Long, long….long ago, A good friend, and myself, found ourselves in quite the pickle….
“Well,” he said reluctantly, “this isn’t what I had in mind.”
“I tried to tell you,” I said, my back wound tightly against his in the clutches of the serpent’s tale. “But, noooo, you just had to come anyways. Get your fix for adventure yet?”
The serpent looked down at both of us, grinning. It was almost as if he knew what we were saying.
“Look dude, you know I have a thing for fair maidens,” he said, “I knew you liked gold, too, so I figured why not bring you along,” he finished, gesticulating with one arm (the other was bound tightly by his side).
“I do like gold. You’d be a fool not to, but there’s nothing fair about your fair maiden,” I said, “unless she thinks it’s fair to throw herself at every guy wearing leathers and a sheathing a wooden stick.”
My friend looked sick at this. “Y’know, I honestly thought she liked me for my charming demeanor,” he said, looking sad.
I threw both my hands up in the air, letting them land lazily back on the surface of the serpent’s tale. “The irony,” I said, hysterical, “heh–why don’t you use that killer charm on our new friend here,” I continued, pointing at the thorniness of the dragon’s nose.
“I’m sorry man, I honestly thought it was just a bunch of hocus pocus from the village. I didn’t believe the myths were true. I Figured, y’know, we’d just walk in, find a fire-breathing shrub or something, spray it with poison, and be on our way with the gold, easy peasy.”
“A fire-breat—what?! Is that why you brought my mother’s fumigator,” I asked, undoing it from his shoulder. “Oi, dragon,” I said, tossing it at it’s face.
“Watch this, look look look” I said, nudging for my friend’s attention. He turned.
The serpent didn’t flinch. Now it gave a bewildered look landing between amused and another that stated clearly, ‘is that it’?
“See, it’s very real, Dingus McToughbrains.”
I could tell my friend was getting a bit upset at this. “I told you, I made a mistake,” he said, “Everyone makes them. Besides, I thought it was just something whimsy like out of the brothers Grimm,” he said.
“My god man, they aren’t real. For the thousandth time,” I plead.
“Neither are we,” he said lowly, breaking the fourth again.
“What was that,” I snapped.
“Nothing,” he said.
“Listen up you lot,” the serpent hissed through his fangs. “you two are the worst beast slayers I’ve seen yet. Believe me, I’ve seen a fair share, but I gave them all a choice: fake their deaths and be patted away with a wagon full of gold for a new life so I don’t have to kill’em, or I just get on with it so I can go back to nappin’.”
My friend and I tried looking at each other with our backs so tightly wound, then gave up and looked at the dragon.
“We’ll take the gold,” we both said eagerly.
With the wagons packed and the fumigator stealthily returned, I turned to the dragon and asked, “Why do you want us to fake our deaths?”
“I don’t like publicity, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a decent nap in an abandoned cave without getting a sword in the arse,” it hissed. “If you went back to town, everyone would want some of the gold, to slay the dragon, or both.”
“Fair enough,” I said. “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it,” it said, stalking back into the cave. “Seriously.”
I looked back at my friend, “So we poked a dragon’s tail because you were chasing tail, and we’re rich as ever now with no strings attached to our old lives. What next?”
He dropped the player’s handbook for D&D and stared at me while I peered over the dungeon master’s hideaway board at his mother’s kitchen table.
“You can’t run the world and be a player, too,” he said, “a dragon would never do anything like that in the real world.”
I snapped the dungeon master’s guide closed.
“Well it does in my world.”