art by Stephen James Kiniry
The Quest Unusual
by David Steffen
Matthew spent half the morning removing rocks from the western fields before he felt the first rumblings through the soles of his feet. He looked up to see a cloud of dust moving quickly down the dirt road in his direction. The ground shook harder and harder as it approached until he had to crouch just to keep from falling over.
It stopped on the point of the road nearest to him, and when the dust cleared, he saw a dragon bigger than his house. It was covered in a thick layer of road dust, which made it seem all the more real. Stranger than that, shields of every shape and size were strapped over every inch of its body. A belt spanned its waist with a lance in a scabbard, and a huge black cauldron served as a helmet, the handle tucked securely under its chin.
"Would you kindly direct me to Lord Volpus's hall?" the dragon rumbled in a voice that might have sounded haughty if it weren't accompanied by a deep grumble from the dragon's belly.
"What business do you have?" Matthew asked, wondering if it would be wrong to give the dragon directions.
"I am known as Sir Hugh, and I am seeking employment. If I find and slay a dragon my courageous deeds will be told from land to land, and my name will live forever in glory."
Matthew said nothing; he was unsure what he could say to the towering beast.
"Well, peasant? I am weary from the road and I long for a bath and a bed before setting out again."
"But you're a..." The word stuck in his throat. Did the dragon really think it was a knight? Didn't it notice how it towered over Matthew?