Sunday, October 24, 2010

The DIY Dragon

The DIY Dragon
For the Eyeball Burpers

by Benny Nyikos
In a far-off kingdom there lived a kindly king and queen. They had a single daughter, the apple of their eye. As she grew older, all of the young men of the realm began to compete for her attention, and foremost among them was the king's youngest and bravest knight.

To prove his love, the knight sorted out a misunderstanding surrounding a black knight and a bridge, and he helped some farmers with an incursion of manticores. He was pretty badass.

The princess, meanwhile, sewed a tapestry. The subject of the tapestry was ogre wrestling, so the princess went out and wrestled the biggest ogres in the kingdom as research for her tapestry. When she ran out of ogres, she chopped up some gorgons, for the design on the tapestry's border. She was pretty badass, too.

The king looked with favor on the knight, knowing that the young man was a match for his formidable daughter. The king was something of a traditionalist, however, and he waited for a dragon to swing by and kidnap his daughter, so that he could offer her hand in marriage to whoever saved her. The king was sure the knight was more than up to the task, and he wasn't the slightest bit worried about his daughter, who could handle any dragon.

The knight and princess waited patiently. The princess even resolved to avoid suplexing the dragon before the knight arrived so that he could rescue her the old-fashioned way (though she reserved the right to soften the dragon up a bit). There was only one problem: no dragon appeared.

The king and his councilors were puzzled. The latest survey of the dragon population indicated that there were plenty of dragons about. What they had not realized was that the dragons had gotten wise to the situation and learned to steer clear of the knight, and no dragon in the kingdom was foolish enough to try to kidnap such a princess.

The lamentable lack of draconic abduction may have caused another couple to despair, but these two were undaunted. They found the royal engineer with the wispiest beard and the most cluttered workplace, and they commissioned a mighty work to their specifications. The knight visited a scheming alchemist with chemical-stained fingers, while the princess sought out an experienced ranger with eyes like a hawk. When these two creative souls set their minds to a task, nothing could stop them, and there was nothing they loved more than working on a project together.

On Saturday, October 16, the royal court was in an uproar. Courtiers ran hither and thither while ladies gossiped and men shouted. A great crowd gathered in the courtyard, and all faces looked up to the princess's tower, where a great wood-and-paper dragon beat its enormous wings slowly as it perched on the balcony. The dragon's eyes glowed red with the heat of its furnace as smoke poured from its smokestack nostrils.

The knight sad astride the clattering, puffing beast. He worked a complex control panel full of levers and knobs and beamed at his princess as she emerged from her room. She somersaulted into the empty chair next to the knight's and cranked a steering wheel, sending the dragon flapping mightily from the tower.

The beast roared and spat flame into the air as it flew over the courtyard, so low that the onlookers tumbled to the ground in surprise and delight. The dragon sped off, carrying the princess and the knight to their next adventure.

The king watched them go with a smile on his face. "Works for me," he said, and dabbed at his eye with a handkerchief.