Clouds soared overhead as the knight adjusted his armor. The smell of pine mixed with the horse’s sweat penetrated his nose. Squinting as the bright sunlight bounced off his helmet, he turned his gaze upwards toward the top of the mountain. The jagged edges of the mountain cliff seemed foreboding. Not a single leaf stirred, no birdsong could be heard through the dense thicket, it was as if the life of the forest had been suffocated under the weight of the mountain. After a moment of silence, the knight dismounted and tied his steed to a nearby tree.
He had heard many rumors of the dragon that lived in the cave high up the mountain. How it was as huge as a castle. How its roar could be heard for hundreds of miles. How it moved through the valley like a tornado. He had listened to the stories with varying degrees of interest, but he was most interested in what they said about the dragon’s lair at the top of the mountain. The villagers said that the cave was filled with gold and silver and precious treasures that would take a man several lifetimes to hoard. Only the most brave and daring man could slay the dragon and lay claim to the fortune, they had said.
Clutching his shield in his left hand, his other hand went to the sword that hung heavily by his side, the knight started to make his way up the mountain, cutting through the undergrowth and dead wood with his steel blade. Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, there he was, at the entrance of the dragon’s lair. The humongous, gaping darkness reeked of moss and decay. Lighting the torch that he carried with him, the knight carefully walked into the pitch-black darkness of the cave.
His footsteps made no sound as tough leather boots tear through the moss-covered soil and rocks. The knight walked slowly, careful not to fall on the slippery green carpet that covered the cave floor. His torch flickered a few times in the drafty atmosphere of the cave. There was no sound, only endless darkness and the smell of decay. As he got deeper into the cave, the knight frowned. There was no sign of the gold and treasures. And no sign of the dragon either. Just as the knight started to think that all the rumors he heard were falsehoods, a faint glimmer caught his eye.
He turned to his left, where there appeared to be a shadow. To his horror, his torchlight revealed a huge black monster lying on the ground! The knight froze, he nearly dropped his shield. Then bracing himself, his hand gripping the sword he was holding, the knight summoned his courage and approached the beast.
The dragon laid there without moving, like an enormous boulder. There was no sign of it stirring from its slumber as the knight approached. Mystified, the knight moved closer until he was right besides the dragon. Suddenly, it dawned upon him that the dragon might be dead, as a strong odor of decaying flesh filled the air.
Still, the knight proceeded with caution, he circled the dragon until he came to a spot where he felt would be the weakest part of the beast — its long serpentine neck. Raising his sword high in the air, the knight brought it down with all his might on the dragon’s neck. As the steel blade sliced through the neck, a spurt of dark liquid gushed up into the air from the open wound, spraying the front of the knight’s armor.
The dragon’s head moved slightly as the force of the blow severed it from the rest of the body. Triumphantly, the knight raised his sword again, hacking away at the dragon until its parts were littered across the cave floor. Wiping sweat from his brows, the knight finally stopped after a while to rest and clean his bloody armor and weapon. After taking off his outer armor, he saw that the dragon’s blood had seeped through his clothes. Muttering in disgust, the knight stripped off his clothes until he was naked from the waist up.
It would be nice if this cave had a pool or some source of water, he thought, I could really use a bath right now. So the knight took his torch and went on exploring. Soon he heard the sound of water dripping on stone. Following the noise, the knight found a shallow pool between two small boulders. Grinning at his luck, he stripped down and waded into the pool. The water was surprisingly warm, as if it had been heated some moments ago. Sighing in pleasure, the knight slid his body into pool.
This adventure had been more uneventful than he had anticipated. Before he started the journey, the knight had expected to face down a fierce dragon, but instead, his foe was already dead. He wondered what he should do next, would there be gold in the cave? If not, maybe he could bring some body parts of the dead dragon back. He knew a few people in the village who would pay a small fortune for a dragon’s talon or teeth. As he mused on, the knight felt sleep overtake his mind. He closed his tired eyes and drifted off.
It wasn’t long before the knight woke up to find himself lying on the bare ground. How did I get out of the pool? Filled with unease, the knight raised himself up only to find that he could not stand on his legs anymore. Turning his head, he saw a scaly hind leg of a beast. Horrified, he tried to move away, but the leg also moved with him. Suddenly, a strange thought hit him: Have I turned into a dragon!?
Hesitantly, the giant dragon turned around and lumbered toward the pool that now seemed to be a tiny puddle in comparison to its height and girth. After staring at its reptilian reflection for a long time, it let out a long, mournful roar that filled the cave.