King’s Quest – Good King Harold and his Iron Wyrm

Cynic, Going Postal

One of the most popular tales about Good King Harold featured his Iron Wyrm. Travellers who had visited Winchester claimed to have seen it. It was kept in a shed, on a section of dual iron tracks, and carefully tended and kept clean by its guardians, who liked to display and talk about it to the pilgrims and curiosity seekers. It was taller than two men’s heights, and what was most impressive about it was that it seemed to be made almost entirely of iron. It stood on two rows of iron wheels on either side and was attached to a carriage on similar iron wheels for important passengers. Its vast belly was said to have contained a furnace which consumed black rocks, and issued piercing shrieks and plumes of smoke steam and fire.  According to legend and the tales enthusiastically disseminated by its guardians, this was the famous steed of the legendary Good King Harold. Long ago it had ceased to function, perhaps because of a lack of black rocks, or because of the lack of a sufficiently good and powerful king, or for some other reason, but its guardians stoutly asserted that once upon a time it had roared and thundered across the land causing terror until confined to these iron tracks by the power and skill of the king and his mages. Their tales told that when tamed, the Wyrm, which indeed had manifestly once been a dragon, had been obliged to draw the king and his guests along this track, which had once extended across the face of the land, and even to burrow under hills at his command.  Perhaps that was where it had found the black rocks upon which it had fed. Alas, the king had died, and so had his Wyrm. Awed visitors looked at the Wyrm and at the carriage containing comfortable seats and windows through which to view the passing scenery, and wondered what it must have felt like to have gone snorting and thundering across country, faster even than a horse could gallop if one believed the possibly exaggerated tales of its guardians.  According to legend, it was Good King Harold who had tamed the dragons of the land and turned them from destructive monsters to beneficent protectors of the country and bestowers of fertility. The King’s Iron Wyrm was the only dragon which anyone had ever seen, and it was dead. So much for legend.

Cynic ©