Since talking with Seamus, I have decided to put my thoughts to paper. Please forgive my poor attempts. Maybe one day someone will read this and begin to truly understand me.
The first memory I have of this world is the death of my parents and clan by human hands. I was only twenty-three and still very young by elven standards. I wandered for several months on my own through the wilds, before I was found by a very elderly elf (at least he looked like one). He introduced himself as Xynosalionisis, and said he was my grandfather. At first I did not believe him, because I was so different from other children my age, until he revealed himself to me in his true form, that of a very large, ancient silver dragon. He told me of the inquisition and tried to explain why my family and clan were being destroyed by humans, but I was still very young, and could not see past my emotions. He took me to a land he said belonged to ďour kindĒ. I was introduced to a very large female silver dragon who introduced herself as Bluristhanisthar, my aunt. He told me his servant Xvoth, a very interesting metal creature, later I learned it was a golem, would take care of me and help raise me. I started learning the ways of nature, assisted by my patient grandfather (I believe he could enjoy watching grass grow), when he was not trapped in nostalgia, and my aunt.
For one hundred years I learned everything I could from them, when my grandfather came to me and said that I must find the remainder of my clan. I told him I was the last of clan Sendant. He looked at me very sternly and said ďDonít be a fool, youngling, there are other survivors, and we have received word of several. These young dragons believe it is too dangerous for us to get involved directly in their rescue. You are the clanís only hope of survival. You must go out into the world and bring them here. I will assist you any way I can, but we can not reveal that dragons still exist in this world.Ē
Thus I found myself wandering the world of man for near to forty years, occasionally locating a member of my clan, and transporting them back to Worun Sífa. Finally there was only one left, and of all the places I found him traveling in company with humans! Although I do not hate humans, I find it very difficult to trust them. No sooner did I announce myself than one of them tried to attack me yelling in some strange human tongue. Once he was delivered to the needed ship, I was free to go about my way, (I really did not want to return and listen to grandfatherís nostalgia for another hundred years), I joined with this unusual group of characters: a female human of Yatindar (although we do not worship gods, we are aware of them), a very weird human male with swords the likes of which I have never seen, a very young male elf (who did not wish to go where he would be safe, young fool, who seems to have some arcane abilities, doubly a fool), a very confused male elf (thinks heís a dwarf of all things), and a drowíari, who is even closer to nature than I. I heard grandfather speak in disgusts about what was done to these creatures to make them, but I found myself intrigued. The only way I would learn of humans was to be around them, this seemed like as good a group as any.
I now find myself doubly tied to the success of this group. Although I am still unsure of the Paladin, she is an honorable being who would make even grandfather proud. The human male, also appears honorable, though trying to get him to talk with me has been difficult to say the least. The young elf is very reserved and tends to keep to himself, but has the most interesting medallion; it appears to be a journal of some sort written in draconic. The other elf has become probably the closest thing to a friend I have ever known. Being as how I grew up alone, and my only companion was an iron golem, that is open for interpretation. He and I think very much alike on many issues. Last, but certainly not least NíKara Nightstar. I do not understand these feeling I have for her. (Being raised by a golem and a dragon, neither of which know much about nurturing, or emotions, there is no surprise there) How it started is irrelevant. Although I believed aunt Blud approves, who knows how grandfather will react. I can say only this, I would give my life to save her, and destroy any who try to harm her. I know that these people do not really understand me. (They probably think I am cold-hearted and emotionless) One day they may understand that I do not know how to express my feelings. I am unfamiliar with the emotions that they take for granted.
I know that we can not afford to fail in this quest to destroy Al Mundin. The survival of my kin and of the world hangs in the balance, and is in the hands of such a small group. If they only knew, would the churches cease their fighting? Would they finally realize that in nature one race can not survive without the other? We are all part of this world, if we can not survive together, what makes them think we can survive apart? It would appear that in order to save this world, we must start a war that could destroy half of it. Is it worth the risk? Although it is partly my idea, I take no pride in it. I could see no other option. May the ancestors forgive me for what we do here. I pray to all who can hear, that we succeed, or else all is doomed. The gods must be shaking in their boots, or else laughing up a storm.
We have left Jena and Gunju with Artemis, and his family. (I believe that as long as they mind their manners they will do well.) We are now setting sail for some other city (always full of the unexpected!) to hire on more sailors, so as to take some of the stress off the rest of us. Seamus seems quite at home on the ocean. For me, give me green fields, and large forests with plenty of ogres to kill. It is strange, a few years ago, that was all I thought about. Now I find myself thinking of NíKara and this group of people (I am not ready to say friends just yet), and the mission they (or should I say we?) are on. I canít believe that once I finally found Artemis, I could get mixed up in this. (The Gods must truly be laughing.) But I can not and will not leave NíKara while she still shows that she wants (or needs) me by her side. Nor can I leave Seamus, until such time as it is shown that our paths must part. He seems to be a kindred spirit, being the closest to my age. As scary as it might sound, often we find ourselves sharing the same thoughts. He truly must be a friend (although I still donít understand these emotions). There are times I wish that I was still ignorant to these feelings. Then I could do what must be done, as before when hunting for my clansmen. If a human got in the way, they died -- no regret, no remorse. Now I fear we may destroy many of them and, strangely it bothers me. Who would have thought, Lanus, the rescuer of elves, the hunter of ogres, the bane of humans (at least thatís what Aunt Blud said) would find himself caring about what happens to humans.
I must remember my priorities, first the nation, then my kin. (But what of NíKara, and the Paladin Jena) How do they fit into the grand scheme? Who do I choose should it become necessary? The destruction of the world or of my heart? I must talk with her soon, I must find out how she feels towards me. She tends to be rather secretive sometimes. I am unsure whether what has happened between us was the nature of Drowíari taking its course or something more. (I must know where we stand.) That is a thought for another day. When we have set our plan in motion. The Gods must truly be laughing!
Seamus has also hired on more crew. He sent out the boson, to do the hiring. Now we have two humans, (Maui and Galladon) a blood tomath (Visik) and another elf (Aust). I care not for the two humans, for they are young and inexperienced, but there may be some hope for Maui. He appears to have the natural affinity (which is a plus) and he speaks elven very well (another plus), but he still acts too human. The tomath is of course a tomath, but the elf is another matter. His name is Aust, and I finally have someone as old as I. He is a priest of some sort, and seems to be very reliable -- another I may be able to get along with. I feel that he may have come to his deity rather late for he is not very strong yet, but he is a kindred spirit none the less. It is nice to talk to one who is not so young. During all this confusion we inadvertently left the little chit behind, and Seamus wanted to retrieve her. Back to Thayerís rock. (I believe he likes traveling in circles.) She had left for the docks early that morning. Seamus sent us (NíKara and I) along land to see if we could locate her. (Of course we did not complain.) Find her we did! (Hee! Hee! Hee! Hee!) Had to carry her back to the ship. Where of course she started crying. (They would not let me bound and gag herÖunfortunately!) Finally we left for Rilan. After a little time in Rilan, we decided to go to Lok Magius, where we walked through the most fascinating storm. The cold wind and rain was wonderful. As was the sleet and ice. (Why I let them talk me into going to a place with so many humans I will never know.) Shortly after our arrival, I slipped out to explore more of the country side and find out what was causing this unearthly storm. (Too many humans for my taste walking about in that place anyway.) After wandering for several marks, I sent Midnight back in, where he would be happier, nearer to Snowy. I continued to look around, and noticed that the storm was centered over an amphitheater. It appeared to be where these mages practiced their arts. (Maybe that is where the storm originated from?) A little later, my curiosity satisfied, I went back to the tavern. The others were nowhere in sight, so I sat down near to the exit and waited. No sooner was I getting comfortable, than an insane human sat down at my table! He would not leave me alone! I gave him something to think about (not being able to see), and went back up the staircase and outside. Having so much on my mind I began to sing an old dirge for our fallen dragon god. It has always been able to comfort me. I still do not think any of these people really understand me. There is a reason why I spend most of my time on deck. I can not stand to be inside for too long (especially when humans are around). I need to see the sky above me, and feel the ground beneath my feet, to hear the earth breathing, with all the magnificence of nature. I am not sure I can stand to be inside this tower. There is so much going on here that I do not understand, and too many humans doing it. That insane one worries me; there is something about him that is unnatural. I will avoid him given all chances. Eventually, NíKara came with Midnight and Snowy to bring me in. I would have rather she stayed outside with me, but I find that I could not deny her the comforts of the hearth. No sooner were we inside, than Seamus wanted to speak with me. Once again we went outside (NíKara made me promise to come back in), and he surprised me by what he said. He was returning home to his clan and of all the nonsense did not expect me to go with him. (Like I would leave a friend in his time of need!) I informed him he need not travel alone through the wilds while I am here. Then he shocked me, by telling me he was planning to go and talk with the ogremai (and I thought he had some sense), and wanted me to insure that if he came back different, I would ďdo what needs doingĒ. I let him know that he need not worry, and that I would make his death as painless as possible. I know the power of the ogremai, and will not hesitate to destroy any who are changed by my ancient enemy. I wish he would not take such chances. Why does he feel the need to deal with these monsters? I had no idea he was planning this. It is good that Jena is not around, for she would never allow this. I know he means well, but again I do not approve of his tactics. It is his life, but I truly hope all works out well -- I do not wish to kill such a good friend.
My conscience is disturbing me on this particular point. What do I tell NíKara when he leaves? Should I keep this from her? Can I, in good conscience, not tell her what he plans to do? We have grown closer since our talk, and I know in my heart I can trust her. But, how will she react to this news? She has well and truly taken my heart and apparently given me hers (which I shall cherish always). I feel that she is trying to show me that she is more than just a nature companion. The dress she wore in Rilan really turned some heads (including mine, having only seen her in/out of her leathers prior too this). She was amazing! So graceful! So beautiful! After dinner we retired to the forest. Though the incident in Al Fahim has not repeated itself, I am not the least upset. Although it still haunts my dreams, just being around her eases my mind. I have made sure that she will no longer feel the effects of the cold I love so much, and Snowy is even more ready for a fight if it is necessary. Just today she even told me she loved me. It was as though a veil had been lifted from my eyes and I well and truly saw the woman that she is. I truly believe that I also love her, but I am unsure if I can bring myself to tell her. I am not fond of letting my guard down so readily. I have spent close to a century building the walls around my heart to protect it, and with just a few words she has cracked my defenses. Should I let them fall? Should I fight to keep them up? Should I even care anymore? I have no doubt, the gods are truly laughing now!
Shortly after that we left for some ruins to go look at a map. When we arrived we found that there were orcs about. (We all know that where ever you find orcs you find ogres.) We managed to neutralize this threat, but again, Seamus and Lucian were at odds. Seamus came up to me and told me he was done dealing with these children and he was going back to his ship -- that I was in charge now. I managed to talk him in to staying, and decided that the map was not worth our lives. About halfway back I noticed that Seamus was gone. I told NíKara to take the rest back to the ship, and I would return shortly. (The only picture I had in my mind was having to carry Seamus back to the ship injured.) I finally caught up to him inside the tunnels, and killed a beast that was attacking him. He told me he was going to find the map. After a little discussion, I agreed to help. We ended up at a room that when we entered, an earth elemental formed. We decided to try a different way. (Just then we heard someone in chain go running by.) It turned out to be Aust. (I was not pleased.) Then Midnight went running back up the corridor and ran right up to Snowy. NíKara walked out from around the corner and told me I would not go alone. (Although I appreciated the sentiment, I wish just once these people would listen to me!) They decided that they wanted to see the elemental. For some reason I still donít understand, I jumped in. It ended rather painfully, but everyone survived. We eventually found the map we were looking for and Seamus realized what this map pictured. We left the ruins and returned to where the ship was supposed to be, but it was not there. Faust left a note that they would return in the morning. SO, we have settled down for the night.
I now realize that my mistake in the tunnels could have killed us all, my mistake concerning Maui could have had detrimental effects, and my mistake with NíKara may have ruined what little chance I had at happiness. I am not made to be a leader. I will take first watch tonight, and set an alarm around the group so they can be warned if anything comes. I will then write Seamus and NíKara letters, explaining why I must leave. (I must make sure that I can never endanger them again through my own stupidity!) Once everyone has settled down to sleep, I will leave. I have decided to go into the desert and find the piece of the map we need. (I will send it to them should I survive, without endangering this group again by my mistakes. I shall never forgive myself for that!) I fear I will never see them again, but it will probably be for the better anyways. I know that NíKara could never forgive me for the pains which I have caused her, (for I shall never forgive myself) and I could not ask her to anyways. Now I will never be able to harm her again. I hope that one day someone will find this journal and be able to tell them all the truth. I HAVE FAILED THEM! The gods must have a terrible sense of humor to inflict such pain on the world. They must be laughing now.
I tried to ignore NíKara, but she just would not leave. (I was terrified that I might hurt her again.) I tried not to listen to her, but every time I thought she was going to say she loved me, or needed me, she would talk about the group. (Could she not tell? I was not here for the group, I did not stay for the group, and I could care less about the group! All I care about is her -- could she not see it? Did I not say it was not her fault in my letter?) I finally got tired of her talking to ďa treeĒ, and opened my eyes. I told her I could care less about the group! I did not stay because of 'the group'! I thought she was upset for the incident in the grove -- come to find out she was upset because I let Seamus kill the ogre after he surrendered, (it is probably better that she did not see me after the orcs fell) and Aust for killing the orcs. (On a side note I had a little talk with Aust about killing them, after I offered them surrender. His bloody lip left no doubt in his mind what would happen should he repeat that mistake!) I could have sworn I heard someone whispering to her up in that tree, but I could see no one. Then she did the unexpected. She kissed me like she has never kissed me before. (We ended up falling out of the tree, but I managed to hold on to her, and use my wings to keep us from injury.) As we finished, she told me she loved me, and I apologized to her, for all the pain I may have caused her, and she kissed me again! It was as though a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
After we finished, Seamus came up and asked if he could speak with me. NíKara told him not to hurt me. He punched me in the face, saying if I ever ran off like that again, he would kill me himself. I thought about that for a second, and punched him right in the mouth, letting him know that it also applied to him too! It was probably quite comical to anyone else who saw. We rested up that evening, and I stayed near NíKara. (I still enjoy being around her, by the way, especially now that my conscience is a little clearer.) In the morning we headed back for the ship. We found it where it was supposed to be and headed back to Rilan. A roc overflew us several times, and dropped something into our ship. (It was a very ugly elf, possibly with a little orc mixed in there somewhere.) What we did not take into account was the scrag. It threw NíKara and Maui off the ship. Shortly afterwards it jumped back in the water. Suddenly, NíKara went under, and I immediately went into the water after her. Myself and Maui attacked the scragg, trying to force it to let go of her. All of a sudden it released her, and we swam to the surface. We got NíKara aboard and Maui, then I felt an enormous pain in my sides and passed out. When I came to, NíKara was sitting beside me and Seamus was standing over me.
We continued down river, moved a barge out of the way, and headed for Rilan. We now had a half-orc to deal with. Everyone seemed to be a little jumpy around her, but I could see that she was part elven. NíKara seemed to take to her right away. Aust cast some prayer towards her, to make her tell the truth. Although she does not seem very intelligent, she appears to know her way with a weapon. Her name is Chimera, and she is half desert elf. Rilan was still quarantined, so we were unable to re-supply there. Seamus sent a message to Miss Brin, and got a reply. We then headed for Lok Sadic and Seamusí home land.
We landed at Lok Sadic, and were checked by a dwarven priest to insure we were not infected with the Plague. NíKara and I met a drow that came with the dwarf, and he said that the ambassador would like to speak with us. We were offered guest quarters, and we asked him if we could freshen up a bit before we met with Vrist. He gladly obliged and told us when we were finished to come to the south-east tower. NíKara, I, and the cats bathed and got dressed. NíKara wore the translucent green dress she bought in Rilan (she was radiant!), and I simply wore white. After our talk with Vrist, we decided to explore and enjoy each others' company. As usual, when we are alone together, we get interrupted. A dwarven smith was killed and stuffed up in the rafters by the guest quarters. I had Midnight sniff out the killer and he led me right to Cleo. We were told to guard her until morning when Aust could insure she told the truth. The next morning we left for Tikira and the journey to Mt. Basilisk. On our way we came across a messenger who was infected. Seamus agreed to carry the message to the King. When we arrived at Tikira we disembarked, and headed for the mountains. I must say I enjoyed our time in the mountains. Little did I know that we were heading underground where the sun never shines. We entered the mountain and were escorted to a hallway, where we were told to wait for Seamus to be done with the king. While we were waiting, Cleo tried to kill herself (something about being possessed). The priest that accompanied us saved her, but Cleo was very unstable. Seamus about lost his mind when he returned -- it took all of my efforts to get him calmed down.
We were escorted by a large group of dwarves, to what appeared to be a barracks. NíKara and I went to the library to do some research while we waited for the group. Although I did not find what we were looking for, I did get some good information. NíKara was very upset about the guards shadowing us everywhere we went. (I must say, I was not overly fond of it either, but I had to remain confident, for her sake. I would have rather stayed outside on this one.) Someone had the dwarves send a message to Lok Magius for Prat to come as soon as possible. Lucian had the priest scry a cavern somewhere, and described a maralith to me, wearing a symbol of Argunas. A very interesting change came over Cleo; she now has fangs and is as strong as I am. She tossed Seamus around like a rag doll. Prat arrived shortly afterwards, and transported us to Waron Sífa so that Cleo could talk with Jena, and I could speak with my kin. I spoke with Sthis and informed her about Argunas possibly coming back; she said the counsel will be called. I then spoke with Artemis to find out where this cavern was -- he showed Sthis and I. I told Sthis to be watchful of the area. I also warned her about a rumor I heard of Vridara. I then asked if Talan could take a look at Cleo. She told me that Cleo was now fine, and described how she was joined by a demon who was now destroyed, and no longer in her body with her. (This explains how she could have killed that dwarf.) After we said our good-byes, Prat took us back to Mt Basilisk. Seamus and the priest went and spoke with the king, and he gave us an escort to where Seamusí clan was.
I really miss the outside. I am not sure how much more of this I can take. I am beginning to feel as though the walls our getting closer. I need to see the sun again. We have spent too much time down here. I must be strong for NíKara. I will make it through all of this. If we never go underground again, it will be too soon. I still wonder how all this could have happened to Cleo -- she is so young. It is not right that the gods would make one so young suffer so much. Do they have no mercy? Why do they inflict such pain? Just once I wish we could go somewhere without leaving a disaster in our wake. Which gods are pulling our strings and guiding our journey right now? Which ever gods it is, they must be laughing.
After telling NíKara, we decided it would be a good idea to collect Aust and head back, so as to inform Seamus of what we saw. Iím unsure how long it took us, but when we arrived we found Seamus and Cleo asleep in the same bed, in an unusual position. Neither of them were clothed! (I know Seamus and I had discussed Cleo and his feelings for her before -- I believe he has finally made up his mind on how he feels.) Cleo, for her part, was not the least bit modest about the whole thing, and when NíKara jumped into bed with her (after her offer) my first reaction was one of interest. Then I felt my jealousy rear up, and I was repulsed, and left the room. Shortly afterwards, NíKara came out and told me they were just joking. She then convinced me by making my mind spin in her usual fashion. (I really must say, I enjoy the way she kisses.)
Once Seamus was more composed, we went to see his father. His father took the news with a grain of salt and explained that although they can deal with an army, the occasional raiding party slips through. We then hard what sounded like barking, coming from down one of the tunnels, and Seamus started barking back. We gathered everyone up and started down the tunnel. I am not sure how long we traveled when we ran into undead. We backed off and set up a defensive area. When they attacked, it was a slaughter (if you can use term that with undead) -- no one was killed, or amazingly enough, even injured. I began to track a set of coyote prints. Soon we ran into a kobold -- Seamus barked at it, and it barked back. Then NíKara said she smelled orcs. Seamus decided that we should turn back. When we returned to the tavern, Seamusí friend Kip was there. They talked for a while. Then Seamusí father came in and said we would need to leave.
It would appear that an army of undead was attacking the clan. Seamus told us that we should leave, but he was staying to defend his clan. Everyone agreed to stay, so we found ourselves holding a tunnel about 15ft wide. As the undead advanced, NíKara caught all of them in an entanglement, and held them motionless. (Except for a few ethereal creatures who slipped through.) We dealt with the one Maui did not turn and most of the skeletons were destroyed. NíKara cast a spell on one of my arrows which caused it to ricochet and destroy two more. We finished off the remaining skeletons and then had to deal with what looked like a seven foot dwarf. His gaze left me with a tingling feeling in the back of my neck, but then it went away. Through the engagement we hammered on this creature. Then Chimera showed extremely great bravery as it tried to retreat and grabbed it from behind, giving the rest of us a chance to destroy the creature. Once it was destroyed, I set an audible alarm to warn us of any danger, so that we could rest. Not but a few minutes later it went off. We prepared ourselves for another round of fighting, but it was only Seamusí uncle. He used the divine powers of Galgiran to seal the tunnel. We are now resting for our journey out of the tunnels, and preparing for our trip to Wuran SíFa. I hope all will go well on our journey. I must say we have worked very well as a group here, but I cannot wait to see the sky above me again.
I have a great respect for dwarves now that I have been in their homes. It must take great nerve to live for years at a time without seeing the sun or the stars. I know I could never stay down here as long as they. They seem so happy with their lives, so full of energy, and merriment. They are determined to keep what is theirs, and defend it at all costs. They have my admiration. (Not that they really care about having it.) If only more races of this planet were as content as the dwarves, there would be less war. I feel that I could learn a lot from these people, if only I could stand to stay underground long enough to learn.
Once we get to Wuran Sífa, (its strange that I donít really feel that it is my home anymore, though I would give my life to defend it and my kin), we will also attempt to find out exactly who Seamus is. Maybe one of the elven elders will know, or one of my kin. He is anxious to learn about his lost heritage (though I feel he will always be a dwarf at heart). I wish I could learn more of my heritage, but it would seem I really donít have any. The elves treat me with something close to reverence, and the dragons as a trusted servant in many ways. Only grandfather ever treated me differently -- he treated me as a pupil. I think that dragons should learn a little more about emotion and nurturing, and maybe then I would have turned out differently.
I fear for my kin. With the rumors going around about Vridara amassing an army to attack Wuran Sífa, I think Sthis should take heed to these rumors. I fear that we may return one of these times to a barren waste, or a war. My kin number so few, and the Vridarans reportedly have a very large army. Although our trolls are powerful, are they powerful enough to stand against an army of priests? Or paladins? Or even knights? Will I be the last of the dragon kind left? Will I even survive the next year on this quest? What happened to our god? Although many say he is dead, is it true? Several have been thought dead and returned. If he is not dead, why does he let his kind suffer? Why does he not speak out to the other gods in our favor? Too many questions and not a single answer. Cleoís soul went unclaimed, and was possessed by a demon -- will the same happen to me on my death? Would any god want to claim a creature that their followers would just as soon exterminate from the earth? I fear my soul will be destroyed, or perverted by one of them to serve their own needs. Yet I can not bring myself to trust any of them. For they let all of these troubles come to pass. They are responsible for the declining of my kin. They are responsible for this prophesy that we follow. Yet the prophesy can say one thing and yet mean something totally different. I was meant to be here with these people, yet am I meant to survive? Or am I a sacrificial lamb being led to the slaughter because the gods want the existance my kin to be wiped from the face of the earth? I wish I knew! My kin has been hunted for over four hundred years and their numbers are steadily declining. Will the battle I fear is coming be the end? Will they be remembered? Or will they fade to legend and myth in the coming centuries? Do these humans honestly think that the world will be a better place once we are gone? And what of the gods? Will they care that we are gone? I have my doubts. They are truly laughing at this one.
As I awoke in the pre-dawn light of the 14th, I left Seamus, Angus, and Jenna to search out the one person whoís love and affection I have come to
cherish: NíKara. I know that she will not be happy with my decision, but I am torn. What if she says she does not wish for me to leave? What if she wishes to come along? I know that the chance of my survival in this endeavor is very small, but that sacrifice may be
necessary (that being another matter of contention). Why should I sacrifice myself for people who either have no idea my kind exists, or would rather see us all dead? I must remember that Grandfather knows best.
We have now returned to Gridolin, only to find that the Ograns have once again decided to wage war. This time their target is Rakore. May the gods spare the people if at all possible. We quickly prepared to get underway with the 100 new ďsailorsĒ that were given us. These sailors are actually criminals who were serving sentences here, and now have been given the opportunity to restore their freedom by serving, and hopefully surviving, what is to come. We are
soon leaving the harbour and setting sail into the the sunset, and I must now leave. I shall have Midnight stay with NíKara until I can
come back for him, should I survive, and leave these few pieces of parchment with him. Mayhap I shall find another bit to continue to write on and if the Gods wish it, it shall be found and kept for
Posterity's sake. Someone up there must have a very sadistic sense of humor to put such stress on one small dragon.