Dragon – A one act Fantasy play
Scene: A Knight in armour and his squire are encamped on a hillside overlooking a burning village.
Squire: I fear its infernal breath. I fear its gnashing teeth as tall as ivory swords. I fear its gruesome, ugly head with eyes the colour of fiery blood. I fear its long, three pronged tongue crawling like a snake amidst my bones and its four great legs like stone pillars of scaly flesh with five fingers, each one a serpent with a horn of blood stained claw.
Knight: Fear is like a phantom worm, my friend, that lays its evil progeny within your heart but courage is your true infant; let that feed upon your spirit so that it may grow gigantic and let your gruesome terrors starve until they wither away to bone.
Squire: But should I not fear those terrors that are real? Do you deny the heat of its breath that turns armour bright red until it scalds the very flesh it was forged to protect? Do you deny the sharpness of its teeth and claws or that they tear rags out of the hardest steel?
Knight: Fear is a faith; courage is a faith. Choose whichever you will. You cannot call either a certainty. But this I do know for certain; that if you cannot face a thing within your own dreams then you have no hope against it in the real world.
[Dragon roars from off]
Squire: Did you hear that? The earth shakes in its mouth and thunder doesn’t often come without lightning. Can your courage roar like that?
Knight: It was only the wind I heard, nothing more. You are worse than a leaf if you tremble at the sound of the wind.
Squire: A leaf would be wise to tremble at the sound of so great a hurricane; one that tears out tall trees from their roots.
[Enter a young Woman who is blind, wearing the rags of a peasant and a blindfold covering her eyes]
Woman: Are those the voices of the living that I hear? Are there people here or ghosts?
Squire: What should I say?
Knight: Aye. We are men, not ghosts but what are you?
Woman: I come from the village, down yonder, at the foot of this hill. Your accents are strange.
Knight: We’re not from these parts.
Woman: Little matter; my home is not there anymore. Not since the creature set it ablaze. Now, it is nothing but ashes and my family and all the other people of my village are slaughtered.
Knight (To Squire): There now. Do you hear that? Do the words of this poor woman not move you; fill your heart with sorrow and anger and hatred for the beast, those things that are the firewood of true blazing courage?
Squire: Sorrow, yes. Mostly for myself. Sorrow that I am to become food for a dragon. Anger and hate? Why should I feel any anger and hatred towards a storm? All I have heard is that the earth has opened up and swallowed a village and I think that I should run before it opens its mouth again to swallow me.
Knight: But a man cannot drive his sword into a storm; storms do not bleed. If a hurricane had a heart, then I would silence it rather than live with the deaths of the innocent.
Squire: Ah, well, I may not fight my fears but I am a champion when it comes to fighting grief. I mourn for no one; except the corpse that I may become.
Woman: What are you? Have you come to slaughter the beast? Are you many? I only hear two voices. Are there no more of you?
Knight: I am a knight and the other voice you here; the one that is all trembling and chattering of teeth; is my squire.
Woman: Oh, I had hoped there might be more of you. Two will not be enough.
Knight: But I must fight the beast alone. I have sworn to face such peril and am well practiced in the arts of war, I assure you.
Woman: Give me a sword and, though I am a blind and feeble woman and only a peasant who has grown up in the dirt, I would face the beast alone because it has taken all from me that was precious; my family, my village, my eyes, but I would rather kill it than die foolishly for nothing.
Squire: Ah, now, you hear that, sire. The voice of reason and experience. I would listen to her. Why waste drinking water on a fire that only an ocean can quell. If we can do nothing then nothing is what we should do.
Knight: Oh, but dear lady. You are not a man nor a knight of the realm as I am. I would not expect you to fight the beast but I can and I must.
Woman: Dragons are not impressed by titles nor the shine upon your armour, I assure you of that. We had a lord. It was he and his family that brought the dragon in the first place. They took his treasure; they awoke him and made him furious. The beast took it out on all of us but only the poor suffered because the lord and his family and their retinue all got onto their horses and into their shining carriage and rode away. They have money and rich relations to shelter them but we had no place to go; the village was all we had.
Knight: Not all of noble blood and birth have noble spirits to match, I grant you.
Woman: Noble blood. What colour is that? I have seen much common bloodshed, a whole village painted in a garish scarlet hue, before the heat of the dragon flame burned my eyes to blackness. Now all my memories are drenched in the foulest red. I can’t believe in noble blood now. I am as desolate and ruined as my village. Rules and stations and titles don’t mean anything to me and the nobility seems just another kind of dragon; you have the power and you take what you want and we have nothing besides suffering and heartache.
Knight: I am not a dragon and I will prove it to you. When I have slain your monster, I will help you; then you will see what real nobility means.
Squire: Oh, I cannot tell who is more blind here. (To Woman) Perhaps you might speak to my master. He would never listen to me but he’s often swayed by the appeals of young attractive women, because of his romantic nature you know.
Woman: I don’t care about the fate of your master. I wanted to hear the cries of the beast in agony, that’s all. Give me a sword and I will ride with him into doom, for I would rather be with my family in heaven; my eyes restored and able to see their faces. Here I have no eyes and nothing to look upon.
I feel like I have been buried, so let me be dead.
[Dragon roars from off, this time more loudly than before]
Squire: The wind is getting nearer. I fear we might all get blown away by it.
Knight: You need not stay, squire. I give you leave to go. What I do, I do willingly but I don’t wish to cause the death of a man who has not chosen to risk his life.
Squire: Go, on my own? My lord, you are as much my servant as I am yours when my life needs protecting. Go now, on my own and, no matter how fast I run, that beast is sure to get me.
What if I should stumble and fall on the road? What if, choosing the path through the forest, the beast should set all the trees aflame with its fiery breath and I become trapped beneath the trunk of a blazing tree? Some men are forced into servitude but to me it is a shelter against greater hardships.
Knight: I see it is not just dragons you’re afraid of but all things. A man who is so afraid can never be free.
Woman: I remember feeling that kind of fear; feeling it run through my body and inside my stomach, making me feel sick but now I don’t feel anything except emptiness and longing to be put to sleep.
[The dragon roars again and this time it sounds close]
Knight: The choice is no longer in our hands. Fate moves towards us. Go and hide yourself , squire if you so choose but you cannot hide behind me for I intend to rush into the face of danger.
Woman: Give me a weapon. I will come with you.
Knight: There is no need for you to face the beast. I shall avenge you and your family (To Squire) Squire do not give her a weapon.
Woman: It is not your choice. I am not your servant and I will face the beast, with or without a sword in my hand.
Squire: Would it not be less noble; if this young woman is determined to die; to deny her the right to die with a weapon ?
Knight (Looking down at the village): Wait?! What is the dragon doing? It should be approaching us but it seems to be moving further away.
Squire: Perhaps it has gorged itself on enough innocent lives or perhaps it has indigestion. What do I know of dragons?
Woman: No. It has found its treasure. The treasure that was stolen from it. It’s going back to its lair in the caverns in the hills; going back to sleep, to turn to stone for another thousand years.
Squire: Then I’m not going to die. God be praised for his benevolence.
Woman: Then I’m not going to die. God, you are merciless.
Knight: There are other dragons to fight.