Scholar: Seeking Wisdom by Herb Kauderer

Scholar: Seeking Wisdom
Herb Kauderer

The wise dragon maintains wards and warning bells
around her lair on the mountain’s top.
Long before the mortal woman senses her,
the wise dragon is listening to her thoughts.
Even so, she waits for the woman to approach
and answers only her speech. She will not
invade the mind of one who wishes her no harm.

          Yes child. Why are you here?

          I am twenty-seven. I am not a child.

          I am three hundred and forty-two years old.
          You. Are a child.

          I have likely lived half my life already. I am adult.

          If you keep contradicting dragons
          you will have already lived your whole life.

          Thank you.
          I am here to learn about dragons
          and you have just taught me something.

          And why do you need to speak to me
          to learn about dragons?

          Cannot you learn
          from those of your kind
          who have already dealt with us?

          I have learned what I could from them, but
          some questions remain unanswered.

          Such as?

          Why can only some dragons take human form
          while others are stuck looking like dragons?

          Hmph. You are really bad at this.

          Why?

          I am a female dragon and a beautiful one.
          Clearly you have no discernment about such things.

          “Stuck looking like dragons?”

          If I could look like anything,
          I would look like this.

          You have told a lady to her face
          that she is ugly.

          Go away.

          You are the most beautiful dragon I’ve ever seen.

          I am probably the only dragon you’ve ever seen.

          Not true. But I am just a child, and do not know
          the nuances of beautiful, wise, and experienced dragons.

          You seek to curry favor with compliments
          and by admitting you were wrong
          about being a child.
          Perhaps you are not hopeless.
          But you are hardly a diplomat yet.

          I appeal to you because you are the wisest of dragons.
          I beg you to share your wisdom.

          You appeal to me because of all dragons
          I am least likely to eat an unarmed human
          who causes no threat.

          Why is that?

          Humans give me indigestion.
          I eat them only as a last resort.

          What food agrees with you?

          Pickled egrets.

          You did not come here
          to ask what food I like.

          No, but it’s interesting.

          You have been irritating and amusing by turns.
          You may ask a real question.

          Why is it some dragons can take human form
          but most cannot?

          What a stupid question.
          And you asked it before.
          Don’t you know when you’re being ignored?

          But sometimes stupid children
          still need answers.

          Blood.

          Blood?

          To conjure a dragon requires a blood sacrifice.

          And a little bit of human blood
          means a dragon can turn into human form?

          Not just some human blood.
          All of a human’s blood.
          Every dragon in existence was created with blood.
          But only when a human life has been sacrificed
          can a dragon change into human form if it wishes.

          What of the blood of other creatures?

          Are you worried that a dragon created
          by the sacrifice of a pig
          might be able to take a pig’s form?
          That a walk through a farm might really be
          a walk through a thunder of dragons?

          Um. Yes?
          Actually.
          Yes.

          Perhaps you are not as stupid as you pretend.
          Regardless, pigs are boring creatures
          without much magic. They think of little
          but being served food by humans.
          You needn’t concern yourself, even if one were
          a dragon in animal form.

          Can you hear the thoughts of pigs? Of men?

          If I choose.

          Can all dragons?

          No.

          How will I know who can and who can’t?

          If there is a dragon nearby,
          just imagine killing it.
          If it does not eat you immediately,
          it probably cannot hear your thoughts.

          Thanks.
          I think.

          You have wasted some of the
          prime napping portion of my day.
          You may ask one more question.
          Soon after that
          you will need to go away.

          Some dragons can conjure their essence
          and spend it freely.
          Others can only spend the amount they were created with,
          and when it is all spent they die.
          What makes them different?

          There are many different kinds of magic
          that can be used to make a dragon, and many
          different kinds of magic which can be
          given to a dragon.

          If you wish to understand
          what a dragon can be, you cannot study
          only wizards. You must study the conjurer,
          the poisoner, the alchemist, the apothecary.

          Seek out the healer, the diviner,
          the necromancer, the witch, the shaman,
          the sage, the illusionist, the mentalist,
          the druid, the thaumaturgist.

          When you have learned of those,
          you will have a start on understanding
          what a dragon can be.

          Then ask yourself
          of all the magics you can give to a dragon
          which would it be wisest to give them?

          Then forget your answer
          because most humans are fools
          & have no wisdom.

          Recognize that dragons are limited
          only by human stupidity,
          and you have some sense
          of what they are.

          Now go.

          Why did you talk to me?

          That’s another question.
          You have had your fill.
          Don’t make me kill you.

          You could have killed me any time,
          and you could have done it with a flick of your claw.
          You never needed to eat me and get indigestion.

          Do not tempt me.

          I think you kind of like me.

          Do not push your luck.

          I’ll come back next month
          when I have more questions.

          You’ll do nothing of the sort.

With that, the dragon lays her mighty head down
and closes her eyes to nap. Only when
she can no longer
hear the thoughts of the scholar
does she smile.

 

Scholar: Seeking Wisdom by Herb Kauderer 1

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