“The evil princess should be just inside one of these small, modest houses. Once we’re in, we just have to take her down and the dragon will be saved!”
Mark looked down at his crossbow, making sure it was loaded and ready. “I can’t believe we made it! The prophecies about you living a normal life as a chartered accountant were wrong! Even that part about you catching chlamydia from a bowlegged prostitute was wrong! You got herpes from drinking dirty water instead!”
Willy, the dragon knight stiffened, looking away from his ally. “Right. Yes. Dirty water. Anyway, to arms! The small house is almost upon us!”
They came upon the small neighborhood of thatched houses, smiling people standing in the streets talking to each other. The dragon knight charged up to the closest man, grabbing him by his collar and lifting him up in the air.
“Take us to the evil princess! You can’t stop her from holding the dragon any longer!”
“Princess?!” The man spat. “She’s an elected official!”
“Spare me the semantics! How much has she paid you to hide her?”
The people below began to gather, forming a chain of linked arms to block his progress. One woman shouted up at the dragon. “She hasn’t paid us anything! We have a bartering system in place, where we trade goods and services in exchange for what we need. We all look out for each other.”
The dragon knight leaned down close to Mark. “They’re ensorcelled. We should probably kill all of them, just in case. Did you bring the flaming pitch?”
Mark patted the huge steel drum that he’d painted to look like a hunchbacked philosopher. “Just give me the word.”
The dragon threw the man back to the ground, looking around until he saw a figure in the distance, its scaled hide covered in sweat as it toiled to build a huge fan. Willy felt his chest clench at the sight of it, and he ran toward it.
Once there, he was overcome with shock. He could see the dragon laughing with the other workers, sipping from a cup of water as they took a break. He looked up at Willy with a grin.
“Come to help us with the clean energy initiative? These fans should…”
“You’ve been kidnapped and bewitched, father. I’ve come to take you back to your castle and gold hoard. This has all gone too far.”
The dragon snorted. “What? You thought that by having an evil princess kidnap a dragon that you could become a hero in some upset version of a fantasy tale? When are you going to realize that you can’t just flip around story elements and hope to have an interesting afternoon? What’s next, a spaceship riding a planet to discover new crews?”
Willy looked over to Mark, who shrugged. “It’s all anti-dragon propaganda, dad. The whole industry is! Even in my own story, I’ve been reduced to being a villain within a few sentences. We have to do something to stop them from within!”
The dragon grinned, then grabbed its head. It winced as it dropped to its knees, looking at his son through tear-filled eyes. “The prophecies…becoming a chartered accountant…it’s the only way. Being that boring is the only way you can ever have a story where you become the hero! Being a dragon makes you too cool and interesting at the beginning to be the hero! You…must be…boring…”
He dropped to the ground, Willy catching him as he fell. He looked down at his father and whispered.
“Are…are you dead?”
“No, just the narcolepsy taking over.”
Willy dropped him, cursing. “If you’d died in my arms, then I would become a hero for sure! Why can’t you just do me that one favor!”
“Wanting me to die means you’re still the villain, you know. You’re not cut out for this. If you’d just listen to your mother about accounting schools…”
Willy roared, running into the daylight and rainbows. It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be.