Ghosts are rattling at the door and the devil’s in the chair. Yes, we’ll kneel and say a prayer. That’s what he was thinking as he stepped into the pub named for the Pogue’s song The Sickbed Of Cúchulainn. How often did he spend in drinking establishments these days?

He took a swig of house whiskey, and he asked for the owner of the establishment.

‘Why’s a Dragon frequenting a place like this?’

‘I get asked this a lot. Maybe I should get the answer printed on t-shirt.’

‘I don’t think anyone would read it – you set off too many alarms just walking into a place. But like I say, why come here? I heard you were looking for Olano, and she drinks at Interzone.’

‘I maybe wanted a hired sword to come with me, Cúchulainn.’

‘A hired sword to walk you into Interzone? Seems a little excessive.’

‘For me? I could walk into an old folk’s home and someone would pick a fight. All I get is animosity.’

‘Know why?’

‘No, tell me.’

‘Because of the tide of fuckwits you’ve been sending our way.’

‘Huh?’

‘Christ. I heard someone woke you up, but how can you not know about all these Lesser Dragons walking around?’

‘Heard someone woke me up? How do you people keep hearing this shit about me?’

‘You’re a story – we have seers, bards, oracles, what have you. They all talk – there is a lot of whine on the grapevine, my friend.’

‘I’ll do it.’

‘You are?’

‘Haymon, and this is my sword, The Dragon’s Tongue. You may have heard of it; once it was a tongue cast in gold, but one of the finest sword makers took it and forged this blade. Have a seat.’

He sat down.

‘I have heard of you. You’re a big man.’

‘I am. It’s a big task,  isn’t it?’

‘Maybe so.’

‘They call you The First Dragon, right?’

‘Yes, but The Reluctant Dragon might be better. I am trying to decipher clues and find out who is trying to push me to do something and become something I don’t want to be.’

‘You mean about from The Cunning Folk? I thought they were trying to make you their champion.’

‘Oh, well you know, if I get into the fight then they are going to have me batting for their team, but only if I get into the fight.’

‘You’re looking for a loop hole?’

‘Sure, I’m a Dragon, right?’

‘Right.’

‘So that makes me a villain. Heroes become heroes by doing something, and villains become heroes by not doing something – I’m trying not to do something.’

‘Admirable.’

‘Maybe. Who likes to be told what to do?’

‘Don’t we need something else? To travel into Interzone, I mean?’

‘A Janus Cat, I believe.’

‘And where do we get one of those from?’

‘I’ll give my friend Erwin a call from The Superpositional Cat’s Home.’

‘OK, and we’re going to meet when?’

‘The Delayed Decision Experimental Art Gallery in front of The Persistence Of Memory Hokusai Wave Remix, with a Cinnamon Dolce Latte.’

‘Sounds like a plan.’

‘Because it is.’

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