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A Slayer of Dragons
Written by Paul Landis Delaune

     When I was a lad in that stage of life between childhood and manhood,
I dreamed of becoming a slayer of dragons.  There was no  quest more heroic than
besieging the gates of Hell and standing bravely as a horde of soulless
monstrosities bore down  upon me breathing fire and brimstone.  I
envisioned my blade singing as its razor-edge  cut through the moonless night to
plunge through impenetrable scales, reeking flesh and bones of steel before piercing a
dozen evil, black hearts.  Fierce would be the onslaught, but fiercer would my sword
streak to quench its insatiable thirst for bloody victory after bloody victory as my
mocking laughter echoed through the Stygian lair of demons.

     Little did I realize that the hands of Fate were busy bringing my dreams to fruition.  On
a sunny, innocent morn, Hell waylaid me on thecrossroads of eternity and into its depths
were all my hopes and dreams cast into the lake of fire.  Oh, the flames!  The
flames burned!  Fingers of fire licked at the sinews of my soul and my spirit’s
tongue begged to be cooled.  The agony tore my heart asunder and sucked the
marrow of life from my bones.  I cursed my Maker and yearned to return to the
womb of my birth.  But all my pleas were for naught.

     Here in this realm of fear, insanity became my companion and loneliness my lover.  ‘Tis
true they were my sorrow, but ‘tis true they were my mentors as well.  Cruel were their
lessons and merciless their punishment.  They knew precisely where the most fragile
places of my psyche were and countless fiery darts found a home in my torment.  Often
my soul writhed in hopeless pain as they delighted in my silent shrieks of despair.

     I learned my lessons well and in my darkness of fear and sorrow a sword was forged
in my soul.  In the flames that tormented me, the Master refiner was busy extracting iron
from useless ore and steel from molten iron. My pain became the anvil upon which the
hammer of experience pounded. The pounding went on day after day, month after
month, year after year. Within the darkness suffocating my dreams, sparks of hope
sprayed bright.

     It came to pass when the nightmare became the dream, the dream dreamed in a past
almost forgotten. ‘Twas an eternal moment when the victim became the master and
the blade of wisdom sprung from the lips of Hell like a stag in quest of its mate. I
gutted the dragon of fear from the inside out and then I turned to face fear’s
brethren. My eyes burned with divine fire as my soul, bearing the armor of faith,
strode through fear’s minions and in Spirit’s light the boy experienced his own
personal ritual to manhood.

     I am not finished slaying the dragons that appear in my life. The are born of the
darkness that still languishes within me, for fear is always but a step away, a serpent
ever waiting to poison my mind with doubt and longing. Always vigilant must I be, keeping
near my armor of faith, my blade of wisdom, which is kept sharp by my knowledge of self,
and my inner focus on the voice of Spirit. Eternity is waiting.