The dragon was terrified. Surrounded by angry humans with weapons, he realised he was supposed to blast them all away.
One gift he had been given by that wretched witch who cursed him was speech. Maybe he could make these humans understand.
‘I didn’t steal your meat,’ the dragon cried. ‘I can easily get my own.I don't like human meat. You're sinewy.’
The nearest human, a thin elderly man (who the dragon realised would taste revolting), sneered.
‘Yes, really, and just how many talking dragons have you met?’
The crowd fell silent. It was a relief to the dragon not to hear their curses. The language was dreadful - and that was just from the kids.
‘I haven't always been a dragon. I was cursed by a witch. I destroyed her garden. I did it for a laugh.
And to return that laugh, she turned me into this. I have been hunted everywhere I go. I avoid you lot. You are nothing but trouble.’
The crowd began muttering again but a middle aged man, looking thoughtful, raised his hand. Silence fell. The man wore a striped apron and the dragon didn't want to know what the red stains were (he guessed) or where they came from.
The man cleared his throat. ‘We are always having trouble with the Xibians raiding our supplies, right? We have no effective way of stopping them, right? We have one now.’ He gave the dragon a hard stare. ‘We could do a deal with this guy. He guards us. In return we share our meat with him. He barbecues it for us too. You know what trouble we have getting our barbecues to light properly. There's that problem solved too. What do you say?’