The Princess and the Dragonfly

Once there was a princess who never knew. And she never knew because she was never told. And that which remained unspoken was her true identity. She lived among those who never knew, or forgot, or for some hidden reason never acknowledged or called forth her true self. Blessing withheld out of ignorance or by design, but denied nevertheless. Now she was a beautiful child with intelligent eyes and an inquisitive nature. She smiled and it was like sunshine bouncing off the water. It lit up the world around her. Her nose would crinkle delicately in the most charming fashion and the happy light in her eyes would bring joy to those fortunate enough to come under her gaze.

She loved beautiful things. She loved trying to understand the world as it showed itself to her. She was loved, enough. She was cared for but the people around her did not see the world as she did or possess her thirst for depth. And that blood flowing through her veins would never allow her to rest and be satisfied with “normal”. She tried to fit in and did for the most part but there was always something which haunted, teased, and caused some dissatisfaction, some hunger, longing, some question, some second thought that there ought to be more. Something which haunted the periphery of her being was not quite settled. And she distrusted “perfect” things and people. She tended to be drawn to the uncommon, even what others considered flawed. She tended to seek out such things and had a knack for looking past the surface of a thing and discerning its nature. What she did not know then was that her birthright was calling, beckoning her outside. She was indeed uncommon yet she saw herself as somehow less than. What she considered as flaws in herself were merely the differences between her and those around her whose aptitude was limited. And on those boundaries and in that tension she gradually, slowly blossomed, becoming a singularly unique being with the ability to give the blessing denied her.

She was a rare beauty both inside and out. She was intelligent, quick witted, loyal, and tender towards others in need. But there was a problem sometimes as she interacted with people whose vision was blurred and who’s blunted desires were either lost or never quickened. For, in that they shaped and defined her world she began to doubt the ill defined calling of her own heritage. She began to doubt her true self until slowly and over time she made for herself a castle to live in. It was tall and well fortified and from it she could observe and even interact with people. It was enchanted with some secret enchantment that flowed from the nature of her birthright. And from there she could live and move, even appear present with others and all the while was locked safe behind the walls she had constructed.

She lived alone in the castle for the most part. Though she stayed engaged in her interests and the people in her life, her true self made its home there behind the walls. She began to accept the arrangement as final and good, and it was, but her heritage would not remain quiet and no matter how “good” things got there were times when the restlessness would come. The routines and people and interests that generally held her attention would seem flat and two dimensional. A strange longing would well up from within her. They were strangely familiar desires that seemed to call to her from far away places. She would find herself looking toward the mountains set far in the distance, or watching the waves crash into the shoreline. She would wistfully gaze beyond the far horizon and dream about what might lie beyond it. During these times home seemed unfamiliar and that beautifully strange longing seemed to originate from what seemed to be her more true habitation.

These “soul journeys” as she called them were confusing and even painful at times. They seemed crazy to her. Who hears such things in their head? Surely she was not “normal”. It was frustrating that world she had fashioned did not finally quiet the call to explore that which lay just outside her castle. There were times when the calling on her would become painful, and a bittersweet sadness would saturate her being. But even the sweet sad ache sometimes seemed more real and alive than her life behind castle walls. And in the secret heart of her heart she wished that it could all somehow be true.

At times it would become more than she could stand. Her noble being longed to shout a resounding “Yes!” to the call. To venture out into places unknown, to grapple with questions not yet fully formed, to find answers to those longings too deep for words. Yet she was in a way constrained by those around her. She had no example within the world and would shake off the longings as fantasy and unrealistic and then settle back in to the routines of the everyday.

At other times she would seek to quiet the call by not thinking too deeply about anything. Avoiding the depth she attempted to have fun in the moment, thrill with the excitement of the now. And at times it was exhilarating. But none of it ever quite reached her heart. It never bridged the gap between the inside and the out or filled the voids between the surface and the deep.

Then one day, as she was musing about life, allowing her soul to roam free. She idly twirled a daisy between her thumb and index finger. She watched the whirling, spinning flower petals thinking of nothing in particular. She was feeling generally satisfied and alert but not quite awake. And out of that energy a vague warm misty want emerged. It was not terrible, and was even pleasant in some ways. Buoyed there between waking and dreaming she caught a flash of light just inside the boundary of her vision. Lifting her eyes she sought and found a most amazing creature. It was pure light, or so it seemed, iridescent and multicolored. Like facets of a gem the light reflected its surroundings but multiplied and most clear. As she watched the creatures flight, darting, skimming, almost scurrying across the waters surface, she felt something move deep within her and drawing her to it. She believed that the creature held some enchantment for she felt the lure of her castle walls begin to diminish. The call of her true nature began to arise in her more strongly than she had ever felt it. She watched as it moved through the air. She was struck by its power and poise. It seemed to effortlessly move in any direction at will. She longed for such freedom. She studied the iridescence through the changing light. She was moved to throw down her castle walls and be like this creature, true to herself and reflecting the world back to itself as she moved through it. To be in the moment yet fully present without walls seemed heaven itself. She felt, rather than thought these things. She had yet to find language fit for the stream now flowing from the well of her soul. She was transfixed as she studied the creature’s most amazing eyes which could see almost 360 degrees around itself. Oh, to see that clearly and honestly, both herself and the world around her.

Her amazement deepened. She experienced excitement running through her which left her feeling exalted, lifted up. Her heart pounded in her chest, the hot blood of her noble birthright flowed freely through her veins. She watched spellbound as the little creature slowed, caught a branch, folded its wings, and became still, at rest. Its colors merged into a most pure silver. So unmingled was the color that it bordered on being translucent. And in that moment she stood on the boundary of her castle wall willing herself to cross and be near this creature.

The call of herself on herself was tremendous yet just as she was to take that first step outside the walls she experienced an opposite and opposing force. In the past she would have shrunk back inside. But this time a new determination, a focused anger, a force of will arose and would not be moved. Joy, desire, and longing flooded her and began to form constructs which should have become a resounding yes to those desires. But even as she began to form the chorus, to mouth the affirmative, she was pulled back from the edge. She struggled to carve out a new place for herself independent of both impulses. She surrendered to each of them simultaneously. She let go and found new freedom. She stepped outside and found new protection.

She was focused on the creature which had enchanted and moved her so. Emotions welled up in her to the point she could no longer contain them. Her mouth moved to form her joyful response and just as she released it the protective impulse engaged in the form of her biting her lower lip. Thus, stifling the sound to the point that the only noise which could be heard was an hushed but joyous resonance barely above a whisper. She mouthed “b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l”. And the sound seemed to float in the air, move toward and come to rest on the creature.

The creature stirred. A kaleidoscope of jewel toned colors cascaded up and down its length and breadth. It’s wings moved and it lifted into the air. It flew toward the girl and hovered just out of reach. The Princess’ heart pounded unsure of what was coming but maintained her place in the new space she had created. She felt shy, lifted up, exposed, protected, and exhilarated at once. It was as if the creature was appraising her with those marvelous eyes. It was unnerving yet she felt life pulsing through her. For the first time in forever she felt at home in her body and connected with the outside world. She stood there heart pounding, a nervous excitement moving through her like the colors on the creature. She was a bit breathless under the creature’s gaze. “Beautiful” she whispered and the creature approached. Her heart jumped as it neared her. She wanted to touch, to feel, to experience contact. She hesitated. The creature flew toward her and brushed against her fingertip. Still she hesitated. Again the creature brushed lightly against her finger but this time she felt heat upon contact with it. She lifted her right index finger to examine the spot and the creature came to rest there. She felt its tiny feet clutching her skin and shivered. Her eyes were fixed on the living jewel before her, its wings slowly moving, its eyes returning the gaze.

princess hand 1

That day began a new chapter in her life. She found a new way to move through her world. She gradually began to work a bargain between the opposing forces within her. She began to unconsciously bite her lip whenever the call was strong in her. It mediated both impulses and allowed her to remain on the boundary between the two. It happened whenever she needed to be fully present yet not exposed. If she was working on or thinking about a problem intently she could be seen gently biting her lip as if to help with her concentration and keep her balance on that razors edge. If she was sweetly surprised or touched by some honest gesture her smile would be moderated by her teeth and a most dear and darling presence would exude from her. And at times, in the throes of some passionate endeavor, when all the walls are shaken to their foundation, she would bite down hard to keep the pure power of her heart’s exultation from shattering and tumbling the walls around her.

During these times the creature would visit as if called or summoned by her endearing and attractive habit. She would hold out her right index finger, and the creature she began to call Dragonfly, would alight there. Every time it lit on her she felt a slight burning on her skin, and over time there built up a little saddle for it to ride upon. For the longest time they were the best if not the oddest pair.

Through its enchantment the dragonfly helped the Princess expand the space where she could touch both the inside and out. She learned much about the inside of her castle and explored rooms she had forgotten about or never knew existed. She explored more of the outside world as well as the people in it. All the while she stored up knowledge and the wisdom her existence required. Then one day when she called, biting her lip and extending her finger, her friend was slow in appearing. Over time she had begun to outgrow the space she and the dragonfly had created. She had encountered a new boundary from which she could not move back but did not know how to move forward. She felt frightened and trapped. And it seemed that just as she needed her friend’s help the most it was no where to be found. A rush of emotions flooded her. Sadness, anger, longing, fear, all competed for dominance. She struggled to balance them once more. One after the other would arise and push or pull her toward one extreme and then the other, a retreat back into her secure walls or an impulsive rush into freedom and the unknown. The tension mounted and the pressure increased. It was as if she was smothered and ground down between them and would be forced to bridge the two if she were to survive. She felt as if she would soon be torn apart but something in her rebelled and she held her place determined to stand her ground. She was weakened and she felt her strength failing. And in that awful crucible, just as her last effort ceased, something unforeseen occurred. As her final reserve of strength left her something new sprung from its ashes.

A strange thought began to take shape in her mind. It was new and radical to her experience. She unclasped clinching hands and released her hold on all these forces and circumstance she had sought to control and keep at bay. As she let go an oppressive weight lifted from her. She felt her back straighten and her shoulders lost their slump. With a clam strong voice she said “Enough.” She had decided. She had decided to decide. And as she lifted her gaze she saw there hovering just in front of her, her friend watching her with those enchanting eyes. She held out her hand offering her finger with its now familiar resting place expecting to resume their warm rapport. But the Dragonfly flew past her outstretched hand and landed on her lips, its colors joyous, exuding love. She felt strangely warmed, connected, and at peace. The Dragonfly then left her lips, hovered in front of her beaming face, gazed at her through loving, happy, and approving eyes, then swiftly turned and flew away. And that was her first Dragonfly kiss.

 

II. The Prince and the Light

He arrived in country as the sun was setting over the mountains in the west. Tattered, tired, but alert, he studied the new landscape around him. His eyes followed the contour noting the rise and fall of the geography, the colors, shapes, and varied fragrances carried on the wind. He listened to the evening sounds in that time between times as the daylight creatures settled down for the night and the creatures of the darkness began to stir. His senses were alert to danger or welcome, provision or lack. It was an old habit formed over the years of wandering, searching, seeking that for which he had yet to name. His journey had been long and had taught him many things but had yet to still the restlessness in his soul.

He had begun the quest full of ideals acquired from the stories passed down to him from the wise men of his people. He was young, full of vigor and confident in his ultimate success. As he now walked his once proud and powerful warhorse through the twilight he mused on the day he had set out. In his mind he saw the young, strong, grinning face of the boy so eager to begin. He was filled with the naive but pure faith that the stories were true. As he walked and remembered he ran his fingers through the whitening hair around his temples and massaged the knotted muscles of his neck. Were they true? “They must be true” he said to himself again for the uncounted number of times he repeated such things. He said again aloud “It must be true or nothing is true in this world.” He straightened his back, lifted his slumping shoulders, set his jaw firmly, and stepped resolutely once more into the unknown.

These moments and conversations with himself were familiar and really a part of a long established ritual he went through upon entering a new territory. Doubt, whatever small influence it may still hold over him had been long since dealt with. Long ago he had chosen to live as if his desires had an answer, a location, a face, a name. He may at times doubt people or circumstance or even himself. But he was and had been unwavering in the belief that there is reason and an ultimate destination for the wanderings of his heart. The cornerstone of his life is the foundational belief that one day the incomplete will be made whole.

He found a place to pass the night on the bank of a cool, clear, slow moving stream. He began to make his camp at the place where the stream emptied itself into the stillness of a wide lake nestled in a hidden valley. He built a fire, saw to the needs of his horse, and settled down to watch the last minutes of the sun’s dance down the mountains, below the hills, and finally over the far horizon. The yellows, reds, orange, and purples framed the shimmering shapes of the mountains and pines reflected in the mirror like stillness of the wider lake. His eyes surveyed the outlines of the shore as it made its way deeper into the valley. He had always liked the fresh air. And water in its many forms had become a source of solace for him. As he sat and rested against his saddle something drew his attention. He caught a flash out of the corner of his eye. He turned to see what seemed to be a bright sparking iridescent jewel skim the surface of the water, dance on the wind, and then plunge beneath and up in a most bizarre and beautiful ballet. The light moved steadily toward him through the growing shadows. As it neared he saw that the source of the light was a small winged creature moving now straight toward him. As the shadows deepened the creature seemed to glow silver to hot white, illuminating its path toward the wanderer. It flew past him, stopping just out of reach. It then made three slow sun-wise circuits around him and attended the wanderer as though measuring and evaluating him. The creature stopped after the last round and hovered level with the wanderer’s eyes. As they looked at one another a spark of recognition leaped between them. An icy chill flooded the wanderer as the blood drained from his face. The creature satisfied, hovered a few more seconds then turned and flew in the direction of the sunset, disappearing into the shadows.

It was long ago and it had been decades since he had felt the full force of those feelings. For the most part they had remained just out of conscious reach. He could not remember a time when he had been completely free of them and in a real sense they had motivated and provided the energy for his life until now. His many adventures had been secondary and serendipitous to the true purpose of his wandering. His search had been initiated and sustained by his dire need to find some resolution for the questions of his heart and reason for the haunting tapestry of feelings he carried deep within him. And the search had taken him into many exotic and undiscovered lands that till today many will never see.

The source of those feelings remained somewhat of a mystery. Over the years his search had provided some pieces of the puzzle that he began to form into a general outline. He had painstakingly assembled a set of thematic impressions of his narrative but most of the facts remained illusive. And through it all he had developed an acute sensibility to patterns and the ability to look forward and into the past at once. He had remarkable empathy with people and their patterns and could just as easily wage brutal war as he could provide healing and comfort to the down trodden. He much preferred tenderness and strengthening the weak for he knew first hand the evil done by hearts filled with terror, shame, hopelessness, and despair. He knew that place in his own heart and had fought to overcome it in others. When battles were waged and won. When hope and life would spring forth he would exult in the victory. And this ongoing battle had been the context within which his life was shaped. His knowledge and skills increased. He grew in stature and confidence until such a time that he feared nothing he had yet encountered in this world. But for all his searching he remained restless. For all his victories he felt unaccomplished. Restlessness remained, questions hung on his heart like a weight, unanswered. And yet through it all he persisted unwavering in his quest.

The encounter with the creature had stirred something in him. The mingled scents of the pine, the fresh water, and the smoke from the fire brought some comfort to him. He had always felt more at home in wild places than in the constructs of men. He leaned again into his saddle, nibbled some dried beef and contemplated the meaning of this seemingly chance meeting. Or was it? It was much out of the normal pattern yet there was some sense of familiarity which had summoned the terror. But it had also fanned a flicker of hope that somehow, just possibly, he had stumbled onto a path that would initiate the beginning of the end of his quest. He reached inside his tunic and ran his fingers across the surface of the medallion he had worn since he was a boy. He found the odd shape in the center and again wondered about its meaning. He believed that to solve this riddle would be the key somehow to unlocking and finally answering the questions of his soul.

He had come to recognize patterns intuitively. He trusted those in nature. And while the forces that moved the earth could cause harm they were never malicious and always acted within predictable parameters. Even the carnage and chaos of war was understandable because of its purposes and devices were clear. Groups of people he understood quite well because statistics had proven to be reliable. There were always exceptions but even they could be accounted for. And it is always the individuals who are the exceptions. He tended not to have many who knew him. He trusted rarely and then only so far. What he trusted was his ability. Whether in love or war he was confident in being able to figure out and do the needed thing. Not that he was always correct or even successful. He was not. He had failed as much as he had succeeded. But it was his confidence that allowed him to survive both winning and losing. He had a stoic optimism that made him buoyant in the face of defeat and realistic in victory. Neither finally answered the real questions. Nothing he had seen or done had satiated the hunger of his soul. He kept no trophy or record of defeat. He simply continued to move forward seeking that for which his soul longed.

Something had happened a long time ago. He was born the prince of a king but even before he could talk the seeds of betrayal had been sown. He had reconciled himself to the fact that he may never really know exactly what happened. But he remembered the terror. Even as he sat many years removed from those days the impact struck him like a blow. He remembered feeling utterly alone, abandoned, weak and without recourse. He remembered the laughing faces, the glances he did not understand the connections he was not a part of. He was fed and generally cared for, but something always seemed to hang over his head. He sensed that there was some secret knowledge, a loop he was not welcomed in. The terror, the shame, the sense of being betrayed and left to his own devices tormented him for a time. And his weakness shamed the royal blood flowing through his veins.

There came a day when a seemingly inconsequential occurrence changed his life forever. He spent most of his boyhood inside the walls of his fathers’ castle. He felt trapped, alone, and abandoned there. His soul was sick of all the secrets and the patronizing smiles on faces around him. He was on guard perpetually. Nights would pass at the speed of mountains growing. Time slowed and warped as he pleaded for the dawn. Sleep was fitful and shallow. Rest was illusive and generally unknown. But one evening just at dusk as the void of his day was ending and giving way to another uneasy night, he felt despair. And overcome he lay down and wept the tears of a motherless child. Clinging to and clutching a pillow from his bed, and between sobs, he raised his face toward the heavens with a pleading moan. As his eyes lifted he saw a glowing light pass through his open window, circle him, and pause hovering in the air. As the boy quieted himself, distracted from his misery, his eyes followed as the light turned and flew back through the window into the wilderness.

The whole event may have only lasted a few moments but its impact was eternal. From that moment on a new thought began to take shape in the mind of the boy. As his eyes followed the light across the room and out of the window it was if something beckoned him to follow. Out, outside, freedom, were images, concepts and impressions that like seeds were planted deeply in his young heart. Raising himself he climbed to the window ledge seeking the light. As he peered over and outside he was astonished to see a little creature glowing silver white and hovering just out of reach. He extended his hand as if to grasp the creature and quickly withdrew it for he felt a burning sensation at the end of his left index finger. He examined the cut and tasted blood as he sought to cool the burning between his lips and tongue. The creature then immediately turned and flew in the direction of the far mountains.

finger dragonfly jpeg

The traveler studied his finger. It had been many years since he had pondered that night. He appraised the scar he still carried and smiled as he placed it in his mouth as he had done that night so many years ago. He remembered a change beginning from that night on. It was not immediate but gradually a shift occurred in his soul from terror to hope, from despair to determination. He swore that one day he would be free of this place and would never return. To that end he began to shift his attention from his misery to its possible resolution. He lifted his head, opened his eyes and began to study the castle and the people around him. Over time he began to notice particular patterns in the day to day life of the place. He learned to gather information by watching what people did rather than put much stock in what they told him. He learned that the people around him fell into fairly predictable rhythms that were generally reliable. He learned to be alert if the patterns changed or if what they said did not match their actions. He studied the ancient lore searching through dusty books he found laying untouched and neglected in the inner recesses of the place. As he studied books, people, and his surroundings he found that it helped to quiet the restless anxiety in his heart. He also began to consider more seriously his eventual escape. One evening deep within the castle he poured over brittle manuscripts, the air filled with the ancient scents of earth and stone, he came across an obscure and cryptic text. He worked translating it for hours but it never quite made sense. The best he could guess was it said “The King holds the key” and another which was more confusing, “Follow – Dragon – Light – Fly”. He was not sure of the meaning or even how these words fit together but something in him resonated with them. Hope rose from his depths flooding and strengthening him He decided. He decided to decide. He would go and talk to the king.

He had not spoken to his father in many years. There was an occasional conversation, and a civility demanded by their rank was not uncommon. But they seldom if ever parted the veils which separated them. There was love there but whatever rupture had occurred had ripped them apart as well. He entered the hall afraid but resolute. His father watched him approach; saw the look in his eyes, and instantly knew why he had come. The king had dreaded and hoped for this day since the betrayal and the enchantment had settled over the kingdom. The boy said to his father “The King holds the key” in a question and statement at once. The king, visibly shaken, mixed emotions animating his countenance, took off his crown. He stepped down from his throne and removed a medallion from around his neck. With tears in his eyes he placed it on his son. He said “Yes son, the King holds the key. Now I give it to you.” The King beginning to weep said “I’m sorry son. I could not find the way out. You must find your own path. All I ever discovered was that finding the missing piece of the medallion would lead you to your heart’s desire.” The old man placed his hands on his son’s head and blessed him. He said “Perhaps it was only for me to have kept this for you. I sought answers but only found more questions. Go now. Rid yourself of this place. Find what was lost. Repair that which was broken.”

Origiinal Medallion

The young man turned from his father stunned. He had expected war and found blessing. He sought out a king and found a man. Understanding and empathy for the man washed over him. His father was now forgiven and the boy was freed from guilt. All this time, his father had known the beast and had himself wrestled with it. His father had done all he could and more for him and he had never known it until today. He now had something tangible to hold to. He had the medallion, a quest to complete it, his father’s blessing and instruction to go. But, go where? How? He searched his memory for an answer. Some clue, something. It’s a puzzle . . . There is a pattern . . . There must be . . . “Follow – Dragon – Light – Fly,” he said to himself. An idea flashed across the galaxy of his consciousness, a new star appeared. He turned quickly on his heal and sprinted back to his room.

Like in the old stories the answer was hidden in view. He still did not understand the inscrutable message “Follow – Dragon – Light – Fly” but it had to be. There had to be something . . . He followed the path the creature had taken as it flew back out the window. He looked to the window and found the creature, aglow and illuminating a small round indentation between the middle bars. The young prince instinctively removed the medallion from his neck and placed it face down aligning the patterns he saw there with those of his medallion. He had never noticed them before but now in the light cast by the creature they were apparent and a prefect mate for those on the medallion. He pushed down on the metal surface until he heard a click and watched as the bars swung silently open. The prince stared into the wild openness, heart racing, giddy with excitement. The buzzing of the creatures wings drew his attention. It rose into the air, looked again to the Prince and then flew away into the night. As the Prince watched the trail of light move away he repeated “Follow – Dragon – Light – Fly” as he stepped into the night.

That was a long time ago and tonight was the first time he had thought of it in many years. He smiled and repeated those words once again. “Follow – Dragon – Light – Fly”. He stood, gathered his belongings, extinguished the fire, saddled his horse, and headed west into the shadows, following the flying light.

 

Chapter III. Boundaries / Walls

She awakened early, refreshed, somehow eager to begin the day. She moved quickly to her studio where an unfinished painting rested on an easel. She had been working trying to capture the iridescence of one of the dragonflies who lived within the walls of her castle. She was waiting for the light to be just right so she could reproduce it on the canvas before her. Over the years she had developed her taste and sense of beauty and sought to manifest her vision through various art forms. But no one had ever seen her work for she kept it secure and hidden there behind the walls.

DragonflyPainting

Her studio was placed within the upper floors of the place. Adjacent to the studio was a balcony which caught the sun’s first rays and gave her a panoramic view of the countryside and the township below. She was sitting, awaiting the light when she saw him silhouetted in the rising sun. He was astride a huge war horse walking slowly into the town square. The town itself was beginning to stir. The sounds of doors, smells from cooking fires, the laughter of children, and conversations of the market were beginning to rise and fill the air. She watched him as he dismounted and began to interact with the town’s folk. She noticed that he was tall and handsome and had an easy manner about him. As he moved through the growing crowd she heard the laughter ringing through the streets, saw the smiles, the good-natured hand slaps given and received as though he had known these people all of his life. But the most unusual aspect of it all was that as his laughter echoed through the castle hundreds of dragonflies took flight, stirring the air and filling the space with light. The castle was aflutter and to some degree so was she. She had seen handsome men before and would on occasion take a lover but this was a very different thing. Something in her shifted. It was small, almost unnoticeable, like the beginning of a thaw in the spring. Only one drop, but that one drop proceeds the latter rushing of the waters.

Her eyes sought him out, curious about this new sensation and its genesis. “Surely he was not the cause of the disturbance in her castle,” she mused. He was closer now. She watched his gentle swagger as he moved through the town and its people. She moved closer to the edge of the balcony for a better view while unconsciously straightening her gown and hair. “Silly” she thought to herself. “No one can see me here. And who is he anyway? Just another traveler – – warrior – – wanderer – – loud, full of himself, selfish, shallow – -,” she thought. But even as she dismissed him with her thoughts her eyes continued to study him. The dragonflies had quieted themselves once more but there was still an energy, a palpable buzz that filled the room. It was as though the creatures were poised ready to spring into flight once more upon the slightest provocation.

She appraised him, unconsciously seeking a reason to avert her eyes, move on, and return to her pursuits. But the more she studied him the more she wanted to see. She was anxious, curious, and excited at once. She liked the way he filled the shopkeeper’s doorway across the street. His hands were above his head holding his weight as he rested against the facing. She listened as he spoke. His voice was gentle yet commanding, questioning, commenting, and was infused with that infectious laughter. His smile could light up a darkened room. She watched as he moved up the street interacting with people and moving on as if searching for something or seeking directions. What ever he was doing brought him ever nearer her castle. She found herself intrigued by this stranger. “Amazingly handsome with a strong broad chest and shoulders,” she noticed. But it was the energy about him that held her attention. She had never encountered such a person. He seemed somehow familiar yet totally outside her waking experience. The dragonflies shimmered as he neared. She noticed him looking about as if seeking a lost treasure or some guide for his next steps. She followed his eyes trying to discover the intention of his actions. He was now within feet of the castle wall. But she, confident in her concealment, was bold as she leaned over the balcony to view him from a better angle. She saw his head turn and she turned with him. Her eyes locked on a small silver creature flying just ahead of him. Her heart leaped! She knew her friend in an instant! It had been years since she had seen those silver white wings. It seemed a lifetime ago since it had left her with a kiss and flew away. Now her friend was back and moving directly towards her. Unknowing, the eyes of the stranger also followed the arc of the creature’s flight. As they both sought the shimmering point of light it flew as if strategically so that their vision crossed paths. The Dragonfly flew into the castle past the Princess but her eyes were locked with his. She found herself transfixed, caught in his gaze. Deep dark brown eyes like tunnels into his soul. Recognition of finding something she had not known was lost. The royal blood flowed, pumping wild and untamed life into her. Heat more profound than flesh engulfed her. As he gazed into those eyes the slight shifting tilted. The single drop was joined by others and became a melt. She felt opened up. The old longings arose and were somehow answered. Deep within her contentment peace and beauty settled upon her and left her breathless on the sound of her long deep sigh. That eternal moment was broken as she noticed him blink, tip his hat to her, and then quickly turn and walk away. She was startled, jarred, confused. She was not shocked by him walking away or even seeing into this man’s soul. She had long studied people and many had come and gone. But when he tipped his hat she knew he knew. She realized that he had somehow seen through her concealment. Her boldness morphed into modesty. She tried to still her racing mind and heart. She felt exposed but not endangered, innocently naked under those eyes. But what had he seen? Where did he go? It happened so suddenly. He had seen through the veil. That had never happened before. She did not know what it meant. He had seen her and was gone before she fully realized that it had happened. All she really knew was that a spark had gone off inside her and her heart was bursting into thin air.

He had traveled through the night making his way along the lake-shore. He moved at an easy pace following the winged light but now he knew somehow that his destination waited for him a few miles ahead. He observed his surroundings. He watched the stars and moon move across the sky. He studied the vague outlines of the landscape in the dim starlight. He cataloged the sights, smells, and night sounds as he moved. It was second nature for him to observe and study things. After all the many years of wandering it was by now an unconscious act. His conscious mind was somewhere else. As he moved toward his ultimate goal his mind journeyed back along the many paths he had wandered. The restlessness, the feeling of being unfinished, and no matter what he accomplished or strength acquired, the weakness and insecurity remained. He was not without confidence for in most things he had it in abundance. But he remembered the day of his father’s gifting. His father had given him the medallion and instructed him to find the missing piece, to fill the void. He had hinted that he would be forever restless until he did and that no amount of success or defeat would fully satisfy. Only the filing of the emptiness would suffice. He had lived his life searching, striving, creating, winning, and losing, and moving on.

He wondered what the morning would bring as he became aware of dawn’s first light. He sensed the need for ceremony to mark the day. He turned toward a sandy shore. There he attended his horse and then moved toward the water. He disrobed and began bathing himself. The cold water and the grey dawn covered him with goose-flesh. His nakedness revealed scars from battles and wounds received along his long road. Few had seen his scaring. None had seen them all fully revealed. He shaved himself and oiled his body and hair. He dressed himself in fine linens and soft deerskin boots. He carefully groomed his warhorse and brushed him till his coat began to shine. He checked his appearance in dawn’s reflection on the still water by the shore and prepared himself for the last leg of the journey.

As the morning light made its way into the valley he saw the little township snuggled between the hills and the lake-shore. He found a road which ran straight west into the village. He felt the rising sun on his back as his destination was slowly illuminated before him. As he studied the town he wondered where his guide had gone. But given no direction he followed the road. As he arrived on the outskirts he saw that the townspeople were beginning the stir. He was also aware of the growing anxiety in his gut. Part of it was that he was never fully comfortable in towns. Though he had conquered many he had never managed to feel at ease in them. He did not trust them. But this particular feeling was deeper, more profound, and was tinged with excitement. His heart beat a little faster and as he entered the town he repeated “Follow – Dragon – Light – Fly.” He reached down inside himself and found his friendliest smile as he approached a farmer setting up his wares in the market. His smile was infectious and people were naturally drawn to him. He easily entered into conversations about the town, themselves, and such. The effect on the people was that many times they found themselves discussing the deeper things of their hearts. No matter the person or the topics engaged they always seemed to feel better about themselves. Whether from the shared laughter or the flattering honest attention paid to them by the stranger, it felt as if they had known him forever. It seemed to brighten them, to lift them up. As he met each one he always managed to inquire after information regarding his medallion. They were to the person, all curious, interested and helpful, but none offered any clue to the connection between this place and his quest. Frustration and doubt began to stir in his belly. He quickened his pace and interactions as he moved through the town. Until, he found himself at the end of it. All that was left was a little shop that had yet to open and an elegant structure that unnerved him. He turned aside from the structure and his growing unease and approached the shop. He stood in the doorway leaning casually on it as he called for the proprietor. In a short time they could be seen laughing together but he soon excused himself and moved on. He turned toward the castle. It was all that remained of the town. He sought guidance, direction, an excuse, not to go that way. And with each step dread and hope mingled and arose like a physical force within him. As he spoke to the last remaining people he heard the buzzing of wings and caught a shimmering out of the corner of his eye. He turned to follow in a direction which led straight toward the castle. What happened next took only a few seconds but for him it seemed that time was frozen in an instant. He was now very near the outer parts of the castle and watched the creature as it flew up and over the wall through the balcony and then – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – stillness.

He saw her. Their eyes met and locked. He was transfixed by the beauty before him. With racing heart and stolen breath he felt at once terribly weak and terribly strong. The impulse to simultaneously flee and pursue almost ripped him apart. Longing flooded him. Beauty washed over him in waves and threatened to cast him adrift. Primal terror rose in him. Feelings he had not experienced since childhood returned with a vengeance. Mocking, laughing, alone, humiliated, he remembered and it shook him to the core. He had always been a loner of sort. His journey demanded that his ties be loose to those he encountered. But that one look reopened a wound he thought long healed. A soul wound he had carried, a void in the deep recesses of his heart. But those eyes, they knew him it seemed, and he knew them somehow. To have seen her yet remain apart, separated by castle walls demonstrated, announced, and uncovered his shame and his abject aloneness. Nothing he had seen or done or accomplished had come close to that one look. It all faded and evaporated like dew in the bright morning sun. He felt unworthy, yet amidst the dark tumult of that moment a spark, a seed of hope began to take root. With that he came to himself, blinked away the moment, tipped his hat to break the contact, then turned and walked away. He had to think, to figure this out. This was so far from anything he had imagined or anticipated. His world had tilted and he needed to regain his footing.

 

Chapter IV. Doors, Locks & Keys

Still stunned and confused she sat down in front of her painting. Her thoughts raced. A flurry like a thousand dragonflies, thoughts took flight within her mind. She strained to choose one to settle on and could not. Like a honeybee moving from flower to flower her mind would alight for a moment and then move on. She unconsciously reached for her brushes. As her hands moved color across the canvas she sought that place of peacefulness her art brought her. She could be alone with herself there, emotions bypassing her mind and moving through her and out into her work. She had found a way to loose herself there and then to find herself again on the page before her. It was a sacred and secret work and throughout the castle were wondrous works of beauty and deep meaning. She absently traced the lines of the artfully fashioned dragonfly on the page before her. Then quickened by the sound of wings she watched and followed the path of her winged friend’s flight back over the balcony and in the direction in which she had last seen the stranger.

He found his way to the edge of the village. He needed to breathe the fresh air of the wild. He pondered the strange profound and totally unexpected turn in his story. This was new and totally outside his experience yet there was an odd sense of familiarity. But the battle he faced now would not be decided through strength, or skill, of cunning. This was a new challenge. Or perhaps it was the oldest one. The one he had never fought. The one that had sent him into the wild those many years ago.

Thinking Man lightening flip

He sat himself down to rest on a mossy rock outcropping. He reached inside his tunic for the medallion. He held it flat in his hand and looked again at its brilliant silver and wondered again for the thousandth time about the oddly shaped void in its heart. He had spent his life trying to solve the mystery of the empty space, “repairing what was broken,” finding the missing piece. It had all somehow eluded him. All the places he had been. All the things he had done. All his searching, striving, creating, winning and even loosing had never touched him like that one look. And that look had both terrified and thrilled him to his core. As he sat and thought and looked there came a companion, his guide. The beacon that throughout his life had made itself manifest at the crossroads, the boundaries, the place between choices. Here it was again hovering just out of reach beckoning him again toward the unknown. He sat and looked at the medallion and to the winged creature and back and forth. He stared at the odd shaped void and back to the moving wings. The creature just hovered watching and as if waiting on some signal or shift or change, but what?

Out of the ferment of his soul she appeared. He held the vision of her in his mind’s eye. It was a sweetly strange experience for him. Where once his mind only held images of conquests, adventures, dreams of the next thing, now was only her. She conquered and claimed all of that space in him without contest. And her occupation of that sacred space in him beckoned him toward the terror, that fissure in his heart whose entrance he had carefully guarded since the escape from his confinement all those years ago. It seemed to him to open into a gaping cavern, an endless void into which he may fall and become forever lost. And out of that space of flux and change and crisis came a thought rushing up and out of and from the deep dark depths of him. And the thought was so profound so apparent that he reeled from the stark startling insight. He saw the void, the shape of the empty space in the medallion that he had looked at so many times. And in his mind the shape emerged and simultaneously he saw it filled with the image of her moving toward him with arms outstretched. And he saw himself too, opening his arms and self to her. It was like a bomb going off in his head. After all his outward seeking he now knew that there was nothing “out there”. There was nothing outside himself that would solve the puzzle. In a very real sense he was the medallion and the piece that was missing was in him. It was he who had been broken. He now knew the answer and the remedy. He looked to the creature and as if guided by some wisdom beyond his comprehension he held out his finger and watched as it lit there. He momentarily felt the old burning sensation run through the scar as he placed the creature on the medallion. Upon contact the creature began to glow silver white. The medallion began to morph along with the Dragonfly as they merged, shapes shifting, changing, rearranging until before him was a medallion made new and transformed into the symbol of a soul, free and soaring.

Soaring Remade Medallion

He replaced the medallion around his neck and inside his tunic. Clear now, determined he stood and faced in the direction of Her castle, the place of terror and of his wildest dreams.
She stood, cleaned her brushes and absently put things away. While her body was present her mind was racing through her experience still trying to find a place to rest, a handle to grasp. She could not focus on her art. She felt muddled and all mixed up. And then in the midst of the frantic anarchy of reason the only thing substantial was him. Her mind focused and raced and wrapped itself around the image of him. Here was something solid, both the source and perhaps the cure for her state. Where was he? Where did he go? How had he seen through her walls? To have been seen was thrilling and frightening at once. For years she had made herself content behind her walls, knowing yet never being known. “This is crazy”, she thought, that a second’s glance frozen in time could so alter her world. But she had seen herself in his eyes and it had completed a circuit heretofore unknown to her. It was as if an electrical surge had passed through her and enlivened dormant places in her soul. Now awake and aware those latent parts of her opened wide and the longings flooded her. Her true heritage called to her once again. Old hopes long buried sprang forth and took their rightful place at the core of her being. She had settled for knowing now she longed to be known. Known, comprehended, acknowledged, and appreciated were once concepts she thought she understood. Now they were alive in her and demanding attention. But she was at a loss. She could not give herself the very thing her soul demanded. She could not do this by herself. That one glance from the outside, from him, had revealed blind spots; hidden places she never knew existed. The longings created an exquisite ache and the new mysteries of her self wanted exploration. She needed. She wanted. She hoped. She felt hot wet tears of mingled grief and joy spill down her pretty face. Like the melting of a glacier ice, walls began to recede, at least for him. She glanced again in the direction she had last seen him go, casting her hope across space and time that somehow he would return. She had never let anyone that deep inside her. And given a choice she would not still. But there was something different in him, in that look. No permission had been asked or given. The windows of her soul were found open and he was there. No one had really known her and she had been content. But now she longed for him to know everything. What makes her smile, what interests her, what makes her sad, how she sees the world around her, all these things and more she wanted him to know. She glanced around the castle taking in all the many paintings, sculptures, sketches, and writing she had done. She went from room to room remembering much she had forgotten. Some were happy; some were sad, but all beautiful in its representation of her heart. Now though they all seemed flat somehow, dormant. Awaiting a spark, that surge of life energy that could complete the circuit, bridge the gap, repair the tear between the inside and out. She made her way down to the doorway and entrance to her castle. She searched for and found the latch that had remained untouched for years. She pulled until she heard the release of the spring and click of the lock coming open. With hopeful resignation she made her way back to the balcony which afforded her a better view of the countryside.

She had just done what would have seemed unthinkable a few hours before. She had opened the lock to the doorway leading to all she held most dear. Now it was out of her hands, beyond her control. She had done all that she could. And her actions went against her pattern. It was a pure, untainted, and radical act of faith. Her fate now rested in another’s hand. He now must come and she would wait. He had to find the key and unlock the door from the outside. He must make his way through the castle to its heart. There she would await him. She left the balcony and went straight away to the pool. She undressed and lowered herself into the perfumed waters. She felt the tension melt away and be replaced with a surge of warmth as the royal blood coursed through her. Relaxed yet alert, she emerged from the waters expectant, confident in the rightness of it all. She thought against adornment. No, it should just be her. No need to hide or conceal or enhance in any way. Pulling the covering around her waist she moved to the center of her silken bed and sat down, back to the doorway, to wait.

Her color 2

As he made his way back toward her castle he paused mid step. Something was not right. He imagined her reaction to him. What if he was wrong? What if she rejected him? The chasm would open again and this time he would be forever lost. The terror would overtake him and he would become a hollow fragile wraith, powerless and tormented. His first impulse was to storm the castle, conquer the place and then claim her as his own. But something in him rebelled at the thought. The vision he had seen was not a prize or an object to have to own or possess. He had done that all of his life and his hands and heart were still empty for all his effort. Here at the end of his search he still was looking. His heart remained empty for all his grasping, reaching, yearning for the Real in the wrong direction. All he possessed, all he had seen and done, all of his conquests, skills, and victories seemed meaningless, worthless in the face of the chance that somehow this last battle would bring him rest. He turned again toward the lake to prepare, to baptize, and to anoint his self. Something about him was dying. He accepted and even welcomed it. He abandoned all and clung to a faint insane hope that there might be life on the other side. He removed his garments and bathed once more, shaved, and applied scented oils to his skin. His movements were slow and deliberate like a condemned man savoring his last meal. He combed out his hair, replaced the medallion around his neck, and turned again toward the castle. He moved toward her unclothed, hands empty. The props he had carried with him now seemed profane. What would she care about swagger or stories of victory? For the first time in years he was the boy facing the dark and yearning for the light. He heard the thunder and felt the first over-sized drops of rain falling on his naked skin which glistened as he walked in the final rays of the evening’s twilight.

Him color clean

He felt exposed and weak without his accoutrements. They were all well earned but in the light of Her they felt like props and the juvenile attempts of a boy playing at being a man. He had read somewhere that the warriors of old would enter into battle nude as a display of their manhood. In this moment he thought he finally understood why they did it that way. In the end, it was not about victory in the battle, but rather victory over the timid, the shamed, the terrorized Self.

As he neared the town he spotted the castle and hastened his steps. His doom or salvation awaited him and he was now ready to accept whatever may come. Dread, terror, and thrill all competed to dominate his being. But he straightened his back, set his jaw and took another step nearer. He approached the ornately carved doorway dominated by nature themes predominately dealing with dragonflies. He looked for and soon found the lock. It was a mirror image of his remade medallion. He removed it from around his neck and placed it in its mate. Upon contact the lock and key morphed and merged amid a silver white glow. The door swung silently open. With one last deep breath he took the plunge and with great trembling stepped into her world. As he crossed the threshold he felt the cold windswept rain began to pelt him. He felt the rumble in the earth and the castle walls as the powerful thunder shook and rolled, trailing the silver white bolts that lit up the night sky.
She sensed when he crossed her threshold. A shutter and a thrill ran the length of her. Her heart was pounding in her chest and was evidenced by the throbbing at the base of her throat. She noticed that she was biting her lip. She smiled and sighed, long, slow, and deeply. She heard the thunder and felt its power move through the castle, its vibrations moving in waves through her body. She heard the rain as it threw itself against the walls and roof of her dwelling. She smelled the fresh electric scent of ozone from the myriad lightning strikes that lit the black sky. She had always liked storms but had never really given much thought as to why. But tonight was new. Her mind and spirit was opened to the moment and was alive in the Now. She was connected mind, body, and spirit, to the storm, to the outside, and to the one who made his way to her. A flash like a bolt shot across her consciousness as she became acutely aware that storms had always called to those parts of herself which had been hidden away, those wild and untamed forces which lay just outside of her control. Like Him. He approached her like the storm in her heart and she longed to be washed away by him. The lightning flashed again and in her mind’s eye she saw the silver white of her old friend there, transformed and reunited with that from which it came. The power of the dragonfly to transform, unite, to see, to move, to fly is that which makes life possible. It animates, frees, and calls broken souls out of the half life and into the Real.

He instinctively made his way into the center of the place observing the wonders he encountered as he moved toward her. His habit of observation studied the detail of the many lines and shapes and decorations. He noted and memorized the unique scent of her dwelling, the textures, and hidden places he found within. What she had done was indeed a work of art hidden behind these walls. His heart pounded as he neared her. He saw just ahead the door that would lead him into her presence. He moved toward her uncovered, blemished, and naked to his core. The evidence of wounds long healed marked his body as did the wounds of his soul marked his countenance. To be inside was to him to be exposed, measured, and found lacking. But he had lived on the outside for too long. His soul craved rest. He approached the doorway a dead man surrendered to his fate. As he looked past the doorway into the room his breath stole away from him. His eyes fell upon the most beautiful form, more beautiful than he had ever imagined.

She listened to his approach. She sensed his presence and his nearness quickened her. She was attuned, alert, and sensitive to the very vibrations which moved between them. Her thought shifted from self awareness to him, and in so doing brought him into herself. She moved toward him arms open, self consciousness lost and transformed into something larger. She no longer had a sense of separate self. As she opened the door to her heart I became We. Me became Us. She saw his need and moved to fill it. He was a powerful and amazing creature and she was surprised that such a familiar thing as being inside could weaken him so. But she was not moved to deride him for his weakness for he had mastered much of what would strike terror into her heart. She was moved with compassion, glad to offer what to her was a small thing.

He watched her rise from the bed and move toward him arms outstretched. He was overwhelmed by the vision of her moving toward him, arms open in welcome. He was transfixed, stunned by her form but deeper yet by the soul who offered him herself. He spread his arms wide as she moved into him, their bodies nearing, arms encircling, drawing each other ever closer. The vibrations between them shrouded and drew them into each other creating a new space in the universe that only they could inhabit. A new form of being was given birth. They soared! They were free!

Them color clean

She gave understanding, comfort, grace, acceptance, and love without comment or judgment. She covered his weakness with tenderness and not shame. Little did she know that this was all his large heart had ever craved. Through his long journey and all he had accomplished this was his whole heart’s desire. He had found a place to rest. He needed not shame himself by asking. She knew his need and gave herself to him. Somehow she understood his need and loved him more for it. For in his weakness her full strength was demonstrated complete and fully revealed. He in turn absorbed the fear and rage from her that had long been stored away and forgotten. A storm surged and rose within her spilling onto and into him as the larger storm raged round about them. The sights and sounds provided the backdrop and paralleled the tempest of her soul. The energy spilled over and through and around every lock, every door. Walls were broken down in the place never to be rebuilt. He saw her. He knew her and in his eyes she finally comprehended the striking beauty of herself. The princess lifted her regal head. Her royal blood coursed and ultimately, finally, took its rightful place. At one with the storm around her all its wildness contained and controlled by his presence. And rather than chaos the power of the Other became waves of life, of pleasure to ride and thrill to.

They both had been driven to seek understanding, to appreciate beauty, to accomplish, to create that which reflected and moved their soul. But it all amounted to nothing if there was no one who sees and loves and understands. The lonely separate soul remains mere potential, living a half life either behind walls or on the outside looking in. They easily forgave weakness in others, but only from a distance, and yet they remained bound by the guilt of the human stain. But they found grace in each others’ arms. Their failings and insecurities no longer terrorized, no longer stole their strength. They provided for and covered those small things in each other and were freed to soar.

The details of their joining pass far beyond what words could describe. Their bodies joined, haloed in the pearl light of the lightening flashes and candle light. It was as if they radiated the very light of the Dragonfly. They rode out the storms in their souls worshipping each other, mind, body, and spirit. They were intimate, open, passionate, tender, and powerful. They were naked but ashamed. There was ecstasy, an exquisite forgetting and remembering at once. But all of these words fall woefully short and border on profaning that which was a scared thing. It was her second, or perhaps her first, real Dragonfly kiss. They gave and received the precious gifts of sweet surrender until exhausted they lay in the early morning’s first light. They felt the cool clean air wash over them through the now opened windows. And in that place between dreaming and waking they rested, her head on his chest, leg over his, breathing the air of peaceful and utter contentment.

 

Chapter V. Epilogue

Months, days, even years passed without notice. Time did not seem to enter that place. It was not always easy. There were still obstacles to overcome but they did it together. They wove a pattern of living that complimented each others’ strengths and compensated each others weaknesses. There were many rooms in the Princess’ castle that had remained closed and unexplored for many years. They found areas that needed repair and the Prince would go out and search for materials or just the right ornament that changed what the Princess considered ugly or flawed into some of the most beautiful and original places and spaces on earth. The door to the castle remained open after that night and was never shut again. The Princess grew more accustomed to the outside world and would on occasion travel some distances with the Prince. He would provide for and protect her on their journeys. She felt safe and open to the wonders of the larger world. But she would always return after their travels, her castle expanded from the experience. She began to bring the outside in and it merged and morphed into an exquisite original beauty. Her nature and unique genius flowed out of her wisdom and familiarity with inside spaces. There she practiced her art and became so skilled that many would travel to witness and be held spellbound by her creations. On occasion she would take a student who seemed promising. Typically she came to realize that they were all older girls or younger women who had never been told or had forgotten that they were of royal blood. The Princess would help them discover their talents and begin to paint the world in their own fashion. Through it all she introduced them to the power of the Dragonfly’s light.

The Wanderer, the Prince had a different journey. While he became more accustomed to the closed spaces, the beauty and the life of the inside, he required Her presence with him to abide there long. His skills with the outside world moved him toward protecting the Princess, exploring new lands, and providing a safe and prosperous existence. His thoughts and motivations all orbited around her save one. And even it had to do with and could effect her. There was one thing which continued to haunt him. He had never fully answered for himself what had happened to his father the king and his family. The terror never again consumed him like it once did but he was always on guard lest something similar happen to he and the Princess. And then one day after a long search he and the Princess discovered his father’s old and abandoned castle. The structure was weakened from many years of neglect. As they entered the broken doorway the Princess took the lead and led them directly into the heart of the place. They began over time to repair the structure and once again to bring light and clean air into the dark shadows. They explored the many closed and neglected spaces and found amazingly wonderful surprises and rare treasures hidden within. Then one day they found a breech deep within the foundations of the castle. After much exploration and study they began to piece together what had happened. Long ago Dark forces had entered through this fissure. There was eventually a great battle for the Kingdom and many kings had been brought low. The King’s forces had managed to beat them back but had suffered great loss in the effort. The Princess discovered that she was indeed of royal blood. And that after great sacrifice her father the High King had been slain, giving his life to protect his people. She had been hidden and secreted away to a far country to protect her. And there she had been fostered by those she knew as her parents.

The enemy, they discovered, existed in that shadowy place between life and death. They produced nothing and had no art or philosophy save domination. They were masters of illusion, intrigue, the lie, and innuendo. They rarely fought open campaigns and generally preferred stealth and manipulation. Some would call them beautiful and were easily enticed by the trappings of life they offered to the poor souls. But the tricks and the trappings always led to walking death and the stale air of the tomb. The beauty they did wear like a garment was itself stolen and was a mere facsimile of the exquisite. It only served to cover the rotten and grotesque forms into which their souls were manifest. They existed to feel, to control, and dominate by any means. They could appear as creatures of light, seductive, generous, or any other shape which served their purpose. But their great perversity denied them the grace of neither death nor life.

They were finally driven back by the focused light of the Dragonfly. The Dark ones could not abide the light for its truth burned them and uncovered their nothingness. In the hands of the kings the Light brought forth strength and wisdom, courage and love. The Dark ones fled before the burning light and the terrible righteous wrath of the Kings.

The couple learned that there had been two Bloodlines at war from the beginning of all things. One which sought to feed on Life, to dominate the dependent, to enchant with security or lust, but finally to subdue and control that which they could not partake of. The other sought the creation of Life, the overcoming of challenges and moving toward the perfection of maturity. It sought not to control or subdue but rather the release of captives from their bonds no matter what form they may take. It was in the Light that they could live and move and have their Being.

But the Prince and the Princess had no real worry. If they ever thought about the Dark ones their worry was for those who were still trapped, still asleep yet dreaming they were awake. But the two together were invincible. The Nothing of the Dark ones had power over them. She guarded the deep places and fissures hidden deep within and he protected them from the wild outside. They fought against the Darkness whenever they found it, enlarging the boundaries of the Light. They expanded their happiness and the happiness of others. They completed rebuilding his family’s castle and remodeled hers making it more open and filled with the lights of hundreds of dragonflies both inside and out. Upon completion they inaugurated and expanded their kingdom to include all the lands and peoples between the two. And they were exceedingly happy all the days of their long lives.

The End of the Beginning