Challenge #01492-D031: Here There Be DragonsteemCreated with Sketch.

in #fiction7 years ago

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"The dragon was hoarding sheet music, and doing its darn best to play the comically undersized instruments it’d stolen to go along with them." -- Gallifreya

Sir Greenbaum edged into the dragon's cavern. Dragons were always tricky business. A kingdom with one in its realm proceeded with caution. Those who sent a Princess had to be certain of both the princess and the dragon. And as for this realm... well... their Princess still needed a wetnurse.

So they sent a knight. Specifically, they sent him. Kingdoms were overflowing with little boys wanting to be knights, young men training to be knights, and knights themselves. Apart from the expense of armour, knights were relatively expendable. Sir Greenbaum had long since decided that he would not expend himself needlessly.

This was why he painted his armour to blend more easily with the scenery. Why he silenced the soles of his metal boot with strips of bark. And why he managed to survive all his encounters with dragons, so far. He had to make it out every time. The dragons only had to beat him once.

As he stalked carefully into the cavern, giving his eyes plenty of time to adjust, he could hear... music. Well. Someone's vague attempt at music. Well. A reasonable guess at what music should sound like, played by someone or something that had both never held a musical instrument, nor never heard any music.

Greenbaum winced as he followed the sound. Did the dragon have a hostage already? Reports said that the beast had only been stealing things, and not people. He followed the glow of dragon-crystals, keeping to the shadows, to gain a complete view of the scenario. And, much to his relief, he found that there were no hostages.

There was just a dragon.

Its hoard was endless reams of paper. Some sheets of which rested on a stand that was suspended on a web of cord from two stalactites. It's other hoard seemed to be... musical instruments. But this was not the dragon's bed. The paper was.

Greenbaum crept up behind the dragon as it attempted to play a trumpet. The sheets of paper had scores on them. Musical scores. The trumpet playing stopped. "Hello and well met, sir knight," rumbled the dragon.

There was no other choice. Greenbaum stepped out from behind the hoard. But not very far. If it turned out that this dragon was a human-eater, it would have to incinerate its own hoard before it burned him. "Hail and well-met, master of the skies."

"Maestro, perhaps," corrected the dragon. "Let me guess. You are sent to be sure of me, yes?"

"Yes. Have you yet or do you plan to ravage our fair countryside?"

"Of course not. Your countryside inspires me. And at the most, I would need one cow a month. Do send up your oldest and sickest, I don't intend to be a menace. Two sheep if you haven't any cows."

That was... surprisingly undemanding of a dragon. "You may have perpetual trouble with trumpets, Maestro. May I suggest something akin to an oboe?"

This caught the dragon's interest. "Exactly... how... like an oboe."

And that, the story goes, is how the little kingdom of Vërtîngensplátz invented the double-contrabasso clarinet.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / pedrolieb]

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