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Last update 4/16/2010
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|Copyright 2010 - B. de Corbin and Splendid Fish Studio|
As near as I can figure, the story I am about to relate took place in what is now Bohemian Germany around 1050 - 1100 A.D. The leading figure is Baron Kohnor, the then titular head of the Kohnor family, which occupied a small Baroncy on the frontier. According to the legend, the country surrounding the family seat, and under their protection, was being ravaged by a dragon. Back in those days, being of the nobility was a good thing, because the nobles got to live off the production of their employees (the serfs), but, unlike today, the nobility was also under an obligation to provide protection and security for their employees.
Thus, it fell on Baron Kohnor to go out and slay that dragon. The Baron armed himself to the teeth with all the latest equipment - a largish sword, and shield, and various bits of armour and maile. Early on Sunday he mounted up and road out looking for large and suspicious reptiles, fully confident in his ability to slay said reptiles when the time came.
Alas! The search proved futile, and, long about four or five o’clock, Baron Kohnor decided it was time to call it a day and head home for a bite to eat. Arriving back at his little castle, he was surprised to find the portcullis was unattended, though open. Angry at this breach in security, the Baron road directly to the stables where he dismounted, set aside his weapons, and headed out to raise hell with his soldiers. Beware of anger, my friends, it is your enemy! The Baron’s anger prevented him form noticing that nobody - absolutely nobody was about the whole place.
Rounding the stables and heading toward the privy, Baron Kohnor soon discovered his error - there was nobody about the place for the simple reason that the dragon, for whom (or is it which? Are dragon’s sentient?) he had been searching for all day had decided to pay a visit to the castle in his absence, and was now sitting on a refuse pile, gnawing on what had once been a large hog. Apparently, his loyal retainers had fled out the open door, thinking it would be best to leave the dragon to the Baron. No sense in ruining his fun, after all… Leaping instantly into action, the Baron drew his sword and raised his shield… or he tried to, at least, before being struck with the sudden gnosis that he had left them back at the stable… Instead, the Baron slipped into the privy and carefully closed the door behind him, finding the privy (as so many of us have done) a quiet place conducive to deep thought. And deep thought was definitely required, because the good Baron had run into a chivalric dilemma.
Now, if you understand the ins and outs of chivalry, you will, of course, immediately see the Baron’s problem. However, since chivalry has become an esoteric art in the modern world, I will explain for the benefit of the less well educated. When confronted by the need to fight, the chivalrous person has some decisions to make. The best choice - the one which brings the greatest honor - is to fight against impossible odds and win (if the chivalrous combatant chooses to do so, he can arrange things in such a way that he will die of grievous wounds shortly after attaining victory. This is a nice and poetic touch, but is generally considered to be optional). Somewhat down the line is another choice which also brings honor - to fight well against a superior force, and then come down in a tragic and bloody defeat. At first glance, this looked like a fair choice for the Baron, however, the trick is in the “to fight well” qualification. The Baron had foolishly left his weapons in the stable - something no well trained warrior would ever be caught dead doing. If the Baron were to be killed now, rather than gaining honor, he would be remembered as a clumsy and incompetent knight. The third possibility is to run away - but, for obvious reasons having to do with chivalric honor, that was a bad choice. If the Baron did this, he would be obliged to add a white chicken to his coat of arms, and he would much prefer adding a dead dragon.
I know this sounds complicated, but choices like this can actually be made quite quickly by one with a logical mind. Baron Kohnor realized that, under the circumstances, the second choice was impossible, and the third choice was unthinkable, so the only viable choice was the first one. The dragon was a superior force, he was unarmed, making the dragon even more formidable as an opponent, and, if he could defeat it, he would gain the highest honor and get that coveted dragon on his shield. However, if the dragon defeated him, he would be remembered (posthumously, but still…) as “The Fumbling Baron.” As soon as he arrived at this conclusion, the Baron began hunting through the privy for something which could work as improvised weaponry. This didn’t take long as the privy was a one seater. His search turned up the following items: a Sears and Roebuck catalogue, a short length of sturdy twine used to retrieve dropped items from the pit, a loose board which the stable boys were in the habit of pushing aside for the purpose for peeking in at damsels, a small mirror used by the same damsels in order to make a good impression on the stable boys, and the seating equipment which had been repurposed from an old ox yoke.
The Baron couldn’t think of a use for the Sears and Roebuck catalogue, although he did find it amusing to have one in his castle privy in 1050 A.D. The rest of the stuff could… perhaps… be used…
The good Baron grabbed this assortment of miscellaneous items and tiptoed (not a mean feat when wearing armour, but one of those useful tricks you pick up during basic training) out the door and to a location about 40 feet away from the dragon, where he carefully hung up the mirror. About 10 feet away from the mirror, in a line leading directly to the dragon, the Baron hung up the ox yoke. He unwound the twine, tying one end to a pile of junk behind the mirror, and taking the other end with him as he circled around the dragon and took up a position about 20 feet behind it. The Baron waited, holding the twine, while the dragon finished up his messy dinner. As the dragon stretched himself in preparation for an after dining nap, the Baron gave a swift and hard tug to the twine, causing the pile of junk to topple, attracting the dragon’s attention. When the Baron was certain that the dragon was looking directly at the mirror, he leapt, silently, from his hiding place and jumped up and down. The dragon saw the Baron reflected in the mirror, and charged, head down, headless in his bloodlust of any obstructions - such as that ox yoke. The dragon charged the mirror, got his neck entangled in the ox yoke, and Baron Kohnor raced out and jumped on the dragon’s back before it could extricate itself.
Grabbing a firm hold on the ox yoke, the Baron was able (after a very long and wild ride) to exhaust and subdue the dragon. The Baron’s loyal retainers had been watching the action from safe seats on a nearby hill, and, realizing that the hard part was over, rushed back to the castle, grabbed sturdy chains, and securely wrapped up the dragon. Needless to say, there was a lot of back patting and congratulations directed at the Baron, and the impressive way in which he had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. The Baron elected not to die in the encounter. But there was one last, unexpected event yet to come.
The dragon was absolutely furious. He was so angry that he began to shake and shiver with such violence that scales flew off in all directions, then, as his fury mounted, he spontaneously combusted in a pillar of flame thirty feet high, which burned with such intensity that even the ashes burned away. Some of the scales, however, were preserved by the family, and this particular necklace is made from one of the surviving family relics. The Kohnor family became quite famous for this event, and took it’s rightful place in history. Unfortunately, the lives of even the great sometimes take a downturn, and I met the last surviving member of the Kohnor family when she was working as a barmaid in Davenport, Iowa. We became quite… friendly… and she told me this story, and gave me this relic as a token of her love.
Well, that was a long time ago, and Miss Kohnor and I have long since grown apart. I hate to part with the necklace because it has some sentimental value to me, but I’ve recently fallen on hard time myself and need a bit of cash. Please don’t tell Mable I’m selling it - it would break her heart…