Once upon a time, there lived an old knight who was coming to the end of his career. He’d travelled far and wide on various quests of one type or another. He’d fought with dragons, rescued princesses and he’d helped kings look for their missing queens. All in all, he’d had a very fulfilling career as a knight and was always top of the list that kings referred to when they needed help. Although, in the past he’d enjoyed his wide reaching fame, all he wanted to do now was to hang up his armour, sit in front of the fire in his favourite rocking chair, and smoke his pipe.
One day, he was riding along on his trusty steed, when he came to a very poor and weary looking village,indeed. The village was very run down and was at the foot of a range of mountains. The villagers ran to meet him, waving their arms around and generally looking frightened.
They told the knight, ‘Noble knight, you have come in the nick of time. Over in that range of mountains there is a cave and in that cave is a terrifying dragon. No one dares approach, for it lets out the most deafening sounds and belches huge fountains of flame. We are at our wits end. Please help us!’
Now the last thing the knight wanted to do was become embroiled in yet another confrontation with a dragon. Of those he’d had more than his fill and what he really wanted…well I’ve told you that already. The knight knew that he was bound to help the desperate villagers. As a young man he’d taken the knight’s oath and was thus obliged to assist all those in need.
He rode out of the village, turned right and proceeded towards the mouth of the cave. As he approached, he heard the most terrifying sounds emanating from within. The screams were interspersed with torrents of flame which sprang from the cave entrance. The knight tiptoed to the entrance and peered into the darkness. In fact once the knight’s eyes had adjusted to the gloom of the cave, he realised that it was, on the contrary, rather homely. There was a fire burning, and the smell of freshly ground coffee. Against the far wall was a desk and at the desk sat the hunched form of a green, scaly, dragon.
The knight straightened himself and shouted his knightly challenge,‘Dragon, I have been sent to despatch you and free this village from your tyrannical yoke! Stand and fight!’
‘I’d love to oblige,’ said the dragon, ‘but I can’t possibly. You see those days are over for me and all I want to do is sit by the fire and write my memoirs. Dragons do get a bad press and I’m going to redress the balance – from the dragon’s point of view, as it were. I’m going to call my book ‘A Dragon’s Tale’ , but that’s as far as I’ve got. I’m suffering from a bad case of writer’s block. Hence the screaming and torrent’s of flame, which the villagers no doubt complained about. My apologies, but old habits die hard.’
Now the old knight was rather relieved to hear this. He sheaved his sword and sat in a chair by the fire.
‘Help yourself to coffee,’ said the dragon, ‘kettle’s just boiled.’
The knight did just that, gave the dragon a refill and sat back down in the rocking chair by the fire. The old knight also had literary aspirations and unprompted began to tell the dragon the story of his life. The dragon typed every word and when the knight was finished – about a month later, the dragon started with his story. This time the old knight listened and typed.
The villagers were very confused as they’d heard nothing from the knight for two months. The flames had stopped and no more terrifying screams emanated from the cave. On the last day of the second month the dragon and the knight emerged from the cave hand in claw, and proceeded down the mountain towards the village. At first the villagers, as they were used to doing, started to run panic stricken this way and that, but when they realised that the dragon wasn’t the least bit interested in eating them, they stopped and saw that the old knight and the dragon were otherwise engaged in a very animated conversation. They were discussing where to get their books printed and decided that they’d do it locally. They spoke to the village newspaper owner and he agreed to do the printing. He could hardly refuse now, could he?
To cut a long story short, the books were printed and were an immediate success. The knight’s book sold well and as for ‘The Dragon’s Tale’, it sold by the bucketload. Both the knight and the dragon were overjoyed. Lots of visitors travelled to the area to get a glimpse of the two famous writers and consequently the villagers prospered, opening restaurants and hotels to accomodate the sudden tourist influx.
As for the old knight and the dragon – well, fame didn’t go to their respective heads. They’d seen and done too much for that to happen. However, they did move into a bigger place, not far from the old cave, and that’s where you’ll find them. Sitting in rocking chairs, in front of the fire, coffee on the stove and planning their next literary venture. Both extremely content and happy.
An original tale, not by the dragon but by PHZ.