. She wasn't impressed by the gossiping guards and hunters. Everyone talked about the reward but no one seemed to be planning to rescue the princess. From her father's tales of past hunts, Brigid knew that dragons rarely kept their prisoners alive for more than a day or two before eating them, unless they were enchanted. But none of them seemed to be in any hurry. Even with the reward the king must be offering.
Running into one of her father's old hunting buddies, Lars, a sergeant with the castle troop, she asked him why.
'She's a brat,' he said. 'The King sent her to the fort because she wasn't behaving, and she didn't make any friends here.'
'So, no one is going after her,' Brigid said. 'What's the reward?' she asked, though knowing her uncle he would probably try to cheat whomever rescued the princess out of it anyway.
'The usual,' he said. 'Her hand in marriage.'
'That's not much of a reward,' Brigid said. 'If we were one of those Southern kingdoms, marrying the princess would mean getting the kingdom. Here it's just another mouth to feed. And her dowery.'
'Not much of a dowery,' Lars said. 'Rumor has it he spent it years ago.'
'Sounds like my uncle,' Brigid said, grimacing.
'That's right, she's your cousin,' Lars said, nodding to himself. 'Are you going after her?'
'I have to get these supplies home,' Brigid said, shaking her head. 'She's probably dead already.'
'Don't let anyone hear you talking like that,' Lars said, walking to the gate with her.
'It's the truth,' Brigid said. 'I'll see you in the spring?'
'Unless the King sends us all after the dragon,' he said.
Nodding, Brigid slipped out of the gate and headed home.
Brittany paused for a sip of coffee.
"She isn't going after the dragon?" Kurt asked. "What about the princess?"
"Would you?" Quinn asked. "What about her family?"
Brittany coughed to get their attention.
"Sorry," Kurt said. "Continue."
"It was a ten day trip by foot, from the fort to home," Brittany said. "And it was cold and wet, an early snow had hit on her way to the fort. Half way home, she noticed she was being followed. Doubling back, she discovered it was a band of marauders planning to follow her home and then steal the dragon gold they thought was hidden in her family compound. She stopped them but that's a story for another day."
"But that's one of the best parts," Santana said. "Brigid was a badass."
"Maybe later," Brittany said. "We don't have time for that story right now."
"Moving on," Quinn said impatiently. "What happened after she defeated the marauders?"
"Brigid talked with her mother about her cousin, and the dragon signs she'd seen outside the fort. Her mother agreed that the princess might be dead by now but she was family and her father, the King, deserved to know what happened to his daughter, her cousin, if she wasn't. So, after looking at maps and working out a basic plan with her mother, Brigid packed up her dragon hunting clothes and weapons and headed back to the fort."
"What kinds of weapons," Kennedy asked, interrupting her. "You'd need something really sharp for a dragon."
"And fireproof armor," Buffy added. "Maybe a shield, though if she's traveling on foot she'd have to be strong already."
"Slayers," Willow muttered in a low voice. "Ladies, she'll tell us if it matters for the story," she said. "Now, hush."
Brittany nodded, and continued.
"She didn't have time to pack everything. She had to pack clothes and food, and climbing tools, because dragons lived in mountains. So she packed her favorite rope, and a climbing hook, and some dried food. And a fishhook and line to catch fish. If the princess was alive she'd have to hunt. She couldn't carry enough for both of them.
Brigid didn't have armor or a shield, just her staff and knives. She couldn't take the bow, her mother and brother might need it. But she did have a sling, and rocks were easy to find."
"A knife and a sling against a dragon?" Kurt said, aghast. "Even I know she's going to get herself killed. Shouldn't she have a magic sword or something?"
"Remember, she's not officially a dragon hunter," Brittany said. "She's just a girl. She didn't know how to use a sword or one of the war axes the marauders left behind. Her father taught her how to use his spear but her mother wouldn't let her take it."
"Why not? Rachel asked.
"It was magic, blessed by her great grandfather Thor," Brittany said. "It could cut through the toughest hide. But her mother said, if she took it with her, they would say it was the spear that defeated the dragon, not her. And they'd never let her become an official dragon hunter."
"That's not fair," Rachel said. "Kurt's right. She's going to get killed."
"No," Brittany said. "She doesn't. I wouldn't be telling this story if she did, because I wouldn't be here."
"Oh, right," Rachel said sheepishly. "Sorry."
"Brigid was worried about this," Brittany said, "she knew her chances of defeating a dragon with a staff and a sling weren't very good. But she had ideas. And plans. And thought she could outsmart a dragon dumb enough to steal her cousin.
So, first thing in the morning, she headed back to the fort, her little brother and her mother waving at her from the gate of their compound. She traveled as fast as she could to get there. Ten days to get home, another ten to get back to the fort. The longer it took the less likely her cousin was alive. If the dragon didn't eat her, she'd probably starve, since they usually didn't feed their captives.
The fort seemed normal when she got there. She'd managed it in eight days. She didn't have much time. Before looking for Lars, she walked around fort in a widening circle, looking for dragon signs, marking down everything she found, hoping it would be useful."
"Smart," Kurt said. At Brittany's glare he blushed and mimed zipping his lips shut.
Shaking her head, Brittany continued. "Entering the fort, she hunted for Lars, eventually finding him in a crowded, smelly tavern filled with soldiers from the fort.
'Have there been any signs of the princess,' she asked, once she convinced him to go outside. 'Was it really dragons or did she just run away from my Uncle?'
'They found her boots a days journey from here,' he said, leaning forward.
'That isn't normal dragon behavior,' Brigid muttered. 'Maybe she was kidnapped?'
'Maybe. But they've stopped looking,' he said. 'They aren't going to find her.'
'She's my cousin,' Brigid said. 'Don't tell anyone I'm going after her.' She didn't want anyone following her and taking credit if she rescued the princess. She hoped she could trust him, he'd been her father's friend.
After talking with him, she replenished her food supplies, and headed back out. The dragon burns were still there in the fields in front of the fort, pointing towards the Whistling Mountains, and probably would be there until the spring rains washed them away.
'Are you sure you want to do this,' Lars asked her quietly, before she left. 'The King won't give you the reward if you do bring her back, and the priests won't let you marry the princess. They think it's unnatural.'
'She's family,' Brigid said. 'Why would I want to marry her anyway?'
Lars laughed and shook his head. 'May the gods go with you, Brigid,' he said. 'And watch out for the dark elves who live in the Whistling mountains.'
'They won't see me,' she said.
'If they catch you, you might be able to bribe them,' Lars told her.
"What are dark elves?" Rachel asked, interrupting Brittany. "Are they evil?"
"No, they just aren't friendly to people," Brittany said. "There's a dark elf clan mound out by Miller's Pond. But they don't like visitors."
"is that why there are all those Keep Out signs near there?" Kurt asked. "Real elves?"
"Yes," Brittany said, ignoring the skeptical looks she was getting. "And they mean it."
"So, no exploring," Willow said. "No looking for elves. And that means you too," she said, poking Kennedy and Buffy.
"What happened next?" Rachel asked eagerly. "Does she meet the elves? Or find the princess?"
"Patience, shorty," Santana said.
Brittany took a sip of coffee, frowning at the cold drink. Sighing, she continued. "Brigid followed the dragon path across the plain. Reaching the forest, she found a small hidden camp. Hidden under a log was a small, princess sized glove. 'So, we have a princess running around without boots or a glove. Strange,' she thought.
"Princess sized?" Quinn asked.
"Princesses back then were supposed to be tiny," Brittany said. "Dainty. Ornamental."
"Like Rachel?" Kurt asked, smirking.
"I'm not tiny," she said. "I'm just the right size.
"Not that kind of tiny," Brittany said. "More like Ms. Summers. And not like Brigid who was tall for a girl back then."
Kennedy poked Buffy. "Dainty, Boss!"
"How tall was Brigid?" Buffy asked, ignoring Kennedy.
"Taller than Quinn, or me," Brittany said,"but she wasn't huge. Taller than Puck?"
"Who's Puck?" Kennedy asked.
"He wanted to clean your pool," Rachel said.
"Pool boy?" Kennedy laughed. "A little too much testosterone for my taste," she said, waving at Brittany to continue.
"There was a faint trail leading deeper into the forest so she followed it. Around dusk, she reached a much larger clearing. There was a large pole in the center and the smell of fresh blood spilled in large amounts around it. It looked like someone had trapped a large animal, possibly a dragon.
Brigid climbed a large tree on the edge of the clearing and looked around. From her perch in the tree she could see burn marks, confirming her guess that it had been a dragon. Something had been used to attract it to the clearing, and she had a bad feeling what that had been."
"So, no more princess?" Quinn asked. "She's dragon food?"
"More like a snack," Kennedy said.
Brittany ignored them and continued. "Finishing the apple she'd been chewing on, she made herself comfortable in the tree and waited for morning, no longer in a hurry. She didn't think anyone was going to find the princess. Not even a finger bone to take back.
In the morning, she climbed down from the tree, and headed towards the mountains she'd seen from her tree. If she couldn't rescue the princess, maybe she could at least kill the dragon and avenge her and stop it from eating the fort's sheep."
"Go Brigid!" Santana said. "Don't tell her not to hunt dragons."
"How will she know which dragon it was?" Rachel said. "She could kill an innocent one."
"Dragons aren't innocent," Santana said. "They eat people. And sheep."
"I've seen some evil sheep," Buffy said. "The dragon could just be thinning the herds of evil sheep."
"Boss," Kennedy said, reaching across Willow and poking her. "Not those kind of sheep."
"You don't know that," Buffy said, batting her eyelashes at her. "They could be demon sheep."
"Ladies," Willow said, putting her hands on their mouths, "let Brittany finish her story. The flirting can wait."
"My coffee's cold," Brittany said, frowning. She pushed against Santana.
"Just a minute," Santana said, slipping out of the booth. "Your regular?"
"And a muffin?" Brittany said, giving her a hopeful look. Nodding, Santana stalked towards the front of the shop, ignoring the others.
"What happened next?" Kurt asked. Brittany shook her head, point at Santana waiting in line. "Oh right," Kurt murmured. No one talked while they waited for her to return.
"Hey you go, babe," Santana said, placing the coffee and muffin in front of Brittany before sliding back into the booth, receiving a quick kiss on the cheek from Brittany in the process. They waited, some more patient than the others, for Brittany to finish her muffin.
Brittany took a large gulp from her hot coffee, washing down the last of her muffin. "Where was I... oh yeah..." she muttered, before continuing.
"It took Brigid three days to reach the foothills of the Whistling Mountains. She hadn't believed in the dark elves, not really, until she stepped out of the forest and found a wide, sparkling white stone road running along the edge before heading towards the mountains. None of the roads in her uncle's kingdom looked that good, even in his capital. She hoped she didn't run into any of them, she didn't have anything to bribe them with.
She'd been walking down the road for hours, when she felt something, like the feeling just before a storm arrived, a slow wind almost pushing her back. Stopping, she sat down on a large stone on the side of the road and drank some of her precious water.
There was a noise, like rocks against metal. Looking up, Brigid saw a tall, dark creature that resembled a horse, though instead of hooves it had claws, and its teeth looked like they could bite her in half. She shivered at the wild look it gave her.
Sitting on it was a tall creature with golden hair, resembling a person the way a dire wolf resembled a dog, dressed in white and green armor that glowed."
"Magical armor?" Rachel asked eagerly. "Is it an elf?"
"Patience, shorty," Santana said, waving for Brittany to continue.
"Standing, Brigid bowed nervously to the creature.
'Why are you here,' it asked. It's voice echoed like the wind off the mountains in a blizzard.
'A dragon has been stealing sheep from the fort,' Brigid said, bravely facing the elf. 'It needs to be stopped before it starts stealing small children.' She didn't mention the missing, probably dead, princess to the creature.
"Why not?" asked Kurt.
"Why not what?" Quinn asked.
"Why didn't she mention the princess?" he asked.
"Dark elves are tricksters," Brittany said. "You don't tell them things they don't need to know or can be used against you."
"Oh," Kurt said, nodding, though it was clear from his expression that he didn't understand.
'Something has been abusing our dragon-kin,' the elf said. 'They do not eat sheep. Or children.'
Brigid shook her head. 'Sheep are missing and there are signs of dragon.'
The elf looked at her, gazing deep into her eyes.
A chill ran through Brigid's bones. She tried to keep her face blank. This was not like facing a dragon, or even those raiders.
'You shall come with me,' the elf said' , Brittany said, using an echoing voice.
"And that's so going to end well," Kennedy said, shaking her head.
"You'd go, Cuz," Santana said.
"Of course," Kennedy said. "But I've fought meaner and bigger things than some elf in glowing armor."
"Cuz?" Quinn said, looking back and forth between Kennedy and Santana.
"Got a problem with that?" Santana said, leaning forward.
"Ladies," Willow said, stopping them. "Save it for later. I can't believe there're two more of you," she said, looking at Buffy and Kennedy.
"We don't have UST, like them," Buffy said, "so, not the same."
"Yeah," Kennedy said, slumping back.
"UST?" Rachel asked, looking at them with wide eyes.
"I can see that," Kurt said, nodding.
"San is mine," Brittany said, pulling her close. She pointed a finger at Quinn. "No poaching."
"I don't want her," Quinn said, blushing, and almost sitting in Rachel's lap in an attempt to get as far away from Santana as possible. "Why would I want her?"
"Who wouldn't want me?" Santana said, smirking. "But we have to go." She slid out of the booth, pulling Brittany with her.
"But she didn't finish," Rachel said.
"You kept interrupting," Santana said, slinging her bag over one shoulder and handing Brittany hers. "We have places to be." She impatiently tugged on Brittany's hand.
"We can hear the rest of the story some other time," Buffy said. "Thanks for telling us this part, Brittany."
Brittany nodded, resisting Santana's pull. "Next time we'll find out how Brigid got her super powers," she said. "And maybe, if we have time, how she went on her first dragon hunt."
"We'll be looking forward to it," Buffy said. She waited until they were gone before turning to the others. "And no bugging her for the rest of the story. She'll tell us when she's ready."
"Yes, Coach," the three remaining teens answered. Picking up their things they followed Brittany and Santana out of the coffee shop.
"Oh, look, it's just the three of us," Buffy said. "What will we talk about?"
"I have to head back to Cleveland," Willow said.
"Got a hot date?" Kennedy asked, glaring at her.
"No," Willow said, getting out of the booth. "I just have to get back."
"Both of you are going back to the house," Buffy said firmly. "Kennedy, you take my car, and I'll go with Willow."
"Yes, Boss!" Kennedy said grinning.
"And no side trips or scratches," Buffy said, holding out the keys.
"Of course," Kennedy said, grabbing them and rushing out of the shop.
"Still have that Porsche?" Willow asked.
"How'd you guess?" Buffy said.
Willow waved in the direction Kennedy had gone. "I can tell." She reluctantly followed Buffy out, pointing to her little eco-box. "You're going to make us talk, aren't you."
"The two of you need to," Buffy said. "There seems to be a huge misunderstanding. Even I can see it."
"No misunderstanding," Willow said, unlocking the car doors. Sliding behind the wheel, she waited for Buffy to get in before continuing. "She asked me to marry her, and I said I wasn't ready. She didn't take it well."
"That's an understatement," Buffy said, staring at her. "She thinks you broke up with her."
"No, I didn't," Willow said, shaking her head.
"She's the one you need to convince," Buffy said. "Do you remember how to get to the house?"
"Of course," Willow said.
"No rush," Buffy said. "Ken will take the long way round."
"You actually trust her with that car," Willow said. "How did that happen. You've never let anyone else drive it before."
Buffy shrugged. "Seemed like a good idea at the time."
"You'll let me know when Brittany is going to tell the rest of that story?" Willow asked, before putting her car in drive. "I'd like to hear it, if possible."
"Yes," Buffy said. She leaned back. closed her eyes, and pretended to sleep all the way home.