PodCastle 262: The Dragonslayer of Merebarton

by K.J. Parker

Read by Daniel Foley

Originally published in Fearsome Journeys, edited by Jonathan Strahan.

On reflection, if I hadn’t seen those wretched White Drakes in Outremer, there’s a reasonable chance I’d have refused to believe in a dragon trashing Merebarton, and then, who knows, it might’ve flown away and bothered someone else. Well, you don’t know, that’s the whole point. It’s that very ignorance that makes life possible. But when Ebba told me what the boy told him he’d seen, immediately I thought; White Drake. Clearly it wasn’t one, but it was close enough to something I’d seen to allow belief to seep into my mind, and then I was done for. No hope.

Even so, I think I said, “Are you sure?” about six or seven times, until eventually it dawned on me I was making a fool of myself. At which point, a horrible sort of mist of despair settled over me, as I realised that this extraordinary, impossible, grossly and viciously unfair thing had landed on me, and that I was going to have to deal with it.

But you do your best. You struggle, just as a man crushed under a giant stone still draws in the last one or two desperate whistling breaths; pointless, but you can’t just give up. So I looked him steadily in the eye, and I said, “So, what do they expect me to do about it?”

Rated R. Contains violence, strong language, and everything else that goes with slaying dragons.