Inspirational Messages For LIfe

Hypeless Messages To Show Life Is Not Hopeless

Fear And The Dragon

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by Keith Braithwaite

A long, long time ago a knight in shining armour was wending his way home after spending several weeks rescuing damsels in distress, fighting black knights, killing dragons – you know, the usual stuff. It had been a hard time and he was looking forward to relaxing. He was thinking about quaffing a beer or two, chasing his wench around the house a bit, watching some telly when he entered a beautiful valley he had not seen before.

He pulled back his white steed and gazed down at the verdant green fields surrounded by low mountains and thought what a peaceful place it was.

He became aware of an old man walking up the track before him. The knight hailed the old man, ‘Tell me sir, what valley is this?’

‘It is the valley of Marlais, sire,’ replied the man.

The knight sighed. ‘It looks a lovely peaceful, prosperous place.’

‘It does, sire, and yet it shows how looks do deceive.’

‘How so? ’ Queried the warrior.

‘What you see are beautiful mountains and green, productive meadows.’

‘I do.’

‘And yet the people here are poor and starving.’

‘No, that cannot be so. I can see a winding river and a water mill for grinding the corn. I can also see a picturesque village beyond.’

‘Ah, what you cannot see, sire, is the fear. In the mountain called Mynydd Pencarreg you see in front of you is a cave. In this cave lives a dragon. No one dares to enter the fields in case they anger the dragon.’

The knight smiles, reaches inside his armour and pulls out a business card. He hands it to the old man who reads it. It says, ‘Sir Edmund De Hero, damsels rescued, nasty bullies chased off and dragons slain. Competitive rates and quantity discounts available on request.’

Sir Edmund smiles, ‘this is your lucky day. Dragons are my speciality.’

The old man smiles grimly and hands back the card. ‘Sorry, sire but we cannot use your services. We dare not anger the dragon and bring him into the open. We prefer to have him in his cave.’

The knight frowned. ‘But the valley is dying even with the dragon in his cave. If you are to be rid of him, you need to bring him out. Dragons are killed in the open, not in their cave.’

‘You do not understand, sire. We fear bringing him out. If he stays where he is, perhaps he will leave us alone.’

‘But you still fear him.’

‘That is true sire. But we hope the fear of the dragon will go away eventually.’

The warrior sighed. ‘How long has this been going on?’

‘Forty-six years, sire.’

‘Forty-six years!’ He exclaimed. ‘You have been living in fear for forty-six years?’

‘Yes, sire. There is nothing you can do, sire, so we would prefer it if you kept on riding and didn’t stop.’ With this the old man started walking and without a look over his shoulder disappeared over the ridge behind the knight.

Sir Edmund pondered. He had had a successful campaign, business had been good. Perhaps he could do one favour for free.

‘Blow this for a game of soldiers,’ he thought. ‘These people cannot carry on like this. Losing sleep over their fear and not being productive as well; I will go and see if I can do something about this damn dragon myself.’

So saying, he encouraged his horse forward. He rode across the valley. As expected, the fields were overgrown and fallow. The mill was silent and dilapidated. Nothing was being produced. He continued through the village of Llansawel where the people treated him with suspicion. They wore rags and were clearly undernourished and scared. Their lives were being wasted through fear.

Shaking his head, the knight continued to the mountain of Mynydd Pencarreg.

At the mountains foot he reined his horse in and gazed up at the rocks above him. The large gaping hole of the cave was clear to see at the top of a gentle slope. He grunted and dismounted. There was a small sapling to hand so he tethered his mount there. He unsheathed his reliable sword, Matilda, and set off up the slope to the cave.

The day was warm and he was sweating inside his armour by the time he reached the cave mouth but he was pleased he was not out of breath. Nonetheless he paused at the gaping entrance and peered into the depths.

A sound from one side made him swing round, his sword ready to defend. The sword point lowered when he realised what he saw. There was a funny, ugly old man in a waistcoat and wide brimmed hat, sat in a deckchair, reading a book.

‘Hello, old man,’ called the knight.

The old man dropped his book in his surprise. ‘Gawd, mate, you didn’t half give me a shock.’

‘Perhaps you can direct me, my man. Is this the cave in which lives the dragon?’

‘You what? The dragon? Yes, he lives here all right. I must say no one has been up here for years.’

‘That doesn’t surprise me at all,’ said the knight. ‘Well, I’m going in to find the dragon. You had better stand to one side. It might get bloody. I have to chase the dragon out before I slay him.’

‘Slay him?’ said the old man in a quivering voice. ‘That sounds a bit drastic to me.’

‘Well, I have to kill him, he is terrorising the village below.’

‘I daresay the villagers are responsible for their own fears.’

‘How so?’

‘What do they know about the dragon?’

‘He is nasty and fire breathing and scary – you know the sort of thing.’

‘You know this for a fact?’

‘Everyone knows it. It’s what dragons are generally.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Of course, everyone knows what they are like. Anyway, I am wasting time. I need to go in and chase the bugger out.’

So saying, the knight strode in a very manly way into the cave. He made his way deeper into the damp, cool interior. He searched all the rocks and eventually found signs of inhabitation but no dragon. He returned to the entrance scratching his head (remembering not to use his sword hand as a friend of his had made that mistake and cut off his ear).

He saw the old man hiding behind a large stone. ‘Hey, you, have you seen a dragon pass this way?’

The old man stammered. ‘A dragon?…Er…no, well, I don’t think so. What does he look like?’

‘What does he look like? Well, like a damn dragon – what else could he look like.’ The knight suddenly stopped. ‘Old man, come here a second.’

‘No, that’s fine. Er…I have to go and feed the chickens.’

‘Chickens? I don’t believe that!’ So saying the knight leapt forward, sounding like a fight in a scrap metal yard, and grabbed the old man. With one movement learned from years of wenching he whipped off the old man’s hat and waistcoat.

‘Aha!’ He cried melodramatically. He had revealed pointy ears and a long scaly tail. ‘You are the dragon. Hang on though, you are smaller than me and not very scary.’

The dragon puffed out his cheeks and sighed. ‘Okay, mate, you’ve rumbled me. Yes, I am the dragon. Nigel is the name. And, yes, I’m not that scary, but I really can’t help the bad press we dragons get. All I do is make some Celtic artwork based on my family photo album and sell it in the next valley where no one knows me. I’m not doing any harm, really.’

The knight’s brow furrowed, ‘Well, I’m not sure what to do now. The valley of Marlais is dying because of you.’

‘Look, Mr Knight. I can see your dilemma but it’s not me causing it. It is the fear the villagers create themselves. I have to say I would prefer to leave this damp, draughty cave and buy myself a nice semi-detached peasants hovel in the village. I have a brochure here I got from the agent in the next valley. Hot and cold running water, gas fired central heating, decking at the back – you know the sort of thing. But the truth is I have no hope. What if my neighbours found out I was a dragon? I would be banned from everything – no access to the pub and no opportunities to play bingo.’

‘I see the problem,’ said the knight. He pondered for a moment. ‘It seems to me what we need to do is to get you and the villagers together so you can understand each other’s point of view.’

‘I like the idea,’ agreed the dragon, ‘but how will we do that?’

The knight clicked his fingers, ‘There is no time like the present, let’s go down there together now. Put on your hat and waistcoat again and we will set off.’

‘Okay,’ said the dragon warily, ‘but promise no whipping off my head when my back is turned.’

‘Cross my heart and hope to die,’ said Sir Edmund.

So the knight and the dragon started for the village. They were received grudgingly at first and then with fear when the villagers realised the old man was the dragon. But after some negotiation, the people started to understand their fears had been groundless.

Gradually, Nigel the dragon became accepted in the village of Llansawel and the valley started to come to life. The fields started to produce and the mill repaired and corn ground. Laughter came again to the valley of Marlais.

Nigel found a dragon wife through the Internet and now lives in the semi-detached hovel he wanted. He drives a top-of-the-range cart with air-conditioning. He and his wife still produce artefacts based on his photo album but they now sell them from a little gift shop they have in the high street. Nigel is even a stalwart of the pub darts team.

If you visit the Marlais valley today, be sure to view the cave in the mountain of Mynydd Pencarreg. There are guided tours and you will learn about the dragon that used to live there. If the guide is wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a waistcoat, listen to what he says with extra interest….

Is there a moral to this story? Yes, there is. Fears are more destructive than reality. Be sure you understand what it is you fear. It is ignorance that destroys.

Oh, and one other thing. Both fears and dragons are slain in the open, not in the cave. If you have a fear, never keep it hidden. Bring it into the open. When a dragon or fear comes into the open, its power is lessened and understanding and knowledge and love will remove it altogether.

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