Of Dragons And Tea

A Comedy In One Fit (and a giggle)

by Aubry Thonon

Legends have it that Dragons are large, fierce creatures, covered in scales and breathing fire through their mouths or nostrils. Unfortunately, legends - like fishers' tales - have a habit of growing longer with every retelling and both the size and weaponry of Dragons seem to increase with the passage of time.

The Beast had all the outward appearances of a Dragon - smooth, shining scales; long reptilian neck and head; talons that looked capable of slicing wood without ever noticing the obstruction. Its size, however, came as a shock, for the Beast was barely one-and-a-half meters in height. It stood on its hind legs, tail against the ground to provide balance in this - for it - precarious position. On its back was a pack of old rags, emitting a stench of carrion so thick it made the Human's head spin.

"Ho!" cried the Man, readying his sword. "Prepare to meet thy doom, O Foul Fiend!" The Dragon looked around and, with a surprised look on its snout, placed a taloned hand delicately on its chest as if saying "Moi?"

"Ay, thee - O Malodorant Mutt! Long have I sought you to rid this place of your stench, thou Fetid Forager!" With a flourish of light, the Warrior prepare to swing his sword.

"I say," spoke the Dragon, "that's a rather nasty turn of speech for people who have just met, is it not?"

"Do not attempt to sway me, thou... er... thou..." the Human floundered.

"Putrid Pilferer?" helpfully provided the Dragon.

"That's rather good, yes... Thou Putrid Pilferer! Limb from limb will I rend thee and... and... That smell is rather strong, isn't it?" the Human asked, wrinkling his nose. "What have you got in there?"

"Fertiliser," answered the Dragon.

"Fertiliser? What for?"

"My salads. I'm afraid they do not grow well if left to themselves and do, sometimes, require a helping hand from the manure department." The Dragon dropped its pack in front of the puzzled Human and went on to open the flaps. There, in the pack's recesses, were several pounds of horse manure. "Top quality. Arabian stallions. You won't get this from just any village store, you know."

"But... Salad?" The Human was almost whimpering.

"Has nobody told you? Dragons are herbivores. We eat plants. I personally fancy myself as able to make a smashing Caesar's Salad."

"Herbivores?" The voice was now quite definitely whimpering. "But aren't you supposed to eat virgins or something? And lay waste to entire villages?"

"Rumours. Superstitions. All of them started by warriors who have had a close encounter with one of my kind. I mean, what do you say when you come home from a day of slaying Dragon? 'It barely came up to my chest, weighed less than I and mightily did I slaughter this defenceless beast'? No... You make up tales of a large, ferocious beast able to rip your head with a single bite. Sounds better in the memoirs."

"But what about me? What'll I do now?"

The Dragon looked at the Human critically. "Hmm. You look as though you have seen better days. When did you last eat? Never mind," the Dragon continued before the Human could answer. "Let me invite you home. For dinner."

The Human took a step back. "'For dinner'? 'As dinner' you mean."

"Had I wanted you as the first course for my later repast I would have said so plainly," sighed the Dragon. "I assure you I have no wish to eat you - the idea is as revolting to me as I am sure it is to you." Picking up its pack, the Dragon turned towards the hills. "Well?"

The Human looked at his sword, then at the Dragon. Finally he shrugged, sheathed his weapon and followed the Beast down the path.

The Dragon's home was bright and airy, completely different from what the Human would have imagined it to be. Instead of jagged rocks, walls of lightly coloured plaster rose to an embossed ceiling. Instead of the darkness of a gloomy cave, veins of crystals were filtering sunlight through the rocks themselves to the lair. Instead of the cold and dampness of a cave, this home was warm and dry. "Central heating," stated the Dragon. "Does wonders for my arthritis, you know."

"This is not like anything I would have expected," admitted the Human.

"You were perhaps expecting dungeons, littered bones, damsels in distress... or that dress?" The Dragon chuckled. "No. I'm afraid we are a very secular and solitary breed, we Dragons. It is not often we invite others into our homes. Even for dinner." Holding its pack in one claw, the Beast ambled down the corridor and into a large, well-decorated room.

Setting its pack near a smoked-glass door, the Dragon picked up a bone-china tea set, put it on a tray and rummaged through the varnished pantry for a second. Finally, it held up a packet of biscuits triumphantly and, placing it on the tray, returned to the centre of the room with its booty. Setting out the service, the Dragon continued to talk. "As you can see, I like my comforts. We have the library over here... And this is the smoking room - I would not go in there if I were you; bad for your lungs... The kitchen... And over there," it said, pointing to the door next to which lay the pack, "is the Hothouse."

"Where your plants are?" enquired the Human.

"Yes. I grow all of my food. It is healthier that way, you understand."

"May I see it? Your Hothouse I mean."

"Most certainly. And I will prepare the kitchen for dinner while you are inside."

The Dragon opened the glassed door and allowed the Human through, closing it behind him. It looked at the handle for a moment, then shook its serpentine head and moved to the kitchen.

Dragging a few pots and pans down from their resting place, the Dragon went on to prepare the salad dressing. It kept clanging the metal spoon loudly against the copper surface of the mixing bowl, trying not to listen to the screams that suddenly emerged from the Hothouse. For while the Dragon may have been vegetarian, its dinner definitely was not.

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