Friday, August 13, 2010

More from Tim's book

Under a banana shaped moon, a cloaked rider mounted on a bay horse followed a rutted road eastward. The rider sang snatches of a ballad as the horse plodded along the track. There was a sudden clap like thunder in the sky, making the horse snort and shy. The rider looked up and froze, hands clenched tightly on the reins, as a beast the size of a house soared over the road, huge bat-like wings snapping and flapping. The horse reared, but the rider stayed in the saddle, looking upward, mouth open in a silent scream.

The creature looked to be not one, but many animals, artfully put together. Green scales flashed as the moonlight caressed its lizard-like body. It bent its goat horned head to peer at the terrified pair below with eyes hard and red as rubies. Its spiked crocodile tail trailed behind, curving and lashing sideways as the beast banked and turned for another pass. As it swept overhead for the second time, the rider gulped, noting sharp raptor claws at the end of thickly muscled legs.

The horse's eyes rolled, it foamed at the mouth and it shook its head, but the rider held it steady. “It's a dragon! A real dragon. There are dragons left in the world!” the rider exclaimed.

A gust of wind from the dragon's wing knocked the hood of the dark wool cloak back from the rider's head and coppery hair cascaded to slender shoulders. Emerald green eyes below met cinnabar red ones above. “Why, it's just a girl,” boomed Tim in a kettle drum voice. “ On a horse too scrawny to eat.”

“It talks,” said Miranda. “How amazing.”

“Of course it talks,” agreed Tim, coasting to a graceful landing on the road. “It flies and breaths fire and does many more amazing things than just talk.”

“It certainly boasts,” Miranda declared, steadying her mount as it tried to dance backwards.

“With reason,” countered Tim.

The girl laughed. “It is beautiful.”

“As is the girl,” Tim replied. “With hair like firelight and eyes as green as spring.”

“It is perhaps not a dragon at all but a silver tongued prince under some enchantment?” asked Miranda, hopefully.

The ground rumbled as the dragon laughed. “No, just a dragon. Aren't you afraid of me, little human girl?”

Miranda shook her head. “No, I admit I was at first but I'm not afraid anymore, although I probably should be. But, you see, encountering a talking beast is...well the wonder of it seems to have drained the fear out of me. And, in any case, if you are going to kill me there is nothing much I can do about it, now. So, I might as well have an interesting conversation first.”

Tim nodded. “Indeed. I like your reasoning. And, just between you and me, I have never killed a girl who reasons.”

“Have you killed any who don't?”

“I have not. In fact, although I am loath to admit it since it doesn't seem very dragony, I haven't as yet killed any humans. Not on purpose, anyway. Furthermore, you are the first human girl I've had a conversation with at all. The others just screamed and ran away.”

Miranda giggled. “Well, I can understand that, I suppose. You are a dragon, after all. And, in all honesty, dragons have a fearsome reputation.”

“We do. And justly earned. We are fierce and we can be truly terrible. Its the way we are made, you see. It is our nature.”

“Well, I don't know about that. But, you are as well spoken as any Micklesian courtier. You seem most civilized to me. Indeed, although you are sporting excessively large claws and teeth and are making my poor horse very nervous you are definitely charming and a lovely color, too. Like the sea.”

The dragon blinked his ruby eyes. “I shall savor that compliment, lady.”

“Where do you go, magnificent dragon? And, please excuse me, for calling you an it before. That was rude of me. ”

Tim laughed again and Miranda braced herself as the ground rumbled and her horse fought the reins. “You are forgiven. And where I am going is a thing I cannot tell you since I do not know as yet. I am adventuring into the unknown. Following the wind and my exceptionally keen nose. That is all I can say. But where do you go, human girl? I did not think well brought up human girls wandered about lonely roadways under dragon moons without the protection of a loathsome knight or two.”

Miranda harrumphed. “I am... adventuring as you are. I can take care of myself as well as most men can. I've had training in weaponry from an expert soldier, you see.”

Tim nodded. “I might believe it, judging from your confidence and composure. Even the sudden appearance of a dragon didn't rattle you overmuch.”

Miranda smiled. “You give me too much credit. As I said, it was the wonder of this encounter that made me so bold.” She pointed upward. “But, sir dragon, if I may ask, why do you call the moon overhead a dragon moon?”

“Because it is shaped like a dragon's smile,” he replied. He grinned. “See?”

“Oh,” she said, comparing Tim's mouth to the shape of the moon. “I always thought the quarter moons looked like a yellow fruit my father once imported from the south lands.”

“Bananas,” the dragon said, after thinking a moment. “They are called bananas.”

“Yes, that's the name. But, now that I've seen a dragon's smile I would agree that the moon is shaped very much like it. Except for the teeth of course. ” She looked into the sky again. “Or it could be said to resemble a dragon's claw or even his curled tail.”

“Well, see in it whatever you like. But, to me, it's a dragon moon and a dragon moon is a rarity,” said Tim. “It only happens once a month.”

“Once a month isn't that much of a rarity in my opinion. But meeting a smiling dragon underneath a dragon moon is a rarity.”

“I think you must be a rarity, too,” mused the dragon. “Few humans see any wonder in a meeting with my kind.”

“Then they are quite blind,” Miranda replied. “Or at least stupid.” The dragon considered her reply in silence, which began to stretch uncomfortably.

“Did I say something wrong?”

“No,” said Tim. “You said something right. But, you appeared to be in a bit of a hurry when I spotted you. I have no doubt delayed you long enough. Are you sure you will be all right though, out here alone on a mostly deserted part of the King's road?”

“Well,” Miranda replied, “I can only hope so. I have a good map and a fast horse and I have no choice but to travel this road. So, I guess I better be about it.”

The dragon nodded. “Very well. I wish you good fortune and good speed wherever you are bound.” With a crack, he flapped his wings and began to rise upward. The horse whinnied and tossed its head, straining at the bit in its desire to flee from the dragon. “Stay alert though, exceptional girl,” he warned. “You never know what sort of other fearsome beasts you may meet along the way.”

“I have met a dragon on this road,” called Miranda. “Where a dragon travels other beasts will not wish to be. Or so, I hope,” she added, to herself. She sat, astride her horse and watched as the great dragon flew skyward and disappeared before pulling up the hood of her cloak and continuing her journey. This time, however, she did not sing.

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