NaNoWriMo 2017: Day 1.

983 words written today; 983 written in total.

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In the center of a busy market square, surrounded by captivated children and their smiling parents, Jangles the Clown was telling one of his stories. The Jester danced wildly as he narrated, his bells jingling merrily as fought monsters, rescued princesses and saved the day.

Today he was telling the tale of how the Smiling Knight defeated a dragon and rescued their kingdom land from a fiery doom. But, like always, there would be a twist; his stories wouldn’t be as popular if they followed all the rules.

Jangles unsheathed his wooden sword and pointed it at empty space. “Have no fear, friends!” he called to the crowd, “My sword, Smile, is invincible; my shield, Humor, unbreakable; we shan’t be defeated!”

The clown danced a few steps back and hit a hidden switch on the floor, unfurling a paper dragon. The children, fully engrossed in the story, gasped in delighted fright; the adults appreciated the ingenuity of the prop. Somehow, the paper dragon roared, sending some of the smaller children to hide behind their parent’s tall legs. But even the faintest of hearts did not look away, for they knew that the Smiling Knight was always victorious in the end.

Jangles tumbled backwards into a parting crowd to dodge an incoming blast of dragon-fire. The paper dragon shook; its mouth opened and a jet of actual flame rushed out, aimed at the crowd. The clown leaped forward and blocked the stream with his rusty buckler, which had a smile painted on it.
“My, my, what terrible breath you have, dragon! You should remember to brush your teeth more often,” the Jester quipped with a smile. “Perhaps I should help by picking your teeth.” Jangles brandished his wooden sword and skipped towards the paper dragon, bells jingling merrily.

The children cheered, not understanding the difference in danger between a fake paper dragon and its very real fire; the parents, not wanting to spook their children, laughed nervously. It was all part of the act, right? Their children weren’t in any actual danger?

Jangles cartwheeled his way to the dragon and landed in front of the mock-beast with a double corkscrew, his bells jingling merrily all the way. He tense mock-battle ensued, one the clown just barely managed to win. Once the dragon was bested, Jangles turned to the crowd to reap his cheers. Then, something unexpected happened – the dragon started to speak!

“You have bested me in battle, Smiling Knight; yes, this I confess,” the paper maché monster said, “as the defeated, I have but one request, which I have no reason to believe you will honor; slay me if you must, but spare my unborn children, of which I have already lost so many.”

A gasp surged through the crowd. A dragon asking for mercy, not for itself, but for its children? Preposterous! “Slay the beast!” one burly father with a daughter on each shoulder bellowed, “Dragons can’t be trusted!”
One of his daughters tugged him on the ear. “Shush, daddy!”
Jangles turned to the child, so high on her father’s shoulder. “Thank you, little one. You remember one of my most important lessons?”
“Always listen to the defeated!” The girl recited, “For they have nothing to lose, and everything to gain!”
The clown smiled from ear to ear and bopped her on the nose. “Exactly. What do you think, everyone? Should we listen to the dragon?”
“It could be a trick!” a clever voice suggested. Jangles considered this. “Yes, true – it could very well be. A cornered cat is known to make strange leaps. Yet, I would rather be tricked in good faith, than deny a honest request out of informed cowardice. What do you say, everyone?”
“Give her a chance!” a mother shouted through the rabble. “Let’s hear what she she has to say!”
“Very well!” Jangles said; his strong voice naturally carried far, and he never needed to shout. He turned to the dragon and said: “Dragon. Surely you understand that you must face the Good King’s Justice? You have terrorized the countryside, burned good farmer’s crops. These are crimes punishable by death. What say you?”
“This I have done, and many more terrors that would keep you up at night, small one,” the dragon said. “Yet, regrets I have none; I was within my rights.”
“And what right would that be, that allows you to terrorize innocent people?”
“A right far older than your silly King’s laws; a law as old as this world, if not older still; the right to vengeance; the right of blood for blood.”
“Pray tell, ferocious dragon, whom you tried to avenge?”
“My unborn children; your little monsters snuck into my lair and stole my eggs!”
A gasp of disbelief surged through the crowd. They stole her eggs! Most folks never considered that a dragon could have a reason to burn down the countryside, let alone it could be something so relatable. Parents looked to their children; wouldn’t they burn down the countryside if somebody took their baby’s? A mother definitely would.
“And let it be known that any dragon life is worth thousands of your mortal souls!”
“Tut, tut, tut,” Jangles the Clown said smiling, “Don’t push your lack, Mother Dragon; remember who is at whose mercy. But have no fear. I will help find your eggs and return them to you, if you promise to stop roasting these lands immediately.”
The dragon scoffed. “Why would you, a human knight, help me, a dragon?”
The jester shrugged, still smiling. “My reasons are my own, Mother Dragon. But ask yourself this: Why would I lie to someone at my mercy?”
“Very well, Smiling Knight; but know that, should you fail to do as you say, my wrath will be all the more terrible for it.”“Very well, Smiling Knight; but know that, should you fail to do as you say, my wrath will be all the more terrible for it.” “That seems only fair,” the Smiling Knight agreed, “There is little more craven than a knight who breaks his promise.”

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