Once upon a time there was a young squire in training to be a knight. He lived in the kingdom of Usameria, which treasured its knights greatly. It especially loved knights that went out and slew dragons. Many years before they had a great knight named Sir James that had slain many dragons, and although he only had great success for a short period of time (because of some distressing circumstances), the townsfolk still talked in awe of his great deeds and quickly forgave his defeats.
The young squire, Alayn, decided he wanted to be a dragon-slayer as well and he trained as hard as he could every day with the lance and the sword. And one day, while still a lad, young Alayn found a dragon and slew him mightily. When the townsfolk heard of his deed, they proclaimed him a hero and exalted him in the highest. And though he was still but a lad, they urged him to slay more dragons to satiate their bloodlust for dragon-meat.
Alas, young Alayn could not repeat his feat and the townsfolk grew restless. “Fraud,” they shouted. “Pretender, cad, swindler,” they yelled. “You can’t slay dragons anymore!” they jeered. Poor Alayn became discouraged, and he even dropped out of squire school just to train harder and become stronger. But it was to no avail. The townspeople grew impatient and gathered one day to throw rotten tomatoes at his house. He stood in his doorway and implored the townspeople to be patient with him, for indeed, he was still a young lad. They would have none of it. Suddenly a hooded figure strode up to the doorway and put his hand up. The townsfolk gasped. It was Sir James himself.
“My good people of Usameria,” Sir James began, “behold young Alayn. His beard is yet soft and fair. Why do you chastise him so? When I slew the dragon, you celebrated my feats. You celebrate them still. Why cannot we celebrate this lad’s great feat and leave the future to the hands of fate? When he is older he may slay more dragons – we do not know yet. But we can congratulate him on his deed and wish him the best in the future. I ask you today to look at yourselves and see if you have done everything in your power to be the best you can be at what you do. I am confident that this boy is working diligently to fulfill your expectations. The debt of gratitude we owe him for the dragon he slew is to let him find his own path to greatness.”
The townsfolk lowered their heads and went home. Sir James was right. Instead of celebrating a great deed, they had turned young Alayn’s life into one that he wished he had never slain the dragon in the first place. Sir James laid his hand on the shoulder of Alayn and gave him the best advice he had ever heard – words that he had heard Sir Ricky speak many years ago: “you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.” Young Alayn nodded, turned and walked back into his house. That night the townsfolk could once again hear the ringing of steel on steel, as Alayn attended to his training.