- A Dragon's Tale: Book II: Evil's Reflection by Paul Benthom
- A Dragon's Tale Book One: The Silver Dragon
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- Examples of Fairy Tales
After this, the dragon tries to attack the boy indirectly by attacking members of his church Rev A second beast arises from the land, symbolizing the antichrist, which leads people astray by its prodigies to idolize the first beast Rev The Israel of old gave birth to the Messiah Rev This corresponds to a widespread myth throughout the ancient world that a goddess pregnant with a savior was pursued by a horrible monster; by miraculous intervention, she bore a son who then killed the monster.
Christ with many diadems Rev Was caught up to God: A hymn of praise follows. Print Share Calendar Diocesan Locator.
A Dragon's Tale: Book II: Evil's Reflection by Paul Benthom
Others still maintained that the dragon was good for the human species because it kept the population size down. To what extent these arguments convinced the worried souls is not known. Most people tried to cope by not thinking about the grim end that awaited them. For many centuries this desperate state of affairs continued. Nobody kept count any longer of the cumulative death toll, nor of the number of tears shed by the bereft. Expectations had gradually adjusted and the dragon-tyrant had become a fact of life. In view of the evident futility of resistance, attempts to kill the dragon had ceased.
Instead, efforts now focused on placating it. While the dragon would occasionally raid the cities, it was found that the punctual delivery to the mountain of its quota of life reduced the frequency of these incursions. Knowing that their turn to become dragon-fodder was always impending, people began having children earlier and more often. It was not uncommon for a girl to be pregnant by her sixteenth birthday.
- A Dragon's Tale: Book II: Evil's Reflection.
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Couples often spawned a dozen children. The human population was thus kept from shrinking, and the dragon was kept from going hungry. Over the course of these centuries, the dragon, being well fed, slowly but steadily grew bigger. It had become almost as large as the mountain on which it lived. And its appetite had increased proportionately.
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Ten thousand human bodies were no longer enough to fill its belly. It now demanded eighty thousand, to be delivered to the foot of the mountain every evening at the onset of dark. This was not an easy task. To facilitate the process, the king had a railway track constructed: Every twenty minutes, a train would arrive at the mountain terminal crammed with people, and would return empty. On moonlit nights, the passengers traveling on this train, if there had been windows for them to stick their heads out of, would have been able to see in front of them the double silhouette of the dragon and the mountain, and two glowing red eyes, like the beams from a pair of giant lighthouses, pointing the way to annihilation.
Servants were employed by the king in large numbers to administer the tribute. There were registrars who kept track of whose turn it was to be sent. There were people-collectors who would be dispatched in special carts to fetch the designated people. Often traveling at breakneck speed, they would rush their cargo either to a railway station or directly to the mountain. There were clerks who administered the pensions paid to the decimated families who were no longer able to support themselves. There were comforters who would travel with the doomed on their way to the dragon, trying to ease their anguish with spirits and drugs.
There was, moreover, a cadre of dragonologists who studied how these logistic processes could be made more efficient. All these items were painstakingly annotated and archived. The more the beast was understood, the more the general perception of its invincibility was confirmed.
Its black scales, in particular, were harder than any material known to man, and there seemed no way to make as much as a scratch in its armor. To finance all these activities, the king levied heavy taxes on his people. Dragon-related expenditures, already accounting for one seventh of the economy, were growing even faster than the dragon itself.
Humanity is a curious species. Every once in a while, somebody gets a good idea. Others copy the idea, adding to it their own improvements. Over time, many wondrous tools and systems are developed. Some of these devices — calculators, thermometers, microscopes, and the glass vials that the chemists use to boil and distil liquids — serve to make it easier to generate and try out new ideas, including ideas that expedite the process of idea-generation. Thus the great wheel of invention, which had turned at an almost imperceptibly slow pace in the older ages, gradually began to accelerate.
Sages predicted that a day would come when technology would enable humans to fly and do many other astonishing things. One of the sages, who was held in high esteem by some of the other sages but whose eccentric manners had made him a social outcast and recluse, went so far as to predict that technology would eventually make it possible to build a contraption that could kill the dragon-tyrant.
They said that humans were far too heavy to fly and in any case lacked feathers. And as for the impossible notion that the dragon-tyrant could be killed, history books recounted hundreds of attempts to do just that, not one of which had been successful. Meanwhile, the wheel of invention kept turning. Mere decades later, humans did fly and accomplished many other astonishing things.
A few iconoclastic dragonologists began arguing for a new attack on the dragon-tyrant.
A Dragon's Tale Book One: The Silver Dragon
But after working on the problem for many years, one of the iconoclasts succeeded in demonstrating that a dragon scale could be pierced by an object made of a certain composite material. Many dragonologists who had previously been skeptical now joined the iconoclasts. However, the manufacture of the needed quantity of the composite material would be expensive. A group of several eminent engineers and dragonologists sent a petition to the king asking for funding to build the anti-dragon projectile. At time when the petition was sent, the king was preoccupied with leading his army into war against a tiger.
The tiger had killed a farmer and subsequently disappeared into the jungle. There was widespread fear in the countryside that the tiger might come out and strike again. The king had the jungle surrounded and ordered his troops to begin slashing their way through it. At the conclusion of the campaign, the king could announce that all tigers in the jungle, including presumably the murderous one, had been hunted down and killed. During the tumult of the war, however, the petition had been lost or forgotten.
The petitioners therefore sent another appeal. A second track was deemed necessary, as the original track could no longer support the increasing traffic. The tribute demanded by the dragon-tyrant had increased to one hundred thousand human beings, to be delivered to the foot of the mountain every evening at the onset of dark. When the budget was finally approved, however, reports were coming from a remote part of the country that a village was suffering from a rattlesnake infestation.
The king had to leave urgently to mobilize his army and ride off to defeat this new threat. The anti-dragonists met again to decide what was to be done. The debate was animated and continued long into the night. It was almost daybreak when they finally resolved to take the matter to the people. Over the following weeks, they traveled around the country, gave public lectures, and explained their proposal to anyone who would listen. At first, people were skeptical.
They had been taught in school that the dragon-tyrant was invincible and that the sacrifices it demanded had to be accepted as a fact of life. Yet when they learnt about the new composite material and about the designs for the projectile, many became intrigued. In increasing numbers, citizens flocked to the anti-dragonist lectures. Activists started organizing public rallies in support of the proposal. When the king read about these meetings in the newspaper, he summoned his advisors and asked them what they thought about it.
See a Problem?
They informed him about the petitions that had been sent but told him that the anti-dragonists were troublemakers whose teachings were causing public unrest. It was much better for the social order, they said, that the people accepted the inevitability of the dragon-tyrant tribute. The dragon-administration provided many jobs that would be lost if the dragon was slaughtered. There was no known social good coming from the conquest of the dragon. He therefore decided to hold an open hearing. Leading dragonologists, ministers of the state, and interested members of the public were invited to attend.
The meeting took place on the darkest day of the year, just before the Christmas holidays, in the largest hall of the royal castle. The hall was packed to the last seat and people were crowding in the aisles. The mood was charged with an earnest intensity normally reserved for pivotal wartime sessions. After the king had welcomed everyone, he gave the floor to the leading scientist behind the anti-dragonist proposal, a woman with a serious, almost stern expression on her face.
She proceeded to explain in clear language how the proposed device would work and how the requisite amount of the composite material could be manufactured. Given the requested amount of funding, it should be possible to complete the work in fifteen to twenty years. With an even greater amount of funding, it might be possible to do it in as little as twelve years. However, there could be no absolute guarantee that it would work.
The crowd followed her presentation intently. Now she desires that we get rid of the dragon. How willful and presumptuous. The finitude of human life is a blessing for every individual, whether he knows it or not. Getting rid of the dragon, which might seem like such a convenient thing to do, would undermine our human dignity. The preoccupation with killing the dragon will deflect us from realizing more fully the aspirations to which our lives naturally point, from living well rather than merely staying alive.
It is debasing, yes debasing, for a person to want to continue his or her mediocre life for as long as possible without worrying about some of the higher questions about what life is to be used for. But I tell you, the nature of the dragon is to eat humans, and our own species-specified nature is truly and nobly fulfilled only by getting eaten by it The audience listened respectfully to this highly decorated speaker. The phrases were so eloquent that it was hard to resist the feeling that some deep thoughts must lurk behind them, although nobody could quite grasp what they were.
Surely, words coming from such a distinguished appointee of the king must have profound substance. The speaker next in line was a spiritual sage who was widely respected for his kindness and gentleness as well as for his devotion. As he strode to the podium, a small boy yelled out from the audience: He is probably wiser than an old fool like me. At first, the boy was too scared and confused to move. She said that we would make a little house out of gingerbread and little gingerbread men that would live in it.
Then those people in white clothes came and took Granny away to the dragon The dragon is bad and it eats people… I want my Granny back! The people were backing the anti-dragonists, and by the end of the evening even the king had come to recognize the reason and the humanity of their cause.
In his closing statement, he simply said: As the news spread, celebrations erupted in the streets. Those who had been campaigning for the anti-dragonists toasted each other and drank to the future of humanity. The next morning, a billion people woke up and realized that their turn to be sent to the dragon would come before the projectile would be completed.
A tipping point was reached.
Mass rallies raised money for the projectile project and urged the king to increase the level of state support. The king responded to these appeals. In his New Year address, he announced that he would pass an extra appropriations bill to support the project at a high level of funding; additionally, he would sell off his summer castle and some of his land and make a large personal donation. Thus started a great technological race against time. The concept of an anti-dragon projectile was simple, but to make it a reality required solutions to a thousand smaller technical problems, each of which required dozens of time-consuming steps and missteps.
Test-missiles were fired but fell dead to the ground or flew off in the wrong direction. In one tragic accident, a wayward missile landed on a hospital and killed several hundred patients and staff. But there was now a real seriousness of purpose, and the tests continued even as the corpses were being dug out from the debris. The decade concluded and the dragon was still alive and well. But the effort was getting closer.
A prototype missile had been successfully test fired. Production of the core, made of the expensive composite material, was on schedule for its completion to coincide with the finishing of the fully tested and debugged missile shell into which it was to be loaded. The best-selling Christmas gift that year was a calendar that counted down the days to time zero, the proceeds going to the projectile project. The king had undergone a personal transformation from his earlier frivolous and thoughtless self.
He now spent as much time as he could in the laboratories and the manufacturing plants, encouraging the workers and praising their toil. Sometimes he would bring a sleeping bag and spend the night on a noisy machine floor. He even studied and tried to understand the technical aspects of their work. Yet he confined himself to giving moral support and refrained from meddling in technical and managerial matters.
Seven days before New Year, the woman who had made the case for the project almost twelve years earlier, and was now its chief executive, came to the royal castle and requested an urgent audience with the king.
Examples of Fairy Tales
When the king got her note, he excused himself to the foreign dignitaries whom he was reluctantly entertaining at the annual Christmas dinner and hurried off to the private room where the scientist was waiting. As always of late, she looked pale and worn from her long working hours. This evening, however, the king also thought he could detect a ray of relief and satisfaction in her eyes. She told him that the missile had been deployed, the core had been loaded, everything had been triple-checked, they were ready to launch, and would the king give his final go-ahead.
The king sank down in an armchair and closed his eyes. He was thinking hard. By launching the projectile tonight, one week early, seven hundred thousand people would be saved.