The bitter wind whipped through his clothes as he tried to pull the jacket together. Shivering, he breathed out hard. As he walked through the snow a black shape followed at a discreet distance. Around him the dark woods were silent.
On and on he walked, looking at the ground watching his step. Sometimes he would look up to see the way ahead. When he could not find what he was looking for he turned away with a heavy sigh. If he had looked to the sky, he would have seen the black shape flitting across the moon.
The man would have recognised it as a dragon. It was following his every step. Like the two beings were linked. When he stumbled, the dragon slowed. Onwards they moved until they reached the edge of the woods.
When the man looked up, he could see lights in the distance, and it warmed his heart. People, he thought. A smile passed over his features as he neared the first house. Two windows were lit on the ground floor and in one he could see a woman reading. Approaching the door, he straightened up and knocked.
The door opened and two souls greeted each other warmly. The man could smell cooking and asked if he could come inside. The woman nodded and he entered.
As he sat eating the dragon slipped past the window and landed heavily outside. The woman looked out while the man sighed, placed down his knife and fork and waited. It did not take long.
The walls were the first to break as the dragon smashed through one side of the house. Before it had a chance to return the man apologised to the woman and turned to leave. He looked at the dragon resentfully as it lifted off once more.
Twice more the man found refuge. Twice more the dragon destroyed them. He was running out of houses. By this time the snow had started to fall heavily. After a long trek he saw a light. Just one faint glimmer.
Getting closer he saw there were three people in this house. A man and two women. Perhaps this was the house he was looking for?
When he knocked, the tallest of the women answered. She seemed to radiate an air of intelligence and grace. Before entering he told the woman about his companion. The thought of the giant beast disturbed her.
Before giving him an answer, she requested that she speak to her friends. The man nodded and waited. From where he stood, he could see their discussion. It was not going well.
The tall woman could be seen shaking her head. When she returned, he knew the answer before she opened her mouth. Sighing, he turned to face the snow. Before he moved, she offered to show him where the next house was. He waved her away. As the door closed behind him the man shed a brief tear before moving on.
Slowly and with a heavy heart the man returned to the woods. Each step taking him further from the village. When he reached a small opening, he found a log and sat down. The black dragon landed and shuffled up to him. Together they sat and waited as the snow continued to fall.
Spring came and so did the thaw. The people, seeing the better weather ventured outside and into the woods. One of their number, female, saw a clearing and found the man and dragon embraced tightly together. But this was not to be their spring as they had expired long ago.