The Prince and the Salamander
Once upon a time in a land and time long since forgotten, there was a young prince. Now this was not a time where princes were treated like the royalty they are, but rather a barbaric time where royalty’s crown was only secure by the tip of a sword. It was an age of survival for both princes and paupers alike. Since our young prince knew of hard times, he was not the pampered lap dog that many of today’s royalty can be. He was a hardy young fellow that spent many days beckoning the mysterious call of the thick woods that surrounded his island.
On one such trip, he was caught in a soaking summer shower. He, and a miserable tabby both sought refuge in a tiny cave. The tabby immediately became interested in the far wall. It crouched, indicating that it had found prey.
“Help us, kind prince…please help us!” Now in this day in age, if animals talk to a human, the human would at best be shocked and at worse be locked up. In the age of Merlin, however, it was a much more common occurrence.
Without looking to see what he was helping, he quickly shooed the cat to a far corner then he looked down and saw five salamanders quivering in a dusty crevice in the wall.
“It is alright, we will not hurt you.” Somewhere in the shadows, a disgruntled cat hissed its displeasure. “At least, I will not harm you, and I will protect you from the cat.” The prince quickly amended.
Only the smallest and youngest of the five salamanders was brave enough to talk to the young boy.
“My brothers and I thank you, young prince. If there ever anything we can do for you, just call.”
The prince had enough royal bearing not to laugh at the reptile’s sincere offer. He quelled the urge to chuckle and instead said, “Thank you for your kind offer.” He then picked up the unhappy tabby and moved to one side. With that, the five salamanders quickly left the cave all the while the cat meowing its protests at the escape of its tasty lunch.
Time passed and the prince forgot the promise made by the little salamander. As the prince approached manhood, an evil warlord from the north attacked the island kingdom. It was a cowardly attack, done at night, when the people of the castle lay sleeping. Many never awoke from their dreams. The King fought valiantly but a man in his night robe was no match for a fully armored battle-lord. He called out to nature to protect the kingdom, but all the animals were afraid of the evil lord. Seeing his enemy momentarily distracted, the coward plunged his sword into the beating heart of the King. The prince heard his father’s death cries and rushed out – sword in hand – eager to avenge his father’s death and keep the kingdom out of his enemy’s hands.
The battle raged. While training and age was on the side of the warlord, justice sided with the prince making the battle quite equal. Two fateful thrusts of steel and both fell, each giving a deathblow to the other. As his world darkened around him, the prince remembered the promise of the little salamander. “Protect my kingdom.” Were the last words he uttered. None of the animals responded for fear had replaced the courage usually in their hearts. None of them dared to pass the waiting army that circled the kingdom.
The salamander heard his friend call out, gathered his brothers, and without thinking of their own safety, went to the side of the fallen prince.
“Earth-Mother” he called, this valiant prince once saved my life, allow me to return the favor. I am way too small and insignificant to save a kingdom, but I offer…”
“No, we offer” His brothers cried. “Our lives for his.” All five finished the pledge together and they lay down on the body of the still prince. The prince stirred and watched in amazement as his wounds healed. The five salamanders were amazed that they still lived. A wondrously beautiful woman appeared before the six friends and offered a dazzling smile.
“You honored the Covent between nature and man by protecting that which was weaker, a sign of a true king.” The prince bowed deeply to her, unable to speak.
“And you five honored a pledge even if it meant your deaths – a mark of true friendship.” The salamanders dared not to look at the Earth-Mother, for they were small and insignificant.
“You are a king that deserves his kingdom to be saved, and I can reward the faithful friends in doing so. Become as powerful as your friendship.” - And the salamanders suddenly found themselves large and powerful.
“What are we?” They inquired as they looked at each other in amazement.
“Dragons.” The Earth-Mother replied, the noblest of all creatures, for you tried to help when the other animals wouldn’t give aid.”
“From now on, prince, your friends will help protect this kingdom, for it shows great promise. May you or your yet unborn child unite these troubled people in a time of peace. And from now on, your name will bear witness to the friendship and protection of these five dragons.”
Uthur Pentdragon bowed his head in compliance. Together he and his five dragons pushed the evil army out of his fair Britain.