|Rabbit Rabi Phil and the Dragon
by Michael Bard
© Michael Bard -- all rights reserved
Long after the fall of Western Civilization, in what had once been the Appalachian Mountains, in what had once been the state of Kentucky, there was a small village. In that village were humans, yes a few were left after the gene wars that had caused the fall. For reasons forgotten in the mists of history they called themselves Trids.
They'd all gathered there, slowly moving away from the villages of morphic rabbits and morphic squirrels and all the other species left over from the war. Even though the mighty Centaur Empire preached equality for all races, there was prejudice. It was quiet, low key, but present, and it made all the races tend to gather in their own places, which certainly made imperial administration easier.
This village was the only civilized settlement for miles around, but it was not isolated. Travelers were fairly common and the reason was simple. In a hidden place in one of the new post war mountains, the Trids had discovered a large deposit of gold. To get there they had to go over a small pass and into a small valley. Inside that valley there was an old place from before the war. And hidden there was gold. Lots and lots of gold. An old sign stated that the place had once been called Fort Knox.
The Trids, not being stupid, made sure to melt down the bars and mix them with other stones and rocks, and only show the resulting 'ore'. In fact most of the mining was actually for other rock to dilute the gold with. It was their big secret and they were terrified of anybody ever finding out. The Trids used this gold to trade with the Centaur Empire for food, clothing, timber for their houses, and non-centaur equine slaves to do all the hard and dirty work. By Imperial Law all non-centaur equines were slaves. Two or three times a year a massive caravan protected by a platoon of elite centaur warriors would climb up the old road to the small village and pick up the gold and drop off the food and wood and clothing and non-centaur equine slaves.
Now, the mountain by which the Trids had to pass to reach the hidden valley was the lair of a dragon. This was a silver dragon with black tips on its horns and claws. And he was old, very very old. Rumour even claimed that he'd been alive during the final days of Western Culture. It was even said that he'd chosen to become a dragon. Nobody could understand that. The mountain was obviously his. It was covered with all kinds of metal towers, some standing alone, some supporting massive spinning blades that turned and turned in silence. Thick black cables hung from the trees and wound all over the towers. Eventually all the cables snaked their way into the dragon's cave.
The brave, or foolish, few who actually crept up to the entrance to the dragon's cave claimed that the dragon's name was BROTZMAN. After all, or so they claimed, there was a big wooden sign on which was painted: "The Cave of Michael Brotzman." Below that, according to these tales, was painted: "The dragon is IN".
The dragon and the Trids co-existed for decades. More by ignoring each other than by any formal agreement. Unfortunately for this arrangement, the Trid population kept growing as more and more humans immigrated. And, as that population grew, the dilution of gold mining operation grew. It became louder and louder, and soon all the mountains echoed with the clangs and hisses of the gold works through the day.
It was late in August that this all came to a head. That morning the Trid workers were marching up the path to their daily labour, and at the peak of the pass, to their horror, was standing the dragon.
And he looked pissed.
However, for whatever unfathomable draconic reason, the dragon did nothing. He just stood there, glaring. So, after some discussion, the Trids shrugged and started to walk through the pass.
But, as each Trid reached the top of the pass, which was more of a trail, in fact a very narrow trail, the dragon kicked him or her down the mountain and they rolled all the way back to their village. Except for the non-centaur equine slaves. They were simply eaten, even over their desperate cries of "Equinator! Save us! Sav--" Even the dragon knew that The Equinator was just a myth.
As a result, no mining was done that day. Instead, the Trids held an ancient rite known as a Congress to decide what to do about the dragon. It took a week of vicious elections, and not a few assassinations, to form the Congress. Another month passed as they argued over procedure. Finally they got to business and voted, deciding to send a group of the largest, strongest Trids to force their way past the dragon. And, given the fate of the non-centaur equine slaves, they decided to leave the remaining ones behind.
It didn't work. The dragon easily kicked each of the biggest and strongest Trids down the mountain. In fact the bigger and stronger the Trid, the faster and further they ended up rolling.
In fact, the only reaction from the dragon was some grumbling about the lack of non-centaur equine appetizers.
After another few weeks spent in Congress, another vote was taken to form a Committee. The Committee would go up to the dragon and try to persuade the dragon to let them pass. So the Committee went up, and talked, and failed to convince the dragon. Even offering the dragon all of the village's non-centaur equine slaves for food failed to impress the dragon.
He even kicked each of them back down to their village and into the middle of their Congress.
Things started getting desperate with the Trids. As they could no longer work their mine, they no longer could dilute the Fort Knox gold. And they knew that the next Imperial Centaur caravan was on its way. If they had no gold to pay for the food and clothes and other necessities, they feared that the Empire would take over the village, enslave them, and feed them to the dragon.
Of course the kindly centaurs would never do anything like that, but the humans were isolated and fearful of anybody not like themselves.
Times passed. Things became desperate. Members of Congress looked at each other, frantically trying to figure out how they could impeach somebody else before they themselves were impeached over their collective failure to deal with the dragon issue. In other words, each was looking for a mythical creature called a Scapegoat.
One day a Rabbi came. He wasn't a human, but a big floppy-eared rabbit morph named Phil. Of course, all rabbits were named Phil after the legendary first human to be transformed into one.
The Rabbi was horrified. He'd heard of the humans called Trids and had come to see the legendary race in its fading glory. Instead he saw Trid children dressed in rags, Trid houses falling into disrepair, and Trid males looking for ways to impeach one another. Being a kindly rabbit, he waited his turn to speak before Congress and asked what had happened to fair village of the Trids he'd heard so much about.
Quickly the Congress told him about the Dragon and the rabbit Rabbi resolved to speak to that dragon and deal with him before the Trids became extinct.
The next day the rabbit Rabbi confidently hopped up along the pass. He looked at all the radio antennas and wind powered electrical generators the dragon had set up and shook his head in amazement as his ears whipped around in all directions. They were large and floppy after all. Electrical power was well known within the noble Centaur Empire, but the Trids had forgotten all about it in their pursuit of gold. Which the centaurs only wanted for its conductive properties.
Too soon he neared the top of the pass and saw the silvery dragon glistening in the early morning sunlight. Swallowing, the rabbit Rabbi plucked up his courage and asked, "Mr. Dragon, why are you stopping the Trids from working their mine?"
The dragon looked down at the white furred Rabbi. He'd never been one for rabbits, they were fat and plump and he'd been watching his weight for the last few centuries. That was why he'd eaten only the non-centaur equines as they were all thin and scrawny. After giving a big yawn, and turning a nearby tree into an icicle with his frost breath, he finally replied, "Because it's too noisy and I can't concentrate to play networked Doom VIII."
"But Mr. Dragon," the rabbit Rabbi continued, "The Trid children are starving and living in rags. If you don't let them work their mine, then the noble race of Trids, formerly known as humankind, will die."
"The names Mr. Brotzman, Phil." Even the dragon knew that all rabbits were named Phil. "And that's the idea. I'll finally have the peace and quiet to allow me to get back into Doom VIII. Hopefully in time for the national championship."
At this point the rabbit Rabbi realized that the dragon wasn't going to respond to reason. The fact that he actually played Doom VIII made that abundantly clear. So, with great trepidation, he decided to force his way past the dragon. Maybe if he could get by the dragon, the dragon would get discouraged, go away, and let the Trids through. Phil knew that this wasn't a great plan, but it was the only thing that popped into his clever rabbit brain. After all, rabbits are very tiny, and dragons are very big.
So he started hopping forward, as fast as he could. He bounded from rock to rock, ears bouncing. If it wasn't for the dragon he would have laughed for the joy of such frantic hopping. After all, he hadn't done it for so long because it was undignified, even for a rabbit Rabbi. But since the dragon was soon to kick him all the way down the mountain, he had nothing to lose. As he approached the dragon, the rabbit Rabbi closed his eyes so that he wouldn't have to see that huge dragon foot he knew was zooming towards him.
He knew it was coming, he could feel the shade as it hovered over him...
But the next thing Phil knew, he was hopping downhill. Skidding to a stop he opened his eyes and looked around. He was over the pass! Turning slowly around Phil looked back at the dragon who was looking curiously back at him, the dragon's snout sticking out between his massive hind legs.
"Mr. Brotzman," Phil the rabbit Rabbi asked. "Why didn't you kick me down the mountain?"
The dragon replied, "Silly Rabbi. Kicks are for Trids."
Website Copyright 2004,2005 Michael Bard. Please send any comments or questions to him at email@example.com