Tag: dragons

Dragon Games

The troll scratched his head and looked around in confusion. It was his normal state anymore, ever since his first day as an exchange student at the dragon school.

“I thought we were going to play hopscotch,” he said at last. “Trolls are good at hopscotch.” This was, of course because they cheated. Goff probably knew a thousand ways to cheat at hopscotch. It made the game more fun.

This was not like any game of hopscotch he’d ever seen. The squares were too far apart. Some were on random floating islands. Others were on patches of lava. Goff wasn’t even sure where to begin.

The dragons all laughed. “This is dragon hopscotch. What did you think it would be like?”

Goff frowned. “How am I supposed to play this? I’m not fire-proof and I can’t fly.”

“I guess you can’t play. That’s too bad,” one of the dragons said in a sweet, entirely insincere voice. “Maybe there’s another game you’d like to play?”

“Rock, paper, scissors?” Trolls were good at that too. They cheated, of course. Troll sleight-of-hand was legendary. It was a slightly-less-well-known rule of thumb to never play rock, paper, scissors with a troll. Maybe the dragons hadn’t heard it yet.

“Sure, but we call it boulder, tree, spear,” the same dragon said sweetly.

“But it’s played the same, right? Rock, paper, scissors?” Goff demonstrated the signs. “Paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, and scissors beat paper.”

The dragon smiled a wide, sharp-toothed grin. “Pretty much. But hand gestures are for weak little things like baby humans. Everyone go fetch your boulder, tree, and spear. It’s time for a battle!”

The dragons scattered. Goff watched a dragon wrench a nearby tree from the ground and sighed. He never got to play any dragon games. Why did he keep trying?

Life on Dragon Island continued, with everyone laughing at Goff and leaving him out. Classes were an exercise in strategic stage magic for the poor troll. He went through so many matches and hidden fireworks in flame-blowing classes.

Treasure hoarding was easier, because he just had to make things look sparkly to impress the teacher. A good coating of sugar syrup made even cardboard sparkle. Glitter was just icing on the cake, or rather added sparkle on the sugared cardboard.

It was gym class that was his personal nemesis. He had to focus all his energy and concentration in darting and avoiding and being somewhere else when flames and talons and giant, heavy, scary things were spinning in every direction. When he got home, he was going to be the undisputed king of dodge ball.

You many be wondering about the more academic subjects. Apparently, dragons didn’t read well. His host family said it was something about how the words on the page were just too hard to see. Dragons saw the world more with their heat sensors and sense of smell and such. So, dragons learned things like math and science and history by memory. At home.

Dragon parents didn’t want their darlings scorching everything in sight or ripping holes in the furniture, so they sent them away to school to learn those things. And it was always good to look at other hoards to get new ideas for their wish lists.

This meant that Goff, who was a wily, clever troll, never stood out at dragon school. And when the neighborhood dragons gathered to play games, he was left out yet again. Goff wondered who set up this ridiculous exchange program and what they were thinking.

And then it happened. Once a century or so, the negotiations with the magical creature council came up, and the residents of Dragon Island were required to send a representative. That was this year.

“None of us can read, dear,” Goff’s host mother said. “And all the contracts are written in teeny tiny words. We’re pretty straight-forward, and they’re always trying to trick us. That’s why we asked you to come. Can you get us a good deal?”

“You could have warned me,” Goff said. “I don’t know anything about international creature law. I’m still in school. Wouldn’t an older troll be a better choice?”

“This is how we’ve always done it. It worked fine before. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

And he was. Goff found thousands of loopholes and ran circles around the magical creature council. None of them had grown up as a troll, and they had no idea how to cope. Finally the head of the council snatched the contracts away. “Let’s just leave things the way they were. It’s been working fine so far.”

“That’s fine with me,” Goff said. Everyone else agreed.

And then all the dragons loved him. They even agreed to play the games his way sometimes. He always won, of course.

“I had no idea trolls had such hidden talents,” one of the neighborhood dragons said. “If we ever need help with rules or contracts, we’ll have to invite another troll to be an exchange student. This worked so well.” And thus history continued to repeat itself. Goff considered warning the other trolls, but then decided that the next troll might like a chance to play the hero. It was almost as fun as cheating at hopscotch.

Silverbug and the Big Lizards

Once upon a time, deep in the woods, there was a cozy cave. Inside the cave lived a mama dragon, a papa dragon, and a baby dragon. Every morning they woke up early to flame-roast hazelnuts for breakfast.

This took a long time, because they were careful not to burn them. Instead, they carefully breathed fire above the nuts, turning them over in the shallow stone hollow that was their stove until every side was golden brown. Once every nut was toasted to perfection, they went on a walk while breakfast cooled.

One morning, as they walked through the woods in the early dawn, stepping through the sun-dappled shadows, things were different. They just didn’t know it yet. Unfortunately, a knight in shining armor had just found their cozy cave.

The knight looked around at the clean, well-ordered cave, and decided he’d just found his new base of operations. He was delighted to find the nuts, and didn’t once wonder where they came from. He ate every last one, cracking open the shells with his sword, and wished there were more.

Wandering further back in the cave, he found three large tree stumps. He cut up the smallest stump with his sword. Then he pulled out his tinderbox and lit one of the sticks of wood on fire and stashed a few unlit sticks of wood in his pack as he put the tinderbox away.

Holding aloft his torch, the knight ventured further into the cave. He followed the large, winding tunnel feeling especially dashing and brave. He couldn’t wait to tell of his heroics when he returned to the castle!

At the end of the tunnel, he found a wide room with three lumpy raised beds covered in soft moss. The torch was growing dim, and he had been walking around all morning. The knight decided he had time for a nap before exploring any further.

He laid on the closest and largest mound. It was too lumpy, and he kept rolling off the bed and falling onto the floor with a clang. This was not a good choice.

He laid on the next bed. It had too much moss for a knight still wearing shining armor. He kept sinking and sinking until he struggled to stand up before he’d sunk too far.

And so the knight laid down on the smallest moss-covered mound. It was just right. The torch went out and the knight fell asleep.

Meanwhile, the unsuspecting dragon family was returning home from their morning walk. As soon as they entered the cave, they knew something was wrong. The floor was covered in mysterious muddy footprints.

There was a pile of hazelnut shells in the middle of the kitchen floor. What animal would dare to enter a dragon cave and steal their breakfast? “Did they eat all of it?” Baby dragon whispered.

“It looks like it.” Papa dragon looked worried. “Stay behind me.”

As they followed him to the living room, mama dragon whispered, “Don’t worry. We’ll find something else to eat once it’s safe.”

They were shocked to find baby dragon’s chair broken into small pieces. Papa dragon sniffed the air. “Smoke.”

Mama dragon glared. Was it another dragon who had come to steal their hoard? How unmannerly. She couldn’t wait to tell them what she thought of their behavior. She nodded at papa dragon. They could be hiding in only one place.

The dragons stalked down the hall, their eyes glowing and lighting all the darkest corners. Baby dragon trailed behind them not sure what was happening, but hoping they’d get breakfast soon. He looked around once they reached the bedroom.

The moss-covered piles of gold had been disturbed. And there, lying on the smallest pile, baby dragon’s bed, was something shiny and largish. “Someone is sleeping on my bed,” baby dragon yelled. “There he is. I bed he was the one who ate breakfast and broke my chair too!”

The silver creature launched itself from the bed, waving a strange stinger in the air and growling incomprehensibly. Baby dragon hid behind mama dragon. He really hated getting stung by little bugs, and this was the biggest bug he’d ever seen.

Mama and papa chased the silverbug away without getting stung. Baby dragon looked around the bedroom and made sure the gold was safe. He sniffed closely. It hadn’t even been touched. Maybe silverbugs didn’t like gold. Maybe it was just hungry and sleepy. Baby dragon could understand that.

Mama and papa returned with fish and berries for breakfast, and all was right in the world. They never saw the silverbug again. They returned to roasting nuts and walking in the mornings, but they rolled large rocks in front of their cave before they left, just in case.

The knight was grateful for his narrow escape. The big lizards could keep their lumpy beds of rocks. The cave wasn’t worth the effort. He would find a new base of operations that wasn’t as dark and unwelcoming.

Just then, he saw a little cottage in the woods. It looked abandoned. He entered at once, and was delighted to find porridge on the table. All that walking had made him a little hungry. He sat down at once and started sampling the bowls to find which was best.

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