I admit it. I am afraid. I have never faced an enemy like this. I know it is there waiting for me…stalking me. Every nerve in my body is on fire. Every sense is alert. Where can it be?

I could have chosen a safer route, but I don’t want safety. I want to test my skill. Skill that has been hard won in smaller battles. Battles that have hardened my muscles and my resolve. I refuse to shy away from danger. I will meet this enemy when it presents itself. I watch carefully for it’s approach.

I step further down the path. It is darker now than it was. I know there is light on the other side, but now I go through the forest. This is the harder road. I chose it of my volition. If I come out the other side I will be different. The time I have spent preparing will have paid off. If I make it that far. I can hear movement. I remind myself, without struggle there is no progress. I must move forward.

Out of the shadows it appears. It is massive. With scales of red and a smell of brimstone, my enemy squares itself in my path. I can see the red glow in its eyes. Smoke billows out its nose as it peers down it’s enormous snout. Slowly it moves toward me. The encounter has finally come.

I grip the sword in my right hand and adjust the shield in my left. If this is my appointed time, I will not disappoint. I stare into the enemy’s eyes and with a hardened resolve I step forward. I will not turn and run. I will not give this enemy that power over me. I am uncertain if I stand any chance in this fight, but I will pour out my all for the test.

As we near each other, eyes locked, muscles tight, I have only simple thoughts of what my approach should be. I stop in the middle of the trail and speak into the night. “I no longer fear you. I have come to do battle with you. This struggle may be epic. I may fail in the end, but not before I pour out ever ounce of who I am. My future lies behind you on this path Dragon. It is a future I intend to take, or die in pursuit of.”

The Dragon peered down at me. It moved so close that I could feel the temperature rising, the smoke overwhelming. “Are you certain Warrior? Are you willing to die in your quest?”

“Yes. I am not going back. This is the way.”

The dragon swelled up and shrieked. Fire poured out of the sides of its jaws as it took a deep breath in. With one movement, I snapped my shield to the ready as the Dragon covered me in a raging fire. I did not move. I was true to my word. Would this be my final moment?

With the blast complete, I lowered the shield. I was still there, unharmed and unburned. The Dragon was nowhere to be seen. My path lie ahead. I stepped forward uncertain of what had happened. I looked down to see a scroll of paper in the road. I picked it up as I continued to survey my surroundings. As I unrolled it, this is what I discovered.

“Brave warrior. I am not your enemy, nor have I ever been. I was your challenge and test. You have passed now, but know there will be more tests ahead. It was never my intent to hurt you, but to expose you for who you really are. You stared at me and refused to be swayed. I congratulate you on this. You must keep this resolve as you move forward, because the tests to come will be even greater. They will not look the same. Show the same resolve you showed today and you will be victorious. For now, walk the path. Do the next right thing. Remember this encounter. Build from what you have learned.”

I passed the test. I faced the enemy. There will be more. For now, it is time to rest until the next challenge presents itself.

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