The Thankful Dragon

Last week, our band of heroes decided it was time to put the dragon in its place. Let’s see how well that works out.

Ben leaned against a streetlight. A few stars twinkled overhead. On his left shoulder, the cockatrice peered around the steel pole and whistled. Ben grimaced.

“Keep quiet,” Barty whispered. He crouched behind a short, evergreen bush.

Crunchy gripped his cutlass and grinned. “Never fought a dragon before.”

The dragon’s tail swished back and forth, sprawling out of the gaping hole in the bar’s wall. The brown tail ended in a barb. Thick scales covered the dragon’s hide. Spikes ran along its spine.

Ben chewed his lip.

Wellington rested a frail hand upon Ben’s shoulder. “It’s now or never, lad.”

Nodding, Ben stepped around the streetlight. He looked over his shoulder. No one followed. “Thanks a lot.”

Barty shrugged. “We’ve got your back.”

“It’s not my back I’m worried about,” Ben muttered. He crept toward the bar.

A low rumble rolled through the night. “…Used to have sheep, dozens of them.” A deep sniffle echoed through the cool air. “Then came the dark times, the humans.”

Ben glanced at his cockatrice. “Is the dragon crying?”

The cockatrice warbled.

Ben snuck closer.

“We used to gather for a grand feast. My whole family around one field. Can you imagine it?” The dragon’s tail stopped twitching, lying still upon the dewy grass.

“I think I can,” someone within the bar said.

Ben leaned against the wall and peered inside. The bartender wiped down the wooden bar with a wet rag. No one else remained inside. Large water droplets splashed onto the bar.

“Tribute from local tribes, fresh caught lamb, and the finest ale dragons can brew–”

“Dragons’ brew beer?” Ben clamped a hand over his mouth.

The dragon turned, its golden eye found Ben and narrowed. “You.”

Ben gulped.

The dragon crooked a claw. “Come in. Might as well have a last meal. Listen to the song of my people.”

Ben took a step backward.

“I insist.” The dragon swept its tail behind Ben and forced him into the bar.

Ben looked over his shoulder. His companions remained hidden. He nodded. “All-all right.” He took a seat at the bar.

The cockatrice hopped onto the bar and crowed.

The bartender poured two tall mugs of ale. “On the house.” He slid them toward the dragon and removed the two empty mugs that sat in front of its snout.

The dragon nudged them toward Ben. “Catch up.”

Ben fumbled a mug in shaky hands.

“Drink!” The back of the dragon’s throat glowed with the threat of fire.

“To…” Ben lifted the mug and racked his brain for a toast. “Dragons. Long may they rule.”

The dragon snorted, smoke rising from his nostrils. “Rule?” It chortled. “We haven’t ruled since you took over.”

“Me?” Ben sputtered and spilled beer onto his shirt.

The dragon exposed its teeth in a snarl. “You. Your kind. Humans.”

Ben dropped his mug onto the bar. It clattered to the floor.

The bartender shook his head. “Wasteful.”

“Long ago, we labored. Long ago, we flourished. Our wings spread wide, our hearts soared.” The dragon cleared its throat and began to sing.

“In my youth I knew an elder
Who stood astride a tree
Happier than Merlin
He was kin to me.
He worked as a welder
His heart completely free
To the air he took, curling
He dove into the sea.

He crafted armor for kings
He sharped swords for knights
He did his job with pride,
He never thought to fight.
Then came evil things,
Vile, cruel, worse than wights.
The day my uncle died,
George slew him on the heights.”

Ben gasped.

“Bah, I’m no bard.” The dragon rested his head upon his forearms and closed its eyes. “You know the stories better than I.”

So, what do you think will happen?  What do you want to happen?  Was it too short?  Too long?  Too unfunny?

Yep, that’s right.  I’m soliciting comments and suggestions.  I may even use them.  No matter how wacky, zany, nerdy, or weird.  No matter how serious, fanciful, or sci-fi.  It’s a choose your own adventure.  You choose what happens next because I’m just not that creative.


About bkreuch

I like to read, I like to write, and I like to make people laugh.
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