Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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The Dragon Scale

by James Matthew Byers

The dragon scale within the box
Had not been seen in years
So when he held it to the light,
It broke him down to tears.

His battered form had seen rough times,
A past his mind concealed.
The trouble he had brought forth then
The dragon scale revealed.

His beard of white filled full of salt,
While on the dragon scale
The teardrops touched and then his thoughts
Began the sordid tale.

A man of twenty stole the wealth
From one small humble town.
He headed over to the sea
To set his treasure down.

He found a cave nearby the sea
And wandered deep inside.
That’s when the sleeping dragon’s form
The young thief amply spied.

He stole back out and buried down
His treasure in the sand.
Then he returned into the cave
Intent to fill his hand.

Unknown to him, an eager eye
Looked just beyond its tail.
The young man plucked from in its place
A blue-green dragon scale.

This symbol he brought to the town
At sunrise to ignite
Each member into hunting down
The dragon in their spite.

He heard a few cry out in grief
By what they had been told.
“That money was to build a place
To house the sick and old!”

Not caring for the town’s distress,
He watched them disappear.
The thief dug up his treasure when
The coast, at last, grew clear.

“I’m rich, I’m rich!” he boasted with
The dragon scale held high.
While he traipsed on, the townsfolk cried,
“Now, dragon, you must die!”

Unfortunately, fortune played
Its cards and dealt a blow
In any town, in any place
The young thief dared to go.

He wandered oh, so many years
Until at last he came
Nearby the place he fell from grace,
Consumed at last by shame.

The dragon scale held in his grip
Brought him back to his wit.
Within the present, glowing now,
It caused his tears to quit.

As if it spoke, the old man rose
And wandered to the shore.
It seemed the dragon scale had required
His presence there once more.

The town where he had stolen gems,
Some jewels, and much gold
Had built an inn within its care
Just for the sick and old.

A pondering and wondering
Erupted in his mind
For he had taken everything
And robbed the village blind.

No time to think, for on the brink
Before the cavern’s veil,
The old man stood like old drift wood
Led by the dragon scale.

Now waves behind crashed in the flush
Of echoed sounds within.
Then suddenly, a breezy rush
Brought forth a dragon’s kin.

Before a trembling, fragile man
Who held the dragon scale
There burst a creature seeing him
As pitied, weak and frail.

This wasn’t flesh and bone that formed
Beyond the wispy coast.
The old man gasped and realized
It was the dragon’s ghost.

Before the dragon’s spirit he
Prepared at last to die.
“I’m ready now,” he said aloud,
The dragon scale raised high.

At this dragon next explained
The measure he went through.
“Dear friend, you do not have to die,
For I have died for you.”

“Some forty years ago, I knew
Your evil would prevail,
They took my wealth and thus my doom
Came in one dragon scale.”

“However, just as I knew then,
I knew this day would be.
Old man, you are forgiven now.
My spirit is set free.”

The dragon scale flew from his grip
And found once more its place.
Then nothing stood before the man
Except an empty space.

Repentant thoughts eloped his brain,
And to the town he strode.
The inn built for the sick and old
Would be his new abode.

He served all those within its care
While telling them his tale.
And when he died, upon his stone
Appeared the dragon scale.

© 2007 James Matthew Byers

James Matthew Byers is a published author(Grecian Rune, 2004) and a father of two. James has been married to his wife, Dorothea, for seven years. Mr. Byers teaches 8th Grade English at Moody Junior High. He resides with his family and two cats in Rainbow City.

Find more by James Matthew Byers in the Author Index.

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