“Across a stretch of meadow hurried a swordsman. The meadow wasn’t a lush and green place, bursting with bright grasses and curious deer with flicking ears, nor were there happy birds’ songs or the humming of insects hidden deep among a sea of wildflowers. Nearing winter, no animals visited and travelers no longer passed through on horseback or with hooved creatures of any kind for the meadow had lost its tenderness, having been razed repeatedly by dragon fire, and shone like glass. To step on it was akin treading on ice and those unpracticed were apt to slip. More horses lost footing and broke legs there than any other place at any time of year.
“The swordsman, Hein, was no stranger to this place. His steps were sure. He’d come countless times in the company of his good friend to whose aid he currently rushed. His destination laid beyond a line of black firs, high-reaching and thin, ominous but toothless, behind which was a crater that had been fashioned by the clashes of beasts. These beasts were commonly large and so the crater was deep, a round pit in the earth that, in the rainy season, gathered water and became a lake.
“A cough of thunder reported from beyond the trees, jolting the bare ground and causing the tips of firs to wave. Unsettled but undaunted, Hein dashed through the treeline into the woods and drew his sword to be of use to his comrade the moment he breached the other side. He couldn’t see for the trees but the din was enough. He heard screams like superheated steam escaping a kettle, wind gusts like squalls from the pounding of leathery wings; his friend’s battle had already begun.”
NOTE: This is the fourth version of my response to this prompt in the last 24 hours because I’m a nerd. The first version was more of an outline for a short story but with no dialogue (because if I add dialogue, it won’t be “short”). (Basic story: the swordsman’s longtime companion is a coal-colored dragon who tries to break off their already unlikely friendship. Coal-Colored Dragon: “My battles are too big for you.” But what do BFF’s do? They show up anyway!)
However I wanted to keep it extra short for now so I rewrote the opening as a standalone scene and left it at that.