November 15th, 2003
Once Upon a Time by Cammy
Once upon a time, a long time ago, before the 'Great Tree' was great, before a magic cloud could be found at its top, a small dragon lived high up in the tree's branches and called it home.
This dragon was very busy. It was his job to light all the hearth fires every morning for the folks in the City of Medievia. So, at the crack of dawn, he could be found flying in and out of open windows, breathing life into each and every fireplace. The fires frequently went out, and he was called back, which made his days very long indeed. At dusk, after a long day, he would cling to his sleeping branch and watch the beautiful guardian dragons carrying the folks of the city to and fro.
After one never-ending day, the small dragon set off from a rooftop, making his way back to the tree. Setting his wings for a long glide, he aimed for his favorite branch, misjudged, and promptly crashed headlong into it, knocking himself quite silly. He landed at the foot of the tree with a thump. Too tired to try again, he closed his eyes to wait for morning.
A small pixie had lived in the trunk of that very tree for as long as she could remember. Living inside the tree, she noticed the subtle change it was undergoing. Spots of mold were growing on the supporting beams of her walls. She had thought about asking the dragon to scorch them a bit to stop the growth. But, on this day she was too busy. The mold was a problem she was going to have to deal with later.
She was a weaver of rugs. All were woven with moonbeams, stardust, and just a touch of the tree she loved, but only her magic rugs were sold at Rashkar's Rugs. All the others were given to the folks of the City. Her rugs kept the chill off both little and big feet alike. Many times she had tried to give the little dragon one of her rugs, but as he slept on a branch, he always declined her offer with a sad look on his face.
Every morning she saw him fly off to make his rounds, and every now and then in the evening, she would hear a loud thump as he missed his sleeping branch and tumbled to the ground. She truly cared for the little dragon with his good heart and misdirected flight patterns.
Tonight she heard the familiar thump. Enough had finally come to enough. She was out the door, racing to the back of the tree, nearly tripping over his sleeping form. Scooping him up, she made her way back into her home. Gently, she laid him on a fluffy rug in front of her fireplace and waited for him to open his eyes. She waited, and waited, and waited, and waited.
Morning dawned to find the small pixie still waiting and the dragon snoring. She hummed - he slept. She nudged him - he slept.
The sun was coming up over the hill when he finally opened one eye, then the other. He had never slept so well. A wish formed quickly in his sleepy head, but before he could open his mouth, the pixie nodded. The place on the rug in front of the fireplace was his as long as he wished. Happy, happy, joy, joy.
He wondered if he should tell her about his dream of becoming a guardian dragon. He had never before told anyone. He wanted to join the ranks of those who were called to carry folks to all the corners of the realm. He wanted his wings to glow. He could fly and he was strong and he did know all the corners of Medievia like the back of his wing.
The pixie sat on the floor, looking at him expectantly.
"I want to be a guardian," he blurted, "I want to be one of those who grace the skies with their glowing wings, carrying and protecting."
"And what is stopping you, little one?" she asked.
"The entrance quest, it's the entrance quest!" he exclaimed. "I need to rescue a princess. That's the reason I became a hearth lighter. I thought surely I would run into a princess eventually who needed to be rescued. But no, I fly in, light the hearth, I fly out. Not once have I even met a princess. I did rescue Scruff once when he fell into the fountain, but they said that didn't count. I need a princess!"
"What you need right now, is to go to work. Look at the sun. I believe you are going to be late if you don't stretch those magnificent wings of yours," the pixie said with a smile.
"Oh dear, you're right," the dragon said. "I'm late, and I'm never late. I have to hurry. But, I want to thank you for the rug and the hearth, and most of all for listening. See you later," he called as he ran for the nearest window to launch himself to the sky.
For the dragon, the day flew by. With his late start, there was no time to stop and chat. There was no time to stop at Desigra's Delicatessen or the stables to visit. He circled the city for one last time and headed for his tree, his hearth, and his fluffy rug.
As he set his wings, he heard it, the cry of a princess in distress! He was certain! It struck a chord in his heart. The cry became louder as he neared his tree. It was coming from the pixie who was hanging upside down from his old branch, her arms full of acorns.
"Don't move, I'm coming!" he yelled.
"I'm hanging upside down! How would I move with my foot wedged in this branch?" she yelled back.
With his best hovering technique, he plucked her from the branch, and placed her gently on the ground. She grinned at him and ran into her house with her arms still loaded. He stopped for a moment and pondered. Why had his heart struck that chord? Why did he feel so strange? Why were his wings beginning to glow? Then he knew! He knew he had been accepted into the ranks of the guardians, but why? He charged through the door after her.
"Look at me!" he exclaimed, "My wings are glowing, but why?"
The pixie was kneeling beside an old chest. She stood slowly and turned around.
His wings glowed brightly. On her head was the tiara of a pixie princess.
"It's true small dragon, tonight you have rescued a princess," she said and beamed a smile at him.
A full moon looked down on the City of Medievia, on a tree destined to be great, a small happy dragon, and a pixie who just happened to be a princess.
And they lived happily ever after.
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