The Dragon's Awakening
I remember waking up seven days before the new year when I was but a young boy. Mother had been hollering my name and she disturbed my rest. Upon my wake, I sat on my bed, slightly absent of mind and mildly confused. Mother continued to yell from down the stairs, so I rolled out of bed and landed my feet on the cold wooden floor.
"Mother, what is it?" I asked. I began to put on my shoes and walked toward the stairs as I asked and waited for her response.
"We must be leaving now, put on your shoes." She responded with haste in her voice. She seemed excited as well, but perhaps worried. I wondered where we were going.
"They're already on. Where are we going?" I arrived at the bottom of the stairs to find my mother standing there, making eye contact as I asked. Her danka was in her pocket, and she carried a few bags over her shoulder.
"Myral is arriving in the capital at the new year. We must go to greet him." She grabbed my hand, and we rushed out the door. A horse drawn carriage awaited us at the road, and she tossed her bags in the back.
I was tremendously confused. Mother had read me tales about Myral as I grew, but I never imagined he was real. I certainly never imagined I would go to greet him. The tales told me of a wise dragon, coated with scales of hardened blood. He was explained to be kind and generous, a teacher and a prophet. The legends say he arrived one year long ago, descendant from the skies. The people were terrified and put up arms as he roared and the ground trembled. Then he spoke, and Myralis went silent. He preached words of wisdom and of divinity as his eyes glowed as bright as the sun, contrasting his dark red scales. His voice boomed and generated awe from the people. My mother told me about celebrations held in honor of the divine dragon, festivities in which we dance and sing as offerings. She told me he stays for one month every year, until he flies back into the skies from which he came, not to be seen until the next year.
"Mother, is Myral truly real?" I asked timidly, embarrassed. She immediately turned and glared at me, frozen in place. Mother was silent for a moment. Her eyes were wide and her face slightly puckered, but then she relaxed and placed her hand upon my thigh.
"Of course he is. It is imperative that all Myralians give their presence and respect to Myral in the capital every year as their offering of gratitude for his wisdom." She paused. She looked outside the carriage at a passing town and watched the locals as they, less fortunately than us, began to walk to the capital. "You are now twelve years old." She continued. "You are old enough, and must now participate in the festivities of the Dragon's Awakening." Mother looked at me, seemingly admiring me. "Oh, my... you have grown up so well. I see great devotion and prosperity in your future, my son." Her face was red and sincere.
"Mother..." I gave her the same glare she gave me with a little frustration. "Anyway. What is the Dragon's Awakening?" I asked. She had never taught me and I was very curious.
"It is a month of worship and devotion through the acts of giving and celebrating. Every year, families travel to the capital for the new year to greet Myral and hear his wisdom. During this time, our king, Darius, remains in the Hall of the Dragon with his council. Myral takes over as our ruler during this time. We also worship our king daily at mass in the Cathedral of Myral. The first week of the festivities, the military marches the streets to show the power of our nation and our king. During the second is the Parade of the Dragon, where many talented men and women dance and sing across the roads. For the remainder of the month, many markets open or go on sale, people dance for show, instruments are played, and bonfires are set. Many choose to celebrate however they desire. At the end of the month, we return home." Mother explained in detail. I was amazed, it sounded exciting! I was very scared of Myral, I was intimidated. A being of his grandiosity and divinity... it was something entirely else.
Mother and I had stopped conversing, and we relaxed in the carriage as we made our way toward the capital. The Dragon's Awakening awaited us.