Locus Focus: Take One Hundred Twenty-Seven!
How are you so far, my fellow armchair travelers? Together, we have ticked Venus off our bucketlists, been underwhelmed by Grand Canyon, freaked the heck out in India when our prejudices were checked, and played Monks vs. Pilgrims in Medieval England. I understand if you're all traveled out now and just want to go home. But there is one last place to visit for Sightseeing in September, even if it's already October. Why don't you choose your next adventure . . .
If you want to go home, which G.K. Chesterton would argue is the greatest adventure of all anyway, click here!
If you want to have one last adventure abroad, click "Keep Reading!" below!
Grisu il Draghetto / Grisu der kleine Drache
Well, wasn't that fun? (Answer in the affirmative so as not to hurt my feelings!) If you decided to come along on one more adventure, well, here you are now with me in Scotland . . . a Scotland that is thoroughly modern, with a single "medieval" holdout . . .
The "Here be dragons!" part of the map has never been more accessible! But if you were at this point in our journey, which trusty tool would you pull out of your rucksack?
If you reach for your weapon, jump to the section with the scary dragon
If you reach for your camera, jump to the section with the funny dragon
If you reach for a third option, jump to the section with the Catholic dragon
* * * * *
As he rises dramatically from the pitch-dark waters of his loch, you gasp and cheer in anticipation. And one exhilarating blast of Drachenfeuer later, you and the rest of your group find yourself charred around the edges . . . but otherwise unharmed.
"Feuer! Fuoco! FIRE!" you scream in delight, imagining yourself in a medieval village under dragon attack, but unable to make up your mind which part of Europe you live in. "Hilfe! Aiuto! HELP! . . . Wasser! Acqua! WATER!"
Suddenly, you are drenched from a blast of water that almost rivals the first blast of fire . . . courtesy of a much tinier dragon next to you on the shore. He is carrying a now-empty bucket that is nearly as big as he is and looking quite pleased with himself.
Who ever heard of a dragon that spouts water, your companions are muttering. This was not what they signed up for! And now everyone's camera, including yours, is all wet! Your guide is already protesting to Fume, but the older dragon won't hear a word against the little one, who is apparently his son. There is a lot of grumbling as you all walk away to the next leg of your journey, but you wonder if you're leaving behind the most fascinating mythical creature you will ever meet.
If you're fed up with traveling, get ready for Locus Focus #128
If you'd like to see the tiny dragon again, revisit an old post and stay tuned for more!
* * * * *
The barbarity of the situation seems lost on your companions. In the same cheery tone your tour guide has used all week, he now explains that the kingdom used to be ravaged by a dragon from underground--and that it only stopped after the previous king started the practice of sacrificing a child to it once a year. The twelve districts of the kingdom each send a tribute, selected by drawing lots; and from among the twelve, a single child is selected by another lottery. The girl you see now is the unfortunate one whose name came up twice. And judging by the excited murmurs from the crowd, they would rather watch her die in fire than do anything to help her.
Meanwhile, your guide's spiel goes on: "It is possible to volunteer in the first tribute's place . . . and some older teenagers who fancy themselves dragon slayers have done that . . . but it is rare--"
It is the chance you have been waiting for, and you do not even wait for him to finish.
"I volunteer as tribute!" you yell.
Your voice carries over the noise of the crowd and bounces off the walls of the pit. It shocks everyone into silence, so that the sound of a thousand spectators shifting in place to get a good look at you sounds like the rasp of a dragon's clawed hand against rock. As soon as the news sinks in, the exchange is surprisingly efficient. The girl is taken away and returned to her family . . . and to her old life of being vulnerable to the lottery. And since you are clearly not going to run away, they don't bother to chain you up, and you are able to wield your sword.
Soon the dragon emerges from its den . . . and you find yourself eye to eye with ancient evil.
The sight of you fazes him for a split second. Then he laughs--a sound like a landslide--and says, in a different language that you are surprised to understand: "Why is there always someone who has to learn the hard way that you cannot save someone from a dragon by taking his place on the rock?"
You put up a valiant fight, but it is all over in a few minutes. The crowd cheers the excellent show and then goes home for another year.
* * * * *
"Liebe Enbrethiliel," you begin your e-mail, "There! I used some German. I hope that's enough to make you happy, even though you don't deserve it, after you refused to explain all those allusions you kept making to the 'Centauri Network'. But it's only fair to let you know that I've reached the point you told me about. It has been really fun to let you write my adventure for me, but I've come to realise that freedom isn't about having options and getting to pick whatever I want. Real freedom is about choosing the good on my own, without anyone making me do it, whether it's a villain pointing a gun at my head or a caring friend cleverly limiting the choices I get to make. As great as this whole experience was, I'm not really into 70s dragon cartoons or 80s dragon epics, AND I think it's time for me to write my adventure on my own. Mille grazie, all the same! I hope that Italian makes you happy, too, and that you find someone else to tell stories to. But now I have to go and face a dragon! I'll see you when I see you!"
Image Sources: a) Dragonslayer dragon, b) St. Margaret and the dragon