You’ve just gotten the news: There is a dragon moving in. Your kingdom, your beautiful kingdom is about to be subject to the whims of a ravening, raging beast. Do not despair! All is not lost. There are a few simple steps you can take to mitigate the damage—or, if you’re lucky, to avoid it entirely.
1) Check to make sure you really are dealing with a ravening, raging beasts. It is true that most of the dragons you are likely to encounter are the fire- or poison-breathing monsters come to take your gold, kill your people, and generally make life unpleasant. However you might have one of the wise, rain-bringing, advice-giving sort (generally recognizable by the frills around their faces) and it is extremely bad luck to kill one of them. Once you have made sure that you do, in fact, have a pestilential reptile on the way, you may want to consider one or all of the following steps.
2) Bankrupt your kingdom. Send all your gold and jewels as far away as possible. It may seem a bit drastic, but consider this: If the dragon comes, you won’t have your gold or jewels and a whole bunch of people (possibly including you) will be dead, the fields will be burned, and the houses destroyed. Chances are, if you send the gold and jewels away, the dragon won’t even bother to stop by, and you can set to work rebuilding—provided no one invades now that you cannot pay the army. Note: Do not think you can get away with simply burying the stuff. Dragons are experts on underground caverns and buried treasures.
3) Ask a saint for help. A really good saint can turn a dragon into a vegetarian in no time, and even a second-rate saint should be able to persuade one to settle for the odd sheep and a small mound of gold. It’s true that even a vegetarian dragon eats rather a lot, but on the flip side, you will have a dragon living in your kingdom. That ought to make even the most zealous of your enemies think twice about invading.
Saints can be a bit hard to find these days, so you might want to try one of the other options.
4) Send in a poet or a musician. Many dragons have a soft spot for good literature, fine poetry, and music and can be convinced to give up their wild ways and settle down in favor of a life of leisure, fine wine, and art. A few evenings given over to listening to your scaly new friend recite his or her poetry and a few sheep given over to sacrifice his or her appetite are a small price to pay for your country’s welfare.
Also, if the poet turns out not to be any good or the dragon has a tin ear, you’re only out one artist and can proceed to one of the other plans.
5) Call in a hero (Especially if he’s an archer who has a treasured arrow handed down through the generations). This is where things can get complicated: True heroes are almost as hard to find as saints and are much more expensive. If they fail, the dragon tends to be very annoyed. On the other hand, most heroes will be satisfied with the contents of the dragon’s trove if they win, and the dragon is already causing you trouble, so it may be worth the risk. You still have other options, should this not appeal to you.
6) Trap the dragon. Watch when it leaves the cave and where it goes. Chances are, it walks at least some of those distances—flying is hard work. The traditional way to build a trap is to hide in a hidden pit and slice the dragon open as it crosses, but you can get the same effect by hiding a trench full of sharpened stakes in the pathway, a method which makes sure you are out of reach of any draconic curses—and a dying dragon’s last curse is nasty.
This and the method below mean you’ll have to live with it in the kingdom for a while, but there may not be another viable option.
7) Poison the dragon. Sooner or later, it will get tired of hunting for its food and start demanding that people bring it to the cave. This gives you the opportunity to poison the sheep—or the maiden—before handing the meal over. Be careful calculating the dose and kind: Ideally, it will be poisonous to the dragon but leave the meal alive and so prevent suspicion. If you absolutely cannot manage this, you may consider offering it a well-cooked, gourmet meal instead of its usual raw fare. Enough flattery might just let you sneak the poison in inside a roast pig or an well-dressed fowl.
Good luck! Let us know how you fare!