My Secret Friend
Madhavi, Age 12, Zimbabwe
He had majestic wings, a tail that was as strong as a giant, and yet he had the gentlest heart. He was a dragon and his name was Flare. He was my best friend, and I kept him as a well-guarded secret. I, Marley, lost my parents when I was too young to remember. Without any family or kin, I had only one companion in the whole world, Flare. I guarded him with my life and loved him dearly.

It was a boring, dull day at work as usual at the castle again. I am only fifteen years old, but I work for the king of Agrason. My only job all day is to clean the castle. I was in the kitchen mopping the dusty floors when I heard the maids chattering away in the dining area. One said, “I heard that our city Agrason is going to war against Mandyton.”

“Mandyton? You mean the strongest country that cannot be defeated?”

“Yes. If only someone had... oh, I don’t know...a mighty beast such as a dragon that could defeat Mandyton....” both the maids laughed, jokingly.

“Perhaps,” I said to myself.

I was so excited to tell Flare about defeating Mandyton, that cleaning the kitchen took no time at all. I rapidly scrubbed the kitchen floors and secretly ran out the door and into the forest to my little wooden shed. If anyone found out where Flare was, they would capture him and make him their slave. I knew how cruel humans could be. They would not understand the gentle nature of my dragon. As we talked eagerly about preparing for the war, Flare was just as excited about defeating Mandyton as I was.
Flare and I have lived together ever since my parents died from the last war between Agrason and Mandyton. Just before they died, they left me with Flare, who would be my protector. They found him on the top of a cliff on the highest mountain in Agrason. They chose this boldest and youngest baby dragon who had showed off his strength to my parents. We grew close and never left each other’s side. Every evening we practiced war tactics with weapons and bows and arrows for long hours. We perfected our strength and would protect each other in war.

Before long, I had found an opportunity to introduce Flare to the king. The king was anxious and wanted Agrason to be victorious. I thought for a second and carefully said to him, “Your Majesty, please ride into the forest with me. I have a surprise to show you.” I brought the horses and we rode to my shed. I explained, “Your majesty, Agrason will win the war again Mandyton with the help of this mighty dragon. He is mine. This is our training area. We are confident we can win.” The king looked around feeling all the weapons curiously, but not judging.

“Marley, this is a big decision for me. Yes, I need a mighty beast such as Flare, but can I really trust you to save our country from Mandyton’s attacks?” he asked.

“Yes, your Majesty, we want to carry on my parents’ legacy. My dragon and I would be honoured to fight for your country,” I replied to him with respect.

“I will let you fight for Agrason. Your friendship with this dragon is strong. I trust that you and your secret friend will fight together to defeat the enemy,” was the king’s final decision. I bowed my head with honor. This opportunity had allowed my dreams to come true!

Both Flare and I were eager to begin the battle. We were also nervous and terrified at the same time. As we approached the battlefield and got into formation, the ground shook while Mandyton’s army approached us. Flare could kill hundreds at once with his roaring mighty flame, breathing fire from his wide open mouth. I was a master at archery, and Flare trusted me to target the enemy.

The battle carried on for many long hours of this day. Both opposing armies were strong and difficult to defeat. Weapons of war, bows and arrows, flew across the sky like heavy rain. In every direction there was blood and dead bodies full of rising dust. Many times I skillfully avoided being the target. At one spontaneous moment, as I turned around to pull another arrow out of my bag, I saw one flying straight towards me. Flare saw this arrow too. In order to protect me, he threw me off his back while the sharp arrow flung straight into his heart. My head hit against the ground and blood oozed from my skull. The last thing I remember seeing was Flare dropping to the ground beside me with his eyes closing. My own eyes burned with tears running down my bloodied face. Then dark blackness filled my head as I passed out.

Many hours later, I regained consciousness. I remembered Flare falling to the ground, dying. With a heavy heart I felt there was nothing to live for anymore. Thoughts of emptiness filled my head and heart. If Flare was no longer alive, then why should I be? I tried to walk from my bed, one slow step at a time. I had not an ounce of energy, and I dearly missed my friend. I wondered if he was still alive. To my utmost surprise, without the least expectation, I saw him standing across the room. “Flare!” I screamed, hugging him. He was as happy to see me as I was to see him. I had tears of joy, while being reunited with my friend. The king had ensured that both Flare and I were taken care of.

We survived the fierce battle. My well-guarded secret friend was now a hero for the king. Overall, my so-called “secret” best friend turned out to be a great warrior at the castle. My best friend was willing to sacrifice his life for me. That’s a true friend.
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