||The Gardener and The Wyrm
Sean D. Francis
Once upon a time, there was a gardener who so dearly loved his
garden that he spent every day of every week of every year tending to it.
In the spring he tenderly tilled the fields, loosening the dirt from its winter
embrace. Each seed was handled as if it were a newborn child. A quick poke at
the ground with his finger created a cradle in the rich earth from which the seed could
The gardener not only cared for the plants of his garden, but also each and every
creature that passed through or made a home there. The gardener protected his
seedlings but planted enough that some could be eaten. Rows of berry bearing bushes
provided ample food for most of the creatures. Trees of fruit took care of the
Come summer, the garden teemed with life. Vines became roads for the crawling
insects. The leaves gave the lowliest of creatures shelter from the elements and protection from
The gardener would be upset when he saw one of his guests or a resident of his garden be
killed, but that was the way of nature, so he mourned as he uprooted, he grieved as
Periods of mourning were short as there was so much life to tend to in the garden.
With autumn came harvest. After harvest came the final clearing of the land, burning
the remains to energize the soil for spring.
Winter was a lonely time for the gardener. His only friends were the bare trees,
which didn't require much tending. To his delight, on a blustery winter day the
gardener came across a small serpent, near its death.
The gardener took the serpent into his house and warmed it on his hearth. The
serpent thanked the gardener for his generosity and said it thought it was able to
The gardener told the serpent that it was still to cold and it could stay until the snows
passed. The serpent agreed and asked if it could sleep in the rocks of the
fireplace. The gardener told the serpent it could sleep wherever it was
comfortable. After eating a bowl of broth, the serpent slipped through the cracks in
the hearth to sleep.
Every day the gardener would put a bowl of broth on the hearth for the serpent.
Every night the serpent would poke its head out and eat the broth. Not much was said
between the two, but that suited the gardener. He was used to his friends not
talking back to him.
Spring was approaching and the gardener noticed the bowls of broth weren't being
eaten. He paced in front of the hearth asking every once in awhile if the serpent
was okay. The serpent finally told him that it was okay, but it had grown through
the winter and couldn't get out without ruining the fireplace.
The gardener assured the trapped serpent that the fireplace could be rebuilt, and to break
free from the stone prison.
The serpent then warned that it had grown very hungry and will need to eat as soon as it
breaks free. The gardener assured the serpent that since the dawning of sprng, the
garden was blossoming and being visited once again by all manner of creatures.
The serpent thanked the gardener. The hearth stones began to bulge. The fireplace
exloded in a hail of debris. The gardener was taken by surprise that the little
serpent was able to do that. When the dust and ash settled, the gardener saw that
the little serpent had grown into a large dragon.
The dragon stretched its wings for the first time. And looked around until it saw
the garden. The leathery wings lifted the beast into the air on its first
flight. The dragon landed amidst a copse of trees, splintering and uprooting
them. The dragon began to feast on all it could find in an effort to sate its
Finally it came to rest at the door of the gardener's ruined house. It tried to
apologize for the destruction by telling the gardener that it is evil and could only do
The gardener, saddened by the traumatic loss, told the dragon that it wasn't evil for
being what it was. Evil, the gardener explained, is refusing to acknowledge your own
nature. I am a gardener, the man said to the dragon. I get my joy from tending
to the living, you are a dragon, you get your joy from destroying the living. We are
at odds, but only in the way summer and winter are at odds. Both are necessary to
complete the cycle.
And that is how they lived their lives, the dragon hunting and destroying, the
garndener tending and growing. The dragon didn't hunt or destroy the gardener
because it knew it would have more to hunt and destroy if the gardener was allowed to
continue to plant, grow, and tend. The gardener couldn't even imagine destroying the
dragon as it would be completely against his nature.