by Joshua Slone
When Earth was young, Sun sat on his throne atop the mountains. The world lay hot and bright below him, for Sun refused to rest. In the ever-present day, the ground cracked and the shallow rivers boiled. Every creature moaned, suffering his reign—all of them, except for Dragon.
Dragon, born of rivers and of streams, snaked his way across the parched expanse, taking pity on the weaker animals—like Tiger, Fowl, and Man—for each possessed its strengths and could offer much good. Yet Sun ruled the sky as Lion ruled the land, his fierce face glaring down upon them, set within his fiery mane.
“Great Sun,” Man cried, his scorched cheeks flat against the dusty ground, “will you not relent? We cannot work against your heat! We cannot rest within your shine!” But Sun refused to listen, for he was strong and proud. He glittered and glowed, assured that his presence would bring as much peace and happiness to all the creatures of the Earth as it did to Sun, himself. But Dragon heard their cries, and felt Sun’s heat upon his scales.
Dragon dug his claws into the rough Earth, which scratched back against him. “What good is this?” he asked, studying the thin, dry soil. “No, this will not do,” he said, and thrust himself into a wingless flight, slithering skyward.
When he reached the pinnacle of the highest mountain—the crest of Sun’s eternal throne—Dragon called out, “Great Sun, do you not hear the cries of the animals? Do you refuse to listen? The Earth and its creatures are suffering!”
Sun did not answer, casting a fiery hand in Dragon’s face. Dragon grimaced, shielding his eyes against the glare. “They are powerless without you, Great Sun, but they are powerless because of you, as well,” he reasoned. “Step down from your throne for a time, and allow the animals to rest and dream! For without dreams, we are but stones and trees.”
Still, Sun refused to speak. The silence angered Dragon, who decided he could wait no longer. “Forgive me, Great Sun,” Dragon growled, as he shot into Sun’s wide belly, baring his teeth, and biting into him. Sun flared with a silent scream as his blood filled Dragon’s mouth and spilled out across the sky. Sun’s blood stained the sky’s soft, blue beauty in shades of red, and pink, and purple—each color fading one into the next as Sun toppled off his throne and down behind the mountains. In his absence, the sky grew black and cold.
His fight finished, Dragon flew back down to Earth, breathing fire—the Sun’s own power now harnessed deep within him. Dragon came to rest upon the ground, calling out to all the creatures of the Earth, declaring victory. “Great Sun has descended,” he shouted, “for I have defeated him!” Yet as he spoke, pillars of flame spewed from his throat, piercing the pitch black sky in terrible streaks of heat. All of the creatures cowered at the sight, and stole away to their hiding places—all of them, except for Man.
Man drew near to Dragon, curious at this new power, comforted by its warmth in the bitter cold of Earth’s first night. They held out their palms, warming themselves by Dragon’s breath, huddling at his feet. Dragon watched them shiver, but he could feel the Sun’s power waning within him. He tore an old, dry tree up from the ground, crushing it into kindling. Dragon breathed the last of Sun’s gift out onto the pile, setting a large fire by which Man could keep warm until Sun sat upon his throne once more.
Dragon knew that Sun would rise again, though his wound would leave him weakened. Sun still ruled the sky, but would now require rest. The light and dark have balanced, Dragon thought, as he lay down to sleep and dream.
Joshua Slone likes to write things, and he likes it even more when his readers both read and enjoy those things. Incidentally, if you both read and enjoy his things, be sure to let him know by messaging him at Joshybo