Thanksgiving (a few days late)

Thanksgiving (a few days late)

scrambled eggsMiles and I were sitting at the kitchen table, along with my characters. The mood was somber. Most of us were just pushing our breakfast around on our plates. The only ones exhibiting a hearty appetite were my Arrogant One and my Bounty Hunter. The rest of us were having a hard time choking anything down.

For today's blog 001Miles put down his fork and sighed. “It’s just not the same without her here. I never thought I’d miss her threatening to char my shoes with my feet still in them, or the way she ripped up the carpeting when she was writhing around, scratching her back.”

My husband was referring to Dragon, who had disappeared from the conference room more than two weeks ago, along with her companion, the Great Wyrm.

sorceress-facing-right

Sorceress wiped a tear from her cheek. “We have to accept the fact that Dragon might not be coming back.”

Elf

Cleric choked back a sob. “We must have faith! She will return. She will!”

Young hero 2

My Young Hero nodded, and patted Cleric’s arm. “Yes, Dragon will return, I am sure of it! She is powerful and resourceful. She can overcome any danger.”

Gypsy

My Gypsy sighed and shook his head. “It is all well and good to have faith, but we must also be realistic. We have no idea where she is. We know not if she left willingly or was taken by someone who, for all we know, could be even more powerful and more resourceful than Dragon.”

arrogant-one-facing-right

“I say good riddance to the big lizard.” My Arrogant One stuck his nose in the air and busied himself flicking imaginary lint from the sleeve of his robe.

 

dwarf-facing-right

My Old Dwarf jumped from his chair, practically snarling at the elf, and brandishing his war axe. “Ye be wantin’ ta be eatin’ yer teeth fer mornin’ meal?”

 

“Enough!” My glare encompassed my Old Dwarf as well as my Arrogant One, but my warning was for the elf. “In case you’ve been living under a rock or something and haven’t noticed, the rest of us consider Dragon a dear friend. Your remark is both offensive and in very poor taste.”

My Arrogant One assumed an injured air. My Old Dwarf continued to stand there for several long, tense minutes, glowering at the elf and slapping the flat of his axe against the palm of his hand. Finally, he lowered his weapon and wandered off, dejectedly, towards the stairs.

bounty-hunter

As soon as he was out of earshot, my Bounty Hunter snorted. “Any bets on where the old fool is heading? He checks that conference room a dozen times a day. He really believes that creature will return.”

foreman-facing-left

“And you don’t think she will?” My Foreman assessed my Bounty Hunter through narrowed eyes. “Do you know something the rest of us don’t?”

 

“No, but it is as the Gypsy said. We need to be realistic. Who knows what caused her disappearance? She may have decided to stay with that other creature, the Great Wyrm, wherever she resides. Or she may be trapped somewhere, or even dead. We need to get over it and move on.”

Young hero 2

My Young Hero jumped to his feet. His fists were balled at his side, his face was red and blotchy, and his voice cracked as he yelled at my Bounty Hunter. “One does not just get over the loss of a friend! If there is any chance at all she is still alive, we need to search for her and try to rescue her! There must be something we can – -”

 

 

Whatever more my Young Hero was about to say was lost in the sound of running feet and shouting. My Old Dwarf came racing back up the stairs, whooping and bellowing at the top of his voice. “She be back! Er’ybody! Dragon be back! Tha big beastie be back!”

dwarf

For a few moments, we all froze in stunned silence, staring at the dwarf. Then we all jumped up and stampeded to the conference room.

Dragon“What happened to you?” “Are you okay?” “Where have you been?” “Where is the Great Wyrm?” “Welcome home!” Everyone was talking at once, and Dragon appeared quite overwhelmed. Her eyes opened wide, she backed away from us, and dark smoke spewed from her snout.

dwarfImmediately my Old Dwarf pushed his way through the crowd, placing himself between us and Dragon. He stood facing the group with his feet apart, brandishing his war axe, protecting his friend. “Do na any o ye be havin’ the sense ye be born wit? The big beastie been through a great ordeal! She be needin’ ta be restin’ so’s she kin be recuperatin’! Ye kin all be seein’ ’er later. Now ye best be skedaddlin’!”

When we did not move quickly enough, the old reprobate punctuated his demand with a swipe of his axe, scattering those closest to him and Dragon.

Before anyone could get hurt, I started grabbing my characters by the arm and herding them toward the door. “My Old Dwarf’s right. Dragon needs her rest. She’ll let us know when she’s feeling better.”

There were a lot of protests and muttering, but finally only three of us remained in the conference room with Dragon – Miles, me, and my Old Dwarf. But the dwarf did not relent. Scowling, he raised his axe again. “I be meanin’ the two o ye, too!”

Miles yelped and headed for the door, but I grabbed his arm and pulled him back. I stood my ground and glared at my Old Dwarf. “No, you don’t mean us. We will stay and talk to Dragon. You can go and guard the door.”

Slowly, the dwarf lowered his weapon. All the color drained from his normally ruddy face. “Nay, lass! Tha lastest time I be guardin’ thet door, the big beastie been disappeared. I do na be makin’ thet mistake agin. Iffin I be guardin’ ’er, I be stayin’ right here, in the very room wit ’er, where I kin be keepin’ me eye right on ’er. I do na be losin’ ’er agin!”

I smiled and placed my hand on his arm. “All right, old friend. You can stay.”

dragonI turned toward Dragon, who was still cringing next to her illusory fireplace. Her eyes were still wide and the tip of her tail was twitching. I spoke to her in my most soothing tone. “Dragon? It is good to see you again, my friend.”

Getting no response, I moved slowly toward the creature, stopping just a few feet from her. “Can you tell us what happened? You have been gone for more than two weeks.”

Slowly relaxing, Dragon tilted her head and scratched her chin, as if trying to remember. “I am afraid I can remember nothing. I was unaware that I had been gone until that silly old dwarf welcomed me home while flinging himself at me and trying to wrap my tail in a bear hug. I awoke here this morning, curled up next to my fireplace, but I could not seem to remember how I had gotten here. As I tried to remember, things got more and more confused. I have so many images swimming through my brain, and I can not make sense of them. I see people I do not know, and places with which I am not familiar.” She stood there, palms up, shrugging and shaking her head.

I nodded. “It could be you have suffered a great physical or emotional trauma that has caused a problem with your short-term memory. It is equally possible that your recent memory has been suppressed through magical means.”

Dragon snorted. “It would take a remarkably powerful magic user to do that.”

Miles and I exchanged worried glances across the room.

“You know something.” Dragon’s eyes narrowed.

I nodded. “You have recently been in the company of a creature whose magical power is far greater than your own; someone who could have easily altered with your memory.”

Dragon’s jaw dropped.

Miles cleared his throat. He took a few cautious steps closer to me and Dragon and spoke softly. “Don’t worry, she was a friend. She wouldn’t have done anything to harm you. If she is responsible for your loss of memory, I’m sure she has done it to protect you.”

I sighed. “You will probably hear all about it from the others, so I might as well tell you. Do you remember trying to discover and remove the source of the tension and conflict among all my characters?”

Dragon frowned. She started to shake her head, but paused. “Yes . . . yes, I think I do.”

dragon-1964202_960_720“Well, in the course of your investigation, you were aided by another Dragon, the Great Wyrm. Although the others are unaware of her origins, I can tell you – she is from the world about which I wrote in the manuscripts . . . the manuscripts from which you and the others have fallen.”

“The world we characters have always referred to as our world?”

Book manuscript“Yes, that world. Although you confirmed that that world is not your world, not really. Your world exists only in the pages of my manuscripts.”

Dragon stared at me for a very long time. Finally, she nodded. “So, were the Great Wyrm and I successful? Has the source of the tension and conflict been identified and removed?”

“I would say you were most successful, although I don’t know the details of your accomplishment. I only know the conflict has ended, the objects you suspected of being the cause of the hex are gone, and everyone is back to normal. We all owe the two of you a great debt. The disputes here had reached a critical level, and it would not have been long before the other characters would have inflicted serious physical harm – maybe even fatal injuries – to each other, or to Miles and me.”

“Then I am grateful for the help the Great Wyrm provided me.” Dragon sighed, then yawned widely. “Whatever adventures I have had, I fear they have left me devoid of energy. Might I excuse myself? I am in need of a long sleep.”

Miles and I smiled at Dragon, and I nodded. “Of course. We will talk again, when you are feeling better. My Old Dwarf will remain and watch over you. He will see that you are not disturbed.”

* * *

Thanksgiving feastSeveral days later, Dragon still had not sorted out her memories of recent events, but there would be time for that later. Now, we were gathered in the kitchen for dinner. Miles placed the last serving platter on the groaning sideboard, and took his place at the table. I looked around at everyone seated there, and cleared my throat.

 

“Today is Thanksgiving, a day traditionally set aside to give thanks for the bounty and blessings of the past year. Since those of us at this table are of various religions, and worship different deities, I suggest a departure from the traditional prayer before meals that Miles and I usually say. Instead, why doesn’t each person take a turn to state briefly what they are most thankful for this year?”

The silence was deafening. All my characters looked at me as if I had asked them to dance naked on the table.

“Okay, good. I’ll start.” I paused to gather my thoughts.

dwarf“Nay, lass. I be startin’.” My Old Dwarf rose and looked around the table before continuing. “This Thanksgiving, I be most grateful for the safe return o our friend, Dragon.”blue-dragon-facing-left

 

At the other end of the table, Dragon blushed deeply.

 

“Asides from thet, I be grateful for the roof o’er me head, the food in me belly, and the kind lass and her lad who do na be kickin’ us oot, in spite o the way we al’ays be disruptin’ their lives and causin’ ’em problems.”

Around the table, many heads were nodding.

“Hear, hear!” My Young Hero stood up. “I think you have spoken what is in each of our hearts today.”

“Good! I be savin’ ye all tha trouble o sayin’ it! Now kin we be getting’ ta the food already?”

I laughed as everyone grabbed their plates and took them to the sideboard to fill. While the others started eating right away, Miles and I joined hands, bowed our heads, and quietly said grace. Listening to the laughter and good cheer around the dinner table, I realized we had a lot to be thankful for.

 

One of the things for which I am most grateful is a husband who understands my writing process, and is such a good sport that he willingly participates in it. Another thing for which I am grateful is you, dear readers. I hope you will continue to share our adventures and misadventures. We’ll always leave the porch light on for you.

 

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Where Am I?

Where Am I?

sleeping-dragon-2Uhhhhhhhggggggg. Where am I?

Drifting in and out of consciousness, Dragon knew not where she was, nor why she was there. She had not the strength to raise her head, or even open her eyes, to look around.

Dragon slowly became aware of a sharp pain in her stomach. She moaned softly. How long has it been since I last ate?

The huge beast tried to shift her position. She could feel herself start to panic. I . . . can . . . not . . . move.

She knew this feeling. She had felt it before. I feel . . . as though . . . I am bound . . . swaddled tightly . . . in thick cotton . . . or imprisoned . . . in unyielding iron bands. I can . . . barely breathe.

Slowly, the helpless beast drifted back into unconsciousness.

sunTime dragged on. Dragon continued to fade in and out of a coma. In her more lucid moments, she was aware of great discomfort. She could feel the sun beating down on her as hot as a dwarven forge, baking her. As her throat grew as parched as the desert sands in which she lay, she tried again and again to rouse herself. I must find water and food! I must! But she was too weak. Again, she fell comatose.

Dragon convulsed. It must . . . be night. It is . . . so cold. She lay there shivering for hours until the sun started baking her again the next day. She grew weaker and weaker.

“What be the beastie doin’ back ’ere?” A gruff voice made its way through the fog around Dragon’s mind.

sleeping-dragon-2Voices! Hello? Dragon tried as hard as she could to speak, to move, to open her eyes, but she remained as still as death.

“An’ jest how be I ta be knowin’ thet? She do na exactly be conversatable.”

“How long be she here?”

“I do na be knowin’ thet, neither. Bu I be knowin’ we be needin’ ta do summat. The beastie be dyin’.”

“So? What nevermind o ours be thet?”

Please. She was too weak to give voice to her thoughts. Please . . . help . . . me.

“Where be ye goin’?”

“I be goin’ aboot me business. Why?”

“I tolded ye. The beastie be dyin’. We be needin’ ta do summat fer ’er.”

Dragon heard the first speaker snort and got the feeling that he was walking away.

She felt someone pat her arm. “It do na make much nevermind ta him, mebbe, but it do be makin’ some ta me. You do na be dyin’ on me now, beastie! I be commin’ back as soon as I be able ta find someone what kin help.”

No! Please! Do not leave me here! I can not survive another day in this sun!

But the speaker was gone. The sun continued to grow hotter. Dragon was so dry she could not even produce a single tear.

* * *

healer“You should have summoned me sooner.” The speaker, a petite lass with reddish blond hair and flashing emerald eyes, handed the reins of her strawberry roan mare to her companion. The horse snorted, and looked balefully at the figure.

half-dwarf3The girl’s companion scowled and reluctantly took the reins the girl thrust at him, holding them at arm’s length. He was a man who showed signs of dwarven heritage in his stocky build, his red hair and beard, and his green eyes; but the man’s height – at least two full heads taller than the small female – hinted at some human blood as well.

“It be takin’ me a good long while ta be findin’ ye. Ye do na exactly be makin’ it easy.” He continued scowling.

“It is not supposed to be easy.” The girl arched her eyebrows and gave the man a pointed look.

The man scoffed. “So, be ye helpin’ ’er or no?”

sleeping-dragon-1The girl frowned. “The beast appears dead. She is beyond help.” She reached for her reins.

The man stood his ground. “Nay. There be nuttin thet be beyond yer help, nuttin what ye canna be puttin’ right.”

“I can not put death right.”

“Try.”

The girl stared at him through narrowed eyes. “Dare you test me, half-blood?”

“I dare. She be one o yourn. Ye be obligated ta help ’er.” The man jutted his chin and folded his arms across his chest.

The female laughed. “One of mine?” She shook her head. “Horses are mine, not dragons.”

“Ye helped one o ’em onest afore.”

“Did I?” The petite girl looked at him curiously. “How would you know about that? That was long before you were a gleam in your sire’s eye.”

“Do na I be Apprentice ta the foremostest historian o the land?” A sly smile peaked through his wiskers.

The girl frowned. “Let me consider your request.” She reached for the reins once more.

The man shook his head and held tight to the reins. “Ye kin be considerin’ it right here and right now.”

The girl narrowed her eyes threateningly, but the man just stood there, looking unimpressed.

She glanced at the huge carcass, half-buried in the shifting sands, then looked back at the man. “You could join her.”

The man shrugged.

The lass tilted her head and stroked her chin. “Death is designed to be final.”

Still the man just stood there.

The girl frowned. “No.”

The man did not budge.

“No, I tell you. The creature is dead. I will not change that. It is against the rules of nature.”

Again she reached for her reins, and again the man held tight. “The rules o our nature, the rules o our world do na apply ta ’er. She do na be from our world.”

The girl scoffed. “What are you talking about? Of course she is from our world. I know this dragon well.”

The man snorted. “Look again. She mebbe a shadow o the dragon ye be knowin’ so well, a memory o ’er, an image o ’er, an echo o ’er, but it do na be ’er.”

The girl’s brow furrowed. She walked over to the corpse and studied it. Suddenly her eyes widened and her hand flew to her mouth. “This . . . this can not be! How . . . ?”

“I be explainin’ it all ta ye later. Right now, ye be helping ’er.”

The girl glared at the man for many long minutes. Finally, she nodded.

* * *

sleeping-dragon-2Uhhhhhhhggggggg. Where am I?

Drifting in and out of consciousness, Dragon knew not where she was, nor why she was there. She had not the strength to raise her head, or even open her eyes, to look around, but she thought she heard something. Voices? She strained to listen.

“It be takin’ ye a durn good enough long time.”

Dragon did not see the speaker, who sounded as if he were standing some distance away; nor did she see the person to whom he spoke, although she heard the reply from right next to her.

“It is a long procedure. Did you think I just waved my hand and poof?”

Voices! Hello? Dragon tried as hard as she could to speak, to move, to open her eyes, but she remained as still as death. Help . . . me! Oh, please . . . please help me! But the voices faded as the beast once again slipped into oblivion.

* * *

“Beastie?”

Dragon opened one eye. A stocky man of mixed dwarven blood leaned over her. “Apprentice?”

 

“Aye, lassie, it be me.” He beamed at Dragon.

wooden doorDragon shifted her considerable bulk and struggled into a sitting position. She realized she was no longer burning hot nor freezing cold. Her throat was no longer parched and her stomach felt full. She looked around. They were in the woodland glade outside the Apprentice Historian’s stone hut.

“How did I get here?” She stretched, testing the soundness of her limbs and the strength of her muscles.

“A friend brung ye here.”

“The dwarf who first brought me here?”

The man’s face darkened. “Nay. It do na been him.”

“Who, then? I heard voices . . . I think.” She shook her head as if to clear it of cobwebs.

“It do na be makin’ no nevermind who it been.” He shook his head, then grinned again. “I knowed I be tellin’ ye ta be sure ta drop by an’ visit iffin ye e’er be back here in me lifetime, beastie, but I dinna e’er be expectin’ ta be seein’ ye so soon!”

Dragon looked worried. “How long has it been since I was last here?”

“Thet be dependin’ on what time ye be keepin’. Ye be remembering the Great Wyrm and me be tellin’ ye thet the passage o time be different in different worlds.”

dragon-1964202_960_720At the mention of her friend, Dragon’s eyes widened. “The Great Wyrm! Where is she? I must see her.”

“I do na be knowin’ where she be at the moment, beastie. I do na be seein’ ’er sincen the two o ye be leavin’ me hut together.”

“She did not come back with me?” Dragon jumped up.

“I do na be knowing thet, either, beastie. She dinna be wit ye when I founded ye in the desert.”

“Oh, no! She must be stranded back in the book . . . or lost between worlds!” Dragon started pacing, her tail thrashing around.

 

“Eh, now, ye be careful wit thet tail o yourn!” The Apprentice yelped and jumped out of the way of the lashing appendage.

“Oh, I am so sorry!”

“Eh, I do na be guessin’ ye done any real damage.” He settled himself on a log next to his chopping block. “But ye do na be needin’ ta be afeared none. I mebbe do na be knowin’ where the Great Wyrm be, but I do be knowin’ she be back here in this world. Whether she be here by her own devices or wit yer help, I do na be knowin’.”

Dragon stared at him incredulously. “How? How do you know she’s here?”

“She be the one what put it in me mind thet ye be needin’ help, and showeded me where I could be findin’ ye.”

“But . . . but you said you had not seen her.”

“I dinna be seein’ ’er. Thet one do na be needin’ ta be wit someone ta be conversatin’ wit ’em.”

Dragon smiled and nodded her understanding. “Well, I must find her. I must be certain that she is safe and that she has thwarted the plans of those who tried to eliminate her presence in this world.”

“Ye do na be needin’ ta be afeared. The Great Wyrm be safe and she be sortin’ out them what be needin’ some rememberin’ thet she do na be a creature ta be trifled wit.” The Apprentice grinned and winked at Dragon.

Dragon chuckled. “I can well imagine just how she would remind them to afford her her due respect.” The big beast sighed. “Well, I do not know whether to merely be relieved and grateful that she is okay, or also be disappointed that she does not need my help.”

The Apprentice nodded. “Well, whilst ye be decidin’, why do na ye change inta thet beauteous elfie so’s ye can be settin’ at table wit me fer evenin’ meal? Then, we can be jawin’ aboot how ye be gittin’ back ta Mistress Writer’s world without drainin’ e’ry bit o power and lifeforce from wittin ye.”

Dragon smiled. “Yes, that would be a good idea.”

* * *

fireplace2Uhhhhhhhggggggg. Where am I?

Dragon opened her eyes and looked around. She was surprised and somewhat befuddled to find herself curled up on the thickly carpeted floor of the conference room, next to her illusory fireplace.

Now how did I get here?

She stood up and stretched. Then she scratched her head and thought. The last thing I remember is . . . hmmmm. No, that’s not right. The last thing I remember is . . .

Just then, the Old Dwarf came stomping through the door. He stopped short, gaping at Dragon. A huge smile spread across his face. “Dragon! Ye be back!” He launched himself at the beast and gave her tail a huge bear hug.

 

“Back? Have I been away?”

Without replying, the Old Dwarf raced out of the room and up the stairs, whooping and bellowing at the top of his voice. “She be back! Er’ybody! Dragon be back!”

 

How did Dragon get safely back to this world? What new adventures await her and her friends now that she is back? Be sure to come back next week and join us for our Thanksgiving feast. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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Time, Time, Time

Time, Time, Time

blue dragon facing right

 

The Great Wyrm paced. Time and time again, she circled the copse of date palms. Her huge, clawed feet and her long, bulky tail dredged a trench in the sand around the grove.

 

 

In the shade of the palm trees, Dragon remained comatose, unaware of the passage of time. It had been more than three days, and still she had not stirred.

sleeping-dragon-1The Great Wyrm ceased her pacing and studied her unresponsive companion. The smaller wyrm’s color was starting to return, although her scales remained dull and drab. Her breathing, so shallow and irregular three days past, was returning to normal.

The Great Wyrm reached down and stroked Dragon’s cheek with the back of one talon. Another day, maybe two, little one. Then, if you have not revived, I am afraid I must attempt to awaken you. Forgive me, but time is of the essence. She sighed. If only I had my powers, I could heal you without delay. Then again, if I had my powers, I doubt we would be here in this predicament.

The huge beast sighed again, and resumed pacing, going around and around and around. Suddenly she stopped and her head jerked up. Flying toward the stand of trees was another wyrm, this one just a hair smaller than Dragon. Its brilliant scales sparkled in the desert sun. It almost looked like a flying jewel.

 

The newcomer landed nearby, on the other side of the grove of trees. The Great Wyrm was by its side in an instant. The ancient behemoth tilted her head and studied the strange dragon. Something about the creature looked odd. It appeared to the Great Wyrm to be almost two-dimensional, something between illusion and reality.

speech-bubbleTrying to shrug off the feeling that something was amiss, the Great Wyrm reached out telepathically and greeted the other dragon in their ancient tongue, as was the custom of her species. There was no response. The Great Wyrm frowned. Not only did this newcomer not reply, the Great Wyrm could sense nothing from it. The creature’s mind was a total blank.

The intruder started to walk toward the trees and the Great Wyrm followed. The ancient wyrm reached out and touched the dragon, but recoiled. The beast felt strange, somewhat insubstantial.

The creature continued walking. The Great Wyrm tapped it on the shoulder, expecting some reaction, but the other creature totally ignored her. The Great Wyrm narrowed her eyes, and a growl rumbled deep in her throat. She reached out and shoved the dragon. The other creature caught its balance and continued walking toward the trees. It was heading straight toward the comatose Dragon.

The Great Wyrm moved ahead of the interloper and stood between it and Dragon. Stop! I will not allow you to harm her! When she got no response from her telepathic message, she repeated it aloud. Then she grabbed the unresponsive creature and held it fast, in spite of the feeling that her hands were about to go right through the insubstantial body.

Still the dragon did not react. Its legs continued to move, and had the Great Wyrm not been holding it, the dragon would have continued walking along its previous course.

The Great Wyrm turned the dragon around and faced it in the opposite direction, then released it. The dragon took a few steps, then pivoted and resumed its original course, faltering just a bit as it negotiated the trench left by the Great Wyrm’s pacing. It never acknowledged the presence of the Great Wyrm and never seemed to notice Dragon’s still form beneath the trees.

A faint voice in the Great Wyrm’s mind caused her to jump. Do not worry. It will do us no harm. Although we can touch the denizens of this world, I do not think them capable of interacting with us.

The Great Wyrm turned toward her ailing companion, a smile brightening her face. Little One! You are awake!

Am I? Yes, I suppose I am, although I do not feel very alert yet. She looked around. It is hard for me to believe we made it safely into the manuscript. I really did not believe you when you said I had the power to bring you here! Dragon smiled warmly at the Great Wyrm. She shifted her position to relieve a cramp in one of her wings, but made no attempt to rise. How long have I been unconscious?

The Great Wyrm stooped down and took Dragon’s hand in hers. It has been three days.

“Three days?” Dragon’s eyes flew open, and she forgot all about communicating telepathically. “Three days here?”

Her companion nodded.

Dragon blanched. “With the time we already spent in Mistress Writer’s world, how long have we been gone from your world?”

“I am not certain. As you know, time passes differently in the different worlds. We have either been gone 50 years, or it is two weeks before we left my world.” The Great Wyrm winked.

Dragon chuckled at that. She struggled to sit, but found she was still too weak. “Is there any food or water left?” Having remembered that everything in the manuscript world was insubstantial, Dragon had packed food and water for the trip, and had asked the Great Wyrm to bring it along.

“Of course! I should have offered it straight away!”

Dragon drank deeply, emptying two of the four large water skins. Then she wolfed down an entire roast she had pilfered from Mistress Writer’s kitchen. Finally, she leaned back and sighed. “Thank you! I feel a bit stronger now.”

 

“Now that your stomach is full, and your thirst slaked, you should sleep again. You need to regain your strength. The next leg of the journey may be even more arduous than the first.” The Great Wyrm could not disguise her look of concern, and Dragon swallowed a large lump in her throat.

“But we must make haste in returning to your world! Time is running out!”

The Great Wyrm nodded. “It is true, time will not wait for us. But if you attempt the spell before you have recovered sufficiently, all the time in the world will do us no good. We have but one chance to make this journey. Let us be sure you are up to the task.”

sleeping-dragon-2Dragon reluctantly agreed. As the sun began to sink below the horizon, the large beast rolled over and closed her eyes. She sighed, inwardly relieved that she would have more time to recuperate and prepare, but worried about the consequence of any further delay. Sleep was a long time coming that night.

It was another two days before Dragon dared to attempt the difficult crossing from the world inside Mistress Writer’s manuscript to the Great Wyrm’s world, the world about which Mistress Writer had written in her manuscript. Even though she felt as if she had recovered all of her power and strength, Dragon hesitated. She remembered the last time she had made this journey, and she had been alone then. Now, she had to transfer another being besides herself. She was not sure all of her power and strength would be sufficient. But she could not risk further delay. Time marched on.

Dragon sat with her back against the rough bark of a date palm. She firmly grasped the hand of the Great Wyrm, who sat beside her. The two wyrms gripped each other tightly; they dared not consider what would happen if they became separated.

Dragon concentrated as hard as a dragon can, putting every ounce of her considerable mental prowess and supernatural power into her endeavor. She intoned an ancient incantation in an archaic language, trying hard to remember the changes recently imparted by the Great Wyrm, changes that would – hopefully – transfer the ancient beast along with Dragon.

Time seemed to stand still. Ever so slowly, the two wyrms began to shimmer. Bit by bit by tiny bit, their great bulk faded from the shadow world of the manuscript until, finally, they disappeared altogether.

magic energy traceIt seemed to Dragon an eternity passed before she started taking shape again. As she slowly solidified, she realized she was no longer holding the Great Wyrm’s hand. Dragon struggled to look around at her surroundings, frantically searching the landscape for her companion; but there was no time to find her before Dragon lost consciousness, her enormous power drained completely.

 

Did the Great Wyrm safely make the journey between worlds, or does she remain stranded within the pages of a manuscript? Is Dragon merely exhausted, or has her time run out? Has her lifeforce been drained away along with her power? Be sure to return next week to find the answers. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

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Gone

Gone

Sleeping Woman 2“Mistress! Wake up! Please wake up!”

I heard the softly whispered words as if they came from a great distance; they were barely a tickle in my ear. I rolled over, my subconscious content that the voice was part of a dream.

“Mistress? Mistress! You must awaken!”

This time, the dream voice was louder, more urgent. And in my dream, someone was shaking me.

I tried to shrug it off, but the voice and the shaking persisted and became more demanding. Finally, I opened one eye. I was not dreaming.

Cleric and Sorceress were bending over me, trying their best to wake me without disturbing my husband, who was sleeping next to me. They almost succeeded.

“Hmmmm? Whasamatter?” Miles turned over. “You say something, honey?” His eyes fluttered, but remained closed.

“Ah, no, sweetheart.” I spoke in a soothing whisper. “You must be dreaming.”

“Mmmmmmm. ’K.” He snuggled further into his blankets.

I motioned to Cleric and Sorceress to keep quiet. They responded by grabbing my arm and dragging me out of bed. They handed me my robe, and helped me pull it on. Then they tugged me toward the door.

When we got out into the hallway, Cleric and Sorceress both started to whisper urgently, but their voices were jumbled together, and I could not understand them. Finally, Sorceress placed her hand over Cleric’s mouth and opened her own mouth to speak. Before she could say a single word, though, we heard someone behind us.

“Ahem.”

Easter 128We whirled around to face the sound. Miles had followed us into the hallway, and was leaning against the wall, watching us.

“So . . . I’m dreaming, huh? I’m dreaming that my wife is being kidnapped by two of her characters?” He raised an eyebrow sardonically.

“Kidnapped? Oh, no, Master Miles! We would never kidnap Mistress Writer!” Cleric’s eyes were wide and her cheeks burned scarlet.

Sorceress grabbed both Miles and me by our arms. “You must come right away! They are gone!”

I pulled my arm free of her grip. “Who is gone?”

“Dragon and the Great Wyrm.”

If I hadn’t been awake before, I certainly was now. “What do you mean, they’re gone?”

This time it was Cleric who placed her hand over Sorceress’ mouth. “We have been working for days with little rest, Mistress.” She shuffled her feet and shrugged. “After repairing the damage from the explosion, we all needed a respite.”

Sorceress pushed Cleric’s hand aside, and continued the tale. “We fell asleep. All of us. Well, at least Cleric and I, and the Gypsy lad.” She frowned. “We thought the other two were asleep as well – or in a trance, or reverie, or whatever replaces sleep with Dragons.”

gypsy-facing-rightMy Gypsy came up behind us and joined the conversation. “Obviously, they were not asleep. When the three of us awoke, the two wyrms were gone.” He turned toward me. “Your Old Dwarf was still awake and at his post, guarding the conference room. I just finished questioning him. They did not leave through the door.”

“Are you sure?” Miles looked skeptical. “They might have left without him seeing them. Maybe he fell asleep, or went upstairs to get a snack.”

My Gypsy shook his head. “After the mess he made of that door, he was determined not to fail again at his task. He said he never left his post, and I believe him. And that dwarf would never fall asleep on guard duty!”

“Was there any indication that the conduit finally appeared, and they went through that, back to the other world?” I pulled my robe closer around me and thought of all the possible reasons the two wyrms might have disappeared.

“No.” Sorceress shook her head. “If the conduit had appeared, Dragon and the Great Wyrm would not have been able to use it to return to the other world until certain alterations were made to the spell controlling the passageway.”

“They were going to instruct us, so we could make the alterations.” Cleric was wringing her hands.

“Could they have been taken by force?” As soon as the words left his mouth Miles ducked his head sheepishly, as if he realized just how absurd that sounded. Who could take two huge, powerful beasts by force, and not awaken the others in the room?

I frowned and shook my head. “I don’t see how. But standing here talking about it isn’t going to help us solve the mystery. Let’s go down and look around the conference room. Maybe we can figure it out.”

dwarf-facing-rightWe descended the stairs and found my Old Dwarf still standing guard at the conference room door. He looked at me, his eyes red-rimmed and his cheeks wet. “I be swearin’ ta ye, lass, I dinna e’er be leavin’ this spot, not tha whole o tha time since they been tendin’ me cuts and mendin’ the door. Tha big beasties dinna been leavin’ thet room through this door.”

“I know.” I patted him on his shoulder.

“Be they all right?” His voice cracked with emotion.

“I’m sure they’re fine.” I silently wished I was as confident as I sounded.

I stepped through the door and studied the room. The magic users’ grimoires, spell components, and magical paraphernalia were strewn across the table. I raked my hand through my hair, heaved a deep sigh, and turned toward the magic users. “Does everything look the same as when you went to sleep?”

My three characters examined the clutter on the table.

“It appears so, Mistress.” Cleric started to straighten her area.

My Gypsy followed suit, gathering his belongings in a somewhat neatened jumble. “Yes, nothing appears to be missing . . . well, except for two very large dragons.” He wiggled his eyebrows, but his attempt at humor fell flat. He sighed.

Sorceress frowned. She moved away from the table, and walked to a protected alcove at the rear of the room. She turned back toward us, her face drained of color. “The magic container is gone!”

“That can’t be good.” Miles frowned. “Are you sure?”

“Quite certain, Master Miles. It was right there when last I saw it.” She pointed to an empty spot in the alcove.box

We all took a quick look around the room, checking under the table and chairs, but the big, ornate chest that held the four hexed items from the other world was no longer in the conference room.

 

Book manuscriptI bent down and picked up a stray book I noticed under the settee by Dragon’s illusory fireplace. I realized after a quick glance that it wasn’t one of the magic users’ spell books. This was one of my manuscripts, and it was open to a passage describing the desert scene wherein Dragon had first met some of my other characters.

 

Suddenly, I knew where Dragon and the Great Wyrm were.

 

* * *

blue dragon facing rightdesert-2196352_960_720I blinked, trying to adjust my eyes to the azure of the cloudless sky and the endless expanse of sun-drenched sand gleaming gold in the early morning light.

I stretched, digging my claws deep into the sand. Then I slowly lowered my bulk and rolled onto my back, writhing. My intent was to use the fine particles of sand to burnish my scales to a polished finish, but it was not working. Although I could see and feel the sand, it was different. It lacked substance. I sighed and stood up again.

oasisI looked around. In the dubious shelter of a nearby copse of insubstantial palm trees, Dragon – the shadow, the echo, the memory of my younger self – still slumbered, exhausted by her efforts to bring us here. Her first trip here, back into the book from which she had fallen, had been difficult by her telling. This time, bringing along a creature not from this world, it was infinitely more strenuous. Still, the trip was imperative.

strange-dreamsDragon and her colleagues in magic, under my tutelage, had been unable to summon the conduit that connects my world with that of Mistress Writer, the world the Scrivener terms the real world. I am convinced that someone in my world interfered with the conduit.

Since it is essential that I return to my world, Dragon offered to make this sacrifice, first taking me into her world, the world inside the manuscript from which she fell into that real world; then, from the manuscript world, taking me into my own world. The first stage of the journey has left her totally exhausted. The next stage might well leave her dead.

 

 

Will the journey be the end of Dragon? Will she sacrifice her life so the Great Wyrm can return to her own world, hopefully in time to save it from the ravages of a terrible war? Be sure to come back next week and join us for the next chapter of this adventure. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.