This is Day 11 in my writing prompt essay series. I’ve actually made it further than I ever thought I would. I may have to start writing at a different time of day than evening, though. I’m starting to forget what my Chico looks like…
11. Dragon: Envision a dragon. Do you battle him? Or is the dragon friendly? Use descriptive language.https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/
Theodore and Demetrius were useless fellows. They would tell you not to believe in dragons!
You’ve probably heard they were valiant warrior saints. Helped out the European crusaders in the first crusade, etc., etc. Poppycock! They never fought alongside any crusaders! If anything, all they did was drink alongside the crusaders!
And when it comes to identifying dragons? Worse than useless! Ask Theodore to describe a dragon (forgive me if I forgo the honorific of “saint” when speaking of both of them—it simply goes against the grain, I don’t mind telling you), and he’ll tell you it’s nothing more than a serpent. Not even venomous! But can you really expect more from a man whose only claim to sainthood is that he was thrown into a furnace?
And Demetrius? Don’t even get me started on Demetrius! He was nothing more than the troublesome son of rich parents who packed him off into the army to be rid of him. Sure, he was Christian, but how did he defend the faith? By getting run through by spears. Laughable.
Anyway, he would tell you a dragon was nothing more than an eel. An eel, for Pete’s sake!
My name is Saint George, and I know all about dragons. And I am here to tell you that dragons are very, very real. They are just as real today as they were in my day.
I, too, am a warrior saint. But while Theodore and Demetrius did nothing better than get themselves martyred, I actually fought the beasts. I once saved a town from a dragon’s reign of terror, and secured fifteen thousand converts to Christianity in the process! Say what you will of Christians, you’ve got to admit that’s some smooth operating.
Allow me to present myself to you, dear reader, as an eminent authority on dragons.
When a dragon plagues a town, first of all he starts by picking off sheep. Then he helps himself to larger livestock. Before long, however, he craves warmer blood, and that’s when he starts eating people.
Worse than a plague, is a dragon. The more he eats, the hungrier he gets. And he always starts with the most vulnerable, the poorest of the town. Pick off a couple of peasants, and hardly anyone notices. It’s only when he’s eaten a dozen that the nobles—the so-called quality—start to notice.
Up to this point, royalty looks at the dragon as a useful population control. Keep the rabble down and they won’t clamor for better working conditions! But a dragon soon acquires a taste for bluer blood. He moves up the echelons of society, picking his way through the merchant class once he’s had his fill of serfs. Next, he moves up to the landed gentry, onwards through the lower nobility, and before you know it he’s picking off dukes, duchesses and even princes!
The Dragon That Made Me Famous
That’s what happened in this one town I came upon in Cappadocia, in the country you modern-day folks would call Turkey. I’d been doing some campaigning with my ne’er-do-well colleagues (tiresome fellows! How I longed to be rid of them!), and we broke our journey in this quaint little town.
While Theodore and Demetrius patronized the local watering holes, I looked for lodgings at a respectable inn. It was there that I learned from the innkeeper—a wonderfully informative species of person, in my experience—that they had dragon troubles in town.
It had gotten to the point where they’d agreed to leave the dragon a victim each night, as a kind of—you know—sacrifice. They drew straws for it. Earlier that day, the local princess’s straw had been drawn. She was to be tied up and left for the dragon that night.
I vowed to save the princess from such a fate. Theodore and Demetrius laughed at me heartily and said they wouldn’t wait up for me that night. (Couldn’t wait up for me, more like it. Soused as a pair of eels by sundown, the pair of them!)
At the Lake
My unease grew as I approached the spot where they’d left the princess. I found her bound at the wrists and the ankles, gagged, and tied to a stake on an island in the middle of a small lake outside of town. With what barbarity had the townspeople left her to her fate!
(Forgive me, dear reader, if I do not go into rapturous descriptions of the maid. I am, after all, a saint.)
I motioned to the maiden to remain silent, not to betray my presence. Then I maneuvered my steed into the trees and waited in the nearby shadows.
The moon shone brightly that night, the clarity increased by that celestial body’s reflection in the waters. As I crouched in wait, I was aware of every ripple, every disturbance to the water’s surface. Close to midnight, one ripple appeared from around the lake, and a dark shape moved purposefully towards the island where the maiden was captive and where I, unbeknownst to the beast, lay in wait.
Its awful snout emerged first. A pair of large, cavernous nostrils broke the surface of the water, followed by a cruel and crooked horn. A long, thin snout followed, with whiskers dripping as they rose from the water. Its eyes caught the glint of the moonlight before ever surfacing, and the beast never blinked as it lifted its vile head from the depths.
Vile it was, dear reader, and adorned with two more curving horns of ivory, which cut against the reflected moonlight on the lake. Down its neck and across its back it had venomous spines, and its long, writhing reptilian tail curved this way and that behind it as it dragged its low and foul body up onto the shore. Its four legs were stout and strong, and each sported five vicious, curved claws. Its tongue darted in and out of its mouth, and the light of the moon glinted off of long, sharp fangs.
I didn’t wait to learn if it was a dragon of the fire-breathing variety. Before it had taken another step towards its victim, I crossed myself and charged from the darkness, brandishing my lance. The beast was entirely surprised, and had no time to react before I plunged my weapon between its shoulder blades, narrowly missing what must be the creature’s heart—if such devils indeed have hearts.
A terrible cry burst from its throat. Although it was mortally wounded, the beast did not immediately perish, and indeed looked ready to turn and fight. I acted without thinking and turning to the maiden, cut her free from her bonds. Seizing the ropes, I threw myself on the dragon, holding its jaws shut. There we wrestled until I was able to tie a rope tight around its muzzle.
Before I could think what to do with its claws, the maiden had removed the girdle from around her waist, and in an extraordinary act of bravery, she approached the dragon. Calmly as though she were approaching her spinning wheel, she slipped the girdle around the dragon’s neck.
For a moment, the beast continued to writhe. But then, feeling the silken fabric of the girdle, it slowed and eventually lay still. Its great, horrid eyes continued to stare at us, unblinking. We only knew it to be alive from its glance, darting from the maiden to me.
Suddenly, the dragon was like a tamed spaniel. The maiden took up the other end of her girdle, and tugging gently on it, she coaxed the dragon to its feet. I stood and watched in utter amazement and she walked to the shallow ford that lead off the island and to the village road. The dragon limped behind obediently.
I spurred my horse and galloped after them.
All’s Well That Ends Well
To make a long story short, we made our way back to the town, the maiden perched on my saddle, the dragon following on the lead.
I won’t go into the details of what followed—I’m not terribly proud of the extortion I performed next. I threatened to release the dragon on the townspeople unless they converted to Christ.
I know, I know, I was heavy-handed. But believe me when I say I meant well. In the end, no one came to any harm, and after they’d all been baptized at the fountain in the town square, I obligingly chopped off the dragon’s head.
Modern Day Dragons
As for dragons today… You do have them, dear readers. Your dragons may not be visible. They may be called by other names. Plagues, dragons, pandemics. They’re all one.
Whatever you call them, just as they did in my time, they pray first on the lowest of the low. Then they move through the population and strike down rich and strong alike.
These modern dragons cannot be ignored. They will decimate your populations and grind trade to a halt. No one will move from home for fear of encountering the dragon.
And just like the beasts of my day, modern day dragons must be managed by competent authorities. Modern St. Georges, if you will. Not clowns like those buffoonish fellows Theodore and Demetrius.
My Fellow “Saints”
But where were Theodore and Demetrius, you ask? How is it that they cannot identify a dragon, even after such a spectacle as this?
The simple answer is, my dear readers: they were drunk. They’d drunk the innkeeper out of his best ale, and had fallen asleep under their stools.
Is it any wonder they met the ends they did, dear readers? I ask you!