Imprisonment

Here’s another little tale of Arith the dragon. No Ellie the witch yet; this is kind of a prequel to Don’t Cheek Witches and Through the Rainbow. There will be more to come, because of course we need to know how the two get together. 😉 This part of the story came about when writing to a prompt from my writers’ group. The prompt became the last line of the piece.
(This story originally featured in my local newspaper, the Falkirk Herald.)

**********

Arith’s chains rattled as he was marched through the town. The guards had left him enough slack to walk, but only just. The rest of his body was bound too, so tightly that the metal round his torso made no noise. He didn’t care. He deserved it. Deserved the mutters and curses of the crowd. Head down, he walked until a yank on his chains stopped him. The voices were louder now, angrier, and there were more of them. He had reached the castle courtyard.
‘Arith the Red!’ At that voice, he had to look up. He had expected the Mayor, maybe even one of the Princes. Now he understood how serious the situation was. On the platform before him stood the King himself.
‘Arith the Red,’ the King continued, ‘You have committed the most serious of crimes for your kind, the destruction by fire of the village of Lymeth, and the death of six villagers, and two unidentified others. Do you have anything to say?’
Arith tried to speak, but only a hiss escaped his dry mouth. Huge tears rolled down his cheeks.
‘What’s that?’ The King barked.
‘I’m sorry’, whispered Arith. ‘It was an accident…’ Then realising how ridiculous that sounded, he stopped.
‘An accident.’ The King spoke softly, terribly. ‘How can you call what you did an accident?’
‘I was angry…’ But Arith tailed off. It was no use. Whatever had happened before the village burned, it did not change the awful thing he had done. There was no point in trying to explain further. He hung his head again.
The crowd were murmuring again now, and a few brave souls jeered.
The King sighed. Somehow, he knew there was more to the story, but the prisoner hadn’t explained, and without witnesses, the explanation would be no help, anyway. For the creature’s own safety from the mob, (or indeed, the mob’s safety from Arith), he had to act.
‘Arith the Red, you are hereby imprisoned in the castle dungeons until I see fit. Your dungeon will be of ice, like the chains that bind you, lest you decide to disobey the law again and use your flame to escape. Take him away!’
Arith the Red Dragon of Rethmore stumbled forward as the guards pulled his chains once more. The crowd receded, some now cheering; others still booing and shouting insults. Through the inner gates, then down a winding stair that seemed to go on forever and was scarcely wide enough. As he stepped into the ice cave, his guard released the chains, coiling them and stepping back. Arith tried to stretch his wings, but could only open one at a time in his narrow prison.
The door shut, and he heard the key turn.

Hmmf, Didn’t Get A Dragon For Christmas

Pic courtesy of stuffpoint.com

Pic courtesy of stuffpoint.com

I did get lots of lovely presents for Christmas this year, but sadly still no dragon, unicorn, or even winged horse. Oh well. I’ll just have to continue writing about the ones in my head. 😉

This story featured on the BBBGals blog a few months ago, so now it gets to appear on mine. The tale follows on from my flash fiction Don’t Cheek Witches (Even If You’re A Dragon). Arith and Ellie have already acquired a few fans, who will be pleased to know that I’ve written another story about them (well, about Arith), and I have yet another partly done. So they’ll be back in the future sometime, too.

I had the song ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ as a prompt to write this story. It’s a beautiful song and Judy Garland’s voice is amazing, but funnily enough The Wizard Of Oz was never a favourite of mine – too cutesy. (I prefer the darker tone of Wicked.) It got me thinking: what if going over the rainbow wasn’t so nice? I wanted to portray the rainbow as something sinister. I’ve channelled a bit of Oz, Harry Potter, and Terry Pratchett in this fantasy piece. Its tone is quite light, but I’ve hinted that what’s on the other side of the rainbow isn’t…

Through The Rainbow

‘So,’ Arith grumbled as his tail swished out the last embers of the fire, ‘Can we go up the castle, or not?’

Ellie hid a smile behind her sleeve. ‘Yes. I promised, didn’t I? A witch doesn’t break her promises.’

Arith snorted, promptly starting another small blaze. ‘Oops!’ he said, and stamped on that to put it out.

‘I’m not sure a majestic dragon should be saying “Oops”‘, remarked Ellie. ‘Have you been playing with my little sister again?’

‘No,’ muttered Arith. He flexed his claws, to show what a majestic dragon he really was.

‘Come on, idiot,’ Ellie said affectionately. ‘We’re done with spell casting for today. Let’s go and make some mischief.’

The young witch climbed onto Arith’s back, her bare toes gripping the rough armour plating, fingers clasped round the spines on his neck. With another snort, this time of joy, the dragon took off. Their camp at the water’s edge shrunk to the size of a match head as Arith caught an updraft. Ellie looked down, her eyes squinting against the red-gold sparkle of the dragon’s scales.

The river became a silver snake winding below them, leading the way to the castle. The rainy morning had given way to a bright afternoon, and Ellie unclipped her ponytail, letting her fair hair dry in the breeze.

‘Did you cast your invisibility spell?’ Arith shouted above the whoosh of his wing beats.

‘Of course,’ Ellie replied primly. Dragons were invisible to those who didn’t have magic, but witches lived in the everyday world as well. They could be seen unless they spelled it otherwise. It wouldn’t do to be spotted whizzing through the air on the back of – nothing. In fact, it wouldn’t do to be spotted whizzing through the air full stop.

The dragons who guarded the castle – unseen by the general public, of course – were a stuck-up lot, proud of their duty and forever letting everyone know how important they were. Arith (and secretly, Ellie as well) liked to take them down a peg; challenging them to duels, reminding them that they weren’t free to roam where they wished, and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

Today, however, as they approached, all was not as it should be. At first, it appeared to be an ordinary rainbow, arching above the turrets and keep. Then, Ellie noticed that it was dropping in height, enveloping the highest towers – which shimmered, then vanished.

‘What the heck…’ began Arith, as he too saw this strange occurrence, just as Ellie shouted ‘Faster, Arith! The castle’ll be gone in a minute!’

Arith often described his witch as bossy, but this time he heard the genuine urgency in her tone, and beat his wings as fast as he could. ‘What do you mean, gone?’ he yelled.

‘That’s a doorway to another world!’ Ellie was muttering incantations between her explanations. ‘A parasite world, come to steal from ours. We have to stop it!’

‘Oh great.’ muttered Arith. ‘What about the castle warlocks? Can’t they do anything?’

‘If they haven’t already, they’re probably trapped.’ Ellie was now rolling a ball of magical energy between her palms. ‘Besides, you were the one who called them a bunch of doddering old fools.’

Arith grinned, but then frowned. Much as the castle spellcasters and their snobbish dragons annoyed him, he didn’t like the thought of anything bad happening to them.

‘Get as close as you can, but don’t touch it!’ Ellie jumped to a crouch on Arith’s back.

The dragon realised she was about to throw her spell. ‘Don’t you fall off, either,’ he warned, banking smoothly.

The rainbow had now engulfed most of the castle. It had dropped so low, Arith realised, that he could get higher than it. He glided up until he was safely above the last arc of colour, then looked down.

There was no sign of the castle. A black-edged hole in the swirling colours revealed a confused impression of fields of wild flowers and – cabbages? There was a forest, and a strange red and yellow road.

Ellie yelled ‘Keep still!’ and hurled her spell.

The ball exploded with a bewildering roar of noise. Ellie dropped flat on Arith’s back, and he didn’t need to be told twice. He rolled away from the disintegrating colours and shot off as fast as possible. Looking back, he was just in time to see the rainbow twinkle out of existence and the castle take its place, seeming none the worse for wear for its ordeal.

‘Did we do it?’ he asked, as Ellie struggled to a sitting position. He circled so they were facing the right direction.

‘Yes, thank the Goddess.’ Ellie patted his neck. ‘Great flying, gorgeous.’

Arith snorted a small flame, but Ellie knew he was pleased.

‘I suppose we better go and see if everyone’s all right,’ he said, ‘Now that we’ve saved the day.’

They landed on the roof of the Great Hall, out of the way of the tourists milling below. The general public seemed unaware that anything momentous had happened, although a few were muttering about how dark it had got for a while.

‘I wonder what they’d have done if they stepped out of the castle into a different world?’ Arith mused. ‘It looked – weird…’

Ellie shuddered. ‘Don’t even ask. I know the non-magicals are annoying, but no-one deserves to live there.’

Arith resolved to ask Ellie more about parasite worlds. It sounded like she knew the one he had seen. His little witch was a mystery to him much of the time.

An elderly warlock was hurrying toward them, followed by others, streaming like ants from the door to the roof. Robes flapped around the skinnier ones, while the fatter gentlemen puffed and panted at the rear, not accustomed to so many stairs.

‘Ellie!’ The old man exclaimed. ‘Was that you? By the time we realised what was happening, we were stuck in the dungeons!’ No longer needed to house prisoners, the dungeons were the warlocks’ usual abode.

Arith growled. ‘Where were the dragons? They’re supposed to guard the castle. Where are they now?’

‘Look!’ Ellie pointed to the nearest tower. A stone dragon sat atop it, snarling, a front paw raised with claws unsheathed.

Everyone gasped.

‘Over there!’ another warlock exclaimed. ‘And there!’ All four of the castle dragons sat atop a tower, ready to defend their abode, and each one had been turned to stone.

‘We can undo it!’ The warlocks huddled together, discussing the best way to change the dragons back. Ellie looked on, amused.

Arith head-butted her. To her surprise, he looked as though he was about to cry.

‘Is that what would have happened to me if I touched the rainbow?’ he asked.

‘Maybe. Or maybe it was some magic sent ahead to neutralise the castle’s first line of defence.’ Ellie scowled. ‘I hate parasite worlds.’

‘They’ll be able to change them back, right?’

‘Oh yes. They may be a bunch of crazy old men, but they can unpetrify someone like that.’ Ellie snapped her fingers. ‘Why, Arith,’ she teased, ‘Don’t tell me you’d miss those stuck up, snobbish…’

‘All right, all right!’ Arith glared at her, after sneakily wiping a paw over his eyes. ‘I’d have no-one to – annoy, that’s all.’

‘Come on,’ said Ellie. ‘I think we’d better come back another day.’ Sparks were beginning to fly from the warlocks’ fingertips. A few of them landed dangerously close to Arith’s tail.

‘When they set the castle on fire, we’ll come back and rescue them again,’ Arith agreed. ‘I always thought it would be one of those idiot reptiles who would do that.’ He crouched a little to make it easier for Ellie to climb onto his back once more.

‘Ellie!’ The warlock who had been first on the scene was hurrying towards them. His face, indeed his whole bald head, was rather pink. Arith paused.

‘Um…I just realised we didn’t say thank you. For dealing with the parasite world. So, thank you.’ The old man gave a beaming smile which Arith recognised at once.

Ellie beamed back.

‘You’re welcome, Grandpa.’

Don’t Cheek Witches (Even If You’re A Dragon)

Recently I guested on the Beer and Bacon Babes blog with Through The Rainbow, a tale of a witch, a dragon and some magical mayhem. I explained that the two main characters were in my head already, and that was all because of the story that follows.

I have an awesome friend (who may or may not be a dragon) on Twitter, where he goes by the name Of The Wilds. He writes amazing dragon fiction himself. The ladies in his stories are NOT wilting violets enslaved by their dragons – quite the opposite. He was feeling a bit fed up one day and wondered if anyone would tell him a tale of a maiden kicking a dragon in the unmentionables, to cheer him up. How could I not oblige?

Have you ever tried writing a story on Twitter? it’s a great exercise, getting it to break at 140 character intervals. Anyway, here it is, edited slightly but very much the same as I tweeted it. Introducing Ellie and Arith… 🙂

**********

‘Arith!’

Ellie’s voice echoed round the cave entrance. But he didn’t appear.

‘Damn,’ she muttered. ‘Where is that dragon?’

A beating of wings and a roar sounded from above. With a flourish, Arith landed on the soft riverbank. His regal walk up to the cave was rather spoiled by the squelching of his talons in the mud.

‘What do you want, witch?’

Ellie glared at him. ‘Have you been talking to the castle firedrakes again?’

Arith swished his tail, red scales shimmering in the weak sunlight.

‘I am a noble creature. I should not be indentured to a mere spell caster.’

The young sorceress crossed her arms. ‘Firstly, you wouldn’t be indentured if you hadn’t done what you did. Secondly, that bunch of reptiles up at the castle has ideas above their station.’

The dragon flared his nostrils. ‘Do you mean the humans, or the firedrakes?’

‘Both. And thirdly…’

‘Yes?’ Arith was affecting a bored tone, one hind leg in the air, idly scratching an itchy shoulder.

He didn’t notice Ellie stepping closer. Until a fiery pain shot through his loins, causing him to howl and fall over in the sludge.

‘Thirdly, don’t ever call me a mere spell caster! I am Elenore, the River Witch!’

‘Oww!’ A few startled cormorants flew off their nearby perch on the rocks. ‘You kicked me in the balls!’

‘I’ll shrivel them off if you speak to me like that again!’

Arith curled up, licking his tender testicles and grumbling to himself.

Ellie suppressed a giggle. Arith was indeed a beautiful, noble creature, but right now he was just like any male after a kick in the stones. She knew it galled him to be in servitude to a witch, especially one as young as her. It wasn’t forever, though. She would demand his respect, but she also valued his friendship.

‘Oh, stop complaining.’ She gestured to the cauldron, already set up in the cave mouth. ‘Do me a favour and light this thing. Once the morning’s work is done, we’ll fly up to the castle and have some fun.’

Arith’s ears perked up at this. ‘Do you have some mischief planned?’

‘How about we go and annoy the firedrakes, and I damp down their fire when they try to flame us?’

A grinning dragon is a sight to behold. With a toss of his head, Arith flamed the branches under the cauldron.

‘At your service, Mistress Elenore.’

Through The Rainbow

Pic courtesy of stuffpoint.com

Pic courtesy of stuffpoint.com

I’ve been invited to guest again on the wonderful BBBGals blog. You’d think they’d have learned their lesson the last time. 😉 My story was inspired by a musical prompt this time. No, not rock music. What?!

It’s a bit of fantasy fun, with a witch, a dragon, and some magical shenanigans.

Follow this link to look Through The Rainbow

Do dragons catch colds?

According to one of those quiz thingies on Facebook, if I were a fairytale creature, I’d be a dragon. I’m quite happy with this. Powerful, beautiful – and I would hope, immune to the common cold. Managed to avoid catching one all winter and then spent this last week sniffling, coughing and generally feeling yuk. Grr.

Before I caught the dreaded lurgy, I spent an enjoyable weekend at the Scottish Tattoo Convention. So what happens at a tattoo convention, you may ask? Well, artists come from all over the world and tattoo people! It’s a great opportunity to get work done by someone you’d never normally meet. One of the great things about the internet and social media is you can find out in advance who’s coming, discuss what you want, and make an appointment. Or you can simply arrive on the day and see who’s got ‘walk-up’ space.
There’s plenty to amuse you if you’re not getting tattooed, or you’re waiting for someone who’s getting inked (hubby, of course). Shopping! There are stalls selling clothes, accessories, jewellery, shoes, art. You can often buy art from the tattoo artists, as well. These guys and girls do amazing paintings, drawings, etc. Vintage style is very popular and I spent a while at the vintage beauty parlour, getting hair, nails and make up done. There are bands playing, circus sideshow acts, burlesque artists. There are competitions for best tattoos; existing ones and those done on the day.
People watching is also a great way to pass the time. 🙂
There was a charity raffle for customised Doc Martin shoes, bags, and other goods (didn’t win anything – bah).
For some, the sight of this tattooed, pierced, strangely dressed ‘alternative community’ can be a bit scary. It’s a cliché, I know, but a nicer bunch of folks you couldn’t hope to meet. You get chatting to all kinds of people. Kids are welcome (there are warnings about the acts you might not want them to see), and they can get their faces painted or temporary tattoos put on or whatever. Some little girls were getting their hair done vintage-style. I would have loved that when I was a kid!

Still on the subject of dragons, hubby got his fourth dragon tattoo, courtesy of wonderful artist Dave Fox, of True Hand Studio, Philadelphia. There are some pics below.

So after this fun weekend I felt sorry for myself for the rest of the week. Pathetic, I know. I HATE being ill. I did manage to complete my Creative Writing course assignment on time. This one was Life Writing – I did a bit of autobiography mixed with travel writing. Let’s see how I get on. My tutor has three sets of assignments to mark, so I might not get it back until next week.

In other news, and still on dragons, my good friend Lily Eva over at Lilicasplace nominated me for a Dragon’s Loyalty Award – my second one. Thanks, Lily! I’m not doing the award-related post but I’m very grateful to be nominated. Check out Lilicasplace for the amazing story of this lady who survived a stroke and is bravely telling the story of it, as well as writing fiction and being a great supporter of other bloggers. Mwah!

I’m now off to do all the writing I should have done last week when I was being poorly. We have just bought a new computer, complete with a lovely ergonomic keyboard, so you should hear less threats from me about throwing the contraption out of the window. 😉

Have a great week all!

Here Be Dragons

Why are there dragons on my blog today? Because, that’s why. Because I like ‘em. Because there are lots of them in books. And because another lady with the superb name of Karen nominated me for a Dragon’s Loyalty Award, amongst others. Big thanks to her! Check out her blog at My train of thoughts on…

There are lots of these bloggy awards and I just recently did a Versatile Blogger one ‘properly’, ie: nominating other people and stuff. So instead of all that I decided to do a dragony post. Just because.

Dragons are probably my favourite mythical creature. You can keep fairies and unicorns and soppy stuff. I want a dragon! I’ve always thought that they’re misunderstood, like my witches. Okay, yes, some of them are bad, but most of them are just trying to get on with life, when some idiot with a sword and a flame-proof shield turns up and tries to chop off their head. I’d incinerate first and not ask questions later, too. 😉

I’ve been trying to remember the first dragon I read about in books. I’ve come to the conclusion it was more than likely Smaug, from The Hobbit. All right, he was a bad ‘un. But since then I’ve read plenty more stories where dragons are a bit less evil. Some favourite books include:

Magician by Raymond E. Feist. Rhuagh is the first of the great dragons we meet, a wise old soul, who forces an equally wise old dwarf to rethink his opinion of dragons.

Guards! Guards! (And all the other books with the swamp dragons in them) by Terry Pratchett. Although there is a great dragon in this book as well, Mr Pratchett as usual stands things on their head with the little swamp dragons, which are bred by ladies as mad as my cat breeding friend. 😉

And for younger readers as well…How to Train Your Dragon, and its sequels, by Cressida Cowell. This was also made into a brilliant animated film by Dreamworks. Whoever designed Toothless, the main dragon character, should be given an award. The mixture of reptilian and feline characteristics and movements is amazing.

Hubby also likes dragons. He has three tattooed on him already, and is about to get a fourth.

Dragons are intelligent, beautiful and deadly. They breathe fire, and if you make friends with them, you can ride them! What’s not to love?

For my Creative Writing course, we were asked to write an alliterative love poem to something unusual. The verse below was inspired by this picture.

I can't remember where I found this image, so credits to whoever created it.

I can’t remember where I found this image, so credits to whoever created it.

Winged and wild and unwanted
Wreathed in red and russet and gold
Power to make the proudest warrior tremble
Flames from your jaws flare the night
None can doubt your nobility
Though they fear your fire
See me, serpent…
I dare to doubt the danger
Let me fly in your flames
Your friend for eternity and more