Seto tells his little brother a bedtime story filled with fantasy creatures and magic.
|“Tell me a story, Seto.” It was meant to be a question rather than a command, but Seto obeyed anyway, as he often found himself indulging the little one that lay before him, eyelids heavy with sleep. It had been a long few weeks, after all.
Seto squeezed onto the bed beside his little brother and wrapped an arm around his tired form.
“Alright, Mokuba, but you are a little old for this.”
Mokuba yawned. “Please, nii-sama?” Seto chuckled lightly, smiling down at the eleven year old.
“I already said I would, kid. Alright, let me think…” He sat back against the pillow to make himself comfortable, and took a minute to think up a story. He didn’t have a tendency toward reading books to his younger sibling, and Mokuba seemed to prefer when he made up his own stories anyway.
“Have I ever told you the story about the Wizard and the Dragon Tamer?” Seto asked, already knowing full well that he hadn’t, considering he was only now making it up as he spoke.
“Nope.” Mokuba answered as expected, but with enthusiasm in his voice. “What happened to them?”
“Well…” Seto started, focusing his gaze straight ahead. “Once upon a time, there was a powerful dragon tamer.”
“How powerful was he?” Mokuba asked in awe.
“He was so powerful that he had tamed nearly all of the dragons in the whole world.”
“Really?” Violet eyes widened. “Where did he keep them all?”
“He kept them in the vast courtyard of his castle.”
“So he was a king?”
“You can have a castle without having to be a king, Mokuba. I don’t know exactly how he came to live in his castle, but I suspect it may have been a gift from someone quite wealthy who was grateful to him for taming dragons that had been tormenting him or her. And there were so many dragons he had tamed and kept that everyone who knew him thought he ought to be the happiest man alive.”
“Because that meant his home was surrounded by a horde of beasts to defend him, and he would never have to fear danger again.”
“Oh. But he wasn’t happy?”
“Shh, Mokuba. No more questions or I’ll never get to the story.” The little one’s eyes grew wide and he pursed his lips, urging his brother to continue.
“No, he did not quite consider himself to be happy. He was a dragon tamer, after all, and there was still one dragon he had heard legends of but had not yet been able to conquer: the ever-elusive sea horse dragon. You see, everybody had heard of the sea horse dragon, but few had ever seen it. No one had been able to catch one, but the Dragon Tamer was determined to do just that.
“One day during his journey to find it, he came across a small camp in the wilderness where he encountered a Wizard. The Dragon Tamer realized he may need help in his quest if he had any chance of knowing where to start looking, so he approached the Wizard.
“This Wizard was very old, and he was alone. He had no children or others to which he could pass on his highly practiced knowledge of magic. So when the Dragon Tamer asked him for assistance, the Wizard informed him that he had come up with an idea they would both benefit from. If the Dragon Tamer agreed to become the Wizard’s apprentice, he would help him find the sea horse dragon with an advanced spell he knew, so that the Tamer could tame it and make it his own.
“Not knowing what else he could do, the Tamer agreed. So he trained with the Wizard day and night learning the other’s expert magic. He soon learned that this Wizard was very powerful, and must be the greatest in the land. The Wizard was not a nice man, however, and he worked the Tamer very hard in order to teach him all that he had learned in his life before he would die.
“But eventually, much time had passed and the Tamer began to grow impatient and tired of all of the work. So one night after his studies, he asked the Wizard when he would see his end of the deal. The Wizard simply told him ‘soon’. ‘You see, Tamer,’ the Wizard said, ‘I have learned in this time you have been with me that there remains only one sea horse dragon in the land, and it is difficult to find.’ The Tamer tried to question further but he would say nothing more about it.
“More time passed and the Tamer grew to be a very powerful Magician. There was nothing the Wizard had taught him that he himself could not do as well, or better. He had done so well, in fact, that the Wizard wanted the Tamer to study with him until the old man died. The Tamer disagreed however, protesting that he had his own goals he was determined to achieve. This angered the Wizard, and the old man made it known that he would not allow the Tamer to have it any other way. So he cast a spell on the younger one, forcing him to stay close to the Wizard, and explained to the Tamer that he would no longer have the ability to distance himself further than ten miles from the Wizard in any direction. The spell could only be lifted if the Wizard were to be rendered unable to use his magic, disallowing him from maintaining his spell. However, despite his predicament and the Wizard’s trick, the Tamer still hung on to his dream.
“One day, the Tamer had been away in the wilderness training since early morning, as was his practice, and resolved that he would once more question the Wizard about the dragon when he returned to the camp. But when he approached the Wizard in the evening he was already in bed for the night. This angered the Tamer because he thought the man had fallen asleep already, and was too impatient to wait another day to confront him. So he decided to use one of the Wizard’s own spells against him. He wanted to cast a spell to turn the Wizard to stone, but he hadn’t learned it yet. Instead he decided to turn the Wizard to wood, as he had spent weeks perfecting the spell. Little did the Tamer know, however, that the Wizard had not yet fallen asleep. Just as the Tamer was casting his spell, he leapt out of his bed and dashed behind a large chest made of marble which the wizard kept in one corner.”
“And then what happened?” Seto smiled at the sudden gasp, surprised to find his brother had not fallen asleep yet, as his eyes had been shut. Not that it would have mattered; Seto always finished his stories whether Mokuba got to hear the end or not, just in case he might still be listening. Violet eyes slowly opened and set their inquisitive gaze on him, so he continued.
“The Tamer cast his spell nonetheless, and the whole area surrounding the Wizard turned to wood - the floor, the wall behind him… the chest behind which he was crouching…” He paused to steal a thoughtful glance at the young boy, making sure he caught his eye in doing so, building the suspense, “and as he peeked over the top of the chest, the Tamer found that he had not missed. He had, in fact, succeeded in turning the Wizard to wood.” Mokuba relaxed slightly at this before his wondering eyes slipped closed again.
“The Tamer felt triumphant. He had defeated the Wizard and rendered his magic useless, thus breaking the spell. He could continue on his quest with his new-found powers to help him. He was no longer bound to the old man. Before he decided to leave, however, the Tamer remembered the chest that had once been made of stone but was now turned to wood. He became curious and decided to break it open now that it had become weaker. Upon opening it, he found that everything inside of it had turned to wood as well. And in one corner, covered by a small cloth (which had turned to paper instead), was a tiny cage. He lifted the paper covering and peered inside.”
“Oh no! Was it the--”
“Shh, Mokuba,” Seto chuckled, ruffling the young boy’s hair lightly. “Will you let me tell the story, please?”
“Sorry Seto, go ahead. What was in it?”
“The Dragon Tamer peered inside the wooden cage in the dim light of the nearby lantern,” He drew the story out more than strictly necessary to watch the impatience on his brother’s face grow.
“…And he was surprised to just make out the shape of the sea horse dragon he had once seen in a book years before.”
“I knew it! And then what happened? Did he reverse the spell?”
“The Dragon Tamer thought about doing so, but immediately became distraught, realizing that the old man had not yet gotten around to teaching him the reversal spell. The only sea horse dragon left for him to tame in all the world was turned to wood, and he could no longer go to the Wizard to find a way to undo what he had done, because he was turned to wood as well.”
“So what did he do next?”
“He gathered up what he could find that he might need for a journey and set out that night.”
“Where was he going to go?”
“Where ever he needed to in order to find a cure for the spell.”
Mokuba mulled that over for a bit and then looked up at his brother. “…That’s sad.”
“In a way, yes. But the Dragon Tamer looked at it a different way. He had finally defeated his oppressor, the man who had been keeping him against his will and working him so hard.”
Mokuba’s tired mind thought this over before accepting it with a nod. “How does it end, Seto?”
“The Tamer took the dragon out of its cage. It was much smaller than he had thought it would be - only about the size of an ordinary sea horse, but with a set of graceful wings and a jaw full of fierce-looking teeth. He placed it in a small leather pouch and hung it around his neck, close to his heart.” Seto placed a hand to his chest, incidentally also placing it over the picture of Mokuba that always hung over his own heart.
“He decided his new goal in life would be to find a way to fix what he had done to the dragon that had become so precious to him.”
Mokuba yawned, his eyelids drooping. “That’s a good goal.”
Seto climbed out of his little brother’s bed and turned out the light by his bedside. Bending down, he brushed the hair off of Mokuba’s face and gently pressed his lips against the boy’s forehead. “Yes. It is,” he whispered softly.
“Goodnight, Seto.” Mokuba mumbled dreamily.
“Goodnight Mokuba.” Seto smiled.
His precious Mokuba.
His little wooden horse.