Hall of the Mountain Kings

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© 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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Wilderness Pilgrims

horizon

© 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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Remembering Two Lives

marina

© J.S. Brand

Landon remembered two childhoods. Sitting at the Lauderdale Marina, he contemplated his ordinary life as a twenty-year-old student.

“Are you a crane or a morphing bloodslayer about to rip out my throat?”

The crane ignored the NSU sophomore and waited for its next meal to appear.

He had been nine and his sister Dani was turning three when it happened. It was their week to be with Dad and Landon was supposed to call his sister in for dinner. She thought it was a game and ran. Dad was yelling for him to hurry up. She did stuff like this just to get him in trouble.

“Dani, come in now!”

“No!” She screamed and bolted away.

And then it was night in a big, creepy forest.

“Dad!” Where was Dad and their house?

Something ran into him. “Landon, I’m scared!” Dani was crying, clinging to his legs. He put his arms around her.

“Ahem.”

Landon jumped startled.

“Perhaps I can help.”

That was the first time they met a dragon.

I don’t usually write two responses to a single flash fiction prompt, but I’ve been trying to puzzle a few things out.

The first has to do with the long series of fantasy stories I periodically write for my eight-year-old grandson. The most recent one is The Outside-In World. Sometimes I use a few of his ideas or concepts and he suggested writing a tale where he is a young adult looking back on a life of extraordinary adventures with a dragon. That’s how I ended his last story but I didn’t know where to take it next.

The other is a novel that I wanted to write stalled in my imagination. I’ve presented short snippets here on this blog involving some of the main characters. They appeared in missives such as The Whisperer, The Way Home, Where Did Our Home Go?, and Mr. Covingham’s Secret.

I’m planning on including older versions of my grandchildren in these stories but like I said, I got stuck and then distracted into others such as those involving my vampire Sean Becker and my synthetic woman turned black ops agent Mikiko Jahn.

But this one is always in the back of my mind and maybe an expanded version of the current tale will shake a few things loose.

How were Landon and Dani suddenly yanked from their Dad’s backyard and thrust into a mysterious forest, one with a talking dragon? That’s just the very beginning of a long tale of adventure.

Oh, since I set my first response to the prompt in Florida, this one happens at the Lauderdale Marina which is just a short distance from where I’m having my grandson go to school at Nova Southeastern University. Yes, it’s a long way from Idaho and if this becomes “canon,” the location is bound to change.

I’m posting the URL to this story at the Link Up and hopefully I’m not breaking too many rules.