King Doniert and the Dragon’s Quest.
King Doniert and his wife, Queen Milldread, were sat at the dinner table tucking into their Friday repast of freshly caught Ling and newly dug-up root vegetables – not chips, chips not having been invented yet – when the front-door bell rang.
“Oh, who can that be at this time of the evening?” grumbled the king.
“It may be those Jehovah’s again!” offered Queen Milldread.
“They have no concept of how sacred a meal-time is.”
King Doniert gathered his kingly accoutrements together, rose from the table, and went to see who it was.
Upon opening the solid wooden door, King Doniert was surprised to find that it wasn’t the JeHos, nor a canvasser for the forthcoming council election; it was, in fact, a fierce, but ever so polite, dragon.
“Excuse me.” said the dragon. “I’m ever so sorry to bother you at this time of the evening, but I wondered if I could ask a favour of you?”
“You can ask…’ said the king, calmed somewhat by the dragon’s civility “… but, what could I, King Doniert, Last King of the Cornovii (probably), All-Round Nice Guy, and Eater of Fish on Fridays, do for a fine and noble dragon of the lineage of Fáfnir and his ilk?”
The dragon, impressed by King Doniert’s credentials and his regal bearing, hesitated a few seconds before declaring his own name and titles. Then he reached the crux of his requirements.
“Noble King Doniert of the Cornovii – last, or not, that still remains to be seen – All-Round Nice Guy, and Eater of Fish on Fridays, may it please your regal highness if I could ask of him a boon? The dragon was eloquent of tongue – as many serpent-based creatures are – and King Doniert was becoming more and more impressed with the dragon’s humble demeanour as this negotiation went on.
“What boon do you seek, oh Flyer Of Air Currents and Seeker of Shiny Objects?” – the king was matching the dragon in politeness.
“Aren’t you going to invite our visitor in?” called Queen Milldread from the dining table. She had been getting decidedly bored with all the high-fallutin’ boys’ talk at the front door – especially as she was becoming a vague memory in this story – and the fish supper was getting cold.
Well, as people know, dragons are usually quite large – as this one was – and doors, even if legendary, are usually quite… door size. So, although a king, King Doniert’s humble two up two down, outside privy, drawbridge and state-of-the-art moat dwelling was not of a size to accommodate the ingress of a fully-grown dragon. Hence King Doniert’s reply to his wife, Queen Milldread, Wife of the King, Supporter of the King’s Position, Chief Minister of the King’s Court, All Round Woman Of Wise Wisdom, Eater of Fish on Fridays, and so on.
“He’s too big to fit through the door, Milly. That’s why we are discussing things on the doorstep.”
The king returned his attention to the matter in hand; the dragon took a mental note about a few things that had crossed his mind; Queen Milldread dabbed a piece of cold Ling into some gherkin sauce and continued her meal, unaccompanied.
Upon the doorstep, the king and dragon resumed their amicable parleying. The dragon having quickly replayed the conversation thus far in his mind, asked his boon of the king:
“Noble King Doniert of the Cornovii, Wearer of a Shiny Crown, Eater of Fish on Fridays, King to a Noble Queen, All Round Nice Guy, and so much more, I, Edjar, Rider of the Breeze, Soarer of the Skies, Fire-Breather and Finder of Previously-Mentioned Shiny Things, ask thee for… my freedom.”
There was a pause.
Quite a long pause.
Really, quite a long pause, almost longer than could be considered polite.
Eventually King Doniert drew himself up to his full kingly height (undisclosed) and spoke thus:
(We’ll cut out all the preamble of titles for now, just consider the etiquette of name-pronouncing carried out in the proper manner and we can get on with the tale).
King Doniert spoke thus: “… and all your other wondrous names, I know not if it is within my power to grant you that which I do not possess. How exactly do you perceive that I can be of help in this most serious of matters?”
Edjar the Dragon replied, speaking thus:
“Most Wise King, Eater of Fish, blah blah blah… it is written in ancient dragon lore that a king may release a dragon from the bonds of slavery if that dragon has carried out a truly worthy errand for the king. My bonds require that I cannot leave this land and travel to the North in search of a dragon wife. Whilst young this never bothered me too much; now that I have achieved my maturity, there has grown a burning desire in my heart to seek a mate. Dragonkind is a dwindling species, I must try to continue our lineage or, as the kings of the Cornovii may fade away, so may the Dragons.” There was a tear in the dragon’s eye, then as it ran down his cheek it evaporated in a small puff of dragon steam.
King Doniert asked for a short while to consider this. The Dragon agreed and popped to the watering-hole next door to grab a pint or two of water to slate the thirst that comes from high talk and noble conversations.
King Doniert related the conversation to his queen; who had heard it all, anyway.
Once the conversation had been retold at great length, King Doniert asked Queen Milldread what thoughts she had upon the subject.
Queen Milldread replied thus:
“Well, my King of Cornovii, Eater of Cold Fish on a Friday, All-Round Nice Guy, etcetera etcetera, it is quite simple.”
“Is it?” queried the king, with a slightly taken aback expression upon his face.
“Of course!” replied the queen. “All you have to do is to ask the dragon to perform a small, easily achievable feat for you, and then he shall be free to set off to the North for to seek of a mate.”
“But, what, my love? Do you have any idea what I could task Edjar with?” – the king was not really an ideas man.
Queen Milldread thought upon this for a moment, then had an idea.
“I would task Edjar the most wondrous dragon, Fleet of Wing, Master of Manoeuvring, Lord of… Landings, etcetera, to fetch you a monument that you could use as your legacy. Brave words of your many deeds could be written upon it, and your name would live on: Doniert, King of Cornovii, All Round Nice Guy, Eater of Fish on Fridays lived here, sort of thing.” Queen Milldread watched her words weaving their magic upon the mind of her most majesterial king and husband.
“Yes!” Exclaimed Doniert. “Just the thing to catch the coincidence of the king!”
Queen Milldread knew that this plan would work, and the future of dragon-kind would be secured.
And so, from this simple beginning, was set into motion one of the most delightful episodes in Cornovii’s ancient and legendary story.
But, how Queen Milldread’s name has been lost to time is one of history’s ironic little footnotes.