All creatures of lesser degrees knew the story about Eagle and Snake. That tale of how they had joined in mortal combat and created Dragon was told to their young. Even the tiny mice on the ground and the smallest sparrows of the sky spoke with fear when they told the story. Creatures winged and legged feared Dragon; they had just cause.
Dragon was a haughty creature, and cared nothing about the others; the others were the smaller creatures and his food. And Dragon was a glutton. Everyday Dragon ate so many of the others that he could not fly. When thirsty, Dragon drank his fill from the many lakes and streams, causing many plants and trees to die. But Dragon cared nothing about that too. Dragon was the master of the sky and the mistress of the ground; the All of the sky and the All of the ground belonged to Dragon. And Dragon believed that he was invincible; no other creature could defeat him. Not only was Dragon a glutton; his greed equaled his gorging.
Everyday before Dragon feasted on the other creatures, he scoured the ground for shiny objects. Those shiny things pleased Dragon’s eyes and he hoarded away all he had found in his cave. After he feasted and could not fly, Dragon put down his huge body along side his treasure and fondled as many pieces as he could before sleep overtook him. Those things - greed, gluttony, and the terrorizing of the lesser creatures had not gone unnoticed by those lesser creatures. After all, they had no choice but to be aware! It was during Dragon’s deep sleep that the lesser creatures moved freely about. One day when Dragon was fast asleep, Man entered their world.
The lesser creatures saw Man and at first were frightened. Warily they said to him……
“Who and what are you and from whence do you come? You are fair indeed and walk upright on your hind legs, just like Dragon. Have you come to eat us too, like Dragon?”
Man was startled and replied, “My name is Man and mean you no harm at all. I walk alone in this land in search of friends. Small creatures, will you be my friend?”
Sparrow and Mouse spoke for the All and said, “Yes Man, we can be your friends. But, if you wish to live with us, you must be wary of Dragon.”
Man was puzzled and asked, “That was the second time you spoke of this Dragon. Please tell me about Dragon.”
Mouse replied, “Dragon is very big and very evil. Dragon does not live in peace with us. Every morning Dragon stands at the entrance of his cave and lets out a mighty roar. That is the signal for all of us to hide as best we can. Then Dragon takes flight in search of his shiny treasures.”
Sparrow cut in and added, “Dragon gathers his shiny treasures and takes them back to his cave where he hoards them away. Then Dragon leaves his cave to feast on the All of us. Dragon devours so many of us and then drinks so much from the lakes and streams that he cannot fly. Thankfully, Dragon has not found the Sacred Well, from which flows the waters of ALL Life. If Dragon finds the Sacred Well, we surely will be doomed.”
Man said, “Dragon can fly and Dragon can walk. But, Dragon cannot fly when he has eaten and drunk his fill. Then what does Dragon do?”
As was his nature, Mouse quickly replied, “Dragon retreats to his cave where he plays with his shiny treasures until he falls asleep beside them. It is only after Dragon sleeps, like now, that we lesser creatures can move freely about. When Dragon awakens in the morning, he does the same things, every day. Man, you need to fear Dragon or he will eat you too!”
Man’s chest filled with pride as he said, “I fear nothing, my little friends. I am the master of my life and my mighty sword and trusty woodsman’s axe have served me well. Tonight I will rest with you and in the morning, I will challenge Dragon with reason. If I am successful, Dragon will see the errors of his ways.”
Mouse and Sparrow pleaded with Man to let Dragon alone. Man ignored their pleas, saying,
“Let us sleep now my new friends. Tomorrow I will solve our Dragon problem.”
With those last words, Man blissfully fell into a deep sleep, but dreamed of a creature he had never met. But Mouse and Sparrow did not sleep that night. They were very worried about their new friend, Man.
The next morning began like all the others before it; Dragon bellowed from the opening of his cave. As Dragon took flight in search of more shiny objects to add to his treasure, he saw a strange two legged creature that stood in the meadow, as if the creature was waiting for him. That was a strange and provocative scene for Dragon, and he decided to investigate.
Dragon landed a short distance from the stranger and demanded, “Who and what are you and how dare you interfere with my morning hunt for shiny treasure!”
Man spoke calmly but with conviction and said, “My name is Man and I ask that you live in peace with me and the All of the lesser creatures.”
Dragon haughtily replied, “Man, you are foolish! I am Dragon and I am Master of the Sky and Mistress of the ground. You shall make no demands on me. I am Dragon, and I do want I want. Nothing can stop me, certainly not some puny creature like you!”
Man was frustrated and said, “Dragon, I too am master of my life and have no fear of you. I ask these things in peace but I can now see that you are nasty and very selfish. Dragon, you take but give nothing in return – because you think that you do not have to. I am not as puny as you think. I have a mighty sword and a trusty woodsman’s axe that have served me well.”
Dragon was angry and said to Man, “You are very stupid, Man. I have sharp talons and very sharp teeth. I can fly and I can walk. You Man, will never harm me. Now I will teach you something. It is a lesson in respect.”
Dragon used his wings and raised himself up off of the ground, turned, and swatted Man with his long tail. Man traveled very far in the air and was well out of sight of Dragon when he finally hit the ground. Man’s body was broken in many places. Dragon was pleased with his quick victory and went about his business, confident that he would never see Man again.
Sparrow and Mouse saw the whole thing and were very afraid. They saw their new friend vanquished with one swat of Dragon’s tail. And now their fear of Dragon was so great that they refused to search for Man until Dragon slept. To Sparrow and Mouse that day seemed even longer until Dragon was sound asleep. Finally, Dragon’s snores signaled Sparrow and Mouse that they could begin their search for Man.
To Sparrow and Mouse the distance covered before they had found Man seemed enormous, but they did it. What they found made them very sad. Their friend Man was broken in many places. Mouse climbed up on Man and put his little ear against Man’s chest – Man’s heart still had a beat! Sparrow hovered near Man’s nose and mouth – Sparrow felt Man’s breath! Then Sparrow and Mouse knew what they had to do for their friend Man. But, they also knew that they could not do it alone; they needed help.
In ways that only the lesser creatures know, Sparrow and Mouse summoned the other lesser creatures to help them help Man. The message traveled fast among the lesser creatures about how Man had stood up against Dragon. When they heard the summons from Sparrow and Mouse, all of the lesser creatures went to help Man. The plan was simple but needed much effort from all the lesser creatures: Man needed to drink from the Sacred Well. The task of Sparrow, Mouse, and all the lesser creatures was daunting and not an easy one.
The lesser creatures had to carry the waters from the Sacred Well in their mouths. In their haste, some of the creatures stumbled and the sacred waters spilled out on to the ground; they had to return to the Sacred Well for more. But led by Sparrow and Mouse, the lesser creatures completed their task – all they could do was wait.
Gradually, Sparrow and Mouse saw Man’s breathing and heart beat increase and his broken bones mend. Man’s skin was no longer pale with the scent of death but robust and healthy. When the light of the full moon bathed Man, he smiled, opened his eyes and sat up. As he sat up Man saw that he was surrounded by many of his new friends. As Sparrow and Mouse nestled happily in his lap, Man was humbled. He said, “My friends, you have brought me back to life and I will always be grateful. But, I have failed you. Dragon does not listen to reason. I will not make that mistake again. Let’s go back to our home to sleep and we will take care of our Dragon problem tomorrow.”
And they did just that, but not before Man told the lesser creatures about his plan. Greed and gluttony fells many with false pride.
That next morning began like all the others. Dragon bellowed from his cave, took flight, found his shiny treasures, and gorged himself on all the lesser creatures that he could find. Then Dragon drank his fill from a nearby stream and waddled back to his cave as Man, Sparrow, and Mouse watched from a safe distance. When Dragon began to snore, Man sprang into action.
Man entered Dragon’s cave but the stench, the smell, almost forced him to leave. But, Man was determined. Man took short breaths and by the time it took for his eyes to become adjusted to the dim light in the cave, Man became accustomed to the smell. As was his way, Dragon had rolled from his side on to his belly; now Dragon’s huge body covered his shiny treasures. Man had no problem climbing on top of the sleeping beast. Man drew his mighty sword and plunged it deeply into Dragon’s brain. Dragon writhed and bellowed in pain but quickly expired. Then Man took out his trusty woodsman’s axe and chopped off Dragon’s head, arms, legs, wings, and tail. To Man’s surprise, Dragon’s blood turned all of the shiny treasures into dirt. With the help of the lesser creatures, Man sealed Dragon’s cave with rocks and boulders. Man, as he walked back to the meadow for a nap, was surrounded by the All of the lesser creatures. In the noon day sun, Man considered himself very fortunate. His new friends, Man thought, were more precious to him than any amount of shiny treasure.
Copyright @2012 Terry Unger