It was a lovely day in Boston – the perfect day to kill a dragon, but that would wait until later. For now, Constance was enjoying a leisurely walk hand in hand with her boyfriend.
John looked amazing in his Ranger uniform, and that was the only thing spoiling this perfect day. What made him think joining them was a good idea? The war against King Phillip had ended last year in 1678 with the peace treaty, but who knew when fighting would start again?
“You don’t have to do everything your father says,” she scolded. “You’re a grown man. You need to make your own decisions once in a while.”
“Didn’t you say you had a dragon to kill today?” he asked.
“Yes, I do. It’s in Mr. Smith’s cornfield, but we’re talking about the Rangers.”
“Look, there’s Mary’s house,” he said. “Well, I’ve walked you where you needed to go. See you later?”
“Yes,” she sighed. She knew she wouldn’t be getting more out of him.
“Be safe with your dragon. I love you.”
“I love you too,” she said as she kissed him.
Mary was waiting at the door with all the tools Constance had told her to bring – a shovel, a hammer, a heavy iron spike, and several buckets. She was clearly eager to kill her first dragon.
“Was that your boyfriend?” Mary asked. “He’s handsome.”
“Do you have any wedding plans?” Mary asked.
“John is incapable of committing to anything, especially marriage.”
“Oh,” Mary said, looking embarrassed. “Never mind that. I’m so excited to go dragon slaying! I’ve read all about the adventuresome American girls who sneak into dragon dens and slit their throats while they sleep. I’ve always wanted to try it.”
“It’s not all as exciting as that,” Constance said. “We kill them while they’re still in their eggs. If they’ve hatched, or if we think they might hatch, we find some Rangers to handle them.”
“Oh. You mean we’re going to stomp on eggs?” Mary asked, sounding disappointed.
“It’s more complicated than that. The eggs are made of metal.”
“They lay metal eggs? That sounds painful.”
Constance laughed, which made Mary frown.
“Dragons don’t lay eggs,” Constance said. “The little legless wyrms steal all the metal they can get and smelt an egg around themselves.”
“You mean they metamorphose? Like a butterfly? That’s amazing!”
Constance had never really thought of dragons as amazing, but she could see what Mary meant. It was fascinating the way limbless dragons could turn into puddles of goo and then transform into fearsome adult dragons with four limbs and powerful wings. It was like they were two different creatures that shared the same flesh. It was sort of interesting, even though it had nothing to do with Constance’s goal of cooking the egg and selling the metal to the blacksmith.
When Constance and Mary reached the cornfield, they found a small mound between two rows of corn. The top layer of dirt had been knocked off to reveal a rounded metal object that protruded slightly out of the ground.
“Why does it look like there is a belt-buckle sticking out of it?” Mary asked.
“The tops of the eggs are always poorly smelted,” Constance explained. “That’s also where the weak spot will be. We’re going to drive a spike into that spot and catch the juice that drains, but first we have to elevate it.”
For the next forty-five minutes, Constance and Mary dug out the egg, creating a gentle slope in front of it. When they were done with that, they started pushing the egg up the hill. It was extremely heavy, but they slowly made progress. They would push it up a few inches and wedge their shovels under it to prevent it from rolling back. Then, they would rest a few minutes before pushing again.
They had gotten it about half way up when Constance heard Mary gasp.
“I’m guessing there shouldn’t be a crack in the egg?” she said nervously.
Constance stepped down into the hole to inspect the egg. She groaned. “That is definitely a crack. This egg is too mature. Let’s get out of here.”
Mary’s eyes were wide, and she looked panicked. Apparently, she wasn’t as eager to meet a dragon as she thought. She yanked her shovel out from under the egg. Constance tried to yell, “Stop!” but it was too late. The heavy egg rolled over Constance and pinned her leg to the ground. Mary gasped and tried to move the egg, but she couldn’t budge it by herself and Constance was in no position to help.
“I’m so sorry!” Mary pleaded. “I didn’t think that through. I just wanted to get out of here.”
“Not your fault,” Constance lied. “Just get John. Tell him that if he ever wants to marry me, he better get here before the dragon eats me. If he doesn’t want to, tell him to send a friend that’s more handsome than him.”
Mary ran. She probably wouldn’t relay the message as Constance had conveyed it. No one ever did.
As she waited for John, Constance inspected her leg. There was no obvious break or wound, but good heavens, it hurt. She thought about digging her leg out, but she decided she’d rather wait for help. She leaned against the dirt. It poured down every time she moved and got into her clothing. She tried to relax and close her eyes, but that’s when she heard scratching.
“John!” she yelled. “I need you!”
Constance began to frantically dig her leg out. She couldn’t afford to wait for help. The egg was moving, but Constance did her best to ignore it and focus on the digging. She eventually cleared enough to wiggle free and attempted to stand, but it was agony to put weight on her leg. She grabbed her shovel to use as a crutch and climbed carefully over the egg. When she reached the top of the slope, she looked back and saw the dragon peeking out of its egg. They made eye contact.
Hobbling quickly, Constance put as much distance as she could before the dragon wriggled free. She ducked into the cornfield, hoping the tall stalks would hide her. When it became too difficult to hop any farther, she collapsed to the ground, but she kept her shovel handy, in case she needed a weapon.
When she heard the corn rustling, Constance tried to get back to her feet, but she couldn’t do it. The weight of her body hurt her ankle, and the shovel dug into her armpit. Instead, she sat where she was and held the shovel at the ready. She knew that the dragon would be disoriented and unaccustomed to its new body. Hopefully, that would help her survive until John arrived. Where was he?
The dragon came through the corn, sniffing at the air. Constance flopped to her back and swung the shovel at the dragon’s face. She landed a lucky blow on its nose. It released a spurt of flame that ignited the nearby dry corn stalks.
The dragon hesitated, and Constance used the pause to scoot backwards away from it. She backed up until she ran into something solid. When she looked, she found another dragon egg, also with a large crack in it.
Just what I need, she thought, another dragon. After a moment’s contemplation, she realized, that is just what I need, another dragon!
She wedged her shovel into the crack and pried it open. A disoriented dragon stared up at her for a moment, then it noticed the other dragon and growled. The first dragon looked at the new one for a moment, then turned back to Constance.
“Not me, stupid,” Constance yelled. “You’re supposed to be territorial. Attack the other dragon!”
She grabbed an ear of corn from the ground and chucked it at the second dragon’s head. It struck solidly. It looked at Constance but seemed confused. She threw another that hit it in the eye. This time, it became angry and hastily broke out of its shell. It began stalking towards Constance, but the first dragon stepped in to defend its food. The two dragons were soon clawing and snapping at each other as a fire spread through the cornfield. Good thing Mr. Smith already harvested.
The corn rustled again, and John emerged, musket in hand. He paused when he spotted the two dragons fighting. He just stood and stared. Really? Now? John couldn’t make a decision to save his life. In fact, he couldn’t make a decision to save her life. Fine. Constance would decide for him.
“Shoot whichever one is winning!” she yelled, “then stick your bayonet in the other.”
John moved in close to the dragon and put a musket ball into its head. An older dragon wouldn’t have fallen so easily, but young dragons were still vulnerable. He then stabbed the other dragon in the neck. He may have been slow to make decisions, but he was good at taking orders. Ironically, he would probably be lauded for his quick thinking when this story got around.
When John helped her up, Constance looked him in the eye.
“I’ve figured you out. You just need someone to make your decisions for you,” she said.
“I, uh…yes, to be honest, sometimes I do.”
“That’s ok John,” she said. “I’ll be making all the decisions from now on.”