The peasants are getting cocky. They come right up to the castle walls to forage their herbs and fungi. They use them to lend flavour to the myriad dishes they concoct from the humble turnip. They have developed quite a cuisine, I’ll say that for them, but you won’t catch me – or my taster – sampling any of their homely fare. It’s the hygiene, you see. They’ve never heard of it.
But I can’t have them and their grubby mitts pawing my things. Not even the black stones of my retreat. Time was, they wouldn’t come within a league of my domicile and I would have a bit of peace. Now, they encroach upon my personal space – I need a lot! – as if they’ve never heard of me other than as a figure of legend.
It’s time I flexed my muscles once more. Remind them who’s boss.
Last week I tried showing myself on the parapet. There was a full moon and I angled myself so the horns of my headdress would be in silhouette against its pallid splendour. My high collar was turned up and the jagged edges of my cloak – oh, I looked the part all right. Three hours I stalked along the battlements, wafting my dragon-headed staff about as though I might smite someone at any second.
Waste of time. No bugger was out that night. Oh, they still fear the full moon, all right. They daren’t traverse the forest when there’s a full moon. Werewolves and all that nonsense. Why they have to invent monsters to frighten their children into an early bedtime when I’m right here, I’ll never know!
I’ve been too complacent; I see that now. It’s been too long since I last put myself about. So long, I can’t remember the spell for turning someone into a toad. I’d better look that up in the grimoire before I venture out. I’m a bit rusty with the staff, if I’m honest. I’d better get some practice in – I don’t want to put my shoulder out. You must never show weakness to these people or they start getting ideas.
No, toads and staff-wafting won’t cut it. I’ll have to go full dragon if I’m to reassert my reputation in these parts. The peasants are thriving. More and more of them build their ramshackle shacks closer and closer to my land. But that’s the thing when you fashion your houses from twigs and dried dung: they burn up a treat.
A quick sortie, a flyover and a few blasts of fire from my nostrils ought to do the trick.
Sometimes you just have to remind people of their place.