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"The trouble with dragons" he began ...
It seemed like the dragon was going to crash right into the crowd. Seconds before the inevitable collision however, the dragon disappeared with an audible pop, scattering a shower of golden sparks on the crowd below.
"...is that when you've seen one you've seen them all" he finished.
The crowd applauded politely.
"We should probably blame the person who suggested dragons as the theme of the Illusionist's Challenge " said the second judge, the Wizard Dertoh of May. "I do believe it was some fool named...what was it again ...oh yes, Amos of Tryhar."
The third and least senior of the judges, the only recently appointed Wizard Kup of Names groaned inwardly but wisely said nothing. He sat miserably on the Judges Stand beside his two colleagues, wishing he was anywhere else but here. A hot summer sun beat down mercilessly on the spot where he had spent long hours listening to the two old fools making snide and bitchy comments about each other and about the Illusions on display. Long hours. Long, long hours. Though he had to admit that in this instance there was a grain of truth in what they were grumbling about. He had seen golden dragons (five), black dragons (three), two-headed dragons (four) and even a flock of miniature dragons. Each and every one of them did exactly the same thing. Soar above the crowd, flap wings, roar, breathe fire, and then disappear. Except for the miniature dragons, which squeaked rather than roared and which were leading contenders so far in Kup's book, purely for the novelty value. Sighing quietly to himself Kup turned his attention back to the contest.
Edward the Announcer cleared his throat and bellowed out the details of what would thankfully be the last contestant.
"Could I beg silence please, my Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, for our final contestant of the night. Regarded as the finest Illusionist in his native city, I give you the Crimson Wizard of Harengus, with his offering "The Dragon That Wasn't There"". Edward gestured towards the entrance tunnel, which allowed the contestants access to the arena. There was a long silence, during which the tunnel entrance remained empty.
"My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen" bellowed Edward in an even louder voice, possibly hoping to alert the missing wizard to his predicament, "the Crimson Wizard of Harengus, with his extraordinary illusion "The Dragon That Wasn't There"". Everyone stared at the tunnel entrance. Silence. Silence followed by more silence, during which the tunnel resolutely remained empty.
A local wit shouted a comment about "not so much Dragon That Wasn't There as Wizard Who Isn't Here."
Grunts of laughter from the crowd, who always appreciated seeing wizards discomfited.
Edward looked to the Judges for some instruction.
Short tempers are common in wizards, especially wizards who think they are being made fun of.
"I believe" fumed Amos, trying to desperately to avoid losing face in front of the crowd and keep his temper under control, "that a contestant may be called three times in the contest, and three times only.