Driuna and the Dragon
A Short Story by Joshua A. Spotts
In a deep and long valley there was a village that was not as it appeared. The precise rows of houses, the brilliantly laid roads, the lovingly arranged gardens, and the gilding upon every door, all these things were masks. Even the people, those gorgeous boys and girls with their perfect bodies, were masks. Deep down, the soul of the town, underneath those perfect masks, was rotten. The people, constantly searching for imperfection, were blinded to themselves and each other. And so the hate and disgust of the entire village was turned upon one girl. All spurned her.
This wretch was named Driuna. She was, however, labeled by all the others as the "Plain Lass." She spent her days begging for food, which gave the townsfolk amusement. They cast pieces of moldy bread from their ornate windows and laughed as she groveled in the mud for those rare morsels. When passing her on the street those perfectly formed people would kick her to one side.
Driuna, patient behind her pallor, allowed them their amusement as she grew strong in knowledge, stronger even than those who called themselves wise in distant lands. At night she left the city and wandered about in the woods, examining and gaining knowledge of all sorts of plants, befriending the animals. She loved being surrounded by all those green crowned trees while dangling her feet in clear, blue water.
It was a stormy day when, high above the village, flashes of lightning and fire flared across the darkened sky. Driuna watched with mild amusement as the lightening crackled horizontally across the dark amidst plumes of fire. All the townsfolk fled inside. Driuna was left outside in that pouring, rushing rain, but she really did not mind it. A great blast of fire burned the darkness and single bolt of lightning careened slowly down into the woods. There its light died. The fire vanished over the northern mountains.
Rising from her meager bench, her one possession, Driuna crept from the town boundaries, hurrying into the woods. The storm was clearing quickly overhead and the curious townsfolk came out, they began to blame and curse Driuna for the storm, which had caused several buildings to become ash. Driuna paid no attention to their shouts, feeling the storm-kissed wind blow through her brown hair and across her skin. Running through the woods a laugh broke free, she loved the woods; she loved existence after the beautiful terror of a storm. She watched all the life around her and her laugh was considered beautiful by the host of creatures she had befriended.
The woods held its breath as she approached the scarred place where the lightning had fallen. The trees were scorched and a crater was carved from what was once a gentle green bed of peaceful grass. Chaos had intruded upon the tranquil complexity of Driuna’s wood. That which she found in the chaos-formed crater was terrible and beautiful at the same time. It was a silver scaled dragon, a thing hated by all humans, when it should be loved, for its beauty is far greater than many things. Blood ran from a large wound in its underbelly. Driuna returned into the forest and gather mounds of herbs, she boiled some in a nearby hot spring and crushed others between rocks. Slipping down into the pit she began to apply the mixtures she had made, the dragon awoke and snarled. Driuna continued her work. The magnificent creature felt her care and trusted her.
In three days the dragon was healed and she pulled herself from the crater with Driuna on her back. Driuna got off and stood before the creature. The eyes of the magnificent creature observed its tiny healer. "I thank you for your deed. I am in your debt. If there is anything you want, take it now."
Druida stood for a while, silent. Not even the woods creaked, no animal called out, no bird sang, everything waited on her answer. She had the power to obliterate the entire village which had been so cruel to her. She held the lives, nay, even the beauty of those people in her scarred, thorn-pricked hands. The wind swirled about her, awaiting her decision. The dragon did not move a muscle. It was as if time had stopped as she pondered whether or not to exact revenge. She realized that true beauty was not external but internal. She realized that beneath her plain, base body, there was a heart and a soul that were exceedingly beautiful. She looked up into the dragon's eyes and said. "No, I need nothing."