Once upon a time there was a dragon. Now, I suppose there have been many dragons, because there have been many once upon a times since dragons came to be, but this particular dragon was completely typical in every way.
We shall forget about him immediately.
Have you forgotten? No? Well, I suppose dragons are not entirely forgettable. They are quite large. And i’m told they smell of far away places and the highest tops of mountains. I don’t know if this is entirely accurate. The most dragons I’ve become acquainted with smelled of barn and campfire, but I suppose one can’t be too particular. Humility is important when it comes to dragons. You may be thinking at this juncture that dragons are far too silly a thing to begin a story with, but I assure you that dragons are only the beginning.
Ah yes. The beginning. To go back entirely would take far too long, so let us merely meander back perhaps 21 years to a night much like this one.The thunder was not quite so loud, I suppose, and the wind not quite so harsh, but for our purposes, it will do. It was in a house much like this one that a woman much like myself gave birth to a boy much like you–only quite a bit smaller and much, much louder.
He was not at all pleased to be born on such a night. The thatch that had come lose during the nine months of his father’s neglect of the house (albeit it was replaced with doting on his wife so we can’t hold him responsible) had blown off in the northern gales, and so from his cradle, Laurence Temet would see his first dragon.
On nights such as this, dragons, as a general rule, are not easy to spot, nor are they easily moved from their warm caves. Unless, of course, the dragon was on a mission and had done something as silly as be born with scales of the brightest blue and silver.
The tale of a boy and his dragon has been told many times, so I am sure you are familiar with what transpired next–and so for the sake of brevity I will skip to what makes this tale worth telling. There was, as is usually the case, a girl. Now, stories of boys and girls are as commonplace as bread and water. But these are not the stories I am here to tell. I tell only the tales worth telling-those with enough magic to start a stay or with enough adventure to perhaps sway you to attempt one of your own. So. Back to the story.
There are, in our lives, moments of generally accepted Great Beauty. Perfect sunsets, the first stars of evening, the fires of the solstice, all of these are understood to be quite beautiful. Fortunately for all of us (and Laurence) it is possible to be born into a moment of Great Beauty. When this happens, (and it is rare), this beauty is imprinted on your very soul. And this is the scenario that Marion Gold found herself born into.
She was very ugly. This is unusual, I am told, for a tale. The girls in stories are supposed to be beautiful. But if our tale is to be honest, it is important to note that Marion was very ugly. Her only redeeming quality, for those concerned which such details, were her eyes. They were the color of foamy surf after a great storm and they flashed with lightning storms whenever she was angry, which was very often (Because Marion had a horrid temper).
It was only after Laurence received his third punch in the nose from Marion that he realized he was madly in love with the girl. This was a difficult situation to be in, for Laurence had signed on to be a Pirate In Training on the Good Ship Death.
Alright. This is not entirely true. But the mention of Pirates did spark your interest. I saw you, boy. I assure you there will be pirates, but for now we must stick to Marion and Laurence. As I was saying.
Laurence found himself in great difficulties. This was, however, due to the fact that Marion had pinioned him against the side of her father’s barn with several large kitchen knives.
“Take it back!”
“I will NOT take it back” said Laurence. He twitched his sleeve, but the knife inserted strategically into the cuff would not budge.
“You’re being absolutely ridiculous”. Marion sat back in a huff.
“I most CERTAINLY am not”. He struggled again but it seemed as though he was stuck there. “I–” (One last desperate struggle) love you”.
“You most certainly do not”.
“But I do”.
Truthfully, he wasn’t entirely certain, as Marion was the first girl he had ever found himself loving, but the handful of knives made him thing it best not to mention this detail at that particular moment.
“Why.” Her eyes flashed. It wasn’t a question.
“Why?” Laurence gulped.
“Because….you’re….wonderful.” Laurence immediately winced as Marion ruffled. She was not one for compliments. “Well, not wonderful. I mean–it’s just–you’re…Marion. You’re…you.”
It may have been a very small word, but to Laurence, it held an entire universe of meaning. In it were 18 years of climbing trees and star gazing, packing lunches and exploring caves, late nights lit by firelight and glances that grew gradually longer as time went on.
“So what do you intend to do about it, then?” Marion primly smoothed her skirts, a perfect mask of practicality that belied her true thoughts on the matter, but Marion would never admit such things.
“I mean to marry you as soon as I can”.
“Who says I’d even want to marry you?”
“Well, I suppose you could become a washerwoman or something of the sort”.
“For someone who means to marry me, you’ve done a rotten job of convincing me”. She leaned back on her hands and turned her face towards the afternoon sun.
“I don’t see why we SHOULDN’T”. With a great amount of effort, Laurence freed his sleeve and began working on the large butcher knife pinning his left arm about him.
“I don’t see why we should”. A thin blade thudded squarely into the wood next to his ear.
One Great Adventure can change the course of a life. This is a generally accepted fact, but what’s usually forgotten are the standards by which all Great Adventures are judged.
There must be three things for an Adventure to be judged as Great.
1. Imminent Peril
Now, peril of any kind is generally looked down upon by the more reserved of society, but I assure you, a little well-timed peril an greatly increase appreciation for solid ground and the fires of home.
Pursuit–well, most adventures begin with the pursuit of something, but Truly Great Adventures often end in the pursuit of something entirely different from what you thought you were pursuing in the first place.
Treasure? Well, that only the seeker can define. Some men of course seek only the most mundane of treasure: gold, silver, the like, but others seek those treasures which come from other places. It was this treasure Laurence would soon find himself looking for.