The Dragon & the Butterfly Series
Jamieson B. Taylor
Once upon a time, there was a vast magical forest. In the middle of this forest there was a mountain. In this mountain there was a cave. In this cave there was an ancient dragon. A great, fierce, black dragon that spent most of the day sleeping in his cave upon a great pile of treasure. Many men and woman and all number of beasts had come to challenge the dragon and take his treasure. The dragon, however, had beaten and consumed them all. It was unfortunate for the dragon, for he learned as the years went by, that anyone or anything entering his cave must be there to fight or trick him and take his treasure. So the dragon lived alone with his hoard of riches and never knew the touch of love.
Until one day there was a terrible storm. Such a storm had not been seen in the forest since the old days. When the giants lived and there were no such thing as rainbows. The dragon stayed in his cave through the storm, which was terrible and lasted a long time. However, as all things must, the raging in the sky passed and the dragon could emerge to hunt again. This he did, spreading his wings in the sunshine and hunting the wild sheep on the edge of the forest. When he returned he fell into a deep sleep.
“Hello.” A small voice suddenly cried, breaking the dragons slumber, and causing him to summon his fire for battle.
“Hello, I say. I was blown about in the storm and have lost my way. Do you know where the Thrice Blest Meadow is?” The voice cried out again. The dragons head swung left and right, seeking out this new challenger. The dragon was sure this was a trick. A little thief had tried this before but was caught with a diamond as big the thief’s head when the dragon saw through his glamour. The dragon, however, could not spy the owner of the little voice. He used his magic to find invisible beings but still could find nothing in his cave.
“Hello!” the voice almost shrieked, “I think it is very rude to ignore a hello said three times. If you do not wish to help me then say so and I will be on my way.”
“Hello.” The dragon rumbled. “Show yourself I say and I will decide what to do with you.”
“Show myself?” the small voice answered, “Why I am right in front of you. As to what you will do with me, well, I should say I am going to have an opinion on that.”
The dragon’s eyes narrowed. He started to swing his head again when he caught it. A movement directly in front of him. Very small. With wings . . . why it was a butterfly. No bigger than the dragon’s claw. It fluttered in the air in front of his face. Its tiny face set in a determined stance and its wings. Its wings! The dragon blew a little fire to see the butterfly better with. With the flame the dragon could see his little visitor. What beauty! The wings were constantly mixing all the colors of the universe. Blues flowed into reds, greens danced with yellows, violets swirled through it all. There was faint sparkle coming from the wings. A magical dusting that followed the path of the butterfly. The dragon was amazed at the sheer beauty before him. He stared at the butterfly perplexed.
“So, are you going to help me? If not I shall be on my way.” With that the butterfly started to flutter back towards the entrance of the cave.
The dragon was stunned. Part of the dragon believed this to be another trick sent by a wizard. Or maybe the butterfly was another, fearsome beast in disguise. Still, all his instincts told him that the butterfly to be what she actually was – a beautiful creature that was lost and needed his help.
“Wait,” the dragon purred, “I will help you. Tell me, how did you come to be in my cave?”
The butterfly stopped and turned around. The very air about the creature seemed to sparkle with such brilliance as all other things were but ruin and chaos compared to it. The dragon’s fierce heart began to beat faster. All of his mighty countenance focused at this miraculous vision.
“There was a storm. Huge winds. They blew and blew and I could not resist them. I became perplexed. Confused. It was only when you entered some time ago that I started to come about. I don’t know where I am.” The butterfly let out a forlorn sigh.
“You are in my cave. I remember the storm. I waited and it blew by. I went out to hunt. I was very hungry. I went out in a hurry. You came in then?” The dragon peered closer at her.
“Yes,” the butterfly turned to confront him, “Now are you coming or not? I see the sun shining outside and would like to find my way home.”
The Dragon heaved his bulk up from his pile of riches. He went outside with the butterfly and looked around. The forest was tossed but the earth smelled rich and lush. The storm had ruined most of the landscape for quite a ways around the cave. Some trees were knocked down. Others were bent. The whole forest had been torn apart by the fierce wind and the earth being loosened by the rains. The dragon looked around. The butterfly looked at the Dragon.
Immense he was, black as coal. She thought he looked as shiny as a still pond. Such a beauty he was. Tall, strong, rising to terrific heights above her. His muscles rippled beneath the tension of his pitch-black hide. The ridges along his back and face rose like smoke from him. They were black at the roots but tapered out into a spectrum of dark to light grays. His eyes were black and were never still. The deep blue centers of them were constantly moving. To the woods. To the air above. To her. To the woods again. Back to her. He saw her staring. His look grew wary. She realized his majestic beauty had stunned her. Her heart began to beat faster. She began to speak.
“It looks terrible” the butterfly exclaimed. “I don’t know where I am at all. How will we find the Thrice-Blest Meadow?” The dragon could not look away from her. She shimmered in the sunlight, her every movement captivating. Like watching a wild leave caught in an errant breeze, a leaf that constantly changed color. A leaf that sparkled as it shifted. This was magic and richness beyond all compare. A fire he had never felt before began to warm his heart. He looked out at the woods again.
The Dragon answered. “I hardly recognize this at all. This was a very fierce storm. The wind blew very hard. It lasted a long time. You have been blown very far. We will have to search for a long time to find your way home.”
“I hope you will stay with me.” Said the butterfly her eyes full of midnight shadows and rippling wisdom.
“As you wish,” replied the Dragon, his eyes full of sparkling shakes and majestic colors.
Thus were the Dragon and the Butterfly majestic fate’s tied together. They began their search slowly. Carefully they would scout along the edge of the mountain near the decimated forest. Every day they would venture to a new edge, hoping for the Butterfly to recognize some aspect that was familiar. Every night they would return to the Dragon’s cave to rest their wings and ease their minds. Their days together grew. In time they started to become wonderful friends.
Although the storm was mighty, the forest was mightier still. For hundreds of miles the forest spread. The storm had raged hard but had been unable to toss all of the forest to the ground. Certain parts had been shaken badly and disturbed some of its quieter residents. The deepest, darkest part of this wood had although barely been shook, having been bound together even firmer by its gluttonous inhabitant. A mighty spider lived there. Large and old, he daily spun his web to fortify his holdings and had grown very cunning in his poisons. He named himself The Collector, and had, indeed, a mighty collection of victims and other experiments hanging among the leaves around him. He was grey with spots of white along him, better to be seen as a dappled forest shadow and move silently unto his prey. Upon his face he wore immense glasses with many lenses so he could hypnotize his victims by catching the light off the lens and moving his head around. He was the devil incarnate and he knew no master.
Still, the storm had awoken him from his latest feast. He had mixed his poisons too strong and had dissolved part of what was going to be his newest addition to his collection. He would not waste a feast, however, and had gorged himself royally. He fell into a slumber afterwards and was sleeping deeply until the storm happened. His trees shook but he had a safe spot to wait. When the storm finally passed some of his collections had been knocked down. He ate them. Then he slipped into the forest to see if the storm had scared any new collectibles out of hiding.
The immense spider found the forest knocked around as well. He knew the area well enough and saw how damaged the forest was. He ventured further out of his fortress of trees and webbing and immediately caught the scent of a very unique life that had passed right near there. This was a brand new scent. He could tell from his years as a killer that this scent belonged to a butterfly but was somehow more than a butterfly. Much more. He started to follow this scent deeper into the woods.
He came to the territory that the mighty beast of fire claimed. The spider knew of this creature’s strength. They had met many times in the past and always the spider barely managed to escape. Still, his lust for this new scent knew no caution. He went slowly, creeping along with no sound, his dappled skin blending in perfectly to the forest around him. He crept and crept and crept. Nights and days passed until one day, he found her, and his greed could barely be contained.
He saw them together. The Dragon and the Butterfly. They trusted each other. Oh, how she danced! The Butterfly was beauty itself. He simply had to have her for his collection. He would be unable to do anything else until his desire had been met. He retreated to his forest fortress as quickly as he dared and began to brew a terrible, terrible plan.
Many days later, the dragon mounted the rock edge outside his cave, spreading wing to hunt. His hunger growled deep in his gut and a need to be sustained. He left the butterfly to hunt the distant plains. He would be back soon and left.
The butterfly remained, exploring the variety of flowers around the dragon’s cave. She knew the dragon would be back soon. He had gone before to hunt and always returned before the sun went down. He would rest deeply that night and awake ready to search some more. She had discovered the purple and yellow flowers, which were so delightfully delicate, had the most wonderful nectar. She drank deeply and snoozed on top of the long
grasses outside of the dragon’s cave.
Oh the collector rejoiced at his luck! He had not figured on the Dragon being away. He knew of the dragon’s hunt. Sometimes the beast would come and rattle his fortress on his way out to hunt. Always the spider stayed hidden and cursed his power. This day was one of those days and maybe even now the beast was at the spider’s fortress even now, shaking the walls and hoping to see the spider before he went out to hunt. What a splendid turn of luck. The collector watched his little prize, waiting for a moment to strike. Before long, he saw the little butterfly feed deeply and settle in for a midday nap. He knew his time was at hand and readied his poisons. When an errant breeze shook the grass upon which the butterfly lay snoozing did nothing to wake the little creature, the spider moved forward. Slowly, so slowly, he crept, his patience matching his lust, his fear matching his desire. Finally, the spider was close enough. He spun a little web and moved to strike. The butterfly awoke suddenly and saw the monster coming down on her. She managed a “Yelp!” before darkness covered her.
The dragon bore down on another goat. He snatched it up in his jaws and took its life. He settled to the ground when his instincts screamed “Danger!” to him. He looked around, but could not see the threat. Still his unease would not abate. The old insect had not been home. He had worried when he began his hunt. Now, something had happened, something the dragon could sense. His dread grew.
He took to the air and started home. He would be glad to see his butterfly again. He had found her to be completely enchanting and utterly divine. He did not like to leave to hunt anymore. This is why he hurried home. His sense of alarm was growing more and more increased. There was a stillness on the forest. Most inhabitants had begun to rebuild and repair their homes and nests. Today, all had stilled. Something had happened. The dragon stretched his wings as wide as they would go and flew as fast as he could.
He came to his mountain among the woods. All was in stillness. He could see nothing wrong. He could not see the butterfly either. He looked left and right. He circled the mountain. He searched the woods directly around his mountain. He could not find her. Yet he sensed she was here and very near. He came back to his cave. He landed outside of it. He became very still and looked inside. He heard a faint crying, a small sound so quiet it seemed nothing at all until one heard it. He also began to see a small fluttering towards the bend and the back of the cave. He could see a glittering movement that appeared trapped or tethered to the cave wall. He heard his little butterfly clearly now, yelling something. She sounded in pain or distress. He realized what he was seeing. The spider!! The Spider had been here and was trying to take his precious butterfly. He arose in fury and fire and flew, straight into the cave. Straight into the gigantic web stretched across the mouth of the cave.
The mighty dragon stuck fast. He rent and tore at the web. It stuck even faster to him. For every one he tore, it splintered into ten more tethers to hold him. He threw fire at it that only made the web drier and much, much harder. He tried spells that the web naturally resisted. The dragon struggled mightily but could not free himself. His wrath spent he looked again towards his butterfly and hear her words.
“Oh my sweet dragon! You have become ensnared! Oh how I tried to warn you! You could not see the webbing! You could not see the trap!” The butterfly wailed.
“Come out trickster!” Roared the dragon, “The trap is sprung. The prize is caught. Come out and claim your own!”
The cave fell silent. The spider did not appear. The sun went down and still the spider did not appear. The moon came and went and still the dragon and the butterfly hung secure and the spider did not come. The night deepened. Before long the sun arose once more. The day stretched out and still the spider did not show himself. The night came on again, the moon rose and sunk, the stars twinkled, and now the spider came. The dragon was nodding off, his countenance sorely tired from his long watch. He had begun to drift off to sleep when a cruel voice spoke in glee.
“Two prizes! One I keep! One I eat!” the spider laughed. He was inside the cave, taking the butterfly’s tether and starting out of the cave. The dragon roared in rage and unspent fury. With the spider holding the butterfly there was no way the dragon could try and hurt the spider without hurting the butterfly as well. He watched the spider draw the butterfly closer to himself.
“Yes, yes! Beastie sees! No can hurt me without hurting little one. Too clever, I am! Now you come quietly and make me no trouble!” The spider told the dragon. As the spider was saying this, he released the bonds holding the dragons webbing to the cave. The spider started to drag the dragon back to his fortress.
Eight days it took the nimble spider to bring the dragon and the immortal butterfly to its fortress. The spider would drag the dragon inch by steady inch. It would stay well ahead from the dragons head but only attach tethers to points where it was certain the dragon could not reach. Always, the vile spider held the butterfly close. The dragon’s fury was enormous. He could not believe such a fate. He could not hurt the spider without hurting the butterfly. He could not break the webbing even a little. During this whole time the spider did not speak again. Only patiently worked on moving its two epic achievements. Moving with a patience and persistence born of years of twisted experience. The spider did not speak this entire time. Only tugged, tugged, and tugged. Spun, spun, and spun.
The dragon would trash and roar sometimes. During those times the spider would drop the tether and move to a safe distance. Out of sight of the dragon. Most of the time this would cause the dragon to go berserk but the webbing was very magical. Made of the spiders deepest, darkest, nastiest spells. A lifetime of robbing its victims of knowledge of all things arcane had produced a web strong enough to hold even a dragon. As much force as the dragon could throw at the webbing would cause the webbing to be that much stronger. Dragon’s bane the collector called it. Darkly wise was he.
Not until the beast was still would the spider return. Always the spider would move to the place where it was safest to reapply his leash on the dragon. Then tug, tug, and tug. It was not until dawn of the eighth day that they all were safely inside the spider’s fortress.
Quickly the spider worked now. Tethering the butterfly unto the wall. Tying down the dragon unto the floor in the spiders very own parlor. He spun the last of his most magical and darkest webbing into more webs to cover the dragon with. He scurried up and unto the dragon and flung this webbing wherever the dragon seemed to be able to move or pull free. He covered the dragon with the webbing. From tail to wing to claw to snout.
Then the little insect prepared a potion that stunk and simmered at first. Then it turned into yellow smoke and sizzled. Into a finely woven web bag did the spider catch the smoke. He added a few drops of some crystals to the bag. He brought the bag to the where the dragon was and laid it down near the dragons head. The smoke from the bag, green now, floated up and spun hazily around the dragons head. The dragon held his breath. The spider waited and watched. The dragon held his breath for three days. The smoke did not go away and the spider did not move. Only waited and watched. Finally the dragon drew in a breath. There was a faint taste to the air. An earthly smell. Not unpleasant. The spider waited and watched. Euphoria stole over the dragon. A faint buzzing in his thoughts. Distraction. Loss of focus. The spider waited and watched. This amused the dragon somehow. The spider spoke for the first time.
“Now we has you both.” At that the spider scurried out the door and back out to the forest. The butterfly had been silent the whole time, watching the spider. Trying to put together a plan to escape. When the spider spoke and bolted out the hall, she spoke aloud to the dragon.
“Mighty hero! Awake! The smoke is vile! It is poison disguised as an herb! It will kill you!”
“The little one speaks true o’ hero!” the spider laughed as he came back into the parlor, “but me thinks you will not mind it! She sees the plan me thinks. Naught she can do. He will die inch by inch. Then I feast! And has you to watch forever!” The spider cackled and nearly fell over in his glee at his own mad plan.
“No!” The butterfly screamed. She strained suddenly at her tethers and tore free of wall. She fluttered about the room. Her broken tether dangled from her. It banged into vials, dishes, and tomes scattered about tables among the parlor. These wobbled and mostly stayed intact but a few were knocked about. They fell over and mixed and begin to smoke or sizzle. One concoction caught fire with an ancient volume on dragon blood recipes. The spider almost screamed from the sudden chaos in the room. It rushed in to try and put out the fires.
The butterfly fluttered constantly over to the dragon. She inhaled the smoke but did not feel any effect from it. The potion had been prepared exactly for a dragon. She got closer to the dragon and touched down among the webbing. She got clung to it as well. She was crying. The dragon did not seem to know or care. His mind was filled with visions. He could not feel the world around him anymore.
She could see what the smoke was doing to her mighty champion. She knew all was lost. She was doomed to live with the collector forever. Or until he decided to eat her as well. She dried her tears and bent to kiss her hero goodbye.
The dragon had grown so still in its stupor that the webbing had no force from the dragon upon it. The butterfly and her tender kiss became its strength. A sudden twitch from the dragon. A deeply magical instinct realized in that moment. The webbing was as strong as the butterfly’s tender kiss and could not become two things at once. The dragon’s little twitch broke it. The butterfly floated up. She saw what had happened. The spider had not. It was still muttering and trying to save its vile book.
She looked down at the dragon.
“Arise, my champion! You are free!” She cried out.
The dragon twitched again. The tail wormed up and tipped the bag. The smoke drifted away to another side of the room. The dragon blinked. Once, twice, and raised its head. It blinked again and its mind was cleared. The spider sensed something. A low snarl began to bubble in the dragon’s throat. The spider began to turn just as the jet of flame took its life away.
“Go my queen! Wait outside the door for me!” The dragon roared.
“No! I stay with you!” The butterfly replied.
“As you wish.” The dragon said as he stomped over to the blackened carcass of the spider. He ate the spider in two bites. His hunger sated he turned to the butterfly.
“Follow me,” he said then went out of the door and out into the forest outside the spider’s fortress.
“Wait.” He said when they were both outside. He turned to the fortress. He roared and began to huff and puff great gouts of flame and poison upon the fortress. Some of the old dry webbing caught fire. Soon the wood of the trees in and around the fortress caught fire. The fire raged and burned, completely unchecked. The dragon turned again to the butterfly. Even the fire’s dancing light could not compare to the delight of the butterfly’s natural beauty.
“I have another place to rest. Not far. I hunted there another long age ago. Maybe we can search more there? He asked.
The butterfly was watching the flames. How she still sparkled and shimmered compared to them. She turned to him. Caught him staring at her. She smiled.
“Can we reach it before tonight?” She asked.
“Then let us go.” She fluttered up close to perch on his ear fins.