The Dragon

I speak of a time long past, the time of the great battles. From this hellish time was born the legend I am about to share with you.

The legend passed down among our family generations for well over a century. The legend, of the Dragon. A magnificent, proud drake circled in the azure heavens, reveling in his gloriously free flight with a fiery burst. His companion, a younger dragon, watched from the mouth of their hidden cavern.

The airborne dragon's obsidian scales glittered and gleamed like polished jet in the afternoon sun. His massive wings spread wide, as if to embrace the very currents upon which he soared.

Another happily ignited burst of flame shot from the impressive animal's jaws as he glided effortlessly with the wind. His companion, his friend, was a beautiful white whose scales shimmered with a mystical iridescence.

As truly breathtaking as he was, the young dragon often wished the midnight hide and impressive power of his friend were his own. They each took turns guarding the small treasure trove both valued so highly. Turning away from the cave's entrance, the silver drake curled up in a corner to sleep. Just as he was settling himself, the black dragon's cries of joy turned to cries of agony. His jeweled eyes flying wide, the white dragon launched out of the cavern, desperately seeking his only friend.

Catching sight of the horror, he became infuriated. The beautiful jet black drake was now lying broken and bloody beneath a swarm of barbaric dragonslayers. As they hacked at his dying companion, each vying for the choice "trophies", the black drake's anguished cries grew steadily weaker. The young dragon's rage erupted, and he swept down the mountainside, bombarding the malicious fools with fireballs and flashes of flame. Screaming the indignity, he slashed with his claws and snapped with razor-sharp fangs. The men, unprepared for the violent attack from the winged fury now swooping at them, scattered to the trees to collect their weapons.

Panting heavily, and believing the men to be gone, the drake, a flash of white fire, landed gently near his fallen comrade. Tenderly cradling the horned head in his taloned claws, he shook his head in anguish as the black's eyes, so full of the joys of life but a few minutes before, glazed with the mist of death. Screaming his sorrow to the world, he didn't notice the slayers creeping from the trees.

A searing pain shot through his side as a barbed lance drove into his flank. Snarling at the encroaching men, the dragon spread his silvery wings and kicked off the ground. Circling high overhead, and knowing he couldn't possibly win against the horde below, he roared defiantly and swept back to the cavern.

The leader of the slayers, a stout Northman named Ranulf, cursed and yelled at his men.

"Fools! You let him get away!

Did you see? A WHITE drake! I've never seen such a beast!

And, being the last living dragon in the world, he truly will be a prize! Capture him! But alive!

I want the honor of the death blow myself. And mind you, I'll have the head of any man who thinks to cheat me!" He glared at them then pointed to the cliffs. "Now GO! And don't come back without him!" Screaming their battlecries, the group of slayers raced to the rocks and began to climb.

In the cavern, the drake sat moaning his loss, the only mar of his glistening white hide his flank--now stained scarlet. Agonized by the knowledge that not only had he lost his only friend but was also now the sole remaining dragon in the world, he wondered what to do. It would be so easy to just sit and wait for the slayers that were surely coming, but dragons were fighters. The only one he knew that might help was an old man that lived half-way 'round the world.

His emerald eyes narrowed and he growled menacingly as a figure stepped into the cave. "Rest easy, friend," a voice said. Puzzled, the drake cocked his head but kept his wary stance. He was surprised to see the figure push back a hood to reveal long red hair. The woman smiled mysteriously. "I've been watching you for a long time, my fine friend. I have the power to help you if you wish." At his interested look, the woman smiled slyly and murmured, "Would you like to stay forever as you are now? To remain a dragon always of this earth?" At the drake's nod, the woman fought to conceal her pleased grin.

"Then here, you must take hold of this crystal," she said urgently.

At his hesitation, the red-haired woman soothed, "Trust me. This will keep you safe for all time!"

Taking the tiny ball in his claws he stiffened, feeling evil magic at work. The woman laughed maliciously and cackled, "I've always wanted a dragon in my collection! And as the last, you're sure to be a one of a kind!" Desperate to get away from the evil sorceress, the white dragon, shimmering so beautifully, spread his silvery wings and took off for the last time.

Before he could get very far off the ground, a sheet of crystal molded over his entire body, trapping him in its sealing embrace. Still laughing, the sorceress waved her hand and the life-size dragon shrank until he was small enough for her to lift. Hoisting the frozen beast over her head, she laughed. "You'll look perfect on my shelf!

" I am ashamed to say that evil, deceitful sorceress was our ancestor.

Inside the crystal, the dragon's fierce spirit was also entrapped. When held by the pure of heart, the crystal dragon protects that person until such a time he can find the one brave enough, strong enough, to break the spell and free him. Is it you he searches for? Maybe so, maybe not. But if you don't try, how will you know? Until such a time, protect him and he'll protect you. If in need, the spirit of the dragon thrives, and can save you if you but let it. Trust in yourself. Believe in the spirit.

And always and forever--remember those you need.

Or you'll find yourself to be the last. I tire now, so get you gone.

If you have faith, you can do anything.

Even free a dragon.

By Joon Suk Hong