Leon the Hero

The evil Thar! Plush figures by Tally Heilke.

Leon and his mother were on their way to Emma the ice dragon’s house, walking along the path through the forest, and Leon was as excited as can be. He hadn’t seen his friend in almost a month, and he had lots of stories to tell her about what had been going on in the fire-breathing dragons’ village. Last week there had been a big meeting of all the dragons in the village square, and yesterday all of the biggest dragons had put on helmets and marched down the street like they were in a parade! Leon loved parades.

“Don’t get too far ahead!” called Mom from behind Leon. “Stay on the path, and make sure you can see me.”

“Okay, Mom,” said Leon. Mom was acting strange and extra careful lately, and Leon didn’t know why. This forest wasn’t dangerous!

While Leon waited for Mom to catch up, he decided to practice his fire breath on a bush. He stood up straight, took a deep breath, and WHOOSH, breathed out a mouthful of green fire. The bush burned right up.

“Hey!” shouted a little voice. “What’s the big idea?” There was a little hole underneath the bush, and an angry hopp was sticking out its head.

“Oh!” said Leon. “Are you all right?”

“You burned down my front door!” said the hopp. “I needed that bush to hide my house from all the biter beasts! Now I have to go dig a new burrow somewhere else.”

“What’s going on, Leon?” asked Mom.

“He burned up my bush!” yelled the hopp.

“Leon, you can’t just go around burning things whenever you want to,” said Mom. “Your fire breath should only be used to do good.”

“I’m very sorry,” said Leon.

“Saying ‘sorry’ doesn’t fix my house,” mumbled the hopp.

Leon looked around and saw an old stump that had fallen over. “I have an idea,” he said. “What if we put that stump over top of your hole instead of the bush? Then it will be hidden again, and you can go in and out between the tree roots!”

“Well now, well now!” said the hopp. “That just might work! But it looks like a pretty heavy stump.”

“It’s okay,” said Leon. “We’re dragons, after all, and dragons are strong.”

So Leon and his mom grabbed the stump and dragged it over top of the hopp’s hole. The hopp was able to squeeze comfortably in and out between the old roots, but the gaps were much too small for any biter beast to get through.

“This is great!” said the hopp. “Thank you for your help, little Leon.”

“You’re welcome,” said Leon. “I’m really sorry that I burned your bush down.”

“That’s all right,” said the hopp. “All’s well that ends well! By the way, my name is Harvey Hopp, so if you ever need help from a hopp, just tell them that Harvey said you’re okay!”

“Thank you,” said Leon.

“We have to be on our way now,” said Mom. “Say goodbye, Leon.”

“Goodbye, Harvey!”

“Goodbye, Leon.”

Mom and Leon continued on down the path towards the ice dragon village.

Soon they entered a clearing near the village, and Leon could see the roofs of some of the ice dragon houses through the trees.

“Wait here, Leon,” said Mom. “I’m going to go ahead and make sure it’s safe.”

“What do you mean?” asked Leon. “Why wouldn’t it be safe?”

“Because there’s been an evil beast around lately,” said Mom, “an enormous monster named Thar, and he’s been kidnapping dragons from all of the different villages. That’s why so many of the fire-breathing dragons marched off to war yesterday.”

“To war?” said Leon. “Oh dear! I thought it was just a parade… Has he kidnapped anyone from our village?”

“Not yet,” said Mom, “but he’ll probably try. That’s why we have to be very careful. Wait here until I come back, okay?”

“Okay,” said Leon.

Mom flew up into the sky, and Leon watched as she flew a couple of circles over the trees, checking for danger in the forest or the village. She was just about to fly back down to Leon when a giant black shape swooped around behind her.

“Mom!” yelled Leon. “Look out!”

But it was too late. The monster threw a net around Mom and grabbed the net in its mouth. The ropes wrapped around Mom’s mouth and nose, so she couldn’t breathe any fire, and off the monster flew, dragging Mom behind it.

“Help! Help!” cried Leon. He ran towards the village to find some ice dragons, but there was no one in the streets, and every house he ran to was empty!

“Oh no!” said Leon. “Thar must have kidnapped all of the ice dragons. And now he has Mom, too!”

Leon had to make a decision: should he run back to the fire-breathing dragon village and get help, or should he go after Thar on his own? “Hmm,” he said to himself. “All of our fighting dragons are already out searching for Thar, so there aren’t many people left at home to help. And besides, maybe they don’t know where Thar’s hideout is, so if I follow him I can find it and tell someone where all of the kidnapped dragons are.”

So Leon decided to chase after Thar. He stretched his wings and took off into the sky, flapping as hard as he could. He wished he had spent more time practicing his flying!

When he got above the trees, Leon looked in the direction that he had seen Thar go. Thar was already so far away that he was just a little speck in the sky.

Leon flew after the monster as fast as he could go. He flew over the forest, and over the fire-breathing dragon village, and over some hills, and over the lightning-breathing dragon village, and finally, when he thought he couldn’t fly any farther, he saw Thar land at the base of a mountain.

Leon was very, very tired when he made it to the mountain, and Thar had already disappeared. Leon landed behind a bush and sat down to rest. He was breathing so hard he thought Thar was going to hear him and catch him for sure!

After a little while, Leon poked his head through the bush and looked around to see where Thar might have gone. There was a dusty path, and Leon could see some gigantic footprints leading towards a cave. “That must be where he’s hiding all the dragons he’s kidnapped!” said Leon. “What am I going to do? Should I wait and make sure that this actually is Thar’s hideout, or should I fly back to the lightning-breathing dragon village to see if anyone is there to help?”

Before Leon could make up his mind, he saw a terrifying black-and-purple beast stomp out of the cave. It was Thar!

“Be quiet in there!” Thar shouted back into the cave. “Stop yelling for your friends and family to save you! You’ll get to see them all soon enough, when I’ve kidnapped all of them, too!” With that, Thar laughed an evil laugh and flew off into the sky.

Leon waited until he was sure Thar was gone, then scrambled out from behind the bush and ran into the cave. The cave was huge, and it was filled with all kinds of cages, with dozens of dragons locked inside them. The locks on the cages were gigantic!

“Is that you, Leon?” said a little voice. It was Emma! She was standing at the bars of one of the big cages, which held lots of blue and white ice dragons.

“Emma, are you okay?” said Leon.

“Yes,” said Emma, “but some of us are hurt, and Thar has tied lots of dragons’ mouths shut so they can’t breathe ice or fire or lightning at him! We can’t get the ropes off, either. He tied the knots too tight, and our fingers are too big to undo them!”

“Have you seen my mom?” asked Leon.

“Thar just brought her in. I think she’s in that cage over there.”

Leon looked into the cage Emma had pointed at, and saw Mom lying on the ground with her mouth tied closed. “Mom!” said Leon. “Don’t worry. I’ll get you out. I’m going to go to the lightning-breathing dragon village and get help.”

“There’s no one there anymore,” said one little yellow dragon. “We are all here in these cages!”

“Oh no,” said Leon. “Maybe I can let you out myself. Is there a key anywhere that would open the cages?”

“Thar keeps the only key with him wherever he goes,” said Emma.

“Hmm,” said Leon. “Wait, I have an idea!”

Leon ran outside and started looking around in the bushes until he found a hopp hole. “Hello?” he called into the hole. “Are there any hopps in there? I need your help!”

A little brown hopp popped up out of the hole. “Hello!” it said. “I’m Horace Hopp. Who are you?”

“I’m Leon the dragon,” said Leon. “I need your help!”

“Oh ho, a dragon needs help from a hopp, eh?” said Horace Hopp. “What can a little hopp do for a dragon? You aren’t going to eat me, are you?”

“No,” promised Leon, “I like hopps! As friends, I mean.”

“Oh, sure, sure,” said the hopp. “Why should I believe you?”

“Because I’m friends with Harvey Hopp,” said Leon.

“Oh, you know Harvey? Well then, that’s a different story!” said the hopp. “If Harvey says you’re okay, then you’re okay! What can I do for you?”

“There are dozens of dragons locked in cages inside that cave,” said Leon. “An evil beast named Thar has kidnapped them, and I need to get them out!”

Horace Hopp looked towards the cave. “We’ve seen him dragging dragons in there for a few days,” he said, “but he’s much too big for us to do anything, so we just hide and hope he doesn’t come after us next.”

“Yes, he is big, and scary, too,” said Leon, “but what I really need is someone little to help me.”

“If little’s what you need, then I’m your hopp,” said Horace. “And my family will help, too!” He stomped quickly on the ground with his foot, and in a few seconds ten more hopps had poked out of their holes and gathered around Leon.

“Follow me!” said Leon. He led the hopps into the cave.

“Leon’s back!” said Emma.

“Why did you bring all those hopps with you?” said the little yellow dragon. “How can they possibly help us?”

“You’ll see,” said Leon. “Okay, hopps, If I lift you up and put you inside these gigantic locks, do you think you could open them?”

“Sure!” said Horace. “Piece of cake!”

So Leon started picking up hopps and placing them inside the locks, which were so big that the hopps could crawl right up into them and push all the levers with their feet, as if they were furry little keys.

Soon all of the locks had been opened, and the dragons were free!

“What are we going to do now?” asked Emma, when she was out of her cage. “All of the big dragons still have their mouths tied shut!”

“The hopps can untie those knots, if we help them,” said Leon. “Hopps have strong little feet, so they can reach into the knots with their toes and make them loose, and then we can use our dragon strength to pull the ropes the rest of the way off.”

A few minutes later, the hopps and the little dragons had all worked together to do exactly that, and all of the dragons could open their mouths again.

Mom said, “I’m proud of you, Leon. That was very brave. Now we have to escape, before Thar comes back!”

“Wait,” said Leon. “There’s one more thing to do. All of the dragons should go into the bushes and hide. Horace, gather all of the hopps here. I have another plan.”

The dragons all did what Leon said and did their best to hide in the trees and bushes outside. After Leon had told the hopps his plan, he hid just outside the cave and waited.

A few minutes later Thar returned, carrying two big red dragons tied up in nets. He landed and started to drag the fire-breathers into the cave. “Ha ha ha!” Thar laughed. “My collection keeps getting bigger! Soon I will have captured all of the dragons!”

When Thar got inside the cave he found all of the cages empty, with their doors open, and a bunch of little hopps sitting inside one of the cages. “What’s going on?” roared Thar. “Where are all my prisoners?”

“They escaped!” said Horace Hopp. “We let them out! Ha ha!”

Thar was so mad that he let go of his nets and charged after the hopps, right into the cage. The hopps all scampered out of the way. “Now!” shouted Horace.

Leon leapt into the cave, slammed the door of the cage shut, and clicked the lock onto the door. The hopps scurried out of the cage, right between the bars, and Thar was trapped!

“No!” yelled Thar. “I can’t be your prisoner! You dragons are supposed to be my prisoners!” But he couldn’t escape. He had made his cages too strong.

“We did it!” said Leon, and all the hopps and all the dragons cheered.

“That was a great plan, Leon!” said Emma.

“Thanks,” said Leon, smiling a big dragony smile.

“We should have a party,” said the little yellow dragon, “a party to celebrate Leon!”

“Maybe we can have a party tomorrow,” said Leon. “I think we should all go home first… It’s been a long and tiring day.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” said Mom.

“Well, next time you come to the lightning-breathing dragon village,” said the little yellow dragon, “I’m sure my mom and dad will give you a party. Just come looking for Charlie: that’s me!”

“Thanks, Charlie!” said Leon.

Horace Hopp bounced up to Leon. “I have an idea, Leon,” he said. “Since we hopps already live here by the cave, we can be the guards to make sure Thar doesn’t escape. And if he does escape, then we’ll tell the dragons right away, so you can put him back in jail where he belongs!”

“Good idea, Horace,” said Leon. “Thank you for all your help. You’re a great friend.”

“You’re welcome,” said Horace.

So all the dragons flew home, and all of the warriors who had gone searching for Thar came home, too, and there were big parties all night in honour of Leon.

But Leon was so tired that as soon as he got home, he just went to sleep.

Plush figures by Tally Heilke, available through her Etsy store.

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