© MistWalker32, 2017. All rights reserved.
He remembered his Mother’s face. From the moment he opened his eyes, he saw her smile filled with teeth, her eyes filled with the fire of love and protection, and he remembered her breath, drying him and making him warm and comfortable. She brought him food, and let him play with the shiny toys that she called treasure. He loved the treasure, the shininess of it, the sound it made, and the smell.
Sometimes a human would come, wearing shiny armor and riding a horse. He would try to take the treasure, and his Mother always stopped the human that she called a knight.
One day, another knight came to try and take the treasure. As always, his Mother went out to fight the knight. This time was different. He heard a horrible shriek of pain and terror. He rushed to the mouth of the cave that was their home, just as the knight killed his Mother. The knight roared in triumph and turned to look at him. The knight ran at him, and not knowing what to do, he sprang into the air, opened his wings and flew away from the terrible scene.
He flew and flew until he came to a great marsh. It was dotted with lakes and streams, and in the center a large hill that rose above the entire marsh. He flew to the hill, still not believing that his Mother was gone. On the island, he found a cave, and as the darkness of night came, he walked into the cave and fell exhausted into an uneasy sleep.
No one could say when the dragon took up residence in the Great Marsh. One day, the people of the villages and cities around the marsh started to notice that sheep and goats were disappearing, then it was cows and horses disappearing. The people then began to see scorch and burn marks, and eventually, some said they saw a great dragon flying off into the sky with the animals held in its claws. The boatmen who took their flat bottom boats into the marsh to gather marsh plants, fish, and waterfowl for food claimed to have seen the dragon landing on an island in the center of the marsh. The island was not visible from the shores of the Great Marsh, and this became part of the legend of the marsh dragon.
After many years of these reports, word arrived that a village had been attacked by the dragon. It had not only eaten animals, but had broken into village and city treasuries and had taken the gold, silver, and jewels. The dragon’s scales were like steel, and the people could not find a way to defeat the dragon. This happened to more and more places and the legend grew of the marsh dragon who guarded a great treasure. Sometimes it would be years between sightings of the dragon, but it always returned.
Occasionally a knight or a hero would venture into the Great Marsh in search of the island of the dragon. Some of the fishermen would guide the knights and heroes into the marsh. The way was winding and treacherous through streams, ponds, and sloughs. They would get them just within sight of the island, but none dared venture too close lest they risk drawing the attention of the dragon. More and more knight and heroes would come during the dry season, and even some who sought the dragon island who were not knights. These strangers only talked about the way and finding the incomparable treasure. Regardless of who went into the marsh, none ever returned.