Today’s story is brought to you from Leslie Rohman. A wonderful woman with a great imagination who’s figuring out how to put that imagination into stories! I love her descriptions! Nough said.
A huge puff of smoke escaped the dragon’s nostrils. What a predicament! A fairy here! And his current deal with the people of Piff, who lived below his cave in Mirror Mount, made it impossible to do what he would normally do in the event of a fairy attack; hide until she left!
Thonk snuggled deeper into his monstrous pile of gold to reassure himself that the town and its inhabitants were actually worth saving. Not being allowed to eat their livestock was annoying, for sure, but they paid him oh so well.
These past seven years since he discovered this cave and made the agreement with the Piffians had worked flawlessly. He’d protected them from all manner of silly predicaments. Mostly orc, troll or goblin attacks. But occasionally another young dragon would try and best him for his gold. He laughed as he thought of the most recent attack.
The Piffians had rung their windmill sized gong to alert him of the trouble. The instrument was actually set into the side of the mountain (he’d had to set it in place himself!) and though he’d never tell, it was actually the vibrations more than the sound that got his attention. His hearing was not what it used to be…
So they rang their little bell and he’d flown out to find a little morsel of a dragon setting fire to their church. She couldn’t have been more than 100 years old. And she thought to challenge the mighty Thonk, ha! He’d allowed her to live, the tales she spread of his might would cause others to think twice before they attempted the same. And the chunk missing from her left hind leg would always remind her of her folly!
Thonk closed his eyes, shuffled his black wings and brought his mind back to the present. The fairy, so far, hadn’t caused too much damage. Just a collapsed barn and a few unfortunate occupants who’d been pancaked inside. It was only a matter of time till the little monster wreaked far greater havoc, Thonk was sure of that!
He had the good fortune to never encounter a fairy before. But he’d heard the tales. Dragon families gathered every 100 years to recount old tales and relate new ones. And the millennial court saw every able bodied dragon assemble for the same sort of story passing, just on a much larger scale.
The most famous story from his own family was of his Uncle Squink. He’d underestimated a fairy who stole from his horde and ended up with boils underneath his scales for a month. And all he’d tried to do was stomp on the purple fairy!
Thonk’s best friend growing up had had an Auntie who’d tried to eat one and all her teeth had fallen out.
The most famous stories, told at every gathering, were of Bitty, the mightiest dragon of the third age. She’d had the nerve to go up against two blue-winged fairies. The little devils had been seen stealing articles of great value from an evacuated town that was about to be buried by lava from the volcano that the ridiculous humans had built their town beneath. It was said the mighty Bitty never flew again and the fairies led her around on a leash like their pet for her few remaining days, which must have been few due to a broken heart at such humiliation.
Thonk’s whole body quivered at this thought. To be someone’s pet forevermore was horrifying!
All this thinking was making him crazy, Thonk needed to get out and fly. The entrance tunnel to his cave resembled a spiral staircase. He absolutely loved running round and round, up and up and then flinging himself out into the open air. It made him a little dizzy, but that was part of what made it so exhilarating! Orienting himself while not running into the edge of the mountain was the best part.
Roaring all his frustrations out to the world, Thonk did a quick scan of the town and satisfied that nothing needed his immediate attention, he wheeled away north towards the river for a drink.
Meanwhile, in the piney woods near the river sat Sunshine, the fairy in question, removing splinters from her fingers. Watching carefully as the monstrous, black dragon splashed and frolicked in the water. He complicated the situation here even further. Dragons were generally silly and cared only for their gold, but she knew he could be a formidable foe. And now that someone had been hurt, he would blame her. She tried so hard yesterday to get to the pinned farmhand in time! But alas! She came too late. And she’d also been spotted. A fairies’ worst nightmare!
If only there was some way she could tell them she was here to help! Fairies spoke to each other telepathically and had never been able to communicate with any other creatures. And after the first few fairies had been misunderstood and labeled as catastrophic troublemakers, people were so afraid of them that there was no chance of even getting close enough to someone to try to explain.
Sunshine was tempted to just leave this town to the trouble it had coming to it. She was tired of helping with no thanks. With no recognition of all she was capable of. To be feared was sometimes fun, but only for a short time. And to be swatted at like a fly was just insulting! The farmhand who’d spotted her yesterday had actually flung his spade full of horse manure at her. She still felt dirty!
Not helping these people could mean banishment from the fairy conclave. But Sunshine didn’t care. She was sick of it all! She began to slowly fly East. She had a cousin who deserted last year. Before he left, Bluebird told her of an abandoned tree house where fairies who had made the same choice gathered. Sunshine would go there. Coming to this conclusion, she made the motions of washing her hands of this place and sped away.
When she got to the tree house Bluebird had mentioned, Sunshine was shocked. The place was a riot of color- any place where that many fairies gathered was- They all have green bodies and wings of any possible color under the sun. But she had never imagined that so many had defected! There might be more here than at the annual conclave.
Bluebird was ecstatic to see her, and he promptly and proudly showed her around. The main room looked like an ancient Roman gathering. A few of the more theatrical fairies sang or danced surrounded by others lounging on pillows nibbling food and sipping at drinks.
On the balcony, they had turned an old birdbath into a swimming pool. The mental shouts and splashes of water filled the air.
On the roof, games of all varieties were underway. The atmosphere up here was more subdued. And Sunshine noticed that some of the fairies had an inexplicable look of sadness and lethargy, loneliness and perhaps even anger on their faces. They seemed withdrawn and out of place.
One such group, gathered round a table of delicacies, seemed to have either lost the ability or the will to fly! They were fairly overweight and whenever they moved, they didn’t even try to use their wings! Even if a normal fairy was only going a few paces, he would flit and float there. To only walk was unheard of!
When Sunshine asked Bluebird about these two anomalies, he flippantly threw out something about them being the founders of the tree house, and “they always act like that”.
Sunshine had a fantastically fun filled day. She swam, played and ate her fill. At the end of the day as she lay out under the stars listening to the hoots, howls and chirps of the night she thought about all the fun she could have again tomorrow and the next day and the next. The thought wasn’t quite as appealing as she would have expected.
Bluebird floated over and landed next to her. “Whaddya think?” He questioned.
“Hmmm, it’s definitely fun, and I sure enjoy not having manure thrown at me!” She projected her thoughts back to him along with the memory from earlier with the farmhand. Only thoughts that they chose to project could be heard by each other.
He chuckled and jumped up as he got excited. “Never again will that happen to you! As you’ve seen, here you are free! You can do whatever you want! Sleep, eat, relax! No missions, no danger, no being misunderstood!” Bluebird’s hands flailed about with each exclamation. “Never again will you have to help those pathetic, unthankful humans! Never, Never, NEVER!”
He floated in the air just above where Sunshine lay with his hands raised waiting as if he expected his audience to applaud. But his speech had quite the opposite effect of what he expected. Sunshine was totally still and silent as she processed her feelings. At first she was just plain confused. Confused, because his words made her feel an immense emptiness and sadness.
Then she was angry for just a half-second. Couldn’t she just not have a conscience for two minutes and enjoy her freedom?
Then came the worst of all; fear. Fear that she had doomed all those people she was supposed to be helping.
She could see now how a fairy who gave up their purpose for this life of “freedom” might end up sad and angry like those she’d seen on the roof. Helping others was what gave her life meaning.
When she finally looked at Bluebird again, he was giving her the most comical look. And she realized that as she had been analyzing her feelings, her face had been showing her emotions perfectly. A scrunchie face to go with her confusion, bared teeth with her anger and a round lipped “oh” face to go with her fear. She always had been an open book.
“I must go, there might still be time!” Sunshine yelled over her shoulder as she zoomed out back the way she had come just hours earlier. Bluebird’s face was even more comical at this, but she never saw it.
Sunshine flew faster than she ever had before. She could already feel the beginnings of the earthquake that had the potential to flatten every house in the village of Piff and maybe even bring the mountain down on the unsuspecting dragon. Her mind started to form a plan as she flew.
She arrived at Piff just before dawn. And she knew she only had minutes to get the people out of their stick houses that would impale and squish them where they lay. She first went to the corn field that was farthest from the houses and mountain. Her hands were shaking terribly and made lighting the fire here difficult. She dropped her flint twice before she succeeded. As she backed away to examine her work, she realized that this one little flame was not big enough to draw all the people out here to the relative safety that the big empty field might provide. She needed to light more, fast.
With a sinking heart she felt the first little rumblings beginning. Her chest was tight and tears were starting to flow. How could she light more fires with shaky hands and tears blinding her eyes?
She pressed on though. She did manage to get three more blazes going before she knew she was out of time. She raced towards the mountain. The ground was rolling more violently now.
“NO, NO, NO!” Sunshine kept screaming with all her might, projecting her thoughts and wishing with all her being that someone could hear her.
As she neared the gigantic gong that she hoped to somehow use to awaken the people, she saw the mighty black dragon wiz out from his cave near the top of the mountain…
Thonk was sleeping lightly tonight in case the fairy decided to cause any more trouble, he would be prepared. What he would do if he encountered the little brute, he still didn’t know. At first the shaking seemed to him like some part of the daydream he’d been having. He was remembering the last time he stomped hard enough to make people fall over.
But then he realized the floor of his cave beneath him was really moving. His nest of gold was tinkling and jumping like popcorn in a kettle just before they explode into all their fluffy goodness. He jumped up and ran as fast as was possible round and round, up and up. Out into the night he flung himself, not even noticing his dizziness for once.
The sight before him was enough to make his blood boil. Fire! That little devil had set fire to the corn fields! And then he saw her. She was coming his way. She would pay.
He shot like an arrow straight towards the fairy, planning to incinerate her before she got close enough to do any harm to him. But the little bugger was faster than he anticipated and before he even had time to suck in a breath, she was upon him.
But then all Thonk knew was the craziest tickling sensation in his right ear. And a high pitched screaming coming from inside his own head. “NO! NO! NO! Ring the gong, get the people up, NO, NO, NO, not fast enough! “
Thonk covered his ears with both claws and spun around as he tried to make this crazy noise stop and also see where the fairy had gone. As he spun, his tail smacked the gong. But he just kept whipping round. Where was the fairy? She was going to get him! Images of boils underneath his scales or his teeth falling out flashed through his mind. Every time he whipped around, his tail smacked the gong.
Thonk bellowed in frustration as the screechy voice in his head wouldn’t stop.
“Too late! Wait, What? Where am I? Gah! AHH! EEEEW!” It shrieked.
“Stop! Stop screechin’!” Thonk shouted. And still not seeing the fairy he crashed into the violently rolling ground, just as the groggy but scared Piffians started emerging from their homes.
“You can HEAR me???” The screechy voice screeched and Thonk smacked his head on the ground to try and get it to stop. “WHOA! Listen to me, you have to get the people out of here now! This earthquake is gonna bring down some of the mountain. Hurry! RIGHT NOW!” The screechy voice talked so fast Thonk almost couldn’t understand it.
“Why are you screechin’ inside my head? Who are you? And where did that blasted fairy go?” He still crouched on the ground, both claws over his ears.
“No time! The people are going to die! Please hurry!!”
The thought of his people in danger was enough to get him up off the ground. And then a light went off in his head as he realized it had to be the fairy who was screaming at him.
“MOVE!” he roared to the people who were staring at him like he’d gone crazy. They were trying desperately to hold on to anything to keep from falling down. Ah! Another light bulb. The fires in the field were to get the people moving and out of harm’s way!
“FIRE! East cornfield!” Thonk shouted. And then the people moved as only those can who know what it’s like to have your whole existence depending on the beloved crops they grow. Even with the heavily rolling ground and buildings starting to collapse, the people grabbed water buckets and raced off towards the river first and then towards the field that was in danger. Thonk knew everyone would help, men, women and children. He had no fear of anyone being left inside.
Sunshine was totally grossed out by her current surroundings. This dragon’s ear had more wax in it than the birdbath at the tree house had water! She was stuck up to her wings, and couldn’t move at all. Being inside his head as he sat on the shaking ground was also starting to make her seasick. But she was just trying to concentrate on the job at hand and then she could figure out how to get out.
She couldn’t believe he could hear her! “Are they all out? The earthquake is still getting worse. Oh! The mountain! Are you still sitting below it? The top half was about to slide this way!”
“Gar! Stop wigglin’ in there, that tickles!” The dragon roared back at her. “And slow down, can’t understand a thing you’re sayin.”
Sunshine tried to slow herself, but this crazy beast had to get out of the way. He was big, but the top half of this mountain would crush even him. “The Mountain’s coming down! Please move!!”
She felt him swing his head round to see behind him. “My gold! My cave!” He boomed as he took off.
“We can dig for it later! Please don’t go in there!”
This stopped him short, “We? You…. you would help me? Aren’t you in my ear to torment me and make my nose bleed or somethin’ like that?”
Ah, blasted dragon’s stories! She knew she’d stopped him long enough already though as she heard and felt the crashing and bouncing of the rocks as they slipped from their resting places.
“NOOOOOOOOO!” Thonk wailed and let loose a torrent of flame that Sunshine could feel even from inside his ear. She had no idea a dragon could breath fire for so long, he just kept going and going!
Huh, the wax surrounding her was getting softer. He was melting his own earwax! Just a little bit more. Yes! She was free! And the earthquake was just about ended also.
Sunshine’s wings were still coated which made flying out of the question. She started crawling her way out. This got his attention. The fire stopped and he shook his head back and forth like a dog with a bone.
“Hold on, Sir Dragon, I’m almost out.” She felt a shiver run up his whole body as she exited and clambered to the top of his head. She hoped that this was still close enough for him to hear her.
She sat on his nose, looking into his left eye. “Can you still hear me?”
He just nodded, his eyes wide with fear. “Good, then yes of course, I’ll help you get to your gold. All you think you know is so far from the truth. But first, are the townspeople safe?” He loved these people, that much was clear. Even with his mountain home collapsed on top of his precious treasure, a mere mention of the Piffians took his full attention.
Thonk spun around and flapped swiftly towards the smoking cornfield. As he flew, Sunshine climbed up and over to where she could hide behind a spike on top of his head, she didn’t want to frighten the people any further than they already were and she told him as much. He landed nearest to the town mayor.
“Did everyone get out?” Thonk queried.
“All but old Walter. He always did sleep like a rock and was too deaf to even hear the gong….” The mayor hung his head.
“Ahhh, a kinder man, I never knew. He’ll be sore missed. Looks like we have some replantin’ and buildin’ to see to.”
“Yes, at least it’s early in the season and it’s warm enough, people can sleep outdoors without freezing.” The mayor was a great planner and thinker, perfectly suited to his job. Seeing this made Sunshine feel a little better. She was heartbroken for these people.
“Now the sun’s comin’ up I better go see about what’s left of the mountain. I’ll be back soon to help.” Thonk said as he flew away. “Now I think you, little missy, have some explainin’ to do.”
Thank you, Leslie, for the wonderful story.