Puff lay chained in a dingy cell of the guarded tower. Breathing heavily, he reminisced about the days of yore—of the golden days of his youth when he used to roam about in his abode in Dracoville. Oh, how happy they all were! Flying with the birds among the clouds, he and his mates would make fire-rings in a bid to woo the pretty dragonesses. The rabbit and the deer would always want to take a ride upon their backs and they would scare them away with little flickers of fire. The memories of the past brought a smile upon his haggard face. Tonight was going to be his last night of captivity, for the King had decided that he will be put to death when the first rays of sun fall on the castle. His moment of liberation had finally come to break open the shackles of his distraught life. He still remembers that day vividly when the King’s soldiers attacked and plundered Dracoville. They were peace-loving creatures who had never seen the horrific face of human brutality. Pillaging their home, they took away many of them including Puff as prisoners all because the vain princess Tiara wanted a dragon as a pet.

Puff was a robust dragon at that time and his green mane had sheen not found in many of his other dragon-friends. Unluckily for him, princess Tiara chose him as her pet and all his others friends were killed by the King’s guards. Life would have been so easy for him if he would have been killed at that moment itself, but destiny had some cruel schemes for him. Dragging him inside the castle, they tied him up with heavy chains and shoved him inside the cell that was to become his home for the remainder of his days. For the first time in his life, Puff witnessed the pangs of bondage. At first, he had tugged and pulled the chains and hurled himself against the oaken door several times but to no avail. Resigning himself to his fate, he saw his metamorphosis from a carefree youth to a bonded slave. Being princess Tiara’s pet, his duty was to fly her admist the clouds and make fire-rings for her entertainment. No doubt, he did all these things in Dracoville too, but life’s no fun when you are forced to do a thing even if you like that or not. Unlike his friends, Tiara and her friends were harsh on him and would make him do all sorts of tricks in spite on his reluctance. He had learnt not to protest because any act of aggression on his part was punished by several lashes on his back by the ever-watchful guards. His only solace was the nightly visit by his bird-friend Jay who used to perch atop the cell window and sing to him the tales from Dracoville. Jay sang about the spell of doom cast upon his former abode by the humans. Exploiting their resources, the merciless humans had either killed or enslaved all of his friends. They had also not spared the other creatures as they used to frequently hunt them for ‘fun’. Killing someone for fun? Never before in his life had Puff heard such an incredulous sport. He used to send out a small prayer every night pleading with God to free him from this arduous life forever.

Soon, the tentacles of age caught hold of him. Devoid of love and care, the once-robust Puff was a nightmarish version of his former self. The lush green mane soon gave way to a dull grey as he became weaker by the day. One day Princess Tiara complained to the King that Puff could no longer breathe the huge rings of fire like before. The King summoned him to the court room for a trial and ordered him to entertain princess Tiara like before. Puff plainly refused to do so, citing his failing health. Even a hundred lashes by the king’s guards couldn’t change his stance. He knew that maybe if he tried a bit, he might be able to blow some fire-rings to satiate the King. But sooner or later, he would have to resign himself to the forces of nature…if only he could make the King understand that.

For failing to heed Princess Tiara’s commands, the King condemned Puff to the gallows. Puff felt as if a load had been lifted off his heart. Finally he would be able to roam about freely among the clouds once again! On his last night of captivity, his friend Jay came to pay the final farewell. “You’re lucky, my friend. You were not a witness to the wanton acts of destruction that the humans have been carrying out. They have decimated our forests, killed the deer for flesh and skin, and have stripped off erstwhile Dracoville of all its resources to convert it into a barren desert. May you find peace in the Heavens.” Singing an elegy on the demise of nature, Jay flew away in to the night. As Puff looked out of the window from the tower, he spotted the moon playing hide-and-seek with the clouds. Just a few more hours before he is set free to be among the clouds again! He was certain not to encounter any more of this vile animal called human in the Heavens, for his father had told him long ago that evil-doers stand no chance to be in the Land of Gods. He sent out a small prayer for the betterment of the world as he fell in to a slumber, hoping to open his eyes in the sanctity of Heavens.


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