Once upon a time, there lived a dragon name Solitude. Solitude was born to two very old dragons, their only child. From the start, all of the other dragons knew there was something different about Solitude. While he very much enjoyed the company of the other dragonlings, Solitude was just as happy being on his own. Since his parents died while he was still very young, he was mostly raised by another dragon family who adopted him, surrounding him with half a dozen siblings he got along with relatively well. He also had a peculiar interest in the small village that laid within a day’s journey of his home, of which he knew very little but loved to daydream of. It was an unwritten rule among the dragons that they were not to have any interaction with the village’s inhabitants. Being a good little dragon, Solitude did as he was told. In fact, it was not until the village had grown so large that the two groups were forced to communicate that he even knew who the inhabitants were.
Once the leaders of the dragons realized there was no avoiding the villagers any more, they set up an envoy to reach a peace settlement. The villagers were already aware of the dragons, having seen them many times flying overhead, and so were very curious to speak with the amazing creatures. The leaders of the dragons thought long and hard about who they would chose to be the intermediary. After a period of debate it was decided that Solitude would be the dragon representative. With his gentle yet pensive nature, they decided that he would be the one most suited to communicate with the strange new beings. At this point he had grown to be quite the intelligent dragon, studying and observing everything. His community had come to respect him as a source of great wisdom, despite his relatively young age. He still preferred to spend time on his own, observing the world around him, but was more than willing to help anyone in need. When the elders came to him with the offer of allowing him to be their representative, he accepted it immediately yet humbly. Soon after this, the humans selected their representative and it was time for the two to meet.
The human representative turned out to be a young girl who, like Solitude, was different from the others. At first the meeting was rather stiff and formal, as this was the first time either of them had ever spoken to one of the other kind. After a while, though, they settled into a comfortable conversation, each intrigued to learn more about the other. Hours went by in the same manner, questions being passed back and forth and answers being listened to eagerly. Each day they would discuss and decide on certain points that their elders put to them, as well as more personal things. As time went on Solitude and Serenity became the best of friends, despite their differences. They were among the few, though, once the council came to be. Half human, half dragon, the council was created to negotiate and enact the peace between the two groups. It was soon discovered that on the whole, humans and dragons did not get along. Months of tense negotiation went by with both Solitude and Serenity watching with great concern the proceedings. They did their best to act as intermediaries so as to keep hostilities to a minimum and decrease the likely hood of conflict. After about half a year, it was decided that both groups would separate and no longer have direct contact. The dragons would move up into a nearby mountain range while the humans would remain on the other side of the foothills. Upon hearing this, Solitude and Serenity pushed for a neutral land to be made in between where humans and dragons could intermingle if they so decided. It took much convincing, but eventually it was agreed upon that the small forest between the mountain and the plain would be reserved as a neutral ground. As both sides retreated to their lands, Solitude and Serenity began to set themselves up a home in the forest. Serenity had several of her human friends come and help her build a house, with Solitude helping to supply the lumber and anything else they needed. Some of his adopted siblings came to visit as well, interested to see his new home. The humans and the dragons interacted some, but none became as good of friends as Solitude and Serenity. As time went on, the dragons’ visits became less and less frequent, to the point that most of their company was human. This suited them just fine.
They settled quite comfortably into their new homes, happy to still be able to spend time together. Every so often, some of the people Serenity grew up with would come and visit her, bearing supplies and news from the village. Solitude was surprised to find that she too, had grown up an orphan, practically raising herself. They took turns regaling their guests and each other with stories from their childhood. Sometimes Serenity would return to the town to visit some of her older friends, and Solitude would use this time to look in on his adopted siblings or explore the woods. Years passed in this manner, and Solitude began to grow distant from his dragon relatives. Even Serenity’s visits to town became less frequent. With Solitude’s help she had become quite self-sufficient, growing her own food and herbs. She took in and raised several of the orphans from the town with Solitude’s help. It was as if they had a family of their own, and Solitude was content. The children would grow up and eventually return to life in the town, sometimes even traveling to far off lands. Before long, Solitude and Serenity found themselves along once more. This suited them just fine.
As the years went by, though, Solitude began to notice a problem. Even though he was still quite young, Serenity was beginning to grow old and was having trouble caring for herself. He helped her out as best as he could, but one day she grew so ill that he knew what he had to do. After much urging he managed to convince her to return to the town to get help. She wrote to one of the boys she grew up with, asking him to send someone to collect her. Solitude waited with her patiently, carrying all of her belongings that she might need. She was rather reluctant to leave her beloved Solitude alone, but he reassured her that he would be fine. He promised to tend her garden while she was gone and to be there when she returned. When her ride finally arrived, Solitude recognized him as one of the children Serenity had raised. He was surprised to see Serenity so ill and expressed his thanks to Solitude for taking such good care of her. Before he left he told Solitude that he did not know how long it would be before Serenity was able to return. Solitude assured him that he would be just fine on his own, and that he was to content to wait for Serenity, however long it took. Without any more conversation, the man hopped on his horse and started off, Serenity comfortably seated in a cart behind him. Solitude watched her and she him until both were out of sight. He remained there long after, calmly observing the world around him, reveling in the silence.
Months passed by and Solitude did exactly as he had promised, caring for Serenity’s garden, guarding her house, and every day waiting for her to return. Each day he found some way to entertain himself, stretching his wings, exploring the forest, going for a swim in the pond in the middle of the forest. He rarely hunted, for he needed very little food to survive. For the longest time he had no company at all, yet he was content for he knew that one day Serenity would return to him and all would be as it once was.
When the months turned into years, Solitude grew concerned. Part of him wanted to fly to the town, but he kept his promise to Serenity, waiting for her in the spot where she had left him. One day, many years later, Solitude discovered a young man waiting for him in the woods. Curious at this change, he slowly approached him and asked if he was in need of assistance. The man explained that he was here to deliver a message and asked where he could find the dragon named Solitude. Knowing that this could only mean one thing, Solitude quickly explained that he was that dragon. The man sighed in relief, apologizing for not being there sooner. It had taken them a long time before someone realized that ‘solitude’ was indeed a dragon. Once they had figured that out, he grabbed the letter and ran out to the forest to find him. He explained that the letter was from none other than Serenity, and thus began to read it aloud.
My Dearest Solitude,
It has been many a month since I left your care, and yet I fear that I will not be returning to you any time soon. You see, I have become very old and very ill, and the doctors have been telling me that I am not long for this world. I do apologize, my dear friend, that I am not able to deliver this message to you in person. My health is failing me and it takes all of my energy to pen these words. The boy caring for me has promised to deliver this to you immediately upon my death.
Of all my friends in this world, you are the one I hold most dear. With your great wisdom and kindness and devotion, you are one of the rarest, most beautiful beings in this world. You have filled my life with light and I only hope that one day you will meet someone who does the same for you. I do hope that you have not waited too long for me. Now that I am gone, it is time for you to go home. Return to your people. Start a new life filled with adventure and wonder. You deserve nothing less.
My only regret in life is that I was not able to see you one last time. I will forever cherish the memory of our time together, and have already passed down our story to my children. I hope that you will one day do the same.
All my love,
It was a while before Solitude was able to respond. The man waited patiently. He asked of her last days, whether or not she was any pain, which the man assured him she was not. They briefly discussed her life and Solitude asked if the man needed a place to spend the night. He stated that he did not. In fact, he needed to return home to his family, for his children were expecting him. His youngest was in bed with a fever, but upon finding the letter he had felt compelled to ensure that it was delivered promptly. He remembered very well the stories his grandfather had told of being raised in the woods by Serenity and her dragon. When he asked what Solitude would do now that Serenity was gone, Solitude replied that he would follow her wishes. After arranging to have someone come and take care of her garden, he decided to leave for the mountains. With that they parted ways, Solitude wishing the man and his daughter well, thanking him for his kindness.
Solitude spent his last night in the forest curled up around Serenity’s cottage, mourning her loss. The next day he left to return to his mountain home, to his people. When he arrived he was surprised to find the mountains completely empty. The dragons had left without Solitude. He wandered around for hours, looking for any sign of where they could have gone, but it was fruitless. Eventually he realized the sun had gone down, and so he slipped into one of the empty caves and slept the night. The next morning he flew back to the forest. Back at the cottage he was pleased to see someone was already there. They were surprised to see him approach but he told them that they had no reason to fear, he was only there for the moment. He proceeded to instruct them on how to handle some of the more precious of Serenity’s plants and belongings. The young man looked at him in awe, finally explaining that he had never seen a dragon before. This puzzled Solitude. He went on to share of how there were stories of dragons in the sky, but no one had seen them since his great grandfather’s time. This saddened Solitude, but he did not let it show. When the boy asked if he would be staying, he thanked him for his service and said that he would not be. He asked no more questions, and Solitude disappeared into the woods. Without considering where he was going he wandered, eventually finding himself wading into the pond. He went for a brief swim, allowing the cool water to sooth his mind, the sounds and feel of nature lulling him into a state of relaxation.
Making up his mind he climbed out of the pond, shaking the water off. Lifting his head to the sky, he took a deep breath. Without another second’s thought, he leapt into the sky and took off, heading away from the village, away from the mountains. Away from Serenity. With no particular destination in mind he flew, enjoying the sun on his back as he went off to his new adventure. In his own way, he was honoring his beloved Serenity, whom he would always keep in his heart, until the end of his days. Solitude was content.