Long ago and far away, there once was a particular forest. There was nothing extraordinary about the trees or animals living there. What made the forest special was that a dragon lived at its heart.
Unlike most dragons that cause an uproar, this dragon was lazy and tended not to leave the forest. However, this did not mean it did not cause problems for the local kingdom.
It started with the woodcutters, who were approached by the dragon and told to bring him a side of mutton if they did not wish to be burned alive.
Merchants traveling through the woods needed to provide tasty chickens or whatever else they had. Soon, everyone entering the woods had to bring something to feed the dragon.
Enough was enough. The villagers complained to the King that the dragon was eating their hard work, and it was his job as protector to do something about it.
Giving it some thought, the King summoned his bravest Knight, Sir Boastful, who was to dispatch the beast before lunch.
Upon entering the woods, he called out to the dragon and, soon enough, was staring directly into his eyes.
"Mr. Dragon, the King has ordered you to vacate the forest immediately and not to return," said the Knight. The dragon smiled, took a large breath, and soiled the Knight's armor as he ran away.
Next, the King summoned the court wizard and told him to rid the forest of the pesky dragon. The following day, the wizard entered the forest, called out to the dragon, and repeated the King's order to leave the woods. Once again, the dragon smiled, leaned forward, and bit the end off of the wizard's wand. The wizard bowed, left the forest, and headed straight to the King.
"I am sorry, your Majesty, there seems to be nothing we can do except continue to feed that dreadful beast," said the wizard, then returned to his tower.
Now, the King was in a real pickle. The peasants were growing angrier every day. Something had to be done, but what? The King got a brilliant idea.
The following day, the town crier was sent throughout the land, announcing that anyone who could rid the forest of the dragon would be given the princess's hand in marriage and half the kingdom.
Days passed, and no one appeared finally; when all hope had gone, a donkey presented himself at the front gate and demanded to speak with the King.
The guards, astonished at the talking donkey, escorted him to the throne room. The King listened to the donkey's proposal and then said. "I suppose, being magical, you are my only hope. Although I am not pleased to marry my daughter to a beast of burden, it seems I have no choice," said the King.
"I never said I was magical," said the donkey, who then took his leave of the King, heading directly into the forest.
"Not magical. Well, at least the villagers will not need to feed the dragon today," said the King.
"Hello, dragon, come out. I have something to tell you," said the donkey.
Moments later, the great beast appeared.
"Oh, I see lunch has delivered itself. How wonderful," said the dragon.
"I am afraid you have it wrong; I am not your lunch. I am the King's messenger," replied the donkey.
"Messenger or lunch, you'll taste the same," said the dragon.
"By order of the king, you must leave this forest and never come back," said the donkey.
The dragon smiled, then opened his mouth wide and leaned forward. The donkey sneezed, covering the dragon with gooey green slime.
"GERMS!" said the dragon.
"It's just a little cold," said the donkey, then wiped his nose.
"I hate germs. They kill you," said the dragon, who then turned and flew as fast and far from the sick donkey as possible. The donkey smiled and returned to the castle.
The next day, the kingdom rejoiced at the wedding of Princess Petunia and the donkey, as well as getting rid of the dragon.
During the banquet, the princess leaned close to the donkey and whispered, "Please tell me how you rid our land of that foul beast."
The donkey smiled. "That was easy. I heard from a fox, who heard from an owl, who heard from a mole that the dragon's entire family had died from a cold, so he was terrified of the sick. I had the baker put pea pudding up my nose, then pretended to be ill and sneeze on the dragon," said the donkey.
The princess smiled and kissed the donkey on the head.