“No dragons!” shouted the old man. He had hobbled out of the little hut that preceded the bridge over the canyon. He waved aggressively in the general direction of Archibald and his pet.
“What do you mean?!” cried Archibald.
The old bridgekeeper walked to the side of the path, picked a half-rotten wooden sign out of the dust and tried to stake it upright. The sign had a poorly-drawn lizard pictogram with a broad red line across it. The bridgekeeper pointed proudly to the sign, puffing out his chest.
“No dragons on the bridge!” He said. “It’s against the rules!”
“It’s just little Esmerelda,” said Archibald. “Look at her!” he pointed to the little creature that he was dragging behind him on a leash. “Everyone loves her.”
“Hey,” shouted the bridgekeeper. “It doesn’t say ‘no dragons apart from the pretty little ones’. It doesn’t say ‘no dragons apart from oopsy whoopsy cutesy Esmerelda twinkle toes’. It says no dragons!”
“De-ontologist!” said Archibald.
“It doesn’t say ‘no dragons apart from the ones with punny owners’!” started the man, but Archibald had already withdrawn.
He spent months in his zoo, cataloging and breeding and enticing. He had already tried everything else he could think of, but the old man had denied him from crossing with a lion, a basilisk, snakes, a polar bear and now a cute dragon. Each time, the old salt had dug up some archaic rule that prevented the beast from crossing. How was he ever to attend the Exotic Pet competition?
To be continued…