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A Hero's Story

We've been asked to re-tell the Hero's story to explain how we see a Hero. So, here's a story about the way a real hero manages challenges.

Once upon a time a young man was asked by the people of his village to go out and slay a dragon. The dragon lived just outside the village and had already killed many young men before him. The young man was afraid. He didn't want to have to go and fight the dragon, but knew that if he said no, he would be seen as a coward by everyone in the village. So, he had said, "yes, of course, I will go and kill the dragon". That was yesterday, when he had felt big and important to be chosen. Today he was simply afraid.

He didn't see himself as heroic. He didn't like fighting, he wasn't very strong, and he cetainly wasn't couragous. In fact, he was just very ordinary, an everyday sort of person, with no particularly heroic qualities. In fact, his way of solving problems was to ignore them, and hope that they would go away. Unfortunately dragons don't just disappear. So, he couldn’t just ignore the dragon and hope it would go away.

This dragon had lived in a cave, close to the village, forever. Every so often, it burned and destroyed a house and crops for no apparent reason. The people had become more and more afraid, and many "heroes" had gone off to slay the dragon. None had returned.

The young man began to collect together the things he thought he would need. He strapped on his sword although he knew he didn't use it very skilfully. He really only ever carried it for show. He couldn't think what else he might need, so he thought he'd better just go and get on with it.

He soon came to the place where the dragon lived. The cave was dark, and surrounded by dense vegetation. It was hot, and there was an awful smell. It was difficult to get through the jungle-like plants. The dragon's back was turned, but the young man knew the dragon was waiting for him. By now, he was beginning to shake with fear. How could he use his sword if he couldn't stop shaking? Slowly, the dragon turned to face him, and the young man saw his eyes. With a terrible roar, the dragon started to lumber towards him, snorting and breathing fire.

The young man was too afraid to draw his sword. He simply stood rooted to the spot. He suddenly realised that the dragon had eyes that saw right into him. What was he to do?

To his horror he gave a nervous little laugh. The dragon stopped in its tracks and looked at him. Stupidly, the young man told the dragon his name and asked what the dragon liked to be called. The dragon was stunned. It had never been asked its name before, and had certainly never heard a villager laugh. The men who came usually shouted wildly and attacked. The dragon normally felt very afraid, and had to fight for its life.

Today, the dragon realised that it didn't feel afraid of this young man. It wondered why he had come to see it, if he hadn't come to kill it. For many minutes, the dragon and the young man looked at each other in silence, each wondering what the other wanted.

Eventually the young man asked the dragon what it was like to be a dragon. The dragon was astonished at such a question, but told him that it felt lonely. It said how awful it was, waiting to be killed by someone from the village. When the young man said that he and the villagers were afraid that the dragon would destroy the village with its fiery breath, the dragon was very concerned. The dragon only knew how to breathe fiery breath. It did want to be able to visit the vilIage, but it didn't know how to breathe any other way.

Unexpectedly, the young man realised that he was no longer afraid. He understood how lonely the dragon was. How could a lonely dragon have become his enemy? He no longer wanted to kill it, but how could the villagers ever feel safe with the dragon living so close by? What was he to do?

He could persuade the dragon to move further away from the village, but then what would happen? If the dragon lived even further away its loneliness would eventually drive it to visit the village. There could be terrible consequences. He asked the dragon what to do, and together they came up with lots of ideas, but none of them were satisfactory.

Suddenly the young man began to laugh. The dragon was confused. What was so funny? The young man explained that he was laughing at the fact that he was sat outside a cave, having a conversation with a fierce dragon. What would the villagers think? He was supposed to be fighting. He was supposed to be a hero for goodness sake!

The dragon said, "but you are a hero."

"How can I be?"

"No other man from the village has been brave enough to speak to me, never mind look me in the eye, and really see me. And, as for expecting me to solve the village's problems, never.

Your village should be proud of you and should celebrate your return. If you had killed me, or driven me away, another dragon would soon have come to take my place. Your village would then have been looking for yet more young men to slay dragons."

So, the hero and the dragon tried to work out how the dragon needn't be lonely any more, and how the villagers needn't be afraid of the dragon. They talked and they talked but couldn't see a way. They decided that it was getting late and that they should rest in the dragon's cave.

As they approached the cave they saw a rabbit sitting cosily just inside the cave, keeping warm, and sheltering from the cold night air. It was eating the lush grass that grew there. The hero asked why exotic plants grew in the area around the cave. The dragon said it thought it was because its breath made it so warm here. They turned to look at each other as the same thought struck them. "That's it," the hero cried.

The next morning the dragon and the hero returned to the village. The hero was the first young man ever to return. The villagers rushed into their homes afraid of the dragon, and not understanding why the young man looked so calm and so pleased with himself. The Hero shouted, "Come out, there's no need to be afraid. The dragon has come to help us."

"How can a dragon help us. Dragons destroy villages like ours."

"Yes, we always expect dragons to destroy villages, and so they do. We've never asked a dragon why, or what it wants," the Hero replied.

"This dragon is lonely and wants to be part of the village, but we always send men out to kill it. If we stop being afraid of the dragon, the dragon can help us."

And so it was. The village recognised the qualities of a real Hero, and faced their fear of dragons. From then on, every year, the village arranged a wonderful banquet and celebration in honour of their Hero and the dragon. The bread is always baked perfectly, and there is an abundance of exotic fruits on the table. The village is now famous for the quality of its wrought ironwork, its pottery, its dragon and its Heroes

If you would like to see how you could be a Hero more often talk to us on 01798 872266, go to contact us or email headed “Being a Hero”

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