Long ago, there was a dragon named Derrywickler that lived along the shores of the Kaytney River. His family owned a farm nearby where they raised Octoflorfs, eight-legged little creatures known for their tasty milk (provided it didn’t go sour). Derry became particularly close to one of the animals and named it Eureka, and the two were inseparable. Or rather, the Octoflorf went places and Derry followed along, as while their species had been kept as pets periodically before, they generally paid little mind to their owners and went about their business regardless. Still, when Eureka climbed a tree, Derry went with her, and when Eureka dug a hole, Derry wallowed happily in the mud by her side.
“Eureka, you’re the best friend I’ve ever had,” he told her often. “If there are things to be done, I want to do them together from now on- I want to follow you everywhere!”
With a couple small grunts, the Octoflorf looked up and wondered about things such as dinner, how much time was left in the afternoon, and what in the world the strange creature in front of her was saying.
One bright, warm day, Derry was running along the beaches with Eureka, trying to keep up against the quick gait her numerous legs provided her. He looked out into the sea now and then, trying to catch sight of any jumping toothwhales in the distance, while the Octoflorf crept closer and closer to the water. Being both land and sea-based, she usually spent her time below the waves at night when Derry was sleeping, but as it was a hot afternoon, it seemed the perfect time for a quick dip.
“But Eureka, where are you going?” Derry asked.
The Octoflorf looked up at the dragon’s odd gestures, musing briefly about how the sand beneath her seventh leg had something moving under it and wondered if it was edible. Rigrorff dipple nom nom, it thought to itself in its own little language.
“Hey, I can’t go in there,” Derry continued, watching as the creature sucked up something quick from beneath it, smacked its lips, and headed further into the encroaching waves. “I can’t swim!”
“Fluffin diff der duff duff,” said Eureka and dove beneath a small swell.
“Does that mean… are you going to teach me? Octoflorfs are great swimmers- wow, how lucky I am to have one as my best friend in the whole wide world!”
With that, the dragon pounced after his pet, jumping headlong into the water, trying to keep up.
And from that point on, whenever someone does something obviously inadvisable, they’re called a Derrywickler, ruminated Stawk. And that’s what they’ll call me too.
He’d heard the tale long ago and often reminded himself of its lesson. He’d run the whole story through his head whenever he felt faced with a questionable option, deciding that if he reached the end of the story before the answer became a positive one, he shouldn’t take whatever action was in question.
I’m watching my own waves approach and am about to let myself be taken over, believing I can drift and breathe through them when every sign points to the opposite, the logical side of his brain told him. What in the world is wrong with me?
Stawk had sat for hours watching the storm grow dangerously close, knowing that if he had any notion of trying to escape, the time was nigh.
It’s coming for me, and I should run, he thought. I should run and just keep running.
For whatever reason, the idea of retreat seemed even more foolhardy. He knew it wouldn’t stop its pursuit, no matter where he went, though the belief wasn’t substantiated by any visible facts. It bellowed and glowed with purple lightning, menacing and tremendous in size, though something about it felt less destructive to him despite its appearance. Stawk had come to believe that maybe it was delivering his long-awaited breath of fire, or perhaps the ability to shoot lights into the sky, or special ways to summon minions from the sea or elsewhere. After further consideration, Stawk realized he’d developed his own super-power to blend into the background unwillingly for many Yar, consistently overlooked and accepting of his solidarity, and was due for an upgrade. It could change everything, as long as he accepted it without fear, embracing it and the ballad it sang. That song inside, it was the thing that drew him the most, and calmed him. He needed to find out where it came from, and why it seemed destined for him to reach it. He’d seen the windows in the houses in the distance shuttering themselves, their inhabitants watching the thing that approached and swiftly recoiling. As they were all prepared to shiver out the descending chaos beneath their Hydekow-fur blankets in a panic, Stawk was more than ready to face it head-on.
As the last hour passed, the small dragon walked out into his garden, looking at the things he’d planted and the land he’d taken as his own. He was proud of it all, and it was well-earned. With the wind bobbling the little globules on his tomayto plants and shaking the leaves from his young Fripp-trees, he sat down amongst his crops.
“I certainly hope it teaches this little Derrywickler to swim,” he said aloud as the violet clouds drew in around him. Stawk took a deep breath through his green snout and closed his yellow eyes.
Whoopie-Ti Yi-Yo, he heard echoing through the void, and the storm overtook him.