“Me and Brian, that’s my sister’s husband, was cutting out some dead wood, you see, and there was a sudden roar ‘bove us, and there was a dragon as clear as day. Well, Brian, Spirits rest him, hoped up on the pony we had with us and tried to do a runner, and two of the big beasts swooped down and carried him off,” Connor the forester explained.
“Two dragons carried off one man?” Wilfred queried.
“Um, one took Brian and the other Daisy, that’s the pony,” Connor said after a pause.
“Then what?” Runny asked, sliding another ale in front of the increasingly inebriated forester.
“Well, I ah, I ah took my axe and waved it at the nearest dragon, and it took a step backwards.”
“Indeed?” Wilfred muttered in a reflective tone.
“That’s right, so, I shouted and it took to wing. The three them flew about circling me, but I held my ground, and then a fourth one knocked me over from behind with its tail, and I rolled down a gully into a stream, just as the flying ones burst fire on my forest. It burned the whole place down and even melted the rocks. It was something terrifying, but I climbed behind a boulder and since I were damp from landing in the stream, i didn’t burn much. Well, they must of thought they got me, because they all flew away north. And I came out, a bit singed, but still here as you see.”
“Then, what did you do?” Wilfred asked, beckoning the man to drink.
“Well I looked about for any signs of Daisy, and Brian, but only found some charred bones, Spirits have mercy. I had a wee bit of a sad moment, and thought about poor Annabelle, that’s my sister, and how she was going to make it without a husband, and then I started wondering if I were even going to have a job, the forest being gone and all.”
“Yes, a very troubling situation,” Wilfred said. “But, at least, as you say, you are still here.”
“How is your sister?” Runny asked.
“She is mourning, as you would expect, but the Viceroy is giving her an allowance as Brian died for the realm.”
“And you?” Runny followed.
“I’ve been given a pension too,” Connor said looking down into his tankard.
“Just, what colour were these dragons, by the way?” Wilfred asked.
“Um, they were red, except for the one that knocked me over. It was purple.”
“Purple, indeed?” Wilfred mused aloud.
“Not, many of them there purples about,” Runny said giving a sly wink to the storyteller.
“Now, you say that Brian tried to ride away,” Wildred said more as a question than a statement.
“That’s right. He jumped up on Daisy and took off.”
“Leavin’ you behind. Some brother that is,” the Dwarf reflected.
“Well, he had a family to care for,” the forester said defensively.
“Aren’t you family as well?” Wildred asked.
“Yes, but . . .”
“But it must have made you feel betrayed.”
“Not at all, he was looking after my little sister,” Connor snapped.
“I apologise,” Wilfred said, “but at least your account has made sure she is provided for. Not to mention your pension as well.”
“What are you driving at?”
“We’ve been to the place,” the Drawf said. “Seems the burning is kind of from the ground up, not the air down. How might that be hap’nin?”
“Um, maybe, the one on the ground started it,” Connor countered.
“But you said it was the flying ones,” Wilfred observed. “Let’s try this again shall we, after another drink.”