Have you ever met a dragon?
You want to be careful with them. Not because of the fire-breath that can roast a man alive at fifty paces, or the six-inch, razor-sharp claws, or whip-like tails that have been known to crack spines with a single blow.
No, it’s because of their irritating poetry habits.
Now, you might be feeling somewhat incredulous about this. Dragons writing poetry? you say. But dragons are beasts! Not to mention their complete lack of opposable thumbs! Well, perhaps you’ve also heard that dragons are telepathic. This takes care of the lack of thumbs quite handily. But what most people don’t realize is that, compared to dragons, the every day man is quite the beast. Dragons appear to act beastly because their minds have achieved a higher plane than ours, largely through the application of copious amounts of depressing poetry.
At least, this is what they say. You should count yourself rather lucky if a dragon chooses to talk to you. Mostly they prefer to ignore human speech capabilities and spend their time in happy rampages, joyous slaughter of livestock, et cetera, et cetera. But the rare human will catch a dragon’s eye. Mostly it’s pretty young virgins who do this, or old men with quite a lot of treasure. Occasionally, a simple farm boy will manage to do the trick.
But we’re leaving the point. Where was I? Ah, poetry. Yes. Well. Don’t ever let a dragon offer to read you his poetry. Dragons, being immortal, are prone to write exceedingly long poems, and you could well find yourself trapped there, listening to him, for a number of years. This happened in the famous case of Eli Longbeard the Twenty-Third, who, when he was fifteen, stumbled upon a dragon’s lair. Perhaps because of his father’s vast fortune, or because of his embarrassingly feminine features, we can never be sure, the dragon took notice of him. Upon its offer to read the poem it had been composing, Eli felt he could hardly refuse. He pulled himself up a chair and is still there to this day, too afraid of being consumed in the dragon’s fire-breath to leave the recital.
The other problem with dragon poetry is its tendency to be stupefyingly boring. No one is quite sure why this is the case, as one would imagine that poetry written by a gigantic, flying, fire-breathing apparition would be rather thrilling. The theory has been advanced that dragons, because of their more advanced mindset, simply find different things to be interesting than humans. Still, to most people, a two-hundred thousand line ode to the qualities of a pebble found caught in the scales seems a little excessive, especially when the pebble in question is not usually very attractive, in the first place. It is a little known fact that the most common draconic method of killing is, quite literally, boring their subjects to death. You see, the dragon will begin reading his poetry. The poor humans caught in this terrible event will be forced to listen until they fall asleep, lulled by the endless cliched metaphors used in the description of pebbles. Then, the dragon will, rightfully enraged by this rudeness, engulf said humans in a wall of flame.
So, have you ever met a dragon?
I would advise you to stay away, honestly. I think I’ve made myself quite clear as to the reasons why. But, you say, what if I want to hunt a dragon? What then? Well, good sir, I shall attempt to make this point clear to you….
Once, there was a young man who feared he would account to nothing much. He lived in a small village on the coast of Bloriarty, during the reign of the great King Frank. He was in love with a beautiful fishmonger’s daughter, who had hair like the setting sun, skin like warm cream, and a figure like the most gracefully carved pillars of an elven palace. Her eyes, it was side, could entrance a wizard from his tower, could cause a dragon to spend a century composing verses in her honor, could bring princes running from the other side of the world. Her name was, unfortunately, Mudd. This name rather put people off. It caused them to disbelieve the rumors, you see. Poor Mudd also had the unfortunate habit of… well… living out her namesake. She had a terrible, superstitious fear of baths. One could rarely see her skin (it was like warm cream, remember), for it was usually covered in a layer of dirt.
But back to the young man. His name was a rather respectable one: John Darkfeller the Eighth, after his father, grandfather, great-great-uncle, and so on back to his ancient cousins. His father was a shoemaker, and John did not want to spend the rest of his life making shoes. He rather abhorred the idea, in fact–as I said, he feared he would account to nothing much. But the Darkfellers had been shoemakers for eight generations. There was not much he could do to change things… until a dragon moved into a nearby lair that had been deserted for twenty years, ever since the last dragon died of shock when it discovered the supposed virgin it had kidnapped was, in fact, said virgin’s true love, a rather hairy sailor who had substituted himself for his beloved at the last possible second. It was a thrilling tale, to be sure, and terrifying for any self-respecting dragon, but this new dragon was young and rash and didn’t believe a word of it.
“The seas are glorious,” said he. “They shall give me so much inspiration, I shan’t know what to do with myself.”
He was, you see, of the new class of dragons, who believe pillaging and laying waste to herds of livestock is rather old hat, preferring to spend their days in quiet contemplation, writing obscure treatises on the nature of the elemental composition of the letter Q.
But the village wasn’t aware of this small yet important fact. When they saw the terrible shadow of the dragon crossing their town, like the dust cloud of an erupting volcano, except smaller, they went into a dreadful panic. No one knew quite what to do. Several of them took to the streets armed with signs that read “the end is nigh! Repent!” Others took to the taverns, there to drink until they were ready to challenge the dragon to a duel of ballads. Some quietly left, taking their children, pots, pans, and mules with them. A few just ignored the dragon and went on with life as normal, saying nervous things like “Joe! Doing well today? I’ve not heard of no dragons in these parts for ages, no no, ha ha ha!” At which point they would dissolve into nervous giggles and be unable to say anything much for several minutes.
So, back to young John. He had been trying for years, unsuccessfully, to woo Mudd. Much of his lack of success could be contributed to the fact that the only thing he was comfortably conversant about was the qualities of different kinds of shoes. Another contributing factor was, most likely, Mudd’s habit of leaving in the middle of a conversation, perhaps due to boredom. Still another was the occasional poor fellow who believed the rumors, came to town expecting to find a princess, and instead found a dirty, rebellious young woman who would rather be exploring the swamp and increasing the levels of her various powers and abilities then courting fine young gentlemen. The gentlemen would often get into fights with her, which John would try to break up, but he would usually find himself unconscious in a gutter before long. Dreadful it was, simply dreadful. He didn’t seem to have the slightest chance at gaining his love’s heart.
So when the dragon came, it seemed a perfect opportunity. The dragon would kidnap Mudd, for surely, as the most beautiful virgin in the world, she would be a prize the dragon could not resist. Then John, wielding a mallet (usually used for putting shoes together) would charge to her rescue, slaying the mighty dragon and carrying her back to town in triumph. She would, of course, smother him with kisses, and they would marry in the spring, and all would be well. Full of visions of this glorious adventure, John set out from town with mallet in hand. He forgot to wait for the rather important event of Mudd’s capture to occur, and marched straight off to the dragon’s lair with her still off wandering the swamp. As one can imagine, this did not end well. In his attempt to slay the dragon, John was dismembered, burned to death, and read the most excruciating piece of poetry ever written, an ode to the eggs of seagulls.
What is the moral of this story? Don’t try to slay a dragon. Don’t allow a dragon to read poetry to you. In fact, stay away from dragons, at all costs. I have warned you. Heed my warning, and you will live a long and possibly cheerful life.
…you wish to know my name?
That would be a little complex, I’m afraid it’s rather long. It takes years to say properly. I wouldn’t want it mispronounced.
I am, after all, a dragon.
Well, that was relatively pointless bit of writing that I churned out earlier in half an hour. I hope you find it amusing, if not terribly useful!