One fine day in Finland in 1438, when dragons roamed the earth, I, Flicker, a young Great Dragon, was sitting in the fish market, talking to my dear old grandpappy, the fishmonger dragon. Ol' Grandpappy had a twinkle in his eye, and I just knew that he had something important to tell me.

"My dear young grandson," he said to me, "the time has come for you to earn your wings. Please fetch me the Magical Blue Lobster from the big blue pool under Mount Maleficent."

"You've gotta be kidding, Pappy!" I exclaimed. "Why don't you get it yourself?"

Grandpappy said, "No can do, Flicker. You have to prove your wisdom, power

and courage as one of the Great Dragons that shall go down in history. All the Great Dragons have to do something like that when they come of age. If they do not do this, they will not earn their wings." Grandpappy flexed his beautiful, silver-blue wings as he spoke. "You are 548 years old now, and that's just the time for young dragons like you to prove yourself with a quest."

Well, I wasn't particularly pleased with the assignment, but I wanted to earn my wings and make my grandpappy proud. I puffed out my purple-scaled chest with pride. "Grandpappy," I said, "I will not let you down!"

So I, Flicker the young Great Dragon, set off on my quest to fetch the Magical Blue Lobster for my grandpappy. I made my way through Marshmellow Meadow and skipped along all the way to the big blue pool at the bottom of Mount Maleficent. Sitting in the middle of the water was the pool's guardian--the great, big, mean, blue, fat, and not too bright looking Water Dragon. He let out a great roar. "Who dares to approach my pool?" asked the great, big, mean, blue, fat, and not-too-bright-looking Water Dragon.

I puffed out my purple-scaled chest with pride. "It is none other than I, the great Flicker, who has come to prove my wisdom, power, and courage and earn my wings as one of the Great Dragons that shall go down in history. To do this, I must fetch the Magical Blue Lobster from under your pool."

The Water Dragon screamed with resentment. "Fine, you may have it, then!" he yelled. "On one condition--if you bring me the sceptor from King Boongranter who lives in a palace at the top of Mount Maleficent."

"But kings can not give up their dear, dainty little sceptors!" I cried.

The Water Dragon chuckled. "Well, Flicker, this king on the mountain top happens to gain a new sceptor twice a day, and he's always tossing out his old ones."

"Well, okay," I said.

So I, the great Flicker, traversed up the mountain and faced many perils as I struggled to reach King Boongranter's palace. I darted around falling rocks and poisonous pinecones. I evaded evil wizards (of which dragons are allergic), sneezing all the way. Finally, I reached the summit and entered King Boongranter's palace.

King Boongranter was sitting on his thrown, clutching his dear, dainty little sceptor.

"Hey, there, big king dude," I said. "I hear you've got a lousy old sceptor that you can give to me."

"Yup, I do, Flicker," said King Boongranter. "But unfortunately, I can't give it to you until my Royal Plinky Elf Sceptor Designers finish making me my new sceptor. And unfortunately, they can't finish it until they receive a new supply of gold." The king looked me over, thoughtfully. "Here's a deal--I'll give you this sceptor, if you bring my Royal Sceptor Designers some of the gold that sits under the feet of the Mysterious Miser who lives in the cave on the other side of Mount Maleficent."

I puffed out my purple-scaled chest with pride. "I shall not let you down!"

So, I, Flicker, the Great Dragon, climbed down the other side of Mount Maleficent, narrowly escaping falling rocks and poisonous pinecones, and evading evil wizards (of which dragons are allergic), sneezing all the way. I slipped off the edge of a ledge and fell, but luckily I landed right inside the cave of the Mysterious Miser.

The mysterious miser was a tiger--a very small tiger. But he was sitting on a pile of gold pebbles about ten feet high. He let out a tiny roar, and he said, "You can't have one gold pebble from my wonderful gold collection."

"But I need it in order to earn my wings and fulfil my destiny as one of the Great Dragons that shall go down in history!" I said.

The Mysterious Miser tiger sighed. "Well, I'll give you some gold--that is, if you get me some fish. I'm pretty hungry and I don't want to leave my precious gold behind while I am at the fishmongers."

I sighed. "Well, okay."

So then, I, Flicker, the Great Dragon, climbed out of the cave and over the mountain, evading falling rocks and poisonous pinecones and trying to avoid the evil wizards (of which dragons are allergic), sneezing all the way. When I reached the bottom of the mountain, I crossed Marshmellow Meadow and followed my way back to Grandpappy's fish market.

"Grandpappy," I said, "I need a fish. Please, please, please--I'm desparate for a fish! It's part of my fulfilling my destiny."

Grandpappy said, "Sure, you may have one." He handed me a slimey, fresh fish. "Good luck!"

"Thanks, Grandpap!"

So then I, the great Flicker climbed back over the mountain, evading falling rocks and poisonous pinecones, and avoiding evil wizards (of which dragons are allergic), sneezing all the way. It was much harder going this time, because I had to hang on to this flopping, slimey fish. When I finally arrived back at the cave the Mysterious Miser tiger said, "Thanks!" He gobbled up the fish in one loud gulp and gave me a bag stuffed full with enough gold to produce a great new sceptor.

Then I climbed back to the top of the mountain, darting around falling rocks and poisonous pine-cones, and evading evil wizards (of which dragons are allergic), sneezing all the way. It was harder than ever before, because the bag of gold was incredibly heavy.

When I reached the mountain top, King Boongranter was very pleased. I gave the gold to his Royal Sceptor Designers, and in return, he granted me his dear, dainty little sceptor.

I then climbed back down the mountain, for what I hoped to be the last time. Once again, I darted around falling rocks and poisonous pine-cones, evading evil wizards (of which dragons are allergic), sneezing all the way.

When I reached the pool, I could not see the Great Water dragon, but there was a sign posted on a tree that read, "OUT TO LUNCH." By this time, I was just so tired of waiting, that I decided to swim to the bottom of the pool, and just take the Magical Blue Lobster, anyway! So that's exactly what I did. It was certainly a beautiful lobster, with indigo speckles on his sheeny, light blue body--I thought that he would make a magnificent pet. I set back off to my grandpappy's with both the blue lobster, and the sceptor--I figured that the sceptor would make a cool souvenier.

However, before I could reach my grandpappy's, the Magical Blue Lobster began to quiver, and shift. Before my very eyes, he shape-shifted into the great, big, mean, blue, fat, and not too bright looking Water Dragon!!! It was a trap! (I guess the big fella was brighter than he looked, after all.)

The Water Dragon roared with anger. Steam flared from his nostrils, shaking his long tendril mustaches. "We had a deal!" he shouted. "Breaking agreements is NOT wise. You have proven your power and courage, but definitely NOT your wisdom. Now you will pay the consequences!"

"What are the consequences?" I asked.

"This." He grabbed my sceptor and tossed it into the pool. "Now you have to fulfil my request all over again," he said.

So that's exactly what I did. I will not bore you with the details, except to inform you that my mission once again involved darting around falling rocks and poisonous pinecones, and evading evil wizards (of which dragons are allergic), sneezing all the way.

After I once again fulfilled all of the requirements, I returned to the pool with another sceptor. Once again, the Water Dragon was gone, but there was a sign on a tree that said, "OUT TO DINNER." To prove my wisdom, I waited for him to return. It was hard, waiting til midnight, but when he finally got back, I handed him the sceptor. And then the Water Dragon gave me the real Magical Blue Lobster! It looked just like the other one.

"Now, get lost, Flicker, you Great Dragon baby, you!" he said.

So then I skipped through Marshmellow Meadow and returned to my grandpappy's, puffing out my purple-scaled chest with pride.

"Welcome, my dear grandson!" said my grandpappy, beaming at me with joy. "You have proven your wisdom, power, and courage!"

As I handed him the Magical Blue Lobster, I felt a strange sensation on my back. I turned my head around and saw that I had sprouted magnificent, sparkley red-gold wings!

"Congrats, Flicker!" said my Grandpappy. "Now, you will go down in history as one of the Great Dragons! The bards will sing of you for generations to come. And as an added bonus, you get to keep the Magical Blue Lobster as a pet. But," he added, with a twinkle in his eye, "you only get to keep him if you buy Magical Blue Lobster food from a shop on the top of Mount Maleficent, every day."

"No, I won't!" I said. "It's too difficult!"

Grandpappy laughed. "But now that you have your wings, it's no trouble at all!"

I discovered that this was true! I could fly over Mount Maleficent any time that I wished! I would never have to dart around falling rocks and poisonous pinecones, evading evil wizards (of which dragons are allergic), sneezing all the way, ever again! Boy, was I ever pleased!

And that, my friends, is how I, Flicker The Great Dragon, earned my wings.

THE END