Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Prompt: Dragons stalk the streets, puffing out smoke and clattering their mechanical wings

Quote credit: Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
Photo credit: Robert Dalton, “MojaveDesert Sand Dragon” (cc 2.0)
Prompt Credit: Unknown origin, found on Pinterest

At the first tremor, Jakov dropped the fabric bolt he had been considering and looked around for Clara. Another tremor, and people began to clear the market square, shouting and running in alarm. Where was the brat! Mother would kill him!

As the square emptied, Jakov ran into the center, turning slowly with sharp eyes focused at knee level, searching for Clara’s white-blond curls. He spotted her gazing up at sparkly suncatchers, and beyond her, the dragon’s head appeared around the corner.

Jakov froze. What could he do? No use to call out – the dragon would hear him, not Clara. He couldn’t run to her, or the dragon might attack them both. He couldn’t move at all, in fact, without the dragon’s metallic eyes latching onto him. No one wanted to attract the notice of a dragon.

Fear warred with anger. Why had the clockwork mages built the dragons and animated them to roam the city? Great metal-scaled beasts, they blew smoke when calm and roared fire when disturbed, leaving terror and destruction in their wake. The mages were long gone, but the dragons ruled in their stead.

The dragon’s head lolled left and right, searching for….what? Movement? Scent? Jakov knew the moment it saw Clara, and his heart stopped. The dragon lowered its head and stretched out its long, thick neck, moving closer and closer to Clara, who remained oblivious to the danger behind her. She lifted her arms and waved in a happy dance with the spinning suncatchers.

She spun around and stopped short when she came nose to snout with the dragon. A thin curl of steam wrapped around her. They stared at each other, unmoving. Clara reached out a hand and laid her palm flat on the dragon’s nose, then slid it up, leaning forward…closer and closer to those terrible long fangs.

Jakov wanted to turn away, before he saw his sister snapped up by the great beast. Instead, he watched with horrified fascination as she fearlessly stroked the dragon’s nose and along its cheek. The dragon’s eyes blinked shut, and it blew a gentle puff of steam around her. Clara’s fingers moved against the dragon’s scales, and Jakov knew she was signing. He wanted to tell her somehow, the dragon would never understand.

Clara leaned even closer and pressed her lips on the dragon’s snout. He fingers traced signs across its scales once more, then she wrapped her chubby arms around its nose and hugged it. Jakov felt hysterical laughter bubbling up inside. Before it burst free, the dragon pulled away, turned around, and returned through the street beyond, with a single flick of its tail as it disappeared.

Jakov raced to Clara and dropped to his knees, gathering her in a tight hug. She wriggled free and reached up to trace signs on his cheek, as their mother had taught them for as long as Jakov could remember. Dragon! Did you see?

Did he see? He wasn’t sure his heart had started beating again. Yes, I saw. Are you crazy? How could you let it get so close?

Clara cocked her head, curls bobbing in the sunlight. She tapped her fingers against his cheek, thinking. He waited. There was no rushing her. Dragon friend.

No, Clara! Not friend! Danger!

Clara pulled away, then grabbed his hand and signed once more. Friend. You’ll see.

She marched across the still-empty square, and Jakov watched her for a long moment before he jumped to his feet and ran after her. Ghods help him if she got home first and told Mother she had made friends with a dragon. Mother would kill him. Maybe he should go after the dragon instead.


And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s one I love:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

Dogs in House
Houdini, Brindle

Music Playing
Sinners & Saints: The Ultimate Medieval & Renaissance Music Collection

Time writing
~70 minutes, including image/quote research

September word count


  1. Writing report:
    Novel editing, Ch 32
    Time: ~35 min

  2. Oo, I like it! Good subtle introduction of Clara's deafness