He had traveled from one end of the nodegel to the other. He had seen the great machines where the molochs toiled, and he’d been in the M-Noder Washroom. He’d visited the heights of Valhalla and snuck into nate’s closet. Still he’d never been able to find the Dragon.

It was said to be old, this dragon, as old as the website itself, some said even older. Its scales were pure and brilliant perl, on its wings were the soft links of a thousand nodes. It wept C!s (and breathed fire-- of course).

There were other things said about it. That the bots, E2D2, EDB, Eddie, and the rest, were all manifestations of the dragon, but to It as our fingers are to us-- and hinting at some unknowable truer nature.

It came to him as an idea: the quest to find the dragon. He happened on it suddenly, but suspected in his clearer moments that the idea had been there all the time in the quiet corners of his mind, building up pressure until its silence became a shout. The desire to see this thing, this intangible thing that must be somewhere in the nodegel.

There must be somewhere the dragon lurked. A lair, where its potential manifested as one coherent being.

So, he searched. He needed wisdom, and so he asked the wisest of the old masters. He poured over decadeversary interviews looking for clues. He even dared ask Klaproth, but that being only spoke of the dead and he feared it too much to listen.

The dragon, did it see his quest? He wonder if it knew he sought it. A being so wise must be aware of him. And if it was, as it must be, then did it deliberately ignore him? What purpose could it possibly have in denying him an audience? Could it mean to deprive him of its light for some malicious reason? Or perhaps it was benefic? Could the majesty of such a beast be in itself dangerous and so it thought to protect him from his own folly?

He didn’t care either way. He’d search until he fell and by sheer determination he would succeed even if seeing a single scale would blow all the fuses in his mind and peel his reality away from him.

Where else could he look? He’d been to the E2 Marble Shop. He’d walked The Catwalk. He’d asked the Everything I Ching and gotten the usual obtuse runes. He’d even tried to figure out what Back Up My Vars backed up, and despite all of that he still was no closer to finding the dragon.

He searched for years with no leads, and then one day he found a note, hidden in a cookie, that said: Seek and Ye Shall Find.

This omen followed to its conclusion, led him to the Voting Oracle. He told it of his quest but instead of pointing him Somewhere in E2 … it only said, “Thou hast cast 22578 votes... 0.2097% of the judgements made of all time, across 6.320% of all votable writeups. Of these, 94.074% are upvotes.”

He wept then for he thought his quest must be at an end. He sat in the oblique strategies garden behind the Fortress of Lost Nodes where the wails from the Pit of Abomination could be heard faintly from the wastes to the north.

There was only one option for failing a quest such as this. He decided he would walk to Mountain of Aszomamath where he would then cast himself from the highest peak into the Pit itself.

He didn’t even know what would happen if he abominated himself. Perhaps his write-ups and his own noxious prattle would vanish with him. Or maybe people would perceive him as a ghost of himself, while his own perception would not perceive himself at all.

Either way, he decided to end it.

He went up the mountain and passed the remains of those who had tried the climb before. Some for glory, some to spite it all, and some-- like him-- to end it all in the Pit.

True, he didn’t need to cast himself into it from so far up. You could walk right up to it on the mountain’s leeward side, and abominate whoever you wanted, but to do it right-- that was another thing.

At the top of the mountain stood a small temple to one of the forgotten E2 gods; the small brick structure standing in opposition to the sky, in opposition to the vast panorama of nature; the twisted peaks rising from the nodegel, the ruins of the ancient moloch cities (from whence they came before their great toil began), the deserted wastes beyond the bubbling nodegel swamps that stretched to infinity… yes, one temple looked out over them all and the blessèd goddess’s statue seemed to hold the enormity back, not with any titanic power, but with a small domestic one. Order opposed to chaos.

Here he stopped to reflect before jumping. The peak across the Pit, another ancient gnarled pile of rocks shifted, and for a moment, a scintillating eye the size of the moon blinked at him from across the gap, before the whole mountain took flight and was gone.

He’d seen the dragon! But, where did it go?

Too weary from his travels, he laid himself down by the temple and fell asleep. Nobody knows when he will wake up, but he is still there if any wish to look. See the rock next to the temple? That’s him, curled there, and by tradition we place blankets on that rock when we finish our pilgrimages.

See also: freegel

A reQuested writeup



"They want me to write about the mystic E2 dragon."


"So I think of you."

Silence... a weight. "So it's me?"

"No, but you are a dragon, born in the Year of the Dragon."

"Like we're Chinese."

"Yeah, well."

"And you are an ox."

"Thanks." I wait. "Come on, show up."

The dragon is made of a coat hanger, a rough gold cloth and black felt hand sewn to the body, thin gold cloth on the wings, gold earrings with rubies for eyes. Probably fake rubies, I'm not sure. I made it in college, tail to curl around the neck so that it can sit upright on my shoulder when I walk around. A gold fire lizard. I gave it to my sister, who said I could take it back when she lay dying.

The dragon morphs and now fills the living room, pushing on the walls and squashing me. The scales are hard and hot!

"Stop it!" I say, "Don't destroy the house!"

The dragon is now couch size. My couch groans under it. The dragon is very alive and smoke rises from her nostrils. It manages to look like my sister, like a dragon and like the borg all at once. Metal and wires on the left side of the dragon's face, eye socket with a metal camera that whirrs.

"Mind the couch." I say.

She shifts a little, not shrinking. I peel myself off the fireplace, with the ache of the metal insert and the mantel on my back.

"So." I say, "what should I tell them?"

She narrows her eyes at me and shrugs.

"What do they want to hear?"

"You tell me."

"Keep the site alive."

"Yeah, ok." I wait.

She looks around. "Your dust bunnies are dying of old age."

"That's ok." I say. "They are better than a guard dog."

She snorts smoke.

"Tea?" I say. I have it made already, on a tray. The tray was painted by one cousin, the tea cloth woven by another, the teapot made by our mother, with my poem on it.

She takes the cup and saucer delicately. Five claws on each forefoot.

"What's it like?" I say.

Shrug again, as she sips the tea.

I wait.

"I'm not telling you. And this is your active imagination, so what a stupid question."

"But I am talking to the unconscious."

"Yeah, whatever. And anyhow, you've already decided, puny human."



And here a curtains drops, while I thank her and we say goodbye.

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