© 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.
Screenshot from video game “Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy.”
Landon could hear a strange sound from behind and a huge shadow loomed over him. He suddenly whirled to see a hideous apparition instead of his friend the dragon. It was an enormous worm with a mouth like a lamprey eel, full of thousands of razor-sharp teeth and it was getting ready to strike. It’s hot breath stank of rotting meat and the grave and the nine-year-old knew he was only seconds from death. Try as he might, he couldn’t summon even the simplest of spells. After all of the dangers and adventures he had faced, was this how his life would end?
© 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.
Example of a hedge maze found at nerdist.com.
Landon kept walking down, down, down the endless, onyx spiral staircase when he stubbed his toe or should have. It didn’t hurt.
“Hey. Wait a minute. I know what’s going on. I’m dreaming. I’m having a lucid dream. Cool. That means I can control everything.” Great. I think I’ll fly the rest of the way to the bottom.”
Landon took a leap expecting to fly like Superman, but he only went up so far before going back down. “Hey!” He was starting to fall and got scared. What if hitting the stairs hurt this time? Then he began to slow and soon he was taking big, bouncy steps.
“At least this is faster than walking but I really wanted to fly.” Now that he realized he wasn’t going to get hurt, he stopped being scared, but it was too late.
Malevolent eyes were watching from the darkness, their owners chuckling to themselves.
“We have another one, brother.”
“Indeed sister. He has entered the first layer.”
Yes he has and he doesn’t know it. Now we will take full control of the dream.”
Produced by DollyAndPaws and found at Etsy
The dragon was about the size of a small St Bernard and covered with golden scales. He had two hind legs but his forearms ended with what could have been hands complete with opposable thumbs. His eyes where the most human thing about him, a crystal clear blue, like water in a mountain stream. When he opened his mouth, the first thing you saw were hundreds of needle-thin, razor-sharp teeth, and then a long, tapered tongue the color of raspberries.
His long, thin wings fluttered but not as fast as a hummingbird’s and his tail wagged back and forth with annoyance like a common house cat, and yet he was far more fierce than even the greatest feline predator in any jungle.
The source of his annoyance, actually it was more like trepidation, was the vision that had manifested before him. It was late on a Sunday morning. Landon had been helping Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon test the boy’s young friend Ana for potentially possessing a latent magical ability. To that end, they were using a story book that allowed the user to bring into reality any tale the book contained. The story they’d chosen was that of a cloud city.
Found at wallpapersafari.com
In a mysterious floating cloud city, eight-year-old Landon and his friend Ana were trapped in a roomful of inter-dimensional portals by a smoke dragon. When the dragon’s snout broke open a door from the outside, it bumped into the boy, knocking both he and the girl through a gateway into the unknown.
“Landon!” Ana cried out as she fell into nothingness.
The boy reached out and grabbed her by the waist and then used his levitation spell. “No, not this time. We’re not going to fall into another world.” He used the spell to stop and then reverse their motion. He didn’t take the time to look around but concentrated on getting the both of them back up and through the opening to cloud city.
“We’re almost there, Ana.” Landon could see the other side. Some of the mist from the sky city was drifting toward them, but was it mist or smoke? Then an intensely hot stream of flame shot through as the dragon tried to incinerate them from the other world.
Reflexively, Landon, still holding onto Ana, dove beneath the flames and further into…what?
Then the light vanished. Landon and Ana looked up and the doorway back to the cloud city was gone. In fact everything was gone.
(Courtesy of Chung Ti’en Television/YouTube)
She was lost in the fog wondering how she had gotten there. The last thing Ana remembered was playing during recess at school. No, that wasn’t right. School had ended and she walked home. Was it foggy when school let out? No, it only gets foggy in the morning and only on some mornings.
“It’s not fog. It can’t be. I should be able to see houses. I’m not on the sidewalk. The ground is made out of fog. But if that were true, I’d fall through it, yet it feels solid.”
Ana woke up safe and warm in bed. Why did she call out to Landon? She liked her friend and she recently found out some very special and secret things about him.
In our last adventure, Landon magically discovered what happened to the living stuffed animals but in the process, both he and his friend Ana were transformed into stuffed toys and trapped in the stuffed animal universe.
“Landon! What happened to me? What did you do?”
“I’m sorry, Ana. I was trying to bring the stuffed animals back to life but the spell went wrong somehow.”
“But…but how can I be…stuffed?” Ana looked at her hands in astonishment not recognizing them as her own.
Meanwhile, the living stuffed animals were so happy to see Landon, even as a stuffed boy, that they all crowded around him giving him a big group hug.
“Guys, I love you too, but we have a big problem.”
© James Pyles
“Why not, Buddy?”
“No magic. Anna have no magic. Not taking new apprentices. Just you.”
Keeping his promise, Landon told his best (human) friend Anna all about Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon and their adventures together, which started almost a year and a half ago. It had taken a long time to relate everything to Anna. Landon hadn’t realized just how much he and the dragon had gone through together.
“But couldn’t we teach her magic?”
After Landon told Anna everything, she thought it would be really cool if she learned some magic, too. Landon said he’d ask Buddy if he would take her on as his second apprentice. Today in the boy’s bedroom, the dragon gave him the answer.
Only the events that had occurred in Shadow of the Dark Wizard made it absolutely necessary for Buddy to train Landon in the mystic arts, and that was because the child had been accidentally infused with magical energy. If Buddy didn’t teach him how to control the magic inside, the magic would control Landon.
But such wasn’t the case with Anna. Like most other children, she was a perfectly ordinary human and had no access to occult energy, especially in this universe where real magic was all but unknown.
“She’ll really be disappointed.”
© 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.