Cool wind touched his skin, flowing around his soft scales and webbed wings. The sun’s rays gently warmed his body, saturating him in its golden glow, becoming one with his metallic scales. A cacophony of sounds teased his ears, each vibration a gentle caress. It was wonderful to have such sensations again! For several hundred years, he hadn’t heard any sounds but those of his friends and family, seen any sights other than the grey of their exile, nor felt anything other than the lukewarm of the mists. Colors fascinated him as he reveled in the intricate details of the surrounding world. He listened to the birdsongs, the buzzing of insects, the rustling of the ancient pages underneath his feet. Everything was so beautiful and calming. For the first time in eight hundred and eighty three years, Flynx Drakony felt something real.
Flynx’s brilliant eyes absorbed every detail of his surroundings, finally finding their way back to the rose in front of him. The vibrant coloring of the flower astounded him as its fragrant peaceful aroma filled his senses. He couldn’t remember the last time he experienced something that beautiful. Being locked away in the books for almost nine centuries could do that to a creature.
Venturing into the real world was dangerous. No dragon had made a journey like this in seven and a half centuries. The real world could kill or even worse; it could strip away the soul. For the better part of a millennia, the race of dragons had locked themselves inside the world of books. At first, they had migrated into the bookworld slowly, freely venturing in and out of it, but after a hundred years, no dragon would return to the real world, where death lurked at every turn: they were hunted for their hides, killed for their teeth, bones, and scales, captured for their magical powers. Yes, the real world was dangerous, but Flyx knew that he had no choice but to take the risk.
When they first exiled themselves to the bookworld, the dragons didn’t fully understand the consequences. Thinking the exile would help them survive, they damned themselves to a monotonous existence and slow death. The great beasts soon came to understand that their very existence depended on the belief of the humans, on the men who had been hunting them into extinction. Fleeing to the world of imagination had saved them from the men, but sentenced them to a different death. It took centuries for the problem to become evident. For the first two hundred years, men still believed in dragons; the humans had no explanation of what happened to the dragons, but they still remembered that dragons once walked the earth. Over the next six hundred years, that belief faded to legend, and legend, in turn, became fantasy. Almost a thousand years since their self-exile, the dragons’ continued existence was paper thin, sustained only by the flightful fantasies of children.
Flynx’s size was a testament to the wavering belief. In the old days, when he had roamed the earth and ruled the skies, Flynx stood over four spans in height, stretching seven or eight spans in length. Today, he stood no more than a hand high, stretching the powers of this world’s imagination. The tiny dragon, the only hope of his race, sighed at the loss. How wonderful it would be to soar the skies again, to feel the rush of wind sliding across his golden scales, to hear the roar of the air, and to enjoy the freedom of flight. Such thoughts were frustrating at best. The dragon sighed heavily, tendrils smoke escaping from his snout. One day…
The dragons’ magic had faded over time. They only had enough power left to send one of their kind back into the world. Flynx had been chosen not for his power, but for his determination, not for his strength, but for his passion. The hope of a dying race, the only chance for the dragons, Flynx shuddered as he thought of what failure would mean.
Joyful sounds of children at play reached his delicate ears, snapping his thoughts back to the present. The Quest! He alone had the power to bring the salvation or the extinction of his kind. He alone had the responsibility weighing heavily on his shoulders. He alone could return dragons to the world, but time was against him. The children were his best hope to rekindle a belief in dragons; young ones have a greater tendency to believe in the impossible.
He hopped off the book, took one last smell of the rose, and launched himself down the stairs, in the direction of the playing children. The golden dragon paused at the bottom; a busy street separated him from the children. Street vendors yelled out their relentless sales pitches. Goods from all over the world changed hands in a chaotic sea. Horses and carriages filled the streets, slowed by the dense traffic of people in their midst. Flynx stared at the collage of colors, focusing on finding a way through. His magic wasn’t strong enough to fly over the crowd—too few believers surrounded him. He would have to make it through the gauntlet on foot.
The tiny golden dragon took a deep breath and rushed into the crowded street, dodging this foot and that wheel, rolling this way and that, barely missing the mindless obstacles that threatened him. The golden blur buzzed across the street in a sudden zig-zag, stumbling out on the other side. The humans didn’t see him. He was a brief flash of light, a teasing image in the corner of their eyes, a picture of something so impossible that their minds ignored him.
Flynx walked towards the children playing hide-and-seek in the alleyway. The youngest one saw him first, stopping in his tracks, mouth opening wide, big blue eyes glistening with awe and delight from behind a screen of unkempt blond hair. The other children started yelling: “Giov, what are you doing? You can’t stop in the middle of the game!”. Giov didn’t respond to them, and their gaze soon followed his, landing on the golden dragon.
Flynx Drakony strode towards the children, mustering all the magic he had in him, impressing upon them the reality of his existence. He stopped two feet in front of the youngest boy, smiled, and began to tell his story.
“I am a dragon, the first to return to your world in many many years…”
copyright 2005 Keyser520