The tavern is bustling with activity. The melody of bar chatter flows through the air, harmonizing with the chorus of mugs clinking, and servers calling orders back to the kitchen like backup singers embellishing a song with their intricate vocalizations. However, interwoven among the tavern’s regular refrain, new sounds emanate into the bar’s comfortable atmosphere. The sound of wrenches turning, hammers pounding, and steam-powered drills drilling add more volume to the tavern’s already raucous environment.
“Are you almost finished, it’s just a hair over too loud in here,” yells the Barkeep to the Inventor.
The Inventor steps away from the machine he’s installing and wipes the sweat from his brow.
“I promise once I am done with this, you are going to love it. No more trying to find amateur bards to fill pack out your weekends. And even when you do find them, they’re either less than stellar or they get too wild on the house liquor and they aren’t even worth the liquor you gave them. With this, you will have consistent musical entertainment and you don’t have to schedule someone every weekend. It might have its kinks, but I’ll just come back by and fix it. Eventually, you won’t have anything to worry about,” explains the Inventor.
“But why is it an alligator?” asks the Barkeep exasperatedly.
“That sir, is a dragon. Puff the dragon to be exact,” answers the Inventor, “It will expand your audience. It’s enough novelty and good music for the adults and the children will be attracted to the approachable, cartoonish figure.
“If you say so, but if this doesn’t work out, I want this out and quickly. People appreciate this tavern for the atmosphere, and the atmosphere is not a children’s show,” says the Barkeep as he walks back to the bar, muttering to himself, “Puff the dragon… hmpphhhh.”
The Inventor leans back into the access panel on the back of Puff the Dragon, once again getting caught up in the tangle of wires. The Inventor knows this animatronic like the back of his hand. After all, he had spent years trying to build a sentient machine for the rulers of the realms. Garrisons of sentient soldiers mean no more valuable souls being lost on the field of battle. The entirety of his prototypes were useless, however, unable to learn the idea of protecting a realm of people, only destroying anything that was unlike them. So to help recoup the losses, he retrofitted the robots into entertainment pieces and labor aids. Add some creatively designed sheet metal and “ta-da,” and you have yourself an entertainment piece. He just disconnected the learning cortex from the rest of the machine’s brain and the machine doesn’t do anything other than what it has been reprogrammed to do. No one could ever mess that up right?
The Barkeep is closing up the bar after a long night with the patrons. Just as he’s turning off the light, he decides to take one last look at Puff. He walks over and he looks into the lifeless eyes of the machine, he sees what appears to be a loose wire, floating disconnected in the machine's head. No technical wiz himself, but being pretty handy, he opens the back panel, reaches in and connects the stray wire…
Narrated by Brandon Warner