Dragons have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My father told us bedtime stories about an unusual dragon he met while boating in Lake Michigan. My parents were Peter, Paul, and Mary fans, so Puff the Magic Dragon was a common song on our many road trips. Even Elliot made an impression as he tried to rescue Pete from slavery in the Disney movie, Pete’s Dragon.
Since those days, I’ve been introduced to mechanical dragons in real life, the thought that dinosaur bones could have begun the belief in dragons in the first place, wise dragons, horrible dragons, dragons that were brought to life through myth and magic and those crafted by genetic science. I can’t imagine a world without dragons in it, whether you hold to the Smaug image of a monstrous creature that hoards treasure and eats people, the helpmates of Pern, or the wise creatures who try to steer humanity in the proper direction only to fail time after time.
I have read most of Donita K. Paul’s series (the one who started this celebration years ago), and hers fall into the middle category…mostly.
In my own writing, I have been visited by many dragons. They are rarely creatures we understand, and sometimes have an unexpected relationship with humanity, but overall they are inquisitive knowledge seekers who find humanity an obstacle or a plaything, depending on their mood.
In honor of Appreciate a Dragon Day, I’ll give you a glimpse into a world of dragons that came to be in a fantasy novel I’m in the process of polishing for submission. I hope you enjoy this moment in the life of Hiba, a young princess about to have her world turned on its head. She has just stolen a quiet moment in the garden when a shadow tells her she’d about to be interrupted.
From But a Pretty Bauble by Margaret McGaffey Fisk
“Go away,” Hiba muttered, knowing her father would demand courtesy from her so she could not say it loud enough to be heard. With a sigh, she heaved herself to her feet, struggling to find the will for proper behavior before she faced him.
“Prince Chori, is there something I can help you with?” she asked even as she stamped her feet to shake out the wrinkles she had made in her clothes. When he did not respond, she lifted her face, surprised.
A bolt of pure terror shot through Hiba at the vision before her. Huge eyes, the size of desert pastries stared down at her, their bright yellow seeming to whirl. Her heart pounded hard enough to make her dizzy, and the weight of the sun’s heat seemed nothing in comparison to the moist, hot breath now sweeping her.
Where are the servants? Where are the guards? she thought, but she had moved to the far side of the fountain when it had been shaded, and so was out of view. Calm came over her, a frozen stillness when the answer seems clear. She would be eaten. This monstrous creature had appeared from nowhere and she would be in its gullet with three quick bites. No one could save her. No one would hear her scream in time.
A tiny voice from deep inside cried foul. She did not want her life to end this way, before she had seen or done anything. Could this really be the fullness of her existence?
That voice and its questions broke through her unnatural calm. She opened her mouth to scream as loud as she could and tensed, ready to scramble backward in a run.
She did not have the chance to do either. A rough, leathery hand closed over her mouth before she could make more than a squeak, and a tall, lean body pressed against her back, holding her in place.
“Sorry, Princess. It suits my purposes better to have you quiet than to risk injury in this.”
FYI: It’s not the dragon speaking but his rider Faysal, the leader of a nomadic people.
To learn more about Appreciate a Dragon Day, go here: http://www.donitakpaul.com/fun/aadd/index.html