‘He’s quite tame,’ James ran his hand along the dragon’s snout and felt the warm breath from its nostrils on his skin.
‘Tame? It’s a dragon!’ The Lord proclaimed. ‘You can’t tame dragons. You can befriend them – or rather, they befriend you – but you can’t tame them.’
James sighed. He and Percival, his pet dragon, had just landed from clearing the local bog of some unpleasant trolls. The Lord of the province had asked to meet Percival (no one, of course, ever wanted to meet James), and so here they were, standing in the spacious courtyard of the Lord’s manor.
‘Percival obeys me. I feed him, look after him, keep him company, provide him with entertainment – and in return, he does as I say. He really is quite tame.’
‘Impossible. You can’t tame a dragon.’ The Lord fiddled with his moustache with one hand, and tapped his cane against his leg with the other. ‘A dog you can tame, yes. A dog will be fiercely loyal and hang on your every word. A dog would die for his owner! Saying you can tame a dragon is like saying you can tame a – a – a lion! One foot ouf of step and you’d be cat food!’
‘Percy wouldn’t eat me,’ James assured. ‘He wouldn’t eat anyone, unless I asked him to. And as for comparing dragons with lions – it’s a whole different kettle of fish. Dragons can talk – they can communicate with people and we with them. We can discuss things, share opinions, reach agreements, and make considerations. You can’t do that with a lion.’
‘You’re absolutely certain, then, that this hulking monster is tame?’
James winced, feeling Percival tense next to him at being called a hulking monster.
The Lord let his eyes wander over the dragon’s gleaming red flank a moment.
‘Magnificent!’ He finally extolled. ‘By your admission, then, dragons are nothing but glorified talking dogs!’
James barely had time to blink before Percival’s jaws snapped shut around the Lord’s midriff. The Lord had a little more time to ponder his demise as his legs wriggled their last bloody dance, before Percy tossed him in the air, caught him again between his huge glistening fangs, and swallowed him whole.
James could do nothing but stare at the dragon, his hands beginning to tremble.
‘WHAT?’ Percy asked, his forked tongue licking his lips. ‘HE CALLED ME A “GLORIFIED TALKING DOG”. TELL ME HE DIDN’T HAVE IT COMING.’