My Arrogant One shuffled out of my office, head down, shoulders slumped. I followed, trying to hurry him along. “The last time I saw Dragon, she was in the conference room, napping in front of her illusory fireplace. She’s probably still there. Let’s go see if she’ll help us.”
My Arrogant One gave a half-hearted nod, along with a bit of a shrug, and continued shuffling down the hallway away from my office. But as we approached the end of the hall, we both stopped dead in our tracks.
I stared. “Where’s the conference room?”
The door that led to the conference room was gone. Beyond the spot where it should have been, my husband, Miles, and several of my characters were decorating the family room . . . a much larger family room than I remembered.
“What was that, honey? Did you say something?” My husband looked up from arranging his Christmas village.
“Where is the conference room?” I gaped at the family room, full of festive holiday decorations.
“Oh, Dragon moved it, Mistress.” My Gypsy placed a figure into the village. “Is this where you wanted the stack of snowmen, Master Miles?”
“Ah, no, put them a little further down, by the skating pond.” Miles pointed. “There, that’s good.”
“Dragon . . . moved . . . the conference room?” I shook my head and raked my hand through my hair.
“Yeah, she wanted to give us more room for my Christmas village and the other holiday decorations.” My husband seemed remarkably nonchalant about this as he took the ceramic houses my Gypsy and my Young Hero held out and positioned them at the far end of the display.
I watched Miles and the others bustle about, arranging various holiday decorations.
Finally, I asked, “Well, where did she move it?”
“Move what, honey?” Miles didn’t look up as he answered me.
“The conference room! Where did Dragon move the conference room?” My voice was starting to stray into the register usually reserved for opera divas . . . or my Arrogant One when my Old Dwarf called him elfie.
Miles paused and stroked his chin. “You know, I don’t think she said.”
“We would help you look, but right now, Master Miles has us assisting him with the decorations.” My Foreman slid past me with a sleigh filled with evergreen boughs. “Where did you want this, Master Miles?”
“Up there, please.” My husband pointed to a spot atop a tall cabinet.
My Foreman tried it there, frowned, then moved it to the back of the couch. “With respect, I think it would look better here, sir. It is a bit cluttered atop the cabinet.”
I gaped at them all, going about their tasks as if nothing was amiss. “Where . . . is . . . the . . . conference . . . room?”
“You might try looking upstairs, Mistress.” Cleric handed a wreath to Sorceress, who placed it on the door to the storage closet.
“Yes.” Sorceress nodded “Maybe at the far end of the walk-in closet in your master bedchamber.”
“What?” I felt as if they were all speaking a foreign language.
My Old Dwarf and my Bounty Hunter lugged some large, plastic bins from the storage closet. My Bounty Hunter added his container to the pile and grabbed my Arrogant One by the sleeve of his cloak. “We could use your help, too.”
“Ah, no, I need the elf with me right now.” I frowned. “Come on, let’s check upstairs.”
The elf and I trudged up the stairs and down the hallway to the master bedroom suite. “Wait here.” I did not want any of my characters traipsing around my bedroom. Who was I kidding? My characters seemed to traipse wherever they wanted, as evidenced by the fact they all seemed to know about the walk-in closet. Funny, I don’t remember ever giving them a tour.
While my Arrogant One waited impatiently in the hallway, I opened the bedroom door, crossed the room, and entered the walk-in closet. Sure enough, something was undeniably different. I stared, trying to figure it out. Oh, yeah – it was organized!
Other than that astonishing discovery, I also realized the wall at the far end of the closet had changed drastically. It appeared rather insubstantial, like a glittering haze. I shuddered.
After staring at it for many long minutes, I squared my shoulders and cautiously approached the shimmering barrier at the back of the closet. “Dragon? Dragon, are you there?”
I hesitated before warily reaching out toward the shimmering veil. It parted at my touch, revealing the scene beyond. There was the conference room, all right, with Dragon still fast asleep in front of her fireplace.
As I debated the wisdom of crossing the threshold and waking Dragon, my Arrogant One pushed in behind me, throwing me off-balance and cart-wheeling us both across the room. We landed unceremoniously in a heap atop the sleeping reptile.
Dragon leaped to her feet, throwing the elf and I onto the floor. My Arrogant One almost landed in the fireplace, while I rolled away from the hearth and bumped into the chess table.
“What is the meaning of this? Dragon glared at the interruption to her daily siesta.
“Sorry.” I struggled to my feet and brushed myself off. I turned to the elf, who had just done the same. “I thought I told you to wait in the hallway.”
“You were taking too long.” He glared at me. “Well, will the beast help or not?”
“I don’t know if Dragon will help. I haven’t even had the chance to talk to her yet.”
“Then I will ask her.” The elf turned scornfully toward Dragon. “Beast . . .”
I put my hand over his mouth. “I think I should do the talking.”
Dragon folded her reptilian arms over her scaly chest and glared at us through narrowed eyes. Wisps of dark smoke drifted from her nostrils, and she tapped one clawed foot impatiently. “Someone had best take the opportunity to speak with me, before I decide to have flambé for lunch.”
I sighed and related the story. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2018/12/16/what-is-the-source-of-the-problem/
Dragon settled herself on the floor in front of her fireplace while she listened. She rolled onto her belly and rearranged her bulk into a sphinx-like position, with her small arms curled like a cat’s under her chest, and her wings folded neatly out of the way. She watched us through slitted eyes. When I completed my tale, Dragon rose and paced the length of the room and back several times.
“Well?” My Arrogant One’s voice was sharp and demanding.
Dragon rounded on him. “So, elf, you cannot control your magic with any regularity, and you know not why? All you can tell us is the problem commenced shortly after we arrived back from the land to which we had been transported by the wish listeners?”
My Arrogant One nodded. “That is correct.”
“So, what do you expect me to do about it?” Her question was delivered in a puff of acrid smoke.
The elf drew himself up, rocked back on his heels, and grasped his cloak with both hands. “I expect you to help, of course, vile beast!”
I put my hand over the elf’s mouth again and held him fast as he squirmed and struggled. “What my Arrogant One means is he would be extremely grateful for any assistance you could render. Since you’re the one with the greatest power and ability, we thought it possible for you to determine if the source of his malady does, indeed, lie in the other world. If it does, you’d be the only one who could contact anyone from that world and remedy the situation.”
Dragon snorted. “Too much trouble. I have a better idea. The elf can just stop practicing magic altogether. He was never that good, so it would be no great loss to the world of magic.”
The huge beast turned and curled up in front of her illusory fireplace once more. As she started snoring loudly, I finally took my hand from in front of my Arrogant One’s mouth and released him. The elf just crumpled to the floor, his body racked with silent sobs.
Will we be able to convince Dragon to help, or has the Arrogant One annoyed her once too often? Be sure to come back to see what happens. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.
(My husband and I, along with my characters, are taking a few weeks off for the holidays. We’ll be back on January 13. Happy Holidays!)