Patrick looked up and saw a guy in his mid-30s looking at him with a pleasant smile. Patrick nodded at him and looked away. Today, he was not in the mood to chat.
The guy brought two beers and sat in front of him.
“It looks like it was passed on to you by someone,” the man continued.
Patrick nodded again without touching the beer.
“Have you ever used it?”
A third nod followed by a fond memory that gave him a brief smile.
“Tell me about it.”
“You are persistent.”
“I’m happy today. On a six weeks break. And I want to share that happiness with you,” he said. “By the way, my name is Damien.”
“Patrick,” Patrick said and picked up the beer.
“So, when have you used it?”
“Let’s just say I killed a dragon with this gun,” Patrick said with a grin.
“Oooh,” Damien said waving his hands.
Patrick knew Damien didn’t believe him but he didn’t mind. It would be harder to explain to him that there is an alternate dimension where his gun Alara takes him where he fights dragons which are vicious and intelligent creatures who are trying to come to Earth.
“Should you keep such an important gun in the open like this?” Damien continued when Patrick didn’t say anything.
“The gun wanted some open space. Besides, I don’t think anyone would steal an old gun.”
In truth, Alara will return to him no matter where he goes. As long as he doesn’t willingly pass it on to someone or he dies, Alara is going to return to him automagically.
‘Not hard for a sentient gun,’ Alara had said when he had dropped it and ran away from it.
“What do you do?” Patrick asked Damien.
“Well. If you are killing dragons then I’m a contract killer who works for a private organization,” Damien said. He was telling the truth as he worked for an organization called M.A.I.D. and has killed people before but he didn’t see the need to lie as he knew Patrick wouldn’t believe it.
“Interesting. And how many people have you killed before?”
“Five. In fact, that’s why I got this break. To relax after finishing an assignment.”
“Congrats on your success.” Patrick said.
The two continued talking, bantering about who was a better killer – a dragon hunter or a contract killer, both giving details about how they would approach their targets. To each, the other person was lying while they were telling the truth. To each, their story was an interesting truth while the other person was just trying to match their truth with an exaggerated lie.
“Okay! So, you are telling me that you have killed a dragon the size of a whale.”
“Yeah. Not a blue whale. Just a huge animal.”
“And you are telling me that you did all that with this tiny gun.”
This could have gone on for a long time but they were interrupted.
“Excuse me! Did I hear that you have killed dragons?” A girl who was sitting at the neighboring table said.
“Yes,” Patrick said.
“Were you serious or were you joking?”
Patrick didn’t know how to respond to that. He had never been asked this question before. People just assumed that he was joking and moved on, as Damien did. No one had ever followed up on that question.
‘You can tell her. She’s a phoenix.’ Patrick heard Alara’s voice in his head. Alara had told him about phoenix once who were the sentient beings on the planet where dragons lived. Patrick looked at her trying to see if there were any signs that differentiated her from the rest. He couldn’t find any.
“I was serious. I hope that’s not going to be a problem.”
“Absolutely not. It’s fascinating. Tell me more.”
Patrick started telling her and Damien about how the previous owner of the gun gave it to him along with some instructions. He also told them about his first fight with a dragon.
“Wow! Impressive.” The girl said.
“Should I believe all this?” Damien said looking from one to another.
“It’s your choice. I’m fine with whatever you believe,” Patrick said.
“How can you believe this tale?” Damien asked the girl.
“I have seen dragons.”
Patrick was about to tell him that he shouldn’t believe it if he doesn’t want but was interrupted by Alara.
“Do you want to see the dragons?” Patrick asked Damien and the girl.
Both nodded. The girl eagerly and Damien reluctantly.
Patrick pocketed Alara and grabbed Damien’s and the girl’s hand.
“By the way. What’s your name?” Patrick asked the girl.
The three of them were transported to the other dimension where two dragons, each the size of a blue whale looked at them. One was the color of a blue onyx and the other was marble white in color.
“Welcome to the wonderland.” Patrick said and regretted bringing them along. ‘Did I just doom them to inevitable death just to prove my point?’ he thought.
‘When a phoenix is close, the dragons find it easier to travel.’ Alara said to Patrick.
‘Oh! So it’s not all my fault.’ Patrick said to Alara in his mind.
‘You’re the one who brought them along.’ Alara added and Patrick grimaced.
“Okay. I will attack them and try to distract them while you guys keep distance.”
“I’ll take care of the other one.” Ishita said.
“Are you sure?”
“He’s a bit bigger but I think I can handle it or at least keep it occupied long enough.”
“I’ll help you.” Damien said. He had initially gone in shock but his training had now kicked in and he was twirling a gun in his hand.
“You weren’t joking then?” Patrick asked.
“Nope. And as I can see, neither were you. By the way Ishita, how are we gonna hurt that huge-ass dragon?”
“My plan is to turn huge-ass myself.” Ishita said and turned into a phoenix. She was now larger than an elephant, dull red plumage with bright orange feathers here and there. While she was nowhere close to the size of the dragons, most of the dragon’s body was a long neck and a long tail and their core body sizes were closer to each other.
“Woah!” Both Patrick and Damien said together. Neither had seen a phoenix before. Ishita picked Damien and flew towards the white dragon.
Patrick attacked the blue one.
The three of them returned to the same spot, almost at the same time so one felt their absence or even realized that they had vanished.
“More beer?” Patrick asked.
“Yep.” Both Ishita and Damien replied.
“I still can’t believe what happened.” Damien said.
“Yeah. I have felt that kind of thrill after a long time.” Ishita added.
Patrick smiled. He couldn’t believe that all of them came back fairly unscathed. It took time but he was able to kill the blue dragon with Alara. Ishita and Damien had been able to keep the white dragon distracted for the whole time without getting hurt. In fact, they had almost pinned the dragon down by the time he reached and all he had to do was shoot it to finish it off. All his battles had been solo and they were a challenge. This time, with an advantage of two to three, even with larger enemies, it felt easier.
“It’s probably unprecedented but do you guys want to help me in the future as well?” Patrick asked them both.
“Wow! Yes.” Ishita said almost instantly.
“Of course,” Damien said and grinned. “What do they say? A dragon-hunter, a phoenix, and a contract killer walked into a bar.”
Patrick and Ishita laughed.