Daniel K.

Dragons And Dining

Legends have it that dragons are large, fierce creatures, covered in scales and breathing fire through their mouths or nostrils. Unfortunately, legends, like fishers' tales, have a habit of growing longer with every retelling and both the size and weaponry of Dragons seem to increase with time.

This Beast had the outward appearances of a dragon. Smooth, shining scales, a long reptilian neck and head, and talons that looked capable of slicing wood without noticing the obstruction. Its size, however, was a shock, for the Beast was barely five feet tall. It stood on its hind legs, tail against the ground to provide balance in this precarious position. On its back was a pack of old rags, emitting a stench of carrion so thick it made the Human's head spin.

"Ho!" cried the Human, readying his sword. "Prepare to meet thy doom, O Foul Fiend!" The Dragon looked around and, with a surprised look, placed a taloned hand delicately on its chest as if saying, "Me?"

"Ay, thee, O Malodorant Mutt! Long have I sought you to rid this place of your stench, thou Fetid Forager!" With a flourish, the Warrior prepared to swing his sword.

"I say," spoke the Dragon, "That's a rather nasty tone for people who have just met, is it not?"

"Do not attempt to sway me, thou... er... thou..." the Human floundered.

"Putrid Pilferer?" helpfully provided the Dragon.

"That's rather good, yes... Thou Putrid Pilferer! Limb from limb will I rend thee and... and... That smell is rather strong, isn't it?" the Human asked, wrinkling his nose.

"What have you got in there?"

"Fertilizer," answered the Dragon.

"Fertilizer, what for?"

"My salads. They don't grow well if left alone and, sometimes require a helping hand from the manure department." The Dragon dropped its pack in front of the puzzled Human and went on to open the flaps. There, in the pack's depths, were several pounds of horse manure. "Top quality. Arabian stallions. You won't get this from just any village store, you know."

"But... Salad?" The Human was almost whimpering.

"Has nobody told you? Dragons are herbivores. We eat plants. I personally think I make a succulent Caesar Salad."

"Herbivores?" The voice was definitely whimpering now, "But aren't you supposed to eat virgins or something? And lay waste to entire villages?"

"Rumors. Superstitions. All started by warriors who had a close encounter with one of my kind. I mean, what would you say when you came home from a day of slaying a Dragon? 'It barely came up to my chest, weighed less than I and mightily did I slaughter this defenseless beast'? No... You would make up tales of a large, ferocious beast able to rip your head off with a single bite."

"But what about me? What'll I do now?"

The Dragon eyed the Human critically. "Hmm. You look as though you've seen better days. When did you last eat? Never mind," the Dragon continued before the Human could answer. "Let me invite you home for dinner."

The Human took a step back. "For dinner? As dinner you mean?"

"Had I wanted you as the first course for my later repast I would have said so," sighed the Dragon. "I assure you I have no wish to eat you; the idea is as revolting to me as I am sure it is to you." Picking up its pack, the Dragon turned towards the hills, "Well?"

The Human looked at his sword, then at the Dragon. Finally he shrugged, sheathed his weapon and followed the Beast down the path.

The Dragon's home was bright and airy, completely different from what the Human would have imagined. Instead of jagged rocks, walls of lightly colored plaster rose to an embossed ceiling. Instead of the darkness of a gloomy cave, veins of crystals were filtering sunlight through the rocks themselves to the lair. Instead of the cold and dampness of a cave, this home was warm and dry. "Central heating," stated the Dragon. "Does wonders for my arthritis, you know."

"This is not like anything I would have expected," admitted the Human.

"You were perhaps expecting dungeons, littered bones, damsels in distress... or that dress?" the Dragon chuckled. "No. I'm afraid we are a very secular and solitary breed, we Dragons. It is not often we invite others into our homes. Even for dinner." Holding its pack in one claw, the Beast ambled down the corridor and into a large, well-decorated room.

Setting its pack near a smoked-glass door, the Dragon picked up a bone-china tea set, put it on a tray, and rummaged through the varnished pantry for a second. Finally, it held up a packet of biscuits triumphantly and, placing it on the tray, returned to the center of the room with its tray. Setting out the food, the Dragon continued to talk. "As you can see, I like my comforts. I have the library over here... And this is the smoking room, I wouldn't go in there if I were you; bad for your lungs... The kitchen... And over there," it said, pointing to the door next to the pack, "Is the greenhouse."

"Where your plants are?" inquired the Human.

"Yes. I grow all of my own food. It's healthier that way, you understand."

"May I see it? Your greenhouse I mean."

"Most certainly. And I will prepare the kitchen for dinner while you are inside."

The Dragon opened the glass door and allowed the Human through, closing it behind him. It looked reluctantly at the handle for a moment, then lowered Its reptilian eyes and moved back to the kitchen.

Dragging a few pots and pans down from their cabinet, the Dragon went on to prepare the salad dressing. It kept clanging the metal spoon loudly against the copper surface of the mixing bowl, trying not to listen to the screams that suddenly emerged from the greenhouse. For, while the Dragon may have been vegetarian, ITS dinner certainly was not.


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