Do You Know the Way to the Dragon?
The horse is getting sassy, and I am growing tired of it.
“I’m the great adventurer; sure, I’ll go kill the dragon. No, no, please don’t give me directions.” He swishes his tail and stomps a hoof. “Where are we, Mighty Adventurer? I’m pretty sure that tree is one we’ve passed before.”
I roll my eyes to the emerald canopy. Of all the horses in the dumb kingdom that I could’ve bought… “Look,” I say. “I get it, we’re lost, and you’re unhappy.”
“More entertained by the whole ‘I am the mighty warrior Ferdinand, but I can’t find my way out of a barrel,’ scenario.”
I frown at him. We’re at eye level since, about an hour ago, he was complaining about his back. I thought I would be nice and let him have a break. You would think he would stop complaining…my mistake. “You know, that joke’s getting old.”
“Not as old as me walking around in circles in the middle of nowhere.”
The horse has material, that’s for sure. Why he didn’t hang out with bards is beyond me.
Up ahead, I notice a small hovel slightly overgrown with the forest, moss on the roof and vines climbing up its sides. It looks quaint, and like a good place as any to maybe stop and ask for directions.
A long velvety brown snout comes over my shoulder as the horse evaluates it with me. “You’re not going to go and knock, are you?”
“You’re the one making fun of me for not asking directions.”
“Yes, but I just have a premonition.”
“You’re a horse; you jump at your shadow.” He drops his head dejectedly, but I walk over to the small house anyway, the horse following. I raise a fist to knock on the door.
I feel the horse’s breath against my neck as he whispers, “Witch.” My fist is still in the air; it hadn’t even struck the wood.
“I need some directions,” I call.
“Town is to the south, good-bye,” the disembodied voice says.
I swallow down my frustration.
“Maybe we should turn back.” I feel a tug on the reins as the horse tries to walk away.
I hold on tight.
“Dictator,” He mutters.
“I was wondering if you know the way to the…” The door suddenly squeaks open.
Inside is dark, but I see a small elderly woman squinting up at me. “The way to where?”
“To the dragon’s lair. I have been told that the dragon is a danger to the townsfolk. It keeps flying around, and they fear for their lives.”
She chuckles slightly. “A dragon, you say?” her voice is grating as she speaks. “Well, I’m afraid that you are mistaken.” She begins to push the door closed.
“Meh-mistaken?” I reach for the door.
“Yes, you are mistaken, now go home.” The door clicks shut.
I feel a nudge on my back. “She’s giving you a chance to run. We should run.”
“No.” I knock on the door again. “Now, listen, I’ve promised to do a job and I’m going to do it. Now would you please tell me where-”
Suddenly, a large shadow blocks out the light. We turn around. “Found it.” The horse quivers, ears back.
A red dragon towering three feet over my head and stares at us with an ember colored eye. I let go of the reins and draw my sword. A flash of brown and I see the horse going straight for it. He rears back on his hind legs and kicks out with his front.
His hooves just bounce off, and he runs back to me, head down, trying to hide. “Fighting dragons wasn’t part of my training.”
I almost laugh, and then the dragon lowers its head, a long tongue lolls out of its mouth and, in the next second, I am covered in dragon saliva. “Eww,” I manage to say just before the tongue comes again. As it lifts its head, I see a large leather collar around its neck with a metal tag engraved with the word “Sparky”.
“The dragon’s your pet?!”
The horse lifts his head, “Overgrown Komodo is a pet?”
The door squeaks open and the woman waddles out with a large cow leg. She sees us staring at her dragon and chuckles. “I told you it was a mistake. Sparky wouldn’t hurt a human; he likes them too much to eat them, but do the villagers know that?” She shakes her head and drops the leg next to the dragon, who begins to chow down.
I am speechless.
“You’re going to catch flies with an expression like that.” She pats Sparky on his shoulder.
I shut my mouth.
“Now, you know my secret, and I won’t tell anyone you even came by. You can go and do what you please. Now leave.”
“You sure he doesn’t eat humans?” I eye the dragon wearily.
“He could’ve eaten you, but he didn’t.” She pats Sparky on his rump. “Is that all?”
I lower into a bow. “You make an excellent point. Forgive the intrusion then, and I hope you have a merry day.”
I grab the horse’s reins and we quietly turn away. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” The horse whispers as we round a bend.
I shrug. “That’ll depend if I can get out of the forest or not.”