‘How about zapping perjurors?’ Lundqvist enquired.
‘Incinerating bearers of false witness? Carbonising blasphemers and worshippers of false gods?’
‘Not our job, sport. The lighter fuel up the hooter is purely ceremonial.’
Lundqvist frowned, a difficult thing to do when your forehead is covered with thousands of interlapping molybdenum gold scales. ‘That’s all you do, is it? Water the garden and worm the dog?’
‘You could put it like
‘The hell with that, man. I’m a trained killer, not a gardener. You know, fingers not so much green as red to the elbow. If they think I’m going to piss about
things for the rest of . . .
The Dragon King looked at him down a runway of glistening snout.
‘Steady on, cobber,’
he said mildly.
‘You’ve finished with all that stuff now; you’ve attained Enlightenment. ’
‘Yeah, no worries.’
For the first hour, Lundqvist sulked.
Then it occurred to him that since he was a dragon, he had a right to breathe fire even if only for purely peaceful ends. He tried it. Good fun.
And if he was a dragon, he ought to be able to swoop dizzyingly out of a clear blue sky. Once you’d got used to the reverse G-forces trying to scoop your brain out through your ears, it was easy.
Add a nicely balanced lashable tail, claws which (he noticed) were two feet long and sharp as surgical instruments, teeth like cavalry sabres and little round red eyes that could pick out a fieldmouse at a mile and a half and, all told, it was a pretty neat package. Something you could grow to love, given time. An F-111 would have been preferable, but never mind.
And down there, even among the brassicas and legumes and Merinos and Charolais, there were still the good guys and the bad guys. Greenfly to exterminate. Coltsfoot and deadly nightshade to bring in, dead or alive. Colorado beetles to track down and destroy. Tapeworms to hunt through the labyrinthine entrails of the lowing kine. Seen in the right light, from a sufficiently raked and refracted angle, there is true heroism in pesticide.
Pesticide. Getting rid of pests. The first thing we’ll do, we’ll kill all the lawyers.
No? Pity. Never mind; because while there’s mildew and blackspot and blackfly and ants, let’s face the music and dance.
In the warm radiance of the newly polished sun, the Dragon Without Portfolio opened his wings, hiccuped green fire and headed downwards.