|John William Waterhouse.|
She arched an eyebrow, smiled, and said to the knight, "I suppose you are here to slay the dragon and save the virgin."
The knight stepped forward, peeled off his gloves, and loosened his tunic to reveal his chainmail shirt. "Actually, I have a completely different strategy in mind." He let the gloves drop to the ground and pulled at the waistband that bound his tunic.
A blast of dragon breath puts an end to the knight's quest and his super-heated armor roasts him to a crunchy morsel. MaryLynn is no damsel in distress.
King Wilhelm, who has lost a few knights to the forest dragon, finds Sir George's story difficult to believe.
"You say that the forest dragon is actually a girl who lures knights to their death. She sounds more like a witch to me."
"She is no witch," George said. He hated these sessions at the royal court. The solitude of the open countryside suited him much better. "She is at times a girl, a gentle, beautiful girl at that. At other times, she is a dragon, an impressive, ferocious dragon, thrice the size of a warhorse. But she casts no spells nor brews any potions."
When questioned further George admits that he heard about the damsel/dragon from a unicorn. King Wilhelm commands George, who has already slain three dragons, to take care of the forest dragon, no matter what it is. George carries no armor to his confrontation with MaryLynn, only a poniard. "'Each dragon requires its own approach,'" he tells a squire.
I won't tell you exactly how George defeats the dragon. He enlists the unicorn to stab at MaryLynn's weakness with a weapon far more powerful than steel. The battle between the dragon intent on slaying knights and the knight intent on slaying dragons is a study in opposites: love versus hate and trust versus mistrust. Ferguson deviates from dragon lore--MaryLynn appears to have no hoard of shiny things, only a taste for knights--but pulls off an entertaining tale with unexpected twists. I'm left wondering what's going to happen when the dragon gets hungry again.
To learn more about Ronald Ferguson and his writing, check out his website at sites.google.com/site/ronalddferguson/home.