“Dragons roared and children picked up musical instruments and played. Many alighted to the ground to dance, and the singers clung to tree branches like birds. It was a moment of grandeur and promise. But as bright as it was in the city of Vovin, the city of dragons and children, a dark night was coming.
The ancient dragon Gerliliam reclined in his favorite chair in front of the fireplace in his library, and slowly closed the book he had been reading.
“What do you mean ‘the end,’ Gerliliam? That can’t be the end. What about the Grey God? How are the kids supposed to get home? Does that mean the demons are going to come for us, too?” The excitable and feisty sparrow hopped annoyingly back and forth from one of the dragon’s shoulders to the other. In ages past the dragon would have simply swatted him with one of his wings, but then, that was ages past.
“Excuse me, but I think he’s right. You can’t stop reading now. There’s so much more to tell.” Mr. Covingham, a brightly colored garter snake, was comfortably curled on a pillow set on the floor, not too close to the fireplace, but not too far, either.
“But that’s what it says, my friends, ‘the end.’ That rather means there is no more to read.”
“Oh, look.” Pardal sailed off of his elderly, spectacled host and to the other chair on the opposite side of the small table, where sat a pot of tea and a mostly consumed plate of biscuits with strawberry jam. Alighting on the chair’s arm, he watched Mr. Nigel, an aged and respectable gopher, comforting his wife Mrs. Nigel, who was sobbing onto his shoulder.
“Oh dear, oh dear. Those poor waifs. They’ve been through so much. How can Shay ask any more of them?”
“I’m sure it will be quite alright. These things have a way of working themselves out.” Mr. Nigel gently patted his wife on her back.
Pardal turned his head toward Gerliliam. “See? I told you. You can’t stop now. You’ve upset the missus here.”
“It’s quite well, my friend. I’m sure I’ll be able to get to sleep eventually once we reach home.” The genteel Mrs. Nigel peeked out of her shoulder of husband’s waistcoat to address their feathered companion.
“I assure you all, I have no intension of upsetting anyone, the least of which is the sensitive Mrs. Nigel, or leave you feeling that the saga of the Davidson children is incomplete.”
“What’s that? What’s that?” The sparrow fluttered back up to the dragon’s chair and perched on one side of the back. “What’s that title I see?” He stared intensely at the book which was resting on the dragon’s abundant lap.
Gerliliam removed a cloth from his breast pocket and used it to clean the lenses of his spectacles, then returned the kerchief and replaced the glasses upon his long, scaled snout. “The title, as I’ve told you all before, is ‘The Children’s March: A Tale of the Dragon’s Children.'” Isn’t it sufficiently descriptive?” The grey, old serpent reached for his tobacco purse and pipe, and prepared to have a smoke.
“What’s that number one mean? Doesn’t that imply there could be a two?”
Mr. Covingham had managed to slither up the base of the nearby table and was nibbling at a leftover biscuit, being careful to lap the jam off the edges first, lest it get onto his nose or head. “I’m afraid he’s got you. There is a second volume, isn’t there?”
“Well, of course. I never said there wasn’t.” Seeing that his friends would not quiet down easily, the dragon put down his unlit pipe and tobacco slipper on the table next to the plate, shaking the plate and teapot, and making the snake jump.
The energetic bird had to leap up quickly as he saw the dragon lifting his bulk out of the heavily cushioned chair. Gerliliam turned and plodded (he was tired, for it was somewhat late in the evening, and even old dragons need their rest) to the abundantly filled-to-overflowing bookshelves situated to the right of the door. There, he found a space between two tomes at about eye level, and put back the book he had just finished reading aloud to his closest companions. Previously, when Paris Davidson had visited some months ago, it displayed only the numeral “1” on its spine instead of the full title now displayed.
Then the dragon extended a single claw onto the book next to it. As four pairs of eyes eagerly watched, he began to pull it out, and they all noted that on the spine there was merely the numeral “2”. Taking the book and resuming his seat, Gerliliam opened the cover to the first page.
Although not based on today’s #writephoto prompt by Sue Vincent, because I’ve used her prompts to craft most of the first draft of this novel, I thought I’d include the epilogue as a bonus story. Let me know what you think.