#smaugust day 5: LEGEND

Ok, so I didn’t have any essays or book tags or anything ready for this Friday, so I decided to wing it (lol).

There’s a challenge going on right now on instagram, in which artists are encouraged to draw or illustrate some kind of dragon based on a series of thirty one-word prompts which change each day. Everyday, they post their work which corresponds to the day’s prompt and then use the hashtag #Smaugust so that it all collects in the feed. I’ve always thought this was a cool idea (and am totally jealous my art form isn’t more visual) and I generally try to write 500 words a day, so I decided to write my 500 words about a dragon, using the prompt.

There are tons and tons of prompt lists out there, but this is the one I used:

Anyway, here’s what I came up with . . .

Surprising literally no one (except maybe my new employer Galleed), there’s a venerable host of people and things you need to consider when attempting to slay a dragon.

With the myriad of different species, and more than two myriad of legends surrounding everything we know about the creatures, you can’t simply leave your house one morning, find yourself in the beast’s lair the day after, and hope to be back home again when the sun sets that third day.

Despite what the stories say, it just doesn’t happen. Long before you start forging swords or enchanting rings, you have a divine mandate to research your target up front and pull free the glimmering truth from the murk of roiling legend.

Or at least that’s what my old boss Romney had come back spouting after a week at the most recent MERLIN convention.

Galleed is obviously not big on mandates, whether they be divine, earthly or hellish – I believe his official position is “They put the archaic in arcane!” which I have not yet had the heart to tell him is the exact opposite of how that etymology works – so convincing him that we should start “hunting our quarry” with a series of interviews in the bucolic countryside was naturally met with some resistance.   

And quite a bit of snark regarding the in-EFF-able Virtues of Cowardice . . . How I should in fact “EFF” those virtues, and how “for Augustine’s sake!” nobody starts a quest with a series interviews!

I reminded him that we weren’t going on a quest like Augustine and all the others which was exactly the reason he’d hired me in the first place. I also told him that if we took twenty percent more time and effort now to do this research correctly, we could avoid mistakes which would cost upwards of eighty percent of those same resources later . . . and likely kill us.

He looked at me then as if balancing some unknowable scale within his mind and said, “Romney brought those figures back from MERLIN too, did he?” and when I nodded affirmation continued with “Fine go and interview torch bearers” – “Stakeholders” I corrected – “Whatever! Just be back in a month. I want anvils ringing and mages chanting in one month!”

I gave him a smile and a slight bob of my head, which he’d always been generous in accepting as a bow, then left him to whatever activities a prince of Crotania might revel in on a warm night in the capital.

I’ll admit that as I walked those streets that same evening, my worn and ugly leather boots seemed as light as the yellow-orange wisps of cloud, moving with a smooth and easy brilliance across the sky, while the sun warmed their bellies with its last brilliant rays.

Galleed was right. The world was full of opportunity and changing every day. We weren’t like our mothers and fathers, practicing the same old crafts of war and politicking, spending hour after hour moving pieces in a chess game that nobody could ever win.

We were onto something new, and bold, and by Josef Augustine, it was going to work!

Imagine my disappointment when I reached the bucolic countryside – in the middle of a rainstorm — to find that there was little if any beauty to be found, and perhaps even less concrete information about our quarry than the stories we’d all learned as children . . .

This . . . didn’t quite turn out the way I thought it would. First, I’m realizing that the prompt is for day five while technically the post is live on day six. Second, I originally wanted to focus solely on the dragon, and create a legend surrounding it . . . but then I thought it could fit in with another story I started years ago but never finished and so I started writing that story again. The legend of the dragon is coming, but I didn’t quite get to it which I think means I missed my target. There’s kind of some bits about how dragons ARE legendary . . . Right? Eh oh well. Hopefully it was entertaining to some degree.

Please let me know what you think! Of the story? Of the challenge? Should I try to do more of these? Let me know in the comments and thanks for being here and reading this.

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