Return to the Dark Realm

dark castle

Image: spyderonlines.com

The Fourteenth Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

Landon was practicing using his invisible cloak, but without Buddy’s permission. It was Saturday and he was at the playground. While his Grandpa was sitting on a bench reading a book, Landon slyly pulled the cloak out of his backpack, walked around the edge of the school, and put it on.

Instantly he vanished. He thought maybe he could play some pranks on his friends, but as he continued to wear the cloak, the world around him started to look strange and distorted. It was almost as if all of the kids playing on the swings and slides and other equipment weren’t real.

But if they weren’t real, what was?

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The Fall of the Saints

photo prompt

© A Mixed Bag

The Milan Cathedral, a once majestic landmark, was in ruins. He never thought to visit this ancient structure, anathema to his own nature, an artifact to a once vast empire. He looked up at the Saint and the Priest. The Priest was struggling to keep the Saint integrated, but his powers were weakening, his prayers growing more faint each second. He was the last Priest. The revolution had effectively crushed their dominance. She was the last Saint, and the reluctant Magician’s target. He had no wish to harm her, but their hold on the world must be completely broken.

He began his magical rite to the horror of the Priest. An unexpected look of serenity appeared on the Saint’s visage. She knew her time was done.

The spell completed, the Priest collapsed, exhausted, and the Saint vanished from her holy vestibule in the cathedral. With her passing, so did the age of religion pass. It had taken Prospero long centuries to accomplish his task, but he had finally restored the age of mysticism across the world. Now his daughter Miranda would be free of Sainthood and return to rule as the Duchess of Milan.

This tale was written in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 19th 2017 challenge hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is to use the photo prompt above to write a short piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. Mine comes in at 194, and I confess, it was only around 140 words in its first draft. I was delighted to discover I had more “room” to add details to my mythic story.

The minute I saw the photo prompt, something reminded me of William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”. I’ve never seen it performed or read it, but there was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation which began with the character Data (played by Brent Spiner) performing in the play on the holodeck as the character Prospero. Data, being a very literal person, had trouble understanding the character and Shakespeare’s symbolism. Captain Picard (played by Patrick Stewart), explained it this way:

“Well, Data, Shakespeare was witnessing the end of the Renaissance and the birth of the modern era, and Prospero finds himself in a world where his powers are no longer needed. So, we see him here about to perform one final creative act before giving up his art forever.”

I thought it would be interesting to reverse things, and have the modern era and the church attempting to perform its one last creative act in the face of Prospero, who was determined to end its reign. In the play, Miranda is Prospero’s daughter, and in addition to being a magician, Prospero is the Duke of Milan. In the play, he was attempting to restore his daughter to her rightful place. In my story, he succeeds.

To read more stories inspired by this prompt, to go InLinkz.com.

Through the Dreamgate

invisible

Found at talewagger.com

The Twelfth Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

Landon woke up startled. It’s okay, he told himself. Just another dream, a nightmare about that mummy coming after him.

The eight-year-old boy had been having these dreams ever since returning home from Egypt. He didn’t understand it, because plenty of other magical beings had tried to hurt him over the past seven months or so, and most of the time, that didn’t bother his sleep.

Landon looked around his bedroom. On his bed with him, were all his living stuffed animals, and of course, Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon. They were all asleep. They looked so peaceful. If there was any real danger around, Buddy would sense it instantly and move to protect him and his family.

It was just a dream.

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Curse of the Rising Mummy

mummy ct scan

from Llvescience.com

The Eleventh Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

It had been almost a week since Landon had first encountered The Mysterious Mummy, and in spite of the initial scare he had gotten, the eight-year-old’s visit to Cairo seemed more or less ordinary.

Okay, it wasn’t ordinary. He was visiting a foreign country for the first time in his life, and he was playing with Dr. Salib’s grandchildren Adjo, a nine-year-old boy, and Nuri, a seven-and-a-half-year-old girl.

They spoke only broken English, and Landon couldn’t speak Arabic at all, but they managed to communicate and have fun playing with each other.

They couldn’t play right now, though. They were at The Egyptian Archeological Institute in Cairo. Grandpa’s friend Dr. Salib was the Director of Archeology at the Institute. Adjo and Nuri were really proud of their Jaddi or Grandpa. He was so important. Landon started feeling a little jealous because his Grandpa didn’t have such a big, important job like that.

Maybe the kids couldn’t run around and play, but today was still an exciting day. Three days ago, the lid of the sarcophagus was removed, and today, Landon would get to see the Mummy!

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The Magic Boat Ride

boat

© KayllistisQuill.com

Landon knew the boat was magic the minute he saw it. The 10-year-old boy and his 4 1/2-year-old sister Dani were vacationing with their Dad and his latest girlfriend at a beach house in California.

“C’mon, Dani. Let’s have an adventure.” He took his sister’s hand and helped her follow him into the boat.

“What about, Landon?” She looked up at him quizzically.

He stood dramatically facing forward. “Our spaceship to Mars is taking off!”

Imagination abruptly became reality as the magical boat and its tiny passengers rocketed out of Earth’s atmosphere.

This is the third and final piece of flash fiction in my series, inspired by photos at KayllistisQuill.com. The first story is The Prayer followed by Over the Edge.

I had a little fun putting my grandchildren in this one, even though I had to age them about three years.

I allowed myself a maximum of 100 words, and this story came in at a mere 91.

The Adversary

ninja

Image: pngall.com

The Ninth Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

It was very early in the morning and the first day back at school after the Christmas break for seven-year-old Landon. Buddy, the Ambrosial Dragon who had become part of the family nearly five months ago, was sitting out in front of Grandpa’s house. Everyone was just getting up except for little 18-month-old Dani, Landon’s sister, who was still warm and asleep in her crib.

Grandpa’s house was outside of town and considered pretty remote. Even then, Buddy didn’t go outside during the day time just in case someone saw him. He looked left and right, up and down. Only the occasional bird overhead. No cars, no people walking, no one to see him.

David, Landon and Dani’s Dad, and Grandpa were going to have to shovel the driveway before they could go anywhere, well, that’s what they thought, anyway.

No one around.

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The Dragon With Emerald Eyes

dragon

from “The Hobbit” (2012)

The Seventh Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

Landon was playing with Baby, Scorch, and Sly in the field behind Grandpa’s house. It’s not unusual for a seven-year-old boy to play with friends on a Saturday morning, but in this case, Landon’s friends are living stuffed animals.

Well, they are living now, but they weren’t before the magic.

Through a rather unusual set of circumstances, Landon was imbued with magical energy and in order to learn to control it, his dragon companion Buddy had no choice but to train the child in the use of his magic.

This has caused some problems recently, but they were resolved when Landon formally became Buddy’s apprentice.

So on this bright, cold December morning, Landon is practicing magic with the aid of some of his stuffed animals, a small yellow giraffe named Baby, an equally small stuffed dragon with pink wings named Scorch, and a little red stuffed fox named Sly.

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The Undying

gunfight

From the film “Gunfight at Red Sands” (1963)

In the old west, there was always some punk kid who thought he could outdraw the local gunslinger and who didn’t live to regret it. That’s because the gunslinger was really good at what he did and punk kids are idiots.

I’m not a gunslinger anymore, but I’ve still got young punks lining up to try to take me out. The outcome is always the same.

My name is Samuel Kane. Well, that’s not the name I was born with, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve lost count of the number of names I’ve lived under over the years. I speak dozens of languages, many of them dead, have seen empires rise and fall, seen commoners become Kings, and Kings fall to ruins at the hands of barbarian hordes.

In other words, I’ve lived too long to be impressed by much anymore.

It’s that damn wizard’s fault. Actually it’s my fault, but I blame the wizard for actually giving me what I asked for. He should have just killed me. Instead he did the opposite, which is much worse.

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The Apprentice

magical

Image: AA VFX YouTube channel

The Sixth Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

This story resolves the cliffhanger begun in the previous tale The March of the Stuffed Animals. Read that story before continuing here.

Eldritch magic surrounded Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon and Tarmreiboth the Dark Wizard of Setioval as they battled for the very soul of a seven-year-old boy. Landon was lying unconscious in a circle of light surrounded by living stuffed animals, animated by Landon’s own spell which was secretly taught to him by the Dark Wizard, the animals ultimately being controlled by that same wizard.

Landon’s Dad and Grandpa watched helplessly, held motionless by the dark magic of the stuffed animals, as the dragon and the wizard wove brilliant and violent spells around each other designed to defeat; to annihilate. Buddy fought to take Landon and his family back home and to safety, while Tarmreiboth desired that the child become his apprentice and an operative of evil, perhaps one day to inherit the title of Dark Wizard.

The only illumination in this out-of-the-way “pocket” dimension, not a true realm, but a reality constructed for just this purpose, was from the circle of light surrounded by the stuffed animals and the flashes of magic woven by the two combatants, but somehow, Grandpa and Dad could see everything.

“You cannot defeat me, dragon. You never could. That’s why you ran away with the boy last time.” The wizard was confident and with good reason. Although possibly thousands of years old, in many ways Buddy was still young and immature. He could not make full use of his abilities yet, while Tarmreiboth was at the height of his powers.

“Me fight. Me win. Love Landon. Save him.” If a pure heart and determination were all that mattered, Buddy would have given the dark wizard serious competition, but unfortunately even goodness and love had to give way to superior skills and strength. Buddy could feel himself weakening.

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The March of the Stuffed Animals

stuffed animals

Image: weplayreplay.com

The Fifth Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

One by one, the plethora of stuffed toy animals in Landon’s bedroom came alive. It was late at night and the seven-year-old boy was fast asleep. Everyone living at his Grandpa’s house, Grandpa, Daddy, his baby sister Dani, and even Buddy and Ambrosial Dragon, was enjoying pleasant dreams and resting up for the coming day.

But in Landon’s room, it was virtual pandemonium, if you’ll pardon the pun. A stuffed dragon was flying and puffing out smoke clouds. A stuffed crab was crawling on the floor in search of a tidal pool. Stuffed bears were dancing together, a giant stuffed dog was huddled in a corner not sure if he could believe his eyes, and all manner of other stuffed creatures were roaming, walking, spinning, sailing all over Landon’s room.

And then the little boy woke up.

Everything was quiet. All the stuffed animals were exactly where Landon remembered them being when he went to bed. The only thing missing was Buddy. What was his best friend at this time of night?

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