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The Land of Strange: A Dragon's Tale

Once upon a time, on the edge of a great desert, there lived a young woman. Her parents were not bad people, and really loved her, but there was little love between them, and even less kind words. And so she grew up never learning about the love between a man and a woman.


She grew up a solitary girl, struggling to find her place, never learning as fast and as quickly about the world as other boys and girls did. She grew up sheltered from deep passions, from the things that happened people, and because she never saw gentleness, tenderness and soft words, she never learned about them herself. Instead, she lived in stories where people had perfect lives, fantasies about what it is like to love, and be loved in return. She dreamed her life. She dreamed her soul. But it was not a true dream.


And eventually the harshness of life, of people, found her. She fell in love. And in falling in love her dreams fractured in a thousand pieces, since she discovered that she was not who she thought she was. She found the world of people and passion and burning emotions all too much, all too bright. She discovered that within her she carried such fiery intensity, and this scared her greatly. It seemed to her that the passions between a man and a woman will devour and consume her. It was too much. It was too soon.


So, she made a decision. She ran away from home and, deep in the desert, build a tower of the darkest blackest stone. With an old magic she trapped all her emotions inside a fierce dragon which she carved from stone. All she kept for herself was the faintest glimmer of feeling, a fragment of a heart, barely less than an ember. And she bound the dragon to guard the tower as she retreated into a deep deep sleep of the heart. All that was left were thoughts and ideas, sharp as flint, cold as stone. And there she remained for many years. A sleep of forgetting, a sleep of not feeling.


And so she slept for many years, until one evening when she awoke to a noise. It was a rider approaching. And the moment she saw him something changed inside of her, for he was like a mirror of herself. And she fell in love, or what she thought was love. For those faint fragments of a heart asleep and cast in stone were always calling out, crying out, whispering, to be set free. And so her heart tricked her, but this she did not know. So she threw open the doors and allowed the rider to enter where none had ever been. Carelessly, drunk on feelings, she dismissed the signs of danger.


She could not let him go. She could not let him go away. She told herself it was love, but it was a dark clinging and desperation, a poisonous mix of longing and hate. For he could never love her as she wished to be. He could not set her free from her own imprisonment. And it was not long before he tried to leave, but every time she would cast her spells with sweet words which would make him stay. She had become a sorceress with words. If only that was all.


For slowly the dragon, who had been fed with all her old feelings of anger and self-loathing, woke up at the scent of soul. For within her now raged feelings which she did not understand. And she was afraid of the dragon, of what she had created. And he lashed out and deeply wounded the young man, who barely escaped with his life. But for her there was no escape, for he was her dragon. And she was helpless as he pulled and strained at his chains until, finally, he ripped them from the ground. And there, alone in her desert, he finally overcame her. Her dragon possessed her.


All   the   ancient   feelings   within   him   poured   back   into   her   soul   like   an   uncontrollable avalanche, and with a deep revulsion for herself she fled. She fled far until she reached a forest that was as silent as the grave. The trees were all gnarled and twisted, the leaves sickly pale. The sun did not shine there. There was no living insect or animal or bird to be seen or heard. It was as if a deadly sleep clung to all that entered. But this, this sleep of forgetfulness, this final sleep, was what she sought. She travelled deeper and deeper until she came upon a stream of murky poisonous water. In anger and sadness, she cried out. In longing. In desperation. And feeling utterly overwhelmed, she drank.


At last, the sleep of death crept into her body, into her bones. She tried to walk, but could not. She tried to see, but had gone blind. And she collapsed in a sleep of strange and horrifying nightmares. And she would never wake up. But in that moment, when her soul was preparing for its final flight, it was as if an invisible hand reached down, enfolding her heart. It squeezed once, twice, and three times. 


When she eventually woke the next morning, she found herself in a world of creatures and people, of visions and voices. Her body was poisoned. She wandered for what felt like eternity until she stumbled into a glade with a well of water pure. And leaning over she saw her own haggard face and there, a grey figure behind her. And he said these words only: “I have always been here”, and was gone. Slowly and painfully, filled with shame and guilt and regrets, she started her journey back to the desert. To her tower that had been destroyed, to her solitude. And in those ruins, she rested in silence and shame for seven months. Always remembering those words, “I have always been here”.


There it was that she and the dragon, who were now one, weathered the harsh desert winds, the scorching sun, the endless swishing sands. But she did not forget those words, and said it to herself over and over again into the depths of night. And the words started to grow like seeds in her soul. The girl and her dragon, both wounded and poisoned, dwelled in silence for a long long time. But over time, as her strength slowly returned, she started to see how she had created him, how she had created her own nightmare. As time went by she started to talk with him. They talked about what had been. Not that it was easy. At times she would be more dragon than woman. But they talked through the fighting and crying, though the anger and shame.


Until one day she vowed that she will transform him into a creature that is graceful and noble, that uses his fierce flames and fire only when true need is there. And he in return vowed to return her soul, and with that, her dreams, her hopes, her knowledge of all that is beautiful in the world. Not that it was easy. So, they talked, the girl and her dragon, and later started to sing, and even play. As they got to know each other they were able to take comfort in the presence of each other. They became companions. And as time went by she noticed how, despite the barrenness of the desert, something was happening around the ruins where they were. First little creatures started to take shelter there, and the wind carried strange seeds that took root and started to grow. And they watched in wonderment, and they felt themselves to be incredibly blessed.


Well, you may wonder how the story ended. It so happens that a traveller returning from his journeys told me how he had come upon an oasis in the middle of the desert. And he told me how he was met with a wondrous sight. For there was a woman, sitting in the shadow of the trees next to a deep pool of the clearest water. And it was as if strange and fascinating creatures took refuge here. And sometimes, when travellers came past, the woman would start telling stories. And sometimes travellers would speak of catching glimpses of a dragon resting next to the woman. And sometimes travellers would speak of a whisper on the wind that said “Who can question the weaving of this hand, these hands, in that other place?”


The End




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