He hopped onto the top of the wall and looked down. It was a long drop and he still didn’t quite have the strength in his wings to fly. He swallowed. He jumped but landed awkwardly on his leg. Great, he thought, I’m a goner if there are any dogs.
The dragon limped through the garden, skirting the wildest looking plants. Their defences look like they could be painful, he thought. He could scent what he was after and the smell of victory was getting closer.
But all of a sudden a patch of swaying vines loomed up in front of him, and stretching to either side as far as he could see. He had no choice he realised, he would have to go through them. He charged.
The mass of vines looped and swung as they sensed the invader, but the dragon hopped and jumped, skipped and dodged. He could just see daylight ahead when one vine slapped him hard from behind and sent him spinning.
Dazed and confused on the floor, his head felt like it would explode. Opening his eyes, the daylight burst in like a rocket, but the dragon sensed rather than saw the danger closing in on him. A couple more jumps and I’m there he thought, willing himself up. His heart was thudding.
A couple of vines swished with killing blows, but they only hit dirt as the dragon scampered out to safety. He stood panting, with his sore leg and head. But I’m still alive, he thought, and I’ve still got a chance.
And looking up he saw what he was after. He was so excited he forgot his injuries and ran forward. He almost failed to spot the dagger-like thorns protecting his prize but managed to pull up just in time. His eyes widened at the size of the spikes.
Carefully he stepped off the grass. This isn’t going to be about speed, he thought, but agility and precision. Controlling his breathing he crawled and stretched, weaved and twisted himself a path through the sharp points.
Until there it was in front of him. He set to work with his teeth and claws, sap running down his jaw as he nibbled away at the stem. It was tough and seemed to take forever. But before he knew it, he’d worked it loose and it was in his little hands.
Immediately he could feel an extra strength glowing in his wings. But as he stretched them out he was suddenly wracked with pain on one side. Turning to look he could see one of the sword-like thorns had caught his shoulder.
The pain was so great that his head began to throb again, so too his leg. The dragon swooned and breathed deeply. As he did so, the scent of the flower in his hand worked like a painkiller and he returned to consciousness before he could topple over.
Smiling and spreading his wings more carefully this time, the dragon took off. Circling about above the garden, he could see the gardeners all running out, looking like ants from high up, and shaking their fists at him.
But the dragon took no more notice and turned westwards for home. I may have a leg, shoulder and head injury, he thought, but I have what I came for: A big, blood red rose to take back to my fathers.