--Chapter Twenty-four: Gimble’s Adventure, Part Two
Gimble and his family woke early as usual and started the second day of the journey home. They were just out of sight of the town where they had stayed the night, when suddenly four dragons in top hats came over the next hill and walked toward them. There was not much the gnomes could do in this situation except to move out of the way and hope the huge creatures would pass. They did this, but it took a large effort on the part of Gimble’s mother (who was at the reins) to keep the donkey from getting spooked.
The dragons were talking amongst themselves, so at first they did not notice the travelers at the side of the road.
“All in all, I think that was a pretty successful performance,” said the red dragon.
“Yeah,” said the white one, “and hopefully as we become better known, fewer people will run screaming from us.”
“At least none of them tried to kill us,” said the purple one. “Not even the young males!”
“That, honestly, surprised me a bit,” said the black one. “Maybe there’s a chance this’ll work out after all.”
Red nodded. “Wait’ll the folks back home hear about this... Oh hey, what’s this?” He had spotted the gnomes. “Well hello, there. You don’t look human.”
“We’re gnomes,” said Gimble’s father. “We’re just passing through on our way back home.”
Because gnomes had good relations with elves, and elves had good relations with dragons thanks to Diamo, the gnomes had been taught one very simple but very true rule of dealing with dragons: only people who attacked the dragons had anything to fear.
“Home?” said Purple. “You mean in the forest up northwest of here? That’s several days’ travel.”
“We know,” said Gimble’s mother. “We brought provisions.”
Red turned to his comrades and said, “At full speed, this would hardly be one day’s flight for us. What do you say we give these gnomes a wing, eh? We can chalk it up as an act of good-natured diplomacy afterward and get back to touring the East tomorrow.”
It was impossible to refuse kindness when it came from a dragon.
Gimble’s father rode on the red dragon, Gimble’s mother rode on the white one, Gimble rode on the purple one, and the donkey hid beneath the black one’s top hat (a tight fit, but it worked) and dared not lift it to look down.
Of the four riders, Gimble was the only one who genuinely enjoyed the trip. He asked the purple dragon to do a few flips and loops midair just for fun, and the beast happily obliged.
“Hey, that looks like fun,” said Red. “You want to try that?”
“No, thanks,” said Gimble’s father. “I’m fine with the current level of excitement.”
“Oh, yeah, I know what ya mean,” said Red. “Ain’t it great? Look at all those towns down there... So tiny... I bet if someone dropped from this height, it’d take at least half a minute to hit the ground—not that that would be pretty, mind.”
“Uh... Could we please talk about something else?”
“Sure thing, gnome buddy...”
Gimble and the purple dragon flew by in a corkscrew, the former shouting at the top of his lungs, “WHEEEEEeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEeeeeeee...”
“Oh, say, I know what we can talk about,” said Red. “We haven’t been too many places out of the mountains since the end of the war, so we’re kinda curious as to what this East is like and all. And since you were there on vacation, would ya tell us what it was like? Were the people friendly, or did they run from you, or did they pick up swords and challenge you... or what?”
“They were nice enough,” Gimble’s father said. “The subject of dragons didn’t come up much, though.”
“Figures,” said White. “Well, we’ll take this one step at a time. The smallest towns will come first, and after that, we’ll take our show to the big cities.”
“Of course,” said Black. “But if today’s crowd was any indication, we could hit the big time pretty quickly.”
“Best to be cautiously optimistic,” said Red.
The purple dragon came out of a flip and panted steam. “Had...” huff... “enough...” huff... “li’l dude?”
Gimble’s head and eyes spun for a minute, and he said, “Yes... That’s enough...”
“Can we take a break?” Gimble asked. “I have to use a latrine.”
“Ah, say no more.” Then Purple called to his friends, “Little gnome here has to take a break. Let’s land at the next human town.”
It so happened that the next town on the way was The Windmill Road.