THE QUEST • by A. E. Decker

Sir Wallace Everbright, knight of Noonin, braced himself against his knees, breathing deeply. What with the harpy, the three naughty witches, the one-eyed troll, and the strange twitchy little blue creature he didn’t quite know the name of, he’d endured what could only described as an arduous journey. But now, at last, he’d attained the peak where the dragon’s lair gaped like an open mouth.

On to business, then. Taking a last, sustaining gulp of air, he straightened, armor joints creaking — blast; he’d forgotten the oil — and drew his sword. The silken rasp of it pulling free of the sheath sent a shiver of anticipation down his spine.

“Come out and face me, vile beast!” he roared. His voice reverberated off the side of the mountain, rolling out over the valley like the challenge of a god.

Princess Apple Blossom came boiling out of the cave. “What did you call me?” she demanded, slamming her fists against her hips.

Sir Wallace bit back a groan. “Not you. The dragon.”

“I know I’m not a dragon.” Now one of her feet began to tap.

Sir Wallace decided it would be best to take it slowly. “Look, the dragon carried you off from your father’s castle, see? I’ve traveled many leagues to rescue you. So if you could just send him out so we can have our duel — ”

“Oh, is that what this nonsense is all about?” She sniffed. “Well, it’ll have to wait. I have his king in check.”

The dragon poked his elegant green head out of the cave. “Bishop to D4 and the tea’s ready.”

“Bishop to D4?” Princess Apple Blossom buried both hands in her hair. “What kind of a move is that?” She vanished into the cave, her feet raising little puffs of dust that lingered in the air behind her.

The dragon cleared its throat. “Cup of tea, sir?” it offered. “It must have been a very long journey.”

The sword was growing dreadfully heavy in Sir Wallace’s hands. Slowly, he lowered it. “Well…”

“Oh, don’t let him in here, Barry.” The princess’s voice drifted out of the cave. “His armor’s all sweaty and nasty. Make him sit outside if you must give him a cup.”

Sir Wallace glanced down at himself. Dark splotches he didn’t remember acquiring marred the bright sheen of his armor, and somewhere along the way he’d definitely stepped in a cowflop. He tried to polish some of the worst scuffs with the back of his hand, but only succeeded in smearing them. The dragon gave another polite cough.

“Perhaps that would be best,” he said, and retreated back into the cave. A moment later, a steaming cup of tea on a delicate porcelain saucer was thrust outside. Earl Grey.

Sir Wallace drank it sitting awkwardly on a rock, listening to laughter and the rattling of teacups. Would it be terribly impolite, he wondered, to ask for a lump of sugar?

Inside the cave, Princess Apple Blossom laughed again. Sir Wallace set down his empty cup and picked up his sword.

It was a long journey back down the mountain.

A. E. Decker is a former ESL tutor and doll maker who currently resides in Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Odyssey 2011 and a member of the Bethlehem Writers’ Group. Two of her stories will feature in the BWG’s ‘Seasonal Pursuits’ anthology, scheduled to be published in fall of 2012.

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