Learning to live with a medieval monster
|“The dragon got into the mead supply again.” Sir Loin angrily threw one gauntlet onto the table, followed by the other one. It had been his responsibility to walk the beast and otherwise keep it occupied, but the aging knight had dozed off, and was now most upset with himself.
“Zounds,” exclaimed Sir Een. “Did he wander into town like last time?”
“Alas, yes. And not only did he trample the primrose in Lady Dumbledoofingoofin’s garden, but he set the milliner’s shop afire.”
“This is not good,” sighed Sir Een. He had captured the dragon a few weeks earlier, and had hoped it would become a proud mascot for the Knights of the Periodic Table (so named because they all had day jobs, and met officially only on special occasions). But twice the fire-breathing monster had gotten loose and found its way into the storage building that contained the mead supply.
“Pray tell, what is not good?” Sir Plus had entered the room and, after slipping Sir Loin’s gauntlets into his coat while no one was watching, wanted in on the conversation.
“The dragon got loose again,” muttered Sir Een.
“Good lord.” Sir Plus shook his head, but not so violently as to jiggle the stolen gauntlets loose. “Was he drunk again?”
“Sadly, yes,” said Sir Loin. “And the townsfolk are up in arms. To say nothing of Lady Dumbledoofingoofin. I would assume Her Ladyship is fit to be tied.”
“Keeping a dragon this close to town is a risk, to be sure,” said Sir Een. “But a dragon with a bad habit such as our mischievous creature exhibits is a curse to all, and should not be allowed near human establishments.”
It was decided to call an emergency meeting of the Knights of the Periodic Table. Sir Loin and Sir Een quickly rounded up the available members and gathered them in the grand meeting chamber. Sir Plus offered no assistance, which came as no surprise to the other knights, because Sir Plus never offered assistance.
“In the morning,” Sir Loin told the group, “I will visit Lord and Lady Dumbledoofingoofin, give Her Ladyship my profound apologies, and offer to replant her garden.”
“And I will go into town,” offered Sir Een. “We must repay the milliner for his loss, and I have no doubt that the citizens will need to be pacified.”
“But what will we do about the dragon?” asked Sir Vivor.
“I humbly defer to Sir Withlov,” said Sir Loin. “I believe he has the solution.”
Sir Withlov rose and bowed humbly. “Gentlemen,” he acknowledged. “As much as we enjoy the dragon’s presence - when he is behaving, of course - I suggest we offer him to the town as a gift of honor.”
Sir Vivor angrily leapt to his feet. “How in the name of King Pynn do you think the commoners are going to see that as an honor?”
“Is the dragon not a powerful beast?”
“That he is.”
“And,” Sir Withlov continued, “Are the Knights of the Periodic Table not considered a powerful presence in the township?”
“All right, all right. Except for the incident with the cheese merchant’s daughter.”
“She was a lot stronger and meaner than she looked,” Sir Een complained. “But I suppose I digress.”
“If I may continue,” chided Sir Withlov, “we will explain to the people that owning a dragon is a badge of honor, and that the responsibility of managing said dragon will instill a sense of pride in the entire town.”
“Hear, hear,” shouted Sir Plus. This surprised everyone, because Sir Plus usually nodded off during meetings, and no one had expected him to say anything. But they all echoed his cry, and the decision was made.
In the morning, a group of knights tethered the dragon to the back of a large wagon, and led him slowly into town. Sir Loin had cleverly lashed a shield to the tines of a pitchfork, which he stuck between two slats in the floor of the wagon, such that any fire the dragon breathed would bounce harmlessly away from the wagon and its passengers.
As they approached the town, locals began to gather and watch. Some shouted curses, some hid behind shrubs, and others simply stared in curiosity. Word quickly spread to the mayor, who awaited the knights in the town square.
“So,” said the mayor after Sir Withlov had presented the offer, “All we have to do is keep him fed and watered?”
“And sober,” added Sir Withlov.
And so it was. The dragon found a new home on the town common, where the groundskeeper put him to good use doing controlled burns when the grass got too long. And the dragon became the star of the annual boar roast, cooking a quintuplet of pigs in such short time that the events gave rise to the term ‘fast food.’ Even the Burger king and the royal MacDonald clan joined King Pynn to celebrate with the Knights of the Periodic Table and the good citizens of the town.
But one day a group of rowdies dragged a keg of mead onto the town common and pried off the top. The dragon drained the keg dry, and the resulting rampage left the entire town in embers. When it was over, the dragon was nowhere to be found. The Knights of the Periodic Table took an oath to never bring another dragon home, and agreed that none of them would show his face in town for a while.
Life in the township was never again quite as bright. And so began the dark ages.