PodCastle 770: The Dragon Killer’s Daughter
The Dragon Killer’s Daughter
by MacKenzie R. Snead
Gayamiza was no stranger to pilgrims, but these two were not welcome — an old man and his daughter, foreignness sewn into their clothes, engraved in the blades they carried. The city let them in, as it did all acolytes, but as if swallowing food it was not accustomed to and ’didn’t particularly like. It coughed and gagged, people on the streets looking the other way, mothers ushering their young indoors. There was something about this pair the city didn’t trust, something more than the peculiarity of the father’s beard and the daughter’s burning hair. Any village fool could tell that they carried misdeeds in their pockets, that their pilgrimage was dishonest.
The journey had taken months, and now the father was too tired to walk. His daughter pulled him down the narrow streets in a wooden cart, bumping across unfriendly cobblestones without so much as a stumble. The locals found her strength disquieting, staring from their windows as she pulled her father along like some aged product nobody would buy. Strength like that was not natural in a girl, and shouldn’t be encouraged.
The old man squinted through heavy eyelids at the shining buildings, stiffly adjusting himself atop the armor and longsword that served as his bedfellows in the cart. “Where are we?” he asked hoarsely.
“Gayamiza, Father,” his daughter panted, not turning around to look at him. “Don’’t you recognize it?”
“No,” he croaked after a moment. “I’ve never been here.”
She knew that wasn’t true. The countless times he’d ventured to this place when she was a child, only to return with bowed head to a home sunk deeper and deeper in disgrace and poverty. She tightened her grip on the handles of the cart and leaned forward with determination. Her father would know something other than shame before he died. (Continue Reading…)