When three poor soldiers found themselves unable to live on their meager pay, they decided to try to desert the army. The three men are forced to hide, trapped because the army is not moving on from the camp. While stuck in a ditch, the men encounter a dragon who offers to take them into his service for seven years. They layer find out the dark side of the deal, when the dragon tells them they will only be released if they can solve a riddle. One of the soldiers stumbles across the grandmother of the dragon, who is perhaps the only chance they have at solving the riddle and gaining their freedom.
Andrew Lang (1844-1912) was a Scottish writer who collected fairy and folk tales from various cultures and put them together in twelve volumes of tales. He was noted for taking the tales from as many original sources as possible, keeping the fairy tales close to their intended meanings.