© MistWalker32, 2017. All rights reserved.
He lived on the island for some time. The animals on and around the island provided food, and there were no knights to bother him. After a time, the animals learned to avoid the island, and he had to search farther away for food. One night while flying, he heard a sound that drew him to it, and he saw lights in the dusk.
The lights came from buildings arranged in a group. These villages or cities were where the humans lived. Outside the buildings making the sounds were gatherings of animals. Sheep and goats were a good size and a satisfying meal. As he grew, they were not enough and he started eating cows and horses. At first, he avoided the humans that lived in the buildings. As he continued to grow larger and stronger, he became bolder as well. He no longer hunted only at night, and sometimes he was seen by humans.
One day he saw a group of humans with animals and wagons that was traveling between cities. He was hungry and swooped down to grab a horse. The humans panicked and began to flee. One wagon was driving quickly and tipped over going around a corner. As it flipped, he heard a sound that he recognized. He saw the gleam of shiny objects, and he smelled gold! The humans had treasure! He breathed his flame breath and chased the humans away. When he had eaten his fill of the horses, he picked up what treasure he could in his front legs and mouth and flew back to his cave on the island.
Now he was drawn to the cities and villages not just for the food animals. He wanted the treasure as much as he wanted the food. Over the years, he began to gather treasure from more cities and caravans. After he gathered much treasure, one day a knight came to his island. He knew the knight was here for his treasure. He prepared to avenge his Mother, and as the knight approached, the flame breath spouted from his mouth and he rushed forward. Soon the knight was dead. The knight’s horse was a tasty meal, and the shiny armor and weapon of the knight was added to his ever-growing treasure horde. Over the years, more knights came to try and take his treasure. None ever succeeded.
One day a human who was not a knight came to the island. The human was dressed in a simple robe and carried a long stick. It did not matter if this human was a knight. All humans were here to steal his treasure. He reared back and prepared to spout forth his flame breath. “O mighty dragon of the Great Marsh. I am not here to steal your treasure. I want your help to guard an even greater treasure,” the human said. He stopped in shock. He had never understood the human sounds before. Why could he understand this human? “How can I understand you?”, he said. Thus, began a conversation that would change the life of the dragon.
The human said that he and a group of friends followed a belief system called The Way. Their beliefs were being criticized by new ideas, and the followers of The Way were being driven from their homes. “Just as he had been driven from his”, he thought. The followers of The Way believed that all things were interconnected. All beings, humans, dragons, animals, and all things should live in harmony and peace. They were seekers of knowledge and truth, trying to find the incomparable treasure. In seeking knowledge, the man had learned the language of dragons. The humans wanted to live on the island in a large underground cavern that one of them had seen in a dream. They asked him to guard the entrance to the cavern, and to only let in true seekers of knowledge. They sought a place where they could be safe and live in peace. In return, they would provide him with food and treasure. He thought about the offer and for some reason he could not fathom, agreed.
The followers of The Way kept their promises. They brought him treasure, and moved into the cavern on the island. On nearby smaller islands, they established herds of animals that he could use for food, and that they also used to provide themselves with sustenance. The leader of the humans would come and talk to the him sometimes, and over time, he came to understand and accept the beliefs of The Way and the incomparable treasure. Because of the talks, the dragon learned to speak the human tongue. Because of The Way, he always talked to the knights and other humans that came to the island. He could tell when someone was lying quite easily, and those who came only for gold would not leave the island alive.
The village was abuzz with excitement. Graylon could not believe what was being said. Someone had returned from their quest to the dragon island! It was not a knight, but one of the strangers who had said years before that he was trying to find the way. Graylon remembered the man. When he was a young boy, the man had come to his Father’s home, asking to buy a boat from the Boatwright. Graylon’s Father would not guide the stranger to the dragon island, even though he had sold him the boat. Graylon remembered the man because he had asked the man, “Why do you want to go to the dragon island”? The man had said he was trying to find the incomparable treasure. When Graylon asked what the man meant, he had taken out a small book, and given it to Graylon. He said, “This may help you find out what I mean curious one”. Then the man had gone.
Now 10 years later, the man had returned. Everyone in the village was asking the man if he had found the treasure, and the man said that he had. People asked what the treasure was and where it was. The man only said, “That you must find out for yourself”. People asked if the dragon was real and if it was alive. The man said that the dragon was very real and very alive, and that it was fierce and cunning. When asked how he had survived and defeated the dragon, the man only said, “That you must find out for yourself”. Graylon watched with curiosity and wonder. He said nothing to the man, even though the man caught his eye from time to time. Eventually everyone decided that the man must be lying. If he had really defeated the dragon and found the treasure, he would have bags of gold and treasure chests of jewels and jewelry. The man smiled and shook his head and began to leave the village.
There was something about the man that made Graylon curious. The man was not rich, but there was something about his demeanor that called to Graylon. He remembered the book that the man had given him so many years ago. The title of the book was, The Way. Graylon had to know more. He followed the man to the outskirts of the village and then asked, “Do you follow The Way”? The man stopped. He looked at Graylon and recognition came to his face. “The curious boy”, said the man. “I thought I recognized you standing behind the crowd”. Graylon asked, “Is the book true, and are you telling the truth”? The man smiled and nodded. “How can I know that what you say is true”, asked Graylon? The man said, “That you must find out for yourself”. He started to go. Then the man stopped and turned to Graylon saying, “A curious mind and a seeker of knowledge may discover the truth”. Then he turned and began walking away. “What is your name”, shouted Graylon. “Horgoth” the man said. “Say hello to Alferion for me”. And with that, the man was gone.