A plague on both your houses (3/3)

Having grown up with 12 sisters, Spontaneous Bucket was no stranger to unexpected phenomena. Still, the sheer magnitude of the beast took even him by surprise, ‘Wow. I mean. Wow.’

The dragon sighed, ‘I see that human is still synonymous with dung beetle.’

It was always difficult to seem sensible once someone had established that you were an idiot. Spontaneous gathered up all the pieces of his face into something that resembled an apology, ‘Forgive me, oh glorious one, I was just a little surprised, given the size of the mound and the size of… Surprised. Yep.’

The dragon rolled its eyes and burped out a flame, ‘Let’s just get it over with shall we? Fortune, women, turnips.’

‘I beg your pardon, oh mighty lord of confusables?’

‘It’s always the same. Fortune, women, turnips.’

Now you didn’t have to be a knight on a quest to get that it didn’t pay to be sarcastic with giant, mythical beasts, ‘I am but a stupid human, I beg your indulgence.’

‘Three wishes.’

‘What?’

‘Would you like me to stamp out how many is three on your fetid companion?’

‘Three? Wishes?’

‘Look,’ the dragon sat back and picked at a nostril roughly the size and texture of the bonfire they had built the last time a Witch Finder had come to town, ‘This whole process is about natural selection. Whoever cuts open a dragon egg and releases a dragon before the expulsion, also releases three wishes as a reward. Is that clear enough for you?’

‘A reward?’

A rumbling, furnacy sort of noise emendated from the creature’s throat suggesting a whole different kind of expulsion wasn’t off the cards, ‘If you ask me one more stupid question I shall have no choice but to raise this whole continent to the ground.’

Spontaneous Bucket may have been a medieval man, but it paid to know about continents. Soup was a pretty bland thing when cabbage was the main ingredient, ‘And if we don’t take these three wishes?’

‘WHAT!?’ Lucian scrabbled from behind the tree.

Spontaneous smiled apologetically at the dragon and backed away, dragging a drooling Lucian with him, ‘I know it sounds great, but you can’t trust dragons, even the village idiot of Nosoothsayershere town knows that and he’s only had half a head since the great, balance a scythe on any body part, fayre.’

‘But three wishes!’ Lucian’s eyes glittered, ‘Fortune, women AND turnips!’

‘So it is agreed?’ The dragon wound itself around the tree and obliterated the sun.

‘Wait!’ Spontaneous grabbed at his friend’s arm, ‘We want to hear all the details first.’

‘The details are, that you say Yes or you say No.’

‘Then I say n…’

‘Hey nonny nonny!’ Lucian squealed, pushing Spontaneous aside, ‘Yes. He says yes. Yes. Absolutely, yes. Not a No to be seen. Just yesses. We all love yesses here.’

‘Good choice pungent human.’

‘Right, okay then, well probably best to start with the fortune,’ he nudged Spontaneous chummily, ‘because those turnips ain’t gonna care for themselves, eh?’ Then he laughed nervously because the dragon was grinning at him like he’d just ticked the terms and conditions of a cess pit cleaners contract without reading them first.

‘Just one small question,’ the dragon tapped out a thoughtful tune, ‘Did I at any point stipulate exactly who was getting the wishes?’

‘Um….’

The might beast scrolled open its wings and yawned, ‘I shall take my fortune in gold if you please, the turnips, feel free use your imagination, for I and not a monster.’ It grinned again because it actually was, ‘Oh, and you have until nightfall to bring me my first woman.’

Lucian was breathing through the top of his head, he bowed and scraped and curtseyed his way back around the other side of his companion, ‘By all that’s holy, we’ve been tricked by a dragon, what are we going to do?’

Spontaneous was deep in thought, ‘Does that sun look purple to you?’

‘What?’

‘And it is a Sunday.’

Lucian was horrified, ‘You can’t seriously be thinking about deploying Collateral Colin? He’s only had the witch part of his training. He’s not learning how to be a virgin until next year.’

‘I think being a virgin is pretty straightforward, he can wing it.’

‘You’re crazy.’

‘Me crazy? No,’ Spontaneous looked over at the row of pus mound, he was already calculating their number and dividing by the amount of nearby villages, ‘but mad has a nice ring to it.’

‘No, no, no, no, not again,’ Lucian backed away from his companion, ‘not after last time, you promised.’

‘Come on, promises aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.’ Spontaneous Bucket reached down for the knife stick, ‘Besides, we’re talking about mutual assured destruction here, those ground to air marrows we sold to everyone are gonna be so last century.’

 

THE END

Should you have inexplicably missed them, you can read parts one and two here.

©2017 Jac Forsyth

 

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A plague on both your houses (2/3)

In times of plague it was always best to err on the side of caution where pustules were concerned. Even without the secret soothsayer’s custard based predictions, cutting one of the strange mounds open suggested an up close, all round, surround sound, pus experience. Spontaneous Bucket took a deep breath, whatever happened this would be a shot to remember. He glanced over at Lucian, ‘Here goes nothing.’

Which actually was what happened. Nothing.

Sure there was a small amount of seepage and what might be described as a modest, brimstony kind of smoke. But that was it. There were certainly no pitchforks, frogs or indeed custard skins to be seen.

‘Pass me the stick with a spoon on it,’ Spontaneous whispered.

Lucian groaned, experience had taught him that it was unwise to poke your spoon stick into anything that smelled worse than you did.

‘Hurry up, I think I can see something.’

‘Fine,’ Lucian threw the implement at his companion, ‘but don’t blame me when your pottage tastes of rhubarb.’

Spontaneous lay down on his side and gently slipped the edge of the spoon into the cut, the flesh wobbled threateningly, but so far so good. ‘There IS something in here,’ he called over to Lucian, ‘I can almost touch it.’

‘Poke it with a stick.’

More than anything Spontaneous wanted to poke it with a stick. But he was shrewder than his name suggested and instead he twisted the spoon inside the gap and opened up a small, gore dripping oval which looked alarmingly like the empty eye socket his uncle had once showed him for a laugh.

‘Is it a frog?’

‘No!’ Spontaneous sounded more confident than he was. Truth be told frogs came in many shapes and sizes and this could quite possibly be the hopping vanguard of a large I-told-you-so army. He swallowed back a mouthful of bile and hooked his finger into the hole. The pus mound squealed.

Spontaneous had never moved so fast in all his life. His heart was still somewhere in the clearing and both of his legs thought they were arms, but at least his mouth was still working, ‘What’s it doing now?’

‘Why do I have to look?’

‘Because It think my eyes have looked at more than enough already.’

Lucian wriggled and squirmed his way around the countless answers he could have given, ‘Fine, but you owe me two free goes on the ducking stool.’ He peered around the sturdy trunk like he was trying to sneak a look at the exam answers over the headteacher’s shoulder. After a while he pulled back, chewing at his lip, ‘Do you remember that summer when Toothless Fortitude baked a communal casserole?’

Spontaneous shuddered, ‘I still can’t look at a pair of shoes without crying.’

‘Bear that in mind.’

‘Damn, is it that bad?’

‘No,’ Lucian inhaled from his feet up, ‘I just wanted to give you a base for comparison.’

There is a silence that is more terrifying than any amount of noise can ever be. Spontaneous gathered up a small bundle of sticks and crept forward. The clearing was more or less how he’d left it.

Except for the dragon.

 

to be concluded tomorrow….

Should you have inexplicably missed it, you can read part 1 here

©2017 Jac Forsyth

 

The death of dragons

The dragon was more than motionless, it was lifeless.  If he hadn’t known better the hunter would have sworn it was a statue.  He snapped his teeth, taunting the beast, ‘The time of your tyranny is finally over!’ he said, swishing his cape dramatically. He’d rehearsed this several times in front of a mirror and wasn’t going to let a bit of dragon glamour put him off.

In a small, lake encrusted clearing beyond the cave, a group of anxious looking people had gathered.  They’d heard tell of the traveller’s quest to kill the dragon and were desperately concerned for his welfare.  Some of the younger ones had also brought their phones, secretly hoping for an elicit #hellfire.

Back inside the cave, the dragon didn’t say anything.  Not even when the hunter flicked a rope over its great neck and pulled it tight.

‘To be honest, I expected more,’ the man hauled himself up onto a rough ledge, securing a chain to the binding before clamping the locks shut. ‘The fearful tales were pretty fearful.’ He jumped down, scooping up an elongated weapon from his rattling caravan, ‘But then I fear that the truth of dragons always gets lost in the… fear.’  He cursed his last minute choice not to pack a thesaurus.

The dragon didn’t answer him.  Not even when the Teflon clad hunter touched the tip of a surface to air missile to its sparkling belly.

‘I’m not going to lie, this will hurt you far more than it will hurt me.’

Outside in the clearing, the people were restless.  It didn’t normally take this long for a fry up and the apple core of their anxiety had sprouted several saplings of curiosity. A spectacularly moustached man peeped around the cave entrance, ‘Everything okay in here?’

‘Behold!’ the hunter gestured like a late night shopping channel host, ‘Your great foe is easily subdued by my manly skill.’

‘Right…’ the man twirled his moustache because it had its own Twitter page, ‘only some of the children are asking if they can have a photo.  When it’s all over… obs.’

The dragon didn’t interject with an amusing riddle.  Not even when several of the increasing number of innocent bystanders gave it an encouraging thumbs up.

‘Um, sure.’  The hunter had been growing a beard since 1993, he fumbled uneasily at the wispy outcrop occupying his chin, ‘I’ll just finish this Hellspawn off and the…little dudes can take as many Selfies,’ he quietly congratulated himself, ‘as they like.’

The dragon didn’t make a sound.  Not even when the tip of the rocket launcher rebounded off the cave wall and exploded like a disappointing advert for season 8 of NCIS Los Angeles.

The hunter didn’t make much noise either.  Although he did make a sort of squishy, hissy sound as what was left of his underpants hit the lake outside.

The people clapped.

‘Ah, hunters and their ego,’ the dragon said, shooing away a pale curtain of smoke with one of the man’s arms before beckoning the children inside, ‘they always think you’re talking to them.’

dragon