Story Saturday: The Dragon and the Runt

"The Dragon and the Runt"

Once upon a time, there was a powerful dragon guarding a great treasure. The dragon surrounded herself with glittering gold and adorned her scales with jewels that sparkled in every color of the rainbow. She loved her treasure so much that she would scare away anyone who dared to come near it by breathing blazing hot blasts of flames at them. Legends of her vast riches spread throughout the land, but only the bravest of knights would ever dare to face her and risk their lives over such a reward.

In a kingdom not too far, three brothers lived in a village with their ailing mother who was too weak to provide for them. Their father had passed away in a war. She begged her three sons to find a way to support their family before they lost everything. Two of the brothers were strong and capable but hated working. The third, who was willing to do anything to help his mother but was not strong enough to perform hard labor, was considered the runt of the family. The two strong brothers were intrigued when they heard about the hidden treasure, but they were not brave enough to risk their lives against the dragon. They decided to send the runt because they didn't value his life as they did their own. Though he was afraid, the runt agreed to face the dragon if it meant they could buy medicine to aid their poor mother.

When he arrived at the dragon's lair, the runt had no weapons or armor. He knew nothing of fighting. He had no plan except to explain his situation to the dragon and hope that she would be willing to help. The dragon was amused that such a puny runt had come to face her for her treasure. Instead of scaring him away, she listened to his story with great interest and came to hate his cruel brothers who had sent him on such a dangerous task with no regard for his safety. After spending some time with the runt, she happened upon an idea. With the greatest of care, the dragon embedded the runt's clothing with gold and jewels. She told the runt to return home and tell his brothers how easy it was to defeat her and that all the treasure they could ever want was there just waiting for the taking.

The runt agreed to her plan, but only if he could have a few small coins to purchase medicine for his mother. The dragon agreed to this and sent him on his way. When the runt returned to his village, the first thing he did was purchase the medicine. His mother made a miraculous recovery, but her other two sons were filled with jealousy when they saw their brother's clothes and hair had been embedded with glittering finery. They told the runt that he was a fool for wearing the treasures instead of taking them to spend on himself and raise his status. When he told them how easy it was to defeat the dragon, they decided they had made a mistake by sending him and that they should go to recover the treasure and spend it on land and titles so they would never have to work a day in their lives. The runt wished to see the dragon again, so he traveled close behind them because his brothers told him he was too much of a fool to travel at their side.

The two lazy brothers were the first to arrive at the cave. Before they could get anywhere near the treasure, the dragon flew over them blowing smoke rings. She was a far more intimidating presence than the runt had remembered. The dragon then breathed fire at them, singeing their clothes. They turned toward their foolish brother and accused him of lying about having defeated the dragon. The dragon watched as the two brothers turned on the runt and held their weapons against him as punishment. In a fit of rage, she swooped down in front of him, protecting him from his brothers. Their blades slid harmlessly across her sharp jewel-embedded scales. The brothers were shocked that the dragon would ever want to protect the runt of their family. In their confusion, she continued to breathe fire at them, burning them even more until they fled for their lives.

When the dragon and the runt were alone, the dragon laughed at their game, pleased with herself for humiliating the runt's two cruel brothers. The runt asked her why she would ever protect such a meek fool like himself. The dragon shook her head, telling him that they were the fools, not him. He was kind for wanting to protect his mother and brave for facing her without a weapon. In the little time they had spent together, she found that she cared for him a great deal. In fact, she soon realized that she loved him. At that moment, a white light shined her, and before the runt's eyes, she transformed into the most beautiful maiden he had ever seen. Her raven hair shimmered in the sunlight. Jewels of every color glittered across her gown and tiara. She explained to the runt that she was actually a princess of a nearby kingdom who was cursed by a witch for loving treasure more than anything else in the world. The only way to break the curse was to learn to love a person more than her treasure. As it turned out, the runt was that person.

The runt and the princess married soon after, and his mother was invited to live in the castle. The two lazy brothers were not invited to the wedding and lived the rest of their lives in poverty, wondering how their wimpy brother was able to marry a princess. The princess continued to love the finer things in life, but never as much as she loved her husband. She found that she could still breathe fire on occasion but only used her abilities for good. The dragon princess lived happily ever after with her brave and kind-hearted prince from that day on.


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