The eagle has landed

cartoon picture of an eagle

‘What is it, Sparky?’ Alys asked her diminutive dragon, whose yellow eyes were fixed on something outside the kitchen window. The end of his tail twitched, rattling the rack of Special Stirring Spoons that Alys stored by the sink.

Alys counted under her breath as she stirred crocodile tears and tincture of unicorn hair into her bubbling cauldron. She turned the cauldron down before joining Sparky at the window.

A huge bird was perching on top of the garden shed. The little building looked none too pleased as her roof creaked under the weight of the great big bird.

‘Oh,’ exclaimed Alys. ‘Whatever is that?’

‘I thought it might be an owl with a message for us, only I’m afraid to go out in case it gobbles me up!’ said Sparky.

‘Owl’s don’t deliver messages except in story books, Sparky. In any case, I don’t think it is an owl. It’s much too large. It could an eagle of some sort.’

‘Or an eagle owl, perhaps?’ suggested Sparky.

‘Well, whatever it is, we’d better find out what it’s doing here, if only for the sake of our poor shed!’

Alys poked her heard around the door. Much to the shed’s relief, the bird flapped its huge wings and flew to the ground. It was as tall as Alys, and twice as wide. The bird took a step towards her and opened its great curved beak. Alys clutched the edge of the door. The bird hesitated then uttered a high pitched peep. Alys was taken aback. Its voice didn’t match its owner at all.

‘Can I help you?’ She looked the bird up and down. Its feet were enormous, ending in evil-looking talons. ‘I’m Alys,’ she added politely.

The huge bird hunched its shoulders. Its eyes darted around the garden, before fixing Alys with a big beady stare. The edges of its beak curved upward into a kind of smile. ‘I’m Mickey,’ he chirped in a very un-eagle-like voice. He looked around again. ‘You wouldn’t be a witch by any chance?’

Alys nodded uncertainly.

Mickey reached beneath his left wing with his beak and flashed a blurry I.D. badge at her. ‘I’m with the FBB.’

‘The Fabulous Beasts’ Bureau!’ Sparky shouted excitedly, appearing from behind the door. ‘Wow! Let him in.’

‘Not so loud,’ hissed Mickey, as he squeezed through the door

‘You’re actually an agent with the FBB?’ said Sparky through a puff of admiring amber smoke. ‘What’s your mission?’

‘That’s confidential. If I told you, I’d have to kill you.’

Sparky’s eyes grew even rounder.

‘Okay, Alys. The FBB is going to have to trust you on this.’ Mickey glanced around. ‘I need to go deep undercover.’

Alys nodded uncertainly.

Mickey fished beneath his right wing and tossed a small roll of spell-parchment to Alys. ‘Don’t ask questions, just do it.’

Alys unrolled the parchment and read the scratchy silver writing. ‘But this…’

Mickey hushed her with a shake of his head. ‘Do it.’

Alys shrugged and picked up her wand. Silently she mouthed the words, casting the wand in a wide circle.

There was a blinding flash of silver light, then everything went black. Alys heard something small scurry across the kitchen floor.

When the room returned to normal there was no sign of Mickey.

‘What did you do, Alys?’

Alys pointed at the tiny tail which was disappearing under the kitchen door. They hurried to the window to see a small brown mouse shoot across the garden and slip under the gate.

A moment later there was a thud on the doormat. Sparky sped across the room. A pristine piece of parchment stood to attention then spoke. ‘The FBB thanks you for your assistance. Be prepared. You may be called on again in the future.’ The message sizzled into self-destruction.

Little puffs of pleased purple smoke sprang from Sparky’s nostrils. ‘Secret Agent Sparky!’ he whispered.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #46

The challenge this week was eagle. Photo credit: clipart-library.com

A small cute purple dragon
Read more Alys and Sparky adventures here

All Work and No Play

cartoon picture of an edelweiss flower

Sparky dropped another batch of ripe dragon-snap pods on the table. A plume of sad smoke dribbled from his drooping snout.

Alys frowned. ‘What’s the matter, Sparky?’

Her diminutive dragon sighed. ‘We never seem to have time for any fun anymore!’

Alys examined her hands which we’re raw and stained from splitting the sharp seed pods which contained the collectible dragon cards. Even liberal applications of her Hand cream for Hard-Working Witches, hadn’t healed her skin. Their partnership with George the Dragon had really taken off, but it was awfully hard work on top of her cosmetics and potions business.

The Magic Messaging Machine pinged into life. George’s big friendly dragon face filled the screen. ‘How’s it going, partners?’ He clapped his big blue paws together. ‘I have news!’ I’m going to be discharged from the Home for Delusional Dragons! ‘I’m cured, you see,’ said George happily. ‘It’s the business. Given me focus. No more delusions about long lost family!’ A stream of happy steam billowed from his big nostrils.

Once the steam had cleared, he continued. ‘I’m off house-hunting. Preferably a place with a large garden. For expansion, you know,’ said George. He lifted a big blue paw and waved. ‘Toodles!’ and with that, the screen pinged off.

Alys and Sparky exchanged glances, but before they could say anything, a gentle thud on the doormat heralded the arrival of the morning mail. Sparky flew across the room and brought back an elegant envelope bearing the logo of Edelweiss Paradise, the Swiss factory that produced a crucial ingredient for one of Alys’s best-selling face creams.

Sparky opened the envelope with a carefully trained stream of fluffy white steam and a crisp white card slipped out. The card took a deep breath and bellowed: ‘Otto and the team at Edelweiss Paradise humbly request your assistance. We have a big problem and we’re certain you can help.’ The announcement was accompanied by a small shower of tiny white edelweiss buds. The card sobbed slightly and added. ‘As s-soon as you c-can, p-please.’

They both glanced over to the book-case where the Medal of Honour, presented to them by Otto for fixing the Edelweiss Paradise factory’s Eternal Flame, was proudly displayed.

Alys frowned. ‘I wonder what this is all about?’

A plume of puzzled purple smoke rose from Sparky’s nostrils. ‘Only one way to find out.’

‘Okay, let’s go.’ She picked up her wand and hurried over to the doormat. Sparky flew after her and perched on her shoulder. ‘Edelweiss Valley, Switzerland,’ she enunciated carefully.

Moments later they were standing in front of the flower-shaped emblem which adorned the frontage of Edelweiss Paradise. The doors opened and Otto appeared, a worried look on his face. His white beard twitched anxiously as he raised his pointed red hat.

Otto sighed gratefully. ‘Glad you could come so quickly.’ He raised his hands in the air. ‘I didn’t know where else to turn.’

Alys looked around. All seemed fine inside the factory where the copper vessels bubbled away contentedly.

‘Come with me, I’ll show you.’ Otto ushered them back outside and gestured to the hillside where the new edelweiss was growing. A swathe of matted dark vegetation was creeping down the valley towards the tiny white blooms. ‘Smother-weed.’ Otto huffed. ‘It started this morning and Horace has gone AWOL.’

‘Horace?’ Alys and Sparky questioned in unison.

‘He’s the flame-thrower dragon who burns off all the smother-weed. It’s the only way to control it.’ Otto shook his head.

Sparky’s yellow eyes widened. ‘It’s a very large area,’ he said worriedly.

‘Oh no, I didn’t mean that a little fellow like you should try to tackle all that,’ said Otto hastily. ‘I just thought that you might know another dragon who might be able to step in.’

Alys and Sparky looked at one another. ‘George!’ they said in unison.

cartoon picture of an edelweiss flower

‘It couldn’t have worked better, could it?’ said George, draining his third pint of edelweiss cordial. ‘Gave me a bit of a turn to be summoned like that though.’ He winked at Alys.

Alys grinned back. ‘I wasn’t sure the summoning spell would work on someone so… er, large.’

‘But it was such fun! Mass incineration!’ George laughed. ‘So kind of you to offer me a little plot on your valley, Otto. A place to stay and room for a few rows of dragon-snap trees,’ George continued delightedly. ‘And you’ll never have a problem with smother-weed again,’ he said, beaming at Otto.

‘You’ll be happy to take over our share of the business, Otto?’ said Alys, rubbing her sore hands.

‘Delighted my dear.’

Sparky showered the table with relieved ruby-red sparks.

Otto raised his tankard. ‘Here’s to you, George! Settle down here, plant your trees and we’ll provide the labour. The gnomes of Edelweiss Valley are at your service!’

 


Image credit: 4570book.infoA small cute purple dragon

Read more Alys and Sparky adventures here

A new business opportunity

a picture of a chocolate cake

Sparky was sitting on the table reading the latest edition of Magical Creatures Monthly. He was studying a tempting-looking chocolate cake recipe by a dragon from Wisconsin, when with a loud pop and a puff of pink smoke, a small rectangular object landed on the doormat.

‘What was that, Sparky?’ called Alys from where she was busy cleaning her cauldron.

The diminutive dragon flew down to inspect the recent arrival. ‘It’s a Magical Messaging Machine. How exciting!’ He poked it gently with a small purple claw. ‘Oooh,’ he exclaimed through a shower of excited sparks as the screen sprang into life.

Alys hurried over. The Magical Message Machine pinged loudly and the large friendly face of George the Dragon filled the screen.

Alys and Sparky exchanged glances. Even though George had made a huge mess of Alys’s herb garden when he’d visited, and hadn’t actually turned out to be one of Sparky’s relatives as he’d claimed, they’d felt rather sorry for him when he had to be returned to the Home for Delusional Dragons. It was good to see him.

‘Listen both of you,’ George said, leaning even closer to his side of the screen. ‘I want to make it up to you for barging in on you like that.’

Alys smiled. ‘No harm done, George.’

‘Nothing which Alys couldn’t put right with a wave of her wand,’ added Sparky.

George held up a big blue paw. ‘I have a gift for you. It should be arriving about now.’

There was a gentle thud on the doormat accompanied by a cloud of dust. The retired cauldron sneezed, clearing the dust to reveal a tray containing six silver seedlings in little green pots.

‘Dragon Snaps,’ George explained. ‘Pop them out in your garden. They’ll be ready to harvest in ninety-nine minutes. I’ll call you back then, toodle-pip!’ The screen went blank.

‘Come on, Alys,’ excited steam issued from Sparky’s nostrils. ‘Let’s plant them.’

Soon the little Dragon Snaps were sitting comfortably in the soil. ‘All we need to do now is wait,’ said Alys. ‘What shall we do?’

‘We could make a cake.’ Sparky flew over to the table and brought back the recipe he’d been reading. ‘Looks good, doesn’t it?’

Alys grinned. ‘Let’s do it!’

‘Without magic?’

‘Of course,’ replied Alys. ‘I can cook conventionally.’

Sparky raised a purple eyebrow but said nothing.

The time flew by as they measured and mixed and finally popped the cake in the oven. Sparky glanced out of the window. ‘Look!’ he pointed with a chocolate-covered paw.

The silver seedlings had grown into tiny trees. Hanging from their branches were dozens of strange-looking objects.

Just then the Magical Messaging Machine pinged. It vibrated agitatedly on the table until Alys picked it up. George’s face appeared. ‘Are they ripe yet?’

Sparky took off through the kitchen door and returned clutching a rectangular-shaped pod. ‘Go on, open it,’ said George excitedly.

Alys took the pod and carefully split it open. Inside was a playing card with a picture of a dragon on the front and some numbers and symbols beneath it. Alys turned the card over. The words Dragon Snap Collectibles™ shimmered in silver.

‘There are lots of different dragons to collect and it’s a game too!’ George grinned toothily.

‘Awesome!’ said Sparky through a shower of excited silvery sparks. ‘How many cards are there, George?’

‘It’s impossible to say. They just grow…’ George paused, noticing Alys’s expression. ‘They’re perfectly legitimate. I have a wizard contact who cultivates them in Seattle. He’s given me a license to import the seeds. All I need is somewhere to grow them. There’s no garden here at the Dragon’s Home.’

‘Collectible cards that grow on trees, Alys,’ said Sparky. ‘You were talking about growing the business, weren’t you?’

Alys grinned. ‘Why not, we’ve nothing to lose. They might attract a new set of customers.’ Sniffing the air, she whirled around and snatched open the oven door. Alys sighed and picked up her wand.

George continued. ‘I can supply you with the seedlings, you can to the rest…’

‘…and we can split the profits!’ Excited amber smoke issued from Sparky’s snout.

‘That looks tempting,’ said George, eyeing the cake with its glistening chocolate frosting from the screen. ‘You’re obviously a very accomplished cook.

Alys smiled at the compliment. ‘I’ll send you a piece, George.’

Sparky glanced at George’s beaming face and winked at Alys. ‘He may not be my uncle, but he can be our business partner, can’t he?’



Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite

Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #45

The challenge this week was partner. Photo credit: clipart-library.com
Sparky apologises for busting the word limit but he didn’t want to leave out the cake

A small cute purple dragon
Read more Alys and Sparky adventures here

Uncle George the Dragon

‘What are you reading?’ Alys asked, glancing over the steaming cauldron at her diminutive dragon. His pointy tail was twitching with agitation as he read from the crumpled piece of parchment in front of him.

‘It’s a letter from my Uncle George. It just arrived by doormat.’ Sparky put his head on one side. ‘I didn’t know I had any family.’

‘Nor me. What does it say?

‘It says he wants to visit; something about a family tree. At least I think that’s what it says. His writing is terrible.’

Alys peered at the parchment. ‘Well, if he’s a relative of yours I suppose we should invite him.’

The room darkened. Something very large was squashed up against the window. Alys hurried over to see what it was.

‘Oh, I think this must be Uncle George.’

Sparky flew to her shoulder and together they opened the back door to a huge scaly green flank which undulated as its owner turned around. A large but friendly-looking face appeared. ‘Hello,’ it said, yellow saucer eyes gleaming.

‘You must be Uncle George.’ A welcoming plume of purple smoke issued from Sparky’s snout.

‘I was expecting someone… er, smaller,’ said Alys, edging around the door and stepping into the only part of the yard which wasn’t occupied by Uncle George. His great paws sunk into her carefully-tended herb and flower beds and his tail was draped inelegantly over the little garden shed which complained crossly under its weight.

Alys remembered her manners. ‘Pleased to meet you,’ she said politely.

‘So, this is young Sparky, is it?’ Uncle George grinned toothily. ‘I haven’t got long, I’ve lots of relatives to visit.’ He rummaged under his left wing and retrieved a battered book. Then he felt under his chin and pulled out a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles which he perched precariously on his huge green snout.

Sparky flew up and landed on Uncle George’s head, so as better to see the book. He read the title: Who’s Who in the Dragon World.

‘What are you doing up there, boy? Can’t you see I’m trying to read?’ Uncle George said sternly.

‘Sorry, I just wanted to look at the book too.’ A little steam of sapphire smoke seeped from his snout.

‘All right, but keep still.’ Uncle George leafed through the pages with a golden claw.

‘You don’t look like each other at all,’ ventured Alys.

Uncle George ignored her and continued his perusal of the pages. ‘You know, boy, you could be a high-born dragon just like me. Caves and castles, riches and…’

He was interrupted by a big booming voice. ‘George, there you are!’ A bearded face appeared over the wall.

Alys looked around in alarm. Another giant! She’d only just repaired her ceiling after the last one visited.

‘Sorry, Miss,’ the giant apologized, flashing an identity card at her. He smiled sympathetically at Uncle George. ‘My name’s Arthur, I’m afraid George gets awfully confused.

Uncle George looked up. ‘Oh dear, I’ve been rumbled again.

Sparky flew over and perched on the wall, just out of Arthur’s reach. ‘What’s going on? This is my uncle.’ A handful of indignant indigo sparks flared from his nostrils.

Arthur sighed. ‘He’s escaped from the Home for Delusional Dragons again. Not your fault, of course, his letters can be very persuasive. I expect you invited him, didn’t you?’

Alys and Sparky nodded.

‘It breaks the Spell of Confinement if you do, you see.’

‘Perhaps you need to change your spell,’ suggested Alys.

‘Yes, Miss, we will. We don’t want to be too harsh on him though. He’s had a rough time. Gambled all the family riches away…’

‘And I’m not part of that family?’ asked Sparky.

Arthur chuckled. ‘I don’t think so young’un.’

‘I’m fully grown,’ replied Sparky stoutly.

‘Well then, you’re not likely to be related to a dragon like George, are you?’

Sparky stared at George, who was folding his horn-rimmed spectacles. ‘Don’t I have any family?’ asked Sparky plaintively.

George shrugged his huge shoulders.

‘Ready, George?’ asked Arthur.

George nodded happily. ‘Lot’s more family to visit, eh?’

Arthur waved a giant-sized wand and both he and George vanished. The garden shed sighed with relief.

Alys turned to her diminutive dragon. ‘You’ve still got me, Sparky.’

‘And you’re all the family I need, Alys,’ he replied, sending up a pretty plume of purple smoke. ‘I’ll fetch your wand and we can tidy up the garden.’

Alys smiled. Sparky was all the family she needed too.


Image credit: sqbr on deviantart.com

A small cute purple dragon
Read more Alys and Sparky adventures here

An Alpine Adventure

cartoon picture of an edelweiss flower

Alys unpacked her latest doormat delivery from Acme’s Ingredients for Witches. It was a bumper order as she’d used the voucher she’d been given as a reward for capturing the bogus Dragon Inspector.

‘One item’s missing,’ said Sparky, consulting the delivery note. ‘Distillation of Edelweiss is out of stock.’

‘That’s the ingredient I was particularly waiting for. I need it for my Special Skin Cream for the More Mature Witch.’ Alys frowned. ‘Does it say when they’ll be getting more stock?’

The diminutive dragon shook his head. ‘Isn’t there anywhere else you can get it from?’

Alys shrugged. ‘It’s imported from Switzerland. Edelweiss grows in the Alps there.’

‘We could try contacting the manufacturers,’ suggested Sparky.

Alys took a dark blue bottle from the shelf and examined the flower-shaped label. There’s a doormat address here. I suppose I could try sending them a note.’

‘Or we could visit,’ said Sparky through an excited puff of purple smoke.

‘That would be an adventure! We’ve never been abroad.’

‘We went to Scotland for the Dragon-Flame Games last year,’ Sparky reminded her.

‘That’s not abroad.’

‘Well, it was foreign,’ retorted Sparky. ‘If it hadn’t been for the Babel-Fish Charm we’d have never understood what anyone was saying!’ He flew across the room and hovered by the door. ‘Shall we go then?’

Alys hesitated for a moment then, snatching up her wand, she joined him on the doormat.

cartoon picture of an edelweiss flower

They found themselves looking up at huge flower-shaped emblem which hung over the front doors of a large building. All around them were green fields carpeted in alpine flowers with snow-capped mountains beyond.

The doors opened to reveal a short, white-bearded man wearing a red hat, whose appearance reminded Alys of a garden gnome. ‘Welcome to Edelweiss Paradise,’ said the little man grandly. ‘My name is Otto.’

‘We came to buy some of your Distillation of Edelweiss,’ said Alys brightly.

Otto smiled, but then his face fell and his shoulders sagged.

‘What’s wrong?’ asked Alys, while Sparky, who was perching on her shoulder, snorted out a concerned stream of violet smoke.

Otto stared at the diminutive dragon. ‘Please. Come inside.’

They followed Otto into the building. The walls were lined with a series of copper vessels connected by a maze of pipes leading up from a central smoke-stained pit. Further along was a bottling area, with a line of the familiar dark blue bottles standing on a long table.

The factory, however, was silent.

‘What happened?’ asked Alys.

Otto walked over to the fire pit. ‘The Eternal Flame which has fired our production for two hundred years has gone out. We’ve tried everything to rekindle it, but…’ Otto shook his head sadly. ‘Our village is desperate. We sold the last of our stock a month ago and this is our livelihood.’

Sparky sprang up and hovered over the pit, tiny flames issuing from his snout. He landed on the edge and looked up at Alys.

The young witch nodded and took out her wand. ‘Initio incendio!’ Alys commanded.

Sparky took a deep breath and blew a great golden gout of flames at the centre of the pit.

Nothing happened.

‘Again, Sparky!’

A blaze of bright blue flames poured forth from the tiny dragon’s mouth. Alys enunciated her incantation again. The flames glowed white-hot and with a whoosh the pit was ablaze. Alys and Sparky withdrew as the flames shot up towards the roof, then died down to a steady, healthy crackle.

‘You did it!’ Otto exclaimed. The factory doors flew open and a group of small gnome-like people flooded in, all whooping and cheering.

cartoon picture of an edelweiss flower

The retired cauldron quivered with pleasure as Alys draped a fresh garland of fragrant alpine blooms around her rim.

‘Maybe we should travel to foreign parts more often,’ called out Sparky as he flew over to admire the flower-shaped Medal of Honour which stood proudly on their bookshelf.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #44

The challenge this week was foreign. Photo credit: 4570book.info

A small cute purple dragon
Read more Alys and Sparky adventures here

Cowboys, Beware!

jug of lemonade and two glasses

Alys waved her wand with a flourish. ‘Ceiling reparo!’

Sparky, her diminutive dragon, looked up as several stray flakes of plaster dislodged themselves.

Alys waved her wand again. ‘Plaster mendaro!’

The cracks in the ceiling made by the bogus dragon inspector stubbornly remained.

Alys lowered her wand. ‘I don’t know, Sparky. I’m no good at these DIY spells.’

‘Maybe we should call someone.’ He flew over to the bookshelf and pulled out a thin volume with a bright yellow cover. Sparky started leafing through the flimsy pages.

They were interrupted by a loud thud on the doormat heralding the arrival of two stocky little men wearing blue overalls. One held a large bucket and the other carried a ladder. ‘You called, Miss?’ they said in unison.

Alys turned to Sparky. ‘Did we?’

Sparky shook his head.

‘Aha,’ the two little men pointed at the ceiling. ‘We see your problem, Miss.’

‘Can you repair it?’ asked Alys hopefully.

‘Of course.’ Fred rubbed his hands together. ‘We’ll have this done in a jiffy.’

Alys returned to the kitchen where a hair preparation ‘for constantly flowing locks’ was gently simmering in her cauldron. Sparky followed carrying his new copy of Dragon Detectives’ Monthly which had arrived by doormat that morning. He’d only just settled down to read when a loud hiss of crimson steam issued from his nostrils.

BEWARE THESE COWBOY CONTRACTORS!’ the heading screamed. Sparky hastily silenced the article with a swift pat of his paw.

‘What is it, Sparky?’

Sparky put a purple claw to his mouth. He beckoned to Alys and pointed at the photograph. The faces of the two stocky workman stared out from the article. ‘Wanted in two counties for preying on the unwary, these practitioners of make and mend have been wreaking mischief and mayhem on unsuspecting clients’ homes. They extort money on the promise of rectification and then disappear without completing the work. Their most recent victim was Agatha of Agador…’

Alys looked up. Agatha was one of her best clients. ‘Poor Agatha!’ she exclaimed.

Alys ladled a couple of spoonsful of the preparation from her cauldron into a glass jug and muttered an incantation. The mixture fizzed and bubbled, then slowly cleared to a pleasant lemony colour.

She poured it into two glasses, winking at Sparky. ‘Refreshments, gentlemen,’ she called out cheerfully, carrying the glasses into the next room and putting them on the table.

The two men seized the glasses and drank. ‘That really hits the spot,’ said Bob.

‘Just as well,’ said Fred. ‘This job is trickier than we thought. We’ll need to come back tomorrow.’

Alys eyed the ceiling where there was now a gaping hole.

‘We need more materials,’ Fred rubbed his hands together, ‘and an advance on the payment.’

Sparky snatched up the Dragon Detective’s Weekly and flew across the room, dropping it on the table in front of the two men. A threatening shower of sparks spurted from his snout.

Fred put his hands on his hips. ‘So? D’you want the job finished or what?’

Bob nudged him. ‘Your hair, it’s… it’s green and it’s growing!’

Fred turned to him. His jaw dropped open. ‘So’s yours!’

Within seconds grisly green hair was pooling at their feet.

Alys glared at the two men. ‘Put my ceiling right and your hair will go back to normal.’ She twitched her wand and the hair began to curl and tighten around their bodies. ‘And finish all those other jobs,’ she pointed at the article.

‘That’s blackmail!’ Fred mumbled indistinctly through a forest of green beard.

‘Just do it,’ said Alys sweetly.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #42

The challenge this week was extort. Photo credit: dreamtime.com

A small cute purple dragon
Click here for more Alys and Sparky stories

The WI Competition

WI competition by Chris Hall lunasonlune

Alys eyed the glowing seed packet dubiously. It had just that minute materialised on her doormat with a note from Cheryl Charmworker, the Chairlady of the Inter-Coven Competition Committee.

‘Well, Sparky, this is going to be a challenge,’ Alys addressed her diminutive dragon who was still perusing Cheryl’s missive.

‘She’s asked you to represent the Western Sisterhood in the Witches’ Institute Flower and Produce competition!’

‘Only because everyone else is busy with the Mistress of Spells Symposium,’ said Alys moodily. ‘What do we know about growing stuff?’

‘We can only try, Alys. C’mon, let’s get planting. The competition’s this afternoon!’ Excited smoke danced from Sparky’s purple nostrils as he flew out of the back door.

Alys followed carrying the seed packet carefully. ‘Don’t wake until ready to sow’, the instructions had whispered.

With a bright burst of flames, Sparky cleared a patch of earth. Alys opened the packet and shook it. The tiny seeds sparkled and danced in the air before sowing themselves neatly in the fresh earth. Each seed produced a miniature spade and covered itself over. Moments later they heard the gentle sound of snoring coming from beneath the earth.

Alys and Sparky spent an anxious few hours anticipating the growth of their entry. Eventually they’d given up peeking out of the back door to find nothing happening. Alys returned to studying the ‘Biggest Book of Brilliant Spells’, while Sparky amused himself practicing his flame throwing skills in the hearth.

They were interrupted by a polite knock on the back door. Alys hurried to open it. The ugliest bunch of knobbly root vegetables she had ever seen lay neatly knotted together on the doorstep, pulsating with a peculiar pink colour. It was almost time to leave. Her heart sank. They were never going to win with these.

Alys and Sparky stood on the doormat. Alys had just read out their destination when a big bunch of tulips burst from the retired cauldron and placed itself on top of the basket holding the knobbly veggies. Alys smiled gratefully; maybe there was some hope after all.

The Witches Institute Hall hummed with excited conversation. No sooner had Alys and Sparky found their allotted spot than a judge arrived; a rotund black-bearded dwarf who introduced himself as Wilfred.

Wilfred eyed the tulips. ‘You grew these?’ he asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

Alys flushed. ‘Actually no, they were a present from my retired cauldron.’

Wilfred removed the offending flowers and peered into the basket. ‘What do we have here?’ he plucked the pulsating pink veggies from the basket.

Alys and Sparky exchanged a worried glance as Wilfred slowly turned them over in his calloused hands.  

‘These are magnificent!’ He leapt onto the table and held them aloft. ‘Pink Prestige Parsnips; notoriously difficult to grow.’ Wilfred beamed. ‘First Prize to the Western Witches’ Coven!’

A large red rosette appeared on the table next to Alys. Wilfred turned to her and whispered. ‘You would’t mind if I took a couple home, would you?’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #39

The challenge this week was prestige. Photo credit: clipart.com

The Test

what do you see 13 by chris hall lunasonline

Alys balled her fists, digging her nails into the palms of her hands. She stepped into the stone circle. Moonlight shone on the cromlechs and lit up the faces of the members of the coven who stood in eager silence. This was the final test. Unless she could prove her mastery of the fourth element, she’d be banished from the sisterhood forever.

She raised her head and closed her eyes, centering herself. Palms back to back, she laced her fingers and took a deep breath. Muttering an incantation she opened her hands. A tongue of fire issued forth. She held her open palm aloft for all to see.

She had conjured fire.

Another word, and the fire was extinguished. Alys slowly folded her hands and clasped them gently to her chest before descending from the stone circle. ‘Thanks Sparky,’ she whispered, as the miniature dragon scurried back up her sleeve.


Written in response to SadjeWhat Do You See #13 photo prompt.
Photo credit: Pixabay

Casting Woes

what do you see 12 by chris hall lunasonline

‘You’ve got me an audition for what?’ Freya stared at her agent in disbelief. ‘You are joking aren’t you?’ A neat curlicue of steam issued from her purple nostrils.

Jed Talent hurried across the room and flung open the office window. ‘Unikitty is big time, Freya.’

‘I’m a serious actress,’ Freya huffed. ‘I will not work in some Lego toy spin off.’ She raked a purple-painted talon across the arm of the capacious couch on which she was perched.

‘Sometimes we have to take what we can get, sweetie.’ Jed returned to his leather-upholstered armchair. ‘After your disastrous audition for G.O.T…’

Freya pouted. Her spiky tail began to twitch; the glass-topped coffee table in front of her rattled ominously.

‘Okay, okay.’ Jed held up his hands in surrender. ‘Not Unikitty.’

‘Well?’ Freya’s eyes smoldered. ‘What else have you for me?’

Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty?’

‘What’s with the unicorns, Jed? I’m a dragon!’ Freya snorted, issuing a shower of sparks from her nostrils.

Jed eyed the resulting scorch mark on his thick shag pile carpet.

‘You want me to dress up in drag?’

‘Unicorns are where the big-time is at, sweetie.’ Jed ran his fingers through his thinning hair.

‘If that’s the best you can do, I’m finding myself a new agent!’ Freya stood up and swept from the room, her tail overturning the coffee table as she went.

Jed sighed as he watched Freya fly off from his office window, her dazzling blue wings framed against the giant Hollywood letters.


Written in response to SadjeWhat Do You See #12 photo prompt.
Photo credit: Flickr

Read more about Freya’s story in The Audition

The Audition

what do you see by chris hall lunasonline

Freya admired her newly-polished talons. She glanced over her scaly shoulders at her wings, freshly adorned with the finest lapis lazuli, mined by the dwarves of Zendor. The elves had done a fine job on her.  It had cost her several gold coins from her secret horde, but it would be worth it. She was ready for the audition.

As a young actress she’d been an extra in the final Lord of the Rings film. She hadn’t enjoyed flying on by herself all the way to New Zealand. It had been exhausting. But there’d been no way she would have agreed to go in one of those flying metal contraptions, crated up like an animal. And then, after all that, her scene had ended up on the cutting room floor.

Her other big regret was to have just missed the part in the BBC TV series, Merlin. She’d have loved to have worked with John Hurt, but they’d said she was too pretty. Fair enough, she’d thought; the role had, after all, been for a considerably older dragon, and a male at that.

Now she was pinning her hopes on the Game of Thrones. This could be her big break!


Written in response to Sadje‘s ‘What Do You See‘ photo prompt.

And in memory of our friend, Hélène Vaillant. I’m so pleased that Sadje has revived this!