This was written as a bit of flash fiction, limited to 500 words. It has 505. 🙂 That’s why it has an abrupt end.
“Infinitesimal. How do they do it?” He turned this way and that, seeking confirmation in the mirrors that he was still the handsomest of them all. “This embroidery is impressive, the way each tiny thread lies down next to its neighbors and yet remains separate. These women must be amply rewarded, Morton. See to it, will you? Oh, I do mean amply rewarded. A year’s income or….” His brows knotted together while his gaze turned to iron as he caught the look on his manservant’s face. “What is that look on your face for, man? I’ve seen it before, when you were struggling to avoid calling my brother the absolute fool he was. Am I being a fool, eh, Morton?”
“Oh, Your Highness, I would never say such a thing to you. You are anything but a fool. Indeed, I have often said to Jacob down in the stables when preparing to go riding with you, ‘Don’t think that because His Highness is a prince that he’s dense or doesn’t grasp things well.’”
A small chunk of amusement settled in the dimples near the corners of his mouth. “Come, come, Morton. There is something. Just say it, man! I shan’t bite your head off.”
“‘Tisn’t your teeth which concern me. Your Highness is known for the sharpness of your sword, you know.”
“Hmmmm. I do spend quite a lot of time honing and oiling it. A shame I shan’t be allowed to use it in battle. I hear I am quite good. But then they have to say that to me, don’t they, Morton? ‘Tisn’t permitted to correct one’s liege.”
Despite his smile, Morton knew better than to take this too far. He could be somewhat familiar with the prince, thanks to long acquaintance, but only somewhat. “Not truly a correction, Your Highness, for I made the same … mis-speaking when first I saw this self-same cloak and knew it would suit you. It is not embroidery.”
“Don’t be foolish, Morton! I can see the threads! If it isn’t embroidered, what could it be?”
“They are scales, young sire.”
“Scales? Don’t be daft, man! Who ever heard of scales looking like this?” He shook the cloak in Morton’s face.
“Scales as a fish would have, or a snake.”
“This is no fish or snake, nor even many skins sewn together. Nothing could be this large.” He turned again, surveying his backside in the mirror.
“Nothing save an arach,” Morton whispered, dropping into the Old Tongue.
“An arach? You can’t be serious! Dragons are myths, Morton. You taught me that when I was only a lad.”
“So we thought then, young sire.”
“And what is so different about now?”
“Our border patrols have seen them. You’ve heard the reports.”
“Heard? Aye, but believed? Nay. Tales to keep disobedient children in bed.”
“Am I a child, then?”
The prince stumbled and only Morton’s quick reflexes saved him from being trampled by the restive horses stamping along behind them. “You? You have seen an arach?”
“Aye, Your Highness, aye.”