The Dragon and the Phoenix

Once, a very long time ago, in China, lived two friends. Nothing unusual about that you might think...until I tell you that one of the friends was a big, green but very friendly dragon and the other was a phoenix, a splendid bird with shimmering gold and red feathers.

The Dragon loved swimming and every day he would take his enormous stripy towel down to the river and dive into the cool, clear water. The Phoenix, who didn’t like getting her feathers wet would watch him from a branch of a tree.

One sunny Spring morning, the Dragon was drying himself after a swim, when he said: ‘I’ve been thinking, dear Phoenix, where do you think this river would lead us?’

The Phoenix was a very wise bird and had seen lots of the world. She said: 'The river flows down to the sea as all rivers do.’

‘I would love to see the sea!’ said the Dragon. ‘Will you join me on a little adventure?’

By sunset they had reached the sea and watched the big fiery sun sinking below the waves turning the water pink.

The next morning the friends continued their journey and crossed the sea to a tropical island with beaches of dazzling white sand and palm trees. The Dragon had only seen pictures of such beautiful scenes in holiday brochures. Even the well-travelled Phoenix had to agree that the flowers and trees and waterfalls and lakes made this land a very special place.

They were sitting by a lake staring into the water when they noticed one of the pebbles at the bottom of the lake was glowing. At first they thought this was a trick of the light so the Dragon dived down into the water and moments later emerged clutching the pebble. Out of its watery home, the pebble glowed even more brightly.

‘I think we have found something very precious!’ said the Phoenix.

‘You have indeed!’ said a grumpy voice. ‘That is no ordinary pebble. That is a magic pearl!’

The friends looked down onto the sand and there was a cross looking crab waving its claws in the air to help him make his point.

‘Put it back where it belongs,’ said the crab. ‘It is the magic in the pearl that makes this island so beautiful.’

‘Then, dear Phoenix’ said the Dragon in a most serious voice, ‘We must guard this pearl and make sure nothing happens to it. This beautiful island will be our new home.’

This could have been the end of the story. But living in another far away land was a greedy, selfish princess.

She had heard about this magical pearl and she wanted it for herself so she sent one of her soldiers to steal it.

‘This is the most amazing jewel in the world!’ cried the princess. ‘Look how wonderfully it shines. And now it’s mine!’ But her cackles of laughter soon turned to concern. ‘This beautiful pearl shines so brightly and its glow can be seen from hundreds of miles away. Everyone will know I have stolen it. I must lock it away deep in the mountains where no one will be able to detect it.’

So that is what she did. She locked it in a room with no windows and behind a heavy iron door.

On the princess’ birthday she decided to have a party to show her guests her prize, and the guests gasped with amazement shielding their eyes with their hands because the pearl shone so brightly. Its light shone way beyond the princess’ land. It could be seen everywhere and certainly by the Dragon and the Phoenix who had been searching for it since the day it had been stolen.

With a rush of her beautiful gold and red feathers, the Phoenix swooped in amongst the party guests and scooped up the pearl with her claws. But, just as she flew out of the palace, the Phoenix dropped the precious jewel and watched helplessly as it fell through the air and rolled down to the bottom of the mountain. And then a most extraordinary thing happened. There was a deafening crash, a dazzling flash of light, and the pearl began to melt.

Slowly, in its place, a lake of emerald green water spread across the land.

‘Nothing bad will ever happen to this magical lake!’ said the Dragon. ‘This time I will guard it in the only way I know how!’ and he turned himself into a mountain on one side of the water.

‘I follow you, my friend!’ said the Phoenix, and she too transformed herself into a mountain to guard the other side of the lake.

Somewhere in China the lake is still there, and so are the mountains which means the Dragon and the Phoenix are guarding it very well!

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