Welcome to Paradise

The image shows a beautiful garden with illuminated trees and brightly coloured flowers

The heavy door clanged shut behind her. Sinead wheeled around, drawing the Sword of Elshain for protection. The weapon glowed only dimly: no threat was apparent.

Sinead advanced through a lofty hallway, which opened into a still larger, circular atrium. Double doors swung open at the far side and a warm, fragrant breeze wafted in. Sinead hastened forward, filling her lungs with the scents of fruits and flowers, and tasting the honey-dewed air.

She stepped out into patchwork of verdant greenery, laid out in manicured magnificence. Was this really the place where Mother Earth was being held?

‘We’ve been waiting for you.’

A woman, neither young nor old, dressed in flowing emerald robes emerged from a blossom-filled orange grove. Moonsprite was at her side, whinnying gently. Sinead dropped her sword and ran towards them, burying her face in Moonsprite’s mane.

In that moment, their reunion was all that seemed important.


Image credit: ‘Alley Of Roses’ by Leonid Afremov on Deviant Art

Previous episodes of Sinead’s Final Quest an epic tale, unfolding in tiny 150 word increments.

A Spot of Shopping

a magic wand

Alys was studying the store guide at the entrance to the Magical Mall of All, where she and her diminutive dragon had just arrived by doormat. It was incredibly busy and Alys, as a first time visitor, was finding it hard to get her bearings.

‘Wow! This is massive!’ exclaimed Sparky through a shower of excited purple sparks, as he flew to the top of the lofty atrium and stared about. He returned to Alys’s shoulder. ‘Second floor, World of Wands.’

The wand-maker, who was leaning on the old-fashioned shop counter reading a hefty tome, smiled as they entered. Behind him were row upon row of little wooden drawers, each labelled in a neat cursive script. All the ingredients for wand-making! It was all Sparky could do to restrain himself from flying over and taking a look.

Alys placed her damaged wand on the counter. Under the stress of performing FBB Agent Mickey’s transformation, the poor thing had unraveled at the tip, revealing its shiny unicorn hair core. Alys was well aware of the dire consequences of using a damaged wand so they’d hastened to the biggest mall in the magical world to find his famous shop.

The wand-maker blew out his cheeks as he examined Alys’s wand. ‘What’s happened here then?’ He sucked in a breath. ‘Looks like you over-loaded it with a particularly high-grade spell.’

Sparky puffed a plume of concerned crimson smoke across the counter. Alys hesitated. Mickey had sworn them to secrecy.

‘Top secret, was it?’ the wand-maker, touching the side of his nose.

‘Something like that,’ agreed Alys.

‘You sure you don’t want a new wand? More powerful, with a double core, perhaps?

Alys shook her head. ‘She’s like an old friend,’ replied Alys running a gentle finger down the wand. ‘I’d rather have her mended if that’s possible.’

The wand-maker squinted at the damaged end. ‘She’ll need restringing and the point needs a meld-weld but I can have her as good as new within the hour.’ He rubbed his hands together. ‘Two hundred witch-gilders to you, my dear.’

Alys let out a sigh of relief. ‘Thank you.’

At that moment, shop door opened. Alys turned around to see Agatha of Agador’s big beaming, green-tinged face. ‘I thought it was you, Alys.’ Agatha grinned as she entered. ‘Come and help me choose a new set of dress robes.’

Alys grinned back but Sparky face fell. The wand-maker caught his expression. ‘If you’d rather leave the ladies to it, there’s a very interesting book store just around the corner.’

Sparky looked at Alys, a trickle of hopeful steam dribbling from his snout.

‘Of course, Sparky!’ Alys said eagerly. In truth, Alys would rather visit the book store too, but Agatha was her best customer.

The wand-maker waved them off, grinning to himself as the older witch took Alys’s arm and propelled her along the walkway with the tiny dragon rapidly flapping his little purple wings behind them.

Sparky hovered in front of the brightly-painted sign. ‘A Wizard of a Welcome to the Biggest Book Store’, it sang as he entered.

The diminutive dragon’s jaw dropped. He had never seen so many books. Everywhere he flew there were rooms, all packed with books. Potions and poultices, charms and curses, transport and transformation, fight and flight, and finally, a massive, towering room containing works on mystical and mythical creatures, with a whole wall devoted to dragons.

Sparky was in his element. He decided to start with the dragon wall.

‘Psst! Psst.’

Sparky looked around. The other customers were all busy browsing

‘Psst! Sparky! Up here.’

Sparky looked up. A pair of brown whiskers twitched between two large, leather-bound tomes. It was a small brown mouse with unusual, bright yellow eyes.

‘Mickey?’ Sparky let out a shower of surprised sparks. ‘Mickey from the FBB?’ One of the other customers muttered and glared over at him.

‘Not so loud,’ hissed Mickey through the side of his mouth. ‘Remember, I’m deep undercover.’

Sparky raised his eyebrows. ‘In here?’

‘Listen, kid,’ whispered Mickey confidentially. ‘We’ve had a tip off.’

Sparky’s eyes widened.

Mickey’s whiskers twitched for a moment. ‘Maybe you can help.’

Sparky nodded eagerly, his golden eyes shining.

 

Meanwhile Alys and Agatha had traipsed around a plethora of fancy robe shops and engaged a myriad of anxious assistants as Agatha tried on her umpteenth combination of gown, jacket and pointy hat. Alys smiled at each selection, wondering if Agatha would ever make up her mind, but finally she did. A voluminous set of royal-blue robes and a tall sage-green hat. She’d also insisted on buying Alys a pretty purple cashmere shawl. Alys was delighted.

The two witches bustled back towards the book store. As they approached they heard angry shouts and running footsteps. Something was clearly amiss.

A man, dressed in a tightly buckled raincoat with a felt hat pulled down over his ears, came running around the corner. Agatha stepped in front of Alys and whipped out her wand. The man wheeled around and headed back the way he’d come.

‘Come on, Alys, that’s Shylock the Spiv. Nasty piece of work!’ Agatha marched onwards with a determined expression on her face, Alys hurrying worriedly in her wake.

There was a small explosion and the shouting ahead intensified. As they rounded the corner, a huge plume of purple smoke filled the air.

As the smoke cleared Alys saw that Shylock the Spiv was face down on the floor clutching his hat. A burly security elf stood over him with Sparky perched on his shoulder. Sparky grinned and waved a proud purple paw in Alys’s direction.

Once all the excitement had died down and Shylock the Spiv had been taken away in wand-cuffs, Alys and Sparky returned to the wand-maker’s shop. Alys took out her purse, but the wand-maker shook his head. ‘On the house,’ he said, handing her the mended wand and looking at Sparky. ‘Your little dragon catching Shylock the Spiv like that? It’s the least I can do.’

 

‘What actually did happen,’ asked Alys, as she headed for the exit with Sparky on her shoulder.

Sparky giggled in her ear. ‘If I told you, I’d have to kill you.’


Image credits: clip-art.com

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

 

Centaur Forest

A centaur emerging from a forest

The sweet scent of meadow flowers filled the air. From her vantage point, mounted on Moonsprite’s back, Sinead allowed her eyes to wander over the welcoming landscape. Her unicorn stepped softly now, filling her nostrils with the captivating fragrance and shaking her silver mane.

Floral notes from a lute and a pipe filled the warm, scented air and suddenly the woodland came alive. Birds swooped among the trees and small furry creatures scampered over the forest floor. Sinead longed to cast off her boots and run barefoot with them.

She leant over Moonsprite’s neck indicating that they should stop. The unicorn came to a halt, turning her head towards the far edge of the clearing where a magnificent centaur, with the upper body of a beautiful bronzed youth, appeared.

Following her gaze, Sinead slid from Moonsprite’s back. The bronzed youth raised his hand in greeting as he advanced towards them.


Image credit: TheCorinna on Deviant Art

Previous episodes of Sinead’s Final Quest

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

Crossing the Bridge

a picture of a foggy pathway

Sinead wrapped her arms around Moonsprite’s neck, resting her cheek on her unicorn’s silver mane. Moonsprite cantered swiftly through thick shrouds of morning mist. Beneath her hooves was the shimmering Bridge to the End of the World, suspended in a ghostly void.

Images tugged and twisted in Sinead’s mind as Moonsprite pressed onward. Ghostly faces formed from the fog. She cowered beneath a vision of Last of the Oppressors. It reached for her and she tried to scream, but no sound came. Its huge arm swiped at her. Moonsprite veered, breaking into a gallop, sparks flying from her hooves. The monster Sinead had once destroyed melted into the mist.

The day wore on. Beams of sunlight pooled around them. Green tendrils sprouted along their path, flowers bloomed and sweet perfume filled the air. A lush woodland paradise unfurled beside the bridge; temptation beyond the imagination. Moonsprite slowed to a walk.


Image credit: PuccaNoodles2009 on Deviant Art

Previous episodes of Sinead’s Final Quest

The Bridge to the End of the World

Sinead's Final Quest - the bridge to the end of the world

Sinead shivered in the pre-dawn blackness. Moonsprite stamped her hooves on the cold stone of the castle battlements. They waited, as Tarron had commanded.

As the lip of the sun appeared on the horizon, Tarron raised his staff. Out of the darkness, a golden pathway shimmered into view. The eyes of the elderly elf fixed unwaveringly on the pathway as he spoke. ‘The Bridge to the Edge of the World appears only on this, the longest day of the year. You must travel swiftly. Do not look over the edge. Do not stop for anything.’

Tarron whispered in Moonsprite’s ear and the silver unicorn lowered her neck. She whinnied gently, encouraging her mistress to mount.

‘Go now,’ Tarron commanded. ‘Remember, you have only until nightfall.’

Moonsprite sprang onto the Bridge and set off at a canter. Sinead glanced over her shoulder. Tarron stood, staff raised, a ghostly Hound beside him.


Image credit: Gaudi Buendia on Deviant Art

Previous episodes of Sinead’s Final Quest

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

The End of the Beginning

empty corridors seen from above

‘The Chalice!’ the words echoed inside Sinead’s head. She’d dropped it when she’d retrieved her sword. The Hound stirred as she leapt to her feet and scurried along the passageway. Tarron, the elderly elf, stood in the archway where she and the Hound had first entered the Great Maze. He smiled. The Chalice of Earthly Liberation was in his hand and Moonsprite, her unicorn, stood beside him.

‘The Hound…’ Sinead began. Tarron shook his head, pulling her urgently through the archway. She turned and looked back. There was just an empty room. The Hound, the monster and the maze were gone.

‘Grieve not, Sinead, it was the Hound’s destiny.’ Moonsprite edged forward and nuzzled Sinead’s neck.

Tarron placed the Chalice into Moonsprite’s saddle bag. ‘Hurry now, I will lead you to the Bridge to the Edge of the World. You must cross while you still can, then gather the Sisterhood.’


Image credit: Railed Robin on Deviant Art

Previous episodes of Sinead’s Final Quest

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