More Fit for the Kingdom
By Chris Spendlove
|"Once upon a time, there was a knight"|
warned that the dragon was a master deceiver, and even though one could plainly see he was a fire breathing monster, many had been tricked by his cunning. The knight hastily donned his armor, and, sword and shield in hand, rushed out to meet the dragon.
By the time the knight reached the village square, two peasants had already been devoured, a cart of grain had been upset, and a house was ablaze. "Oh boy," thought the knight. "This is one angry dragon! Armor? Check. Sword? Check. Shield? Check check." The knight rushed up to the dragon, brandishing his sword, yelling, "Alright, dragon! That's quite enough! You cannot be allowed to terrorize this village any longer!"
"But, my good lad," oozed the dragon--his voice was deep and rumbling, but he put on an air of sweet gentility. "I was only hungry. The food has been scarce around my cave, and I had no choice but to eat these villagers. Besides," he added, bending low next to the knight. "These two men were dishonest in their dealings! I have done your town a favor!" This startled the knight. Surely these men, who had been his friends, were good and honest men!
"You lie!" shouted the knight. "I knew these men, and, by golly, they were the most honest and true fellows you'll ever meet! Now, begone or I will use my sword--which is very sharp--and slay you right here!" Upon hearing this, the dragon became angry, but backed away (truth be told, he was a coward at heart). He eyed the knight's armor, looking for any crack or dent, and, finding none, he blew smoke from his nostrils and went away without another word.
The villagers rejoiced at the departure of the dragon. "You are such a brave and gallant knight that the dragon left without a fight! You truly are a great defender of the Kingdom! Three cheers for the brave knight!" That evening, a celebration was held in honor of the knight. "I suppose I AM a great defender, aren't I?" he thought to himself. The King Himself arrived in all His splendor to congratulate the knight. Later in the night, the King pulled the knight aside.
"My son," He said. "You have done well in defending our village against that old dragon. But be warned: the dragon will come back. He always does. He is a master of deception, as I told you before. He will invent new ways of destroying the people. And, if you are not careful in your preparation, the dragon will destroy you as well. He eyed your armor, didn't he?" The knight nodded. "I thought so. He was looking for cracks to get his awful claws into. Take care of that armor, my son. It will protect your life if you keep it in good repair."
The knight pondered over the words of the King. "Destroy me?" he thought as he lay in his bed that evening. "Did the King even see how well I handled the dragon? Clearly the King has never fought a dragon like this one before. Why, I'll bet I could slay that dragon without any armor on at all! Ha!" And with that notion, the knight fell asleep and dreamed of slaying hundreds of dragons.
In the weeks to come, the knight slowly became less diligent about cleaning his shield, sharpening his sword, and repairing his armor. In fact, the knight didn't wear his armor at all for a few days. When asked about his armor, the knight boasted that any dragon foolish enough to face him would be dead before he could say "Bob's your uncle." The villagers didn't quite know how to reply to the change in the knight's mien, so they just smiled and went on their ways. "Hm," he thought. "I wonder what's gotten into them?"
And, sure enough, the day came when that old dragon poked his ugly head into the village again. "Dragon! Dragon! help us, brave knight!" came the call. The knight reached for his armor, only to discover it was dirty, banged up, and starting to rust in some places. Slightly uneasy, the knight quickly strapped it on, grabbed his not-so-sharp sword and dingy shield, and rushed to the village.
The damage was worse this time: two houses had been leveled, their smouldering ruins littered with the bodies of the villagers, a cow had been slain, and much of the market had been pulverized. The dragon smiled slightly when he saw the knight run up, his armor in a state of disrepair.
"Well, well," he snarled. "If it isn't our gallant knight. How have you been? I am a fool to return when there is such a brave knight to oppose me."
"You've got that right!" retorted the knight, adjusting a loose strap under his arm. "I'm going to have to slay you this time, no questions asked."
"Surely you shall. But before you do me in, may I let you in on a secret? I'm not the enemy. It's that old King you should be after."
"Stop this! none of your lies! The King is good and just and cares for the welfare of His people!" cried the knight, brandishing his sword.
"Does he now? Is that why He sits on a golden throne and lets His people die? If He cared so much, wouldn't he come and face me Himself? risk His life for the good of His people? Some King, if you ask me," hissed the dragon. The knight began to ponder what the dragon had just said. He lowered his sword and shield slightly.
"No... you-you're wrong," the knight said half-heartedly. It DID seem like the King just sat on his throne, collect taxes, and make laws. Perhaps the dragon was right... The knight lowered his defenses.