The consistent hum of the rushing water from the towering waterfall was gradually putting Ras to sleep. The water glowed with a soft radiance from the full moon above and everything felt calm in the world. As if everything was far too calm, something attached to the back of his shirt and jerked hard. Ras flailed and fell backwards from his comfortable position leaning against a boulder beside the waterfall.
“Stay still,” Aden cried out from nearby, setting aside his big hat and fishing rod.
In an instant, Ras knew it had happened again. Aden always loved going out to fish but rarely caught anything with scales. Aden mostly caught him.
“How many times do I have to show you how to throw the line out before it gets through your thick skull?”
“I know. I’m sorry,” Aden stated, gingerly removing the hook from the back of his friend’s tunic.
“Why can’t you have any normal past times? Like whittling wood or playing pranks on the girls in town?” Ras continued to whine.
“Well, remember how well I did with the whittling knife? Almost cut my hand off!”
“Oh, yeah,” Ras said, grinning from the recollection of that memory. “There was blood everywhere.”
“Yeah, my blood. So I would much rather fish and pretend to be good at something,” Aden declared.
Ras raised his hands in defeat. “Have it your way. I’m just getting tired of being your biggest catch.”
“One day soon, you won’t be. I’m going to bring back the biggest fish anyone in town has ever seen.”
“You wouldn’t be able to carry it two feet.”
“That’s why you’re here,” Aden informed him. “You’re also my witness.”
“Less yapping and more catching then,” his friend ushered, wanting to catch back up on his napping.
“You’ll see,” Aden mumbled to himself as Ras settled back against the boulder.
Paying more attention to where he threw his line, he tossed it over the edge into darkness and waited patiently. It felt like hours before he felt a little tug on the line and he jerked up on the fishing pole with all his might. He huffed in disappointment when he didn’t find a fish on the end and carefully tossed the line back over. At some point during the long night, he dozed off and a strong tug on his fishing line jerked the pole right out of his hand. He was clear-headed enough to see it whisk away into the darkness while a lump of panic dropped like acid into his stomach.
Aden’s shout of outrage roused Ras in an instant and he joined him at the edge, staring down hopelessly toward the seemingly endless bottom of the waterfall. Aden’s pale moonlit cheeks were flushed with disappointment and anger at his own stupidity. His father had told him a week earlier that fishing pole was going to be his last one and he would have to find a cheaper past time.
“Well,” Ras began. “Guess you’re back to whittling then.”
“How can you say that?” Aden yelled, rounding on his friend.
“Aden, calm down. It’s just another fishing pole. We should be getting back anyway.”
Ras’s inability to feel sympathy for his loss enraged him further and he shoved him, watching as he lost his balance. Ras’s shoulder collided painfully with a nearby boulder and he quickly turned to face his friend, backing away from the edge for safety. His timing couldn’t have been better as the ground beneath them began to quake and tremble, growing worse by the second.
“Aden, over here,” Ras shouted, holding onto a secure boulder with one hand and grasping for his friend through the dust screen caused by debris in the air.
It felt like hours before Aden grasped his hand and was a visible outline through the debris. Ras pulled him close and the two clung on for dear life, not knowing if they were going to live to see another sunrise. Almost as soon as it had started, the quaking and trembling halted, allowing the dust to settle at their feet. Part of the ledge they were fishing off of had crumbled away along with Ras’s favorite boulder.
“What was that?” Aden gasped out, choking on the leftover dust in his throat.
“Had to be an earthquake,” Ras was replying just as another vibration jolted through the rocks surrounding the waterfall.
The terror in Aden’s voice had Ras following his gaze upwards to the middle of the waterfall itself where a massive blue horned head was forcing its way out. A long, scaly neck soon followed along with a pair of wings. The beast paused for a moment, wings bracing it against the waterfall as it caught its breath. The boys, frozen in terror, had hands clasped across each other’s mouths so neither of them would let out the scream building up inside. When the beast’s gleaming eyes roamed in their direction and hovered, they found themselves unable to breathe.
At last, the beast looked away and dragged the rest of its body free of its watery prison. Its long, spiked tail lashed around as it tried to gain balance. Just as the boys were starting to hyperventilate, the beast launched itself off of the waterfall with a loud whooshing sound and disappeared into the night. Aden and Ras stared at each other in horror and excitement.
“We are going to be in so much trouble,” Aden whimpered, already beginning to pace.
“Just imagine if we could have taken that back to the town with us! You’d be the next great dragon slayer,” Ras exclaimed.
“Instead, we just released it and I’ll be forever known as the town idiot.”
“Well, there is that,” Ras chuckled.