Serpent (Part One): Dragon Hunter Tales

Pliosaurus, Dinosaur, Sea Monster, Reptile, Dino

It had started much like any other day. Rolan loaded the nets on the boat and waited, as usual, for his brother to arrive at the boat. The sea was calm and the morning warm, and there was just a hint of feathery cloud as the sun began to ting the horizon.

“Get a move on,” Rolan bellowed at Kiffer as the latter appeared on the jetty still pulling his jerkin on.

“Sorry,” Kiffer said as a matter of course. “Lily slowed me up.”

Rolan knew that it was probably true as Kiffer was still a newlywed, but scolded his brother nonetheless. “Let her hold you up on your own time, those fish won’t wait all day for us.”

Soon the pair had cast off and were making good time to their usual fishing ground.

When they arrived they set their nets and opened the breakfast basket. Winnie, Rolan’s wife had made-up some biscuits and boiled eggs for them, and their was a bit of a surprise that there was cold mutton from the night before’s dinner in the basket as well.

“Good omen, I’ll tell you,” Rolan said as he placed a slice of meat on a biscuit.

“Well, good eating anyway,” Kiffer said dropping some shell overboard and popping an egg into his mouth.

The boat made a sudden jerk, and then settled.

“Net’s snagged,” Rolan said as he got up and began to haul in the guide cable. Kiffer joined him and the net came up easily. There was a decent catch in it, but not enough to have jolted the boat. The catch was dumped into the hold, and the net inspected. No sign of damage was detected, and so it was lowered again.

“Funny,” Kiffer observed.


“Didn’t you notice that there was no birds?” Kiffer asked.

“Didn’t think anything of it, but is odd,” Rolan said thoughtfully.

As he spoke a huge looming form crossed under the boat causing the boat to lift in its wake.

“What in the spirit’s . . . .” Rolan began only to trail off as a huge head broke the surface.

The apparition gazed at the boat for a moment an then dived. The brothers were knocked to the deck by the force of their net being caught in the beast’s jaws and the dentire boat began to be towed into deeper waters.

It was then that Kiffer had the presence of mind to cut the net cables freeing the boat from its seaward course. The brothers quickly took to the oars and beat a retreat shoreward. After what seemed an eternity, they beached themselves some three miles from their harbour.

“They will never believe a word of this,” Rolan said.

“I’m not too sure of that,” his brother retorted pointing to an eight-foot-long gouge along their larboard and the nearly footlong piece of broken talon embedded in the wood.


Dragon Scourge ( Part 10 )

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In the aftermath of the Dragon scourge, Althonyr’s body was excavated from under the rubble and his head and wings mounted and used to adorn the wall behind the Viceroy’s throne. Soon after, representatives from several magical and alchemical guilds arrived to haggle over the great beast’s bones, nearly compensating the Viceroy for the fee he had paid to Wilfred and his company of Dwarves.

A few people made any comment on the seeming differences from Althonyr’s heart and those in the jars, however.

“Now that mind,” Runny quickly announced, “be on account that they be different species. The whole beast bein’ a Purple Cavecrawler, and the others be Reds.”

“Why yes,” the Viceroy’s chief alchemist piped in, in his own bid to seem authoritative. “Quite different creatures, I assure you,” he said to the assembled gainsayers.

The result, of course, was that the matter was laid to rest by such an “official” declaration.

Later, on the Viceroy’s recommendation Wilfred was knighted, as was Runny, being dubbed Sir Runnyreer Roundbottom. The now Lady Plucky, was thrilled by the honour, though it was all seen as a nonsense to Runny himself.

Wilfred was inundated by offers from cities as far afield as Nordland and the Sultanate to come and reenact the epic Battle of the Worms. These performances netted Wilfred and the Dwarves quite lucrative honoraria.

The Dragon Hunter’s reputation was now firmly set, and he and his team were summoned by rulers and officials for all manner of mysterious dealings, most of which their distinct talents transformed into profit.

That was until they received a desperate missive from the Sealands about a sea monster plaguing that nation’s coasts. That, however, is a tale for another day.


Dragon Scourge (Part 9)

As it neared five o’clock, Shortwhisker was preparing to light the fuse of another flame effect. It was then that he caught the glimpse of movement inside the cave. His jaw dropped and he involuntarily dropped his taper as he backed away from the apparition of an eight metre purple Dragon.

Runny caught glimpse of it at about the same instant. “It’s, it’s . . . ,” he stammered.

“A ‘reality’ Dragon,” Wilfred said completing his friend’s sentence, and against his better judgement drawing his sword.

“Really?” Althonyr asked incredulously.

Wilfred looked at his sword and then back at the dragon.

“Um, yes, I suppose so,” the Dragon Hunter replied.

Althonyr’s first inclination was to dispatch these nuisances and get back to his nap, but it had been all too long since he had the opportunity to manipulate a human.

“I see you are with Dwarves,” the great beast observed. “I hate Dwarves,” he then muttered giving a side glance at Runny. “So, what do you intend to do, Sir Knight? Or is it My Lord?” the Dragon asked cooly.

“Um, it’s neither. You see I am a, ah, kind of a showman,” Wilfred tried to explain.

“How interesting,” Althonyr almost purred. “What might your performance entail, might I ask?”

“I – I, we . . . we travel about where there are reports of, um, Dragons and we put on a show of riding the place of them.”

“So, you kill dragons?” Althonyr asked accusingly.

“Ah, no, ah, to be honest you are the first we have actually encountered. As I said it’s a show.”

“How do convince your audience you have completed this monumental feat?”

“With props,” Wilfred said, backing away slightly as Althonyr stepped fully into the cave mouth.

“Props? How intriguing.”

“The Dwarves fashion things like Dragon heads and we pass them off to the guilable.” Wilfred said quietly.

“I suppose there is a market for such theatrics. After all business is business; and speaking of business, I guess it is time for me to kill you now,” the Dragon observed.

What had gone unnoticed at this point was that Shortwhiskers’ taper had continued to burn and its flame had now inched its way to the fuse of the main charge which had been designed to bring the cave down. Suddenly there was a tremendous blast which threw Wildred and Runny ten metres and caused the entire upper chamber of the cavern to collapse.

When the smoke and dust cleared the cart that had carried the props was overturned and weapons were strewn all over. At the former cave mouth, Althonyr lay trapped under tons of stone with only his left shoulder and head exposed.

“Showman, what have you done?” the Dragon gasped. “My back is in agony, and I can’t feel my legs. Dig me out, and I will spare you.”

It was obvious however that the great worm was going nowhere. One of the prop harpoons had pierced his neck with the force of the blast, and his back and wings were broken.

Wilfred rose and dusting himself off he approached the disabled beast.

“Showman?” Wilfred asked. “I’m no showman. I’m the Dragon Hunter,” he announced.

“I will pay you handsomely,” Althonyr pleaded.

“I don’t think you could match what I will get from this,” Wilfred said. “‘After all business is business; and speaking of business, I guess it is time for me to kill you now.” With that Wilfred and Runny drove the harpoon deeper into Althonyr’s neck. Thick blood spewed forth and the light went fron the Dragon’s eyes.

“I am of the mind that this looks about perfect,” Runny said. “A few details here and there, but it will do the treat.”

One of the heart jars was broken beyond use, but the red heart in it was transfered to the jar that had contained the purple one. That heart was in turn buried and a large rock slid by all of the Dwarves over its location. Meanwhile, Plucky was sent to the palace to invite the Viceroy and his retainers to “the site of battle.”

By the time the officials arrived the four red-heart jars were arranged two on either side of Althonyr’s head. Wilfred was seated on the overturned cart, and all signs of pyrotechnic equipment had spirited away by Digger, Breaker, and Shortwhisker. Runny and Wetwhistle wandered about the site drawing a diagram which detailed the epic battle, the death of the four Reds in the bowels of the cavern, and the final confrontation of Wilfred and the “Great Purple Worm.”


Dragon Scourge (Part Eight)

Explosion, Fire, Forest, Nature

Digger, Breaker, and Shortwhisker spent a good part of the evening cutting charge holes and setting explosives. They then exited the cave to prepare the pyrotechnics display that was to be viewed from the town and palace. About midnight they made their way back to the forge to get some much needed rest.

“You lads all finished?” Runny asked as they entered.

“Aye, but you didn’t but half find the hardest stone my old bones ever had to drive a rod through,” Breaker complained.

“It were as if it be tempered,” Digger added. “It be done though.”

“Good, good,” Runny said. “Now get yourselves some shut eye.”

Runny ticked a few items of his list and then went to go cuddle down with Plucky who was already fast asleep.

“Only me, My Lovely,” he said as she started. “Go back to sleep. Busy day morrow.”

The Dwarves were up a little after dawn, and spent an hour after breakfast reviewing timings for the “big show” which was to begin at about three in the afternoon. The plan called for the three pyrotechnic Dwarves to take a circuitous route to the cave to avoid detection as Wilfred decked out in shining armour would again visit the palace to announce that the operation was beginning, and again stress the need for observers to keep their distance. Then he would ride boldly towards the cave followed by Runny and Wetwhistle and the cart of weapons.

Plucky stationed herself on the path leading to the cave site and added the jars of “Dragon hearts” to Runny’s cart as it passed. All was going according to plan and at five minutes past three, Shortwhisker launched a flare that gave the appearance of a stream of flame against the back drop of the dark hills.

These pyrotechnic effects were repeated at different angles according to Runny’s detailed time table, and on three occasions during the afternoon a white illumination charge was set off to create a bright enough flash as to project the shadow of a paper cut-out of a dragon through a lens against the hillside.

In the meantime, Runny helped to spread soot in patches across Wildred’s horse, while Wilfred himself singed his cape and applied soot to his armour and surcoat.

He then settled down to enjoy a pork pie and watch the fireworks.

* * *

Althonyr woke and opened a sleepy eyelid. What is that infernal banging?

It wasn’t that he hadn’t heard noise in the upper cavern before, humans occasionally entered to shelter from a storm or to have a look about. None stayed long, nor did they ever venture deep into the interior. In fact, it must have been twenty years since Althonyr’s slumber had been thus interrupted. This was different. The banging, no hammering, was getting annoying.

Althonyr stretched and scratched under his left wing. Then pushing his great mass upright, he retreated down a tunnel to an underground stream and had a drink. He then moved down to a deeper chamber and tried to resume his nap.

Some hours later, he was once again disturbed by the ringing cracks of some kind of explosion, and by bright flashes of light which stabbed at his eyes that had become accustomed to decades of darkness. This will never do, the great purple serpent thought, and once again roused himself to investigate.

R. V. Mitchell aka Padre

Dragon Scourge (Part 7)

Middle Ages, Medieval Festival, Riedenburg

Once inside, Wildred and the six Dwarves gathered around a work bench where Runny had placed some elaborately drawn plans.

“Thank you all for coming, and I hope this will prove a profitable enterprise for all of us,” Wildred said in welcome.

The Dwarves each nodded and muttered agreement.

“As you all be knowing, Cracky Breakstone ain’t with us on this one, him gett’n married recently and all, but the rest of us should be more than enough as these folk don’t seem to know too much about Dwarfs, and nothing about dragon-lore,” Runny said. “We need to ‘kill’ ourselves five dragons, and give that Viceroy feller a proof that we done it. Wilfred here will do the sweet talk’n and take the credit as usual, but that be no here or there as we all knows we is a company and share an share alikes.”

“I will let the Viceroy know that he needs to keep the people well away from the cave that Runny has found. You can see its location here on the map. I will stress that not only will any observers be in danger, but that they could cause a distraction to “my” success. Just to be sure, once we are set up, I will need our Plucky to keep an eye out for any curious parties that get too close.”

“I will indeed,” Plucky said tapping on a cudgel hanging from her belt.

“Now ’bout the cave,” Runny said. “Digger, Breaker, and Shortwhisker, you is goin’ to make a fire show, but will need to prepare the cave to collapse as the show stopper. You’ll be need’n to start your work tonight when you won’t be noticed. Till then my Plucky and Wetwhistle will be making up our proofs. Shortwhisker, you can make some more harpoons and the like, till you need to go, but don’t make them expensive mind as they is only props.”

With that each went about preparing for the “show.” Shortwhisker stoked up the forge. Digger and Breaker began measuring various fuses, and double checking the pyrotechnics in a shed behind the smithy. The most elaborate, and down right disgusting preparation was carried out in an enclosure that had been erected out of canvas curtains downwind from the smithy.

“Whao, that is potent,” Wilfred said as he poked his head in.

“They are a bit ripe,” Plucky agreed as she added a florecent red dye to a vat which already had five whale hearts in it.

“They be a bit old,” Wetwhistle said. “Runny said I needed to get some that weren’t easy to trace, so I couldn’t get them direct from Nordland, but got ’em from a certain Ralulee trader I knows,” he said tapping the side of his nose.

“Remember one of those dragons is purple,” Wilfred said.

“We got that covered,” Plucky said, holding up a bottle of blue dye. “I’ll do the finishing touches after we jarred the others,” she said with a nod to the six glass jars at the edge of the enclosure.

“I will leave that in your capable hands,” Wilfred said as he departed.

As the sun settling towards the horizon, Wilfred mounted his horse and headed to the Palace to give his crowd control advice to the Viceroy. Meanwhile, Wetwhistle, Breaker, and Digger loaded the wagon with fireworks. Runny and Shortwhisker loaded the cart with the “dragon killing” weapons, and then then drove them through town, stopping at the Ferret for a drink, just to be sure everyone got a good look at them. Plucky, remained at “headquarters” to make sure it didn’t get any unwanted visitors.


Dragon Scourge (Part 6)

Wooden Barrels, Barrel, Wine Barrel


Early the next morning, Wildred woke Connor and reiterated the plan and the agreement. He then sent the man home to tell his sister they were being hunted by dragons, and that they had to flee southwards. The Dragon Hunter then made his own way to the palace, and told the attendant that he needed to speak with the Viceroy with some urgency. The whole affair went much as planned, and with the business concluded the went to hurry Connor on his way.

In the meantime, Runny scouted the hills north of the late forest and found a suitable cave. He then scribbled some instructions in Dwarfish onto a small pieces of parchment and tied the notes onto the legs of two pigeons which he set loose. His labours done he made his way back to the smithy, and sized-up the resources available there. Noting some deficiencies he jotted down some additional orders and set off his last two pigeons.

“Saw the birds leaving,” Wilfred said as he entered the forge.

“Took all four of ’em,” Roundbottom said. “Found a good dragons’ lair though, and we had near ‘nough all we needed here.”

“My visit with the Viceroy went swimmingly,” Wilfred said. “Connor and Annabelle are heading south as we speak, and I am fairly sure we will not see them again.”

“Good, good,” the Dwarf said. “Always best to keep the amateurs at a distance for work like this.”

“I was an amateur when I met you,” Wilfred said with a chuckle.

“A right clever one,” Runny said, “and more true and canny than most human-folk.”

“Why thank you Sir Dwarf,” Wilfred said with a bow.

“None of that,” Runny said in a dismissive tone. “We got work to do.”

And work they did, they made a big show of making flimsy but rather spectacular looking harpoons and lances which they arranged outside the smithy for the benefit of any nosey bystanders. The real work, however, began two days later when three Dwarves arrived with a wagon-load of pyrotechnics. Later that same day a fourth Dwarf arrived with a pony-cart bearing a large barrel with Nordlandic writing on the side.

“Better cover that scribble-up” Runny instructed as three of the newcomers unloaded the barrel.

The following morning, a female Dwarf arrived with a cart loaded with six large glass jars packed in straw.

“Morning Mr. Wilfred,” the She-Dwarf said as she climbed down. “You seen Runny?”

“He’s in the forge,” the Dragon Hunter said with a smile. “How was the journey?”

“Bit rough, glad I bringed an extra jar. These folk need Dwarfs to be laying a road for them, as they have more holes than path I tell ya,” Plucky Roundbottom observed.

Just then Runny stepped from the smithy and embraced Plucky. “How’s me old-girl doing?”

“I don’t know about your old girl, but your gorgeous wife is fine,” she said giving him a thump on the chest.

“Glad to see you, My Lovely,” Runny said. He then turned his attention to Wilfred and said, “Looks like we have everything now. We should be ready to go after them there Dragons in the morrow,” he added for the benefit of two passers-by.


Dragon Scourge (Part 5)

Smithy, Anvil, Medieval Smithy

“Here is how I understand your story, and it is how I will recount it to the Viceroy: You and your brother-in-law, Brian were clearing dead wood when a wyer of dragons appeared and carried off your brother-in-law, and the pony. You stood your ground and the beasts circled you before a purple worm struck you with its tail, sending you flying. You landed in a stream, and thus moistened survived the airborne blast of the wyer. They departed northwards, and you were able after a time of recovery to make your way to the palace to report the encounter, and the loss of valuable woodland,” Wilfred summarised.

“Um,” Connor began.

“Just say yes,” the Dwarf instructed.

“Ah, yes.”

“Perfect,” the Dragon Hunter declared. “I, of course, under such circumstances, and with your newly acquired intellegence of the vindictive and unrelenting nature of dragons toward their quarry, recommend that you and your sister remove yourselves southwards, away from the last known heading of the beasts. I will use my position with the Viceroy to secure you and your sister’s pensions in full for such a journey, and I recommend that you leave as soon as I provide that purse for you. I don’t see that there will ever be a need for you or your kin to return to these parts, as some other details of your confession might under such an eventuality be recalled by me in the future. I assure you, however, that such revelations are safe with me, and Runny here, as long as you stick to the agreement.”

“I . . .” Connor said hesitantly.

“Agree, is the word you are looking for, Furster,” Roundbottom interjected.

“I . . . agree,” the forester said a little uneasily.

“Perfect,” Wilfred said again. “Let’s get you to sleep-off some ale, and we will get you and your sister packing in the morning.”

“And my pension?”

“No worries there, Lad,” Runny said. “We will get ya the silver in the morn.”

Soon the forester was snoring away.

“So, a meet’n with the palace folk?” Runny asked.

“I don’t see why not. Most of the village heard you warn the man, and I’m sure news of it has already reached the Viceroy’s ears. If I know his type, and I think I do, he will happily hedge his bets in case we fail to kill the dragons, by getting them to go southwards looking for Connor rather than staying in this realm.”

“I reckon you’re right there,” the Dwarf said. “I will send a message to the lads in the morrow while you is seeing the Viceroy feller.”


Dragon Scourge (Part 4)

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“I think we should take this conversation somewhere a bit more private,” Wilfred said.  He then turned to the barkeeper and asked if he might provide lodging for them and their ale-sodden friend.

“Gentlemen, with no disrespect,” the barman replied, “I would rather he not be staying here overnight with the dragons and all.  If you know what I mean.”

“Of course,” Wilfred replied.  “Quite understandable.  Do you have any suggestions?”

“There is a disused forge just down the lane,” the barman replied.

“Sounds just the ticket,” Runny said. 

They placed a full gold piece on the table, and aided Connor from the premises.

On finding the smithy, the trio entered and Runny lit a fire.

“I can’t be knowing if you know who’s I am,” Runny said at last, “but I has seen the Hanon dragon up close and am here to tell the tale, and your tale is a bit mothy I thinks, too many holes.”

“Runny does the lore speak of any purple dragons?” Wilfred asked well knowing the answer.

“Not to any of my recollecting, and I is a bit of lore-Dwarf, I am.”

“Hmm, this is an intriguing impasse,” Wilfred said.  “So, about your dragons.”

“There were five of them, by the Spirits!” Connor pleaded.

“What if for discussion sake, we say that anything that is said here will not leave the forge.  Let us further say that I have the Viceroy’s ear,” Wilfred offered.

“I, I umm,” the forester began, but the right words were escaping his grasp.

“By my reckoning, there seems to be a wizard miss’n from your story,” Runny said accusingly.

“Wiz . . .” the man trailed off.

“Aye, a wizard.”

“I didn’t see a wizard,” the man protested.

“What did you see then?” Wilfred asked sympathetically.  “Let’s start again at the beginning.”

“Um, Brian, Daisy and me were clearing dead wood, as I said.  And we found an old wolf pit.  There was some shiny things down there so I lowered Brian down, and he found a skeleton and some silver coins.  As he dug around he found a staff with a big crystal in the end, and we thought that the crystal might be worth some money.  So I helped Brian climb out, and he started to try to pry the crystal off the staff.  Next thing I know I was flying through the air and landed in a stream some hundred length away, and all around me was blazing.  There was no sign of Brian or Daisy.  It took me a while before I could pull myself upright, and there was just melted rock where Brian had been.”

“Now there be a better story,” the Dwarf observed.

“So, what did you do next?” Wilfred asked.

“I had a good cry, and wondered what the Viceroy was going to say about the forest, then I started worrying for Annabelle.  Then the idea of a dragon hit me, but by the time I got back to the village the number had grown to four, and five by the time I got to the palace.  Oh, Spirits, what am I going to do,” the man sobbed.

R. V. Mitchell (Padre)

Dragon Scourge (Part 3)

Forest Fire, Brand, Fire, Conflagration

“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.”


Dragon Scourge (Part 2)

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Runny entered the Dancing Ferret and gave the tavern the once over.  It was like any of the hundreds of provincial ale houses he had seen before with the rough planked floor and host of labouring folk at the end of a day’s work. 

Runny quickly noticed the gathering of locals surrounding a brawny man in a green tunic who was regaling them with some tale.  The onlookers were fastened to his every word. 

“I reckon we found our furster,” Runny said to Wilfred when the latter entered.

“Well, I will leave you to do your thing,” the Dragon Hunter said before taking a seat at a corner table.

The Dwarf made his way to the throng and listened in intently, occasionally nodding or tapping his thick fingers on his chin. 

As the man finished his story and was bought another drink by an admirer, Runny abruptly said, “You must be one er the bravest fellers I ever laid my eyes on, I will right reckon that.”

The crowd turned and stared at the Dwarf.

“Well it is a rightly known fact, that a dragon once it had got the scent of you won’t stop hunt’n for you till it got ya.  And you says you got five, or were that six, on your trail.  If it were me, mind, I’d be a hiding away somewhere.  Let me buy an ale for such a bold feller.”

With that several of the gathered villagers slowly distanced themselves from the forester.  A few indeed remembered previous engagements and quickly departed the Ferret altogether.

With the crowd dispersed Runny pulled up a stool and sat down.  Wilfred then made his way to the table.

“You must be a brave fellow indeed,” Wilfred said quietly.  “As you don’t seem worried in the slightest by my friend’s revelation.”

“Well I . . .  I . . . I did see off four dragons,” the man said trying to compose himself.

“Four now,” Runny reflected.  “And here I were think’n you said six but a moment ago.” 

“Um, there were six, but I only had to deal with four of them,” the man replied, satisfied with his answer.

“Well then, let us buy you an ale for each,” Wilfred said, “I would love to hear even more about your encounter while we drink.”

Wilfred then turned to the barkeeper of the now nearly empty establishment. 

“A bottle of wine, and some bread and cheese for me and the Dwarf, and four ales for my friend here. Thank you.”

Then turning back to the flustered forester, he said, “Now, about those dragons.”