The Town's at risk when the dragon exits its cave
|"He's out and running a muck again." Dieter stopped in the middle of Scrogg Village, bending over gulping for air.
From every shop, tent, hut and haystack villagers ran to his side.
"What do we do now?" Smithy yelled waving a glowing rod.
"Where can we hide? He almost burned the entire village down the last time he came out of his cave." The baker's wife wrung her hands on her apron.
"I say we go to his cave with torches and see how he likes his stuff burned!" Kalen, a behemoth of a young man, shook his torch above his head. The villagers turned to him and pointed down the road. "You go first," someone shouted. The rest nodded but stepped back. Kalen lowered his arms and shrunk back into the crowd.
"What is wrong with the dragon?" a young man asked. The crowd turned as to see who asked such a question.
"Well, my ignorant man, this is not a normal dragon." Berdot, the only scholar in the village, stepped to face him. "The other dragons I have heard about in far away lands, help the villagers who then help the dragon. In our case we have a dragon with a bad habit." The villagers nodded.
Berdot continued. "Our dragon lives quietly in its cave most of the time. We rarely see it. Once a month a couple of men bring a deer and food for an offering." Berdot took a deep breath.
"Why is it "running a muck?" the young man asked again.
"Our dragon picks his nose and flings the snot balls with no thought where it lands." Berdot enlightened.
"So what?" The young man shrugged.
"Think, Clayton," the scholar stepped closer and leaned on his long staff.
Clayton frowned at the rough robe and jacket the older man wore, "I am thinking," he retorted. "I guess it might be nasty if you were in the way of the slime."
The Villagers waved their hands in disgust, some teetered behind their palms. Clayton gripped his sword handle and glared at the group.
"Hold on young man," the scholar kicked some dirt with his sandal and it caused the dust to fly into the air. The young man sneezed with a blast of spit and mucus. The scholar jumped out of the way.
"Now see what happened? Add a little fire to that and what would happen to anyone around you? Let's say you didn't sneeze but a dragon with a bad habit of picking your buggers and flinging at will. These fire bombs burn everything they land on."
Clayton's eyebrows disappeared into the fringe of hair that covered his forehead. His mouth dropped open and he gasped. "What are you going to do?" He asked Berdot and the villagers.
"What are WE going to do? That's why we're here. Someone better come up with a good idea." Smithy roared back.
That was how Clayton found himself on his way through the forest to find a way to break a dragon from picking his nose. The women packed him so much food, he had to turn them away or he would be pulling a cart up and down the hills. The men made sure his sword was honed to a razor sharp edge. He carried knives, spears and something called a crossbow he barely had time to learn to shoot. Berdot drew him a detailed map to follow and if it was correct, the dragon's cave should be just over the next ridge.
The sun dropped below the ridge and the temperature dipped to a bone chilling cold. Clayton shivered. He wasn't sure if quest or the air caused the reaction, but none the less he felt cold.
He found a rock overhang, built a small fire took took out some of the food he'd brought along. He put the food in a pot and held it over the fire to warm it.
From somewhere in the trees he heard loud steps disturbing the undergrowth. Clayton stood facing whatever the enemy would bring. Had the dragon found him? He looked at the pot of food and set it down reaching for his crossbow.
The brush parted and a small girl stepped into the light. She held a small dagger pointed at him.
"Give me your dinner," she demanded.
"If you're hungry I would be happy to share my meal, but I'm not handing it over to you." He stepped in front of the fire and the pot shielding it.
She stamped her foot on the ground and took two large steps toward him the dagger coming closer in her outstretched arm. "You dare refuse me? With one whistle I can summon the dragon and then I won't have to ask again. You'll be charred to a crisp."
"If you know the dragon," He paused then continued, "I'd be happy to share. If you'd do something for me."
"What?" the dagger tip dropped a millimeter.
"I need to stop the dragon's bad habit of picking his nose and flinging the fireballs into the fields. He's destroying my village."
The girl's arm dropped. Her mouth became a grim line. "Give me a taste of your food and I'll do it."
After the girl ate almost the entire pot of stew, she led Clayton up a small path that opened a cave where a scaly purple and green dragon slept.
The girl stopped in front of the dragon and gave the dragon's nose a sharp smack with her hand. The mighty beast jerked its head up slamming it against the roof of the cave opening. One eye opened and focused on Clayton. his lips curled and he gave a low growl. The girl moved in front of Clayton.
She leaned forward one hand on her hip and shook her finger at the great beast, "You're caught! I told you what would happen if I found out you picked your nose and flung the flaming balls all over the place." The terrified expression of the beast cause Clayton to giggle. He stepped back and held his arm against his mouth to keep the laughter from being heard. The girl yelled at the giant beast now curled and its mighty head covered under its scaly wing. The massive beast trembled at the girl's shaking finger as she stomped back and forth.
She stopped just in front of its wide nostrils. Clayton moved closer, not sure what he would do if the mighty beast blew fire at the pint sized female.
"There will be no more marshmallows for you!" Her gossamer dress floated a little as the dragon's breath released.
Clayton noticed the small wings folded on her back in such a way they were invisible before. She was a fairy. Not tiny like a bug flitting around, but a full grown girl somewhat close to his age, at least that's what she looked like to him.
The dragon moved its large claw toward the girl and Clayton took a couple steps closer to the girl. At that movement the dragon turned its blue eye in his direction and hissed steam out of the side of its giant mouth.
"Be nice." The fairy ordered. "This man has come to put a stop to your bad habit. I'm sure he had other plans, but you aren't a bad dragon." She caressed the scales of the dragon's nose and the beast moaned in response. "If you promise no more picking, I will protect you from being killed."
The dragon's head rolled to the side and the fairy ran her hand back and forth along its jaw. She motioned for Clayton to come, "Here you do it. He won't hurt you."
With shuffling, hesitant steps, Clayton made his way to the dragon and touched the scales. They were cool and smooth. The fairy stepped away, clapped her hands and smiled.
Clayton looked up at the dragon to see its lids give him a wink and the wide mouth may have made a smile.
"If you promise to be good," Clayton forced his shaking voice to remain firm, "I will make sure the villagers bring you an extra treat." The nostrils widened and the dragon's head came close to the pack he carried with a nudge that almost knocked Clayton off his feet. Clayton opened the pack and drew out a sweet cake and offered it to the beast. The dragon groaned and its pink tongue licked the edge of its mouth in case some remained. "I'll bring you more of those."
The dragon gave a nod nudging the pack for more. Clayton found another cake and fed it to the dragon.
"I think you made a friend." The fairy touched Clayton's arm. "Come meet my family." She pulled him past the dragon and into the cave. Beyond the dragon's tail lay a glowing fairy village, much like the human one he left earlier.
Life was good.