Uhhhhhhhggggggg. 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.
Time 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.
Voices! 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.
* * *
“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.
The 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?”
The 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.”
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.
* * *
Uhhhhhhhggggggg. 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.
* * *
Dragon opened one eye. A stocky man of mixed dwarven blood leaned over her. “Apprentice?”
“Aye, lassie, it be me.” He beamed at Dragon.
Dragon 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.”
At 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.”
* * *
Uhhhhhhhggggggg. 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.