Bonzai was a twelve year old boy with an active, some would say, wild imagination. Where others saw only the typical, he saw the fantastic. He had no friends to speak of, no siblings and he was a latchkey kid, meaning his parents were always at work when he got home from school. Even worse for him, his parents usually worked late, so Bonzai was alone most of the time. He lived in a house that was remotely hidden in the woods. It was a beautiful house that sat at the end of a long driveway, far away from neighbors and hence, any other children. He spent most of his time playing games by himself in his imaginary world.
His father, who was a businessman, would often tell Bonzai that he should put his imagination to good use by being artistic; creating music or writing. Bonzai would just laugh at his dad and go back into his own little world. His only ambition had always been to become a dragon slayer. The problem with that was that dragons had been extinct for many centuries. But he wouldn’t let that stop him; he would just create his own dragons.
He felt most at home amongst the trees that surrounded his house and his world. Pine trees were castles to Bonzai, especially the ones that had huge limbs that drooped all the way to the ground and could easily hide him from his enemies and his parents. Willow trees were his fortresses, for the same reason. Oak trees would play the role of evil dragons. They were the biggest, strongest trees in his yard and therefore presented the biggest challenge for him. Fallen limbs from the “dragon” oak trees would serve as his swords. They were strong enough to handle the constant abuse that he put upon them by bashing them into the dragon trees without splintering like the easily broken pine limbs or the too limber willow branches.
Leprechauns and dwarfs were his arch enemies and were in alliance to steal gold and jewels to hoard. They also controlled the dragons and used them as guardians over their great hordes of treasure. He knew that someday he would slay all the dragons and then go after the leprechauns and dwarfs and steal their treasures making him rich beyond his wildest dreams.
The flowers that his mother planted during her few free weekends were little fairies to Bonzai that were very much on his side of the war that was constantly playing out in his head. The fairies served as his military advisors. His mother always got a thrill when he would pick a bouquet of fresh flowers for her, then her joy would turn to anguish when she would inevitably catch him talking to them when no one was looking. A lot of people talk to plants, but his conversations would always center on war and how he and the flowers would destroy the evil leprechauns and dwarfs and conquer the whole of the imaginary medieval country that spanned his yard. His mother would tell his father that they should seek help for him but he would always just brush her concerns off his son’s youthful exuberance coming through. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Reality, being what it is, is much akin to time. That is, it is totally dependent on the view of the observer. To Bonzai, his fantasy world was his reality, while his mother and father’s world were nothing more than annoying daydreams. Oh, how he wished that the daydreams would no longer come to him and he could further his prospects of total war with the conniving leprechauns and dwarfs!
Someday he knew he would be free to pursue his dreams of conquering the enemy and slaying their dragons. There were a dozen oak trees in his large yard, and to him that meant there were a dozen dragons. They all deserved to die, and when he was strong enough to slay them all, he could rightfully lay claim to the hordes of diamonds, jewels, silver and gold that were undoubtedly hidden in his yard by the ruthless leprechauns and dwarfs and guarded most relentlessly by their dragons.
One particular day, which was not much different than any other day, his parents were gone to work. It was in the middle of summer and he had the day to himself. Even though it was only morning it was already blistering hot and oppressively humid outside, but he saw that as no reason to lay around under the comforts of indoor air conditioning. The leprechauns, dwarfs and dragons wouldn’t be taking the day off, so why should he? So, outside he went, where he found his favorite oaken sword, then he was ready for another day of living his dreams and chasing imaginary dragons.
The thing he like most about his oaken swords were that they were made of dragon bones. Even after the bark, or to him, the dragon scales, fell off, there was no other kind of stick that would hold up to and do any kind of damage to the dragons without breaking into bits. He felt a enthralling comfort from holding the strong wooden staff and even though it would sting his hands when he bashed it against the dragon trees, he would still hold on to it firmly because he knew that if he let go, he would be quite defenseless against the monstrous beasts.
Though the day had dragged on with no present danger or threats from the enemy, the sky suddenly began to darken and the birds hurriedly came in to roost. He could feel that something was terribly wrong. The wind picked up, blowing ferociously and causing the trees to creak unspeakably. He suspected that a dragon attack was eminent, so he hurried into his favorite castle and braced himself for the coming attack.
The storm was like no storm he could ever remember, but he cautioned himself that he had never witnessed a storm worth remembering. He often sat outside under his tree castle during garden variety thunderstorms, pretending that he was Thor, directing lightning strikes here or there, but this storm was much different. The lighting strikes were so frequent that it seemed as if they were causing one continuous, never ending thunder. The skies darkened so much that it seemed like the dead of night, even though the sun hadn’t even reached halfway into the sky. The wind was blowing the trees so hard that many of the younger ones were nearly bent over double and threatened to snap in two at any second. For the first time in his young life, he was afraid for his very existence. Then the unthinkable happened: Lighting struck the tree he was sheltering under.
The bolt of supercharged electricity tore through the tree like a hot knife through butter. The flash blinded Bonzai and he instinctively fell to his knees as the tree spilt into two pieces that both fell away, one crashing into his house, splintering the roof and destroying and entire section of his parent’s home, while the other fell harmlessly into the yard. After the initial shock, he took his hands off his ears and slowly opened his eyes. He was stunned to see that the bolt had come to a stop mere inches above where his head was at. Smoke from the strike still smoldered through the burnt wood and he shook uncontrollably with fear from his near death experience. Then he realized that he was not only still alive, but also totally uninjured, which relieved him tremendously and added to his already portentous self-assurance and insalubrious feelings of invincibility.
Lightning continued to crackle all around him and rain drops began pelting him relentlessly as his shelter had been removed but he fearlessly stood up and surveyed the damage to the fragmented tree. He was amazed to see a hollowed out hole that started right where the bolt ended. He looked into the hole but it was so deep and so dark that he couldn’t see a thing. He looked around and saw the damage done to his house and he was glad that he wasn’t inside the thing; he probably would have been killed because the main part of the damage was to the living room and kitchen areas. He knew that if he would have been inside there, he would have most likely been in one of those two rooms.
Then he heard the ghastliest sound that he had ever heard and one that he would never forget. It sounded just like an onrushing train and was so loud that it actually drowned out the relentlessly pounding thunder that was still shaking the ground like a mad timpanist in a deranged opera. He turned around into the gusting wind that nearly blew him down and saw a massively dark funnel cloud. It was a tornado and it was coming right at him! Without thinking, he dove into the hole of the splintered tree. The fit was tight at first and he had to wiggle his way through the beginning of the hole but once he got his hips past the ingress he fell straight down. He tried to slow his fall by frantically grabbing against the walls of the hole, but his efforts were futile because he was falling too fast. It seemed like he fell forever but as he fell he noticed that the sounds of the powerful tempest grew quieter and quieter. Finally he could not hear a thing and to him, that silence was golden. Then he hit bottom.
The landing was what he dreaded the most during his long fall, but when it happened it wasn’t nearly as bad as he thought it would be. It was as if he had landed on a huge pile of downy feathers. When he gathered himself, he saw that there was a dim light that mysteriously illuminated the bottom of the hole and he could see that what he fell on was actually a massive growth of dark green moss. He stood up and looked around while attempting to make sense of his surroundings and instinctively reached for his sword stick but then felt sickened and frustrated that it was not in his makeshift scabbard. He must have dropped it above ground when the lightning struck his tree castle and he forgot to grab it when he leaped into the hole. He felt shamefully defenseless and mightily confused and could sense that he was in the lair of one of the evil leprechauns that were his sworn enemy. He knew that if he was discovered the leprechaun would most likely be torture and then kill him. So, he wasted no time hiding himself.
He ran into the first door he saw, which was a great chamber that was full of treasures. There were literally thousands of pieces of gold and diamonds scattered in piles all about the room. He was so awestruck that he very nearly forgot about his perilous situation and started to dive into the piles of treasure head first. But then he heard such a frightful sound that his fear instincts kicked in and stopped him dead in his tracks. It was the floor shaking snoring of a gigantic, fire breathing dragon.
At first he was quite unsure of what kind of creature was making the dreadful sound. But when he saw smoke drifting from the red scaled nose of the sleeping beast, he had not doubt. It was a monstrous beast, in fact, it seemed to him as if it was bigger than the entire tree that it was sleeping beneath. He knew that if he woke the sleeping dragon, he would quickly be served up as a tasty, toasted treat. This caused his dread to grow even stronger and he had to fight his instincts to keep from succumbing to all-out panic. Instead of losing his nerve, he mastered his senses by deep breathing and he then silently began surveying the huge amount of treasure that was horded there.
The way Bonzai saw it, there had to be at least one billion dollars’ worth of gold, diamonds and jewels in the room. It would be more than enough to set him and his family up for life. It might even be enough to get his parents to stop working so much and spend more time with him, which to Bonzai was worth more than all the money, gold and jewels in the world. The problem was, figuring out how could he get all this treasure out without waking the sleeping dragon.
Just as he was starting to daydream about what he was going to do with all the treasure he was planning on stealing, he heard a groaning sound coming from outside the room. It was just a matter of seconds before the groaning turned to full-fledged shouting. Someone else was in the underground fortress and that someone was very angry. “My God,” the voice exclaimed, “our fortress has been destroyed! That annoying boy that lives in the surface house must be responsible! When I get my hands on him, I am going to make him pay with his miserable, worthless life!”
When Bonzai heard the footsteps of the angry man come closer, he knew he had run out of time and was trapped. He quickly dove behind the largest of the many treasure piles in the room and he hid just in the nick of time because the angry man’s rant had stirred the dragon awake. Bonzai could hear the golden coins rattle as the huge dragon began to sluggishly move about. Bonzai began to shake with fear as the dragon stretched to full length and looked directly at Bonzai, but did nothing to give him away. Bonzai noticed that that the dragon wore a metal chain with a strange charm about its neck and wondered if the poor thing was being held as a prisoner. Then a three foot tall leprechaun walked into the room.
The leprechaun sighed in relief that all his treasure was still in one place. From where he was hiding, Bonzai could see the back of the leprechaun as he walked over to the dragon and called him a good boy before throwing him a freshly killed deer carcass that he had been dragging. Bonzai couldn’t imagine how the little imp could have easily dragged the deer and imagined that the leprechaun must possess some type of super strength. He was also surprised that the leprechaun wasn’t dressed in a green tuxedo as typically stereotyped. Instead, he was dressed in raggedy gray pants and equally raggedy overcoat with a dingy, white shirt underneath.
The shabbily dressed leprechaun looked round and round to make a visual inspection of his treasure and once satisfied that nothing was amiss, he stormed out while talking to himself about what he and his partner were going to eat for dinner. Bonzai again sighed in relief at his good fortune, even though he was still trapped in a room with a fire breathing dragon. The dragon sent chills down Bonzai’s neck when he spat fire onto the deer corpse, roasting it well before devouring it whole. Sweet smoke permeated the air from the roasted venison’s fur and flesh, which nearly gagged Bonzai. He wanted to cough but he knew that if he did he would be dead, so he held it in with all his might, despite the pain that burned in his lungs.
After his meal, the dragon let out the loudest burp that Bonzai had ever heard, which literally rattled the coins and diamonds that filled the room. Soon after that, the monstrous dragon was snoring again. Bonzai decided that this would be his best opportunity to make his grand escape back to his own world, where he could come up with a better plan to steal the treasure. He could hear the leprechaun banging on pots and pans and griping about his duty of cooking from far away down the hall so he figured he wouldn’t be in much danger of being caught if he could make his way out of the room without awakening the sleeping dragon.
He grabbed a gold coin and a diamond, put them in his pocket as proof of where he’d been then ran back to the hole he had fell down. When he got to it there was a rope ladder, just as he had expected and hoped. The problem was that someone or something was climbing down it. He scurried away and hid behind a wheel barrel that sat across from the hole. When the being made it all the way down the ladder and emerged from the hole, Bonzai saw that it was unmistakably a dwarf, which stood about four foot tall, had a long gray beard that grew almost all the way to his feet and was dressed in the same type of raggedy clothes as the leprechaun. Bonzai thought how foolish these evil pair of underground dwellers must be for dressing so shabbily despite their readily apparent riches. He giggled to himself when he thought of all the fancy clothes he would wear when he came back with weapons to slay his enemies and their dragon and take their treasure. Unfortunately for Bonzai, enough of his giggle escaped his lips for the dwarf to hear him. The dwarf slowly walked over to the wheel barrel, pushed it out of the way and swung his ax at Bonzai as he cowered, striking him in the head with the back of the blade, knocking him unconscious. Bonzai was now a prisoner of his arch enemies.
Bonzai woke up with a massive headache. He was bound to a small, rickety chair by a rope and gagged at the mouth by an old, dirty, foul tasting rag. As if that weren’t enough, he was blindfolded as well. He squirmed about trying to break free from his bonds but was unable to. Then he heard the voices talking nearby and sat still and quite, in order to be able to better hear them.
“We should eat him,” said the deep, growly voice that he took to be the dwarf.
“No,” replied the high pitched voice that Bonzai recognized as the leprechaun, “everyone knows that human meat is tough and unwholesome. Why waste our time chewing that nastiness, when we have unlimited supplies of delectable venison and scrumptious hare?”
“Then we should feed the little thief to the dragon!” snarled the dwarf.
“No,” exclaimed the leprechaun, “that would only upset his stomach. Have you ever seen a dragon with an upset tummy? Grouchy, I tell ya!”
“Then what should we do with the vile, little surface dweller?” asked the frustrated dwarf.
“We will keep him alive and make him our slave,” said the leprechaun pompously.
“That is such a brilliant idea, my little friend!” heartily laughed the dwarf. “Neither of us was cut out for such mundane things as cooking and cleaning. He will make a perfect slave!”
Bonzai did not like what he was hearing and he began to squirm again as his captives began to roar with laughter. After a while he gave up his struggle. At least they weren’t going to kill him, he thought, but spending a lifetime as a slave was not particularly thrilling to him and he began to plan his next escape attempt as he drifted off back to sleep.
When Bonzai woke up again, he was no longer bound, gagged or blindfolded. He was sitting on the floor while his two enemies were staring at him menacingly. He was angry at himself for allowing himself to be captured but even more so than anger, he felt bone chilling fear. Both the leprechaun and the dwarf looked very old and very evil to him and he knew that he was at their mercy and because of that, he would not struggle against them at this point. He wanted to live, even if only as a slave, but he knew that if he were to ever have a chance to escape his captivity, he would have to gain their trust first and then use that trust to outsmart them.
“Look, boy,” snarled the leprechaun, “my name is Beauregard Shamrock and this is my business associate, Rolf the Dwarf. You have tormented us for years with your infernal banging on our castle with your stick swords and now you have destroyed it and invaded our home in hopes of stealing our treasure.”
“I am sorry sir,” pleaded Bonzai with a quivering voice. “I just want to go home. I will never bother you again.”
“You shall not go home,” laughed the leprechaun. “You are now our slave and you will do whatever we wish or demand.”
“How long do I have to be your slave, sir?” asked Bonzai, not fully comprehending his predicament.
“For eternity!” snickered Beauregard as Rolf joined in the laughter. Then Beauregard walked away but quickly returned with a steel necklace with a small golden charm, which he place over Bonzai’s head and dropped onto his neck. “This enchanted necklace will electrocute you if you ever walk within ten feet of the hole that you came down. The first time it will only hurt enough to knock you down, but each successive time you walk close to the hole the punishment will grow stronger. If you make the same mistake five times it will be so strong that it will kill you. Do you understand, boy?”
“Yes, my lords,” replied Bonzai. “I will do whatever you wish.”
“Very well then, lad,” smiled Beauregard triumphantly. “Rolf, would you be so kind as to escort our new servant to the broom closet, and introduce him to the mop and bucket? I expect every floor of the palace to be mopped spotlessly clean, every single day.”
For the next several months Bonzai’s life consisted of hard labor, meager feedings and sleep deprivation. His typical day consisted of waking early to sweep and mop the floors, cooking breakfast for his captors, shining the fine china the leprechaun and dwarf ate from and polishing the many brass statues of ancient leprechaun and dwarf elders of his captors, which adorned their palace. After those tasks were completed, he would cook their supper, which was always either hare stew or roasted venison. Then he would feed the dragon a meal which always consisted of bones and scraps of the supper he made for the masters. Then he would wash the dishes and pots and finally he would inventory the entire treasure horde before he was allowed to rest.
If Bonzai failed to finish any of his tasks or if he didn’t cook the meals to his captor’s satisfaction, he would be beaten with the same type of oaken rod by the powerful dwarf that he had once pretended to be his sword. Needless to say, he hated his existence but he hated the unkind leprechaun and dwarf even more. He vowed every morning when he awoke and every night before he went to sleep to kill them both, slay the dragon and steal their treasure. He knew that he could kill them and the dragon, but the only thing stopping him was the enchanted charm that hung over his heart on the steel necklace that he could not remove no matter how hard he tried. It was lightweight when he left it alone but the very second he tried to lift it, it felt like it weighed a ton and he would fall to his knees until he gave up his attempt of removing it.
At first, Bonzai was dreadfully afraid of the dragon and he thought the dragon hated him and wanted to dine on his flesh and bones. Every time Bonzai would bring the beast food it would charge at him until he was stopped by some unknown force. Bonzai figured that the chain and charm that hang around its neck was enchanted just like the one that held him in captivity and thus caused it to stop charging him. After Bonzai fed the dragon every day for a few weeks, the dragon began to warm up to him and stopped threatening him altogether. It even let Bonzai rub its head and before long they were as close as a master and pet. They began developing a bond that was seemingly unbreakable. Bonzai even stopped vowing to kill the dragon. If he ever had the opportunity to escape, instead of killing the beast, he would take it with him.
While all this was going on, the leprechaun and dwarf would leave every day just after breakfast and return every night with the gold and diamonds they had collected. From eavesdropping on their conversations, Bonzai discovered that the dwarf, who was a superior miner, had dug a vast mining operation underneath their fortress and had tapped a long vein that he would gather small amounts of gold ore and dust from every day. The leprechaun, for his part, was nothing more than a thief, though he was far from a petty one. He would break into houses during the day and steal people’s diamonds and jewels. He possessed magickal powers, so it didn’t really matter if folks were home or not; he would simply disappear into mist, take he wanted and leave.
His thievery operation had been going on for decades, perhaps even longer. There was no telling how many innocent people had been sent to prison as a result of his larceny, but one thing was for certain: he hadn’t any remorse for those poor souls or their victims. He was cold-hearted to the core and to him, the ends justified the means. If he could gather a pocket full of diamonds every day to fill his coffers, then it was a very good day for him. Basically, the only thing that mattered to Beauregard Shamrock was acquiring new riches and protecting the ones he already had pilfered.
Bonzai knew that his best chance for escape from his indentured servitude and for stealing the great treasure that was hidden in the palace, would be while his tormentors where gone on their daily escapades. He also knew that he would never be able to carry the vast treasure out of the fortress and up the tunnel by himself. He would have to enlist the help of the dragon. But seeing as how they were both bound to the palace by means of black magick, their chances for success were slim to none. There just had to be a way to break the spell, remove the chain and break free, and he prayed every night to be able to find that way.
One day, while eating his daily meal of moldy bread, he overheard his captors talking about how much easier their lives had become thanks to their slave, and then it all came to him. The secret to breaking the spell of the chain and charm around his neck was to trick the leprechaun into removing it temporarily. Bonzai also recognized that the leprechaun and the dwarf had become lazy since he had arrived. Once they had their suppers, all they did was lounge around smoking and drinking. So, after they became drunk one evening, he put his plan into action.
Rolf the Dwarf had left a wheel barrel full of gold dust and ore near the entrance of his mine. He ordered Bonzai to push it to the treasure chamber. As soon as Bonzai reached the room, he pretended to trip and when he did, he sent the wheel barrel careening towards the exit tunnel, where it hit the wall and spilled. Beauregard heard the commotion and came running, and once he saw what had happened, he immediately started cursing at Bonzai and beating him with his walking stick. After his tirade was over, he ordered Bonzai to pick up the gold and put it back into the wheel barrel.
Bonzai reminded the leprechaun that he could not go anywhere near the tunnel without the chain and charm electrocuting him and then politely asked the leprechaun to get the dwarf to do it. The leprechaun cursed mightily at Bonzai and then told him that the dwarf had drank himself silly and could not even walk so he would have to remove the chain and guard him while Bonzai picked up every last spec of gold. Bonzai agreed and with a poker face he bent down so that the leprechaun could remove the chain, but the leprechaun hit him over the head three times with his walking stick instead. “Now you can remove the chain,” said the leprechaun.
Bonzai did as he was told and as soon as he had the chain off his head he kicked the walking stick out of the leprechaun’s hand. Being a bit tipsy from the enormous amount of spirits he had shared with the dwarf, the surprised leprechaun fell to the ground cursing and yelling. Bonzai pounced on him and easily overpowered the old, drunken leprechaun and put the chain around his neck. He then picked up the walking stick and walked into the treasure chamber, dragging the leprechaun behind him by the scruff of his coat collar. The leprechaun was screaming bloody murder to awake his drunken dwarf friend, but it was all to no avail because the dwarf was so drunk and was snoring so loudly that he could not hear a thing.
Bonzai walked up to his dragon friend who bent down to nuzzle him, like he had become accustomed to, but instead of petting him, Bonzai blasted him in the head three times with the leprechaun’s magickal walking stick. The blows didn’t even phase the dragon, which, as we all know, has thick, scaly armor. Bonzai then reached about the great beast’s neck and removed the chain and charm that had been used to imprison it. Bonzai then motioned the dragon to hold the leprechaun at bay. The dragon obeyed his new master despite the leprechaun’s loud protests and grabbed Beauregard with his fierce claws while Bonzai ran out of the treasure chamber with the enchanted necklace that had for so long held the dragon captive.
Bonzai quickly ran to the bed chamber of the sleeping, drunken dwarf and placed the cursed chain around his neck. The dwarf didn’t even notice and just kept snoring. Bonzai was very pleased with himself because his plan had seemingly worked to perfection. Now all he had to do was steal the treasure and his enemies would not be able to chase after him.
By the time that Bonzai made it back to the treasure chamber, he heard the ghastly screams of the leprechaun as it was being roasted alive by the angry dragon. The dragon ate his former tormentor so cleanly that no mess was left at all. Bonzai realized that he didn’t have to escape at all. Instead all he had to do was lead the dragon to the dwarfs sleeping chamber and the dragon would take care of that problem for him as well. Then the palace would be his.
After the dragon finished off the evil dwarf, Bonzai had it seal off the mining tunnel just in case some other dwarf or other foul creature of the dark decided to come forth from its chasm. The dragon was very happy to be free and Bonzai showed him the exit tunnel, though the dragon was much too large to go through it. But once again, Bonzai came up with an idea, and the dragon blew fire onto the hollowed out trees stump, incinerating it and leaving a gaping hole that the dragon could easily come out of anytime it wished. Bonzai would remain fast friends with the dragon, whom he advised to only go out at night to hunt, in order to avoid being spotted by humans with guns. Together they would share the treasure and Bonzai would come to visit his dragon friend every day.
Once Bonzai left the subterranean fortress and went home, his parents were very glad to see him. They had called the rescue department, which had already organized a search party, which was subsequently called off after their failure to find him. Bonzai decided to never tell his parents about his treasure, in order to protect his dragon friend. He just told them that he had fallen down a hole, hit his head and once he regained consciousness, he climbed out and came home. Even though to Bonzai, he had been gone for months, to everyone else he had only been gone overnight, and they were all relieved that the boy was all right and a celebratory mood was the order of the day for his parents and the harried rescuers.
Bonzai knew that the treasure would not make his parents spend more time with him. Instead, they would most likely become as greedy as the leprechaun and the dwarf, and spend all their time counting the treasure. He knew the dragon would loyally guard the treasure for him and when he grew up he would be rich beyond his wildest dreams. For now, he was happy to just have a friend that he could call his own, and what better friend could a young dragon slayer have than a real life, fire breathing dragon?