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Young George and the Dragon

by Ronald M. Larsen

“Somebody’s attempting to sneak into my lair,” the dragon murmured. “I’m a bit surprised I didn’t sense him coming up the mountain. I guess maybe my bout with dysentery distracted me. But I feel him now, down in my gut.”

The dragon mentally probed out. “Hmm, just one young human. Extremely scared. He’s carrying a sword but is afraid to use it.”

“What are you doing here, boy?” the dragon demanded.

No answer.

“I sense you sneaking in the side entrance, but it won’t do you any good. That sword of yours won’t pierce my scales and, even if it could, you’d never get close enough to use it.”

He felt the terror in the young boy’s mind and said, “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t toast you for a snack.”

“I wouldn’t be good to eat,” came the trembling reply.

“Well now, that’s a new excuse. Why not?”

“Because I just filled my trousers, Mr. Dragon, sir.”

The dragon roared with laughter at this. When he regained his composure, he asked, “What are you doing here? Most humans come riding in carrying pointed sticks, hoping to skewer me. Never works, of course. Humans get toasted before they even get close.” The dragon sighed. “But they never learn. They keep coming. Very tiresome indeed. I really don’t want all the trouble.”

“Then... then you’ll let me live?”

“Maybe. Why are you here?”

“My eldest brother is — I mean ‘was’ — a brave, powerful knight. He came here a few weeks ago with a group of knights intent on ridding our valley of the evil dragon—”

“Meaning me, of course.”

“Yes, no offense, sir. They swore to hunt you down, but it didn’t work out well for them. Their squire came back alone, babbling to the king about how the knights went charging into your cave and were all burned up by dragonfire.”

“Oh, that bunch! They put on a very fancy, short-lived and pointless charge.”

“Yes, sir. My mother was devastated by the loss of her eldest son. So my father ordered me to come out here to avenge his death.”

“It doesn’t seem like he equipped you very well for avenging.”

“He gave me a jug of pepper, sir. I was supposed to sneak in, throw it at you, then stab you while you were sneezing.”

The dragon chortled. “One measly youth, no armor, poor weapon, bottle of condiments. Doesn’t seem to me like he gave you much chance of doing any avenging.”

“Not to me either, sir. However, father is the boss and he’s always right.” The lad paused and said under his breath, “And even when he’s not right, he’s wrong at the top of his voice.”

The dragon chuckled. “Sounds like old Boris, the crotchety, bossy head dragon back at Avington. He’s one of the main reasons I came to live on this mountain, you know.”

“Yes, sir,” the boy said. “Can I go now?”

“What will you tell them?”

“I’m not sure, sir. Maybe that the dragon decided I wouldn’t taste good and he decided not to eat me.”

“Think anyone will believe that?”

“Maybe... well, actually maybe not.” The boy hesitated. “Father will probably say that I just hid in the mountains for a few days, and then he’ll beat me for lying. I might even have to go live in some other town. But it will be better than being toasted as a dragon snack.”

The dragon thought for a moment. “How about if I give you one of the old scales I’ve shed? You can take it back to the king as proof that you talked to me. Tell him the dragon would like to make a deal. Stop sending knights up here to try to kill me and I’ll stop raiding livestock in the valley. I’d just as soon live a quiet peaceful life, even if it means eating mountain goats.”

“I’m not sure they would believe me.”

“They should!” the dragon exclaimed. “How many young men go up to face the dragon, live to tell about it, and come back with a dragon’s scale? I’ll even throw in a few gold coins you can give to the king as a peace offering.”

“But, my father... avenging my brother... not sure what he’ll do...”

“Oh pish. Go see the king first. If he’s impressed with what you’ve done, there won’t be much your father can do. Besides, it’s probably time for you to go out on your own and stop worrying about obeying him. He doesn’t seem highly concerned about you, sending you out here like he did.”

“Yes, sir, Mr. Dragon, sir. Oh, thank you!”

By this time the dragon was enjoying working out his plan. “Good! Good! Come around to the front of the cave. You can trust me to keep my word. I’ll not only give you the scale and the coins, but I’ll blow fire on your sword to melt the end of it. Even a brave knight can’t fight a dragon with a half-melted sword, now can he?”

The dragon was as good as his word, and soon the young man started down the mountain with his trophies. “Thanks, Mr. Dragon,” he called out.

“The name’s Murgatroyd the Magnificent. And what’s your name?”


The dragon smiled, a wry, toothy grin. “Ah yes, the way those humans like to embellish stories, this may wind up as the story of how St. George Vanquished the Dragon.”

Copyright © 2019 by Ronald M. Larsen

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