THE NAKED TRUTH
There once was a brave knight who lived in a castle. He was known far and wide for his valor and courage. His armor shone in the light, so he could be seen far off. He did not fear his enemies, and all fell in his wake. It was believed he could not be defeated in battle. His banners carried the sigil of the dragon. He amassed wealth and power as he rode his giant steed, stomping the earth, and pouring thunder across the countryside. His blade flashed like lightning, his shield hammered against his foe as an anvil bending steel to its will.
One summer evening, the knight rode into a grove, looking for a fight. His stallion swung his head thundering through the shaded grass. The knight stopped at the sound of a fair maiden's song. He climbed from his horse and strode deeper into the wood.
The song led him to a deep clear pond, where a fair skinned maiden swam in the cool waters.
Quietly he removed his helm, armor, and battlements. Naked and vulnerable he stared, as the young woman swam. She was not surprised when she saw him. Her emerald green eyes twinkled with mischief, a knowing smile slid across her lips. She rose fearlessly and was not afraid, but drew close to the knight as he entered the water. He pulled her into his arms kissing her deeply. They fell in love and were married soon after.
The knight brought her into his great castle and made her queen of all he possessed. He brought her back gems, emeralds, gold, and treasures from his far and wide adventures. She was his heartbeat, and all he lived for. The more he gave her, the more she desired. He wanted to stay with her, but she sent him away after only a few days, each time he returned. She demanded more, and quickly became bored of his gifts. She always spoke of the greater treasures that awaited her brave knight. The treasures he was destined to bring her.
Each time the knight returned, his queen grew colder and more obsessed with treasure. Her hunger never satisfied, she adorned herself with emeralds and diamonds, demanding more. Her voice became raspy and sharp like the edge of a blade against flint. Her skin grew cold and scaly. She grew taller and horns began to form above her hairline. She battered her knight, and singed his pride with carefully placed insults meant to motivate his crusades.
The knight grew weary and avoided returning home. He ventured farther east than he had ever been, when he heard a tale of the greatest treasure that had ever been told. It rested at the top of a mountain protected by a great fire breathing golden bird, adorned with diamond talons.
The bird ripped the knight’s shield like the pages of a book. His armor was sliced, and his helm fell from his head. His great flashing sword was no match for the bird’s speed. His horse could not make the climb up the mountain, his thundering hooves were of no benefit to the knight in his climb.
For one year and three days the knight climbed battered and bleeding. He hid more than he fought. He believed if he reached the top of the mountain the treasure would be his. It was on the third day after one year when he crested the top of the mountain. The golden bird had not been seen in two days.
There, on the flat top of the mountain, stood a small wooden shack with a porch. Resting cross legged, on the porch, sat an ancient man with a white beard wrapped around his body and arms. The knight was moments away from freezing; his clothes lost days ago on the mountain. His boots were all that remained.
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He stepped towards the old man, when a great golden bird landed in front of the knight. Her diamond talons shone in the sunlight and grated against the rocks as she stepped towards the knight, wings spread wide. The knight had found that each time he lost items of clothing the bird left and flew away. He sat, and removed his boots, flinging them from the mountain. The bird twisted her head, blinked twice and took flight. The knight crawled to the feet of the old man and asked after the greatest treasure the world had ever seen.
The old man began to laugh. “It is not a treasure to be seen. It is a treasure to be known.”
The knight was confused.
“Ask me one question that weighs on your mind. I will give you one answer.” The old man stroked his beard, his eyes twinkling in the dying light of the day.
The knight shivered and thought. His mind wandered far and wide. For the first time in a year and three days, he thought of his lovely wife, and the day they met, naked in the pool of the glen.
“What has happened to my wife, and how do I fix it?”
“That is two questions, but I will answer them both with one. Is loving the monster, which was your wife, greater than the way you loved her without wisdom? You have gained wisdom as you have climbed. If you know the answer to this question, then you have gained the greatest treasure the world has known.”
The knight returned home on the back of his great steed. The land was scorched, and his castle burned to cinders. Nothing was left, his wife was gone.
A dragon was responsible. The people called to him, asking for relief from the fire and hate they had known while he was away. He called for his armor and shield. They were built and his flashing sword was now black and tempered for the flames of the dragon. He rode to its lair, a cave in the side of a scorched hill.
The knight dismounted and called to the red devil. She appeared from her dark cave, her scales shone and glistened in the light. Her teeth were bright, long, and sharp. Her eyes shone green and deep, she snarled and the knight’s blood ran cold. He didn’t even feel the fire as it consumed him. He thrust his shield before him and raged against the inferno.
He knew she was his wife in full transformation. She snapped at him, and hurled herself from the cave screaming. She cracked her bone covered tail into his chest as she flew past. He gasped leaning against the wall of the cave, armor dented and battered. He never drew his sword and knew he never would. He loved the beast, and hated himself for what he had driven her to.
Each morning the brave knight pounded out his armor and mended his helm. He shined it till it
shone again and prepared for the next battle. He was a knight that had fallen in love with a
dragon, and was cursed to fight for her love until the day he was consumed.
His armor was found lain aside, his shield leaned against the wall of the cave. Inscribed upon it:
All be warned, never love a dragon.
No one knows what happened, but the knight was never seen again, nor the dragon. Some say they saw a naked knight carried away by a red dragon.
Others say the dragon consumed the knight and left to find greater challenges.
Who can know, when it concerns the affairs of dragons?