Which knight will defeat the dragon? One of 8 free online dragon tales from Megamouse Books: read, print, download
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TWO AND A HALF KNIGHTS AND A DRAGON

by Emma Laybourn

Once there was a village called Shillingford, which was a very ordinary place until it acquired a dragon.

The dragon arrived out of a clear blue sky. It scorched across the wheatfields, plummeted down into the orchard, and grabbed a pig rooting under the apple trees.

Then it hurtled up with a thunderclap of wings. It left behind a thick trail of smoke and several hundred baked apples, gently swinging from the blackened branches.

The dragon sat on the church steeple, tearing the pig apart. The townspeople crept out to look, and shuddered at the sight.

The dragon was as red as blood. Every time it took a mouthful of pig, the townspeople had a clear view of three rows of vicious yellow teeth.

The Mayor got pushed to the front of the crowd, since dealing with dragons was one of his Mayoral duties. This was the first time he had had to carry it out.

'O esteemed dragon!' he shouted anxiously. 'Pray what do you want from our humble village?'

The dragon curled its tail around the steeple and stared down with unblinking eyes. Since it made no reply, the Mayor tried again.

'O noble dragon- '

'I heard you the first time,' said the dragon, in a voice like a sawmill. 'My name is Sanguinarius. Too hard for you, I daresay. You may call me Sanguin.'

'Noble Sanguin,' shouted the Mayor, red in the face, 'what do you want from us?'

'Oh, just pigs, sheep, horses,' said the dragon, 'the usual. I'm not averse to maidens, either.'

The crowd shivered and groaned.

'What will you take to leave us alone?' bellowed the flustered Mayor. 'Gold, silver? We'll give you all our wealth!'

'No, we won't,' objected Mrs Honey from the sweet shop.

Lazily the dragon stretched out its wings, which were as wide as the church roof.

'No, thank you,' it said. 'Really, I have all the treasure I need. The horses and so on will do nicely. I'm very partial to horses.'

'But illustrious Sanguin- '

The dragon folded its wings and closed its eyes. Soon it was snoring loudly, wisps of smoke coiling from each nostril. It was hard to be sure if it was really asleep or not.

The Mayor turned to the crowd. 'Bring me all your gold and silver!'

'What for?' objected Mrs Honey.

'You want to get rid of this dragon, don't you?' said the Mayor impatiently.

'Yes, but it doesn't want our gold. It just said.'

'We need to hire somebody to kill it for us.'

'Can't you do that?'

'Dragon-slaying isn't in my job description,' snapped the Mayor. 'We need a knight. And knights cost money!'


* * * * *

The dragon Sanguinarius, from the free kids' online story Two and a half Knights and a Dragon

'A knight?' said the Mayor's wife. 'Round here? You'll be lucky. Where are you going to find a knight?'

'We'll advertise. I've got plenty of silver and gold to offer him.'

'You're not paying some fancy-pants knight all our money!' she objected.

'Of course not. It's the town's gold and silver, not ours. Though once he's killed the dragon, I believe we're expected to give him our daughter's hand in marriage.'

'We haven't got a daughter,' his wife pointed out snappily.

'Then we'll borrow one of the town maidens.'

'If there are any of them left! This dragon's already eaten ten sheep, seven pigs. three horses and a cow! A knight had better turn up soon.'

'I'll advertise in the Shillingford Gazette,' the Mayor promised.

However, it was two weeks before anyone answered his advertisement.

By then the town had no pigs left, and hardly any sheep. The dragon had burnt down all the barns and stables, and those people who still possessed uneaten horses were keeping them in their kitchens. This was not a very satisfactory arrangement.

'Please step inside,' said the Mayor to the knight. 'Oops, mind the dung. Just push the straw off that chair, and do sit down. Your name?'

'Sir Percivayle,' replied the knight mournfully. He was tall, gaunt and pale, with watery eyes, and wore a badly-fitting suit of ancient chain mail.

'You're an experienced knight?' asked the mayor doubtfully.

'Of course! I have won many a joust and tournament.'

'Slain any dragons?' inquired the Mayor.

'I have no fear of dragons! I bear a famous sword,' Sir Percivayle said proudly. He drew it with a flourish. Gleaming runes flickered along its edge. 'I inherited it from the Black Knight of the Forest.'

'The Black Knight, eh?' said the Mayor, very impressed.

'Its name is Duarfasti. It was forged by fairy folk in the endless depths of time,' whispered Sir Percivayle.

The Mayor rubbed his hands. 'Excellent! Sounds like you'll have no trouble with that dragon. You can go and kill it tomorrow.'

'And my reward?'

'All the town's gold and silver,' said the Mayor blithely. Since Sir Percivayle still looked undecided, he added, 'And my daughter's hand in marriage.'

'Albert-' whispered his wife, as the knight bowed in agreement.

'Ssh. I know. We'll adopt.'

* * * * *

Next day, Sir Percivayle set out to meet the dragon.

Sanguin, having just finished off the last and toughest goat, was hunting through the town for food.

The townspeople had locked themselves in their houses. When Sir Percivayle arrived, the streets were deserted but for the dragon which was busy raiding the butcher's shop. It sprawled on the pavement, gobbling lamb chops.

Sir Percivayle drew his famous sword.

'Begone, vile serpent!' he cried in his thin, quavery voice.

The dragon turned its back on him disdainfully.

'Begone! Or I shall set cold steel to your hideous flesh!'

Sanguin ignored him and went to work on a rib of beef.

'Away, foul worm!' The knight's voice rose. 'For I bear a charmed sword! And with it I shall cleave your loathsome head-'

The dragon belched, and flicked its tail. It knocked the sword right out of Sir Percivayle's hand and sent him tumbling over backwards.

He scrambled to his feet and looked round for his sword. With horror, he saw a hundred metal fragments littering the street.

'Duarfasti!' he wailed.

The dragon began to stalk towards him, swaying from side to side.

'Duarfasti, eh?' it hissed. 'Now there's a coincidence. I met the Black Knight of the Forest only last month. A very pleasant fellow - if a little crunchy.'

Sanguin's vast jaws opened wide. As Sir Percivayle took to his heels, he heard the clash of giant teeth behind him, and the dragon's raucous laughter.


* * * * *

'I hope this knight's better than the last one,' the Mayor's wife said acidly.

'Don't worry! He will be. Sir Agravayne! Come in, come in! Don't mind the horse, he's just hungry. Oh, I'm sorry, did he step on your foot?'

'It's nothing,' said Sir Agravayne, limping into the house. 'I hear you're having a spot of bother with a pesky dragon. I'm the chap you need.'

'Indeed!' The Mayor eyed him hopefully. Sir Agravayne had hair as yellow as a lion's mane, though somewhat glossier, and a florid, handsome face.

What really caught the Mayor's eye, though, was his dazzling suit of armour. It was pure gold, engraved with a thousand tiny twirls and careful curlicues. So fine and flashing was it that it took the Mayor's breath away.

'Like the outfit?' asked Sir Agravayne, flicking a speck of straw from his gleaming shoulder. 'Brand new. Made to measure. Cost me fifteen hundred guineas.'

'Magnificent! Have you got a famous sword as well?'

'Sword? Sorry, no. Should I have?'

'No, no, not at all,' cried the Mayor. 'I'm sure your - um - whatever-it-is will do the job just as well.'

'My mace?' Sir Agravayne held up a club studded with red and green jewels. 'Fabulous, isn't it?' he said admiringly. 'The latest thing. I've got a matching lance, solid bronze, weighs a ton. Cost me five hundred for the set. Should be a match for any dragon.'

'Wonderful, wonderful!' said the Mayor.

But his wife pulled him aside to hiss, 'Five hundred? We'll never afford his prices!'

'Hush, dear!' he whispered back. 'We'll worry about that once the dragon's dead.'

By now, the dragon Sanguin had finished with the butcher's shop and was half way through the baker's.

The road was strewn with doughnuts; fruit cake was trampled into the cobblestones. Sir Agravayne picked his way carefully through the crumbs.

'Um, I say!'

The dragon's snout appeared.

'Hey, you there, you dragon fellow!'

The dragon clambered over the counter. It looked decidedly angry. Sir Agravayne took a hasty step back and trod on a Swiss roll.

'Have you brought me meat?' roared Sanguin. Flames scorched the doorframe.

'Er, what?'

'Meat! I want meat! Buns give me indigestion.'

'Now look here, this has got to stop,' said Sir Agravayne. He clanged his golden visor shut and tried to hoist his lance. It was too heavy and fell on his foot.

He gripped his jewelled mace instead. His new armour was guaranteed fireproof and biteproof, a fact which gave him courage.

'It's about time you jolly well shoved off, you know,' he declared hollowly into his visor.

Then he gulped, as the dragon opened its mouth wide. There was a deep rumble. Black smoke filled the cavernous mouth.

Sanguin huffed. Inky smoke billowed out, completely covering Sir Agravayne. Coughing and choking, he flapped his hands until the cloud disappeared.

'By Jove -' he began indignantly, and then stopped dead as he spotted his reflection in the bakery window. His heart stood still.

He couldn't believe it.

His beautiful armour was coated in soot. He was no longer gleaming gold. Instead, he looked as if he was carved out of coal.

Sir Agravayne dropped his cudgel onto an iced bun and burst into tears.


* * * * *

'I told you we couldn't afford him,' scolded the Mayor's wife. 'And this is just his cleaning bill! Now what do we do?'

'I don't know,' groaned the Mayor. 'Nobody else has answered the advertisement. We're all doomed.'

There was a rap at the door. The Mayor's wife opened it and looked down. Her eyes widened.

'Excuse me,' said the small figure in the doorway, as it clanked around her into the kitchen.

'What are you doing here, boy?' demanded the Mayor.

'I'm a knight,' said the boy. 'I'm Sir Egg.'

'Sir Egg, indeed!' scoffed the Mayor. 'What sort of name is that? And as for your armour...!'

'I made it myself,' said Sir Egg proudly. 'Sardine tins.'

'You might have cleaned them first,' complained the Mayor's wife, holding her nose. 'Why are you clutching that old dustbin lid?'

'Shield,' explained Sir Egg. 'I couldn't get a metal lid, but I expect rubber will do just as well.'

The Mayor pointed a quivering finger at the object in Sir Egg's other hand. 'And that?'

'It looks like a mutton bone,' said his wife suspiciously.

'It is,' said Sir Egg. 'It's a very famous mutton bone.'

The Mayor could stand no more. 'Out!' he yelled. 'Get out, you impudent brat! And mind that horse, it's valuable.'

Sir Egg skipped nimbly away. 'Don't worry,' he called over his shoulder. 'I'll get rid of the dragon for you. And then I'll be back for my reward.'

Sir Egg the small knight, in his sardine tin armour, from the free kids' story 
Two and a Half Knights and a Dragon

Sir Egg walked through Shillingford looking for the dragon. He passed the butcher's and the baker's, and paused at the greengrocer's.

A trickle of smoke rolled through the door, followed by four apples and a melon.

'Hallo, Dragon!' he shouted.

The dragon appeared in the window. It looked extremely cross.

'Lettuce and spinach,' it grumbled. 'What kind of dinner is that?'

'Revolting. I hate greens too,' agreed Sir Egg.

The red eyes glinted. The dragon came slithering out of the shop, scales grating on the pavement.

'And just who do you think you are?' it rasped.

Sir Egg squared his tin shoulders and raised his dustbin lid. 'I'm a knight!'

'Huh! Half a knight at most. Still, you'll be tastier than lettuce...'

And suddenly the dragon spread its wings and leapt upon Sir Egg, bowling him over. The mutton bone was flung from his grasp. Dozens of huge teeth clashed around his armour.

Sir Egg could not shout: the breath was squeezed out of him. He was lifted into the air, shaken like a rag on a clothes line and finally hurled down upon the pavement where he landed in a painful clatter of sardine tins.

'Pah! Pah!' spat the dragon, shaking its head. 'Fish! I can't stand fish! Are you trying to poison me? You young rat-bag. I'll fry you to a crisp!'

It snarled, baring its triple rows of teeth. Long red flames poured from its mouth.

Sir Egg, staggering, held out his dustbin lid. A blast of searing air scorched past him, frizzling his hair. There was a terrible smell of burning rubber.

'Phew! What a stink!' exclaimed the dragon in disgust. It began to lollop heavily away down the street. Picking up his mutton bone, Sir Egg ran in pursuit.

The dragon turned, ready to fry him.

Then its eyes fixed on the bone. Its nostrils twitched.

'What have you got there?' it rumbled.

'It's a very famous mutton bone,' panted Sir Egg.

'Famous?'

'Brampton Wick mutton, best in the country.'

'Really?' Sanguin edged closer. 'I love mutton. Where is this Brampton Wick place?'

'I'll tell you, if you promise to go away and leave us alone,' Sir Egg suggested.

Sanguin snorted. 'No chance. I haven't finished with this town yet!'

'Yes, you have,' said Sir Egg firmly. 'You've raided all the shops. There's only the fish shop left - and you don't like fish.'

Sanguin looked sulky. 'Is that really all that's left?'

'That's right.' Sir Egg did not mention the sweet shop hidden down an alley. 'Here - try the mutton bone!' He tossed the bone to Sanguin, who caught it expertly and crunched it up like a giant biscuit. Two gulps later, it was gone.

'Aaah,' said the dragon dreamily, licking its lips. 'That was excellent. Have you got any more?'

'No. You'll have to go to Brampton Wick to find some.'

'I'm tempted,' said Sanguin thoughtfully.'Very tempted. If only I could go! But you see, there's just one problem...'

'What's that?' asked Sir Egg.

The dragon scratched its ear in an embarrassed sort of way.

'It's like this,' it said. 'I'm tired of this village. I've devoured all the animals, and I don't really care for maidens. Too stringy. So I might as well be off - but I can't just fly away at your command.'

'Why not?'

'What, be driven off by an insignificant little scrap like you? It's terrible for my image! Imagine how my reputation would suffer! Now if you were a proper knight, it would be different.'

'But I am!' cried Sir Egg.

The dragon sneered. 'You? A knight?'

'Yes! My name's a short-for, just like yours.'

Sanguin's eyes narrowed. 'Short for what?'

Sir Egg sighed. 'Sir Egremont Horatio Lancelot Sagramore de Gramercy,' he said reluctantly. 'I try not to let people know.'

'Egremont - what was that again?'

Sir Egg repeated it, and the dragon rolled the name around its tongue.

'Yes,' it announced. 'Yes, that might do. Would you mind being six foot six and a master of wizardry? I really couldn't settle for less.'

'Certainly,' said Sir Egg politely.

'It's a deal!' Sanguin cackled. 'Do you realise this is the first bargain I've ever struck with a human?'

'Really?'

Sanguin thought for a moment. 'Well, no. Generally I strike the bargain and then eat the human anyway. You are privileged. Now - where's this Brampton Wick?'

Sir Egg whispered in its ear, and the dragon launched itself up into the air.

High over the rooftops it braked, turned a somersault and hurtled back downwards. Sir Egg wondered if it had changed its mind.

Arching its neck, it roared a devastating spout of flame straight at the fish shop. The door burst into flames. Fillets of cod curled up and turned black on their slabs.

'Can't stand fish,' growled the dragon, as with huge, heavy wingbeats it flapped away.


* * * * *

'I don't think we should pay you,' grumbled the Mayor. 'You didn't kill the dragon at all.'

'I got rid of it, didn't I?' said Sir Egg. 'Anyway, I don't want gold and silver.'

'You don't?'

'No, thanks. A half share in the sweet-shop will do fine.'

The Mayor didn't argue. He had enough problems, what with the townspeople demanding their money back with interest, and a horse that refused to move out of the kitchen.

Mrs Honey from the sweet-shop didn't argue either. She was so grateful to Sir Egg for saving her shop from being caramelised that she offered him lodgings and all the toffee he could eat.

So Sir Egg lived happily over the sweet-shop, learning to make humbugs and gobstoppers and being much fussed over by the old lady. Although she was not quite so sweet as her name, she was as nice as lemon pie to Sir Egg. She even offered to adopt him.

So, to his delight, Sir Egg became Egg Honey. He sincerely hoped that he would never again have to reveal his ridiculous old name to anyone.

As for the dragon Sanguin - it raided and rampaged to its black heart's content around the unhappy village of Brampton Wick, until, in despair, they advertised for a knight to sort it out...

But that's another story.


THE END

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Copyright © 2012 Emma Laybourn

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