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Fiction. © Copyright 1999, Jim Loy
Translators note: The following has been collected from two sources. One source is called "Sir Jonathan thee Dragone Hunter" and is attributed to an unnamed travelling bard who supposedly sang this story. The other seems to tell a similar tale, and is called "Oure Visit wyth Prince Harolde," by William of Overbrooke. The following version of the story will alternate between these two accounts. I will mark the bard's story as [B] and the Overbrooke account as [O].
[B] This is the story of Sir Jonathan the Dragon Hunter. Young Sir Jonathan resolved to travel the world in search of dragons. As he rode off on his stead, the young maidens of the castle bid him farewell with tears in their eyes.
[O] My two brothers and I travelled to visit our friend, Prince Harold. Along the way, we stopped at the village of Crossroads-and-Bridge. There we were delighted to witness a strange and wonderful sight. A number of children were forcing a tall, skinny, awkward boy into a rain barrel, splashing water all about. It became evident that the children were attempting to wash the many layers of filth off of the boy, against his will. We sat on our horses, laughing at the spectacle. Soon the barrel tipped over, and the boy ran out of town. The delightful children threw stones at him. We overtook the boy about a mile from the village. His bath had done him no good, as he now seemed dirtier than before. He told us that his name was Jonathan, and that he was travelling in search of dragons. The three of us laughed at this, and beat him with sticks which we broke off from trees beside the road. He begged to be allowed to accompany us on our journey. I was about to kick him into the ditch when my brother Jack tied a rope around Jonathan's neck. And we took turns dragging him down the road. After a time we were relieved to find that Jonathan was still alive. From a farmer, we borrowed a donkey for Jonathan to ride, as we were quite exhausted from dragging him. At first, the farmer refused to lend us the donkey, until we beat him with sticks.
[B] In the woods outside the unpleasant village of Bridge-and-Crossroads, Sir Jonathan encountered the three jolly men who were to become his companions. These were the brothers from Underbrook. Soon, all three would owe Jonathan their lives. Before reaching the Inn at Willowford, they were attacked by a half-dozen robbers, who were armed with swords and knives. Sir Jonathan's natural skill with a sword allowed him to kill all of the robbers before his companions could begin to defend themselves. This was the first time that the brothers from Underbrook were to swear their allegiance to Sir Jonathan.
Translator's note: Here the Overbrooke document contains two pages which are badly damaged and unreadable, except for a word or two here and there. We continue with the page following the damage.
[O] That cursed Jonathan got into this journal. He must be very hungry, as he had chewed up two pages before I was able to pry his teeth apart with my boot and rescue the pages. I am afraid those pages will be unreadable when they dry out. As we had no food that we were willing to part with, poor Jonathan had to wait until later to fill his belly. Nothing more occurred before we reached the Inn at Willowford, except that we became aware that a foul stench was arising not from Jonathan's donkey, as we had assumed, but from Jonathan himself. From then on, we rode a good distance upwind from Jonathan. We had been plotting the death of the donkey. Now we plotted the death of Jonathan.
[B] The travelers stayed the night at the Inn at Willowford. There, they were attacked by an unspeakable monster. And Sir Jonathan's companions gained even more respect for him.
[O] We tied Jonathan to the hitching post with the horses and the donkey, giving him enough slack so he could dine on the garbage heap beside the Inn at Willowford, as it is called. We stayed up rather late, drinking and singing in the Inn. The next morning, the sun was high in the sky when we walked out the door of the Inn. Once outside, we heard growls and snarls. It seems that a skinny dog was challenging Jonathan for ownership of the garbage heap. We positioned ourselves where we could get a good view of the proceedings. The dog advanced and Jonathan retreated, apparently cringing in fear. We were all shocked when, in the blink of an eye, Jonathan had grabbed the dog and had mostly devoured it, before anyone could think to save the poor animal. It was then that we gained a kind of respect for Jonathan. None of us would turn his back on Jonathan, ever again.
[B] As the travelers neared the castle of Prince Harold, Jonathan's companions whispered amongst themselves. Jonathan knew that they were nervous, as this was known to be the domain of dragons.
[O] As we neared the castle of Prince Harold, we began to discuss amongst ourselves how we should kill Jonathan. I looked back at him on his donkey. He was munching on something. I could not imagine, nor did I want to imagine, what he could possibly be eating. We discussed hanging him from one of the overhanging tree limbs, as he still had the rope around his neck. My brother Jack observed that the rope had not killed Jonathan before. We discussed hacking him to pieces with our swords. My brother Alfred mentioned his crossbow. But in the end, we were just too kind-hearted to kill poor Jonathan.
[B] The land of Prince Harold was heaven for Sir Jonathan, as this was the land of dragons. He could somehow sense their presence, in all directions.
[O] We discussed with Harold our desire to get rid of Jonathan, but not necessarily kill him. Harold said, "Well we do have dragons." We laughed heartily at this joke. Harold added that the peasants seemed to think that there were dragons which were terrorizing the countryside. Farming was being disrupted. I knew that Jonathan was obsessed with dragons. I wondered if we could convince the peasants that Jonathan was a dragon hunter, a sort of dragon's worst nightmare. Maybe we could pretend that Jonathan had scared away these nonexistent beasts. We discussed this with Jonathan, and he insisted that he needed a magical sword. Prince Harold found an old rusty sword. Jonathan smiled as he took the sword and tested its weight. There was a tear in his eye as he grasped my hand. And I felt fleas and ticks crawling up my arm.
[B] Jonathan was given the legendary magical sword, disguised as an old rusty sword. Jonathan thanked his friends from Underbrook. And the gods returned the sword to its former glory.
[O] Jonathan strode out of the castle with his rusty sword held high. We watched him from the walls. Suddenly, lightning struck Jonathan from a clear blue sky. A gasp of dismay escaped from my throat, as Jonathan had been like a son to me. Then I saw that the lightning had missed him, for he walked on. And the sun seemed to reflect brightly off his upraised sword.
[B] Jonathan had always dreamed of hunting dragons. But now he found that hunting dragons was what he was born for. And he became the greatest hero in the land.
[O] My brothers and I never saw Jonathan again. After a time, we returned home to Overbrooke. One day I met a bard who sings songs about a great dragon hunter named Jonathan. It amazes me how these bards embellish a simple, but amusing story.
Author's note: This story began as a thought that it might be interesting if two story tellers told vastly different versions of the same story. From there, the story took off in directions that I had not anticipated.
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