The tree sat in the middle of the meadow. It wasn't that tall, but it was very thin, and the leaves covered most of the trunk, all the time. In winter they'd brown, but never fall.

Sometimes they'd rustle, even when there was no breeze.

Creatures would go up to it sometimes, and vanish between the branches. Sometimes they'd come back, and say very little about what they'd seen. Sometimes they wouldn't.

Today, there was a mongoose near the tree. It approached cautiously, glanced around to make sure it wasn't being watched, then slipped beneath the leafy canopy.

At first, there didn't seem to be anything strange about the trunk at all, and it was disappointed. But then something moved, just slightly, and caught its attention. It moved closer, then leapt back as what was wrapped around the tree opened it's eyes and sprang forward.

It was a dragon. Its scales were the exact colour of the tree bark. It blinked at the mongoose.

"Oh," said the mongoose. "You're a dragon."

The dragon blinked again. "Yes. Yes I am."

"Oh," said the mongoose.

"Did you want something?" said the dragon.

"Like what?" said the mongoose.

"Well," said the dragon. "Most people come here to make use of my infinite wisdom."

"Oh, really?" said the mongoose. "I just came to see what was here." It scratched its ear nervously. "Is that all right?"

The dragon sighed. Its breath was very hot, and the tongue which flicked out was long and forked. "It's a bit dull," it said. "And I eat people who bore me, I'm afraid."

"Oh, really?" said the mongoose.

"Yes," said the dragon. A clawed hand seemed to melt out of the tree, and reached lazily for the mongoose. "Do you not want any questions answered at all?" it said as it pinned the little creature to the ground.

"No!" said the mongoose. It squirmed, but the dragon's grip held. "Please let me go!"

"I'm afraid I shall have to eat you," said the dragon. "I have to entertain myself somehow."

"But why do you have to eat me?" said the mongoose.

"Because you don't have any questions," said the dragon, and sighed again. "You're young. There must be something you want answered."

"Nothing I can't find out for myself!" said the mongoose. "I know everything I want to know right now."

"I very much doubt that," said the dragon.

"I do!" said the mongoose, still struggling. "Why don't you ask me a question?"

The dragon's claws were lifted away from it. "Me?" it said, blinking in surprise. "Ask you? A question?"

The mongoose nodded.

"But I have infinite wisdom!" said the dragon.

"Really?" said the mongoose. "What's my name?"

The dragon was silent. "I only just met you. There's no way I could know that." It cocked its head to one side. "What is your name, little one?"

"I don't have one," said the mongoose. "I'm just... me. What's yours?"

"I have many names," said the dragon.

"Is it very hard to keep track of them all?" said the mongoose.

"I have infinite wisdom," said the dragon airily. "And almost infinite memory." it's voice dropped down to whisper. "Though sometimes people greet me by names I don't remember having."

"So you don't have infinite wisdom," said the mongoose. "Am I entertaining you yet?"

"No," said the dragon. "On the contrary. You're annoying me."

"But I'm not being dull," said the mongoose.

"No," said the dragon, its claw appearing from the tree again. "But I eat people who annoy me as well."

"What if I can answer a question you can't?" said the mongoose hurriedly. "There must be something you don't know, other than names."

The dragon's claw stilled, then vanished again. "Very well," it said. "But I warn you, I may have to eat you."

"Alright," said the mongoose. It scratched it's ear thoughtfully.

"And it can't be about you," said the dragon. "I don't know you at all."

"How many questions can I ask?" said the mongoose.

"Three," said the dragon. "Three is traditional."

"Alright," said the mongoose. "What's the river that runs near here called?"

"The Gated River," said the dragon. Its tongue flicked out again. "Try again."

"How many trees grow in this meadow?"

"Four, counting this one," said the dragon. "You have one more question."

The mongoose was silent for a long time. It stared at the grass between its feet, head bowed, and the dragon smiled, taking this as a sign of defeat.

Then the mongoose looked up. "What part of this meadow has the softest grass?" it said.

The dragon narrowed its eyes. "That's to do with you," it said.

"Not personally," said the mongoose. "All my friends know the answer. You live here too. Don't you?"

The dragon flicked its tongue out again. "How many guesses can I have?" it said.

"Three," said the mongoose. "Three is traditional."

"By the stream," said the dragon.

"No. The grass is just wet there, mostly. Try again."

"Underneath the northernmost tree," said the dragon.

The mongoose scratched its ear again. "Which way is north?" it said, and the dragon pointed with its nose. "Oh. Then no."

"Then under the southernmost tree," said the dragon.

"Not that either," said the mongoose.

"Then where?"

"Over there," said the mongoose, pointing. "Where I just came from. Just by that hillock."

The dragon glared at it.

"And you didn't know. So can I leave?"

The dragon nodded. The mongoose turned to go. "If I ever have an interesting question I'll come and find you," it said. "If I can't answer it myself."

And with that it slipped away.