Year of the dragon

I have always found it humorous that I was born in the year of the dragon. It was indeed an auspicious sign, but I fear the brothers were not ready for my arrival.

As far as they had known-- I was a treasure in their catacombs, a legacy from ages past. If only they had known. I am sure Brother Peter was not expecting to find the 'great orb of Azrael' to be cracked... or to find a hatchling inside trying to fight his way free.

I had been so long in the egg-- sleeping the great sleep, but for me it was different. My mother's voice and thoughts still filled my mind and I remembered the first lessons. Those taught to our kind while we are still in the egg. The assurance that food and love awaited us-- and that we would be cared for as is the way of the Celestial Long.

There were other lessons, but the long interval between them and my hatching had muddled them in my head. I do not know if the others dreamed or slept the sleep of the dead. I only know... my sleep was long and very lonely.

I often wondered about the others, but little did I know it would be some forty or fifty years before I could even hope of asking another of my kind about it.

My hatching was kept private, only Brothers Peter, Simon and Monsignor were there. Brother Peter may have been surprised, but Monsignor was not. There was very little about my existence that surprised him. I do not know how any of them dealt with a squalling hatchling that wanted to be held and fed and welcomed into the world as my mother had promised so long ago when I was still in my shell. I was starving, starving for attention, for knowledge, for food.

I fear I kept Brothers Peter and Simon very busy for the first several years of my existence. And it was not until I had learned to take on a human form that I was allowed outside the catacombs. How difficult it must have been– dealing with a frustrated child that simply did not think as they did, did not work as they did. I still do not know how I learned it-- all I know is I wanted to go outside... I needed to go outside, and... I needed very much to be accepted. I had learned early on that that would not happen if I were to appear in my true form.

It was a very hard time after that, for I hated the new form I had taken... and I hated my true form. I was hideous, that was what one man had said when he saw me in my true form. I was a hideous beast and I would bring ruin to all I met.

Monsignor tried to help me through my transition. He told me not to listen to those who commented on my appearance and that to my kind, humans were the hideous beasts. He taught me to be proud of who and what I was, and what my part was in the world. He was the one that helped me find true peace. I spent many long hours in his study, stretched out in my true form, playing chess with him.

Brother Peter taught me history and arts-- Brother Simon, languages-- But it was Monsignor who taught me my heart. He taught me to reason and to laugh, and when he died, I learned about loss. I learned to see the signs of aging as they crossed Peter and Simon's faces. And I learned to fear the mortality of my human companions.

I retreated to the catacombs, hiding from my friends, wallowing in self pity. I stayed there for almost a month after they buried Monsignor... and a new Monsignor was named.

By then many changes were happening in the world and the times I had been a harbinger to were upon us. I rejoined the monastery, this time as a student. Brother Peter was my advisor and confessor, and I was, supposedly, just another student from a neighboring village.

That is where my education truly began

Copyright 2000 M.T. Decker

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