The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Sixteen: Against the Winged Serpent

But while the Baron’s efforts removed the wicked witch Wajida’s presence from Aathenaar, nothing could remove Aathenaar’s presence from Wajida’s mind. It is a believed fact that she obsessed over this fair village, yearning constantly to conquer but being forced, by the Baron’s efforts, to chew instead on the gristle of failed attempts and hate.

There was the time a cloud of locusts settled in the town’s fields, no doubt a conjuration of the witch’s, if not pets that she decided to sacrifice in her lust for power. The locusts proved to be trivial in the face of Aathenaar’s resourcefulness. On, perhaps, a dare, a peasant one day bit into one of these insects—and declared it delicious. The news of this discovery spread among the people of Aathenaar, and before long dozens of clever and tasty recipes had been developed.

Upon seeing how popular the locusts were as food, Baron Brange immediately decreed that the townspeople could keep every one they caught for themselves, instead of submitting a portion as tax to the Baron for the services he rendered. (In exchange for this arrangement, the Baron agreed to accept a larger share of the perfectly nourishing but significantly more mundane grains and meats that the town produced.)

But Wajida is single-minded in her wickedness, and she refused to take the clear message that setbacks such as this offered her. And so, when the peak of Naliar Hill rumbled with rage, there was little doubt what had caused it: Wajida had summoned a dragon to threaten the town.

It confirmed its scaly green existence a few days later, swooping into town and devouring three of the Baron’s cows that were grazing in the field of a peasant who cared for them as companions. With a roar of flame that severely handicapped two professional young ladies by singeing their enormous golden bouffants, it took flight, returning only to grab a pair of lads playing round-o-fours by a large rock for dessert before retiring to its lair to sleep and digest.

The Baron knew that this must not be allowed to pass unanswered. He strode to the top of Naliar Hill confidently, for the Baron had always had a certain rapport with snakes of all kinds. “Dragon,” he declared. “You are not welcome here. Leave at once.”

The dragon, by the Baron’s report, opened one of its eyes and squinted it in a manner that failed to show the proper deference to the Baron’s station. The Baron, however, felt full confidence in his position, and so he did something that would be foolish for anyone without such confidence: He slapped the dragon across the nose.

The beast was shocked, as are all seemingly terrifying individuals when they are stood up to. Now having its full attention, the Baron repeated his order: “Dragon, you are not welcome here. Leave at once.”

The dragon considered, if whatever its reptilian brain did might be called that. But before long, it decided that the Baron clearly had the wherewithal to carry out his implied threat. The dragon meekly lumbered out of the cave and took to the sky, never to be heard from again.

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