Tuesday Tale - The Hackney Dragon

And so it was that Sir Rodney the Strong found himself on the road outside the Village of Hackney, searching for the dragon which, the villagers said, had tried to burn them out. He thought he knew where to look for the dragon, after all, the many, many years of dragon hunting had honed his senses and his skills, even though age threatened to dull them beyond recognition.

Sir Rodney was old. Sir Rodney was the last of his kind. Just as the dragon, this particular dragon, was likely the last of its kind, as well. He knew that once this particular dragon was dispatched, it was more than likely all over. No more would he be summoned hither, thither and yon to slay the one and many dragons that plagued the countryside. His job was nearly done. The dragons were nearly gone.

He looked about and then he saw it. The tall, thin column of light grey smoke slowly ascending up into the light of the fullsome moon, bright on this, the last night of summer. The smoke arose from behind a small patch of wood which lay between him and the dell which snuggled in the bosom of the two hills beyond. The smoke would be from the sleeping dragon. Dragons snore - and when they snore, they start small fires in their immediate vicinity. A weakness that all dragons had - that somehow, they never seemed to catch on to. Smoke had cost many a dragon its life.

He knew this place. Many years before a dragon had lived here - in that very dell, in fact, and he suspected that this dragon was the offspring of that ancient foe he slew here. Which made this particular dragon a bit more dangerous than one whom he'd had no connection with - if this one knew his smell, and caught smell of him before he was ready for the encounter, he could find the tables turned and he would be the hunted, not the hunter. If.

There was no wind to speak of, so his approach was one of stealth rather than one concerned with where the breeze was coming from. He picked his way through the thick stand of trees, careful not to make any sound which might alert the sleeping dragon to his approach - for sleep though they may, dragons could wake instantly, at the slightest sound. At last he could see into the dell. Small fires burned and smoldered here and there, but the dell was empty.

"Well, Sir Rodney, I presume." The low and rumbling voice came from behind him. "I assume you're looking for me, Sir Rodney. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Bryge and I am the daughter of Elmeera, whom you slew in this very place forty years ago."

Sir Rodney said nothing - but stood there, eyes closed, waiting for the breath of flame which would consume him and send him to Valhalla and his ancestors.

"Sir Rodney, what IS that smell? I say, clean yourself. Your armor will rust."

"Do what you are going to do, Bryge. I am ready to die. I am not ready to be tortured."

"Why?", asked Bryge. "Why, what?", asked Sir Rodney.

"Why must you or I kill the other?"

"Well, for one thing, you tried to burn out the Village of Hackney. It is they who have hired me to dispatch you."

"Dispatch? Interesting euphemism. Did they say anything about why I "tried to burn out the village?"

"No. It's not like we discussed motives. They said, 'Go kill the dragon' and I said, "Okay". They asked, 'Standard fees?' and I said 'Sure' and they said 'Okay'. That was it. Oh, and yeah, they did tell me you tried to burn them out."

"They didn't tell you all, Sir Rodney. They kept some things from you."

"Really. Such as?"

"What do you see in the center of the dell?"

"I dunno. Rocks. No. Wait ... Those are eggs. Dragon eggs. I haven't seen dragon eggs in many, many years."

"You've killed just about all of us who could lay them, Sir Rodney. Kill me and those will never hatch. They will, in fact, be the last of their kind - the last dragon eggs anyone will ever see."

"I'm afraid you have the advantage, Bryge. I think, at this moment, I have more to fear than do you. Your eggs are safe, at least for now."

"Ah, but that is the point, Sir Rodney. If I kill you, there will be someone else to follow in your footsteps. If you live, there may be a chance to change the course of events. In any case, those eggs are the reason you are here. The villagers have been sending young men out here to collect the eggs. They seem to think that feeding the village for a day is more important than the survival of the whole and ancient race of dragons. I burned down two hay ricks behind the livery stable in order to warn them to stay away from my eggs. Instead, they hire you. Humans are stubborn. And stupid. That's a bad combination and dangerous."

"What do you expect me to do?"

"Help me. Help me keep them away from my eggs."

"Now how am I supposed to do that?"

"That, Sir Rodney, is a question that you must answer - and answer well, for the answer will save your life. Or not."

Tune in next week, same time, same station, for the exciting conclusion of "The Hackney Dragon".



Suzanne said...

I'm enjoying this! More, please?

Jientje said...

Ooooohh, you'll have me holding my breath for a whole week?

Ashlie- Mommycosm said...

I'm staying tuned. I love the way you write :)

Eric S. said...

Ahh a little from the Fantasy Genre. Lou you surprise me once again. Is their no end to our creativeness and imagination. I think not.

Shadow said...

love these kind of stories... now you know how i'd want this to end? well, i'll wait and see.......

Kim said...

Lou, this is wonderful.. I cannot wait to see what Sir Ronald will do.. :)

hockeychic said...

OOh color me intrigued! Wonderful story for this morning.

Anonymous said...

I love these kinds of stories... I am hooked. I can't wait for the next installment. I'll bring popcorn next time. Wonderful!

Jibber Jabber said...

I love it! I can't wait until next week.

moneythoughts said...

OK, I am able to leave a comment with this set up.

As for the story about the dragon, dragon eggs and the dragon slayer, it is all a metaphor for the economy and more specifically labor's struggle to stay employed. Without new dragons being born, there is no need to hire dragon slayers. The villagers would rather cheat the dragon slayer out of his rice bowl than have to hire the dragon slayer to do his job. So, the dragon slayer and the dragon team up to preserve the economic order of which the dragon and the dragon slayer play a part. Look at this way, if you kill all the elephants there will be no elephants left to help put up the circus tent, or for that matter entertain the children.

I only wish the guy who writes MONEYTHOUGHTS was as creative as you are Lou. His stuff can put you to sleep!

anglophilefootballfanatic.com said...

I love it. Is St George going to make an appearance?

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

Oh! You've got me hooked! I'm in love with the dragon.

Indigo said...

Your stories bring out the kid in me. Those books of Dungeons and Dragons, Fair maidens waiting to be saved. Thank you for the smile today. (Hugs)Indigo

Hyphen Mama said...

GREAT story. And until I read Fred's comment, I was sure it was a parallel for what's going on in Gaza. The ancient fight that can only be solved by realizing that they each are only hurting themselves by continuing the fight, by understanding that each side is merely striving for self-preservation.

Then again, it's probably a dragon story and has no underlying meaning whatsoever.

I can't wait for next week's ending.

DoeWDW said...

Very intriguing! Can't wait for the next installment! Are you sure the end will present itself next week or will there be more....

I'm hoping for more. :)
- Doreen in PA

LceeL said...

This is Thursday and this story is STILL drawing comments - so even though I was too busy on Tuesday evening to get to these comments and answer them, I will do so now - because I always try to answer my comments.

Suzanne: More coming in a week.

Jientje: Yes. But one week only, I promise.

Ashlie: Thank you, Ashlie. that makes my day.

Eric S: Eric, obviously there is all kinds of stuff stuck in there - all clamoring to get out.

Shadow: No - I DON'T know how you'd want this to end - or maybe I do - romantic that you are - in which case, that's exactly how it ends.

Kim: Actually, nobody seemed to catch my error - in that I renamed Sir Rodney to Sir Ronald in the MIDDLE OF THE STORY. He is Sir Rodney thoughout, now.

Hocketchic: I am so glad you've enjoyed it, so far.

ifmomsaysok: Tara, just don't leave any 'old maids'.

Jibber Jabber: Next week will be worth it, I hope. Thank you, Joyce-Anne.

Moneythoughts: You got all that out of this, huh? Somehow, I don't think you have a lot of problem with imagination, Fred.

AFF: This is fantasy, Holly. St. George, as we all know, was real.

HollyATOM: Holly. The dragon is a GIRL.

Indigo: I am so glad, so very glad, I could make you smile.

Hyphen Mama: There is no intended allegory here. If you find one, let me know.

DoeWDW: It WILL end next week. At least, this story will. Now. It could happen, some time in the future, where a story might appear that explores some of Sir Rodney's past. Or maybe, even, a little of his future. We'll see. (Did you hate that saying as much as I did when you were a kid? Because it meant, like, NEVER. But not here though.)

Elizabeth said...

"They said, 'Go kill the dragon' and I said, "Okay". They asked, 'Standard fees?' and I said 'Sure' and they said 'Okay'. That was it."

Love it!

www.ayewonder.com said...

At first, when I came to your site and saw it was a two parter, I thought. "do I really have time for both today?" And the answer is, "for something this good, I'll make the time."