• Brent Streeter

It's in the Trees


Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi: https://www.pexels.com/photo/forest-345522/


The two knights crouched side by side atop a small hillock that fell away before them, merging into a sea of green known as the Hemlock grasslands. Beyond that, they could just make out the backwoods, a treacherous place that few dared to explore.

The two had left the tower at dawn, eager to get outdoors before they were required to return to court. Shortly after their departure, they had discovered signs of what they believed to be a dragon and had decided to investigate.

‘Better to be safe than sorry,’ Sir Lancelot had pointed out.

Sir Gawain not having anything better set aside for the day went along with it. No doubt Arthur would be pleased with their valiant efforts in keeping the lands safe from danger, and would honor them with a feast, Gawain loved a good feast.

They had followed the trail to the hillock and deemed it a good vantage point for their scouting.

Lancelot whispered in excitement, ‘There, I see it!’

Gawain who had been distracted by a roc flying high overhead looked out to where Lancelot had gestured. He noted that Lancelot was not wrong, for out in the middle of the grasslands a young dragon lay basking in the fair morning sunlight.

‘You’d think a dragon would be wiser in choosing a spot to rest up.’ Gawain said, scratching behind one ear, ‘This might prove to be an easier feat than expected.’

‘I agree, we should strike now before the wind changes and the dragon has a chance to sense us coming.’ Lancelot pointed out.

‘Agreed.’ Said Gawain as he began limbering up in anticipation of a potential chase.

In unison, the pair crept down the hillock and stalked out across the grasslands, keeping low so as not to startle their unsuspecting quarry. Their advance was silent and meticulous, and soon they were within range of an assault on the dragon. They shared a glance of smugness between themselves and prepared to pounce.

All of a sudden, all hell broke loose as they heard a loud screech. Both knights and dragon looked to the sky to find a roc diving towards them, talons outstretched. The dragon, not wasting time, bolted for the cover of the towering trees beyond. Lancelot and Gawain followed close on its tail, both trying to escape the roc and keep sights on the dragon.

Thanking god that they were fit and agile, Lancelot and Gawain barely managed to dive under the cover of the trees. The roc pulled out of its assault and veered up sharply, avoiding a potential crash in the tangled limbs of the forest’s canopy. It screeched in dismay at its escaped meal and began its ascent into the skies to begin its hunt anew. Lancelot and Gawain watched it fly off and disappear into the distance.

'That was close,' Panted Lancelot.

'Too close, if you ask me,' Gawain said dryly.

'Did you keep track of where the dragon went,' Lancelot asked, scanning the surrounding foliage.

‘No, I was too busy trying to avoid being that roc’s breakfast!’

‘Alright, no need to get grouchy!’

‘I’m not being grouchy!’ growled Gawain.

‘Well, I’m not the one who managed to lose a dragon!’ Chided Lancelot.

Without warning, Gawain pounced on Lancelot, and they tumbled to the ground, kicking and clawing at each other.

‘Submit!’ Gawain cried.

‘Never.’

They carried on scuffling, rolling back and forth.

Suddenly, Lancelot called out, ‘Truce!’

Gawain holding Lancelot in a headlock cried, ‘Do you submit?’

‘No, but did you hear that?’

‘Hear what?’

‘It sounded like something scrabbling around above us.’

The two detached and looked up, managing to catch a glimpse of the dragon as it darted across a branch high overhead.

‘It’s in the trees!’ Lancelot exclaimed.

‘I can see that.’

‘We have to go after it!’

‘Remember what happened last time?’ Gawain remarked while glancing up at the high branches.

‘Yes…’ Lancelot said, ‘but this time it will be different!’

Gawain gave Lancelot a look, ‘Alright, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.’

‘Don’t patronize me.’

The two knights took a couple steps back and then with a running start jumped onto the tree’s trunk. The climb was arduous, but eventually they managed to pull themselves up onto the branch and came face to face with the beast they hunted.

‘You’re ours!’ they cried and pounced atop it. The fight was intense, the dragon quick and nimble and, much to both knights’ annoyance, difficult to hold down.

‘Gawain cried out, ‘I’ve got its tail! Now Lancelot, end it now!’

Lancelot charged.

The dragon choosing life over death made the only available choice and jumped.

The two knights watched in dismay as it disappeared beneath the underbrush, to live another day.

Lancelot looked at Gawain and gestured at the writhing tail clutched in his grasp, ‘At least we have a trophy.’

‘Oh that’s great, and how do you suppose we get down from here to bring Arthur our trophy, hmmm?’ Spat Gawain in disgust.

They both knew they were stuck.

‘Don’t say it.’ Lancelot said.

Gawain rolled his eyes, ‘I don’t have to…’

They perched upon the branch in silence for a time before Gawain said, ‘So now what do we do?’

Lancelot sighed, ‘I suppose our only option is to call out for help and hope someone finds us.’

#

Arthur woke to the sound of his mother’s voice calling his name, ‘Arthur!’

‘What!?’ he yelled back, before stifling a yawn.

‘Lancelot and Gawain are stuck in a tree again. Go out and fetch them, please!’ Came his mother’s response, ‘and don’t use that tone of voice with me again, young man, or your father will hear of it!’

Arthur rubbed the sleep from with eyes and rolled out of bed, ‘Alright, I’m sorry, won’t happen again! I’m on my way!’

What have those two kittens gotten themselves into this time? He thought as he opened the door to his room and headed for the garden.