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
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|
“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,Robi joined him as he spoke. “Just from other kids. I guess my parents thought it was too scary.”
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.
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.