The Dragon’s Legerdemain

stuffed toys

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.

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Trapped Between Dark and Darker

black dragon

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.

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Walking in the Clouds

cloud city

(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.”

“Wait. Landon?”

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.

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Getting the Stuffing Out

stuffed animals

Image: weplayreplay.com

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.”

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All Stuffed Up

baby

© 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.”

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Of Ice and Anna

ice monster

Found at DeviantArt.

From the previous story:

The magic lantern amulet around his neck glowed brightly as the boy stood and weaved his spell right in front of the wounded and bleeding creature. A portal opened at his feet and he fell through, just like a person would if the walked over an open manhole.

Landon spoke the magic words in the tongue of the ancient masters and the portal closed. Instantly, the world around them began to fade and shimmer.

“You did it, Landon. You broke the spell. Now the fantasy world the evil water spirit created is evaporating. I love you Landon.” She hugged him. “See you again in about twelve years or so.”

“But by then I’ll be…”

Then everything went black.

Landon woke up. He had to pee, so he got up and stumbled down a long hall to the bathroom. He turned on the light and looked in the mirror shocked. He wasn’t eight years old anymore and this wasn’t the bathroom at Grandpa’s house. It was one of the bathrooms in his dorm. He was in college and he was twenty years old.

Landon woke up. He had to pee, so he got up and stumbled down a short hall to the bathroom. He turned on the light and looked in the mirror. He was relieved to see himself just as he was when he went to sleep. He was back home at Grandpa’s house and he was eight years old like he was supposed to be. Then he used the bathroom and washed his hands.

Going back to his bedroom, he saw his now non-alive stuffed animals lying on his pillow. Some were under his blanket making “lumps” pushing up here and there. But there was something or rather someone missing. Buddy still hadn’t come home. He was overdue. Where could he be?

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Remembering Two Lives: Expanded Story

ducks

Ducks on the Boise River near Julia Davis Park – Boise, Idaho

Landon remembered two childhoods and this was the second time he had turned twenty years old. Sitting on a bench on the Greenbelt by the Boise River, he contemplated how ordinary life had become as a university student. Every night he dreamed he was someplace else. Every night he dreamed he was someone else.

Contemplating a water fowl, he asked, “Are you really a duck, or are you about to morph into a murderous wraith or bloodslayer so you can rip out my throat?”

The mallard ignored the BSU sophomore and slipped under the water’s surface looking for lunch.

“Lucky bird. I bet you don’t have nightmares about the Dragon Wars.”

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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.

The Outside-In World

pellucidar 1

Pellucidar artwork by J. Allen St. John

“Dani?” Eight-year-old Landon’s brain figuratively froze at the thought that his two-and-a-half-year-old sister could wake up over ten years older than she went to sleep. Further, she was dressed in animal skins like what Grandpa might call a “refugee from an old Tarzan movie,” whoever “Tarzan” was.

“I know this is a shock Landon, but I’m the only one who can help accomplish your mission and put the evil spirit back where it belongs.”

Landon just blinked and stared, unable to process the fact that his sister was now older than he was by about five or six years.

“Sorry about the shock old boy,” Gerlilanum added. “I guess I should have given you some warning, but I wasn’t sure the spell would work.”

“Spell?”

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The Girl in the Tiny World

globe

tiny world

“No!” Landon was startled and then crazy scared as his two-and-a-half year old sister Dani appeared before him as Circus Baby, a character for the horror-based video game Five Nights at Freddy’s but an instant later, and for the millionth time, the impossible happened.

The many fragments of the soul coin, shattered by the combined magic of Landon’s formerly animated stuffed animals leapt out of his top dresser drawer where he had put them and spun around the two children as if they were in orbit around twin suns. Then a big light flashed and they were gone.

“Coming, coming. I’m old. Don’t rush me.”

It was a very familiar voice. Landon was holding onto Dani’s hand standing in front of an ancient door set into an even more ancient tree, a really big tree in a really big forest. Sunlight was streaming through the emerald canopy above. The day was warm and the children could hear birds singing friendly songs.

The door opened and as Landon expected, the oldest dragon in the universe, Gerlilanum was on the other side of the threshold.

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