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The Tusk in the Dragon's Lair

Once upon a time in a beaten land, where a village was lost, it's patron dragon disturbed and forelorn, raising hateful vengeance on the pirates who stole her eggs, but that is another story, and this, the story of what happened to the pirate left behind, who stayed in the Dragon's lair, who could not at first draw his eyes from the raw pale thing--was it a walrus tusk? While he stood looking, let us try to answer. Legend has it there was a mystical bone that might restore one's health if he were daft with despair, repair one who felt a barren desert to know themself a fruitful, lush garden--or as it were, it might show a success of an inner struggle yet born out.

 As this was indeed ancient, the relic bone in the dragon's lair had passed many a mouth. Animals buried it, dug it out again or they fought, strongest wins, but this is the story of how the bone became a gift bone, how it came to have magic property.

In the time of old, the fancy, the well-to-do, as always, made exclusive the ground to the spring. The spring that fed the great river was in the niche of mountain where beneath the cedar trees a carpet of needles and ferns and mushrooms was a grand flat rock that caught the light of the rising sun. 

It was here the she-dragon first lived in the years before flight, growing in strength, in size, in the place where the forest ended. The water of the spring came out from the mountain in a pool that lay sometimes shaded by the cedar. It was shaded when the first human visitor ventured nigh to drink.

So as not to doubt my story, you should know I heard this tale from the She-dragon herself--who I for a time came to know as intimately as any human, for I was the same pirate who had first come to steal from her lair her two eggs, and when she returned from demolishing the ship of my crewmates and Captain, found me still in the lair. For this you must understand, I had in my horror faced a Dragon. She had a bone or walrus tusk that gave me a vision with the sweetest sensation of a longing to be held, and I had in a second stupor fallen into a deep slumber. Awoken by her landing, the She-dragon held her young, like baby alligators in her mouth. Thinking sharply I stopped up my ears with clay, sprang to her nest and grabbed the young and made the Dragon swear not to harm me and to teach me all of what she knew of my race. 

She stomped and charged but I did no more than flinch as if a pet jumped toward me.

"I see that you have drunk a drop of my amber" she said, "for fear has left you and you act in accord with your true desire." 

Then she roared.

Still I held fast to her young, that only tickled my ears with their meager cries, and waited until she told me this story.

She described her first home where the forest ended and the rock and ice pointed to a peak. She sat in the sun on the rock until the afternoon she saw the first human.

"Are you a Dragon?" the one on two legs said to me when he had taken drink and seen me carelessly bathing in the sun. I knew what he meant to say that he had no true understanding of the forest that meets the rock but that his weariness had been eased in drinking and he was almost relieved, in seeing me, for in all creation he had known only a desperate search convinced by long habit of study that the region he had abandoned to chaos was and never could be a suitable place for peace, and so he wandered and as he wandered he heard bits and pieces of other realms and lands and these too led him searching. I was to him a dragon, but he was not sure for he said, "But do you fly?"

What are you, he said again, why if you were a Dragon you could speak if you wanted. As I had no interest in what he was saying just yet, I only looked in his heart where the sadness and the memory he could not show by anything but scratched drawing he later showed me. It would look nothing like what I first saw, a thickness in his heart you call by names such as will and soul and belonging and conscience. It had no faces as he could sometimes set in the sand, and I felt pity though in the way Dragons do, which is without knowing it, why later when my mouth began shaping his words back to him, he kept saying "Not city, Pretty," for he was by then speaking of the fair sex.

When he departed, I gifted him the tusk, a keepsake, for he had constantly been drawn to it, recalled to a vision of which he could not quite remember afterwards. How the tusk of inner sight came back to me, however many lifetimes of yours later, forming and showing the longings of many princes. It would seem a lifetime forever to you, an unceasing war between your race, while few knew, when they came to their senses, that the bone I had reclaimed was at the center of their infighting. You must be wary of the gift that keeps you in need of more of it, the She-Dragon said. And for awhile I worked digging with my arm tightly wrapped around the young; I had been feeding them worms and grubs until it had grown deep and dark, then finally I rested.

-*-*-*-

A story by C.R. Spicer

(All rights reserved)

Link to the realist tale of Jewish teenagers involved in the Resistance, see "The Dragon Women"

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