Undoubtedly the tallest he had seen,
The mountain loomed, barren of any green,
It's jagged edges – foreboding they were –
Reminded of the best beneath the earth
Which either bravery or foolishness
Had made the target of his knightly quest.
The tales the local village had to tell
About this beast who underground did dwell
Told all about the evil actions wrought
By a dragon mighty many knights had fought.
Make no mistake: this knight was brave indeed,
But he the vill'ger's tales did not believe.
A dragon made a fearful foe, for sure,
But he would not fear the beast's wrath to incur!
Not so! as brave and strong a knight as he
Would never back down when a foe he sees.
Besides, the beast must face a consequence
For damage caused the village some leagues hence.
And he was just the knight to do the trick
(And earn a bit of gold while he's at it!),
Or that's what he had thought three days ago
When the journey's perils he did not know.
But now, before this mountain looming tall,
He had begun to just rethink it all.
For one, he didn't know how he would climb –
For how could he his armor leave behind?
He certainly could not give up his steed,
And definitely his sword he would need!
The journey was quite arduous, to be sure,
And so he tried his travels to endure
By concentrating not on cold or climb
But rather thinking forward to the time
When that foul beast before him would be seen:
How he would drive his sword, so sharp and keen,
Right through that evil creature's hardened scales
All whilst avoiding dang'rous teeth and nails
And gouts of burning flame and monst'rous wings.
For sure he'd conquer! And what peace he'd bring
The good folk of the village before long –
Why, they would praise his name in dance and song!
A feast they would prepare – and he, the guest,
Would naturally be serve-d all the best.
The ladies, they would woo just at the sight
Of such a brave and strong and handsome knight!
So upward to the caverns he did climb,
Already such a hero in his mind.
And, though the journey was so long and hard,
Such thoughts against his pain were sure to guard.
As feet and yards and leagues stretched on to miles
He stayed so well distracted all the while
That never did he see the shadow fall
Behind him like some black ominous wall
Nor hear the beat of mighty leath'ry wings
Precursor to the dragon descending.
T'was not until his horse reared up in fright
That he did understand his doom-ed plight.
The rocks and dust and brush were buffeted
As strong winds blew. For once, the knight felt dread
That he perhaps did underestimate
Just what he had to fight. But it seemed fate
Was not about to let him die so soon –
For this would not be his last afternoon.
Before him now did stand his mighty foe,
Staring him down as dust did settle low.
Despite himself, the knight could not but stare
To see a creature no one else would dare
Get close enough to meet in person, so
to speak. He would admit, he did not know
A dragon could be so much a sight to see.
It stood tall as man at shoulder. Green
In hue as vibrant as a rare emerald,
Scales surely hard as rock. The knight, enthralled
Quite nearly did forget his task at hand
Just looking at the mighty creature. And
Then the dragon's mouth did open wide,
To show teeth as long as his thumb inside,
The sight of which did then the knight bestir
To grab his sword. The dragon said, "Good sir,"
Quite unexpectedly, "You'd best put down
That blade of yours." The dragon's head came down
To match the height to look him in the eye.
"Besides, with that you'd fail to injure I."
Defiantly, the knight did raise his blade.
"My sword is surely strong enough to aid
Me in my holy quest to bring you death!"
The dragon seemed amused. "Don't waste your breath,
Sir Knight. And now, why would you want to bring
Yourself and your small blade to challenge me?"
At first taken aback by his foe's words,
The knight began to scowl. "Are you absurd?
I come with vengeance from the town of Tor
To grant peace from your plunders evermore.
Do you know how much damage you have caused?
What properties you've stuffed within your jaws?
Those herds, those lands, belong to us – to men –
And you shall never steal from them again!"
His challenge was laid down. The knight prepared
To unleash his attack right then and there.
But, still, the dragon did not much react
At the threat of the knight's readied attack.
Instead, he snorted – was this beast amused?
"I must say, knight, your trust has been abused
If you so blindly do such tales believe.
Why would the town of Tor want me to leave?
I do not steal nor plunder, but protect,
And to your accusations I object.
For though I am a dragon, I am not
The evil, heartless creature that you thought.
I do suppose you never have before
Become acquainted with a dragon, or
You surely would have known these stories as
The lies they are." Eyes blue as clear topaz
Did look him in the eyes, with such a gaze
That did not him accuse, nor hate, nor haze,
Such that, for just a moment, did the knight
Almost believe him. "But that can't be right!
You are a dragon, evil as they come.
You can't fool me!" The dragon sighed. "Well, some
of humans are a bit slower than most.
Were I evil, you'd already be toast.
I said before, your blade won't bring me harm;
I cannot say the same about my arm."
He raised a claw to demonstrate his point.
"When I attack, my claws don't disappoint.
But I'm not here to fight with tooth and claw;
I only mean to show a major flaw
In this heroic plan yours. You may
Be quite surprised to learn I do not prey
On your kind. But, despite this fact, man still
To find a dragon near does feel a chill.
I can assure you, I do mean no ill
To Tor – not now, and nor I ever will.
"You see, Sir Knight, sometimes you must first learn
The truth of what you hear before you spurn
At some new, unmet foe. If you would try
To know me, I assure that you will find
That my words speak truth. Now, this quest of yours
You'd best forget; of it do say no more.
Whoever led you here led you astray."
With that the dragon had no more to say,
Waiting instead for the man to react
To this new paradigm. "I made a pact,"
The knight said finally, "To rid this land
Forever of your presence here. I can
Not simply ignore a promise I made."
"That's a predicament, I sure would say,"
Admitted the dragon with sympathy,
"But, as I said, it surely seems to me
That you've been fooled into your travels here."
The knight was more convinced he was sincere
As this encounter's length continued on.
The dragon said, "Perhaps you should be gone.
Go beyond Tor, and remind men for me
That all those myths of dragon hate and greed
And heartless acts are naught but cru-el tales.
They do not fully our natures entail.
Instead, declare this new tale to the folk,
That with a real live dragon you have spoke
And you survived to tell the truth of us.
Perhaps, one day, your tale will be enough
Our reputation among men to heal.
For while you fear us still, it's more ideal
For us to hide away in solitude.
And now, good Sir Knight, you I bid adieu."
The knight almost did not know what to say
As the green dragon turned to fly away.
Such an encounter he never could guess.
But now it seemed he had a full new quest.
It seemed to some how fit his knightly role
Of chivalry and honor to bestow
A better reputation for this beast
Who once he thought deserved to die, at least,
But now he saw that he had jumped ahead
To accept that which had errantly been said.