Elizaveta Zamkovaia

School: School 642, St Petersburg, Russia

Could you please scratch my back?

‘Come out, menacing dragon! For one hundred years you’ve been frightening the villages for miles around. It’s time to answer for it!’

A knight, dressed in armour and ready for a battle, was standing near a cave.

‘I, Tocenallus, the strongest and the bravest of the knights of the Order of the Golden Egg, am here to fight you!’

At last, the knight stopped talking and stood still, waiting for the dragon’s appearance. The silence reigned near the mountain where the dragon’s cave happened to be situated. And only birds dared to break it because they were just too stupid to understand the significance of the moment.

Suddenly, thunder boomed. One of the stones placed against the mountainside fell and opened the entrance into the cave. A muzzle of a big dragon, looking like something between a crocodile, a kangaroo and a rhino, appeared from it. It was looking at Tocenellus with its big golden eyes and vertical pupils. The dragon opened his maw, yawned and started talking.

‘Well, hello.’

The knight tried to say something but the dragon continued talking.

‘You! What’s your name? Tocenallus? Tell me, Tocenallus, why do you come all the time? Just several days ago I defeated an arrogant knight, and now, for no reason, you are here. What’s your problem, man? I haven’t frightened people for almost an age now!’

The knight stayed silent, stunned by the beast’s speech.

‘That’s right, last hundred years I’ve been sitting here, in my cave, not coming out of the edge of this forest.’

‘But people are telling legends about your strength and inexorability for a lot of years!’ The knight recovered from the shock and started objecting to the dragon.

‘And what is the legend? I want to hear it!’ The dragon plunked himself down on a big piece of mountain they were standing on.

‘Well, many years ago you came to the village, with a loud roar, and breathed with a fire on the local elder, who had come out to ask what you needed. His moustache and beard burnt and he couldn’t come close to an oven or open fire for a month after that terrible case! And he kept recalling your appalling appearance, even being on his deathbed.’ Having said these words the knight immediately regretted them, as the dragon seemed to get offended.

‘Well, I am not going to discuss appearances here! I have to say, I didn’t much like the fat red face of your elder man as well. As to the fire it was just an accident really. I had caught cold, so I went to the nearest village to ask for help. But the man was so stupid that he came too close when I was going to sneeze. When I sneezed the fire came out with my breath, what could I do about that? By the way, I said sorry. So you want to say that the people are scared of me because of that story? Because of the moustache and beard?’

‘Well, it’s true.’

The dragon sighed when he heard the knight’s answer. ‘And here I am, sitting here for already a hundred years, without any friends because everyone’s scared of me, hearing nothing but the birds’ songs, seeing nothing but endless knights wanting to kill me… Even the knights’ names are so alike I can never remember them! Listen here, sorry, I forgot your name…’

Tocenallus, the bravest…’

But the dragon interrupted the knight. ‘Tocenallus, could you please… could you please scratch my back?’

The knight was a bit taken aback. But he decided he couldn’t refuse because this enormous beast seemed unpredictable. So he had to climb on the dragon’s back, using the huge paw being generously put under his leg. When he finally limbed up on the dragon’s back, the knight was amazed. He didn’t see those enormous wings the people in the village were describing. There were only cute little wings, just growing.

‘Please, don’t linger! Or are you afraid of me throwing you down? Don’t, I promise, I will not.’

The knight kneeled and started scratching between the dragon’s wings. Feeling the pleasure, the dragon started hitting the floor with his hindpaw. The knight started scratching harder, and asked quietly, ‘Are you a cub?’

‘Yes, I am. You know, I am not three hundred years old yet. That’s the time when the wings will become big enough to carry me, and now they keep cutting and it itches so much but I can’t drag there with my paws. An no one wants to help me, all the knights want to fight. Oh… that’s good! Thank you, Tocenallus.’

‘Hey, dragon,’ the knight asked another question. ‘What’s your name?’

‘My name is Yorick. I was the unruliest and the funniest among my brothers and sisters, so I was given that name. Why do you need it?’

‘You, Yorick, are sitting here, without any friends, alone. I guess you are bored, What about being friends?’

The dragon looked at the knight with a piece of distrust, narrowing his left eye. ‘Are you kidding?’

‘No, I’m not.’ Tocenallus put away his helmet and gave the dragon a hand, as if he was going to make a handshake, and smiled. ‘I do not deceive friends.’

the dragon looked at the knight again and closed his eyes, leaning towards the young man’s hand, looking like he was smiling too.

Since then the dragon and the knight became friends. Yorick accompanied his knight in marches and wars, and Tocenallus taught his dragon how to get on with people and not to fear them. Also, sometimes he scratched Yorick’s back like the first time they met. But the knight wasn’t immortal. When he was buried, the dragon couldn’t cope with it. He was sitting on the knight’s grave with his enormous grown wings spread widely, for an eternity, till he became a mountain.

Now people call this place Friendship Site, and knights come here to make friendship oaths.

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