Chapter 42 Welcoming the Dragon Slayer!
“When the wind rises the clouds soar. Courage spurs the army as they return home, at ease with the brave soldiers they left with the city.”
On the plains, yellow dust danced lightly above the earth. The soldiers were far too upbeat to let the climate stop them. Toss City was in the distance, like a gleaming gemstone embedded in a foundation of dirt and stone. Lying on top of the massive black dragon’s head, McQueen couldn’t help but exclaim at how lovely life was right now, how happy it was to lead a city. He couldn’t hold back from singing out loud.
“Thinking back when my ancestors rode on the backs of oxen, they must have been this happy too,” he murmured to himself. Sometimes he just wanted to live a peaceful life. But just like gold had to shine, a hero would always be worshipped. He just lived a high-key life, outside of his own control.
“Bank, you’re fast. Run ahead to Toss City and tell them to come out and greet us! Get everything going and make it big and impressive. Call more girls and ladies if you can. Of course it’s a hard job, so maybe no need for old men and women. Remember, this represents the strength of Toss City, so we gotta make it as impressive as possible.”
Crawling up, McQueen issued this order from the top of the dragon’s head.
“Understood!” Bank responded, running off in an instant.
“Percy, reorganize the soldiers. Put the disorderly, messy ones in the inside, the good-looking, spirited ones on the outside. We need to appear at ease and masterful. Even if we don’t have the aura of an elite army, we need to look the part.”
“Understood!” Saluting, Percy ran into the ranks of soldiers. Dust rose as everyone started to run around.
“Bruce, Will, do you think that my current getup needs improving? For example, these leather boots might be too pronounced in the heels. Maybe two buttons done up for the crane feather robe. Do you think the golden silk robe is too much? What about the patterned denim hat, perhaps it’s not formal enough.” McQueen spun around, worried about his appearance. As a dragon slayer, he had to pay attention to how he looked. Back then when the dwarven beauty was seeing him off, this outfit had been perfect for the occasion.
Bruce gave him a thumbs up. “Sir, you’re already dashing enough. With that kind of glamorous outfit, you’re almost unreasonably appealing.”
“My favorite thing about you, Bruce, is how honest you are,” McQueen nodded with satisfaction, turning his gaze back to Will.
Imitating Bruce, Will stuck his thumb up too. “So handsome. That’s all I can say, sir.”
“Hmph, all of you are just going through the motions. Since you’re being so honest, I won’t question it any further.” McQueen scratched his head, exhaling through his nostrils while his narrowed eyes looked up at the sky, proud as could be.
Pale clouds, blue sky. It was a lovely day.
Up on the Toss City walls, McGrady watched the enemy send out a single running person. Of course they were coming to ask us to surrender. But he wouldn’t give them that chance. No McGrady would bear the insult of surrendering like a coward!
Whoosh, his sword left the sheath. His expression dark with killing intent, he waited until the enemy was within two hundred meters to point downwards and attack, leaping from the city wall. He blended his body with his sword, attacking straight to the point.
“Take this!” He shouted, his body flashing through the distance like a bolt of lightning. The air seemed to flex and distort around his intense aura.
The next moment…ah, boom boom, pow pow.
The old men and women on top of the wall just watched McGrady charge over. His opponent raised one hand, grabbed his collar. Then there was a thunder of slapping accompanied by scolding.
“You little scamp, playing sword with your uncle Bank? Getting ballsy, aren’t’ you? Looks like you’ve gotten stronger. Now that your wings are spread you’ve forgotten all about the lessons I taught you when you were little. Let me tell you, even your grandpa Bruce could never match up to me. Go back and practice for five more years before you come and face me.”
McGrady felt the full force of his woeful situation. What in the world was going on? Why was his opponent old Bank? Had Bank surrendered to the enemy? That was a bad sign. Bank might have an honest face, but he was quite the scoundrel. Since he could remember McGrady had been disciplined by Bank. He knew all too well what kind of demon’s heart lived underneath that supposedly honest face.
“Ah, I surrender, I surrender!” McGrady shouted. A solider could be killed, but never humiliated. You could beat me all you wanted, but attacking straight at the most sensitive spots was off-limits. At the end of the day, he might as well be practical and surrender. Staying defiant till the end could wait another day.
Dragging McGrady with him, Bank delivered wonderful news to the citizens of Toss City: their leader had rescued the troops of northern and southern camps. Plus, he had accomplished a feat that would live on in history: slaying a dragon!
Hearing this news, the people of Toss City went crazy. Old men and women, children and their mothers erupted in passionate cheers and went to welcome Castellan McQueen, the ruler himself returning in triumph. They slid down the walls, intending to welcome the hero himself.
“Stop!” Bank shouted, stopping the chaotic crowd. “This welcoming crowd has to represent Toss City in the best way possible. Our leaders have decided that there will be rigorous standards for the welcoming procession. Anyone over forty or under age ten is automatically eliminated. Anyone who is a man or who looks like one, please go back as well. Anyone who has a less than savory appearance or some kind of disability, please go home. As a final statement, this is not a form of discrimination. It is a tactic to elevate our reputation. Please cooperate.”
“We’re all part of the same city, what’s with all the formalities? Nobody’s watching anyways.” The one who said this with dissatisfaction was an old man who looked like he was at the end of his life, his back hunched and a look of slight confusion in his eyes.
“Yes, we’re people too. We have the rights to demand democracy!” This was someone who considered themselves beautiful as a blossom, immediately restrained by a group of men with a waist like a barrel…a young man? Woman?
“Commander Bank, if there are no outsiders, why do we need to set up this kind of formality?” The one who piped up now was a beauty with sharp chin, small lips, pretty eyes, and elegant brows, her long gold hair cascading down her shoulders like a waterfall. Unfortunately she was quite portly from her neck down, to the point Bank wanted to use tons to calculate her weight.
Waving his hands, Bank halted the chaotic noise around him. “Remember, just because you’re not seen doesn’t mean you don’t exist. Enemies are watching us at every moment. So please cooperate with me! For Toss City’s happiness, for Arathi’s glory, let’s go!”
Bank walked ahead with big steps, followed by a big group of girls. Although they weren’t he most beautiful or the most lithe, just the scale of how many there were was enough to light up your eyes. What a refreshing aura!
“Our leader will be happy, heh heh!” Bank tried to control himself from turning his head, but it was still necessary to observe the surroundings from time to time. From the corner of his eye, he admired Toss City’s scenery.
“Stay in line, two lines, don’t get disorganized! Line up by height. Wear a smile on your face as you greet the dragon slayer–Castellan McQueen, and his heroic army–the northern and southern camps!”