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The Tale of The Book Dragon
Far far away in a kingdom that spanned over many lands there was an abandoned village. It’s inhabitants had left centuries ago as their river dried and their crops froze in search of better prospects. All the inhabitants but one. A fearsome dragon who lived within the abandoned library of the abandoned village. She guarded her library with all her might. Choosing a trove of knowledge rather than a trove of gold. The Dragon sat within her library surrounded by the books left on the shelves and those she chose to keep close to her. Although the dragon loved her books with all her heart she was not able to read them herself. With long legs meant for walking and clawing, too cumbersome and strong to lift the fragile books to her face and flames that burst from her maw with excitement she was unable to use the things she loved to most for fear of destroying them.
Many knights and adventurers walked through the doors of her library looking for glory. Though some pretended not to be they were all terrified at the sight of the book dragon. 9 ft tall from maw to tail, with great glimmering scales ranging from crimson red to the color of fresh pomegranate and a pair of much too small reading glasses with circular lenses and soot stain frames perched upon her maw where just the hint of smoke was beginning to rise from her nostrils. The Great Dragon looked upon the already terrified adventurer and would speak to them in loud booming voice that rattled the windows and shook the adventurers to their core, conveying the utmost power and wisdom with every word.
“How dare you enter my library, Mortal? What do you wish to gain from facing me?” The great dragon would always pause to let them answer but they never did, paralyzed with fear at the sight of the great dragon.
“Answer me, human!” she’d roar when they did not respond
That always got the adventurer talking, the yell breaking their reverie and causing them to understand what would happen if they did not heed the dragon’s command.To the dragon’s great disappointment they would always respond with talk of a selfish goal such as glory, power, or fame. Never of anything with even the slightest charitable motives.Though she detested their morals the book dragon understood how valuable the humans could be to her.
“ I have lived within this library for centuries and will continue to live here for many more.” She’d say to the human “ Though I have lived here for long, I have yet discover all it’s secrets due to my reptilian form. I treasure these books and the knowledge they hold. I see how greed has taken hold of your heart and it troubles me that the humans have come so far and yet still cannot see past the tragedy of selfishness. “ She’d pause snarling at the adventurer in contempt and allowing a menacing puff of smoke to escape her nostrils “ I cannot allow a human such as yourself to continue with so much greed in their heart. You must choose, show me that greed has not destroyed you by reading me one of the books upon these walls in an act of kindness or I will take it upon myself to rid the world of a soul consumed by greed.”
As expected most adventurers chose to read to the dragon rather than try to fight her as even a fool could see how powerful the book dragon was. Those who refused were guided away from the library so as to protect the library and the books within it then were put to rest by a great burst of flame by the dragon. When the adventurers chose to read to the dragon it was beneficial to both the adventurers and the dragon. While the adventurer’s life was spared the dragon was able to indulge in the stories of the books she loved so much.
After centuries of adventurers coming and going from her library she had come to enjoy their visits because though their morals were despicable they allowed her to hear the stories of the books she loved so much. She was thrilled at the sight of the lone adventurer, a knight with mismatched plate armor, ragged chainmail, and a damaged leather backpack resting on his shoulders,when he stepped through her doors. It was the beginning of winter and as the weather got colder less adventurers came to challenge her, for fear of the cold, icy weather defeating them before they ever reached the dragon.
The Book Dragon began her speech, her voice echoing off the shelves however to her surprise the knight wasn’t terrified. It seemed as though he was in awe, his eyes wide as he looked around. The Dragon continued her speech raising her voice and and allowing smoke to float up from the sides of her snout, trying to elicit fear in the knight. However, even though he was obviously intimidated he still wasn’t scared. When she got to the part of her speech where she questioned the motives of the adventurer she was bewildered by his reply. Though his decision to reply without her demanding his answer was amazing in itself his answer was what truly astonished the book dragon.
While every other adventurer and knight the dragon had seen throughout the centuries had replied with glory, power, or other selfish motives, somehow this knight had thought differently than the rested.
“I come seeking knowledge, oh great dragon. I wish to learn and discover the secrets held within your books.”
The dragon looked at the knight in awe, never had an adventurer replied with something selfless as this. She wasn’t ready to respond to such a request.
“You wish to learn?” The dragon asked, surprise leaking into her fearsome voice
The adventurer stepped forward pulling his backpack off his shoulders. “Yes, if you would allow me great dragon, I would like to read some of the books within this library.” he open the backpack to reveal dozens of books haphazardly stuffed inside. “In exchange I have brought books of my own from many lands, far and wide, to add to your collection.”
The Book Dragon was taken aback at his generosity. Never had an adventurer came to her with unselfish wishes and offerings in return. “ I accept your offering,” said the dragon” on one condition, every one of my books you read, must be read aloud so that I can learn their stories.”
The adventurer took joy in every book he read, fantasy and nonfiction alike he read, enjoying their stories with the dragon hanging on to every word he spoke. He’d fall asleep in a raggedy old armchair that had been abandoned in between two shelves and wake up to a breakfast of tough biscuits and tougher meat, before going off to read books of his own choosing and those chosen by the great dragon herself. The dragon enjoyed herself greatly. While the other adventurers read her the stories and did only that, he read the books with passion, just as excited as the dragon as he read plot twists and climaxes. Though they both enjoyed themselves greatly they knew it would have to end. Once three days had gone and passed it was time for the adventurer to leave the great library.
“ I must leave now, so that I can travel the lands, but I hope someday I will be able return. Goodbye great dragon.” He said as he disappeared out the door of the library.
And just as he hoped the adventurer returned, year after year he’d come back to the library with more books in his bag and more knowledge in his head. As the the years went by he read the books but also stories of his own, tell tales of his adventures and of his family. Though the dragon loved the books she also deeply enjoyed the adventurers tales too. Each year he come back, the wrinkles on his face growing deeper and his hair losing his color. He’d warn her of his mortality as he aged warning her that someday he’d be gone. When two winters passed without his visit the dragon knew what had happened to her adventurer and although she was sad at his demise she knew from his tales that he lived a fuller life than most and knew that his death was not unfair. Though the dragon hoped to see another adventurer like him in the future she doubted that anyone could match his generosity.