"Come on Nico, just one more."
"Buy it yourself if you want one."
"I just saved the world by slaying a dragon and you won't even buy me a pint!"
"Well I had to take on Petra! Which would you rather do?"
"Hmm…good point. I'll get the next round."
O.K, so I was somewhat drunk at this point but I think it's fair to say that I deserved a bit of a celebration. But I still didn't get why I was the one paying.
"So did ya really slay a dragon then, George?" asked Harry as I returned heavily laden with The Yeomen's Arms' finest ales. I shrugged and gave a small, nonchalant smile. Daddy Cool.
"Golly, George, how exciting." Melissa gawped a bucktoothed grin and slid along the seat towards me. As the evening progressed she slowly migrated towards me leaving Harry sitting at the other end. I didn't feel bad, though. Harry seemed more interested in his beer anyway.
"Rubbish!" Snorted Colonel Butley, his foam covered moustache quivering at the sheer absurdity, "I've never heard anything so preposterous in all my life. Anyone in this infernal town will believe anything if it somehow involves King Arthur, fairies or any of that claptrap."
"Well then how do you explain the roaring noise, Daddy?"
"Wind, of course."
"And the fire balls shooting through the sky?" asked Nico, trying and failing not to smile.
"Well…I…I would suppose that…" Colonel Butley's words died out and with no available reinforcements his face rapidly retreated into his beer. Melissa laughed and turned back to face me, eye lashes a-flutter. Eamon, who had so generously bought us the first couple of rounds, leaned towards me.
"Do tell us all about it, Geroge."
I swigged the last of my beer and took a long breath in, staring up at the beamed ceiling; the air of someone unable to decide where to begin.
"Well I guess it all started back in the Congo with Harry. There was a terrible storm which took out both of our planes engines and we hurtled towards the ground. Somehow we'd landed in the jungle. And I was alive. Then I smelt smoke. I was going to have to get out. And fast."
I paused to look at my ensemble of enraptured spectators. Melissa was giving me her undivided attention, eyes and mouth wide open in amazement; Nico sat on the other side of me with her arm around my shoulders; Eamon was enjoying my tale so much he was frantically scribbling down every word; Harry was interested enough to temporary forget about his beer; even Colonel Butley was hanging on my every word. I waited until Eamon's pen had caught up and continued.
"With the seatbelt fastened I wasn't going anywhere…."