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In faith, it were no long time past, that a Pilgrim prepared to leave his home country, and travel in search of a Dream.
He had armed himself well, in plate and mail, and prepared a shield marked with no blazon, and thus, with horse well barded and provisions aplenty, took leave of his homeland of Mundania, where all was grey and drab, and had not the virtues he sought for himself, and on the first day of May entered into a Land of Faerie called the Known Worlde.
As he entered, he saw a Faire, that seemed to span the border between Mundania and the Faerieland, but resolved to visit that place another day.
He had not traveled many leagues, with his lance-pennon flying in the warm breeze, when he saw a dragon plummet to the earth not far ahead of him, and rise again with something in its talons.
"Here is my first adventure!" He thought, and urged his horse to a gallop.
He found a lady by the roadside, with two horses, and she was crying and weeping.
"Lady, how might I assist thee?" He asked.
"Ah, Sir Knight, I am the Princess Prudence, the youngest of the Seven Children of Virtue. My sister, Princess Faith, and I were traveling the High Road a-Maying, when a dreadful ravening Dragon swooped upon us, carrying her from me in its talons! An thou help us, it would be fruitful for thee in thine adventure."
"That I shall do, and right willingly, for it is not meet that such a beast should disturb a fair lady's Maying!"
"Then thou must learn of this Dragon, Sir Knight, for it is the Dragon called LUST, one of the Seven Children of Darkness, that has overthrown many a good knight, and besmirched many a gentle maiden. But that thou shouldst overcome, take this lance in place of thine own, for it is the lance called Moderation, and it shall overthrow the Dragon of Lust!"
And thus, carrying the lance called Moderation, Pilgrim rode after the dragon of Lust, with the Princess Prudence following behind upon a fair palfrey, leading the other, that her sister had ridden.
Soon they came to a cavern, from whence issued forth many foul smokes, and within they heard the cries of a maiden in dire peril.
"Come forth, foul beast!" Pilgrim cried in a mighty voice. "Thou shalt not harm that Lady, nor shalt thou ravish her and besmirch her purity!"
The dragon crawled from its cavern, and gazed upon Pilgrim with eyes of flame. It was most foul in aspect, and yet most fair to behold, for it stank of Hellfire and squirmed upon the ground as the worm it was, yet it reflected in its scales many most beautiful persons and lives, but each aspect reflected therein seemed to change into something most loathesome even as Pilgrim watched.
He saw many famous lovers there; Launcelot and Guenivere, Tristan and Yseult, Paris and Helen, Abelard and Heloise, Petrarch and Laura ... there were lovers innumerable reflected in the scales, and yet, were their love lawful or not, each pair of lovers seemed to change into hateful things as he watched.
He even saw himself, and it seemed that he and the Princess Prudence were lovers, and most illicitly, and he saw her displayed in wanton poses, and enticing gestures. Not only with Pilgrim did she lie, but with others as well, and seemed to laugh at Pilgrim as a fool.
"I shall not believe thy lies, O Worm!" he cried, "For I know thee as an old liar, and as the Prince of Liars! Come, and meet thy doom!"
"And shalt thou conquer me, o young and foolish one? No matter, for I have many lives and many forms, and thou must combat me, and my kin, forever!" The dragon spoke in a soft, almost pleasant voice, and then launched into its attack!
Pilgrim spurred his charger, and rode at the dragon, with lance couched for battle. The dragon made as if to fly and thus avoid the blow of the lance, but it was to no avail, for Pilgrim's aim was true, and the lance buried itself in the dragon's foul heart.
The dragon called Lust screamed a mighty scream, and thrashed upon the earth, pinned by the lance. Its black blood flowed steaming and boiling from the wound, and it raised its head to the skies, and died.
Forth from the cavern came a comely Lady, dressed in purest white, who ran to Prudence and embraced her in joy. She then turned to Pilgrim, and curtsyed most fairly, and said, "My thanks to thee, Sir, for thou hast saved me from the dragon called Lust, and mine honor is unstained. I am the Princess Faith, sister to the Princesses Prudence, Hope and Charity, and to the Princes Justice, Temperance and Fortitude. Let us go from this place quickly, for Lust, as with all the Children of Darkness, can only be conquered for a time, but always returns in another form."
Pilgrim looked to where the foul body lay, and saw that all that remained was a blackened stain upon the earth, and that the Lance had vanished with the dragon.
"Thou speakest truly, Lady," he said, "For the beast has gone, and with it the lance called Moderation."
Princess Faith smiled, and said, "That is no matter, for thou hast wielded it well, and it is now a part of thee. Thou shalt not need its assistance again."
They all mounted, and rode on, upon the highway, and into
a dark forest.