It is not allowed copying and sharing outside in any form.
One day at the very end of July Granny said, ‘Paul, tomorrow I’m going to have a very important guest and I would like you not to go away but to keep us company while we talk. I think you’ll like my friend.’ Paul was a bit surprised by such a request but overall he had nothing against it. The next day just before the visit, he made the tea and when the guest arrived, he opened the door and led him to his grandmother’s room where together they sat by her bed. The boy was surprised that the stranger didn’t introduce himself, but the boy didn’t ask anything and just observed him carefully. He was a young man who was nonetheless still quite mature with curly dark hair that reached down below his ears and surprisingly bright blue eyes. He was wearing a simple pair of jeans and a white collared shirt.
‘Welcome my friend,’ said Granny reaching out her hand to the guest. ‘I’m glad that you’re here. As you can see my dear grandson is also here with me. I think he’ll be perfect for the task that you’ve given me.’ Paul froze with surprise. Up until that moment Granny had said nothing about any task.
‘For sure, he’s just right for it. Have you already told him something about it?’ asked the stranger.
‘No. I thought it would be better to explain everything with you being here.’
They both turned at the same time to look at Paul.
‘Paul, up until this moment I haven’t said anything… but… I didn’t ask you and your mother to come just to help me here. I need you for something far more important. Unfortunately your mother couldn’t stay so the entire burden of this task will now rest on your shoulders. But since my friend says that you’ll be able to cope, I’m sure you’ll be all right.
Suddenly Tiger jumped onto the bed and turning towards the guest he clearly meowed, ‘Hi.’
‘Hi Tiger,’ replied the man.
Everything happened so quickly and in such a natural way that Paul didn’t have the time to feel surprised. He didn’t even know what was more unusual: this particular task that Granny and the stranger wished to entrust to him or the fact that an animal was speaking with a human voice and that nobody apart from him appeared to be surprised by this.
Meanwhile the cat planted himself comfortably on Granny’s lap and looked at Paul. Now there were three pairs of eyes following the boy.
‘Well, what are you staring at?’ said Tiger, speaking again. ‘You look like you’ve just swallowed a dead mouse.’
‘You… can speak!’ exclaimed a rather disorientated Paul.
‘Of course I can speak. I could always do so. It’s just that you couldn’t always understand.’
‘And how come I seem to understand now?’ Paul asked feeling confused.
‘That’s because you now know Friend,’ the cat replied calmly.
‘Well actually I don’t think we’ve been introduced,’ interrupted Friend. ‘Can I be your friend?’ he asked stretching out his hand to the boy.
Paul looked at the man suspiciously. Not only had he not introduced himself but he was also going to give him some task which he still knew nothing about and he’d caused Tiger to start speaking. But most of all what stopped Paul from taking the hand of this so-called friend was the memory of Peter’s betrayal. He felt so injured by his former friend that his heart would not allow him to trust some stranger too quickly. How was this man supposed to be his new friend, he kept thinking. Meanwhile the eyes looking at him became ever more intriguing and strangely blue. There was something in them that made the boy want to like this man.
‘I don’t know…’ Paul said quietly, ‘Someone we call a friend sometimes turns out not to be one…’ he hesitantly added.
However, Friend did not take back his hand but said in a calm voice, ‘I know that Peter hurt you, but when you get to know me, you’ll understand that he really didn’t want to.’
Friend knew about Peter. What a horror! And maybe he even knew about the week before the argument with his friend when he’d laughed at the jokes those boys made about Peter? Paul began to feel really awkward and uncomfortable.
‘I would like to be your friend. I promise I will never let you down,’ the stranger said.
AN AERIAL MEETING
No one now doubted that directly above them in the sky flew an enormous beast. It was only a question of time before it began its descent to attack them. Unfortunately the mountains were not an inch closer and it was ever harder for them to run forward across the slippery blood-covered rocks.
The shadow grew larger. Dragon swooped down on them. Knight stood his ground and pulled out his sword from the layers of his clothing. For a short moment he saw the figure of Elf, whom he had long ago forgotten about. And as he was mentally preparing for battle with the monster, he felt someone grab his right forearm pulling his weapon aside.
‘You idiot! Do you want to measure up against Dragon?’
‘And what am I meant to do, he’s attacking us,’ he replied angrily.
‘There’s a time to fight and a time to protect yourself. Now we’ve got to run,’ replied Traveller with surprising calm, while Dragon was momentarily slowing its flight.
‘And where do you want to run? There’s nothing here. We have no choice but to fight.’
‘How little you understand! You push forwards as if you were blind and that mad Friend still insists on making you a Knight.’ Traveller’s last words were said with an almost pleasant sarcasm. ‘I’ve called Arie.’
Before the meaning of the captain’s last words fully sank in to Paul, who was stubbornly stuck in his own thoughts, they looked down under their feet and saw the river of blood turn almost in front of their eyes into a carpet of flowers. At this same moment a deafening cry resounded in the air. He who was to save them had come. With a flap of huge white wings a gigantic eagle appeared before them. To Knight he seemed much bigger than he had before. Dragon circled angrily above them as they climbed onto Arie’s back. There was room for everyone, including Tiger. They flew high up in the air. For a moment they were at the same height as the beast, which was almost frozen motionless, and they could see it up close. The monstrous muzzle of Dragon was twisted into a horrifying grimace. His yellow eyes were empty and dead and from his mouth no fire came forth, only a feeble wisp of smoke. Still full of fear, Knight looked into the abyss of his mirrored wings. There in the depths, instead of a deformed reflection of their world, he saw fire. In one moment when Arie turned in the direction of the monster and looked upon him for an instant, it seemed that Dragon was burning up in this conflagration. He now looked truly terrible, like a disgusting fly of unbelievably huge proportions burning from within. There was none of that threat in him that Knight remembered from their first confrontation. Arie quickly turned his glance away, as if there was nothing about this sight that could interest him, and with a loud flap of his stretched out wings, he flew off to the mountains.
IN THE MOUNTAINS
Nobody looked behind themselves to see if Dragon was following them.
Did it make any difference?
‘That’s not the end of it,’ Elf whispered suddenly, who had caught onto Paul’s coat with his little golden fingers.
Arie picked up the pace and soon they were hurtling through the sky at a breakneck speed. The swish of the air in the ears was deafening. The mountains grew in size in front of their eyes and soon they clearly saw great stretches of snow on the peaks. Ever higher and higher flew their powerful saviour all the way up to the icy heights. Paul could feel the bite of the ever cooler air, and he was very cold. Lead-coloured clouds gathered in the sky, which had not been there in the morning. Before they realised it had grown darker. And so they found themselves flying high in the mountains. After a certain time Arie began to descend and plunged between the steep slopes. Paul almost in disbelief noticed that a light snow had begun to fall. Had everything turned against them? A blizzard was gathering. The frost stung their faces and their lips froze in pain in the piercing wind. On the peak that they had just passed, Paul suddenly noticed little lights. He looked surprised that there could be people so high up and he froze in fear. Elf had been right. Even though Dragon had not decided to fight with Arie, he had not wanted to let them go so easily and was now following them with his shining yellow eyes from the very summit of the mountain.