Emma Guthrie '22, writer

The sun rose over the hill, casting a warm glow over the small town known as Nightingale. It revealed the morning dew which the spider’s web caught during the night, and caused the creatures of the shadows to retreat into their dens. The villagers awoke to the sweet sounds of a songbird and the smell of the ocean. Although, despite the calming atmosphere, there is an anxious air surrounding the town. 

Nightingale is known for their well-built boats and fish they sell at the Kingdom market every month, but they are more known throughout the land for the beast living on the top of the mountain looming over the village. Many moons ago, a powerful dragon attacked the village. He slaughtered over half of the population and stole all of the wealth the town had earned over the years. Satisfied for the time being, he took his loot and flew up the mountain. The only thing he left with the surviving villagers was his name, Regis.

Around the same time every year, Regis comes down from his perch and pirates their earnings for the year, leaving barely enough to keep them from starving. That time is upon them once more, and the villagers are in a panic. By midday, they have all gathered at the town center to discuss what they are going to do. After almost an hour of arguing the town is divided. Half wish to stay, for they have lived there for generations, while the other half want to leave to escape persecution. Insults and threats were thrown from both sides, and just before it could devolve into violence, the newest addition to the village cut in. He said that there have been rumors going around that Regis had been badly injured in a territory battle with a much younger dragon. He was in no shape to fight, but if he was left alone for too long, he would fully recover and start his rampage once again. At that moment the villagers were all on the same page, they would travel up the mountain in the cover of night and kill Regis. 

The shouts of the villagers could be heard atop the mountain, echoing off of the walls of the dragon’s den. Regis was on his nest gazing at the fortune he had accumulated over the years. When he was a fledgling, instead of wrestling with his brood he would collect stones down by the creek, captivated by the way they would glimmer in the light. As he got older, he began to move on from rocks to gems, then to jewelry and other riches. When he could no longer find these objects abandoned in the forest, he began to steal them from travelers. His mother, upset with his behavior, disowned him and chased him away. He flew for days, hungry and alone until he came across Nightingale. He took out his anger for his mother out on the village, killing anyone in his path. He then stole their riches and retreated to the top of the mountain. He was satisfied with that for years, thinking that he was happy with the life he had made for himself. Now on his deathbed, he contemplates that very idea. 

Although he had everything he had wanted, glimmering gold, sparkling stones, and beautiful shining figures, he realized just how lonely this life was. He had no family, no friends, no one he could even call an acquaintance. His greed pushed everyone he had ever cared about away and caused him to hurt innocent people along the way. He thought that if he could go back he would change everything. He would not have stolen, he would not have hurt others, he would not have killed those who stood in the way of his selfish goal. Except he can’t go back. He can’t change anything about the past, and he knows he will not survive long enough to fix his future. 

He hears the villagers’ war cries as they ascend the mountain to his cave. He glances back at his wing, torn by an adolescent dragon staking his claim on new territory. He is in no shape to fight for his life, he can barely even move. He looks over to the entrance to his den and sees torch lights flickering on the walls. The shouts are getting louder as the villagers approach. He looks around him one last time at the riches that once brought him joy, but now he only feels regret. He turns his head toward the entrance and sees the townsfolk with pitchforks, torches, and swords. He’s accepted his fate, closing his eyes as the newcomer pierces his chest with a sword,  thinking about how he will finally see his mother again and will be able to apologize for letting his greed hurt so many.