Ice and Fire
The dragon exploded out of the hill and straight through the rainbow and into a tree beyond. The dragon collapsed, static electricity discharging, and then a massive bolt from the sky hit the ground. Deafening silence as the world became vivid white, and the tree disintegrated into flame, branches of fire thrown high in the sky.
The flames beat fiercely, igniting the oils of the eucalyptus. Thick smoke rose from the devastated tree, as it collapsed in on itself and started to spread to the nearby shrub-land. And then the rain started.
Throughout it all, the rainbow did not waver. A second dragon had been calling in the sky, but its calls receded.
Slowly our hearing returned. The heavy thud of raindrops and the hiss as rain hit fire.
I turned to Storm – Perhaps one of us needs to go back and tell people about the fire.
She said – What about Pete, and the cats? When they got to the rainbow, it took them off into the sky.
I had not been watching them. I had been watching the dragon striking.
I was caught by uncertainty. Eventually I said – Stay here. The fire is not expanding and dragons are pretty tough. This one might still be alive.
We waited a bit longer until Storm pointed out – Well, nothing is moving. We are just getting wet here.
We made our way down from the granite boulders we had been sheltering under to the creek bank. Rivers of rain were flowing down the gorge to the creek bordered by tree ferns with a grassy patch and the rainbow.
The ruined tree on the other side of the creek, still burning. The smell of eucalyptus and something else. We crossed the creek, arms up to protect against the heat of the fire unquenched by the rain. Deep in the tangle was a body. Not a dragon, but human in form.
We moved away from the fire.
I could not understand what had happened.
Storm was more matter of fact – Teathyme told me that some dragons were just people. Maybe this one got turned back into a person.
I said – Who?
She said, with a guilty look on her face – one of the alfs in the garden. The small one who sings.
I said – What?
She continued – After I did my chores (and a little too quickly) and uni stuff. While you and Pete were off chasing dragons. I caught her stealing an egg. But she is really nice. And she believes in humans.
Maybe it was the shock. But now was probably not the time to lecture my daughter about imaginary friends. So I went into damage control - Have you told anyone else?
She said – Don’t be silly.
I said – Sorry, I guess too many things have been happening. So where is Pete, and the cats?
She said – I told you. Teathyme says the dark alfs use rainbows for travel, between places. You just stand at the base and it takes you. Pete has gone. I think Teathyme was with him.
I thought about this.
Thunder rumbled in the distance. Another storm was coming.
I made up my mind. I said – He looked hurt. I am going to look for him. You go home and raise the alarm about the fire. Don’t say anything about the body, ok?
She shrugged – Are you going to get on the rainbow?
I looked at it. Not if I could help it. I smiled – I will check the bush to see if he is around.
With some additional argument she finally headed back to where we had left the horses, leaving me with the fire and the rainbow.
I walked in widening circles around the rainbow. Nothing. I started to feel uneasy, and made my way back to the clearing.
I heard it before I saw it, crashing through the bush.
The Red Dragon was crouched, watching me. I caught my breath.
He said – What are you looking for, little one.
I said – I have lost a friend, I have been looking everywhere without luck.
He said – Your friend has been eaten by lightning and flames, little one. And with her death, witness my claim on her gold and on her seat.
He thought I was looking for the dragon...
He thought I was looking for the dragon...
I said – Fire fighters will be here soon to put out the fire.
He said – Then I think we should (and he paused and drew in a deep breath), we should run away.
He smiled. A tendril of smoke escaped his teeth. He then took a step towards me striking the ground theatrically with a solid thump and blowing a smoke ring around me.
I took a step back, into the rainbow.
I took a step back, into the rainbow.
I heard him laughing as I rose into the air, paralyzed by fear. Rising slowly at first, then faster than could be imagined.
At some point I lost consciousness. I awoke to a gentle shake. I tried to open my eyes, but I could not see anything.
A voice, with a rough New Zealand accent, said – You will be fine. Don’t try opening your eyes for a moment. Just get your breath back eh.
A different voice asked – Bob, is she from the park?
Bob responded – Yeah bro, nah. Probably.
He said – We are in an unstable area. When you open your eyes you will see two worlds at the same time. Everything will be blurry. You good eh?
He took his hand from my eyes and I opening my eyes. I said – Where am I?
In front of me park land surrounded by trees. At the same time, disconcertingly, high towers draped with clouds and a network of beams. Everything out of focus and drifting.
I scrambled to my feet.
Bob said to his companion – Belle, I think we have a random, eh.
Belle nodded. She was vaguely humanoid. Fear suddenly in my gut – Is she a dragon?
Bob shook his head – Yeah bro, nah. No. She calls herself a wraith. We are on one of her peoples sky platforms. A planet far away. Here, at this point, the worlds meet. My park and her spiders, eh.
Bob chuckled to himself.
Bob and Belle were searching for a group of cocoons, her crew. I asked if they had seen Pete and his cats. Belle nodded – We came across some tracks a moment ago – heading in this direction.
She pointed – we cannot go much further than this without getting engaged with this world, and the spider’s defenses. If your friend came here, he will be trapped like my crew.
We spent an hour searching for signs of Belle’s crew or Pete, without luck. Bob and Belle promised to renew the search after a rest and they showed me how to travel back to the park.
As we phased back into the reality of the park Bob breathed a long sigh and I realized he was shaking, badly. I agreed to meet them in an hour and, following their directions, I walked down the road to a nearby hospital. I wrote a quick letter to Storm telling her what had happened, telling her I would be home soon and mailed it to her using my.
I was away a little longer than I planned. When I returned Bob and Belle had gone.
Over the next couple of days I slept in the park. At night it was alive with people and spiders. One night there was the sound of gunfire and alarms. During the day I traveled back into the unstable realm. Slowly, methodically looking for signs of cocoons. I slowly worked around the platform. I quietly despatched anything in my way. I fading back to the park when required.
I found them at the edge of the platform. I was sitting watching the spiders guarding it when a dragon came out of the sky and started attacking clumps of spiders. She landed a couple of times, always a little way from the cocoons, drawing the spiders away and into fire and destruction. Then I saw a sky boat, impossibly, docking next to the cocoons.
I had to make a decision. See Pete, possibly already dead, taken outside my reach by a dragon. Or leave the tenuous reach of the park.
Swearing quietly to myself I turned and ran towards the boat. I saw Bob engaged in dragging a cocoon onto a trolley. I hesitated for a moment and then dived onto the boat under a pile of sails on the deck.
I heard the sounds of Bob and others working on the platform next to the boat to free people from the cocoons.
One voice – They can be saved.
Another voice – My sister!
I risked a look. Two alfs were standing with two lying injured.
Bob and a woman continued to work to cut others out of their prisons.
The two standing alfs briefly consulted. One came up behind the woman and pressed something to her upper arm.
The smell of a summer storm, static electricity and the rumble of thunder.
The woman spun around.
The alf jumped back and said – Good luck. You are going to need it.
The rainbow came from the sky like a meteor, hitting the ground with an explosion of light, leaving a faint rainbow trail as mist rises.
The other alf moved to the rainbow. With their injured friends in hand they disappeared into the mists. The rainbow faded as soon as they were gone.
The woman stared and shook her head. She briefly bent back to the task of cutting the cocoons.
The next cocoon held nothing but star dust. But in the next one, they found Belle.
The woman paused for a moment, walking to the edge of the platform. She took pieces of tin armbands from her arms, where the alf had done something to her. She smiled and for a second, wings appeared from her back in the early morning light. The rings of a gas giant appeared above the clouds in the distance.
She bent back to the task of cutting people out of the cocoons with Bob. I searched the boat deck for something hard.
I heard Bob say – Anthem, this one is human, eh.
Anthem replied – Wonder how he got here – you recognize the face?
Bob said – Yeah bro, Nah. He is pretty cut up, eh.
They kept working cutting away the web.
Bob said – Nice tattoo, eh.
Anthem froze. Her face enraged as she unfurled her wings. She snarled, ice in every word – This man ruined my life.
Stand in line sister. I hit her head as hard as I could.
(Bad day for dragons and spiders, a couple are missing.)
This is a continuation of a story (a "braided yarn") that started on an earlier G+ post. Details and story at: