Monday, December 20, 2010

Two Hunters

“There, in the clearing. She was here. You can see where she slept. You can she where she left her droppings. Over there’s the remains of her last meal. She was here, all right, recently. Come on, Winslow.”





“I said ‘Shhh’, didn’t I?”

“I heard you, what the devil are you doing back there?”

“I’m hiding, which is what you should be doing unless you want to be dragon lunch.”

“Dragon lunch?”


“There’s no dragon here.”

“But there’s one close by. You just said she was here recently.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean she’s close. They’re incredibly fast--”

“This isn’t helping.”

“Just come out. It’s safe. Have a little dignity man, what kind of dragon hunter hides behind bushes?”

“An unproven one.”

“Winslow, be reasonable. Are you going to give back the money?”

“What money?”

“The money the Denrodians paid you to kill their dragon.”

“You know I don’t have it anymore.”

“Then you’re just going to have to kill it.”

“But I can’t--”

“Then you’re just going to have to die trying, aren’t you?”

“I’ve never been so terrified.”

“Of what? There’s no dragon.”

“There are dragon droppings! Right there.”

“Yes, droppings, which indicates a past dragon. There are no signs of a present dragon.”

“There’s probably someone I know in there...”

“Oh, don’t be crude. This is good. She’s old.”

“How can you tell--”

“These aren’t not the feces of a young dragon.”

“On second thought, I don’t want to know how you can tell.”

“Winslow... are you coming out from behind that bush or not?”

“... I... I guess.”

“Excellent. We’ll make a dragonslayer out of you yet.”

“Or get me killed.”

“Just as good, really. The only thing more honorable than being a living dragon slayer is being a dead one. Of course, you have ‘being dead’ to contend with.”

“I don’t want honor.”

“Excellent. A slayer does not ask for honor.”

“No, I mean I really don’t want it. I was planning on running away. I didn’t think they’d send you along to babysit me.”

“Run away? What kind of dragon hunter--”


“Well... well. I’m confused.”

"I’m a gambler.”

“A gambler?”

“Yes. And I was in over my head. The only way I could raise the money to keep myself out of debtor’s prison was to collect the ransom on the lizard that’s been terrorizing Snuppet Lake.”

“So... Let me get this straight. You’re a gambler.”


“And you found yourself in a financial crisis.”


“And you looked at a dragon, and then you looked at debtor’s prison, and you decided that the dragon was the less-scary of the two?”

“It’s like I said, I had no intention of fighting anything.”

“So I guess your name’s not really Winslow the Fierce.”

“My name’s not Winslow at all. It’s Tud.”

“And you never led the routing of King Stammelhorn’s garrison.”

“I’ve never even been North of Scarttleputt Hills.”

“Is anything you said in town true?”

“Well, I did say that I had never killed a dragon before. That’s why you’re here.”

“Yes, why did you say that? If I were going to convince people to pay me to kill a dragon, I would have pretended that I’d killed one or two before. Which is easy enough for me, since I have.”

“No one would have believed me. Dragon-slayers are famous--the Denrodians would have demanded proof, and I would have been found out. It was a gamble...”

“Not a very smart one.”

“Smart gambles have been in short supply lately, which is the whole reason I’m in this predicament.”

“Well, if you’re going to kill a dragon, Tud the Unproven, you will need to learn a thing or two about them. And their dung.”


“Oh, don’t fret. I’m confident that the heart of a dragon-slayer rests within that chest of yours.”

“You really think that?”

“Not really, but you’re going to try anyway.”


“Or else I’ll kill you, myself.”

"I see.”

"Yes, I thought you might. So you might as well start learning.”


“No, no ‘buts’. These are your choices: make good on your promise, die trying, or die giving up. Which sounds best?”


“What was that?”

“Make good on my promise.”

“What was that?”

“I want to kill the dragon.”

“That’s the spirit. Now this one’s old, and that means--”

“She’ll be tired and out of shape?”

“Heavens, no. It means she’ll be thick-skinned and experienced. You really have no idea what you’re doing, do you?”


“Well, Winslow, I can show you the ropes. Just try not to fall off and get yourself killed, right?

This story was written as part of a writing exercise. It's not purely random. Any more than usual, anyway. -- ]{p

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