It was about that time again. The dawn of a new day, when humans thought to sneak up on the Deep Woods Dragon while it slept. It feared the way the sun reflected off of it’s scales, they said. It’s prismatic hide was so bright it was blinding. If taunted into the sun, they said, the Deep Woods Dragon could be defeated by the least trained of knights. The Deep Woods Dragon needed to be blinded, they said, or it would burn its attackers to ashes with rainbow-hued flames.
He knew these rumors because the butterflies had told him. They were drawn to the rainbow of greens, yellows, pinks and purples of his scales, like the flowers they coveted so much. They had told him this, too, but the Dragon did not mind. The butterflies were honest, as their lives were short and beautiful. Even still, they could fly unhindered among the humans, even admired by the small humans who chased them, laughing. They told him stories while they rested on his wingtips, tail, and snout. Butterflies did not fear the Dragon, because they knew the truth.
With a yawn, the Dragon shifted its weight to better perch itself on the tree’s stout branch. This tree was taller than the others, and overlooked a small, circular clearing. Without the deer, the weeds thrived, covering the dirt in a green, tangled mass. At the edge of the clearing stood a massive cave entrance, vines draped over the sides of smooth rock. The Dragon had snapped off the vines in front of the entrance, to give the illusion of occupancy. This was, after all, where the humans thought he lived.
He knew these rumors because the butterflies had told him. “In an ancient cave in the middle of the wood, lives an ancient dragon who’s up to no good!” That was what the small humans like to chant as they chased the butterflies and laughed. So the Dragon tore at the vines, and scared the graceful deer from the peaceful clearing. He had enjoyed watching the deer with their young as they grazed the clearing. From up above in his favorite tree, they could not see him, and they could not fear him.
Three times a day, the Dragon glided down from his tree to the old cave’s opening. There, he took a deep breath and screamed as loud as he could. He cried in both low tones and high pitches. He wailed in imitation of female humans, shouted in a voice mimicking angry male humans. The Dragon stood on top of the cave and breathed eye-searing beams of light from his mouth to the sky. It scared the birds huddled in the trees, and the noises scared the deer far from the clearing. But they also scared the humans away from the Deep Woods.
He knew these rumors because the butterflies had told him. So he made his noises, made the lights, and scared the humans away. Because any humans who saw the Dragon would discover the truth. Because, when the Dragon stepped into the sunlight, they’d see how small he really was. The Deep Woods Dragon, with prismatic scales that shone in the sun and such a frightening voice, was the size of a domestic house cat. And only the butterflies knew the truth.