Beardless, but brave. A warrior of light. Earnest and noble. Fiercely determined.
My five year old son will fight a dragon.
They had been practicing archery, these knights and princesses, smiling and laughing, taking aim and learning to seek, without flinching, the crimson center.
They are aiming and smiling and care-free. But it cannot last.
There is a terrible commotion. A piercing roar. Our gentle serenity shattered, chaos ensues. Screams of terror fill the air.
A dragon is among us.
He is not alone, his henchmen harry and attack. Some of the young men fight back, but some flee. The dragon finds his prize.
A princess is captured. He hauls her away and his henchmen cover his retreat.
Confusion gives way to purpose.
My son knows his calling. He is after them in a moment.
But I stop him. I call a council.
He is charged with rescuing the princess. He accepts this charge without hesitation.
He must fight this dragon and win the liberty of his princess, but there is unseen danger ahead and, flying heedless after their enemy, he might end the adventure –and badly– as soon as it has begun.
I know the snares.
He is not alone. I am there to guide him. But today, I do not fight for him. I am a wizard guide, introducing him, as he is ready, to the secret wisdom he needs in this battle. His fellows are there, all tender, one almost weeping. A few are terrible in their ferocity.
There is a princess to be saved, high in the tower. There are seven tasks, seven traps laid by the enemy. My warnings are sometimes riddles, sometimes very plain. My son nods at each, sober and happy.
He looks from face to face in his company, sees his fellows armed as he is. Swords and shields, the accouterments of war. The knights vary in costume, but all are armed and eager for the good fight. My son’s chest bears a crimson cross on a white field. The center crosses over his heart, an emblem with an aim.
He is Saint George.
With a final word of warning, they are off. They rush to the castle, but my son calls for his men to slow down, to creep into the castle warily. He has remembered my council.
Through prowess they overcome the first several traps, move into a wide chamber. There in the darkness, the dragon’s henchmen swarm. Swords flash and cries echo in the hall. The swarm seeks to chase the company away, to frighten and overwhelm them into retreat. A hard, heroic struggle to beat back the evil horde ensues. At last they stand, the brave company, breathing hard, but unmoved.
The wicked foes have dissolved back into the shadows, for now.
The company takes council together about the dark work ahead. The tasks grow harder and some despair.
“I’m going on,” George says, eyeing the black walls and orange flames cascading up the stairway to the tower’s top. “Are you with me?”
“We are with you,” they all agree.
They go on, defeating every trap, until they reach the ante-chamber of the dragon in the tower’s top. There is a deadly silence.
Then once again the enemy swarms. Each of the company is engaged in a deadly struggle with one of the dragon’s hideous henchmen. Block and blow. Shouts! Drive forward and stagger back. The contestants battle on, energized by their nearness to the aim of their quest. Like arrows they fly at their foes.
Through a gate they spy the dragon, lurking in the room beyond. The princess is behind him.
“The dragon!” St. George cries, renewing his attack on the foe before him. He defeats this foe and charges into the dragon’s lair, the foul chamber of the villainous beast.
A great clash follows. Blow after blow, bare escape and gallant stroke. This is terrible war, desperate and deadly. St. George finally drives his sword into the black heart of the dragon, who falls with a terrific, mournful howl.
Cheers! Shouts erupt from the company as the aim of their adventure is met. They have pierced the crimson middle of this quest.
St. George embraces his princess. Hand in hand they quit the dragon’s keep, followed by the brave band, the loyal company of fellows.
Every heart is warm with wonder. Every face alight with joy. The cheerful company descends the terrible stairs, but there is no more terror to be felt.
The princess is saved and the dragon is dead. A feast awaits.
The assembly gathers. I give thanks. My brother blesses my warrior son. Presents are opened and cake is served.