Wednesday, September 5, 2012


The Birth of Dracotha
By Hollis Whitlock

Wisteria and Saburida strolled through the gardens of the cemetery under the protective guidance of Lobo the wolf. Tears ran freely. Dark rectangular patches were numerous on the grounds. Etchings in granite were being erected. Oolong, the giant priest, Gobernante, Wisteria's father, and Guerrero, Saburida's father, were walking toward the temple. Firing ballistas resonated from afar.

"We must mount an attack against the orcs," Guerrero said.

"I'm waiting for the birth of the dragonet," Gobernante replied.

Wisteria and Saburida walked to a pond and gazed into its serenity. Deep blue eyes reflected from within strands of long dark curls. Chiseled cheekbones outlined a slender nose, full lips and sparkling teeth. Twins in the eyes of most. Elf cousins to be exact.

Puberty had awoken the previous spring and brought consciousness to their appearance. Saburida's skin was smoother than polished marble. Her confidence flushed the stares of her admirers.

Wisteria had two red dots. Grief twirled a ringlet over her eye and down one cheek. Medicinal herbs were the solution. Her father practiced the art of alchemy. He schooled her on the healing properties of herbs, bulbs and various plants.

Wisteria and Saburida plucked the flowers growing amongst the grass and rubbed the yellow pollen onto their cheeks. Oil from broken stems of the dandelion moisturized their skin. Fragrant petals of the tulip, daffodil and crocus soothed their lesions.

The shouts of Oolong, ordering them to the temple, disturbed their tranquility. Dusk was darkening the sky and reddening the westerly horizon. Shadows were forming specter like formations along the manicured grounds. A dragon was circling above the westerly cliff behind the temple. Lobo corralled the girls to the steps of the dormitory.

"Is that a dragon?" Saburida asked.

"Yes, that's Ashiro. Now off to bed," Oolong replied.

"Can I go and see him."

"You're close enough already."

"Father, I want the dragonet for my birthday."

"No, you can't have a dragonet. Now do as Oolong told you." Guerrero said.

"We came all the way here from the castle. I want to see the dragonet."

"Off to bed."

Oolong smiled and opened the door. Wisteria, Saburida and Lobo entered. The comforts were humble for nobility. Two adjacent bunks were against the walls. A night table with candles separated them. Twilight illuminated the room from the westerly window. Oolong closed the door. Aggressive voices reverberated.

"We should attack at dawn to honor our fallen brother!" Guerrero said.

"The threat of an invasion is long off! The dragons will be feasting tonight!" Gobernante replied.

"The dragons are only keeping the orcs at bay."

"Once I understand the full power of the gemstones I will be able to control the orcs!"

"When will that be!"

"I will make my decision after the birth of the dragonet! It won't be long!"

"I agree! The dragonet carries the red ruby! It is the most powerful of all." Oolong intervened.

"And the protective northern cliff is well guarded."

"Alright you have until then! My men want vengeance!" Guerrero said.

Wisteria and Saburida looked out the window. The full moon was glowing behind an eighty-foot Randor tree. The white blossoms were larger than a melon. Fruit would be ripe by midsummer. Then the moon disappeared and the tip of a dark tail wavered through the illumination.

"That's Ashiro." Saburida said.

"It just happened again," Wisteria replied.

Saburida opened the door and peered outside. A cool breeze was circulating the fragrance of spring. Rustling branches were audible. Stars speckled the sky. Lobo pushed past Saburida.

"Come on. Let's go. Everyone's sleeping."

"It's too dark."

"Grab the candles and a light."

"Alright." Wisteria picked up the brass candleholder. "And then what?"

"I want to see the dragonet."

Saburida grabbed Wisteria by the hand and pulled her outside. Lobo's yellow eyes glowed from the path that led to the Westerly cliff. Torches were burning beside each room. Saburida and Wisteria crept to the gravel trail.

"Ok, be quiet."

"Let's walk on the grass."

The path wound through the gardens past gravestones and ornamental trees. Lobo's pattering feet stopped and his glowing eyes faced them. Saburida and Wisteria halted. A torch flickered above the arch of a bridge. Lobo crawled up the overpass' curvature. He stopped at the highest point. Wisteria and Saburida crept to his side. Reflecting light revealed a guard standing in front of the passageway to the dragon's cave.

Lobo rubbed his muzzle against Saburida's cheek and yelped. Saburida rubbed his mane and nodded. Lobo tugged on her nightgown and crept to the bank of the river. Wisteria and Saburida followed and knelt in the dark shadows under the bridge. Lobo scampered to the guard.

"Lobo what are you doing out tonight?" the guard asked. Lobo pranced in a circle and barked. "What's the matter boy?" Aren't you supposed to be protecting the girls?" Lobo raised his muzzle and howled. "What is it Lobo?" Lobo trotted toward the bridge. "Alright Lobo I'll see what it is." The guard followed Lobo over the bridge.

"Let's go," Saburida said. Wisteria nodded.

Saburida and Wisteria scurried to the gate and peered though the bars. Torches shone from the northerly wall about a mile away. The path leading to the old mine was veiled in blackness, but the dragon's den was dimly outlined.

"It's dark."

"I'll get the key. We can follow the moon."

A skeletal key hung on a loop against the rock wall next to the torch. Saburida's arms shook as she reached for it. Footsteps on gravel approached from the rear.

"Hurry. The Guard's returning."

Saburida and Wisteria turned the lock and pulled the gate ajar. A striding footstep on wood reverberated. Saburida and Wisteria eased between the opening and ran in the direction of the moon. Pattering feet pursued. Wisteria and Saburida hid behind shrubbery until a familiar nuzzle, against an open palm eased their worries.

"Lobo! Where did you go?" the guard yelled.

Lobo scampered onto the path. Wisteria and Saburida bustled behind. Rustling branches whistled. Torches flickered on the northerly wall. Cascading water echoed. Bats fluttered in dark moving patches. Lobo's eyes glistened in glimpses of security.

"Should I light the candle?"

"Not yet. The guard might be following us."

After twenty minutes, they arrived at a pool. Moonlight reflected across the pond. A waterfall crashed on the other side.

"How are we going to get up there?" Wisteria asked.

"It's an old mine. There must be a way up," Saburida replied.

"I can't see anything."

"Light the candle."

Wisteria lit the candle. Jagged stones protruded along the steep wall. The pool looked bottomless. Insects glided along its surface. Flowers thrived along the shoreline. The waterfall was ninety feet away.

Lobo splashed the edge of the pool and lapped the water. Fist sized bubbles rose from the center of the pond and burst like popping balloons. Wisteria and Saburida huddled behind shrubbery and peered through the foliage. Lobo sat with his muzzle pointed at the moon and howled. The bubbles increased like a pot of boiling water.

A long black creature, thicker than a tree trunk, rose from the froth. Two blood red eyes, with dark pupils, glared from forty feet. Expanding bat like wings enveloped the bank. Lobo backed away. Wisteria extinguished the candle.

"Why do you enter my sanctuary at this time of night?" bellowed the serpent.

"It's Piedra. My father has his gemstone." Wisteria whispered.

"Show yourselves little ones!"

Saburida and Wisteria stepped fearfully into the darkness of the serpent's shadow. Its head extended downward to within five feet of their faces. Steam rose from both nostrils in a V formation. White fangs gleamed from the upper lip. Water trickled to the pond in gentle splashes.

"I want to see the dragonet," Saburida said.

"So do I Saburida. So do I."

"He knows my name."

"Yes, I remember visiting the palace the day you were born."

"Can I see the dragonet?"

"Well… the hatching should be soon."

"I really want to see it." Saburida clasped her hands in prayer. "Please." Piedra looked at the cave.

"Climb aboard. I'm curious myself." Piedra lowered his head to the bank of the pond. "Sit down and hold on tightly." Wisteria and Saburida grasped the spikes that protruded from Piedra's back. Wisteria lit the candle.

"All aboard?"


Piedra turned to face the cave. Wind whisked through the girl's hair. The candle flickered. Shadows twirled. Piedra braced his weight on the bank. His appendages squished into the grass. He extended toward the cave. A thrilling rush churned in the girl's abdomens. Piedra placed his jaw on the cave's entrance.

Wisteria and Saburida stepped inside. An egg was encircled in a bed of twigs. Four armored orcs lay contorted next to the nest.

"What if the dragons return?" Wisteria asked?

"They're killing orcs tonight."

Wisteria and Dracotha crept over fragments of bone to the nest. Long shadows followed their footsteps. The egg was two feet long and one foot wide. A reddish hue ran through the shell. It wiggled and creaked.

"It's going to hatch."

"I can't wait to see it."

Time passed in glances from an egg to a melting candle. Wisteria sat on a boulder and tapped her foot like a musician. Saburida paced like her father did when he was procrastinating. Wisteria yelped, as hot wax dripped from the holder to her hand.

"We don't have much light left."

"It must be stuck."

Saburida walked to the orcs and withdrew a dagger from a belt. The blade glistened. A shadow of a slender arm holding a dagger formed on the wall above the egg.

"What are you doing Saburida?

Blackness struck the egg and pierced the shell. A shriek echoed. A red flame illuminated the room. The second shriek was louder than the first. The third came from the mouth of Wisteria, as she stared into the flaming face of Saburida.

* * *

Guerrero paced in the dormitory of Saburida's room. Oolong was administering lavender, Aloe Vera, Calendula, Golden Seal, and Echinacea. Gobernante was standing at Saburida's bedside wielding an opal and chanting an ancient incantation. Wisteria sobbed while holding Saburida's hand.

The opal and herbs had saved her life, but the burns were three layers deep. The scars were irreparable. Saburida had been hospitalized for three months.

"I've done all I can," Oolong said.

"So have I. If only I could have got to her sooner." Gobernante replied.

"There's no point worrying about it anymore. You should be focusing your energy on the orcs," Guerrero said.

"Yes I suppose you're right."

"You should extract the gemstone from the dragonet and wield the power of two gems."

"The extraction of a gemstone is a dangerous and complicated procedure. It requires the anesthesia of the Randor seed and a precise incision below the fifth rib."

"The gemstone of a dragonet will be of no use. You need a mature dragon," Oolong intervened.

"I suppose I should speak to Ashiro about it. He's allowed the dragonet to be housed under the protection of the kingdom," Gobernante replied.

"Can I come with you?" Saburida pleaded. Gobernante exhaled.

"Well, I know he feels terrible about what happened."

"You need the power of another gemstone to control the orcs," Guerrero said.

"I can bring him some pataya fruit. I know it's his favorite," Wisteria said.

"Go get some fresh air. I will make my decision in an hour," Gobernante said.

Wisteria, Saburida and Lobo walked through the gardens of the cemetery in the shade of the Randor trees to the pond. Wisteria plucked the petals of the dahlias, iris', and lilies growing around the shoreline. Saburida removed the veil from her face and stared into the pond. The image was ghoulish. Dripping tears distorted the monstrous reflection.

"I'm hideous."

"The herbs are helping." Wisteria rubbed the petals onto Saburida's scars. Tears flowed in yellow streaks.

"No, they're not. I need the power of the gems."

"My father is trying to figure it out."

Saburida nodded before gathering rotting Randor fruit from the ground. She extracted the seeds and placed them into her pocket. An hour of tranquility passed while dazing on the scavenging Nishikoi. Guerrero and Gobernante arrived with a horse and cart that was carrying pataya.

"Alright ladies you can visit the dragon." Guerrero said.

Wisteria, Saburida and Lobo huddled in the cart amongst the pataya. Gobernante commanded the horses to trot. Lobo panted. Wisteria waved to the gardeners. Saburida veiled her face from shunning expressions and stuffed the seeds of the Randor tree into the fruit. She put them into her pocket.

The guard opened the gate to a lush garden. Birds fluttered. Soldiers marched to the northerly wall.

"The orcs attacked with full force last night on the northern cliff," Guerrero said.

"That's why I'm reinforcing the wall with our finest archers," Gobernante replied.

"I wonder why they're attacking this outpost so strongly. There's nothing here, but a temple."

"I might be making a mistake. It may be a diversion for some other devious plan."

"They're drawn to the opal," Saburida said.

"That could be it. They follow me wherever I go," Gobernante replied.

They arrived to a frothing pond of bubbles. Piedra emerged from the center. Arrows were embedded along his green flank. A six-inch scar was visible on the left side of his ribcage. Gnarled orc limbs extended from his mouth. He raised his head and swallowed.

"You've brought me desert," Piedra said.

"Help yourself. I was hoping to speak with Ashiro," Gobernante replied.

"Why thank you." Piedra extended to the cart. He grasped a mouthful of pataya and chewed. "I believe he's feasting on ogre. We had quite the battle today."

A victorious cheer resounded from the northerly wall. Ashiro was soaring overhead. A dozen limp orcs dangled from his talons. He swooped to a lair on the westerly wall and dropped the corpses.

Guerrero and Gobernante waved to the dragon. Ashiro glided to the perch above his cave and exhaled a forty foot blue flame. Blackened bits of orc fell to the ground. A blue sapphire glistened from his lower left ribcage. He extended his wingspan to sixty feet and drifted downward.

"The orcs are mounting a massive army outside your protective walls," Ashiro said.

"Can I see?" Saburida asked.

"Quiet child," Guerrero said.

"We're here to discuss the possibility of acquiring another gemstone," Gobernante said.

"The order of the dragons is to defend our land for the next generation."

"The dragonet is safe within the confines of the kingdom," Guerrero said.

"Don't push our allegiance too far. The dwarf castle is crumbling in the north. I'd suggest you speak with Oolong and acquire aid from the giants." Piedra said.

"My ability to decipher the power of the opal is increasing," Gobernante replied.

"Do you think you can use the gems better than I?" Ashiro asked.

"I believe I will be able to control their minds and bring peace to the lands."

"Or use them as military pawns," Guerrero said.

"You'll never control those beasts for the good of society," Piedra replied.

"Can Wisteria and I go for a ride?" Saburida intervened.

"No Saburida." Guerrero said.

"Please." Saburida clasped her hands. "I brought you some pataya."


"Actually it's a good idea! You can all climb aboard and have a look at what you're up against," Ashiro replied.

* * *

Saburida and Wisteria screamed while soaring beneath the clouds. Wind whisked past at eighty miles an hour. Hearts pumped at twice the pace. Liquid ran down both cheeks. Hands clasped tightly. The fresh air was heavenly. Below, a massive army of orcs was pushing trebuchets and ballistas toward the castle. Ashiro returned to the pond.

"I'll have to speak with Oolong," Guerrero said.

"Yes, do that." Gobernante replied.

"Can we stay with Ashiro?" Saburida asked.

"No." Guerrero said.

"I hate being seen in public."

"It's alright. They can stay," Ashiro said.

* * *

Wisteria, Saburida and Lobo relaxed on a bed of straw in the cave while Ashiro told of the day's battle. Dusk brought darkness and candlelight shadows formed on the walls.

"Where's Afria tonight?" Saburida asked.

"She's attending to my son Komodo," Ashiro replied.

"Would you like some pataya?"

"Yes, that's my favorite." Saburida handed Ashiro four pataya. Ashiro devoured the fruit. "That's enough stories for the night. It's time for bed little ones."

Saburida waited until Ashiro was unconscious before creeping to his side. The sapphire glowed through his ribcage. She withdrew a dagger and made an incision below the left rib. The gem was larger than an apple and shone brightly. Wisteria and Lobo awoke. Flapping echoed from afar.

"Saburida what are you doing?" Wisteria asked.

"I want the power!" Lobo barked as though a burglar had entered. He bit Saburida's nightgown and pulled her to a hole hidden behind a boulder. "Come on let's go!" Flapping became louder.

Saburida, Wisteria and Lobo crawled through the narrow passage into an old dwarf mine. Screeching echoed from behind.

"That's Afria?"

"I know."

Lobo led them until glimpses of firelight shone from an opening. Wisteria and Saburida peered. Flames were snaking within the forest toward the northern wall.

"Those are orcs."

"What are we going to do?"

"I have what they're looking for."

Saburida, Wisteria and Lobo stepped into the forest. The sapphire glowed like a ball of blue fire. The flaming march halted.

"We've been spotted."

They ran into the forest until surrounded in flickering flames. Wisteria climbed a tree. Lobo scurried under shrubbery. Saburida clutched the glowing sapphire. Flames illuminated hideous faces. The leader stepped forward brandishing a sword and torch.

"Hand me the stone little one!"

"No!" The veil slipped from Saburida's face, as she rotated the stone.

"Our queen!" The orcs kneeled and bowed.

"March!" The orcs obeyed. "Wisteria come with me."


"Destroy the dwarf castle!" Wisteria watched Saburida's army march through the forest.

- - -
A Child’s Nightmare was published in Schlock E-Zine magazine on March 18, 2012. The Awakening will be published in the fall issue of the Zodiac review.


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