The air rushes around the treetops as the great creature’s skin and tail bristle among the underbrush. The scent of pine, smoke, and ash fills his nostrils; yet this fire comes not from him but from another. The dragon nears closer cloaking himself among the woodland region he calls home. A campfire burns near a makeshift shelter as he watches a youngster add small branches to the fire. The activity piques the dragon’s curiosity, and he nestles himself in the bushes to watch the small child.
The child warms his hands, and then rests them on his knees appearing solemn and deeply entranced within his own thoughts. Based on the youth's appearance, he could be no older than three. The dragon longed to look into the youth's soul. But, despite the dragon's keen eyesight, the child hid his own eyes from view. The dragon wondered why. It did not take the dragon long to marvel that surely this was no ordinary child.
The child returned to his lean-to structure, and pulled a provision bag from within. The dragon watched as the child munched on small pieces of honeycomb and crusted bread. Someone surely was taking care of this child or had at least provided for him. The dragon still had a full stomach from his feast the day prior, and convinced himself that he could afford to watch beyond nightfall. Perhaps the child’s parents would return then.
The dragon watched the child capture crickets throughout the day only to crisp them briefly in the fire for his midday and evening meals. However, the dragon did not see the child consume the entirety of the honeycomb and bread within his pack. Could this toddler, perhaps, conceive rationing? If such be the case; how? Did this not require a higher level of understanding, awareness, and conscious thought than one only slightly older than an infant possessed? Who were his instructors, teachers, or guardians? Furthermore, where were they or when would they arrive?
As nightfall came, the dragon grew weary. Yet no one had come to claim the child. As the dragon began to rest his eyes, he smelled something that won his favor; incense. Was this child burning incense in a spiritual offering? The dragon breathed in the rich musk, the spicy scent that he dearly favored; patchouli. The child’s actions had perhaps unwittingly summoned the dragon’s revelation. The dragon swiftly uncloaked his presence and came into the child’s campsite. When he arrived, the child kneeled and murmured in awe, “Most Honorable Dragon.”
“Arise, young child, so that I might look upon your face.” the dragon commanded.
The child’s eyes shown a brilliant silver; like that of a cold and piercing blade. The contents within alluded to a wisdom and providence far greater than the child’s years and far superior to that of his elders. The dragon sensed no fear within the contents of the child’s heart or mind. The toddler kneeled unwavering, brave, and relentless as one perched upon a rock. Yes, assuredly, this was no ordinary child.
“Have you no fear of me, young one?” the dragon inquired.
“If you had sought to harm me, you would have done so. My faith had told me not to fear you, or any other creature, including man. I shall do as I have been commanded.” the child returned.
It was true.
“Have you no guardians or elders to care for you?” the dragon inquired.
“My father and mother were alive two days ago. My mother passed from ailment and disease, and my father was murdered for my sake.” the child stated bitterly, but no tears came to his eyes.
The child's gaze at the dragon grew with discomfort as he spoke. The dragon sought to reassure the child and to also discover answers to his own curiosities.
"Child, how long have you been without rest?" the dragon inquired sweetly.
The child spoke no other word, but rather nestled himself near the dragon as if waiting for some miracle to happen.
The dragon outstretched his clawed hand over the youngster's forehead, and before long the youth was in a deep sleep.
This unusual child was not yet able to comprehend the questions that plagued the dragon's mind, but perhaps he would find satisfactory answers within the contents of the young lad's mind and memories. It would be a journey the dragon would soon not forget.
A great fire eclipsed the dragon’s vision as he travelled into the most recent events the child experienced. Screams, confusion, sinister laughter, and loud bangs echoed in the dragon’s ears. The scene that unfolded depicted soldiers clad in armor with spears, bows, and torches chasing the young child and a red-bearded man. The man fleeing with the youth in front of him must have been the boy’s father. The man was dressed in meager peasant’s clothing; handmade with hems and patches obvious to the naked eye. No protection was on his back or shoulders as he slung the provision bag to the young boy and screamed. The scream came in response to the archer’s arrow before the ground was lit ablaze further and the soldiers stopped their pursuit.
“Aye, that boy will die out here without his father if the flames don’t engulf him first. The kid is little more than a babe. We’ll prepare a fine report to the ministers that justice was served for these heretics and blasphemers. There is nothing but grief and sorrow left for this kid. He watched his mother die this morning. He won’t return to our land.” the commander said in a scratchy, throated voice. The dragon could imagine the sneer on the repugnant creature’s face.
This was why he removed himself from human presence in the first place. A mere child left alone to fend for himself, and a man scarcely without a penny to his name hunted down by the strong for what purpose? What harm could a small family do to a ruler with even a miniscule convoy of soldiers? But then again, human pride is worth more than all isn’t it? Any threat must be taken seriously for fear of rebellion or for the sake of fragile ruling egos. Instead of allowing his stomach to churn with fury and disgust further, the dragon instead returned to the scene of the young boy and his father.
The toddler returned to his father’s side with the provision bag the man had slung toward him.
“Take these. You’ll need them.” his father managed to grunt. An arrow through the stomach was a slow and painful death, yet the man managed a smile.
Tears streamed down the child’s ashen face as he nodded and shook his head.
“Fear not, for a caretaker will be provided to you. I may not last the hour, but our love for you will endure forever. You are our son, and your mother and I are overjoyed with you. Do not let our deaths trouble you. Today, we will receive peace and salvation from the evils of this world; evils which you are destined to overcome as it has been foretold to us. What good is a life of riches, wealth, and pleasures if you do not have kindness of heart and strength to endure life’s struggles. Assuredly I say to you though stricken with illness, strife, and hardship, we have been blessed. We have what emperors covet and long for yet do not know. Peace and happiness are treasures all their own, and our faith has bound us to these commitments. It has not failed. You are the child given to us because of our faith and longsuffering. You may endure many hardships and experience many battles, but you will turn them around for good. It is your destiny to make things right for those who will follow in your lead. Lead with love and do not fear any danger. No true harm should come to you; affliction of the physical body perhaps, but not to your soul. You are in The Great One's hands.” The man placed his hand on his son’s forehead and though death should not have come for him so swiftly he lay in peace as if in a deep sleep.
The child dried his tears. As the child noticed the flames approaching him, he removed himself hastily from his father and fought the urge to look back.
“What a speech before death.” the dragon thought to himself, and marveled at the expression on the boy’s father’s face.
“It was as if he embraced it.” The dragon murmured. No human the dragon had ever encountered had been so at peace with their mortality. Maybe there was something different about this family; something the rulers of this world did have to fear. Perhaps, it was something that shook them to their very core, something seemingly unnatural to mankind. The dragon’s tail wagged for a moment with excitement and curiosity. Tail wagging was a habit the dragon found most distasteful. It reminded him of men’s pets; ones he was clearly superior to, but alas he couldn’t rid himself of this most annoying habit.
The boy’s face contorted into a pained expression, and the dragon instead decided to seek more comforting memories to filter through (so long as they still suited his agenda). Who was the boy’s father? If only he could get a name, he could look into the spirit realm for answers to his questions regarding the man’s spirituality and the boy’s mother’s as well. What secrets will unfold within such a unique family?
He filtered the child’s memories until he found a most ordinary interaction: the boy visiting the bread stand at a local village. Like most children, this toddler had run off for a brief moment. The elderly woman running the stand knew he must be reunited with his parents swiftly.
“Child, where is your mother and father? Do they know you’ve come to visit my stand?”
“Father is at the butcher, and mother is home sick in bed.” he replied.
“Oh dear, who is your father? Surely he doesn’t know that you are missing. I must find him! Come along!” the woman rushed.
“His name is Ragnason Elluron, ma’am.” the child smiled.
The dragon was sure she returned the young lad swiftly. At least there was some good in humanity left, but what the dragon truly sought was his father’s name. Now that he had a name and face, he could explore this man’s memories along with that of his wife. He was sure that he could easily find the name of the child’s mother within his father’s memories. The dragon covered the young boy’s eyes once more before removing his long clawed hand from the youngster’s forehead. He looked over the boy whose face had returned to a comforting restful expression once more.
The stars in the sky spoke to the dragon with the wisdom of ages, and assured him it was a perfect night for spirit calling. The dragon gathered together the remaining strands of patchouli incense, leaves and twigs, and lit them on fire with his breath; a breath that contained magic great and foreign to many creatures that had wondered this great earth. This child alone although he slept was in the presence of a great mystery and wonder. Once the dragon performed this act, he would create a bond with the child that could not be undone. The works performed in front of the child would be revealed to him at the time he came of age, and he would see all that the dragon saw before him regardless of whether the things were pleasant or not; for the dragon was bringing to life the memories that had been contained in the child’s mind as well as the contents of his familial identity and heritage.
“I hereby call upon the spirit of Ragnason Elluron be it past or present identity to explore the answers I seek regarding his son’s heritage and unusual disposition.” the dragon summoned.
A sunset-hued smoke cloud formed in the starry sky and a bright light that flashed as lightning appeared.
The dragon gasped at the revelation.
“Ragnason Elluron is not here. His spirit is in possession of a great authority, and cannot be touched any longer by the creatures and matters of this earth. Nonetheless, I will reveal to you the information you seek that has been gifted to me by a higher authority so long as you call upon His name.” a voice boomed.
“O Messenger of the Great One, it has been a long time since I have heard your voice or felt your master's presence on this earth. It has been a millennium or more, but still I have longed to hear and experience it. Your master has not forsaken His ministers not even at this hour despite the doubts intruding our thoughts. Forgive me, O Great One, that I might be a faithful and enduring servant in your eyes. My wisdom is no match for yours, and surely I bow to your authority. I thank you most graciously for calling down your messenger to my presence. May he deliver my plea, gratitude, and expression of faith to you upon his return.” the dragon knelt.
“Your message to the Great One will be delivered, Beloved Dragon. In return, my master sent me this instruction to give you. You shall be a custodian and caretaker over this child. You alone are to teach and instruct him the ways of grace, kindness, wisdom, love, mercy, and fortitude. Encourage his strength, and perhaps you will recall the duties and spirit of heart I have instructed you. I will now reveal to you the information which you desire.” the smoke cloud replied.
With that, a scene of the young one’s father in deep conversation with the Great One unfolded before the dragon's eyes.
"“Ragnason Elluron” the Great One’s voice boomed, and Ragnason turned to answer.
“Most Honorable One, Great One of the Earth, Seas, and Heavens, is it surely You who doth call upon my name as your humble and insignificant servant? Surely, I am not worthy of such words, but nonetheless I know that it is You who speak them.” Ragnason acknowledged, shaken.
“My presence and voice has been revealed to you by your faith and works, my son. Yet, I have more work for you to do; a choice for you to make and see fit by your own accord. Will you walk in my statutes or forsake them?” the Great One inquired.
“Assuredly, I say to you O Great One, that it is my life’s work to walk in faith subservient to you and as you desire. If this is my choice, then I shall choose it always.” Ragnason replied.
“Your faith has waxed strong and you have not neglected your work as my faithful servant. Nevertheless the choice I present to you is this: your wife will bear a son for you, he is already in her womb. The choice you make is for your son regarding his future and the future of your wife and self.
The child that has been given unto you can be a mighty man, the ruler of kingdoms of Earth, a great king. He shall make war with others and conquer all he touches. He and your family will not lack in food, wealth, pleasure, or stature so long as you live on this earth.
Or, your son may be a humble servant of mine and live a life devoted to the love and care of mankind. He will be compassionate to those who are afflicted and seek to heal their troubles both great and small. He will be pursued and cast out of many lands and societies and will be seen as the thorn in the side of all governments. Yet, he will be loved by the weary and turned to for wisdom and strength. My hand will be on him always, providing him of everything he should need, but you shall lose your life when he is of young age. He will experience sadness and grief in his young life and will witness the plagues that condemn mankind. It will not be an easy life for him, but his soul will always be in my hands as a most beloved treasure. Through the strength I lend him, he will bear his troubles with grace and bring peace among the least of mankind. His life will be used for good and not evil, and he shall rest peaceably when the day comes that he shall be taken from this Earth.” the Great One spoke.
“O Great One, you know that my life and all I have is in your hands. Though your offer tempts me, it is for my son’s soul that I care. What good are the wealth and riches of things in this life when it leads others to suffer? The heart you have given me can only seek good according to the laws which you have commanded me. My son is in your hands.” Ragnason replied in praise.
The Great One retorted, “You know that your wife is ill, and this illness will not leave her upon your child’s birth unless there is some sort of intervention. While it will not affect her bearing and delivery of your son, as my hand will be on her during this time, she too, will surely die in his younger years if assistance is not received. Should your son become a mighty man, surely her affliction may be healed by the use of medicines which you would also no longer lack. She and your family can live a longer life far superior to that of your brethren, ancestors, and fellow villagers. You will be exalted to high places and officiates within the government. Does this not appeal to you?”
“O Great One, why test me with such offers? I have concern for my wife’s affliction, of course, but it is the heart and soul that matters not the things of this life. Have I not been patient, longsuffering, and steadfast to you as your servant? If I have not flinched before now, why should I do so now?” Ragnason inquired.
“Shall you speak with your wife before making such decisions? What would she choose?” the Great One inquired.
“Our hearts are the same. I have no need to speak of such matters with her, O Great One, as from the time we were twain we bound ourselves to your laws and statutes. We both seek the same things for one another and for our child, to seek your truth and favor. Every good thing in this earth comes from you, and without you there is no good. The hands of man have corrupted those good things which you make so without such purity the consequences are too vile for our conscience to bear. Again, I say to you, I choose for our child to be a prophet and witness to mankind, a servant of you, Most High One and thank you for your most gracious offer.” Ragnason responded.
“It is because of this, my servant, that I have chosen you and your family. Even in a millennium, I have not seen such strength of spirit or commitment to my will. But, the time is now when a bolder servant must arise against the corruption of mankind and spread the law of love and truth. Your son shall be my chosen one, and a great multitude of peoples shall be brought into my fold by his hands. His treasures and reward shall be great upon his passing, and though you and your wife should die I will not neglect his instruction or provisions in youth. He will have a caretaker chosen by my hand and will see many works and wonders which the world has yet to behold. Many of life’s mysteries shall be brought to the forefront and he shall see them with his own eyes because of your faith. He shall be ordained. I will make my covenant with him, and for generations mankind will be restored in love and grace. You and your family will have a place with me always; you are mine.”
“Blessed be Your Name, O Great One. No words can be ushered out my mouth to express the gratitude I feel with the words and promises you have spoken. For I, being no one, of no noble lineage, blood, or high place, have been exalted to witness your presence and to be held in your hands. Though I do not deserve, because of your grace and mercy have you extended this great offer. You are truly merciful, O Gracious and Loving One. May I serve and praise you forever and ever!” Ragnason worshipped.
With that, the Great One’s presence left and in eight short months, this new servant was born. Upon delivery of this child, his mother’s ailment returned but the Messenger of the Great One had warned her at the time her husband was visited by the Great One. She too, was offered the same choice, and her husband’s words rang true. It was not just Ragnason’s faith that was tested, but that of his wife as well. Assuredly each won their place with the Great One and will be there together in the afterlife.
As the babe opened his eyes, his parents marveled at their color; Glistening, icy, brilliant silver like they had never seen before shone in them. Unlike most babes, the color itself did not change except for its brilliance and magnitude. Surely, this child was ordained by the Great One of that there was no doubt.
That is all this messenger has been instructed to tell you, dragon. It is with this information, I leave you. You are the one who has been ordained to raise the child from here, though his story is written you cannot fail."
“Thank you, Honorable Messenger of the Great and Powerful One.” the dragon bowed graciously.
With that the smoke cloud drifted and disappeared, and the dragon turned to the young child once more. The child was now sitting upright with his brilliant silver eyes staring at the great beast. He had watched it all, and was now a witness to his own destiny and that of the dragon.
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Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Original narrative & well developed characters
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme