Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dancing in the Rain!

This is another one of the folks who won in the raffle I posted for a story with me. 

Blue is a dragon friend of mine and wanted a story which showed tolerance for him. He has always felt like an outcast among humans. He wanted me to break the ice for him by introducing him to some children. I knew just the one he needed to meet.

(And a additional treat this time is Blue Hasia commissioned an art piece for the story. See below.)

Dancing in the Rain

“Come on,” Farloft called, as he dropped over the edge of the cliff. His wings popped open and he glided in a wide circle waiting for his friend.

Blue still sat on the ledge with a look of trepidation on his face. He wasn’t really sure about going with the older dragon. He huffed his blue/gray mane out of his eyes and patted his paw in restrained anxiety. Farloft wanted him to meet his best friend, Thomas, but Thomas was human and Blue didn’t trust humans. He had a long history of bad experiences, and humans were always at the root of the problem.

“You go,” he shouted. He looked around trying to think of an excuse for staying. “I have to tidy up the lair. I’ll meet you back here this afternoon.”

Farloft stopped mid-flight and hovered just at the edge of the cliff, his large iridescent green wings flapping slowly just keeping him aloft.

“Ah, Blue…Come on, it will be fun.” He grinned toothily. “You’ll love Thomas. He has the spirit of a dragon.”

Blue hung his head as if studying his paws in detail. Farloft got tired of treading air and landed back on the ledge. He padded over to his friend, sat down in front of him and lifted his chin with a large green paw. Blue was one of his best friends and he wanted his ‘two’ best friends to meet each other. He had thought earlier that he had the young dragon convinced to meet Thomas. Farloft was sure, if the dragon could meet the boy, that Thomas would win him over and prove to him he needn’t fear all humans.

Farloft gazed into his friends large blue eyes. He was a handsome dragon – different from him in so many ways. Blue was… well… he was blue, but he had these bright lemon yellow stripes and a mane of what looked like blue/gray hair which ran from the top of his head to the tip of his fluffy tail. Farloft remembered how surprised he was at Blue’s coloring. He had grown up with green dragons – all green dragons. He didn’t know his species came in any color but green, much less striped and maned.

“Please, Blue, I want to introduce you to Thomas.”

Blue’s eyes began to puddle up. He was so scared – scared of disappointing Farloft, but even more scared of the human.

“He’s just a young boy,” Farloft soothed in his deep baritone. “He doesn’t even carry a weapon.” Farloft frowned at his own statement. He didn’t want to lead Blue astray and make him think he lied to him. “Well… he does carry a knife, but only for cutting meat and cheese… and apples.” Farloft grinned. “He always brings me apples. You like apples,” he added appealing to Blue.

“Not today,” Blue begged. “Maybe tomorrow?” He was hoping for a delay from the older dragon.

“Okay.” Farloft sighed and let his paw drop. “Come on, I’ll race you to the Westridge and back again.”

Farloft grinned and immediately turned to drop off the ledge again. He knew Blue loved to race and the younger dragon always won. He was built slim and could fly much faster than Farloft’s bulky frame. The older green dragon had barely stroked his wings twice when Blue shot past him like a bolt of lightning, giggling in glee. His attitude had totally shifted when he was no longer threatened by the thought of meeting and interacting with a human.

They flew over the valley that separated Farloft’s home, in the side of a semi-dormant volcano, toward the Westridge mountain range. The old dragon was troubled by the lack of snow on the peaks. They usually had snow all year round, but not this year. Only the highest peak in the chain had a cap of white left on it.

This summer had been a scorcher and the valley below was showing the signs of drought. The river that ran its length was no more than a stream. In fact, the waterfall that normally ran down the cliff by Farloft’s cave entrance, and into the pool on the ledge, had dried up to a mere trickle – barely enough to keep the pond filled.

They flew past the castle and over the village of Brownbriar. Farloft spied the people below. He had phenomenal eyesight and quickly picked out Thomas exercising his father’s mount, Baron, a large, black war horse. Farloft made a point of casting his shadow over Thomas, it was often the way the dragon announced his arrival. Thomas looked up, shading his eyes against the sun. He waved and Farloft dipped a wing in a reply greeting.

Blue did not see the exchange. He was busy avoiding eye contact with the humans on the ground. He made it a point to fly at a higher altitude when passing over the village. Usually, he concealed himself in the clouds, but today there were none to be found. There had been none for what seemed like ages.

Farloft saw Thomas spur Baron forward. The horse leapt and charged out of the castle compound, through the village and over the bridge. The horse left a substantial cloud of dust in its wake thrown up from his huge hoofs pounding the parched ground.

The dust cloud was enough to catch Blue’s attention from the air. He faltered in his desire to win the race with Farloft and tried to spy a place to hide from the human who was obviously following them.

The old dragon grinned. He couldn’t help it if Thomas followed them to the Westridge and pulled up below to wait for them to descend. Baron had the stamina to keep up. He was a strong horse and not loaded down with his usual battle saddle, breastplate, helmet, and fetlock protectors. He probably felt light on his hooves too, with only Thomas on his back rather than the boy’s father in full armor. Once the boy was alone, Blue wouldn’t feel so threatened and Farloft was sure he would get a chance to introduce them.

However, nothing went as Farloft imagined. Instead, as Baron’s steel shod hoof struck the ground, it must have hit a bit of flint at the edge of the road. The strike sent up a spark. That tiny spark was all that was needed to set the tinder dry field at the end of the bridge aflame.

Farloft had just glanced away in an endeavor to catch Blue’s eye when the smell of smoke drifted past him on the light breeze. He looked below to see Thomas doing his best to outrun the fire which was already spreading at an alarming rate toward him and the Westridge.

The folks at the edge of the village facing the river saw the fire and immediately ran for buckets, shovels and blankets to drown, beat and smother the fire before it burned what little was salvageable in their fields.

As Farloft and Blue watched, the fire jumped the narrow road and started to lick at Baron’s heals as Thomas urged him forward. The breeze was now a fiery windstorm and it was gaining on the horse and his mount. Baron’s eyes were white rimmed in fear. He charged forward, hooves pounding the road, only to have the ill fortune of an ember falling before him and setting up a flame in his path. He reared and threw Thomas from his back. Thomas somehow managed to retain the reins in his hand. He held onto the horse as it reared and bucked in panic. The animal threatened to trample the boy in its desire to escape the fire which surrounded them.

Farloft tucked his wings and fell like a rock to Thomas’ side. He popped his wings open just over the boy’s head. “Come, Thomas,” he roared over the sound of the blaze. He reached down with one paw, but Thomas moved away.

“I can’t leave Baron,” Thomas shouted, as he continued to struggle with the frightened horse.

Farloft landed. He reached for the horse, but each time he tried to grasp him, the beast almost trampled Thomas in its panic. Farloft chose to stand his ground. If the boy would not leave the horse, then he would keep the flames from the pair. Farloft beat his wings in order to drive the fire back.

Blue could see from his position above that the action Farloft was taking to save his friend was endangering the other human’s at the back of the fire. He was literally driving the flames toward them. The old dragon had no idea what havoc he was causing. The end of the bridge had caught fire. At this rate, the village would be ablaze in no time.

Blue looked to the skies. He was a storm dragon. He had been taught to capture and conjure up storms. Could he make it rain out of a clear blue sky? And, could he make it fast enough and hard enough to quench the fire that threatened Farloft and the humans?

Blue stroked at the hot dry air, treading it as he pulled his paws together. He concentrated on the small white cap located on the distant peak. He mumbled an incantation and mentally pulled at the snow. A vapor began to rise – wispy at first, but growing quickly into a mist. He lifted his paw and beckoned to it. The mist started to form a cloud. The cloud grew as Blue pulled at it with his mind and directed the energy with his paw and a spell. He then turned his attention back toward the pool outside Farloft’s cave. He called to it as well. Another cloud began to form above it. With the waterfall, even though it was just a trickle feeding it, it grew quickly.

Blue looked at the river below and thought to draw from it, but hesitated. It might be the only thing to keep the village safe from the spread of the fire. He couldn’t dry it up.

He worked his paws in circles, one over the other. Like a weaver winding up yarn, he called the two clouds together, one from the west, one from the east. A long deep roll of thunder boomed overhead as the two clouds met directly above the raging fire.

Blue clapped his paws together as he roared a final powerful incantation. The heavens opened and rain poured down on the fire, fields, humans, and dragon.

The fire was extinguished in a matter of minutes. The people cheered with relief. Thomas released Baron, who bolted for the castle, and climbed up on Farloft’s back. Farloft leaped into the air and with a few strong thrusts was up above the rain and by Blue’s side.

“Blue, you are a wonder,” he complimented the younger dragon.

Thomas lay out on Farloft’s neck, his hands holding some of the dragon’s lower neck spikes. “You saved the day, my friend.” His smoke smudged face had a huge grin on it.

Blue had to smile back. The boy had called him friend even before being properly introduced. And the villagers down below were laughing and shouting and dancing in the rain that Blue created. They waved up at the two dragons through the clouds which were now breaking up.

“Come on, Blue,” Farloft coaxed. “Let’s go join in the fun. I love dancing, and dancing in the rain is even better.”

Blue looked down on the humans. They waved and beckoned to him. He looked to Farloft with Thomas on his back. They both grinned at him.

“I bet I could find an apple or two, maybe even some of Cook’s chocolate brownies as a reward for saving the crops and the village,” Thomas offered.

“Oh, Blue,” Farloft sighed, his golden eyes whirling, “you don’t want to miss out on Cook’s brownies. They are the best.” His long pink tongue licked his lips in anticipation.

Blue had to grin at the old dragon. He was such a push over for any kind of treat. The young dragon steeled himself against the idea of humans ‘ala-mass’ and nodded his head. If they liked Farloft, they would at least be decent to him - or so he hoped.

They glided down through what was now a light shower and landed on the outskirts of town. Farloft made an effort to place himself between Blue and the majority of the villagers dancing and enjoying the coolness of the rain. Thomas slid off Farloft’s back as soon as they landed. He winked at his dragon friend and went to stand next to Blue. He and Farloft had talked about how frightened and shy Blue was of humans. The boy didn’t want anything to happen that might make the handsome dragon take flight. He placed a steadying hand on Blue’s shoulder. The dragon trembled slightly beneath his touch.

“It’s okay, Blue,” he soothed. “We’re all friend here.”

Thomas’ older brother, Clifford, and his little sister, Theresa, ran up to the group.

Theresa, who was only about five threw her arms around Farloft’s leg. “Faroff, ’razy Big ‘izard,” the child said affectionately. Farloft leaned down and huffed into her damp hair. She lifted her face and giggled up at him.

Clifford left Theresa with the dragon and walked right up to Blue. “I saw what you did. I was up in the west tower helping rehang the tapestries. That was really something!” He thumped Blue on the shoulder affectionately. “I’ve seen Farloft start a few fires in my time, but never put one out by conjuring a rainstorm. Wait until the King hears about this. He will want to hire you. Even his personal wizard hasn’t been able to bring one about.” Clifford brushed the wet hair out of his face. “The Queen sent me down to fetch you. Come on up to the castle and I’ll get Father to introduce you.”

“Might there be some brownies involved in that meeting?” Farloft asked, stretching his long neck forward toward Clifford.

Clifford scratched his chin. “I don’t know, from my point of view you were spreading the fire more than helping put it out.”

“But I saved your Father’s horse.” Farloft protested. He could see his brownies vanishing.

“Don’t worry, old friend.” Thomas patted Farloft, as he and Blue came up beside them. “I will see that you get your fair share.”

Theresa had relinquished Farloft’s leg and was inspecting the fluffy end of Blue’s tail. She stroked it gently. “Pitty ‘ragon,” she said softly.

The rain had slowed to a light sprinkle. Farloft nudged Thomas, who picked Theresa up and sat her on his back. The little girl giggled and threw herself down the length of the dragon’s neck.

Farloft looked to Blue and raised a brow. “Did she call you a ‘pretty’ dragon?” he teased.

“Did she?” Blue asked. “I only heard her call you a Crazy Big Lizard.” He grinned.

Farloft bumped Blue with his hip. “Now see…didn’t I tell you this was going to be fun?”

Art by noir-x 

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