Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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If You Go Hunting Dragons…

by Iain Muir

“Come speak to me of Dragons,”
Said the King to his Chief Bard.
”I’ve an itch to go a-hunting -
Is killing them so hard?”

“If all the tales be true, My Liege,”
The tale-spinner replied,
”You’d be hard-pressed to find
A stuff as hard as dragon-hide.”

“Reports agree that dragon’s breath,
When they’re inclined to ire,
Is scorching hot, and burns as red
as any blacksmith’s fire.”

“But do those selfsame tales not tell
Of knights of ancient fame,
Who pierced that armoured dragon-hide?
Who lived through dragon’s flame?”

“Then call upon Sir Richard Grogh,
Though he walks now with a cane,
I’ve heard it said that in his youth
He was a fire-drake’s bane.”

Then tottered forth Sir Richard
From the attendant throng,
And though his shoulders were still broad,
His beard was white, and long.”

“T’was in your grandsire, Jamie’s, reign,”
The Greybeard’s voice growled low,
”That from the north a fire-drake flew
To escape foul winter’s snow.”

“To my poor Hold in the frozen North
The wyrm did come, and nest.
Each noon and morn away she took
Of our sheep and kine the best.”

“To my father’s hall the village came,
And bade him slay the wyrm.
But old and grey was good Sir John,
His grip on his sword infirm.”

“Thus it fell to me, a callow youth,
Of some sixteen summers age
To take up my father’s lance and sword
And to face the fire-drake’s rage.”

“Two hours past noon, I judged the time,
I found the dragon’s spoor.
I tracked it then back to its nest
Upon dark Ravensmoor.”

“The wyrm had taken for her nest
A ravine dark and steep.
About its entrance there lay strewn
The bones of men, and sheep.”

“Of the wyrm herself I saw no sign,
Save from the ravine’s mouth
The smoke did curl and on the breeze
It drifted slowly south.”

“I climbed high on the mountain’s side
The ravine to o’erlook.
The Wyrm Lysander I saw there,
Asleep beside the brook.”

“I took my good, sharp lance in hand,
And from the cliff’s edge leapt.
My fall did drive it through her skull,
As great Lysander slept.”

“I do not doubt your heart, my Liege,
Your courage, or your pluck.
But if you go hunting Dragons,
The thing you will need, Sire, is Luck!”

© 2004 Iain Muir

Iain Muir was born in 1969 and is not yet dead at the time of this writing. After years in Africa, he decided to leave just before he was declared an enemy of the state, and hid for a time in Central Europe. Prague is beautiful, but very cold. Warsaw just has the cold thing going for it. Fleeing the cold, he now lives on the shores of Port Jackson, about 20km North-East of Botany Bay. He may just have found his spiritual home: a land where mid-winter is sunny and 22°C. Much of his work to date has been published in Aphelion, and since 2002 he has been the poetry editor. This explains much…

Find more by Iain Muir in the Author Index.

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