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Library: Dragon Song

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Author: mudax
Date:May 20 2003

                        Dragon Song

Once upon a time there was a small peaceful village somewhere in the
Batworld. Or at least it had been a peaceful village as long as anyone
could remember. But one night a few apple trees were burnt into ashes
at the orchard just next to the village. Soon the people of the village
found out that a fire breathing dragon had moved to the mountain cave
near by and it had been circling around the orchard since then. The event
repeated the next week and a few more trees were burnt down again.
The fear started to spread among the villagers and some of them even
talked about leaving the village for some other place where they could
raise their children without having to live in constant terror.

Every day since then the chief of the village walked around looking
very stressed. His red eyes showed that he hadn't slept for days. He
couldn't do much more than worry and keep on thinking of a way to save
his people from the dragon's next attack.

One evening he stopped at lute player's house and got angry as he saw
the musician placidly snoring in his hammock. 'Shame on you halfling! 
How can you just sleep when everyone else is busy fortifying their
houses?' The musician rubbed his eyes and stood up from his hammock,
yawned and still scratching his back started to speak. 'Please, calm
down my friend. The best we can do at the moment is to enjoy the summer
while we can. Fortifying the houses wont help a thing if the dragon
decides to burn the village down. It's a beautiful day and the dragon
is sleeping now. Above all I'm tired as spent the whole night composing
my newest song. So, please, let me rest.'

'At least I have done something to help our people: I just sent my
messager to the city to find a true hero to save us from the dragon for
a sack of silver coins', muttered the chief coldly.

The musician played a chord from his lute absent-mindedly and sighted,
'Those bragging trouble makers from the big city will surely be eager to
help when they hear the magical word "reward". But they also tend to be 
a little bit hasty and straightforward.' He took a deep breath and
continued, 'just bring me a bottle or a few of that fine wine you keep in
your cellars for your guests and I'll solve the problem. It'll be a lot
cheaper solution, trust me.' 'Hah! What do you know.. You, who haven't
worked a single day in your life, fighting a beast like that? The pixie
ale stuff has gone to your head, just like I always said it would!',
the chief laughed. The musician looked at him, then shrugged and climbed
back to his hammock. 

The next morning the chief was holding a gathering at the marketplace.
Just about every villager was there. And so was the musician, of course,
as he was very curious by nature. He usually found his way to anywhere
where people gathered for a good gossip, celebration or virtually any
other reason if there was even a slightest chance to perform his music.
Just the same way people usually stopped to listen to him where ever he
was telling stories or playing his lute. 

The chief clapped his hands to request silence and started to speak, 
'we're gathered here because of our common misfortune, namely
the certain dragon living in a cave nearby. We all know the situation
and now I must ask for your help. Anyone who is willing to fight
the beast or otherwise try to drive it away, please, step closer and
report.' 

Altogether three heroes walked to the chief. The first of them was
a battle-scarred, heavily armoured mountain of muscle. He was a gloomy
warrior from the northern lands whose axe alone was about the size of
a calf. The next adventurer was an old man in a colourful robe, who
certainly looked like a genuine wizard, apparently for a reason.
The last one of them was a woman with almost expressienless face and
simple, dark clothing. She was very lightly equipped, but a keen eye
might have noticed the dagger hilts sticking from her both leather
boots. 

The heroes couldn't or didn't want to find a way to work as a team, and
so it was decided that each of them was to take their attempt alone. 
The warrior was the most anxious of them and took his trip to the cave
right away. About in an hour he had walked to the entrace of the cave.
Without slowing down his pace he unfastened the axe he had been carrying
on his back and lifted it high above his head. Having done that he
marched promptly straight into the cave and charged!

The dragon had been sleeping at the time the warrior rushed in but got
up quite quickly after getting struck in the side with an axe a few
times. Still being astonished by the intruder's surprising and totally
impudent attack the dragon could do nothing but just watch the brute
fiercely pounding it. It took a while for the dragon to wake up
completely and comprehend what was going on, but after that the warrior
was furiously driven away from the cave accompanied with huge flames.
The dragon however was more puzzled than hurt. Its heavy, glimmering
scales resembled chromium plates and could easily bear numerous strikes
of an axe no matter how big it was. Needless to say, the embarrassed
and slightly burnt warrior left the valley with no delay.

As the huge fireball momentarily lit up the mountain, the wizard guessed
the warrior wasn't going to come to claim the reward. Unlike
the unfortunate warrior, he wanted to make sure he was well enough
prepared to meet his foe. He waited till the sun was about to set until
he decided he was ready to challenge the dragon. He sighted, grabbed his
hat and staff and begun his journey to the cave. At the foot of
the mountain he stopped to conjure all kinds of protective spells on
himself, just in case. Then he entered the cave. As soon as the dragon
was in the line of his sight he casted a mighty lightning bolt at it.
Despite all the preparation something went badly wrong. The dragon's
mirror-like scales somehow reflected the bolt right back towards
the caster and only his protective spells saved him from an instant
electrocution. Being temporarily blinded the wizard fought the panic
and managed to stagger out of the cave alive even if humiliated.

The third hero was already on her way to the mountain when the lightning
bolt shook the ground. She knew it was her turn to challenge the dragon
as her keen eyes caught a shadow of the fleeing wizard against
the momentarily illuminated cave enterance far away on the mountainside.
As a former hired killer and an assassin she had a different approach to
defeat the beast. She sneaked into the cave, hid herself into the shadows
and listened carefully.

The dragon's nostrils glowed in faint, pulsating red light that casted
a continuous play of restless shapes and shadows on the walls of the lair
but still gave enough light for the assassin to see clearly. She
patiently waited until she could be sure that the dragon had calmed down
and was sleeping again. Still hiding in the shadows she observed
the dragon until she could be sure she had found an unprotected spot
between its scales. She took a very thin, long dagger and a small bottle
containing some constantly swirling dark green liquid from her bag. With
the dagger in her one hand and the bottle in the other she sneaked to
the dragon and made a fine cut on its skin between the scales. The victim
snorted a little, but didn't wake up. The assassin quickly poured all
the liquid from the bottle over the cut. She hold her breath to avoid
inhaling the fumes that rose from the liquid. After that she silently
moved back to enterance and took her stand behind a large rock to watch
and listen.

The assassin had tried to poison the dragon with very strong blend of many
venoms that would have killed any human or animal in seconds. But dragons
are different. They were already rare in number those days and very little
was known about them any more. The assassin was not aware that dragons'
blood itself was strong poison and corrosive enough to eat its way through
cheaper metals. That's why she patiently yet uselessly waited till
the dawn but the sound of snoring just didn't cease. Finally she had admit
being defeated by the superior opponent with no actual fight. But at least
she had tried and won her arch enemy, fear, one more time.

Early in the next morning yet another traveller was making his way to
the dragon's cave. Not an experienced adventurer this time, but just
a small halfling with a lute. The musician sat on a stone near the cave
entrance and started to sing and play his lute quietly. It was a serene
yet a little bit sad song and that's how the went:

        There's a valley and there's a village in it
        There's a mountain cave for a dragon to fit
        
        It's an ordinary village and the people living there
        they are quiet, decent and fair
        
        But their guest is unfamiliar and strange
        making them fear because they shun the change
        
        The fear feeds hate and the hate feeds misery
        They ask who's to be punished, who's guilty
        
        The dragon in the cave is not evil either
        but just another jaded, poor creature
        
        Being a magnificent fiery vegetarian lizard
        trying to get fed without burning every orchard
        
        Spreading death and disaster just by breathing
        drives him to despair, makes his fate daunting 
        
        Reluctant to hurt, peaceful and kind reptile
        destined to live an outlaw life in exile
        
        This is your story woeful and lifelong
        Tell me am I right or am I wrong
        
        I am just a simple musician singing my song
        but tell me am I right or am I wrong

The musician waited for the last chord fade away and then let his lute
down. 'You are right', replied a sad, quiet voice from the cave. 'That's
what I though.', the musician said, 'I'm a night owl too and I saw your
first visit to the orchard. I immediately knew it wasn't an attack or
anything like that, but it took me a while to understand what it was all
about.'

The dragon walked to the entrance and stuck his head to the bright
morning sun light. 'Oh, you're a hobbit! And a fine musician too!', he said.
The dragon slowed down his breath a little in order to avoid lighting
anything into fire. 'Yes, you are right, I'm a vegetarian dragon and not
only by choice. Apples are my favourite, even though are tiny snacks. But
they are just so delicious, that I can't resist them. Sometimes I get
a little bit too excited when I find apples and then I may accidentally
burn down things I shouldn't.' The dragon puffed making the air quiver and
continued, 'People usually just scream and flee when they see me. Some of
the most daring may actually attack me like the uneducated brute with his
silly axe yesterday. You are pretty much the first person I've met for
ages who actually bothered to try talk with me.'

The musician stood up and said, 'Ok, now that we know what situation is,
I'd better go back to home and try to clean this mess up.' He waved the
dragon goodbye and returned the village. 

That was the story itself, but there are a few things one might still want
to hear. First of all the musician got the wine bottles he had asked for,
in fact the chief demanded him to take as many bottles as he could store
up. The dragon made friends with the people of the village. He made a very
handy acquaintance, especially when some badly frozen wells needed quick
defrosting in the winter. The farmer got a new and very enthusiastic
scarecrow who kept the hares, birds and elks far away from the fields
and the orchard. Small bush fires broke out now and then but they were
quickly extinquished. Also the yearly apple yield remained rather low, but
that's another story.


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