Facing the Dragon

The lone, armor-clad, warrior strode boldly and resolutely through the desolate valley of shadow. There were unseen dangers and hidden horrors lurking behind every crag and the vast, lifeless terrain was strewn with boulders and monstrous stones. Not a single blade of grass grew, not a single bird chirped, even the wind itself seemed unable to blow in this valley of desolation.
There was one creature, however, which still remained…the great dragon. This was the ancient serpent that should have been done away with long ago. Now the task fell to this lone warrior; slay the beast, or plunge the land into eternal darkness.
As the warrior stepped from behind a particularly large boulder, he came face-to-face with his nemesis. The monstrous black dragon towered over the warrior to his left. The sudden presence of the gigantic beast stopped the warrior cold in his tracks!
The dragon paused to allow this human warrior to soak in its dreaded presence. As the creature spread its great wings of intimidation and rose up on its hind legs, it let out an ear-piercing scream of spite and malice. Then, as the beast came crashing down on its forelegs, it whipped its neck out like an arrow, opened its maw of death, and spewed forth a gush of raging flames!
As flames of death streaked towards the lone warrior, he only had a moment to react. In a flash, the warrior crouched and raised his shield in a vain attempt to stop the approaching flames! The creature’s heart and chest swelled with pride and arrogance as it watched the lone warrior become engulfed in flames. Victory! The dragon thought.
However, as the smoke began to clear, the warrior inched his shield down and peered over the top. Then, he saw the beast and their eyes met. Wisps of smoke were the only things that broke their gaze. At that moment there was an unseen power struggle between the two combatants. Silence, seemed to persist and there was a pause in the universe.
Finally the silence was broken by the sound of thunder, and the beast knew not whether it was from the storm clouds overhead or from the heart of the warrior who now opposed him. Then it happened; the dragon took a small, halting step backwards and coiled its neck and head back in dismay and disbelief. How? It thought.
The warrior, sensing the reprieve, lowered his shield and stood up to defiantly face the enormous black dragon. A sense of boldness, anger, and power radiated from the lone figure. There he stood, face- to-face and unafraid before the creature that had slayed thousands.
As the warrior stood sensing the dragon’s uncertainty, he heard a voice on the wind. The wind whispered to him, “You, are not alone.” The warrior then half-turned and cast a steely gaze over his right shoulder.
At first, his glance caught the site of one or two armor-clad warriors stepping from behind boulders and fissures in the rocky terrain. Then, he saw more and more battle-hardened, fierce-looking warriors step out and slowly inch closer to the lone warrior’s position.
There appeared to be hundreds of warriors just waiting…for their orders. Some of the faces he recognized and others he did not. No matter; they were frozen in time. They were a mighty flood water just awaiting the floodgates to open and release them!
An eternity passed in that moment; all time and creation stood still and paused in expectant anticipation like an unstoppable tidal wave about to crash against the shores. Even the great black dragon gave place to the warrior in respect for his, “last words”. The heart of the beast slowed to a dull thump in order to better hear the words which were approaching.
The warrior knew he had no time for a rallying speech. All he had was this one moment. His next words could very well be his last - his most remembered words. They had to be powerful enough to echo down through the ages. They would be his final battle cry and possibly the epitaph on his tomb stone.
A flame sprang up from deep in the warrior’s core. A power resided there which he had never known existed or experienced. Two words, of power and might, formed in his belly as they took on a life of their own. Then the fires of anger, passion, purpose, and unlimited power churned, boiled, and welled up within the warrior as the words erupted from his mouth like lava from a volcano.
Those words were the epicenter of an earth-shattering quake! The tidal wave crashed, the floodgates exploded open, and all of creation erupted with power and life! The words were the words of a god or a mighty titan in human form as the warrior bellowed them forth. The words were simply, powerfully: “MOVE FORWARD!!!”
As the warrior squared his shoulders and faced the black beast before him, he heard all the warriors behind him echo his battle roar in one relentless voice. The voices of many had now become one.
The warrior would not look back to see if any had followed. He had issued his final command; each warrior had to choose their own destiny for themselves. The warrior’s prize now lay before him. Today was the day of redemption and glory, and he resolved to reach out and take it!
Then, the warrior moved. Thundering footstep after thundering footstep brought the warrior one step closer to his adversary. All his life had led up to this one moment. The power that had lain dormant within him was now unleashed and he could sense it flowing throughout his entire body. He had never felt this alive in his entire life.
More words of power resounded in his heart, mind, and soul. Again he heard a voice, but this time it came from within him. The voice repeated the words, “No Retreat, No Surrender, No Mercy,” again, and again, and again.

Brothers and sisters, “Move Forward.”