Chapter One – The Dragon Returns
The Green Dragon sat in the corner of the waterfall cave and plotted revenge. It was now some time since it had secretly entered the Castle and attempted to steal the famous jewel known as the ‘Green Eye of the Saracen’. Fortunately, the wounds inflicted by the Saracen ghost and Rufus, during the fight in the Castle kitchen, had now healed.
It sat on top of its precious hoard of gold coins and jewels, thinking hard. It was devising a new plan to steal the emerald. It needed all its strength and power!
Stretching to its full height, it shook its shiny green scales back into place and checked its wings for any remaining damage.
Unfortunately its pride had not recovered and it was now intent on revenge. Suddenly a plan came into its head.
It knew that the children and that horrible war-hound Rufus would often climb up onto the Castle battlements. Now it knew what to do…
Back in the Castle, Gregory remained bitterly disappointed that he was not being allowed to fulfil his role as squire to Sir James and accompany him on the mission for the King.
Leaving the Great Hall, he headed to the kitchens. Rufus followed him.
There they helped themselves to some freshly baked bread and then climbed the steps to their favourite spot, high-up on the battlements.
Gregory suddenly noticed that they were in shadow. He thought that this was a bit odd, as the rest of the Castle was in sunlight. As he turned round and looked upwards, he nearly fell off the ledge in shock as there, perched on the top of the Castle Keep was the Green Dragon.
Quickly, Gregory drew his dagger and shouted,
‘Rufus, look out, it’s the Green Dragon. He must be really determined to steal the ‘Green Eye’ as he’s never dared to venture out in daylight before. Quick! We need to warn the guards in the Keep,’ he said in a whisper, crouching down.
But it was too late as the Dragon had spotted them and, launching himself from the top of the Keep, he swooped down towards them.
‘Rufus run,’ shouted Gregory. ‘Head for the sentry tower.’
The two ran as quickly and carefully as they could, along the narrow ledge of the battlements. One wrong step and they would fall into the courtyard far below. The sentry tower wasn’t far away and Gregory was sure that they could both make it, but then he tripped and began to topple over the edge.
Just as he thought his end was near, he felt Rufus’ strong jaws grab his tunic and he was pulled back and fell face down onto the rough stonework of the battlements.
The dragon swooped down. It could see some soldiers approaching, so realised that it had lost the element of surprise. Gregory was its main target, but it could see that he was lying flat and Rufus was standing guard over him. So it decided to grab Rufus instead and as it flew low over the battlements, it stretched out its long legs and grabbed the hound, in its enormous claws.
As Gregory was lying face down, and it had all happened so fast, he didn’t see what happened next. However, he felt the swish of air from the dragon’s huge wings and smelt its rancid breath.
‘Phew Rufus, that was close,’ said Gregory, as he scrambled to his feet, not realising that Rufus was no longer there.
He looked all around him and then in horror saw the Dragon flying away from the top of the Castle, with Rufus held in its claws.
At first Rufus was just stunned. Then he was surprised that the dragon’s claws didn’t hurt him very much. He thought it must be because of his thick coat. He started to fight back.
The dragon was having difficulty holding on to Rufus and so decided that it would fly down to the field outside the Castle wall and try and get a better grip.
All Rufus knew was that the dragon was holding him with only one of its legs. The other one was waving about in front of him. Rufus was now over the initial shock of being snatched into the air and he was feeling very angry. He knew that his teeth were his best weapon and so the next time the dragon’s free leg swung within reach, he managed to twist his head round and bite into it, as hard as he could.
The dragon gave a loud roar of pain and let go of the wolfhound. They were still flying high above the Castle, when Rufus began his long fall to the ground. Gregory could only stand and stare, cold with fear, because he knew that hitting the ground from that height would almost certainly kill his companion. Then his horror turned to relief. Rufus was dropping . . . . . . . . . into the moat!
‘Rufus,’ shouted Gregory, as he raced down to the Castle yard and out across the drawbridge to the moat. Rufus was not a pretty sight! He climbed out of the water, covered in sludge, slime and weeds and soaking wet.
When Gregory reached him, he realised that Rufus was also very smelly.
‘Where is dragon now,’ growled Rufus, who was clearly very angry.
‘I don’t know’ said Gregory and they both searched the sky for the Green Dragon, to see whether they were still in danger.
It didn’t take long before Gregory saw it, swooping low and preparing to attack again. He realised that this time they would not escape so easily and, remembering all that Sir James had taught him, he bravely drew his sword and faced the approaching dragon. Nearer and nearer it came, gliding only a few feet above the ground. Gregory prepared for the worst.
Then suddenly the dragon swerved away and gave another terrible roar. Gregory couldn’t understand why it had stopped its attack, but then saw that it was being hit by a stream of arrows, fired from the Castle ramparts. The Green Dragon roared again and flew out of range.
Gregory knew that the arrows must be causing the Dragon a lot of pain and so was astonished to see that it had decided to return and make yet another attempt to capture him! This time it flew high above the Castle and out of range of the archers. Then, when it was directly above Gregory, it went into a steep dive and headed straight for him.
Luckily for Gregory, the full guard of highly trained archers had been called out. Firing at a rapid rate, it took very little time for over a hundred arrows to hit the dragon, as it dived down. With a final terrifying roar it changed direction and flew away, in the direction of the waterfall cave.
As they ran back across the drawbridge, to the safety of the Castle, the first person that greeted Gregory and Rufus was the captain of the guard. One of the sentries had seen the initial attack and, acting quickly, had raised the alarm.
‘We need to increase the guard in the keep,’ said Gregory, who was still shaking after his narrow escape. ‘The Dragon seems determined to steal the Green Eye.’
‘I don’t think we will need to do that,’ said the captain of the guard. ‘We’ve given him such a fright, that I’m certain he won’t try and steal it again.’
‘I wouldn’t be too sure,’ replied Gregory.
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