Thursday, October 17, 2013

Prompt: Chinese plant dragon

Thanks to Karolina for permission to use her beautiful image “Chinese Plant Dragon”!

Quilong’s curled horns twitched in the dark earth, reaching toward sunlight. His scales grew long and spiny along his slender neck and ridged back, pushing through the heavy dirt in search of water. Light. Life.

He dreamed. Men cut down the trees of his homeland, using the wood to build boxes to live in. They set fire to the wood as if they were gods! Or dragons. Quilong rumbled in his deep sleep, and the flame burned in his belly. He woke with the great desire to yawn wide and belch a swath of flame around him. He could not move in the frozen ground. It was not yet time. Still the flame burned, hotter and hotter until he thought it would roast himself from the inside.

The season turned. The sun warmed. The ice melted. Cold water seeped into the dark, frozen soil, around Quilong’s horns, his snout, his neck, his spiny scales. He pushed with his tail and felt the dirt loosen. It was time. The flame still burned. Would he burn the delicate roots before they were strong enough to thrive on their own? In his desire to be free, he almost didn’t care.

Now he dreamed with purpose. Seeds sprouting, first growth reaching up, unfurling, drinking in the earth’s bounty. He felt the thin roots stretching down from above, wrapping around his horns, tickling his ears, poking his eyes. Larger they grew, some grass, some rice, some trees. The thick tree roots pushed aside his spiny scales, pressing against his skin. He could move his whole tail now, and shiver all the way up his back to his ears. Soon. Soon.

The spring rains fell. The river flooded, pouring fresh water all over the land. It sank down into the soil, loosening, nourishing. Quilong could feel the plants growing all around him. It was time. He rose, every muscle straining to push his great body through the thick mud from the river’s flood.

His horns broke through, into the warm spring air, then his curled ears, listening to the songs of life repeating once again. And again. And again.

Quilong rose from the earth with a mighty roar. The hot flames burst from his snout in a fiery torch that lit the night sky. He shook himself free of the dirt, mud, roots that clung to his scales, stretching his wings wide and flapping them back and forth to build their strength. His tail lashed against the earth, scattering the signs of his upheaval, his hiding place.

The delicate grass trembled beneath his steps. The trees stretched their limbs toward him as he passed. Quilong stalked with angry purpose toward to homes of man. He reached the edge of the valley and climbed the mountain, half walking, half flying. At the top, he coiled around the peak and glared at the sight before him.

He had slept so long. Too long. The homes of man stretched across as far as he could see. He could not destroy them all. They belched black smoke into the skies. He could not defeat them all.

Quilong lay his head against the top of the mountain and the fire in his belly dimmed to nothing. He had failed. He could do nothing to protect his world from man.

He felt something tickle his chin. Quilong raised his head and looked down at the mountain peak. A single blade of grass quivered beneath him. Quilong watched it grow strong and true in the blazing sun. He felt a spark in his belly. With one last, long look at the world of man, Quilong turned and headed back down the mountain.

Time writing:
30 minutes
October word count:


  1. Prompt: Chinese plant dragon

    Jing parted the soil a few centimetres away from the stalk. She titled the battered plastic watering can she had retrieved from Mum’s shed and directed a stream of water into the crack. She stood at soft footsteps behind her.

    “What are you doing?” asked Fai. He leaned past her, looking at the small grey-green plant.

    “Watering my dragon.” She glared at her twin, daring him to contradict her.

    He tilted his head. “It doesn’t look healthy.”

    “_He_ is fine.” She had planted the dragon seed only three days ago, and already he was centimetres high. He would be a full size dragon in no time.

    Time writing: 20 minutes

    1. Oh I really like this! Nice free-standing snippet, especially with the image! It could be a fun little piece...

  2. So sad, and yet hopeful at the end. A little confused about exactly what was happening, but really enjoyed the imagery.

    1. Thanks - glad you liked the imagery. I'm not sure I entirely knew what was happening, so *shrug* - I can handle more image than plot on a first draft *grin*

      One of the things I wrestle with the image prompts is how much to include description of them, vs how much they simply inform the story. And I often think I don't include *enough* description in general, so this is a way to push myself to do more of that. Now, for some balance...