...And Gains A Friend

       The gorge that the bridge spanned was about twenty-five feet wide and nearly twenty deep. The river at the bottom, more of a stream than a river now that the snow-fed creeks upstream were diminishing as autumn approached. Greco, by comparison, was able to drop down into the depression, wingtips barely scraping the sides. At his widest, his proud breast reached barely two yards, complemented by two wings, three yards each. It was a tight fit, not one ideal for a vertical landing, but he made do with the generous length of the gorge.
       “Hello, Bridge-Friend.”
       “Greco. Greco, I'd like you to meet Blue.” He gestured to the man beneath the bridge, and Greco lowered his head.
       “Blue? No, your name is God-Friend. I know you, God-Friend.”
       Blue crossed his arms, and Saran looked down in surprise. He slid down the slope recklessly, confronting Blue. “God-Friend?”
       Blue uncrossed his arms. “Yes. My name is Godin, meaning Friend of God, not by choice of mine.”
       Saran nodded. “Perhaps I like Godin better.”
       Blue, or Godin, scowled. “If that's how you want it, Saran, fine.”
       Saran smiled, and turned back to Greco. “You've met?”
       “Yes,” the dragon rumbled, “he is a dragon slayer.”
       “Princes and their quests. It was not a choice. I would do away with them if I could, but then kings would have nothing to continue their legacies.”
       Greco lowered his head, his nose sniffing Godin. “No, there are other ways. Kings are not all there is to rule a kingdom.”
       “What?”
       “Where I came from, a country was run by men. Philosophers. It was called a Republic, and they called what you have a Monarchy. A Republic run by many men, not by one man. It could still become corrupt, but there was control on the rot.”
       “And who chooses the men? What is to keep them from being corrupt?”
       “The people choose them. Only if the people are corrupt do corrupt men lead. That is a Republic.”
       Saran sat suddenly, leaning against the side of the gorge. He closed his eyes and spoke. “See what I mean, Blue... or Godin.”
       “Indeed I do. I'll have to think about this. Thanks, Greco. And my apologies to my treatment of dragonkind.”
       “Do not worry yourself, God-Friend. It is your duty. As Bridge-Friend's is to collect tolls, and mine is to live long and eat what I might catch.” His stomach rumbled, and Godin's horse stamped nervously. Greco growled in his own laughter, and withdrew his head. “And I will not eat God-Friend's horse, lest he come at me and fail. Another day perhaps, when I am the trophy your princelings seek.” Greco pulled his wings in tightly, walked under the bridge, and began a long run down the gorge. With a practiced flourish, he leapt, spread his wings, and continued his search for dinner.

The End

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