Flash Friday 21/11/2014: Trial of the Dragon
Paul the knight shielded his eyes from the heat as he entered the dragon’s cave. The heat was unbearable.
A pool of lava surrounded an island in the middle of the lake. Dragons never liked their dens to be chilly; lairs with open tops such as this one had to go above and beyond the usual needs that a lair required. The dragon who lived here, however, did not seem to be below such demands, their hoard a gigantic mount of glittering gold, silver, and gems. Perched atop of the hoard, grinning at the knight, was a female red dragon.
“Oh?” the dragon said. “Someone new? I had given up all hope of anyone entering my lair. Not that I blame them. If i were as small, soft, and delicious as a human, I would make sure I was at least a hundred miles away from me at all times.”
“Dragon!” Paul yelled, pointing a sword. “I have come here for your riches that you hold dear.”
Alystrasia snorted smoke out of her nostrils. “You’re not even going to trade names? Well, aren’t you forward?”
“I didn’t know dragons had names.”
“You never bothered to ask. Alystrasia, by the way. What’s tonight’s main course going to be?”
“Paul, a knight of Nettlespring.”
“Ooh, nice.” Alystrasia nodded, smacking her lips. “Always enjoy a bit of wine from Nettlespring-grown produce.”
“You shall be far less talkative when I drag your head back to the city and display it for all to see. But I shall give you a chance to back down — surrender the Scepter of the Holies immediately, and I will leave without any more action. Refuse, and I will slay you.”
Alystrasia frowned. “Hold on, just a tick.”
Alystrasia turned her back on Paul, burrowing through her hoard. Goblets, shields and coins of all sizes fell down the pile as she buried deeper. Eventually, she resorted to sticking her entire head in the pile like an ostrich. When she surfaced, she gave a shrug.
“Sorry,” Alystrasia said. “None of those.”
Paul frowned. “What do you mean, ‘none of those’?”
“I mean what I mean. I don’t have any Scepter of the Holies in stock at the moment, sorry.”
“But you should have them in.”
Alystrasia went to say something, then paused as she tried to process what had just been said. “Enlighten me why I should have a Scepter of the Holies in my hoard right now.”
“Before I left, I used a Dragon Locator to find a dragon near me with a scepter in stock. It said you had one to spare. I even reserved it there and then.”
“Well, sorry. I have not a single one in.”
Paul sighed. “But it said you had one.”
“I don’t care if it said it had one, I don’t have one. Sorry.”
“So why did it say you had one?”
“How am I supposed to know? All I know is that I don’t have one here.”
Paul folded his arms. For a righteous warrior of his lands, he didn’t seem to be keeping his composure well. “Well, go check in the back, then. You have to have one, you’re just hiding it from me.”
Alystrasia looked behind her. “There is no back.”
“Then I want to talk to the manager.”
“I am the manager.”
Paul gave another, more dramatic sigh. “So you’re just going to tell me that my quest here was a waste of my time? I had to go through a naga encampment to come here, you know. I don’t want to go home empty handed.”
“Well, if you want to go back with a Scepter of the Holies, there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m sorry. I can give you the address of Rakuusha, I hear he likes magical trinkets, staffs, that sort of thing. He’s just a few mountains to the west, you can’t–what are you doing?”
Paul glared at Alystrasia down the blade of his sword. “If you don’t have what I want, that means that I get something else for free.”
“No you don’t.”
“Adventurer is always right.”
“No, they really aren’t.”
“Then you leave me with no choice. Have at you, you foul beast. I shall slay you and display your remains to the people back home for your insole–”
One problem that Paul had made is that, when fighting a dragon, it is usually advisable to take a shield made of material that doesn’t heat up well. Unfortunately, his mentality of ‘my sword is my shield’ worked well for naga encampments, it didn’t do much for dragon breath. It wasn’t long until the silver, shining knight looked as if he had rolled around in a coal pit for a good hour.
“…very well,” Paul said, wafting the smoke emanating from his armour. “But I’ll have you know that I am never, ever questing in this lair ever again.”
“Fine by me,” Alystrasia said, leaning back with a grin on her face. “Do you want a bag with that? You can put it over your head in shame.”
Paul said nothing, choosing instead to stomp out of the lair in a huff. Next time, he decided, he would just suck it up and pay extra for shipping.