DRAGON SLAYING BY PROXY • by Mark Wolf

“Gin and tonic, Rupert?” Sammy, the troll, said.

“No, Sammy, whiskey. Make it a double,” the golemancer replied, sat back in his barstool, and shook his head, attempting to uncross his eyes while he began to gather his thoughts back into his physical body.

After this third time that his golem died, Rupert, golemancer plenipotentiary, decided that he needed a new strategy. He came up with it while he sat, watching the news cast dispassionately from his barstool at Sammy’s Place.

The newscast featured coverage of his dragon nemesis atop the double-decker bus slowly masticating one of Rupert’s artificial constructs right down to the straw, cow manure, and human elements; the fingernails and hair clippings of Rupert, himself.

A few seconds more, the dragon’s stomach acids did their work and Rupert lost his psychic connection to it.

Rupert’s previous attempt to slay the scaly monster, utilizing a golem and a poisoned sword had also failed. That golem now resided in the dragon’s stomach. Rupert turned to the bartender, eyes still crossed and with a Macy’s bargain basement-full of sheets to the wind, held up two fingers.

While most of the populace of Lundu’ne Town hid in the subways, Rupert and Sammy did battle with the terror. Rupert sent out his constructs one at a time to be slain and Sammy kept the golemancer well fortified with courage. They worked well together as a team.

On the television set above the bar, every station Sammy flipped through covered the battle. Bobbies and swat teams fired their automatic weapons and threw grenades, while the dragon roared and spat fire everywhere, eating anyone that drew too close to it.

Sammy set Rupert’s drink down before him and wiped imaginary stains from the bar with a white towel. “Any luck?”

“Nah, Sammy. The damn thing got my third one, too.”

“Pity, that. Looks like they’ll have to cancel Lundu’ne Faire then.”

“Not if I can help it. I’ve another idea.”

“Oh? Do tell,” said Sammy.

“I’ve been thinking about something Archavious the Wise said in his Acryptica concerning the slaying of dragons.”

“I don’t read Geomancer Digest, let alone a tome as dusty as Acryptica. Enlighten me,” Sammy said.

“It went something like this: ‘Slaying a dragon, once inside it, is rather more difficult than slaying it from outside it and at a safe distance.’”

Sammy paused in his wiping and gave Rupert a deadpan look. “Really? That seems rather obvious.”

“To you and me, perhaps, but isn’t our history replete with stories of knights that went off to their doom, half-cocked, with thoughts of glory in their heads instead of packing heavy artillery as back-up?”

“You’ve a point, but how does the wise one’s words apply to your new plan?” said Sammy.

“I mean to turn the saying around and use it as a weapon.”

***

Rupert admired his latest creation. The golem resembled those previous to it in that on the outside, the same straw, manure, and twine bound it all together, shaping it to appear human. Its innards were vastly different however.

The dragon lay in the middle of Lundu’ne Bridge blocking traffic from both directions. Occasionally, it’d amuse itself by roasting a pedestrian whenever one attempted to leave his vehicle. Many of the vehicles were now ablaze and here and there a corpse burned, melting the pavement beneath them.

Rupert watched the activity from a nearby tower. “Well, here goes.” He laid the binding spell on the golem. Now, it would be compelled to seek out the dragon and allow itself to be eaten.

The golem turned and passed through the tower doorway, closing the door behind it, and then walked down the street towards the dragon. Rupert watched it through his spell-link, seeing the massive beast through the golem’s eyes.

When the golem drew near, Rupert saw the dragon inhale as if it would roast his golem, then pause, its curiosity aroused by the fact that the small creature before it did not simply flee in terror.

The dragon stretched out its horned head and towered over the golem, inhaling deeply, and then its tongue flicked out, tasting the air near the construct.

The golem lifted its rough-spun pullover exposing the three massive smoked hams in place of its abdomen. The dragon’s tongue touched them, and then a rain of drool fell from the dragon’s lips as it leaned over and snapped the golem up.

***

Sammy stood across the bar from Rupert as they and a mixed crowd of boisterous patrons celebrated the killing of the dragon.

The television above the bar cut to the evening news.

“Shut up everybody. I want to hear this!” Sammy said.

On the screen, the picture showed several workers on Lundu’ne Bridge using chainsaws to cut the dead dragon up. Workers with hazmat suits and hoods pitch forked glistening lengths of entrails onto loader vehicles lifting the heavy slabs of dragon-flesh into the back of a line of dump trucks that hauled them away.

The shot panned to cover Rupert standing before a pretty news reporter. Everyone cheered again when they recognized one of their own bar mates. Sammy quieted them again.

“So you took your idea from the Acryptica?” the news reporter asked.

“Yes. I realized that if I could induce the dragon to eat my latest golem then it would also devour the cyanide-laced hams I incorporated into the manifestation,” Rupert said.

The news reporter nodded at Rupert, then turned toward the camera and smiled. “And there you have it, folks; now we will turn to the evening traffic report and the suggested detours for this evening’s city travel.”


Mark Wolf has stories published with bizarre titles such as “Bubba Versus the Werewolf”, “Killer Krill from Outer Space”, “Flat-Cat Frisbees and Bullfrog Amputees”, and most recently, “Revenge of the Rabid, Killer Werepossum”. He’d write more such stories if his attendants would ever give him back his crayons.


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Every Day Fiction

  • Carl Steiger

    What, do I have to comment first? OK, here goes:

    Looking for realism in a comic fantasy may be asking too much, but the news services really ought to be taking the situation more seriously. Cutting to a traffic report after HOW many people just died?

    I’m not sure how long that dragon has been sitting on the bridge. We’ve gone through three golems already when the story is just opening. Not that I’ve ever tried, but I imagine that constructing golems takes some time and effort, even if an accomplished (not to mention sober) magician is doing it. And yet the scene on the bridge makes me think the dragon had just arrived that day.

    Finally, the resolution didn’t strike me as anything remarkable, just something a reasonable exterminator would consider for large vermin.

    Some technical comments: “Golemancer” doesn’t sound right to my ear, just because I associate the “-ancer” with divination rather than magical construction. Pedestrians don’t leave their vehicles, but stranded motorists might. And I’ve spent too much time trying to figure out the hazmat team’s procedure for getting dragon parts onto the loaders. (“Heavy slabs of dragon-flesh” sounds like a grilling opportunity to me.)

    I would like to learn more about the werepossum sometime.

  • S Conroy

    Didn’t do it for me overall, but I liked some of the quirky writing and decided to check out other works by the author. ‘Koggie and the Autonomous House’ is certainly worth a read.

    • Carl Steiger

      Is it on EDF?

      • S Conroy

        Yes. I just put Mark Wolf into the search machine and it came up.

        • Camille Gooderham Campbell

          I’ve now tagged it properly, so if you click the author’s name in the tag bar at the bottom of the story to go to his tag page, it shows “Koggie and the Autonomous House” as well.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

      You might want to take a look at “Cog-Work Cat” here on EDF. I think it’s exceptional.

      • S Conroy

        Very nice. Thanks for the tip, Sarah.

      • Carl Steiger

        Wow.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    I found this piece a bit tricky to follow.

  • I have often wondered why dragon-slayers had to get to such close quarters with the beast so a level of separation would seem appropriate. I liked the terminology. The resolution seemed to suggest that dragons think with their stomachs but then I am not familiar with dragon psychology so it might be true.