Stories by Colin Burke

Parricide &
Other Weird Ploys


Once upon a time there was a fair and noble kingdom, famous for the valour and prowess of its knights, for the prudence of its king, and for the ugliness and bad temper of his daughter Euphemia and the beauty and placid good nature of his daughter Rose. But one year there came to that kingdom a fierce and mighty dragon, which devoured many people and took much treasure and which all the prowess and valour of the knights could not defeat, so that most of them died frightfully. And it came to pass that the king in desperation had it proclaimed that any man who killed the dragon would rule his kingdom after him and have the hand of one of his daughters in marriage. And the first to meet that challenge was a kind and gentle man who laboured among the palace flower-beds, whose name was John of the Garden. He had a magic sword and magic shield from Faerie, which an Elven prince had given his great-grandfather, a knight who later fell, through no fault of his, into disgrace and lowly station. And with that sword and shield he went forth and fought and slew the dragon, and then returned and said unto the king, “Your majesty, I come, having slain the dragon, to claim your daughter Rose.”

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