King William Thomas Francis meandered through the courtyard watching blue birds land on a pink flowered tree, oblivious to the panicked yells and chants of the protesters surrounding his palace walls. The voices carried with such a strong, echoing projection, it seemed impossible to believe he couldn’t hear them, but the King’s face showed no indication he had.
A lanky man wearing clothes he had clearly outgrown scurried after the King. “King William Thomas Francis, I must have a word with you.”
“Oh what is it now?” The King groaned.
“Tomorrow they are assembling all the kings and queens for a meeting that you must attend. As you may have noticed, the dragon population has increased and they are becoming a danger and nuisance. At the meeting they’ll be discussing what can be done if a dragon invades your land. I think we can agree that it is of utmost importance.”
“I’ll send along one of my servants.”
“My Lord, you cannot possibly think a servant is the appropriate person for this kind of information?”
The King sighed, “Of course not. A joke. When will you ever get a sense of humor?”
Of course, he wasn’t joking. The last place he wanted to be was a silly meeting when he had much more significant things to do. Also, he didn’t believe in dragons. Buildings in his village had caught fire and people had told him dragon breath sparked it, but the King believed it was clever arsonists or troublesome kids. Never had he seen one of those winged creatures with his own eyes, and dragons were supposed to be quite large. How could he miss something so massive flying above his head?
Oddly enough, a golden dragon soared above his head that moment. The King did not see it, but he felt a chill from the way it’s body momentarily blocked out the sunshine. Instead of looking up, the King assumed clouds had rolled in and retreated to his palace so he wouldn’t be surprised by a rainstorm.
The morning of the meeting, his servants woke him extra early, for the King was known to be late and they wanted to make sure he attended. One of them had lost some of his family and close friends to a dragon’s flames. The King’s breakfast was waiting and his horses were ready at the carriage to transport him. Everything was in order. The King took his time savoring each bite of food. Then he fussed a long time over which clothes to wear. Finally, he wandered out to the carriage. The servants all but pushed him inside and said farewell.
About halfway to the meeting, the King demanded the carriage stop. Reluctantly, the driver did as he wished. The King stepped out of his carriage and surveyed a vast, blackened land with smoke rising from still smoldering embers. He vaguely remembered a village that once stood there, but he couldn’t be certain. Nothing remained but smoke and ash.
“What is the cause of this?” The King asked.
“The dragons, My Lord,” his driver said as patiently as he could muster.
“Nonsense. I’m sure it’s one of those satanic cults having a bonfire ritual and God’s punishment.” While shaking his head in condemnation, the King reached down to lift a charred stick between his fingers, rubbed it and watched it crumble into ashy dust. “When will people ever learn?”
Befuddled, the guard could only manage a noncommittal noise.
A small, red dragon glided through the sky above them and landed in eye sight of the King. The King stared into the creature’s silver eyes, and then at his sharp black claws.
“What on earth is that thing?” The King demanded.
“A dragon, My Lord,” the driver said.
“Nonsense,” the King balked. “Probably one of those disturbing costumes. How many people are hidden underneath that suit and what do you want?”
“We are running late.” The driver’s face went pale as the King walked towards the dragon. “Please, leave…these troublemakers for now. We have important places to be.”
The King waved his hand dismissively, but walked back to the carriage. The driver breathed a deep airful of relief. Even the red dragon in the field looked perplexed by the King’s actions.
As soon as the King settled in the carriage, the driver took off at full speed. Partly to escape the dragon unscathed and partly to make up for lost time.
The King slowly worked his way up the grand entrance staircase to the meeting tower. When his hand grasped the door handle and pulled, it did not open.
“What a pity, we’re too late.” The King shrugged. “It’s a good thing dragons don’t exist.”
The driver’s head fell back in irritation. As his eyes looked up to the sky, he watched a green dragon fly past. He shook away the irritation and in the politest voice he could pull off, he said, “Perhaps another door, My Lord.”
The King huffed and walked around to each door. “It’s not right of them to make royalty work like this. There should be a fine red carpet and people here to greet me.”
“Indeed,” the driver agreed. For he truly did wish the King would be greeted and pulled into the meeting.
Unfortunately, the doors had been locked to keep the contents of the meeting strictly confidential. The King was not sure why they’d be so concerned. Surely, people wouldn’t run off to tell the nonexistent dragons of the plans to destroy them. Everyone hated these imaginary monsters, afterall. Still, there was no way in because he was late.
“I’m barely even late,” the King said.
The driver knew that was far from the truth, but kept his mouth shut.
“Let’s go home then,” the King smiled.
With a sigh of disappointment, the driver agreed.
Later that night, while the King sat in his theater watching his servants perform his favorite play, the dragons attacked. Several of them came at once, and burned the village into an empty, charred field like the one the King had stopped for earlier that day. The dragons couldn’t take down the palace because a sorcerer used his last breaths to place a protective shield over the walls. Though the King was quite stupid, his people didn’t wish to see him harmed.
After his play, the King settled in for his slumber. The servants ran out of the palace with weapons ready to defend their village. A golden dragon took them all down in one fiery breath.
The King slept peacefully.
In the morning, he called his servants. No one answered. He wandered around with a furious scowl searching for them, but found no one. Finally he opened his gates and surveyed the land. A vast, dark emptiness sat before him.
“Ah, what a pity. I had such high hopes my people would come to see reason. Instead, they murdered each other in foolish hysteria. What a pity.” The king shook his head and looked again for his servants. All of them had lost their lives protecting him.
The King imagined one of his servants rolling their eyes like they were prone to do and saying, “Ah, a pity indeed.”
Then with a smile at their loyal agreement, he strutted into the kitchen where he would slowly starve for he had no idea how to make his own food.