John drew the prompt from the hat and read, “Never tickle a sleeping dragon.” It was the motto of Hogwarts from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.
* * *
“I don’t think it’s dead,” said humble servant Thigtail, backpedalling and wringing his hands in fear. A massive head stretched across the cart path like a fallen tree trunk.
“It must be dead,” said Master Jones. “Why else would it be here blocking the path?” He kicked the jade-scaled head with his soft tradesman’s boot then tried pushing it with his heel. It wouldn’t budge and his boot left no mark.
“It doesn’t smell dead,” said Thigtail sniffing at a distance. “And it is unwise to disturb dragons. Best let them be, Master Jones. At Hogwarts they say—”
“Hogwarts hogwash,” Master Jones barked at being questioned. “Besides, I’m not,” he raised the tone of his voice, “tickling a sleeping dragon.” He scowled at Thigtail. “I’m kicking a dead one.” He stood high, trying to see over the head, then stooped to peer along its length.
“But why?” Thigtail pleaded. “We should leave quickly. There may be more.”
“This is why you are the servant, Thigtail, and I am the master. You have no ambition,” Master Jones said, quietly stroking his chin. “Our village is hungry. Here is enough meat to make us rich. I hear dragon scales have magic properties. The wealthy like dragon bone weapons. We’ll carve this up and sell it.” Master Jones stood erect, hands on hips and faced Thigtail. “You would have us remain poor rustics forever.” Thigtail tilted his head and shrugged.
Master Jones pointed at the jade mountain of a head. “This dragon is dead. If we walk away now, some knight—or worse, some son of a knight—is going to come along and claim he killed it. Village folk ‘ll call him a hero. ‘Oh, mighty dragon slayer, oh, great warrior, savior of our village, here have our daughters.’” Master Jones batted his hand as if swatting a fly. “We’ll be kissing his lance for the rest of our lives. Not me. This is my chance.” He pointed a finger to himself then said, “Thigtail, fetch me the shovel.”
Thigtail stretched his arm out with the shovel and ran quickly behind the cart.
Master Jones stepped onto the dragon’s claw, seated the shovel blade across one knuckle, and jumped with both feet to drive it down.
“What is it?”
“One eye just opened.”
Have you ever misjudged and reached for a treasure you should not have?