The judge bangs his gavel. “Right, let’s get called to order then, shall we? We have a long docket today and I’d like to wrap this one up before tea.”
The bailiff steps forward. “In the trial of the people versus George the soldier, the defendant has been accused of killing the last of an endangered species, violating the new environmental protection act. George, how do you plead?”
“Of course I slayed the dragon—”
“George,” says the judge. “Has your counsel not advised you that a simple guilty or not guilty will suffice?”
George whispers with his lawyer while the judge slinks back, puts his elbow on the arm of his chair, and rests his cheek in his open palm.
“Not guilty, you’re honor.”
“Does the prosecutor have any evidence to admit?”
“Actually,” says the king’s attorney. “We would like to skip right to calling our first witness, as we think this will be sufficient.”
The judge gives a half-hearted wave of his hand. “Proceed.”
“The prosecution would like to call George the Soldier to the stand.”
George seats himself in the witness booth, his wrists and legs in shackles.
“George, would you be so kind as to tell us the story of how you killed the last dragon?”
“Well, it’s like this. See, I was in a far-off land when I came to a city next to a pond that was as large as a lake, but it wasn’t a lake, it was a pond…”
“You can skip the theatrics and get right to where you killed the dragon,” says the prosecutor.
“I think it’s important for my case if the whole story is told,” says George. “As it turned out, this city was being terrorized by a dragon. At first, they would feed it one sheep every day. Then, they had to feed it two sheep every day. Finally, it got to the point when I had arrived where they were feeding the dragon one child a day, chosen by random lottery.
“I happened to ride past a young woman tied up at the enormous pond, and she told me the story of the dragon. As it turns out, she was the dragon’s next victim, and was the king’s daughter. Though her father had offered up all his riches to the citizens, they would rather let her die than one of their own. Against her warnings, I decided to remain and defend her.”
“So you picked a fight with the dragon by ambushing it as it tried to feed?” asked the prosecutor.
George scrunches his face in confusion “We’re talking about a human being!”
“So let me get this straight,” says the prosecutor. “You set out to massacre the last dragon and cause it’s extinction from the world by using a woman as bait?”
“Yes, but, wait, no… okay, look. I stabbed the dragon and tied it to a leash to bring into town with the princess, who I saved from death by the way. I told the frightened townspeople that I would free them all from the terror of the dragon if they converted to Christianity.”
The courtroom erupts in murmuring.
“Order,” says the judge.
“So then, what happened?” asks the prosecutor.
“So they converted and, true to my word, I chopped off the dragon’s head,” says George.
Shocked gasps and more murmuring come from the gallery.
“There will be order in this court!” screams the judge.
“Just so I understand you,” says the prosecutor, pacing in front of the judge. “Not only did you slaughter the last of the rarest of animals, you did it in front of women and children, but not before using it as a threat in order to force your religion upon them?”
“What?! No! You’ve completely misunderstood what happened,” says George.
“I’ve heard enough,” says the judge. “George, I hereby fine you five hundred pounds for the crime of killing an endangered species, the maximum allowable sentence, given the nature of the infraction.”
“My god!” shouts George. “Do you have any idea how much that is in 4th century currency?”
“Bailiff, lead him out of the courtroom. We’ll adjourn for tea and resume in forty-five minutes with the case of Ireland vs. St. Patrick.”