Dream or reality? The hero of our story embarks on an odious journey towards the lair of a mystical beast. But what is it? A metaphor for our greatest fears or a reality that exists outside the boundary of this world? You decide …

 

A painfully frosty night and here I am, embarking on this life-threatening voyage. The last light of the day irradiates the path ahead, projecting my tall, thin shadow onto the damp earth. I am cautious and wary; many things could be a danger through this journey. With every crack of a twig, as I wander through the lonely, desolate forest, I jump to attention in fear of my life. Why had I agreed to do this? Why am I suitable?

As I continue to walk up the steep gradient of the forest floor, I grow increasingly fatigued. I brush my fingers across my parched lips; I crave the hydrating taste of water. A pond lies before me, causing my heartbeat to quicken. Water is needed, but surely I shouldn’t drink the dirty forest water? In desperation, I fall to my knees and fill my flask with the muddy water. Gradually, I bring the flask up to my lips. As my lips kiss the heavenly drops of water I feel replenished; I savour each drop of exhilaration. Until the flask is empty, I continue to drink and then refill it before placing it carefully in the pocket of my satchel.

Hour after hour passes by; the light of the new day is approaching. My body stings as the faint warmth of the sun falls on it. Nearby is a rock and it looks comfortable enough to sit on and rest for a while. I plummet my aching body onto the rock. As the sudden iciness of the rock pierces through my clothing and hits my body, a sharp shiver runs up my spine. My face is in my hands; there isn’t long to go until my destination is reached, not long at all. Slowly emerging into the sky is the sunset. The soft warmth of the sun juxtaposes against the cold and exhaustion that runs through my tender skin. The feeling is bitter-sweet. I pick myself up and stumble as the violent rays of sunlight blister my red aggravated eyes.

My tender body alleviates of its pain as I identify a ledge ahead. I leap forwards with energy in great relief. I push my weight up against it and pull myself up. My breathing is short and sharp. Finally I have reached the top and I see the valley continuing far ahead, beyond the capability of my vision. Up ahead is a den and all I can see within it is an enveloping darkness. I bring myself to the mouth of the den. I tighten my eyes and take a deep breath

As I am about to enter, a warm breath caresses my skin and I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Slowly, I turn my head. There it is. Right in front of me. Narrow blue eyes, placed right beneath its eyebrows, meet mine. Completely still now, I keep myself from blinking. My heart is pounding. Hard. As if it is close to erupting out of my chest. Gingerly, I take a step back, attempting to get a better view of the creature. Black reflective scales, which seem like plates of heavy armour, cover the fierce frame. Its scales, perfectly placed throughout its body, scintillate in the resplendent sun. At the end of the bloodthirsty beast’s immense dark tail, a poisonous blade-like extension shines like a glimmering sword, exposed to the bright yellow sun. As I examine its lethal body, I begin to take more steps back. What have I got myself into?

Not once did it shift its eyes off mine. The stillness of the creature befuddles me, making me a whole lot more nervous. I look down for a while, before studying it once again. Muscular limbs ripple as if the blood, which fills them, is boiling. Large elegant wings run from its shoulder to the tip of its deadly tail. A hard bony plate projects from the back of its skull protecting its sensitive upper neck. Two long horns extend backwards from its hairy forehead. A bony ridge separates the ferocious beast’s scaly nostrils. A mane of perilous spikes sprouts from the back of its head to the tip of its tail.

This creature is seemingly deadly, yet a beautiful creation. I enjoy yet another analysis. Gazing at the marvellous symmetry illustrated in every inch of its body, I almost fail to notice it moving closer to me. My nerves are getting the best of me at this point. My stomach wrenched in knots, and the chill of its frosty breath has made the act of shivering painful. The deafening silence echoes in my ears; I can almost hear my heartbeat. Mirroring the movement of the creature, I start to move backwards with every step it takes towards me. Sweat begins to drip down my face. Drip. Drip. Drip. I begin to feel its breath on my entire body; I am close to freezing in terror. I pull my trembling body a little too far backwards. Ouch. I hit my head on the wall of the den. I feel giddy and my body is close to collapsing onto the hard ground. Everything turns dark. My eyes struggle to open for one last time. Flames. And I black out.