Trial at Sakhr


© Sue Vincent

Janellize’s gaze was fixed upon the dragonrider standing before her as were the other four elves, if elves they really were. Mandy kept looking in disbelief back and forth between the Mistress of Direhaven and her new found friend. What secret did the teenage girl possess that was a threat to Direhaven, to the dragons, and to her family?

“I don’t know what you mean, and how do you know my name is Danijel?” She was worried. Janellize was no one to trifle with nor did she seem the sort to make a mistake, at least one of great magnitude. She searched her mind, her memories, her feelings, and all she found was who she was and always had been since she was a child of three.

The dark-haired noble known as Wynjeon stood. “I think you’ll find that there is very little we do not know about those who have entered our city.” His eyes were a deep blue, like a frozen lake, his expression impassive like those of his Queen and the other nobles, and Dani knew that he was her chief accuser.

“What must I do to prove you wrong?”

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Sojourn in Direhaven


© Sue Vincent

Shay, the spectacular golden dragon, alighted in a wooded valley an hour after dawn. The dragonrider Dani along with the five Davidson children, were clinging to her back still shivering from their hasty flight in the frigid heights above the clouds. After their escape from the Hall of the Mountain Kings, pursued by the deadly spectres of the past, the dragon arrived just in time as the Great Gray God, mortal foe of the Kings, attacked. Vast destructive forces both of nature and magic were released and as the High Citadel crumbled into tons of rubble at the God’s feet, Shay soared far above the carnage in a desperate effort to save her children.

At last they were on the ground again at the promised place of safety, but where were they?

“I know this is difficult my children, but you can rest soon. Dani, help them onto the ground.”

The teenage girl slipped off the dragon’s neck with practiced ease, ignoring the chill in her bones and her profound fatigue, and reached up for Zooey. The kindergartner slid into the older girl’s arms and let herself be lowered to the ground. Mandy, the oldest of the Davidson’s, managed to get down on her own and Zooey ran over and clutched onto one of her legs, resting her head on her side.

Nine-year-old Taylor was next and while Dani was helping his twin sister Paris down, the boy grabbed his seven-year-old brother Jake and helped him off of the dragon.

“Where are we, Shay?” The Davidsons clustered around Dani.

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Hall of the Mountain Kings


© Sue Vincent

It had been a week since Dani and the Davidson children had encountered the nightmare of the Great Gray God, the one meant to be a trap for them, woven by the demon imp disguised as a black cat named Onyx.

Although they were higher in the Dark Hills, which was really a range of mountains, it seemed warmer than the frozen wasteland they had crossed before. The clouds had given way to a brilliant blue sky and friendly yellow sun. The rocky ridge they were crossing had bits of snow only here and there, and was otherwise covered by exotic grasses and wild flowers. The trees looked a lot like the pines back home. It had warmed up enough for them to shed their heavy outer coats for lighter jackets.

Little Zooey had taken to riding on Dani’s back when she got tired. It was a long walk for a five-year-old but also for the rest of the children. Mandy knew that their guide was only a year or two older than she was, but Dani seemed so strong, almost tireless compared to the thirteen-year-old. Although she and her younger siblings seemed to be doing better than they had been when the journey began, it was still hard work, probably harder than anything they’d ever done before.

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The God of the Dark Hills

dark hills

© Sue Vincent

It had taken five days for teenage Dani to guide the five children across the frozen tundra to near the base of the Dark Hills. They had all grown up in a city and were used to soft beds, a heated home in the winter, regular meals of plentiful food, and all the comforts and pleasures modern technology afforded such children.

Dad and Mom took them camping in the mountains every summer, but they drove to the State Park in Mom’s van, built a campfire near wooden picnic tables and there were public showers and bathrooms just a few yards away. They brought their food in plastic shopping bags and a big cooler and it was like barbecuing in their backyard.

Even in the winter going snow skiing was fun, but when they were through and everyone needed to get warm, they’d go into the ski lodge and order lunch or dinner in the restaurant.

This journey was nothing like that. Nearing the end of their fifth day in this icy wilderness, the Davidson children were dirty, tired, cold and miserable. Their sense of fright had been numbed so now all they felt was the relentlessness of walking one step at a time for minutes and hours, hoping their guide who was only a little older than Mandy knew how to find food, shelter, and safety before they all died.

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The Momentary Sojourner

wilderness path

© Mike Vore

The long neglected boards of the path moaned like a ghost in torment under his boots. This was no longer the real world or at least the one he lived in. Ahead, perched on a rock outcropping was the owl, but not quite an owl.

“Who? Who? Who are you?” Its cry was only slightly human.

“You called me? You said I could see them.”

The old man got closer to the rocks and his host.

“Here, here.”

He climbed up next to the eldritch creature and looked beyond into the pool. It was water and then it wasn’t.

“My grandchildren?”

Noah Davidson couldn’t rescue his grandchildren, but he was allowed to briefly watch them crossing the frozen tundra in the company of a guide not much older than his granddaughter Mandy.

“When will they return home?”

The owl shook its head in a very human manner.

Noah looked back into the vision. “Your Mom and Dad are waiting for you. Come back soon.”

Last night, Noah’s son and daughter-in-law were in a car accident and both were badly hurt. The children were in the car with them but when first responders arrived, all five of the kids had vanished.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of February 25th 2018. The idea is to use the image above to inspire writing a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I’m actually trying to write a novel involving the adventures of the Davidson children, first with Gerliliam and then with Shay and Dani. I’ve posted bits as pieces of it, including “after tales” on this blog.

In today’s tale, I’ve created a situation where the five Davidson children’s Grandpa has made some sort of “deal” to be able to see, but not communicate with the kids. I’ve also hinted at part of what happened to them that resulted in their being whisked to a strange and mythical land and what they have to return to after their long adventures end.

The story most related to this one is Mr. Covingham’s Secret, however you can find other “clues” to this universe in stories such as Where Did Our Home Go?, The Whisperer Expanded, and Adventure’s Bitter Memories. To find out about some of the other children mentioned in this story, read She Treats Us Like Her Children.

If you’re curious about Gerliliam, here’s a sketch I made of him some months ago.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

Wilderness Pilgrims


© Sue Vincent

There was a sense of finality as the gateway between Gerliliam’s forest and this vast frozen wasteland closed behind the five Davidson children. At first they had questioned the wisdom of changing into such heavy clothes and coats, the weather in the forest being mild this morning, but now they faced a long stretch of frozen marsh with jagged snow-capped peaks beyond.

They were standing by four big stones which marked the exact place they were supposed to wait. There was a small, muddy pond right in front of them, but beyond that was only the vast flatlands covered with ice and snow.

Although the clothing provided by Gerliliam’s friend, an unusually friendly troll, kept them warm, they were all trembling with fright. Thirteen-year-old Mandy had the keenest sense of loneliness and responsibility. She was the oldest and now that the ancient grey dragon and his friends had departed, all of the others were turning to her.

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