“My lord, may I offer you a drink?”
The Duke looked up. His squire, Rivar, stood behind him, caught in a low bow. A serving girl stood behind the squire, bearing a steaming flagon on a silver tray. The Duke looked at the flagon, and back at Spot. Visions of the trophy, once again out of the Duke's grasp, danced before his eyes.
“I'm not thirsty,” he replied.
“Very well, my lord. Can I interest you in something else?”
“Have you got the competition trophy lying around somewhere?” asked the Duke. He thought of his neighbour, Baron Darkrown. The Baron didn't need yet another piece of silverware to add to his impressive collection. I don’t even have a collection, thought the Duke.
“Alas, I do not.”
The Duke turned around in time to see the squire dismiss the serving girl.
“I thought we might win this year, Rivar,” said the Duke when the girl was out of earshot.
“As did we all, my lord. But I am quite sure that Spot did not intend to urinate on the Chief Judge.”
“No, I'm sure he didn't. But he did it all the same,” replied the Duke.
“And I am sure he did not mean to start a fight with the other competitors. He was merely full of excitement at leaving the castle." The squire stole a glance at Spot, now pouncing at dancing shadows in the corner.
“You are probably correct, yet do it he did.”
“And if I am honest, I would venture that Spot also did not mean to devour the Adjudicator.”
The Duke shrugged in reply, and gazed across the courtyard. Spot snapped at a butterfly that veered too close to his head. A kitchen boy inched around the edge of the yard, eager to avoid Spot's lashing tail.
“Spot? Here, boy.”
The Duke whistled and snapped his fingers. The rare Gudmundian Spotted Dragon whipped around and lumbered across the courtyard towards his master. Spot lowered his massive head and allowed the Duke to scratch behind his horns. The dragon thumped his hind leg in appreciation. The Duke sighed.
As much as he loved his companion, he couldn’t help but wish his mother had given him a puppy.