#Smaugust Day 20: HYBRID

It’s a Friday in August so I guess that means I have another #Smaugust post for y’all. What’s a Smaugust? Well, apparently it’s the word you get when you combine the words August and Smaug, the main antagonist in Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

I got a little curious about the history of this event and was able to find that the Brush Warriors have done some sleuthing in their post: Smaugust — Drawing Challenge. Apparently it was started in 2016 by and artist named Katie Croonenberghs, aka Kamakru and Oh My Gawd, her artwork is absolutely beautiful.

Anyway, you may have noticed that I’m not an artist. I can’t draw to save my life, but I still think this is a fun and cool event, so I’ve decided to adapt it to my own purposes . . . writing fiction. I don’t have the bandwidth right now to write new fiction everyday, but every Friday has been pleasantly doable. You can see the list of prompts I’m using in the image below, and check out my two previous entries for the prompts LEGEND, and FOREST.

That’s pretty much all you need to know about that. Let’s get to the fiction. Today’s prompt is HYBRID. Enjoy!

High Breed

After Galleed had finished drying out, and I’d finished writing up my notes from our encounter with the Gorgusa, we decided we must continue testing the Full Stack’s features – after all, the test had revealed valuable flaws in both our methods and assumptions – though we both agreed that perhaps another look at those assumptions was needed before we reached Failmor’s southern edge, and the home of the Blensdcale.

Several long and expensive afternoons spent in The Capital’s premier library, The Anathenaeum, had given us nearly a thousand reports of encounters with our next quarry, some benign, but most disastrous. We poured through those accounts all over again while ambling down the slowest route to the southern edge, hoping to find some sliver of information we’d missed in our original search.  

Neither Galleed nor I had admitted it to each other yet, but we’d both been shaken among those ancient ruins and roving tupelo. Our first test, and we’d nearly failed. Our first bet, and we’d nearly lost it all.

We were determined not to make the same mistake twice, and so we worked.

But as the wind grew colder, and the hills began to climb, Galleed and I were no closer to the certainty of our next victory.

Most of the encounters we’d read which involved the Blensdcale had been taken from a single source – a chronicle so-to-speak – of a nomadic people who’d travelled to every corner of Failmor’s wood, and beyond.

They seemed to be a curious and detail-oriented people, which naturally I appreciated, and their runes and speech had been adopted as keywords for one the King’s infantry units to trigger the offensive magic sung into their armor and weaponry. The unit had guarded young Galleed for nearly a quarter of his life before being sent to the front to fight Severants.

He knew the runes almost better than I did. It had been the most logical account to base our hypotheses.

But in light of our last failure, the texted seemed bungling and amateur. It was seemingly filled with discrepancies and contradictions. Even within the same account, written by the same author, one stanza would describe the terror of beholding the dragonkin’s breath as it set its prey aflame. While in the next stanza it would describe the same breath as freezing a second man where he stood.

Having just been turned to stone by our last challenge, Galleed did not seem very keen on any interpretation of the runes involving the words freeze, frozen, or frost. I could not say that I blamed him, but I also could not ignore the meaning either, for perhaps the very same reason Galleed wanted to pass it by.

Whatever the truth of the account was, neither of us could divine it. It simply made no sense.

This was not the only mystery that our newly found caution had revealed to us. One grouping of runes stood out to us now as particularly strange and we spent nearly our entire journey trying to puzzle it out. Back in the Anathenaeum, the words seemed to translate literally to ‘High’ and ‘Breed’, which we had taken as simply a descriptor of the dragon’s status as an apex predator.

But Galleed pointed out the way in which the accounts expressed awe at the dragonkin’s majesty and nobility, as well as fear of their cruelty. Many of the accounts might have sold back in Crotania’s capital as romances in which star-crossed lovers were exiled to the far reaches of Failmor for their forbidden coupling.

And through it all, the High Breed, the High Breed, as if referring to some kind of lineage.

Of course, it was only when we finally reached the foot of the Blensdcale’s territory and saw the charred remains of a great pine encased in slick but never melting ice that we realized how we’d missed the forest for the trees. It was only after we were deep with the creature’s clutches that the meaning of those strange runes became clear.

Not ‘High Breed’ as we’d though but one simpler and more accurate concept.

Hybrid . . .

This prompt actually turned out to be way more fun than I anticipated. When I first looked at it, I hadn’t even the slightest clue what to write for it, nor how it would fit with the other pieces I’ve done so far, and the larger story I have planned for these snippets. But I’m happy to say I persevered and am pretty happy with what eventually came through.

I’m particularly proud of The Anathenaeum which is (to me) a sort of funny and ironic portmanteau (please try to guess what words it combines in the comments!). I’m kind of embarrassed by Blensdcale but I’m terrible at coming up with names for things (feel free to bash me in the comments for that one yeesh).

Anyway, I think that’s all I have for now. I hope you enjoyed High Breed. If you’re at all interested in reading more of my writing, or what goes into these stories, I’ve started a newsletter (which is hopefully released quarterly) so people can get a more “behind the scenes” look of what I’m doing and what’s going on in my world. Please consider subscribing. Just for signing up, I’ll email you the first story I ever wrote, about a Warlock Doctor. Fun times. Thanks again!

See you next time!

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