He climbed lower, slower, deeper into the depths of the old dying dark house. The stairs spiraled counter-clockwise downward and were very steep. Every ten steps or so, there was a torch mounted on the wall that feebly flickered a weak orange glow, but they all seemed to have given up trying to keep the shadows at bay centuries ago. The boy went down, down, down. Spiralling into the depths of the house. He wished to leave the staircase, but there were no doors, no windows, no escape. Only the hope that there was a bottom, and that the bottom wasn't worse than the top.
"Where does this lead?" the boy asked the raven that still occupied his shoulder.
"Lead? Led. Lead? Poison. Pain. Death?" the raven babbled, cryptic as ever.
The boy sighed and clutched his dragon and continued on down the stairs. He soon came to another torch, much like the ones he had passed countless times before on his journey downward. This one was slightly different, however, in that it glowed purple instead of orange.
"How strange," the boy said to himself, no longer expecting the raven to tell him anything of value. He reached up on his tip-toes and pulled the torch off of the wall and examined the flame. It cracked loudly and a dozen purple-glowing fairies shot out of it, and began to swarm the boy, pinching him and biting him. He tried to swat them away, but they zipped and zoomed and buzzed in circles around his body and head. Finally, the boy caught one of the pixies by its wings and trapped it in his hands.
"Stop!" he demanded of the remaining purple nuisances. "Or I'll squash her! I'll do it!"
The fairies all screeched to a halt in mid-air and hovered in place. Then they all buzzed around so that all eleven of them were on eye level with the boy. They were glowing little women with violet skin and fluorescent pink hair. They were naked and they had narrow cat-like eyes, sharp teeth and slender clawed fingers. The boy could see that they were genuinely concerned for their friend that he held captive.
"Please," they begged in high-pitched, rhythmic unison, "let her go."
"How do I know you won't just attack me again?" the boy asked.
"We won't! We swear it."
"How about we free your poor little dragon there?" the fairies asked.
"Free him from what?"
"His curse of course," said the fairies.
"He doesn't have any curse," the boy replied, confused as to why they'd think such a thing.
"If he hasn't a curse, then why isn't he moving, or breathing fire, or flying about like any proper dragon would be?"
"True enough, I suppose," the boy conceded. He set his dragon on the stair steps. "Break his curse, and I'll free your friend."
The fairies flew quickly down to the stuffed dragon and began to cast powders and dusts over it, until the dragon was covered in glowing purple. Then, one of the fairies flew down in front of the dragon and kissed its snout gently. There was a bright flash of violet light, and the boy was blinded momentarily. When he regained his vision, in the place where his dragon had been, there now was a real dragon. It was about the same size-- a foot and a half from snout to tail-- and looked the same, but now it was moving, and in place of its cotton and fabric was now shining red scales and yellow skinned wings and horns. It stretched like a cat and yawned, a cloud of smoke escaping from its mouth.
"That's much better," he said in a gravelly voice. He flapped his wings a few times and glided to the boy's unoccupied shoulder, and perched himself opposite the raven.
"Wow," said the boy. "You weren't kidding. Here's your friend back." The boy released the fairy he held in his hands and it darted away and over to its kin. "No hard feelings, I hope?"
"Of course not," said the fairies. "Good luck to you."
The fairies shot off up the staircase, and out of sight. The boy turned around, with his raven and his dragon, and walked down the steps of the spiralling staircase. He hadn't taken but twenty steps when he came to the bottom. And at the bottom of the seemingly un-ending staircase, there was a door. There was nothing special about the door, other than it being the end of an un-ending staircase. It was made of wood that looked aged, but in respectable condition, had no design or ornamentation of any kind, and had a standard round brass doorknob. All in all, it was a spectacularly average door.
So, the boy opened it.