Monday, December 20, 2010

The Chalice of Courage


On a mountain top,
In a distant land,
Lived a fierce dragon
With talons sharper
Than the great butcher’s knife
And a breath
Hotter than a million suns.

His sole purpose for being
Was to protect a chalice.

This chalice was no ordinary goblet,
It was cast in gold
And encrusted with diamonds,
Emeralds, rubies and pearls,
But what it was made of
Paled in comparison
With what it held within.

Legend has it
That within the chalice
Was an elixir of courage.
An endless supply of
Pure Courage,
But no one had ever
Ventured to the mountain top
To sip from said chalice.

In a village
Not too far from the mountain
Lived the son of a farmer
Named Leonid.

Leonid had one desire,
A burning desire
To become a warrior,
To become a great warrior,
To fight for his village,
To protect his home.

Leonid did not believe
He possessed the courage
To make his dream a reality,
But while as the local market
He overheard some talking
About the chalice
Guarded by a dragon
On a nearby mountain.
The answer to a problem
That had been plaguing him.

When Leonid came of age,
He packed a few belongings
And started his journey
To becoming a warrior.
He made his way
To the mountain top,
To the chalice.

It was a journey
That took five days,
Leonid rested only when he need to
And drank and ate
What the earth provided.
The water from springs,
The berries and fruits form trees,
The meat from animals he caught.

Every now and then,
He would come upon a village,
And he would stop for ale
And conversation.

When people heard
Where Leonid was headed,
They would try to discourage him,
Telling him stories of
How fierce the dragon was.

Leonid would patiently listen,
But when he left the village,
He went in the direction
Of the mountain top.

His ascent of the mountain
Started on the fourth day.
This, surely, was the hardest part
Of the journey.
At some points the only way up
Was to scale a wall of rock
With barely a foot hold.

Lesser men would have given up,
Leonid would have given up,
But his desired pushed him on,
And within two days,
Leonid reached the top.

After resting for a few hours,
Leonid walked to the dragon’s cave.
He was rested and prepared
To confront the dragon
And claim the Chalice of Courage.

With a staff fitted with a blade in hand,
Leonid entered the cave.
It was dark and hot,
And with each step,
Leonid became more and more fearful.

The cave then opened up
Into a large cavern,
And in the center,
On a stone throne,
Sat the dragon
And in his hand was the chalice.

Leonid positioned himself
To attack with the sharp end
Of his staff pointed at the dragon.

“Now, where are your manners?”
Boomed the dragon.
“You enter my home uninvited,
Point a pointy stick at me
And not even say a simple
‘Good day, Dragon’.”

Leonid was taken aback,
He did not expect
The dragon to speak
And not like a nobleman.

He, quickly, put aside his astonishment
And yelled back,
“Good day, Dragon,
I have come for the chalice
You hold in your hand.
I am prepared to do battle!”

“Do battle?!?
Whatever for, my dear boy?”
Why exactly have you come to my home
And threaten my life?
Have I burnt down your house?
Killed your entire family?
Killed your beloved dog?”
Questioned the dragon.

“Well, no…
But I want the Chalice of Courage
And I will do whatever
I have to do to get it,
Including vanquishing you!”
Answered Leonid.

Why don’t you simply
Ask me for the chalice?”
Cooed the dragon,
“It would be much easier.”

“Alright, Dragon.
May I, please, have
The Chalice of Courage,
So I may sip from it
And become courageous.”

The dragon stared at Leonid
For two heart beats,
Then said “No!”

“If you were not
Going to give me the chalice,
Why did you make me ask for it?”
Bellowed Leonid, angrily.

“First things first,
I made you ask
Because it was the polite thing to do,”
Said the dragon,
“And I won’t give you
The Chalice of Courage
Because you don’t need it.”

Leonid’s jaw dropped,
And he stared at the dragon
As though he had lost his mind.

After a minute or two,
He spluttered,
“I don’t need it?!
I don’t need it?!!
Do you know what I went through
To get here?
How far I traveled?
How I was jeered at
By the village folk?”

The dragon just smiled
At the young man
Growing more and more angry,
“Oh, I know what you went through.
It is quite a task
To make it up here,
But the fact that you did it,
That you made it here,
Proves that you don’t need it.”

“You walked many miles,
Climbed this mountain
To confront me,
A dragon with the reputation
Of being fierce!
All to possess a so called
Chalice of Courge.
By doing all that you have done
You proved that you already possess
The courage you seek.”

The dragon smiled once more
As he saw understanding
Washed over Leonid’s face,
But soon followed sadness
And disappointment.

“Do not ever regret this journey.
This journey was not to acquire a chalice,
This journey was to unblock
The spring of courage
That resides in you,”
Said the dragon.

“This spring will never grow dry
Unlike this chalice.
This spring is natural
And there will never be any side effects,
And one day, this spring
Will become a strong river.”
These words made Leonid stand a bit taller.

As it had turned dark,
The dragon allowed Leonid
To stay the night
As the journey down
Would be dangerous in the dark.

The dragon and the young man
Talked most of the night
And it was quite late
When they both fell asleep.

The next day,
After they said their good byes,
And as Leonid was about to leave the cave,
He turned back to the dragon.

“Dragon, even though
I could not drink from the chalice,
May I, at least, see in it?”
Asked Leonid, timidly.

Understanding how curiosity
Can gnaw at a person’s soul,
The dragon tipped the chalice
Low enough for Leonid to see in it.

The Chalice of Courage
Was empty.

“Sometimes, we need something
To aim for,
For us to take the journey
We need to take,
Even if that something
Is nothing at all,”
The dragon said.

Leonid nodded and left the cave.
He made his way down
The mountain safely
And when asked,
He said he had drunk
From the Chalice of Courage.

Leonid had gone on
To becoming a great warrior,
And only to those closest to him,
He would tell the true story
Of The Chalice of Courage.

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