To help or not to help, that is the problemJune 5, 2018
In the village of Tentaculus lived a boy by the name of Trachinzol who desired more than anything else to learn to fly. His wise grandmother kept telling him that flying was an ability that was not suited to him. As he was a child, he had no wings, and so he would never be able to take flight in any way whatsoever. However, Trachinzol did not give up hope, and every evening he would build new contraptions and then try them out the next morning, up on the high hill of Giraglio. His machines regularly ended up destroyed along the slope, and he returned home with one more wound to be seen on his face. Trachinzol did not like the company of his fellow classmates very much, but preferred to play at the city gate with his friend Paco, a young octopus who came from Qatar, a country beyond the sea.
Tentaculus was named in this way precisely because many many years earlier, a very numerous school of octopuses landed there after having crossed the entire sea. By then, Paco had been living there with his family for eleven years and was the same age as Trachinzol.
A mysterious meeting
One day when he was playing with a ball at the city gate, a man in a black cloak and with his face covered walked towards them and in a diabolical voice said: «On the other side of the sea, beyond the country of Qatar there is a city with high towers. There, the sky is always red, because a winged dragon pushes his way around in the air, spitting fire, protecting an ancient treasure deposited millions of years ago on the Aria tower, which is the highest one of them all. Help me to reach that place, and I promise you gold and riches!» Trachinzol and Paco remained in silence as they listened to this mysterious wayfarer. Then, Trachinzol asked:: «Has anyone ever succeeded in riding the flying dragon in the red sky?»
The wayfarer, among all the questions that he could answer, found himself replying to the one which he could have imagined to be able to hear least of all: «Young man, as far as I know, no one has ever succeeded in taming the animal of the skies. It is said that it is impossible to come close to it, and whoever has attempted to do so has never lived long enough to tell of it». These words did not frighten Trachinzo: his dream was to fly, and he would succeed in doing this in one way or another.
He asked Paco to guide him in that adventure amid the seas, prepared his small rucksack, and sailed off that very night with the man in the black cloak. The name of the man in the black cloak was Caleo, and he was a trader who had been travelling for more than three months. One night, he related his story to Trachinzol:
«I have been wandering around now for months, from city to city and country to country. I come from a very far-away country, and am travelling in order to save my population from a very unpleasant disease, namely Sand Locaria. A person can be healed of this disease only by means of a very rare powder extracted from Magenta crystals and, as legend tells it, the treasure that I am searching for abounds greatly in these crystals.»
The City of the Tall Towers
The high waves were an obstacle to their voyage, and the current and the thick mist made navigation extremely difficult. Thanks to Paco, however, the two managed to arrive in the City of the Tall Towers, where they moored their small raft to a post in the port.
Paco recommended to his friend to be very careful and to not be hasty: he would wait for him there. Trachinzol raised his eyes to the sky, and then said to his friend: «Don’t be afraid, Paco, the next time that you see me will be there…» and pointed to a point in the sky, «riding the dragon!» He then turned and, step by step his shadow became always longer and more slender, until he disappeared.
They arrived below the Aria tower, which was truly very tall: the top of it could not even be seen.
They devised a way to climb it: Caleo had with him some old stakes and a strong rope. They tied themselves to each other at the waist and becan the long ascent.
The terrible creature
When they arrived at the top, they saw the treasure: it was resting inside a trunk, and shone with a blinding light. Trachinzol immediately indicated it to Caleo, and said: «Run, take it, I’ll cover for you!» But no sooner had Caleo increased his speed than a shadow from the sky make night descend and a shrill cry made the tower tremble: «The dragon!», Trachinzol shouted.
It was huge and frightening, it spat fire from its mouth and had very long claws; il flew between the clouds with rare grace: it truly seemed the king of the sky. Terrified, the two simple souls tried to hide themselves under the cloak, bui t was useless: the dragon saw them and swooped down against them.
«This is the end of it for us,» said Caleo, «I’m sorry to have brought you along with me here on this tragic adventure, I shouldn’t have …»
He had hardly stopped talking when he felt the weight of those huge wings close to him, and when they raised the mantle they saw that terrifying creature on its feet in front of them. It was immense, it had scaly skin and small pointed growths all over its body, a powerful tail, and long pointed teeth. When it opened its mouth, Trachinzol began to scream for fear of being burned alive; but the dragon, putting out its huge tongue, said:
«I’m so thirsty, my throat has been in flames for centuries and centuries. Do you have a little fresh water? No one has ever given me fresh water! I beg of you, please help me!»
Having stopped trembling, Trachinzol and Caleo looked at each other: both of them were convinced that this was a trap. It was not possible that this huge dragon had spat out fire in the sky for centuries only because no one had ever had the courage to give it some water.
It was there, in front of them, with a very long tongue that reached to the ground, panting breath, and a deplorable gaze. Trachinzol got up his courage and approached it.
Caleo shouted to him not to go but to stop. «Don’t trust that horrendous creature: it is terrible and diabolic,» he said; but Trachinzol was not afraid: his grandfather Serafio had told him one day that what may seem frightening to our eyes is often not so to our hearts!
Flying in the sky
He approached the dragon, opened his rucksack, took out the water and held it out to the beast. The dragon opened its eyes wide and with a clumsy gesture grabbed the bottle and drank all the liquid in one gulp. Its face suddenly changed colour and took on a less gloomy appearance, its pointed warts became tender little hills.
This dragon, which had seemed so ugly and evil in the eyes of everyone, had in reality only a need to be helped. It collapsed at Trachinzolo’s feet and, thanking him, said to him: «In one thousand years, you are the only person who has listened to my words, who has believed me, who has not tried to kill me. The treasure is yours!»
Trachinzol listened to these words and replied: «My friend dragon, I am flattered by your words, but I ask that you donate your treasure to my friend Caleo. With your diamonds, he can save his family. I can do nothing with gold and diamonds, but I ask you for another reward for me…». The dragon answered:: «Tell me, boy, I am listening to you», and he continued, «I want to fly in the sky, I want to get on your back and ride the clouds together with you».
Having said this, the dragon turned to Caleo: «Take the treasure, it is yours. Save your people!» It then crouched down in front of Trachinzol and said: «Get on!».
Paco raised his eyes and saw his friend flying in the sky on the dragon’s back.
He was flying freely and happily amid the clouds. The air moved his hair, and his face was proud and resolute.
He seemed born to fly. Trachinzol had realised his dream!