I peered at him through the glass case and wondered how and why anyone would trap a dragon under glass. It wasn’t unbreakable. I thought if he wanted to, the heat of his fire could melt it, and then he could have escaped. But when he made no attempts I ventured to speak with him to find out why.
“How can a beautiful, powerful creature like yourself be trapped in a case made of glass?” I asked.
“Foolish mortal child, do you not know how dangerous it is to speak to me. Have your senses been dulled by the breath of air out there, leaving you witless. Or maybe you do not know the power contained within the glass.”
I wasn’t sure if he was referring to himself, or if he was trying to explain to me some power of the glass case. It isn’t prudent to allow a dragon, even a trapped one to know you aren’t smart enough to understand what they are talking about. I certainly didn’t want him to think I wasn’t intelligent enough to continue having a conversation with, so I said.
“Yes there is great power, but I may brave it to know the story of how you came to be here and why you choose, if a choice it is, to stay.” I asked.
He shifted in his see through prison and sat on his haunches like a cat so he could talk to me.
“When I first came here the case was twice the size. The wizard who had invited me assured me that it would benefit mankind for men to see me and the glass would provide protection for both them and myself. After a few days he promised to release me and allow me to return to my home, but at the end of the time he refused and I grew angry. I blew a blast of fire to breach the glass but found that as it heated, the glass only shrunk. Even when I am speaking it heats the glass ever so slightly and the case begins to shrink. It will continue until I am merely a miniature and there is no space for breath or movement. I will die and the wizard will use my remains in potions and spells, tonics and treatments, magic and elixirs,” Was his answer, but not the entire truth.
The glass shuttered as we spoke. I backed away realizing that what he said was true. Each time he spoke the heat of his breath manipulated the composition of the glass and it quivered. I gathered that since he had discovered the nature of his prison that he had not spoken much to minimize the speed at which the glass continued to shrink. But I quickly came to the same conclusion that he had come to immediately, he would never escape, his destruction was inevitable. But that conclusion had flaws, of which I had no knowledge, not understanding the indestructible nature of dragons. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to speed his demise, though I had several more questions which I thought I might enable me to be able to discover a way to help him. But maybe I could ask in a way he did not have to answer.
“Can you show me where the wizard is?” I asked.
He shook his head and pointed toward the library stairs. It was a winding stair that seemed to lead to several hallways which led down hidden corridors in the back of the library. I thought he would come out if I waited long enough.
“Does the wizard come here every day?” I asked.
He nodded. I didn’t know how to word my next question so that he would not be required to answer verbally.
“How long have you been here?” I asked finally.
The bottom of the glass case was covered with a layer of gold scales. When I looked closely I realized they were still attached to skin. The dragon had molted and shed his outer skin once each hundred years. There were a total of three skins, I noticed as he fingered each beautiful layer. Despite his incredible power, I noticed a tear in his eye. I pretended not to notice. As I stood looking at him, the wizard slowly and quietly approached.
“So you would like to free him, eh?” he asked as he appeared beside me.
I jumped startled. “Well yes, if you will allow me. I had been wondering why you found it necessary to cage such a beautiful creature.”
“Did the beautiful creature tell you what he was doing when I trapped him?” the wizard asked raising a brow.
“Well no, I did not actually ask that question.” I answered.
“And I am certain that he would not have told you even if you had asked. That beautiful creature had subdued a class of young maidens and was very gingerly tearing them limb from limb. Had you been among them you would have been a simple meal for him as well.
“Is this true I asked,” looking at him in disgust.
He nodded and bowed his head.
“And you were trying to trick me into feeling sorry for you, thinking if I got you out, I would be your dessert?”
This time he answered me verbally.
“I am what I am; it would be foolish to think that I would behave otherwise. Yes, if you had managed my release I would have eaten you straight away to build my strength for I would immediately have to battle the wizard, fight off any knights in the vicinity, and have strength to fly away. It has been three hundred long hungry years and though starving me will not kill me the shrinking of this glass surely will.”
I understood his logic, but I felt betrayed nevertheless.
“Dragons are very powerful and see things quite clearly. It is why I chose a trap which is already clear and magically made in such a way so as to trap him further upon the use of any of his capabilities. Even his strength works against him. As his scales grow stronger so grows the strength of his prison.”
The glass had been fired by the breath of dragons, made from the sands of scales, crushed by dragons themselves. Infused with a spell of attraction, the scales sought to become a part of a dragon again at each heating but the quantity of sand grains used reconstituted to a scale which was only enough in the end to reform a dragon of minute size. Heating also redoubled the strength of the glass as the strength of his own shed scales was added. The more that his own scales combined to the glass the more the glass case was programmed to again become a part of the dragon. Soon it would mold to his form and shrink to the size of a house cat. The intense pressure would cause his skeletal structure to implode leaving a hollow glass form remaining, filled with his liquid essence. But the dragon was not ready to become merely a tool to provide the wizard with endless wealth. He had one more trick up his golden sleeve.
“But how once I have passed away will you penetrate the glass? Think you that you have the strength to bore threw a glass that I myself cannot penetrate?”
“Ah, but there is a secret that bears no telling, that is if I wish to keep you there until the end has come.” answered the wizard.
It was an old game, and the case was half the size it had been at the beginning. Each opponent seemed evenly matched and neither could trick the other into revealing their secrets. Both knew well what was at stake and vied constantly to discover some flaw or weakness that would give the other the advantage. The dragon had told too much to the girl, and not of the right things. If he had played the role of a convicted sinner he might have at least earned her sympathy. Now she was merely a spectator of the wizard’s intentions. She knew not his secrets, and now that she felt betrayed would not be assisting with his release.
But what that dragon had not told was that though his body would indeed liquefy, he would not die. His essence would remain trapped inside of the glass, and the dragon-shaped vessel would become a magical void, similar to that of a black hole, pulling in the magical energy of any powerful being able to breach the glass and combining them with those of the dragon. It could however do no damage to mortals with no magical energies. A single drop of the golden brown liquid would be worth a fortune, and could be used to produce healing potions, powerful spells, and a myriad of other magical uses. The glass vessel would never be empty.
What the wizard had not told was that a collar of the very same glass particles had been placed about the end of his tail and that the pressure from the shrinking would break the glass at that joint leaving quite a tidy opening through which to pour his essence. The remaining piece of his tail would serve as a suitable cork that would prevent the essence from spilling out.
“Why if you will never be free do you prolong this game? Think you that in another three hundred years I will be too old to benefit from your valuable essence. Think again, by then I will be the most powerful wizard in the land, with all of your virtues at my disposal.” bragged the wizard.
The dragon grew angry and spouted flame at the glass in a last great attempt to breach the glass before it was too strong. The glass molded to him and in the heat shrank further. The pain of the pressure caused the dragon to release one final burst of flame and as he did so the glass enveloped him and the particles of scale condensed until a glass miniature etched in gold stood where the case once stood, mouth opened poised to breath flame.
The wizard approached him and touched the end of his tail. A perfect ring around the neck of his tail broke clean and exposed the liquid inside. In an attempt to keep from losing any of the valuable liquid he put his index finger on the tip of the broken tail to cover the small opening that now existed there. Suddenly he gasped and a shriek the likes of none the young girl had ever heard escaped from the wizard’s mouth.
A pain like nothing he had ever experienced began to reverberate through his entire being. The tiny glass dragon was absorbing his entire being into the inner space with the liquid of the dragon, and it was being done through his fingertip.
The dragon laughed aloud.
“I thought that you were dead,” said the girl.
“What know you of dragons young lady? My spirit lives in my essence. Though my body be destroyed I may take upon the physical form of another dragon if he is not stronger than me. But I cannot leave here on my own, though it pleases me that the wizard will not survive me.”
The wizard in too much pain to move or attempt to draw his hand away listened as the dragon told the girl the truth. He outlined the wizards fate and explained the possible uses of his essence as well as how to locate buyers who would neither cheat her nor be a threat. It was a moment before the girl realized what the dragon was proposing.
She did not remark on her surprise and said rather to him, “Isn’t it funny, you would have eaten me but it is me who will live the rest of my natural life benefiting from wealth obtained by selling your essence.”
“If by funny you mean humorous, no, I do not relish having to rely on anyone for my survival, and if you mean odd that the tables have somehow turned you may be correct. I will have need to serve you in order to prevent my powerful essence from falling into the hands of others like the wizard, and so it seems we are bound to each other. But the mortal life is a not a long one, it will be necessary to make certain you have a family line with trustworthy individuals onto which you may pass your fortune including me. Soon we will be able to leave this place.”
The wizard who had not spoken for some time looked up at the girl, “Help me, do you want my death on your conscience?”
“I don’t see how your death could be on my conscience, it is you who trapped him, you who put him in the case, you who planned his destruction, and you yourself put your hand to the open glass. I shall have no regrets about a demise I did not cause. Feel you in your last moments that it would have better to allow me to have been eaten by the beautiful creature, rather than losing all the power you thought to possess? Well I won’t lose any sleep on that, you will become a part of his power, and I will be the instrument of his freedom. Though neither has gotten exactly what they wanted, you have certainly gotten what you asked for.” answered the girl.
“Well said,” commended the dragon.
As they spoke the wizard was absorbed into the vessel leaving nothing but his hat and his robes, which the girl folded neatly and placed on one of the library shelves. She then pick up the dragon’s tail and seated it nicely into the hole, picked up the glass dragon and headed home. On the way the dragon told her stories and secrets.
When she arrived home she placed him on her mantle, and all who saw him said what a beautiful creature he was. The girl simply replied, “Yes, he is.”
The Glass Dragon© DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved