The chainmail suit was starting to itch. Badly. The long trudge had started at dawn and now here I was, sweating buckets as the sun blazed over my head.
I pondered my dilemma. In one hand I carried a giant wooden shield, in the other my sword. I inspected the glinting sword carefully. Sharpened steel seemed like the perfect back scratcher. Sighing, I decided against it.
The soft grass under my feet gave way to hard stone. It finally pulled me out of my thoughts.
The mountain before me was small compared to most and was a deep black. It had been armed with sharp and jagged boulders protruding every which way. Halfway up was the mouth of a cave. A thin, winding road (more of a ledge really) was snaking its way up to the entrance.
I looked up at the cave, it’s mouth waiting hungrily for me. I laughed to myself quietly. It wasn’t the cave that wanted to eat me. It was the giant fire breathing reptile that did.
I was quite proud of myself for that remark, then I remembered the terrifying stories I heard about dragons. They described forked tongues and bloody sharp teeth. I gulped, this one could probably swallow me whole.
The noise it had been making was keeping my village awake all night. It had been going on for weeks. The bone-shaking roaring, backed by a symphony of the screaming from the nearby houses was not exactly my kind of lullaby. I was the only knight available at the time (the other’s had disappeared mysteriously when the roaring started) so the village told me to “slay the dragon”. Though, I’m pretty sure they sent me to “be its lunch”.
I finally traced the path up to the den. I stood at the cave mouth, it’s size gave me a feeling of insignificance.
The small amount of confidence I had wilted and died. Moping, I dragged myself into the cave.
It was almost entirely bare inside. The sun brightened the middle of the space but near the edges, it was completely black. The floor was smooth stone and I could just make out boulders hidden near the edge of the opaque shadows.
“Mr.Dragon? Can you hear me?” No answer. “Mr. Dragon, I just want to let you know I need to slay you. If you would cooperate that would be great.”
The room was engulfed in dead silence. I decided to wait ten minutes before leaving, just in case. After five, I remembered that I didn’t want to get eaten. So slowly, just in case the dragon was asleep, I backed away toward the entrance.
I turned around when I was near my escape, preparing to run out of the cave, when I noticed something scaly wiggling near my foot. I suffer from Ophidiophobia or fear of snakes, so screaming like an old woman who just saw a mouse, I started to beat it to a pulp with my iron covered shoe.
I immediately realized that it was a mistake. My biggest hint was probably the roar of pain that left me vibrating even after it had stopped.
A long scally neck turned and I realized that most of those hidden boulders had been my fire breathing nightmare. Looking down I saw that it wasn’t a snake that I had tried to turn into ground beef but the dragon's tail. Great, I thought sarcastically.
It stared down at me. It's yellow eyes hardened in anger. It’s ginormous muscled body was covered in sleek black scales.
“Who goes there?” The dragon demanded threateningly.
“What is your name?” The dragon said, asking the generic question in a low rumbling voice.
“Lunch… I mean Lance!”
“Why have you come here?” He asked. I mumbled my answer. He looked at me skeptically “What?”
“I’m here to slay you” I repeated, just loud enough for him to hear me. He looked at me the same way most people did. One of his invisible eyebrows were lifted and a look of confusion crossed his face. Probably wondering if I had been dropped on my head as a kid, I thought.
“Ha!” The dragon continued to let out a bellowing laugh. “You? Defeat me?”
I couldn’t understand it. In every story I’d heard, the dragons always said the same thing. The reptiles probably all read the same How to be evil for dimwits.
Rule 1: Be overly confident
Rule 2: Kidnap a princess - You’ll get at least two knights for dessert.
Rule 3: Forget hygiene - If your looks don’t kill them, your odour will
Pro Tip: An evil cackle goes a long way.
The dragon turned serious, almost pitying. “You know this means you're not getting out of here alive.”
“I know,” I answered as my shoulders slumped. “You’ll turn me into a turkey dinner” I didn’t dwell on that thought for long. I started to hop around him, slashing the air with my sword. “En garde!” I yelled racing towards him.
With the swish of his tail, I was slashed to the ground. Getting off my now bruised behind I looked at the dragon. He was barely interested in the fight. I was kind of insulted.
Three butt bruises later I thought that a plan would probably help my odds. After a few seconds of quick thinking, my head started to hurt and I had a pretty good idea.
“Please don’t kill me, Mr. Dragon! I never really wanted to slay you. I was just doing what I was told!” Begging wasn’t exactly a knightly thing to do but it was that or have one of my rib bones become a toothpick for after his meal. I explained to him the whole reason I was here. I told him about the sleepless nights and the sleepless knight. When I finished he responded, “You do realize that you could have just asked me to leave.”
I looked at him shocked and perplexed. Was it that easy? It could be finished just like that? I stood up and looked up at him with the hope of a young child. “Really?” I asked.
“Of course not!” He growled, lifting me from the ground. “I knew it” I muttered as he ate me whole.