I feel in the need of a bit of light relief – like a lot of people right now, I suspect. So here is a bit of fun I wrote at Holmfirth Writers a while back …
The group of horsemen could be seen approaching the town from some distance away. They attracted a lot of attention from the locals, for several reasons. For a start, you didn’t often see horses around here, or indeed anything on four legs much larger than a ferret. Also, from time to time the morning sun glinted off the riders, which meant they were wearing metal, probably armour. That thought prompted alarm in some quarters, as the last group of armoured horsemen who had come this way had rampaged through the town seizing everything of value – which wasn’t very much – and ravishing the local maidens. Wiser souls, however, observed that this lot were going at a very leisurely pace for people intent on seizing and ravishing, though that did not prevent half a dozen of the town’s more adventurous maidens from hanging about speculatively at the side of the road.
As the party drew closer, some details became apparent. The column consisted of about a dozen men, and was led by two contrasting figures, both clad in shiny, expensive-looking armour and carrying long spears with flags on them. The figure on the left was tall and well-proportioned, and mounted on a noble black steed. The man on the right was slightly shorter, but in all other dimensions he was vast, and his huge horse appeared to have been cross-bred with a hippo. As they entered the town, a man wearing a sack that was marginally less threadbare and filthy than those of the other townspeople stepped out to greet them.
“All right, mate?”
“Good morrow, kind sir,” replied the tall rider. Is this the town of Dung?”
“Yeah, that’s right. I am the mayor of Dung. What can I do yer for, guv?”
“Good mayor, I am Prince Valiant. This is my brother, Prince Gluttonous, and these are our noble knights. We have heard that there is a dragon in this vicinity. Is that correct?
The mayor sucked his teeth. “We-ell, strictly speaking, yes, but she’s kind of retired. We ain’t had no trouble from her since she signed the agreement, fourteen years ago.”
Prince Valiant sneered. “An agreement? With a dragon? Dragons are for slaying, not negotiating with. Now tell me, good sir, where will we find this dragon?”
“Through the town, left at the enchanted well, then third right through the Forest of Impenetrable Darkness. Second cave on the left. It’ll take you about half an hour. But I warn you, she won’t welcome visitors. She likes to do her knitting at this time of day.”
“We do not expect a welcome from a dragon,” said Prince Gluttonous haughtily. We are come to rid your land of the scourge of dragon kind for ever.”
“Actually, we get on with her all right,” said the mayor. “She keeps the wolves down, brings in a few tourists. Now fifty miles down the valley, in Mud, I hear they have real problems with their dragons down there.”
“Enough of this nonsense,” snorted Valiant, “we shall go forthwith to vanquish the dragon.”
“Suit yourself. Give her my regards when you get there, will you.”
Angela the dragon had finished her knitting for the day and was settling down to a nice tea of roast wolf. The wolves around here were quite tasty, though she had to admit that she still missed human flesh, even after fourteen years. It was so nutritious too, much better for you than that scrawny dog meat, which was so bad for her skin – it had gone all dry and flaky. She was hoping to knit a dragon-sized cardigan to cover it up, make her a bit more presentable.
Suddenly she heard noises in the entrance to the cave. Some little figures ran up to her and started to prick her with spikes. She was really cross. This was so tiresome, and where some of her dry scales had fallen off the spikes were really quite uncomfortable. Wearily, she took a deep breath and poured out a ten second blast of fire over the annoying creatures. Mostly they just curled up and went black, but one of them, larger than the rest, was still trying to stick spikes in her. “Dammit,” she thought, “he just won’t die.” However, another couple of blasts seemed to do the trick, although they did make rather a mess of her knitting. Still, she had an unexpected feast – the large one in particular was exceptionally succulent. And besides, she wouldn’t be needing the cardigan anyway. All those lovely natural oils you get from humans would do wonders for her skin. She felt she would have no trouble with her scales for quite some time.