The friendship of an Abbot and a Dragon
The Abbot sat in his solitary garden as the wind lulled him to a shallow slumber. Being old, he was prone to dozing while meditating. The other monks of the solitary temple were finding their own isolated areas to meditate.
The Temple was located just at the edge of the dense Forest of Buh-ai. The villagers of Lively Village lived beside Bu-hai forest but rarely entered it. They lived on the product of the forest, gathering herbs and fruits that grew in the outskirts. Meat and vegetables were domesticated near the habitat but much of the herbs could not survive being cultivated. There was something sacred in the forest of Buh-ai that made these plants indigenous.
The Abbot's catnap was suddenly awakened by a rumbling in the air. It was not a storm for he would have smelled it in the air and the animals would have warned him. It was something bigger. The little Abbot got up and hurried to the clearing of the Temple grounds.
The other monks were sent into a frenzy by the Abbot's sudden panic. He could not tell his brethren what it was for he himself did not know it. But he told them to prepare themselves to welcome something big. It might need some blankets and spare food. So these things were fetched and laid in the field.
Then, the rumbling in the air had revealed itself. It was an ominous red-orange bulk gliding fast towards the field. The monks cleared the field in anticipation of the thing that came surging towards them at such a speed. It dropped on the field with a big thud. The monks were frozen where they were. Only the Abbot came forward and examined the thing closer. "My brother, we have welcomed a dragon."
For the next few days, the temple's schedule was disrupted. The red-orange dragon was sick and the Abbot insisted they must cure and take care of the creature. The dragon was stuck with a harpoon on the left leg. The wound was bleeding profusely and had to be seen to so the dragon would not suffer tetanus or infection. One of the monks named Grundo complained that he did not like to take care of dangerous dragons.
"Look my brother." The Abbot said. "This creature came to us and we as monks have a duty to look after this poor thing like any who seek asylum in our temple."
"But Abbot, this thing scratched me! It's going to eat us soon. It's very dangerous!" Grundo said.
The Abbot sighed and pricked his finger and let the blood drop on the leg of the dragon. "See brother. We have the same color of blood, red. This dragon is different in customs as we are all different in beliefs. But God knows we are all of the same blood." The Abbot explained.
To the Abbot's distress, Grundo left the Temple the next day. The other monks started to grumble for the disruption of their daily lives. Still, the Abbot did his duties and took care of the wounded dragon without complain. The monks of the Abbey were not the only ones complaining. Villagers heard what Grundo had to say and they too complained about the dangerous predator living so close to the village.
There were some monks and villagers who were discouraged by the dragon. Fortunatley, there were also converts and true believers. Doctor Dantes is a local vet and he has volunteered some time to come and help with the dragon.
"Whoa! He's huge, Abbot. This wild creature is strangely tame. What have you been feeding him?" The vet asked.
"Unfortunately, just what we monks can spare. Rice, herbs and a few tubers every morning." The Abbot answered. Monks only eat in the morning and was only given donations by the villagers. Since their diet is vegetarian, the dragon has no choice but to partake of their diet too.
"I'll recommend a special broth that might liven him up and then I'll examine him again. He should not have taken this long to recuperate from a wound. Being a large dragon, the wound means nothing to them." The doctor explained.
The next day, some of the local children came and prepared the broth that Doctor Dantes prescribed. They have taken shareable supplies from their houses. Milk, some pork fats and blend of herbs composed the healing broth. They made a big cauldron full and fed it to the dragon for three days. That seems to do the trick. The dragon's scales shined brighter with a tinge of gold to them.
One day, a little girl was crying her heart out beside the dragon. The Abbot was alarmed at the proximity the child was with the dragon. The dragon normally only admitted the Abbot and two of his disciples to come close. Not even the vet could come this close without the Abbot pacifying the dragon. "Girl, come here." The Abbot called to her. "Don't stay too near. He might accidentally scratch or bite you."
"No. She won't hurt me. Mahanang is not dangerous." The child said innocently.
The Abbot would have dismissed what she had called the dragon but something inside his told him that the girl was right. He had a feeling the dragon would not harm her. "Mahanang?" He asked.
"She said that I can call her that." The little girl answered.
Mahanang mean older sister. This seems strange to the Abbot. Nobody thought to call the dragon any name let alone a girl name. "She talked to you?" He mused. All children seem to think they could talk to animal some time in their childhood.
"Yes. She says she talked to you too but you're not listening." The girl said matter-of-factly.
This stunned the Abbot. "I'm afraid I have not heard her speak. I am always quiet beside Mahanang but she hardly uttered a word. All I hear are groans and growls."
"No, Abbot. Dragons don't talk with words. They talk with their heart. She said you heard her while you were sleeping on top of your rock." The girl said.
It is true, the Abbot felt. The dragon was a strange feeling of calling and urgency he had answered to. It seems the dragon was talking to him.
"Mahanang is grateful to you but you don't have to fuss so much. Being pregnant is not being sick." The little girl said.
"Oh." The Abbot said quite embarrassed for fussing a lot in front of the dragon for days. He turned to the little girl. "Why then have you been crying?"
The girl burst crying again. Mahanang nuzzled her on the ear. "My father punished me for taking milk to Mahanang. He said I have wasted it. He said I should have given myself to be eaten instead. He hates the dragons. Father thinks they are dangerous and does nothing but steal the cattle."
"What is your name and your father's?"
The girl wiped her nose of her sleeve. "Kitti. My father is Dhuk, the village headman."
"Well, Kitti. I think God will reward you for your kindness to Mahanang. Go home now and I will not tell your father you've been here. On your way, please tell Doctor Dantes to come over. I promise you Mahanang will be more than alright now." The Abbot smiled. Kitti got up and did as she was told.
Weeks later, the dragon was due. The Abbot called Doctor Dantes while Mahanang called Kitti. The temple was a buzz. Monks prepared warm water and milk. They also brought warm blankets and towels.
"Relax, Abbot. You are more excited than the mother." Doctor Dantes teased as the Abbot paced the little shelter they built.
"I can't relax. I feel like a father all over again. The anticipation is killing me, Doctor." The Abbot said. Years before the Abbot entered monkhood, he was a young man with a wife. He had a son but his family was taken by the plague.
"Twins! We have twins!" Doctor Dantes said as he caught the struggling lizards and bathed them. The boy was orange while the girl dragon was bright red in color. They nested on their mother's side and were soon fast asleep.
The wonderful news didn't last long. A month later, the notorious plague struck. The plague stuck yearly usually after the flood season. People anticipated it and made sure they made their children were healthy to resist the plague. But this time, everything was different. Even the healthiest was struck with the plague. Animals and humans alike had the plague. It was a totally new and devastating plague.
The little boy dragon was struck down with the plague and soon died. Not only Mahanang was devastated but also the Abbot. He felt his son dying a second time. It sent him to a depression. None of his monks could shake him out of it. Only Kitti and Doctor Dantes could understand. They too left him alone.
It was one faithful day when Kitti herself was struck down with the plague. Doctor Dantes was so busy in village clinic for horses, cows and pigs were stuck down by the dozens.
Mahanang growled and screamed to the Abbot flooding him with her emotions. Her life flashed into the Abbot's head. Mahanang has lost her mate to hunter and little boy to plague. She didn't want to loose her little human girl too. Kitti is little sister to her.
The Abbot snapped out of his distance gaze. Kitti will not be lost to them. He was grateful to Kitti for making him understand Mahanang. He arranged his robes rightly and strode to the shelter they built for Mahanang. "What must I do, big sister?" He asked.
The dragon replied by asking him to bring Kitti to her little offspring. Her father was a healing dragon. The color of their scales is same. She might be able to heal Kitti. The Abbot nodded and ran to the village.
Dhuk was the first person the Abbot encountered in the village. He was standing guard near his home. His eyes were swollen from crying. His cattle were gone and now, Kitti would soon join them. The Abbot explained what Mahanangtold him. If Dhuk was not sad, he could have laughed. "I've no time for your dragon nonsense now, Abbot. I need to find herbs that could ease Kitti."
"Listen, Dhuk. Your daughter has a great bond with Mahanang. She has asked me to take Kitti to her to be healed. If this is the only chance you might have to heal her, you would want to take it." The Abbot said firmly.
Dhuk had no choice. If this could work, he would see his Kitti well. The Abbot went in the headman's house and carried the frail body of Kitti towards the temple. There, he laid her in the shelter of Mahanang.
Mahanang nudged the little red dragon towards Kitti. The little dragon came near and breathed on Kitti. The Abbot watched as Kitti's breathing was deep and normalized after a few minutes. She's alright, confirmed Mahanang.
Dhuk came to the shelter with a handful of relatives. Doctor Dantes came too. They saw Kitti opening her eyes and walking around normally. She no longer had fever or bumps all over her skin. Her lips were pink and cheeks were rosy. Dhuk came down on all four to Mahanang and thanked her profusely.
So the little dragon was named Healer. She went around town healing all who were stricken by plague. Mahanang talked to everyone. All in the village were stunned to silence as a strong but gentle voice spoke to their heart. She warned them to take care of the forest for there are other healing dragons that take care of herbs that they gather. These dragons can soon come out and heal them if the plague ever comes back. They were to regard the forest sacred and respect all life that came out of it. After she said these to them, she and Healer flew back to the forest of Buh-ai.
The Abbot welcomed any dragon into the temple. He preached about the roles of dragons to the villagers and discouraged hunting. The villagers were very grateful to the Mahanang and Healer. They leave food near the forest edge.
As for Kitti, she studied under Doctor Dantes to become a veterinarian. She would never forget Mahanang.