An old friend of mine is Lord Stanislas Delafield, late of the Shire of Tri Os in the fair Kingdom of Trimaris. He is a bard and has graciously agreed to share a tale from time to time. Here is a slightly different glimpse into the medieval world:
The Storm Dragon
by: Stanislas Delafield
“The Lord God must harbor a grudge against me for some past indescretion.” I thought as I sat in my great hall watching the puddles grow by the west windows and the rain beating ‘gainst the shutters.
A guard entered with his fist wrapped in the filthy rags of one of my serfs. “My Lord… A dragon My Lord! A dragon!” The prisoner was blubbering in confusion and fear. I could smell beer on him.
“What nonsense is this?” I had enough troubles without this superstitious fool fouling my carpets.
“I saw it My Lord. Really I did… I swear it! Just before dark. It drew in the storm it did. I, I swear… I… that is I… ”
“Release him.” The guard stood back just in case. “Shut up and get a hold of yourself. Tell me exactly what you saw and we’ll decide if it was a dragon.”
“Oh it was m’Lord. A great, fearsome black dragon, howling in the wind and dragging his tail across my fields and setting fire to my barn.”
“Start at the beginning! Here… Take a goblet of wine and calm down.” He did so… quafting the entire goblet in a single gulp. “Now then… when did you first see this dragon?”
“This very afternoon m’Lord. I was up at first light to tend my animals. They sounded restless and I smelled a storm a-brewing in the darkness of the west. They must have known. God warns the beasts you know. At noon, the priest warned us of sin. After mass, I was in my barn with my neighbor and we were testing some fine beer we had brewed for the feast of all hallows. That’s when I heard the wind rise from the flapping of his mighty wings. I thought at first it was the storm. Outside I looked into the heavons and beheld a sight that would chill your very blood m’Lord.”
“My blood has been chilled on the battlefield. I doubt that a mere windstorm would chill it more.”
“Nay m’Lord it was much more than a windstorm. It was caused by the dragon. The wind first blew very hot since that is the nature of summer and it has been awfully dry and hot this year. Why my crops are almost nothing compared to a good year… taxes will be very hard. Might I have another wee goblet m’Lord?”
I saw where he was going with this. “We’ll talk of taxes later. Get back to your story.” I motioned to my scullery maid. “Another goblet for us both… and one for the guard.” My soldier deserved it for keeping a straight face while this fool yapped at me.
“Thank you m’Lord.” This one went in two gulps. “Where was I now…” “The Great Dragon was attacking from the west with a windstorm.” I was growing weary.
“Yes. Yes m’Lord. That’s as it was. I thought as you did at first that it was nothing more than a summer storm. Then I saw it… ” He paused and took a last gulp from the goblet.
“Com’on man, out with it. My patience has an end you know!”
“Of course m’Lord. Anyway, as I peered into the clouds I saw a great, whirling black mass. It was the dragon whipping up the wind into a fury. He was trying to hide behind the clouds. But he didn’t fool me for second.”
“Oh he didn’t… that’s good to know. Prithee tell us all, what gave him away?”
“His tail m’Lord! A great, scaley black thing it was. He was using it to destroy the land. He whipped it back and forth across the woods ripping mighty trees out by their very roots.” He was waving his arms and making whooshing noises. “Why I lost a cow when a tree hit her and knocked her to the ground. A moment later the dragon’s tail grabbed her and took her up into the clouds. No doubt a mere snack for such a monster.”
“No doubt. Let me guess now. This dragon was spitting fire from out of the clouds too and this is what set fire to your barn?”
“Aye m’Lord that’s as it was. Did you see the dragon too?”
“It passed this way and I lost some tiles from my roof.” I motioned toward the puddles. “What do you think we should do about this?”
“An army m’Lord. Only an army of valiant knights could defeat such a monster.”
“An excellent idea my good man.” I grinned at my guard. He was covering his mouth with his glove, trying to stifle his laughter. “I’m glad you thought of it. Thank you.” I motioned for another goblet of wine.
“Why I’m uh… that is… I’m glad I could be of service m’Lord.”
“And since it was your idea, I think you will have to turn your beermaking chores over to the tavernmaster and sharpen up your sword.”
“My sword m’Lord?”
“Well now my good fellow. I’ll need a guide for this army of knights that has had personal experience with this dragon and what better man than you?”
“But m’Lord… What… What about… ?” He was starting to blubber again.
“Yes? Spit it out man.”
“What about my farm? My crops? I have to feed my family.”
“You should have thought of that before you came to me with a story such as this. If you had been tending your fields before that storm came up, you would not have been so drunk that you couldn’t tell lightning from firebreath and a tornado from a dragon.”
“Not another word! Go to the priest. Fall to your knees and ask God for forgivness for your wicked ways that brought his wrath upon your farm. Then report to the repair crews for my keep all next week. Mayhaps this’ll teach you not to get drunk during the day.”
“Aye m’Lord. I’m sorry m’Lord. I won’t happen… ”
“Get out now! Quit wasting my time!” He left, almost sober. My guard and I both broke out laughing after the door closed.
“You must admit m’Lord, that was one of the most original stories we’ve heard this taxtime.”
“You know… Send for my priest. That fool may have done us a favor.”
“How’s that m’Lord?”
“I’ll have the priest draft a letter to the King describing the Great Dragon that visited us. It will give me a reason to pay only part of my taxes this year. After all, we have witnesses that this monster devoured many cows, destroyed several farms and pulled the very roof from my keep. Of course the damage will have been repaired by the time he can send men to check on it. It will have cost me a fortune to repair all of this, don’t you think?”
The guard smiled and raised his goblet. “That it will m’Lord!”