Monday, 20 December 2010

Trevor and the Dragon - Part 5


The knights sat in a miserable huddle around the guttering fires, drinking revolting-smelling mead and fearfully watching the black skies. It had begun to snow, flakes as big as flowertops that tumbled across the skies and instantly melted on the muddy land below. Most of the knights were little more than farmers, men who lived in lodges made of mud, straw and a little wood who collected taxes for their local king (and, more often than not themselves) punished minor crimes (and occasionally major ones, such as sheep stealing) and kept bandits away from the farmers who looked to them for protection. They knew what those first snow flakes meant. Tomorrow there would be patches of white on the hills, then on the lower ground, and then, before long, there would be drifts feet deep, and these farmer knights, who should be at home eating and drinking and administering minor justices, would be freezing in winter with no food and a dragon roaming the land.
It was the thought of the dragon that kept them here. Not the glory of killing a dragon, glory didn’t keep the lodge fires lit or feed the livestock, but the thought of the beast roaming the lands killing women and children, and, more importantly, eating valuable livestock, kept them huddled around the poor fire.
But they, of course, were not the only kind of knight here, there were others too.
‘Right, you miserable dung-spattered, cow-bothering wretches,’ drawled Sir David Hylton, drawing his sword and staggering drunkenly into the firelight, ‘who wants a dual?’
To Sir David’s surprise one of the dirty knights rose to his feet. But he did not draw his sword, instead he raised a hand and pointed. ‘Look,’ he gasped, ‘look!’
Sir David turned unsteadily and squinted into the darkness, and his pale, arrogant face turned paler still.
Light glowed on a distant hilltop, as the knights watched the light grew brighter and brighter, and then, with a deafening roar, the huge bat wings of the dragon appeared over the hilltop. It roses and rose into the air, its body impossibly long, and spat out a mushroom head explosion of fire.
‘Fetch the archers!’ someone cried among the disorganised clatter of armour and the scrape and clang of swords, short lances and morningstars.
‘Damn the archers!’ roared Sir David, raising his own sword above his head, ‘Stand and fight you dung-stinking women! Saint George! Saint George! Saint—‘
Sir David disappeared in a sudden blinding flash, and when the farmer knights looked again all that was left of him was his breast plate, spinning on its end like a coin, his sword stuck blade up and smoking, and, glittering in the mud, a large ornate ring.


‘Did you do that?’ Trevor exclaimed, peeking from where he sat, unseen, behind Bob’s neck. ‘Good shot!’
‘It wasn’t me!’ Bob replied, looking down at the smoking remain of Sir David Hylton as the soared over the field. ‘I wouldn’t kill anyone!’
‘Oy, Twiggy!’ Trevor barked at the featureless block of wood strung once more around his neck. ‘What’s going on? Did they get another dragon or something?’
Trevor did not hear the Chunk’s next words. Something hit him in the face with the force of a punch, and he was thrown helpless back. He felt himself sliding over the rough scales of the dragon’s tail, and then, even as he heard Bob shout out in alarm and felt the Maltrusion twist beneath him he slid over the edge and into the dark night.


‘Bring him to my tent.’
‘To your tent? But why? The poor lad is dead, Wizard, and should be buried.’
‘You think to defy me, farmer? Bring him to my tent or my men will shoot you down and take him.’
‘Farmer I may be, but this is my land, and I won’t have a Christian soul subjected to your dark—‘
Trevor let out a groan and opened his eyes, and found himself looking up into an astonished bearded face.
‘Good Lord!’ cried the knight. ‘He’s alive!’
‘Course I’m alive, hairy Mary,’ Trevor replied. He sat up, and felt a bolt of terrible pain shoot through his head. He reached up, squinting, and realised that something was sticking out of his forehead. He pulled it out, and held it up. ‘Which slack jawed yokel fired this arrow at me?’ he demanded angrily.
‘Bring him to my tent,’ repeated a voice as deep and cracked as an ancient tombstone. It was a voice that Trevor recognised immediately, and, for once successfully balancing his immense intelligence against his vast stupidity, Trevor did not cry out the name of the man he would meet and betray far, far in the future.
‘Take him,’ said the Wizard, staring at Trevor despite the black scarf that covered his eyes, and Trevor felt strong hands take his arms and drag him to his feet.
‘It’s the boy from the cowshed,’ said a burly archer Trevor recognised, John of the Dale.
‘He’s no boy,’ snarled a second archer, and Trevor felt their captain, Thomas Hook, draw his sword and put it to Trevor’s throat.
‘That boy was fighting the dragon,’ said the bearded knight, and several voices murmured in agreement. ‘I saw him on the dragon’s back, his sword drawn,’ added a fat knight with a red face who looked on the verge of bursting out of his rusty armour.
‘That’s blinking right!’ Trevor cried angrily. ‘I’m Sir … Lee, Sir Lee of, er… Chimpchester, and I am demand you let me go!’
‘”Surly” Sir Lee of Chimpchester,’ grunted Aoesis the Wizard, ‘You’re no more a knight than I am.’
‘If this boy is of the blood he should be set free,’ said the bearded knight, and he drew his sword. All around him Trevor saw the Dragon Rouge archers appear suddenly out of the gloom, their own swords scraping free of their scabbards, and in reply the farmer knights stepped forward drawing their own rusty, nicked blades. ‘You will set this boy free, of we shall have blood,’ said the bearded knight.
The Wizard glared at Trevor, who grinned back blissfully. Then he stepped forward and, turning his back to the knight, opened his cloak to Trevor. Inside Trevor saw that the Wizard was holding a gun, a sonic disruptor by the look of it. It was more than capable of taking the head off even an almost indestructible Killian. The Wizard grinned humourlessly at Trevor’s expression.
‘This boy is no dragon slayer. He is in league with the dragon,’ said the Wizard. ‘This boy is a demon.’
‘Nonsense,’ barked the bearded knight, ‘Let him go or feel my blade, Wizard.’
The Wizard’s reply was to reached up and snatch Trevor’s spectacles from the end of his nose. Trevor transformed instantly into his t-rex form, and the camp erupted in uproar.
The Wizard nodded to his men, and they dragged Trevor away with no further objections.


‘Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty apes!’ Trevor cried. The two Dragon Rouge soldiers threw him into the tent and drew their swords, behind them half a dozen archers appeared, their bows raised.
Trevor leapt forward with a roar, and stopped dead as the Wizard Aeoson appeared through the tent flap and levelled his gun at Trevor’s face – it gave a high, discordant whine as it powered up lights blinking menacing all around its barrel. Trevor stopped dead and raised his hands in surrender with a weak smile.
‘You are a Killian,’ said the Wizard. ‘I’ve never heard of a Killian Agent of Change. I thought Killians baked bread and grew posies.’ The archers laughed, Trevor growled. ‘And these,’ the Wizard held up Trevor spectacles, ‘I’ve never seen anything quite like these before.’ He stepped forward and held the spectacles out to Trevor, who snatched them and shoved them into his pocket. ‘Put them on,’ he growled.
‘Shan’t!’ Trevor spat.
‘Put them on,’ the Wizard rumbled, ‘Or I shall shoot off your nose.’ He raised his gun.
Trevor did not hesitate. He put the spectacles on immediately and transformed back into a dirty, tousle haired boy with a turned up nose and a sour expression. He had known Aeoson the immortal king, or Mr Vim, or the Wizard, if you preferred, for many years – or at least he would do in the far future – and he had not the slightest doubt that he would indeed shoot off Trevor’s nose without even the slightest hesitation.
‘That’s better, those peasants out there have no problem believing in dragons and demons, but I’m not about to start explaining dinosaurs and aliens to them,’ said the Wizard.
‘I’m not a dinosaur,’ Trevor grunted, ‘and I’m not an alien neither.’
‘No, but what are you?’ the Wizard leaned closer, and, faintly, under his scarf Trevor could see the red glow of his eyes. Aeoson’s eyes were not eyes at all, Trevor knew, they were deadly pits of flame. Trevor had no doubt that it had been the Wizard’s deadly eyes, and not Bob’s fiery breath, which had disintegrated Sir David Hylton. ‘Not from Earth, and not from Killius either I would imagine. So where are you from, Surly Sir Lee of Chimpchester?’
Trevor did not reply. He thought of the times he had met the Wizard in his past, and he knew that a wrong word could alter that future past in way he could not begin to imagine.
‘Answer me,’ said the Wizard, and he shoved his gun under Trevor’s chin. ‘Answer me now or die, Killian.’
‘I think that is enough, Wizard,’ came a voice from behind them.
The Wizard turned, as did his men, and arrows guns and swords were all pointed at the bearded knight.
They only faltered slightly when he reached down to his belt, and with a heat-haze shimmer transformed into a large white cow, standing on his hind legs, with a sword held in his front hoof.
‘Now, Wizard, you will unhand that boy,’ said the cow, ‘and hand me the Ring of Argo.’


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