T and I head to the beach. The sun is springlike warm, the breeze is easy, and the tide is out enough to check on the dragon caves. We clear the bit of trash that's found its way into the caves. T rearranges a nest protection blockade that he put up last month. I pocket a piece of light green beach glass.
Then T exclaims, "Mama! A present from the dragons! It's a real dragon master's staff! See the darker wood here? And see the important curve?" It's not long before we are sandy-boot deep in dragon focus. Sticks with runes, signs of battles, signs of celebrations (I learn of their parties for the single scale they each shed once a month).
And then the challenge appears - a tire barely visible beneath the sand. "Mama, this is the dragon challenge. We must unbury this tire so that we can lift it. Only then will the dragon master's staff gain its first level of power."
And unbury it we do, with small pieces of wood to dig with, hands to scoop with, and 'uffdas!' to exasperate with. The final lift is a two-person job, and we tug and dig our heels into the slippery sand. But it's up, and the challenge is won.
We walk back up to the house, T's staff in one hand, a small piece of driftwood graced with dragon runes in his other hand. "You know... dragon challenges are very hard. Not everyone can do them. Just like not everyone even believes in dragons. The dragons must know that I'm one of the ones who can do this. Who can believe and take the challenges."