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Response #2: Mikal

Something cracked under my feet as I hiked up the narrow trail. Glancing down, I saw it was a blue dragon’s scale…crap. Just what I needed to end the perfect day…becoming a dragon’s snack.

Bending over, I grabbed up the scale–it shimmered brilliant hues of blue. Assuming I survived long enough to get back to a village, the scale, which appeared to be undamaged, would fetch a hefty price at the potion shop.

Stuffing the scale in my knapsack, I turned to head back down the mountain…no use in tempting fate by continuing on. As I turned, though, it seemed that fate had already been tempted enough; I found myself face to nose with a brilliant blue dragon. His (or her) hue matched the scale perfectly–I figured I had found the owner.

We stared at each other for what seemed like hours, but, in truth, I knew only seconds had passed. The dragon presumably was waiting for me to run, and I was waiting to be eaten–I had no way to defend myself from such a powerful creature.

Finally, at long last, the dragon opened its mouth. I assumed this was it, and closed my eyes, turning my head away. I didn’t want to see the end.

“Oh, come on,” the dragon said, exasperated. “If I wanted to eat you, I would have done so when your back was turned.”

I opened one eye, patted myself to ensure all limbs were still attached, and decided the dragon was right.

“Instead, I have a favor to ask of you,” the dragon continued.

I suddenly found my voice. “And if I refuse?”

“Then I eat you,” the dragon replied without hesitation.

“Ah, yes, of course,” I said. “That’s quite the persuasive argument you have. I bet that works with pretty much any argument you find yourself in.”

The dragon stared at me, unblinking and silent. I decided I better move the conversation along. “What’s the request?”

“I have an itch where I can’t reach it…if you’re able to relieve me of this itch, I will let you leave in one piece. If not, I still get a meal. It’s a win-win situation.”

Yeah, for you, I thought, but didn’t say it out loud. Instead, I asked, “And where is it?”

“Above my right shoulder,” the dragon replied, and knelt down.

I clambered up on the dragon’s back. Almost immediately, I saw the cause of the irritation–another scale was loose above the dragon’s shoulder. I tugged at it, but to no avail…it seemed to be stuck. “That’s the right spot,” the dragon said.

Bracing my legs on either side of the loose scale, I grabbed ahold and gave a mighty heave…and with a sick, sucking sound, the scale pulled away. The dragon snarled and dashed away, leaving me to fall to the ground, scale still in my hands. The scale in my knapsack dug into my back as I landed, but I was otherwise unhurt.

The dragon came back around, and I was certain he (I assumed it was a he) was going to eat me this time. He reared up, and it was an impressive sight–his wings unfurled, and he stood silhouetted in the sun. As he crashed back down, he paused. “I’m not sure what you did, but now that the pain has faded, the itch is also gone.”

He stretched his right arm, circling it in a clawing motion. “Yes, this is much better. As we agreed, you are free to go.” He turned away, and his tail came around, knocking me off the side of the mountain.

As I sailed through the air, I had many thoughts–wondering whether he’d thrown me on purpose, why I’d chosen to hike that particular trail this morning, and if it would hurt when I landed. That’s when I noticed I still held the scale in my hands….and wondered about a story I’d heard about people from the far north who traveled through snow and down mountains using large wooden planks.

What do I have to lose? I thought as I saw the ground come nearer–there was still enough of a slope that it just might work. Twisting my body, bringing my knees up, and sliding the scale underneath, I prayed it would work. If it didn’t, I supposed, I wouldn’t have much time to think about it.

The scale worked perfectly…it slid easily over the gravel on the mountain, and I had my first experience with the feeling the stories had described. I saw a small lake up ahead, and knew there wasn’t much to do–if I fell now, I was still going far too fast to avoid injury.

The scale, and me on it, went right onto the water, skipping into the air….once, twice, threefourfive times. On the fifth bounce, I got separated from the scale, falling into the lake. Clawing at my knapsack, I turned back toward shore, swimming the hundred or so feet back to shore.

And that, my friends, is when I vowed to give up hiking and build a cabin by the lake. I still use the dragon scales I collected, and charge a gold sovereign for each trip down the mountain and into the lake. The dragon himself stops by from time to time, giving me additional scales in return for a good back scratch…in return, I give him some of the gold sovereigns. I haven’t yet told the dragon that moisturizer will prevent itchy, scaly skin, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t either…it would put me out of business.

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