Chapter 2 is dedicated to the lovely Nellah. Gawd bless her and all who sail in her. Thanks for the encouragement my lovely, joyous pal.
As is often the case, time marched on. Day after day turned into year after year and the princess Leeabeena grew, as children tend to do. Each year she grew taller and bigger, her hair grew longer (and in fact never had any tangles saving her a great deal of time), her feet grew bigger and every once in a while her dresses would stop fitting. When this happened the Queen would sigh and send out for more dresses to be made; though she kept her fingers crossed that her daughter would not grow to be too large, as they could not afford unlimited dresses.
The princess Leeabeena, however, did not spend any time at all wondering about dresses. In fact her mind was far too busy to think about such silly things. Instead she busied herself with reading great books, investigating the countryside and talking to all of the people of the kingdom. By doing this she learned a great many things and was soon far cleverer and more interesting than any other princess anyone could think of.
And so princess Leeabeena continued to get bigger and older until she reached her 8th birthday. ( It is worth mentioning that she didn’t stop growing at this point but this is where our story finds her). As everyone knows the eighth year of life is one of the most important and special times, as this is the time when many new and exciting lessons begin to reveal themselves. This is never more true than for a princess such as Leeabeena, who was someone with an important and exciting destiny.
Once again the kingdom was readying itself for a party. The eight birthday of a princess is so significant that all the other royal families from far and wide are obliged to attend. Now you may think that this would be a very exciting time for Leeabeena, she would be having a great party in her honour and all of the other princesses would be there. What could be better?
In fact princess Leeabeena was not looking forward to the party at all. There were many things that she enjoyed doing in life such as climbing large hills or watching snow sparkle under moonlight. But what she did not enjoy was the company of other princesses. Mostly, she had found, they liked to talk about their hair, or their shoes, or the princes who lived in the surrounding kingdoms. Leeabeena, quite sensibly, was not interested in these things.
In fact, Leeabeena would quite happily have avoided the whole party but she knew that her father and mother would be most disappointed. She would much rather spend the evening reading stories with her best friend Luther. Now Luther wasn’t the kind of best friend that most people have, even if those people are princesses. For Luther, was a dragon.
Some years before, on her third birthday, princess Leeabeena had received an unusual present. It was a large egg. It came in a box with instructions to keep the egg warm and to wait patiently for three weeks until it hatched. Although the instructions did not say what was in the egg, Leeabeena obeyed them carefully. She made a nest of hay in her room and kept the egg away from draughts or the elbows of clumsy people. And she waited. And waited. And waited.
Then one night, as moonlight slipped across her windowsill and into her room, Leeabeena heard the unmistakable sound of a hatching egg. She watched, holding her breath, as a large crack appeared in the egg and slowly became larger and larger. Eventually the crack ran all of the way around the egg and the two halves fell apart. There, sitting between the two halves, was a beautiful baby dragon. It had blue scales that shone in the silver moonlight and large eyes that seemed to take up most of its face. As soon as Leeabeena looked into those beautiful eyes she knew that she had met her best friend.
From that time on, Leeabeena and Luther were never apart. They roamed the castle together, played games of cards long into the night and read books and poems to each other. They laughed at silly jokes, hugged each other when they felt sad and agreed with each other about almost everything.
The years passed and Luther got older. Now some dragons live for hundreds of years, others for fifty or sixty years, but other dragons, like Luther, live only a few years. No one knew why this was but there were so few of these dragons and they never told anyone. That is, until now.
Three days before her eight birthday, Leeabeena and Luther were sitting together in her bedroom playing a game of cards in front of a roaring fire. It was getting late and Leeabeena was tired but she noticed that Luther seemed to have something on his mind.
“Luther,” said Leeabeena, “Are you well? You seem sad tonight and I wonder if there is anything I can do to make you feel better.”
Luther sighed and put down his cards shaking his head slightly. It took a few moments for him to reply but Leeabeena waited patiently, noticing he looked older in the light of the fire. Eventually Luther gathered a large breath and said,
“Leeabeena. You are my greatest friend and I wish that I did not have to tell you this. But the truth is that before your birthday I am going to die.”
Leeabeena gasped in shock, then she threw herself at her friend weeping uncontrollably.
“How can this be?” She cried, “You are my greatest friend and I cannot imagine life without you!” Again the tears fell from her eyes until there were no more left. Throughout this time Luther said nothing, knowing that she needed to let out her sadness. He let her tears roll over his blue and silver scales and patted her golden hair softly. Eventually Leeabeena sat up and wiped her face, she gave a great sigh and realised that she had cried away all of her sadness.
“My friend,” she said quietly, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
Luther was so happy to hear these words that he jumped up and began swooping around the room!
Leeabeena could not understand why her friend seemed so overjoyed when he had just told her the worst news that she could imagine! Baffled she sat back and waited for Luther to return to the floor beside her. Eventually he did so, but his excitement and happiness were no less.
“Oh Leeabeena,” he cried “I have waited so long for someone to say those words! Now I can tell you my secret and begin to lift the curse from all dragons like me!”
And so Luther began his story. Many years ago there had been thousands of blue dragons happily living alongside human friends and sharing their wisdom with them. They lived for 60 or 70 years at least and brought great joy to all who met them. Their only failing, if it could be said to be a failing, was a great curiosity. This led two dragons to go on a quest to find a certain book. This book was said to contain the answer to the greatest of all questions, ‘What is the Secret to Eternal Happiness?’
Now these dragons were clever and hardworking, and eventually they found out where the book was hidden. They journeyed to the far away land of Smelly -Botty-on-the-Would, a dark and frightening place filled with sinistershadows and odd smells. Right in the middle of this horrid place was a swamp, and in the middle of the swamp was a tower, and in this tower lived a sorcerer.
The sorcerer was a very mean person who had stolen the book from the branches of the Tree-of-Life. He wanted to make sure that no one ever found out the secret to eternal happiness and so he hid it away in his grey and lonely fortress. When the dragons tried to liberate the book he found them and cursed them. Though he could not destroy them entirely the sorcerer cursed them to short lives so that the hope of ever discovering a cure was lost. Only if a great champion could be found to fight the sorcerer would the curse be lifted.
“How will you know if you have found this champion?” Interrupted Leeabeena, who had been listening with fascination to Luther’s story. Luther smiled.
“The sorcer said that the champion would be a person who, when at the saddest moment of their own lives, would still care more about the needs of another person than their own. Such a person is a rare thing,” said Luther, “But I have found one princess. You.” Princess Leeabeena gasped!
“ Me? I am the one who can save the blue dragons?” Luther nodded happily. “Does that mean that you will not die?” Leeabeena asked hopefully. But Luther shook his head.
“No my beloved princess, my time has come. I am only happy that I can share my secrets with you so that you can save my brothers and sisters before they are all gone.”
Leeabeena was greatly saddened by this, but she too was glad that she would be able to save other dragons like Luther.
“What will happen to you when you die, Luther?” Princess Leeabeena asked. She was surprised to see Luther smile a great and happy smile.
“That is the greatest secret of all!” He said. When I die, I become a star, shining down on the world until my time comes to return again. One day, I will be reborn and will fly in the skies once more. But only if you are able to break the curse and save my kind.”
“I will do it!” Cried Leeabeena, hugging Luther as tightly as she could. “I will break the curse of the blue dragons!”
“ Now,” said Luther, “We have much planning to do. We only have three days before your birthday and I must teach you a great deal in that time.”
And so, all through the night, under the light of the blue and silver moon, Leeabeena and Luther talked and talked. Until, as the orange and red sun crept over the horizon, their eyes became to heavy to keep open. With birdsong carrying on the morning wind they slept and dreamt of great adventures to come.