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by dharker 

Posted: 20 May 2011
Word Count: 550

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Gawain was hunting deer in the valley high above the settlement and had just aimed an arrow at the chest of a magnificent stag. Suddenly the stag raised its head, listened intently for a moment then bounded off into the forest. Gawain cursed the wasted time and effort and was about to break cover when the sky above him darkened as a huge blue dragon soared overhead and headed off down the valley and towards the settlement. With fear and dread in his heart he leapt from cover and began running down the valley toward his home.

Slipping and stumbling along the way the journey seemed to take forever but finally he burst through the undergrowth and skidded to a halt. What had once been a peaceful group of homes now lay in ruins; the cloying, sulphurous stench of dragon flame filled the air. Crows picked at the charred remains of friends and family lying all around, fire-ravaged buildings crackled and sputtered in the gentle breeze. He sank to his knees, his anguished sobs competing with his body’s desperate need for air after the long run. As his tears abated Gawain became aware of a groan that was coming from a smouldering oxcart at the gates of the village. Walking towards the cart, he saw movement from within and struggled to maintain his composure when he realised that what he thought were charred and bloody rags was in fact Gudrun, his family’s faithful servant.

“I’m sorry my lord”, Gudrun struggled to get the words out. His hideously burnt torso and arms had stuck to the floor of the cart and he screamed with agony when Gawain tried to lift the man to offer him some water.

“Taken by surprise… Master Grimwald was… eaten alive when he tried to fight the beast. Your sister… the Lady Erithea told me to find you and to warn y….”.

His eyes glazed and his pain-wracked body gave a final shudder as his soul departed to join his ancestors. As Gawain muttered the words of committal over Gudrun’s body, a rage grew inside him like nothing he’d ever experienced before. He had always been a shy, scholarly and sensitive soul, his lack of nerve and spirit made him the last to be picked in warrior challenges. Now however the fire that had destroyed his family, burned savagely within him, and he vowed vengeance on the blue dragon, Minathyr.

The journey up the mountain to Minathyr’s lair was arduous, but his need for revenge kept him going. At last the trees gave way to blackened granite cliffs into which a huge ornate doorway had been cut. Donning the ancient armour that had been gifted to his family after the Middle Earth war, Gawain strode manfully toward the door, his father’s elven sword glowing brightly in the presence of such evil. Carved into the lintel, ancient runes shone with evil malevolence.

Gawain couldn't resist his scholarly desire to understand, so he reached into his pack and drew out his compact English-Runic-English dictionary and flipped through its pages.

Sudden comprehension combined with a deep rumbling roar from within the cave; he screamed like a maiden and ran, for the translation read;

“Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.”

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Comments by other Members

Cornelia at 08:57 on 20 May 2011  Report this post
I really hated the part where the guy was stuck to the cart. I've always liked Sir Gawain up to now - good job done on the green giant - but please keep him away if I need rescuing. Failed at Basic first aid.


dharker at 09:07 on 20 May 2011  Report this post
LOL! He's a young man Sheila... no concept of first aid and having failed warrior classes doesn't even have the basics! Sorry that bit rankled...


Cornelia at 10:28 on 20 May 2011  Report this post
Not so much rankled as I felt the agony of charred flesh separating from wood to which it had been welded. Powerful stuff.


tusker at 14:54 on 20 May 2011  Report this post
Loved the fantasy build up, Dave. Great gory, wincing details too.

Laughed out loud at the ending. Don't know why, but it felt like its a tale Monty Python would do.


dharker at 15:45 on 20 May 2011  Report this post
Thanks Jennifer! Glad you enjoyed the last line!


fiona_j at 15:46 on 20 May 2011  Report this post
The noble and anguishing start to this tale really hid the comedy ending in a way that was endearing and well thought-out.

I did feel a little sorry for Gawain though, what's he going to do now? No courage and no home! Very sad.


dharker at 15:56 on 20 May 2011  Report this post
Thanks Fi! Gawain will be fine... Middle Earth has openings everywhere for a shy, scholarly and sensitive guy... PR or Marketing probably ;


Prospero at 19:39 on 20 May 2011  Report this post
'Crunchy and taste good with ketchup' with a side of fries presumably.

A great punchline. All epics should be written like this. Beowulf would definitely benefit.



dharker at 20:58 on 20 May 2011  Report this post
Definitely with fries Prosp! I'm sure there are academics who would dispute an improvement on Beowulf... but having forced myself through it once I think I might just agree with you! Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to read!


Forbes at 00:48 on 21 May 2011  Report this post
Good build up and misdirection - setting up well for the end punchline. It made me laugh! Haven't read any of your Dragon stuff before - but I take it Gwain is a regular?



dharker at 05:52 on 21 May 2011  Report this post
My first and only (so far!) foray into dragons Avis... I'm really pleased people like it! Thank You!


Bunbry at 06:41 on 21 May 2011  Report this post
Hi Dave, this is very good, like the others I loved the clever ending. I’ve a couple of minor points to make, mainly about using adjectives. They are frowned upon a little bit these days – nothing to worry too much about but something to keep an eye on. For example you have used them a lot in this sentence.

As his tears gradually abated Gawain became aware of a ragged groan that was coming from a smouldering oxcart at the gates of the village.

I would consider cutting perhaps ‘gradually’ and ‘ragged’ as it works as well without them.

And I’d try ‘fire-ravaged’ and ‘pain-wracked’

But minor points in this finely told tale!


dharker at 12:09 on 21 May 2011  Report this post
Good points made Nick and now you've highlighted them I can only agree! Thank You for pointing them out! Glad you enjoyed the story!


Manusha at 18:25 on 21 May 2011  Report this post
A fine tale, Dave, and well told!

A tiny nicky nick, I thought 'oxygen' sounded too scientific for the voice, and wondered if 'air' might suit better.

Donning the ancient armour that had been gifted to his family after the Middle Earth war, Gawain strode manfully toward the door,

In two minds over whether Gawain could don armour whilst striding manfully, but otherwise, as I said, a fine tale!

I'm now wondering if all dragons prefer ketchup or if some naughty fellas like Daddies Sauce! ;

dharker at 18:47 on 21 May 2011  Report this post
Ketchup all the time Andy! (I think its the colour!) I was in two minds about oxygen and air... but I think you're right so I'll make the change. With regard to the armour my thoughts are that Gawain is so angry that he'd be shrugging it on while stomping toward the door - he's not thought this through properly. I'm open to peoples thoughts though?

Many thanks for reading and for your comments!


Manusha at 21:29 on 21 May 2011  Report this post
It's ketchup for me too! Yum! ;

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