I consider myself a fantasy writer, but I’ve been drifting through other genres lately, from poetry (so very weird for me) to horror to flat-out real-world fiction. So today, I decided to fall back to my fantasy roots.
This one made me laugh, immediately giving me images of girl power and princesses wearing paper bags (If you don’t know that reference, grab a glass of wine and some Robert Munsch and settle in for an evening. Seriously.)
Anyway, without further ado, please enjoy!
Disclaimer: I take no credit for the writing prompts featured here. They are ideas I’ve adopted to stretch my own mental muscles and see what I can do with them.
By Kimberley Imrie
Karadreen stretched in her bed, giving a great yawn. She liked to sleep in, but father was one of those annoying, go-getting types. “Get up with the sun,” he always said, “else you’ll miss the rising light.”
Well, curses on the rising light. Karadreen liked sleeping in.
She flopped onto her side, jaw cracking once more with a luxurious yawn. Her claws stretched and relaxed, her wings fluttering in a light flap before folding against her back once more. She closed her eyes, intending to settle for a lovely day long sleep.
Some bloodlines had excellent scent. Others could see pinpoints on the ground from their perch above the clouds. Karadreen’s line had immaculate hearing. So, when pebbles shifted in the cave entrance, she twitched, narrowing her eyes and glaring at the stone wall separating her from the sound.
A field mouse. Or a wild cat. She hoped it was a cat. Whatever it was, if it got close enough, she’d eat it and call it a day. She closed her eyes once more.
Rocks shifted again, rolling against each other with a faint grind. But it wasn’t the movement of scurrying paws. It was steady, rhythmic. It thought it was being sneaky. A low growl reverberated from Karadreen’s throat.
Her father was odd for a drake. He liked humans, called many his friends. Sometimes—often, if she was honest—he liked to don his human skin and walk among them, a Lord among men. Karadreen was raised in court as often as nest. She liked some of them, to a point. But they were just so… human.
The last time she saw her father, two months ago now, smoke curled from his snout and rage from his silver eyes. Few others were as capable of raising his ire as she was. It was a point of pride.
If she was honest, this time she had it coming. But she’d never admit it. Besides, the bastard she sent to the healers had it coming too.
Any other drake would have laughed it off with a nuzzle and a nip. Silly humans, with the things they thought they could get away with. Not dad. Sometimes, her father too was very human. Often it was endearing. Other times… not.
The cave she took over was perfect. Quiet, remote. Its past resident filled her stomach for days, though she wasn’t a fan of bear in general. But this was her bear, and it tasted all the better for it.
For two months, she lived in luxurious, much needed peace, with no human in sight. And now, something with steady footfalls far too heavy for anything welcome disturbed it. She eyed her mossy rock with a sigh and focused on the intruder.
The fire was hot in her belly, roiling as it waited for its chance to explode. Footsteps approached the bend in the cave, light and tentative. Only one person. Fool.
Karadreen almost choked as the interloper appeared at the door. She swallowed her flame in an echoing hiccup, black smoke curling from her nostrils, outlining the wide-eyed girl at the entrance.
“I…I shouldn’t have come.” The words squeaked from the human’s throat.
Karadreen blinked her great golden eyes, drawing back her serpentine neck. “That’s what you have to say?”
The girl backed against the wall, her eyes fixed on Karadreen’s largest incisors, gleaming in the low light. “Uh… well no. Not really. I came to… um… talk. To you?”
Karadreen sat back on her haunches, stunned into silence. This was a first.
The human cleared her throat, emboldened by the drake’s silence. “Yes. I came to talk to you. That’s why I’m here. To talk”—Karadreen slinked close enough to push her snout into to the girl’s face and smell her—”to you.” She sounded like she was going to faint.
“Then talk.” Karadreen’s voice rumbled against the walls. That was part of why she liked caves. They made her feel scary. Scarier. Yeah, scarier.
“I have a p-proposition.” Despite her tremble, the girl stood tall with her chin high. “I would like you to accept my… um… service? Yeah, service. I would like you to accept my service as an assistant. I will remain here with you, far from Dover, and I will do whatever tasks you have need of. I have gold and gems.”
Gleaming golden eyes narrowed. “Show me.”
The girl licked her lips, pulling a pack from her back with a grunt, opening the tie with her teeth as she held it with both arms.
Karadreen raised a scaly eyebrow, eyes flicking between the pack and the girl who somehow carried said pack to her cave. She snapped her jaw with a growl, catching the strap from the girl’s hand and tossing the bag behind her with ease. She’d roll around in the contents a little later. Dad always chuckled when he saw her doing it, but she caught him doing the same at least once. “Sorry, what did you bring?” She grinned a toothy grin, the clinking coins settling into silence.
The girl blanched. Her mouth worked, but no words came out.
Karadreen huffed, a ring of smoke drifting to the rocky ceiling. “You didn’t think this through well, did you? Why are you here, human?”
Karadreen blinked again. “What?”
“Grace. My name is Grace.”
“Oh.” She shook herself, recovering. “Why are you here, Grace?”
Grace sighed, stepping forward to sit on the edge of the massive bed. Karadreen spun, moving her bulk to keep the girl in her sights.
“Can I be honest with you, drake?”
Karadreen growled, but Grace didn’t notice or didn’t care. “I’m here because I can’t stay at home anymore. And I figured this might be a safer place to be.”
Karadreen said nothing, her jaw dropping. Grace spoke before she had a chance to respond. “I mean, home is safe enough, I guess. That’s not it. But it’s also an awful place… or it will be soon. Do you know what I mean?”
“I-well, yes. I do, actually. But why are you here? I’m a drake. I’ll eat you.”
“I took a gamble that you wouldn’t.”
“Oh.” Silence stretched as they watched each other.
“Will you?” Grace raised a hesitant eyebrow.
“Will I what?”
Karadreen huffed. “No. I don’t eat people.”
“…unless they deserve it.”
Grace stared at the ground, her expression hardening. “He wants me to marry Lord Archibald’s son.”
“My father. He wants me to marry some old widower’s son.”
“Oh. Have you met them?”
Karadreen grunted. “The widower’s son.”
“Oh. No. But I don’t want to do it.”
“I didn’t either.”
It was Grace’s turn to blink in surprise. Karadreen snarled. “You humans think you’re the only ones with problems. At home it was all, ‘oh be accepting, Karadreen’, ‘stop eating the cats, Karadreen’, ‘find a mate and have a clutch, Karadreen.'”
Karadreen yawned, eyeing her bed. “well, the one about the clutch was more my uncle, but you get the idea.”
Grace looked at her with a sigh. “It’s just because we’re women, isn’t it? Original sin and all that.”
“Original sin. Ridiculous concept if I ever heard one.”
Grace stared at her with narrowed eyes. “…how old are you? I was expecting an older drake who’d spend most of their time sleeping.”
“Eighteen. And what do you think I’d be doing if you weren’t here?”
“Huh. I’m also eighteen.”
“So… will you do it?”
Grace sighed. “Kidnap me.”
“Oh. I haven’t decided yet. I might just eat you.” Karadreen knew she wouldn’t hurt the girl. Humans were annoyances, but against her will, she kind of liked this one.
“So… your dad pushed you out too? Is that why you’re here? I thought drakes were usually higher up. Then I found your cave and realized I got lucky.”
Karadreen growled. “Your luck remains to be seen, human. All the good perches were taken. He’d find me easier up there, anyway.” Not like dad wouldn’t be able to find her in an instant right where she was…
“Why did you leave?” Grace sat back on the bed, crossing her legs.
Karadreen sighed, the sound rumbling across the cave walls. She stretched her legs, her claws scratching seams in to the packed ground. “Because he wanted me to be human.” She grimaced. “Just like him.”
“Wait, your father is a human?”
“No, stupid. He’s a drake. He’s just like a human.”
“There must be some good things about him.”
Karadreen rested her chin on her outstretched arms. “Of course. He smells like cinnamon and calls me his sunshine.”
Grace smiled, showing dimples in her cheeks. “Mine calls me fireball. His little fireball.”
“If he calls you that, why does he expect you to do something you don’t want to?”
“He says he’s trying to protect me. The Lord’s son is a ‘good match’.” Grace gave a dark laugh. “And he says at least it isn’t the Lord.”
Karadreen watched Grace for a long time. “Grace… you should go home.”
“But you’re going to live in a cave and clear up my leftover bones?”
Grace straightened, her chin jutting as she spoke. “Sure. Bones don’t scare me.”
Karadreen sneered at her. “I eat the bones too.”
“Go home, Grace. You can’t stay here. I don’t like humans, remember?”
Grace said nothing, her face falling.
“Have you tried talking to your father?”
“Try.” Karadreen gave a toothy smirk. “And if the Lord’s son is horrible, bring him here. I’ll eat him for you.”
“Deal. Can… can I stay for a bit before going back?”
“It’ll cost you.”
“I already paid.”
Karadreen laughed. “So you did. Suit yourself. I’m going to take a nap.”
Maybe it was time to go home after all… after a few more days of sleeping in.
Well, that was ridiculous and fun to write. Sometimes, the best way to stretch creative muscles is to revisit our own genre from a different angle. Write an extended dialogue or a bring a setting to life with a description. After all, the point of this project is to play with the tools at our fingertips and exercise our own skills with words.
I hope you liked it, and I look forward to hearing your take on the idea!