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Dragon's Fire

Written by Paul Landis Delaune

     Isoar the darkening sky; my outstretched wings gracefully carry me upon gentle breezes
warmed by the now setting sun. The sky is my playground and I romp among the drifting
clouds. The cool air of the upper sphere whistles by as I climb to the edge of night’s blackness
within sight of Heaven’s gates. Twinkling stars beckon on me onward as Isurvey the
beautiful orb below me. Home draws me back again and I break into a steep dive, plunging as a
falling star in the night. I pull up at the top of the trees and fly out to sea, dancing upon lonely
waves rolling to shore. The evening chill reminds me of my weariness, sostraightaway I go to my
welcoming cave at the top of a rugged mountain.  Here I lie in a heap, as rising vapors from hot
springs below warm my tired bones.

     Morning comes early, as golden sunbeams shining bright awaken me to a new day, a day
of new wonders and experiences. I stand in the sun—its penetrating warmth filling me with
renewed life. My green scales absorb the heat; my dagger-like teeth and strong claws gleam
like burnished ivory. The fires within my great belly begin to burn, filling me with power and
desire. As the flames grow, I feel my belly’s emptiness and look earthward, wondering what delight
I will choose to appease my stirring hunger. Will it be a herd of buffalo grazing on the dew-drenched
grass of the wide plains or possibly a great whale frolicking in the depths of the foaming sea?

     Ibreathe deep the still, cool air of the new morning and blow outa fresh blast of red flame,
followed by a thundering roar that echoes across the rolling countryside. My bellow is an
announcement, a royal blast to a slumbering world. Awake, you petty denizens below! Awake, for
your master is about! Awake, and let me review the bounty of your sweet flesh! Awake, for you
may have the honor to be my breakfast! Awake, for I am hungry! Alas, my poor subjects do
cower and hide from me, for I am a wicked dragon and mercy is not one of my traits.

     Again I inhale deeply and the newly warmed air stirs my fires to fill my awesome girth with buoyancy; my leathery wings reach out, lifting me upward with my long, sinewy tail following
behind like a great banner for all to see. Once again the hollow emptiness in my groaning belly
spurs me to quench my giant appetite. A hungry dragon is an angry one and I search for some unsuspecting subject upon which to suffer the torment of my hunger. I choose a small village
with wooden shacks and broad fields of yellow grain as my unfortunate victim. Down,
I plunge as a loud roar and smoking fire issue from between my wicked teeth. The wretched
souls within sight of my accursed self look up in unexpectant horror and their hopeless hearts melt
within their weary bosoms. Again I bellow forth my hot flames and the village begins to
burn, consumed by the madness that rages deep within my savage breast.
Once more my cruelty pours forth and yellow fields are no more, blackened by the whims of one
who does not care. Off I go, laughing, as in my wake those pitiful souls, angry and bereaved by the dispassionate destruction of my passing, curse me and call upon their gods to condemn
me to the eternal fires of the blackest hell.

     With my madness spent, I fly out across the calm sea, fishing seagulls swiftly fleeing from my
path, fearful of the death that accompanies my presence. Down, I thrust my gaping jaws; down,
searching for some unwary denizen upon which to feast. Ah, I spy an anxious whale frantically
trying to flee from my sight. Swift is he, but swifter am I and up I soar with its great bulk pierced
by my sharp teeth. With uplifted head I open my mouth, allowing the warm flesh to slide into my
hungry belly. I drink its red blood and enjoy the salty taste. My hunger is appeased. Rest, ye
weary world! Rest, for your lord is hungry no more!

     Ifly to the shore and find a quiet glade in which to lie in the late morning sun. The sun’s
warmth and my full belly relax me, and I drift off into a pleasant nap. As my breathing deepens
and becomes regular, all manner of timid creatures begin to come out, satisfied I am asleep. A
herd of white buffalo ventures out of a forest to graze on the succulent grasses of the glade. Colorful
birds flit about as they hunt for careless insects. Tiny elves gather fragrant blossoms with which to
brew their potent nectar. Winged fairies dance in the sun and swim in a clear pool. They seem unafraid,
as they approach close to my sleeping bulk. I could snap up a dozen in my great jaws. However, they
aren’t much of a morsel and I enjoy watching their graceful movements when I awaken.

     As the blazing sun reaches its zenith and begins its descent, renewed energy flows through
my veins.  I open my eyes, watching the dance of the delicate images before me. Suddenly, they
stop, interrupted by an unheard sound, and they quickly scamper into the brush. At once I am
alert as I raise my ugly head to see what is amiss. As I survey my surroundings, I notice an
intruder coming from the forest. I look closer at the disturber of my reverie to recognize a knight
in black armor.  A red banner flies atop his helmet and he is seated upon a horse as white as snow.
His polished metal gleams and he pulls forth a long sword when he sees me raise my head. His
faithful squire follows close behind, holding a broad shield and stout lance. Coming beside his
respected sire, the young man hands his master the heavy shield. This foolish creature has come
to slay me! He dares to challenge me! The impudence ofhis intentions moves me to boiling anger.

     Ibreathe deeply, stirring the smoldering heat within me, and in seconds my raging fires
once again begin to burn. I rise to my feet; my broad wings folded in across my scaly back. A long
stream of searing flames spew out as I bellow forth my fury. Come to me, you foolish
creature! Come to me and you shall feel my terrible wrath! This day you shall die! I will roast you
alive and devour your charred remains! The knight drops his visor and spurs his nervous mount
on.  His steed, unsure of itself, hesitates for a moment before plunging forward. Another blast
of fire comes forth from my throat as I laugh at their pitiful charge.  Close they come as I exhale
my burning death upon them. My flames blind his horse, sending it into a wild panic. Maddened
and frightened, itthrows off its armored rider and attempts to flee. However, lost in its
blindness, it gallops towards me instead of away. As it comes close, I reach out with one giant claw
and pick up the terrified creature. I hold the trembling animal suspended in the air for a moment
before dropping it into my gaping jaws. As my cruel teeth crunch on its bones, I turn to
see what has become of my fallen challenger.

     Slowly, my armored antagonist attempts to lift himself from the ground. His young
companion comes near to help his master to his feet and into the saddle of his own mount. Handing
his elder the long lance, the squire steps back to witness the savage spectacle unfolding before
him. Gently, the battered knight pats his new mount while speaking quiet words of encouragement.
Then he turns toward me and once more spurs his frightened steed onward. Up I rise, to stand to
my fullest height, balanced by my long tail, as the pair move toward me. The impetuous
folly of this rabbit charging my mountainous bulk humors me, but at the same time his lack of respect
for his master enrages me. Closer they come as I roar out a blast of smoking flames. Upward he
points the needle-sharp tip of his spear and hurls it at my smooth, white underside
with a powerful lunge.

     The point of his carefully thrown lance pierces my soft, unprotected belly, sinking deep into
sensitive tissue. The pain is excruciating and I roar forth my agony. My cry of hurt rumbles
across the land like the thundering of a hundred lightning storms. The burst of fire accompanying
my cry threatens to set the very air aflame. The oozing blood of my wound begins to flow as the
terrible pain continues.  I attempt to dislodge the instrument of my hurt from my belly, but, in
my efforts to remove it, I lose my balance and fall with the force of amountain hurled from heaven.
As my head strikes the earth, my world goes black.

     Iam flying at night; the darkness is blacker than I ever remember.  There is no moon
or stars with which to gain my bearings. All is confusion and my wings do not respond to my
brain’s commands. There is thunder but no lightning and it pounds within my head. The
pounding is more than a sound; it is a painful throb that builds in intensity.  Suddenly, I am no
longer flying; instead I am falling. I hurtle to earth as a tiny pebble caught in a greedy
whirlpool. Desperately, I endeavor to spread my giant wings to stop my descent, but they are as
useless as dead leaves in the grip of an autumn wind. I am helpless, as helpless as the young of
the warm-blooded creatures I rule. I am the lord of the world and for me to be humiliated is an unpardonable sin. My anger grows as the humiliation of my situation continues. I am a dragon,
the world’s master! None may treat me so, not even the earth itself! I am a dragon;
all those who treat me such irreverence, die! As my anger grows, the madness of it is agonizing.
It starts deep in my savage heart and flows outward through every part of my being. Slowly, it
becomes a raging inferno, a violent storm straining to be loose. If it gains no release, I feel I will
burst. Finally, it reaches such an intensity that it frees me from my prison as swiftly as I was
plunged therein.

     As quickly as light filters in once more, just as quickly, I see a puny creature readying his
sharp blade to pierce my neck. Instantly, I raise myself from the ground to look down on the
irreverent creature that dared to defile his master. Prepare to die, you foul thing! Prepare
to feel the wrath of your lord! Prepare to be plunged into a burning hell! He does not cringe in terror
nor does he tremble at the punishment about to be forced upon him. This further insolence on his
part increases the intensity of my wrath.  I want him to sink to his knees. I want to see him beg for
mercy. I want him to weep uncontrollably. But, no, he won’t give me that pleasure. The
fires are raging wildly now and I can barely restrain them within me. I tilt back my head, inhaling
one last deep breath, and then in a long blast of flame, I roar my indignation upon the object of my
wrath. His death cry is barely discernible over my fiery bellow, but the delight of his scream is
enjoyable nonetheless. Still my anger is not quenched. I continue my flaming blast as I take to the
air to spread my burning destruction to appease my displeasure. The spot where my defiler stood
is now a lake of molten earth.

     As I take flight, I crisscross the countryside with my deadly flame. I pass over a small
sea full of tiny fishing vessels and leave behind a bowl of boiling soup. I cross broad, golden
plains dotted with grazing herds, turning it into a blackened desert containing the charred
remains of unrecognizable flesh. I ravage a great city with its citizens going about their business,
leaving behind a pile of ashes reeking with the stench of death. I transform a lush forest with its
bounty of green foliage and living creatures into a swirling inferno, accompanied by a thousand
screams of agony. The heat of my flames produces a sea of liquid glass where seconds before
shifting sand dunes blew upon an empty desert. A range of mountains with snow-capped peaks
becomes a river of flowing rock enveloped in great clouds of steam.

     At last my wrath is satisfied and my raging fire is spent. Enjoying the satisfaction flooding
my being, I lazily glide on warm air currents as I survey the world, my possession to do with as I
choose. Relax, you unfortunate denizens below; your master is satisfied! Relax your quivering
hearts until my wrath is stirred once more! Relax, my petty subject, until I again choose to make
you the object of my displeasure!  I laugh, because I am all-powerful. I am drunk on the bloody
wine of my strength and power. My supremacy is absolute and there is no one to best me.

     As I slowly glide towards the distant sunset; my warm, dark cave beckons me home as
the evening chill seeps into my bones. I turn off to the south as I make my way to my resting-place.
The shadows are long now and soon will blend into the black of night.  Once again hunger’s
gnawing pains start to bother me. However, it is late; it can wait until morning to be quenched. As I
reach the cliff of my home, I gently land and fold my wings in tightly against my armored hide.
Without a backward glance, I crawl into my dark cavern, as the rising heat enshrouds me like a thick blanket. I lay down in the warmest spot and rest my weary body. It has been a long day and my eyes quickly shut as I drift into a deep and dreamless sleep.