Thank you to those who submitted a dragon story following last week’s prompt! I realized afterward that my readers in the United States might have trouble finding time to write in the days leading up to the Fourth of July, but I did receive a few stories that I’m excited to tell you about.
- Untitled Dragon Story comes from a reader who definitely had the holiday on his mind. My favorite part of this story is how he was able to use all 24 words in such a short piece yet still have a complete story.
- Out Here was submitted by another reader who said he added one more rule for himself in using the 24 words. Can you see what he did? I thought it was interesting that this story, like mine, has a protagonist who lives in the forest.
- Finally, we have The Dragon Show, written by Anna Stroven who blogs at Where Morning Dawns. I love the animal town, as well as how the character of Mrs. Macgregory feels like one of those old ladies who seems nutty but is absolutely loveable.
Thank you to the few who got a chance to write, and I hope the rest of you get a chance to read the above stories!
As I was writing my story, it got to be pretty long, so I decided to split it into two parts. You don’t have to wait for Monday to read Part Two, though—I’ll make sure I get it up tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’ll also tell you what the theme of the word search was that provided these goofy 24 words.
Without further ado, here is Part One of “How the Orange Dragon Found His Cook”:
A long time ago, there was a prospering kingdom that stretched from the rolling seaside to the towering mountains. At that time, humans were ruled by dragons. This arrangement usually meant comfort and great hoards of riches (for the dragons) and wise leadership and protection from other humans (for the humans). Everyone was satisfied, and there was peace.
In this country, however, an old tradition associated with dragon rule went terribly wrong when the Orange Dragon took the throne (orange dragons were known for their irrational and slightly unhinged behavior; people rested most safely when a mellow blue or calm green dragon ruled). This particular tradition dictated that the dragon ruler, who was normally limited to a vegetarian diet with the exception of the occasional sheep or deer, could devour all criminals, enemies, and otherwise who earned the death sentence. For the dragons, this meant a delicacy that was normally off-limits; for the humans, this meant an incentive to keep crime rates down.
The Orange Dragon wasn’t satisfied with only getting one criminal every few months. He so enjoyed the taste of human flesh that he encouraged the death sentence more and more frequently—first, every month or so, and later, every week. It wasn’t good enough to merely avoid being a murder; soon, even the commonest of thieves were being sentenced to death just to keep up with the Orange Dragon’s demands. Something had to be done before there was nobody left to eat, but what could they do? Their ruler was wise and good in every other aspect, and besides that, he was far more powerful than any of his human subjects.
Around this same time, there was a young man who lived alone in the Deep Nut Wood. Content to live in a tree house in the branches of a walnut tree, he happily lived alone, conversing with the birds and creating food masterpieces that he largely enjoyed by himself, but would sometimes bring into the city to share with his few acquaintances there. He knew about and was bothered by the Orange Dragon’s taste for humans, but as he lived far from the castle and never did anything wrong, he didn’t worry too much about it.
One day, as he made his way through the trees carrying a basket of almonds freshly gathered just that morning, he heard some people coming past. He stepped away from the path to watch and listen. There was a pair of the palace guards, looking very far from home and very irritated.
“We’d better find someone tonight,” one was saying to the other, “or we’ll be the next victims, punished for not bringing him his weekly prisoner.”
“I still don’t think it’s fair.”
The first guard chuckled. “We don’t have fair happening here, sonny.” He suddenly cried out as his left boot went into a mud puddle. Shaking the mud off his foot, he also shook his head. “No, it’s not fair we have. It’s a hungry dragon.”
Our young man, whose name was Collin, spoke up from the side of the road against his better judgment. “Perhaps you could find something he likes better than humans.”
The guards started, and both turned toward him.
“Who’s that, then?”
“My name is Collin, sir, and I live here.”
The first guard looked around with wary eyes. “I see no home.”
Collin patted the bark of a nearby tree. “The trees are my home. I prefer the solitude.”
The guards exchanged glances and lowered their spears toward him. “Or maybe,” the second one suggested, “you’re a criminal who is hiding from the justice we’re looking to provide.”
Collin shook his head. “No sir—I’ve caused no trouble. The people in the nearby city can vouch for me.”
The first guard moved a step closer. “You’ve caused no trouble—yet. If you don’t do as I say, I can arrest you on charge of resisting authority. Do you know what the penalty is for that?”
“I can guess.”
The guard grinned wickedly. “It’s death.”
Collin, naturally, wanted anything but to be eaten by the Orange Dragon, so he complied in showing the guards his home, explaining again that he loved living outdoors, and admitting that yes, he knew a thing or two about food, which is why he had suggested the idea of finding a different food source. But then they said something he was hoping not to hear.
“Come with us.”
“You heard me,” said the guard. “You clearly know about food, and if you think the Orange Dragon can be satisfied by some other meal, then you must be the one to come and try. If you don’t—“
“If I don’t, I’ll be his next meal,” said Collin wearily. “You don’t leave me much of a choice.”
“At this point, it’s either you or us, and I choose you.”
And so, dusting the dirt off his knapsack and filling it with his most necessary belongings and the spare mushroom or potato that only grew in the soil of the Deep Nut Wood (you never know when such a thing may come in handy while cooking), Collin bid his walnut tree a reluctant farewell and turned with the guards back toward the city.
TO BE CONCLUDED.