Saturday, December 14, 2013

Prompt: Forest artist

Thanks to Ekaterina Ermolaeva for permission to use her wonderful image, “Forest Artist”!

Grevelny shifted his claws delicately across the parchment. He glanced over to the sphinx, sleeping in a sunbeam. “Hey, do you think you could snarl or look menacing of something?” he asked plaintively.
Horlbrn didn’t answer, but rolled to his side with a snore. Grevelny sighed and continued his painting, looking past the sphynx’s plain gold coat to imagine bold stripes of black and orange. He painted glittering yellow eyes instead of the flat black ones, now fluttering with the dream that made Horlbrn’s paws twitch.

While Grevelny mixed more color on his palette, he heard Belix crashing through the forest. He shook his head, wondering as always how the phoenix managed to be so persistently loud and clumsy. Belix flew across the clearing, a flash of reds, yellows, and blues.

“You look like one of my paintings,” Grevelny said with some surprise. He’d painted something he called a macaw last winter for one of the unicorns. They were loyal patrons of the arts.

Belix perched unsteadily on a low branch and preened. “I know, isn’t it great?” He fluffed his long tail feathers and spread his wings. “Maybe my next incarnation I’ll have your colors, Grevelny,” he said admiringly.

Grevelny was rather proud of his rich chocolate feathers and broad white chest blaze, echoed in stripes along his haunches and the tips of his folded wings. His long ears twitched with amusement, and he swished his tail toward the sycophant phoenix.

“What brings you through the forest today, Belix?” He asked pointedly. The bird usually stayed in the open this soon after a molt. It was safer for everyone, when he was still prone to bursts of flame.

Belix stopped in his preening and cocked his head, thinking. Suddenly he crowed, “Oh yes! Wargahl is coming to see his commission.” In a whisper, he warned, “It’s only two days past the full moon.”

Grevelny snapped his beak on a sigh. Would next week be any better? He doubted there was any time the werewolf was in a good mood. He studied the black and white portrait drying in the sun. He called it, “Shepherd on Patrol,” and he was pleased with the results. He hoped Wargahl would like it well enough not to try to tear his throat out. He snorted. A werewolf was no match for a gryphon, of course, but he had no doubt Wargahl would make a mess of his studio clearing, and good paints were hard to come by. “Thanks, Belix. I’m ready for him,” he said with more confidence than he felt. 

The bird hopped down to the ground and crow-stepped over to a rock where he could peer down at Grevelny’s work-in-progress. He studied it for a moment, turning his head left and right to get good parallax, then he looked up at the sleeping sphinx. “Horlbrn don’t look like that,” he tittered. “You got some imagination, Grevelny, that’s for sure…”

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle

Christmas mix

Time writing
40 minutes, interrupted

December word count


  1. Prompt: Forest Artist

    “Um, General Lryx, Sir?” The voice came from somewhere near the ground.

    Lryx reared back onto his hind paws, curled his front taloned legs on his chest where feathers transitioned to fur, and settled his wings against his back. “Yessss?” He clacked his beak, annoyed at the sibilant hissing that slid into his human speech when he was distracted.

    “Are you _painting_?” The speaker was a human child, who now leaned forward, craning for a look at the tiger portrait at Lryx’s feet.

    Lryx flattened his tufted ears against his head, then shook tension from his shoulders. The child could not know the memories his incredulous tone triggered in Lryx; he – or she? Adult humans had far more cues to distinguish their genders than the youngsters – would only be surprised to find the notorious gryphon general it had been tasked to summon engaged in a peaceful pastime. “Yes. Not you what expected, eh?”

    The child shook its head. “Did you draw that from life, or from memory?” The child stepped closer, scanning the forest around them.

    “Memory,” Lryx answered, eyes pinning in amusement.

    Time writing: 20 min

  2. Fun! The personalities come out well. The werewolf's imminent visit grounds the piece into something more serious, right at the moment when it could have gone in either direction.