- Vol. 05
- Chapter 03
Gawain had grown up knowing he’d have to face the dragon one day. Every family in the kingdom had to sacrifice one daughter to its dreadful appetite, and every second son must attempt to kill it.
None had succeeded so far, but Gawain was more than ready to try. His sister Avril, the sweetest playmate a little brother would wish for, had been taken last spring. His parents put on brave faces in this country where most families bore a similar grief, but Gawain had heard his mother weeping at night and his soul burned for revenge.
His father, a first son, had watched his own brother die, burnt to a crisp by the dragon’s breath, and he coached Gawain relentlessly for his approaching battle.
‘Keep moving, son, don’t stand still for a second. Dart in under its head and cut its evil throat,’ was his advice, but Gawain knew this method hadn’t saved anyone yet – he and his friend Edwin had something very different in mind.
From their earliest schooldays they had scoured the forest, and last winter they had discovered a back entrance to the dragon’s den. Their plan was simple, daring and deadly dangerous, but they were marked for death anyway – what did they have to lose?
When Edwin’s day arrived, the crowd gathered to watch the battle from a safe distance. Gawain’s parents stood with Edwin’s to show solidarity, but Gawain was nowhere to be seen, and his father cringed with embarrassment as the crowd muttered, ‘The boy’s scared – it’s his turn next.’
Edwin saluted the King and approached the dragon’s den boldly, yelling, ‘Come out!’ Slowly the creature appeared, roaring and spouting fire. But instead of rushing in – the usual method of attack – Edwin danced just out of the dragon’s reach, driving it wild with fury. Its eyes blazed and its body swelled as it gulped air to project the flames further, but still Edwin kept his distance.
The crowd had begun to shout insults at Edwin, but they were suddenly quiet when a figure appeared behind the dragon. Then there was a flurry of movement, a flash of razor-sharp steel, and a gush of green blood as the dragon’s head fell.
Gawain emerged from the dragon’s den to rapturous applause and shook Edwin’s hand. ‘I am very glad not to have to do that again,’ he said, ‘Its farts are the most noxious I have ever smelled.’