RETURN TO PARAGON
IN THE BEGINNING
“There weren’t always dragons in the Valley,” his grandfather told him when they went hunting that day. Fascinated, the boy asked him, “What do dragons look like, grandpa?” His grandfather smiled and thought a bit. Then he said, “You’ll know them when you see them.”
The old man carried two dead rabbits in one hand and a hand-carved bow in the other with a quiver of arrows slung across his back. The boy carried a goatskin full of fresh vegetables. They walked out of the Valley, through a stand of trees and across a stream, where they stopped to drink the clear water.
Twilight began to fall as they headed for a large hut on the other side of the stream. A thin wisp of smoke came from the hut’s chimney. They smelled food cooking and picked up their pace.
A bit further downstream was a peaceful village where a teenage boy sat by the stream stoking a small campfire with a twig and talking to his friends. His handsome face was lit by the flickering firelight. He watched an old plastic bag float by in the stream and poked it with the twig. He spoke softly, in a reverie. “Long after Man nearly wiped himself off the face of the earth, there were only three small tribes left to survive on the useless garbage of a modern past. My great grandfather hid his family from the few remaining old guard warriors whose ways could not change after generations of killing.” The boy warmed to his story. “After the carnage began to fade from memory, my great grandfather built the village of Paragon beside this quiet stream, right where we are now.” He looked around the quiet village. They all did.
The boy went on. “And so it would be that, in turn, my grandfather would tell these stories of endlessly profitable wars and mountains of modern garbage, but we thought they were all fairy tales! What did we know? We only knew the peace of Paragon and a history that only began with us. Then war came, as it always does. But this war was my family’s blood feud and some of us had become dragons.” The boy broke his twig in half and threw both halves into the stream.
Riding by the light of the moon, a small army of huge black horses carrying soldiers galloped across the stream toward Paragon, intent on murder. They were led by Gad, an evil, overdressed warlord. His armor was medieval, his weapons ancient and heavy. As Gad’s army attacked the village, women and children were quickly slaughtered while the few men of Paragon began to fall away, badly outnumbered but gallantly fighting back. A man named Ford guided the retreat. In his belt was a large sword. In his 30’s, dark-haired and handsome, Ford suddenly froze when his brother screamed at him.
“Ford! I will kill you now, brother! Kill you now!” Gad rode his horse straight at Ford. Ford swept his sword at Gad’s horse’s legs and the horse went down. Unharmed but struggling, Gad crawled out from under his shrieking, dying horse. He raised his huge sword and cut off the horse’s head. Gad stood up quickly and looked around. Ford was nowhere to be seen.
Gad yelled to the heavens, “Damn you, Ford, where are you?”
Ford rushed inside one of the huts and saw his dead wife lying by the dying campfire. She was covered in blood and clutching a blood-stained bundle to her breasts. Ford opened the bundle and saw his newborn son. With a cry of relief, Ford pried the baby out of his dead wife’s arms and crawled away, clutching his infant son to his chest.