Friday, March 04, 2011

#FridayFlash: Accidental Sorcerers 1

This story could be considered as accidental as the characters. My blog-buddy AndiF posts a daily photo and a circle of friends gather around and talk about whatever — sometimes, even the photo. We got to chatting about this particular one (shown below), and Andi said I’m thinking that it has to wait for an ice spider to spin an ice web over its bones to catch the snow. I immediately felt that familiar tickle, and over the next day or so the story pretty much wrote itself.

As Tolkien said, “the tale grew in the telling,” and it soon spawned some sequels — one of which was a story I’d written a long time ago, on the same “accidental sorcery” theme; it took almost no effort to tie it in. There will be four parts, unless there’s five or six. The title came to me after I tweeted that a lot of my fantasy involves the consequences of people using magic that they don’t fully understand, and John Wiswell responded, “Oh, so like it would really be?”



Accidental Sorcerers #1
Awakening an Ice Dragon

The wind carried loose snow and the thud of cannon fire. Two ghost-like figures followed the creek bank, stopping then moving on.

“Where’d it go?”

“It’s around here somewhere. I saw it yesterday. It couldn’t have thawed.”

“Why are we doing this?” The first speaker pulled back the white sheet, revealing a girl’s face. She looked over her shoulder.

“Keep covered!” her companion rasped. “My uncle said the soldiers are close. Some of them might even be around here.”

“Chill, Mik. We’d see them first.”

“I’m already chilled.”

“So why are we out here?”

“Duh, Robi. The grownups won’t try this. You gotta be pure to make an ice dragon and not have it turn on you. Why do you think they let us leave, instead of making us help pack up to evacuate?”

A string of cannon fire rumbled across the distance, and Robi flipped the sheet back over her hood. “Pure is a pretty big word,” she said. “Is anyone pure? I bet the priest would say no.”

Mik stopped again, searching the bank. “I think it means virgin in this case. So we’re safe. At least I am.” He turned to Robi, grinning a question, then blushed and looked away. “Don’t answer that. I’m doing this anyway.”

“Geez, Mik.” Robi was both annoyed and relieved. She hadn’t done that… but did Piet’s clumsy groping count? Just that once? It didn’t matter. She and Mik had been friends all of their thirteen years, and if he admitted to virginity, she believed him. He’d just started noticing other girls anyway.

Photo: Andi Ferguson
“There! I think.” Mik’s excited cry startled her out of her thoughts. She followed his finger to the stream’s edge and saw it etched in the ice: skull, part of a spine and tail, a leg, some of it covered by snow. More snow swirled around them, hiding the skeleton for a moment.

“Careful, Mik. Don’t step on it,” as Mik eased down the bank.

“Yeah. Give me your hand in case I slip.” Hands in heavy gloves clasped, then Mik reached a flat spot and helped Robi down.

“You got the spider, right?”

Mik gave her a horrified stare for a moment, then laughed. “Yeah.” He took a stoppered bottle out of his coat pocket, the bottle he’d shown her yesterday. The frost spider webbed his window for a week of nights, until Mik managed to catch it in the first light of dawn — the only time it could be seen. A piece of paper blundered out from the bottom of his sheet, and Robi stooped to catch it before the wind did.

“Thanks. That’s the needle.” Mik hoped his mom wouldn’t miss it; she’d kill him ice dragon or no.

“We’re here. Now what?”

“What, you don’t remember the rhyme?” He recited:

When winter winds moan,
The ice dragon’s bones
Can be found alongside the river.

The blood of the pure
Shed without fear:
The ice dragon comes to deliver.

The frost spider spins
A white snowy skin
And blood brings the dragon awake.

But impure blood burns,
The dragon shall turn,
The bones of the wicked to break.
Robi joined him as he spoke. “Just from other kids. I guess my parents thought it was too scary.”

Mik nodded, then knelt next to the skeleton. He held his bottle over it, then opened the stopper and shook the bottle. They couldn’t see the spider, but it began to knit: slowly at first, then gaining speed.

“It’s not going to be a very big dragon,” said Robi. “It’s what, four feet nose to tail tip?”

“Better than nothing.” He slipped off his gloves and jabbed with the needle several times. “I keep missing!”

“You keep closing your eyes! Here, let me.” She rubbed a little snow on his fingertip and squeezed his finger, turning it red before poking it with the needle.

“Huh. I barely felt that.” He watched his blood drip onto the dragon. “Seven drops should be enough. It’s lucky, anyway.” He thrust his finger into the snow to make the bleeding stop, then donned his gloves. “Look!”

With a crackling noise, the ice dragon pulled itself free of the river ice and clambered onto the bank, facing the children. Its gaze fixed on Mik as he pushed Robi behind him.

Why have you awakened me? The ice dragon’s voice was chattering teeth, cutting wind, crunching of crusty snow. Robi thought it looked a lot bigger than it really was… or was it growing?

“An enemy has invaded our lands,” said Mik. “Will you make them leave?”

The dragon looked down at them now — it was growing, alright. Make them leave? Why not kill them all?

Mik thought a moment. “No. We just want to be left in peace. You don’t have to kill them if they go away.”

Yet some will die.

“Well… our own soldiers would have killed more of them. It’s not right to want them dead, but soldiers die in wars.”

The huge head cocked over. Its eye was a ball of ice, fixing them in its glare. I judge you pure of heart. It shall be as you desire. The dragon leaped over them, making them duck, then glided away, gathering more snow to itself. It seemed to grow as huge as winter itself as it departed, playing tricks with perspective.

“You did it,” Robi whispered. “You’re a hero.”

“I hope it’s enough. Huh. I guess pure didn’t mean virgin after all.”

She laughed and nudged him. “I bet you won’t be a virgin by spring, not if you don’t want to be. All the girls will want you.”

Mik stared into the flying snow. “I doubt it. No one will ever believe I summoned an ice dragon.”

But everyone believed. They had to.

continued…

21 comments:

  1. Wow! I was totally immersed in the story. The kids voices are right, the concept is wonderful.
    Can't wait to read the next installment.

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  2. Farf, I am so pleased -- and rewardingly entertained -- to have my photo and comment lead to such wonderful creativity. Now hurry up and finiish it; I hate deferred gratification. :)

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  3. Like Andi, I'm pleased to have been any part in the inception for this one. So if we get magic, we also get heroes who get laid all the time? Where do I apply?

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  4. I love this story. I want to know more. I want to know what's brought the kids to the creek. And I damn sure want to know what's going to happen now.

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  5. Hi everyone!

    Peg, I must have paid attention to my kids when they were that age. :-)

    Thanks, Andi, I've got the second one drafted out but it needs editing & cutting. It should be up by Friday.

    John, if only that were true. This *is* a fantasy, after all! But if you do something like save the entire town, the girls will tend to notice you a little more.

    Jim, they went to the creek to find the ice dragon! Like I told Andi, next week's ep is in the works.

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  6. I really liked this, and it did have a Tolkienesque vibe to it - especially with the poem. Nicely done. Dare I say, enchanting?

    I'm sorry, but sometimes you just NEED to say the pun. :)

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  7. I loved this. It was so inventive, and you've created yourself a neat little mythology there. You could go places with this.

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  8. Hi!

    Ganymeder, I'll tak a "Tolkienesque vibe" any day. The question is, how did such a powerful spell become a children's rhyme?

    Thanks, Icy. Mik *will* be going places next week…

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  9. Wow, what a cool story. I like the innocence of the kids and their desire to help, not knowing what is really going to happen. Hopefully this story will continue.

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  10. Looking forward to next week's installment. I hope we find out the back story sometime.

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  11. Beautiful mythology you have created. I also liked the children's wish for the soldiers to go away and not have to die.
    There is some superb phrases in this piece. Lovely.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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  12. Hi all!

    Lara, kids do like to think they can get the job done, right? Of course, it's the ones who don't know that something's "impossible" who do it. The story will continue next week, I already have part 2 drafted and edited, with maybe a little more work needed.

    Jim, what parts of the backstory would you like to see? I could spend a little more time in this world.

    Adam, thanks much!

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  13. Loved the whole story, FAR! What catched my attention the most, and gave me a chill through the spine, is how you describe the dragon's voice. Cool! (literally, heh)

    I can see this is not going the direction the kids wanted. Uh. Will be looking for the sequels. :)

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  14. I really liked this story. I love your use of the prompt.

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  15. Thanks, Mari! The dragon needed a unique voice, and provided it for me. Almost still winter here. ;-)

    Danielle, glad you liked it. The prompt wasn't really a prompt per se, but I've had several good ideas from random pics and phrases my blog-buddies have thrown out there.

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  16. Excellent, very engrossing, i love the idea of an ice dragon

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  17. Thanks, Crafty. There's more to come tomorrow…

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  18. Epic. Nice picture that you based this on.

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  19. This is a great story! I love the kids' voice and the virgin talk. I was relieved that the dragon found Mik pure of heart! Such a gamble! Loved the poem. Reading the second part now.

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  20. Nice! You can really feel the friendship here, and the depth and history of the world.

    Good hook at the end too, off to part 2 now. =)

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  21. Yay! Finally got a chance to read chapter 1. Sorry for the delay. I really was caught up by your character dialogue. Their personalities were very captivating and I love the premise w. the ice dragon. Can't wait to read the rest.

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