Last week, you heard from Papa’s friend, Shade. We hope you enjoyed that. Shade’s not here this week, so you have me, your regular newsletter host, Ran, Sarn’s adorable son and sidekick. 🙂
While Shade was talking about First Love, Papa and I were still dealing with the dragon in the boiler room. Before we jump back into that, we must thoroughly embarrass our shy scribe by wishing her a belated birthday.
We celebrated Melinda’s birthday on March 10th in true epic fantasy fashion:
Look, we even brought a portal to help us escape from our book. Aren’t we the best characters ever?
The above art was created by none other than our hard-working scribe, Melinda (at our request). It may grace a future cover after some tweaking. 🙂 We wish her many portals and adventures with us in the upcoming year.
And we now return you to the boiler room in our scribe’s apartment building. Yes, that dragon is still there. We didn’t oust her while you weren’t looking. We would never do that. 😉
When you last saw us, a clockwork angel had just crashed through a window in the laundry/boiler room behind the Newsletter-Dragon. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be within easy reach of that barbed tail.
Dragonish Problems, Part 7
Missed an episode? Catch up here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6.
Glass shards rained down on the Newsletter-Dragon’s back and bounced harmlessly off her scales. Papa had covered my eyes because the metallic lady’s—ah—gears were showing, and Papa doesn’t like it when people stare.
Since his attention was split between sending his magic into the storerooms to either side of the lady and protecting my innocent eyes, I managed to pry two of his big fingers apart. Through that gap, I had a pretty good view of the standoff.
“Unhand that boiler you overgrown worm,” said the metallic lady as she rose from her crouch. Her wings had folded up on her back so they were out of the way.
“Why should I?” asked the Newsletter-Dragon.
“You know what this is and what it can do.” The clockwork angel held up a golden orb, and a shiver passed through the Newsletter-Dragon.
“What does it do?” I asked.
Something slammed into the wall behind the metallic lady and collapsed it. Papa threw the hand not holding me out in a stop gesture and extended the shimmering-green shield around us so it covered the gawkers too. He could have used both hands though. No way would I leave his side when he was actively magicking. I might miss something important if I did.
“What is that?” Melinda asked.
She stood a few feet behind me unsuccessfully trying to keep her neighbors back. They didn’t want to miss a thing, so they kept pushing forward through the doorway causing our tiny scribe to cede ground.
Melinda had sounded rather faint, which was worrisome. She’s usually cool-headed in a crisis, but this damage looked expensive, and we are her characters. So the management association might just hand her a bill unless Papa could fix it. I’d ask him later when he wasn’t holding back an avalanche of cement chunks, bricks, glass shards, ice, and several rhododendron plants.
All that debris was trying to bury us. Only a thin sphere of luminous green kept it from doing that. Good thing shields are Papa’s specialty. There’s always one hanging out between us and the rest of the world.
Behind the debris, the spine of a giant book protruded. It was pushing into the hole where the wall it had stood only moments earlier. That book was much bigger than our scribe’s compact car. Invisible hands flipped that giant book open and took out part of another wall in the process.
Papa’s shield flared as more debris pushed against it, and it shoved the cement and tiles and even a wooden door or two back to create a clear space in front of us. I looked for signs of strain but didn’t find any. Papa’s magic liked to shield people. The only time I’ve seen him struggle to hold one was back in Curse Breaker: Faceted when we faced that many-armed monster.
At the time, Ghost Bear was doing something to Papa’s magic so he could render us all incorporeal. I enjoyed being transparent and ghost-like. It felt all tingly, but Papa didn’t enjoy the experience. Fond memories, but I digress.
Pages riffled as an invisible hand thumbed through the giant book only to stop on page 49. I craned my neck to see what was so special about the lines of text on that page. Nothing stood out from my limited vantage, so I elbowed my uncle. He’d moved closer to us to reduce the area Papa had to shield, but that wasn’t necessary.
In Faceted, Papa had shielded a tiny island and many more people than he was shielding now. And, there were no magic-eating rocks here, so I knew he could hold that shield for as long as we needed it. Your world is thankfully free of those bad rocks.
“What’s it say?” I asked my uncle, but he just shook his head. Either he couldn’t read it or he was being evasive to annoy me. Either was possible.
“No!” screamed the Newsletter-Dragon as she shrank and become curiously transparent. Long strings of 1s and 0s raced around inside her body as the book sucked in a deep breath. It was kind of creepy. The pages sort of pursed its pages like a pair of lips and inhaled.
The Newsletter-Dragon dug in her claws, but the wind the book generated spun into a vortex, and it sucked her into its funnel. She screamed and flailed her forearms, hind legs, barbed tail, and even her wings all to no avail. Down, down, down she went, growing smaller as she neared the book.
“I didn’t know books ate dragons,” I said because someone had to.
No one else commented though. Everyone was too shocked to speak even Uncle Miren, and he always had something to say. Papa just rested his hand on the top of my head, and his touch was comforting. I wanted to ask if the book intended to eat anyone else but didn’t because I wasn’t sure Papa could stop it if it tried. I just hoped it would take us both if it did decide we looked tasty.
“You can’t do this to me,” the Newsletter-Dragon shouted then she was gone, eaten up by the book.
That invisible hand riffled its page again, and Auntie Sovvan slid between two pages to land next to the metallic lady. They exchanged a glance. Apparently, they knew each other.
“Oh, but we can, and we did,” Auntie Sovvan said to the dragon, and a series of growls issued from the book.
“Did you have to destroy this place?” Melinda asked, and I was wondering the same thing. Auntie Sovvan’s not usually the one who causes property damage.
“I didn’t mean to. It kind of just happened.”
Auntie Sovvan twined her hands in the bell-sleeves of her gray robe. Her wings are absent. I was about to ask her where they were when a scream of ultimate agony pierced the silence. Uh-oh, management must have finally noticed what was going on.
We have to run for our lives now. We’ll see you next week for more magical mayhem. In the meantime, you can enjoy our full-length adventures here.
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