Dragons Fly

I’ve posted this before, but forgot. I promised aurosjnc I’d post it this week as he’s collecting dragon works, so if you’ve read it before, please forgive me.

 

dragons

 

DRAGONS FLY

Dragons fly
Soaring high
Tiny specks up in the sky.

Dragons swoop
And loop the loop
Then come together in a group.

Dragons dive
Up there they thrive.
They all love to be alive.

Dragons flame.
It’s just a game
They are wild, they are not tame.

Dragons play
Above the bay.
Dangerous beauty. Do not stay!

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The Promises of Dragons

dragon

It suddenly appeared one day and took a cow from the field.

A week later, dark wings blotted out the summer sun. The farmer looked up and saw an enormous shape gliding overhead. A dragon! He watched, cowering behind a large tree.
The dragon swooped down and carried off another cow.

As soon as the creature disappeared towards the distant mountains he ran as fast as he could to his home.

‘What? You say a dragon is stealing our cows?’ His wife was incredulous. ‘They are supposed to be extinct, aren’t they?’

‘It was a dragon. A huge beast with horns on its head, leathery wings and reddish-brown scales. It was a dragon for sure.’

‘Then you must go and tell the village council. They must do something about it. We can’t have dragons taking all our cows,’ exclaimed his wife.

‘I’m not sure they’ll believe me. Anyway, what can they do?’

‘Nevertheless you must go. Leave straight after we’ve eaten. I can see to things here until you get back.’

The farmer strode resolutely into the village that afternoon and made for the home of the leader of the council. When he heard the farmer’s tale, he called an emergency council meeting.

Once all the council members were assembled he turned to the farmer.

‘Now tell the council what you told me,’ he said.

The farmer bowed to the council and told of the theft of a cow by a dragon. He told of the disappearance of other cows in the previous weeks as well, but he had thought that it was rustlers. He had not thought of a predator as there had seen no evidence of blood or bones. The cows had just vanished.

‘You are certain you saw a dragon? Most experts say they’re extinct.’ said the leader of the council.

‘It was a dragon. I can’t be mistaken about that!’

Another councilor asked, ‘It was in the sky, against the sun. Could it have been a cloud?’

‘And clouds swoop down and steal cattle?’

There were more questions but eventually the council was convinced–at least enough of them to agree to send a troop of volunteer guardsmen to investigate, and to kill the beast, if it turned out it were truly a dragon.

Two days later the volunteers set off to track down the mythical beast.

They crossed the plain towards the mountains in the direction the farmer had told the council the dragon had gone. It took a full day to get to the base of the mountains and so they made camp there. The men were in good spirits. Searching for an extinct creature was a bit of a lark. They were mostly young men who had volunteered and not one of them believed the story the farmer had told.

‘An old man, going senile and seeing things,’ said one.

‘Or perhaps his eyes are going. It must have been a cloud. I’ve seen clouds in the shape of all sorts of things,’ said another.

‘What about the cows that vanished?’ asked a third.

‘Rustlers, as the old man suggested himself,’ the first volunteer told him.

They all laughed at the foolishness of old men.

The next few days they spent climbing the mountains. The going was not easy and as they got higher and higher some of them began to wonder why they were here on this futile search. Where were they to look? They had no idea, really, but then one of them, older than the others, suggested they look for a cave or caves. He told them he had heard that dragons like to live in caves. One young man then said that he had lived in these mountains when he was a youngster and could remember some caves where the children used to play. He led the troop in the direction of these caves.

Soon they could see dark openings in a cliff ahead of them. They stopped and had a meeting. None of them really believed in the dragon, but the oldest man said that they ought to be careful, ‘just in case’. Later that afternoon, just as they were about to set off up to the mountainside to the caves they heard a strange noise as though a large flock of bats was flying overhead or a tanner was shaking out a piece of leather. A flapping sound like wings, but not feathery wings like a bird. More like what they thought of as …dragon wings. The sunlight disappeared momentarily and as they looked up, they saw what could only be a dragon, flying towards the largest of the cave openings.

‘By all that’s holy,’ breathed the leader of the group. ‘The old man was right. It is a dragon. Where has it come from? It can’t possibly exist. They were extinct hundreds of years ago, yet here it is.’

‘They were evidently not extinct. Some must have survived in the depths of the mountains where no one goes,’ said the oldest man, standing beside him and shielding his eyes as he watched the beast enter the cave.

They waited a full day until the creature left again. That was their opportunity. They had all heard the tales of vast treasures built up by dragons. If it were true, then they would all be rich men.

The stench of dragon hit them as they neared the cave. It was a sickly, sweet smell with hints of sourness in it. They held their noses. Around the mouth of the cave lay many bones from large animals. Many were obviously deer, but there were sheep and cow bones there too.

As they neared the lair the leader asked for a volunteer to go into the cave to look. These otherwise brave young men looked at each other, none of them wanting this task. What happened if the dragon returned while they were in the cave? Then one man stepped forward to volunteer.

He entered slowly and with some trepidation. He lit his torch, for it was dark inside. The smell was even worse here and at first he thought he might be sick, but he wrapped a rag round his nose and mouth. That made it a bit more bearable. In the cave he stumbled over a smooth, rounded object. He lifted his torch and saw an egg! Not just one egg, but ten. He ran out of the cave and reported what he had seen.

They went in and smashed the eggs.

After smashing the eggs and destroying the threat of ten more dragons rampaging through the land they began the decent to the plain.

When Gulineran returned to her cave and found her smashed eggs her roar of anguish made the mountains themselves tremble. She determined to take her revenge. First she looked for the culprits. She saw them like ants, trekking down the mountainside. She flew over them and burned every last one to a crisp with her flaming breath. Then she swept down and breathed flame onto the hapless village. The cottages burned like tinder. Many lost their lives. Those who survived crowded into the village hall and there they decided to send for help to the nearby wizards, thinking perhaps magic would be able to destroy this dragon.

The message seemed to take a long time to get there but eventually a message came back. The wizards were very sorry, but they could not spare any one at the moment. They were just too busy.

One wizard was angry at that response and so he left the college and set off for the village. He was a young man by the name of Oni. Oni talked to the council, and promised to do something about the dragon. The council accepted his offer and promised him great rewards if he could manage to get rid of the great beast that was terrorising them.

Oni walked out of the village and into the mountains. He stood near the cave and called. Within seconds the dragon rushed out ready for battle. She breathed flame. The flames washed over Oni. Gulineran expected to see a dead wizard when her fire died away, but Oni was left standing and very much alive. She looked into his eyes.

‘Ah,’ Oni breathed, ‘I’ve not seen such beauty in two hundred years.’

‘How can a human talk of hundreds of years?’ asked Gulineran. ‘Your lives aren’t that long.’

‘No, but dragons live centuries,’ replied Oni. ‘You are the first female dragon I’ve seen in more than three.’

His skin began to change then, turning a rich, deep red and he grew and rippled, smooth skin turning into scales and horns sprouting from his head. His shoulder blades burst from his skin and he folded a pair of wings along his back. A handsome male red dragon stood before her. ‘Will you accept me as your mate?’ Oni asked.

When Gulineran accepted Oni’s offer he changed back to human form and returned to the village. There he told the villagers of his encounter with the dragon.

‘I used magic to charm her and I have managed to get her to agree not to attack the village nor take any cattle. She will live on the wild creatures of the mountains.’

The council offered him gold, but he refused saying, ‘I have everything I need now. Indeed, everything I ever wanted.’

He then returned to Gulineran. He told her of his promise to the villagers.

‘Oh, Oni.’ answered Gulineran. ‘Don’t they know not to trust the promises of dragons?’

I hope you like my little story. Please add a comment. I am always interested in what people think of my blogs. I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.

An Interview with Duke Danu from The Wolf Pack

On a visit to Bluehaven I met with Duke Danu and he answered a few of my questions.

newcoverwolfpack

Me: Good afternoon, Your Grace. Thank you for agreeing to answer  some questions.

Danu: I hope that I can give your readers some insight into my life and how I came to be involved, however slightly in the important events that took place last year.

Me: Firstly, how did you come to know Mabryl?

Danu: Well, I was, in fact, not the eldest child. I had an older brother, and so I was not expected to become the Duke, so I had to find another occupation. Fortunately I had a little
affinity for magic and so my father, being rather enlightened (magic isn’t trusted still after all these years since the Mage Wars) allowed me to go to the Mage Tower to train.

Me: That was where you met Mabryl?

Danu: Yes. He and I were in the same batch of youngsters training to be mages. In fact our teacher was the man who now leds the mages, Magister Robiam, although at the time he was simply Mage Robiam. He hadn’t even progressed to Arch-mage. Still, he was a good teacher and it was obvious that he would go far.

Me: Were you friends from the start?

Danu: Well, I was a bit jealous of Mabryl at the start. He was so much better than I was. He was a natural where I had to work hard to keep up. However, we soon overcame our differences and became firm friends.

Me: How was it that you ended up as Duke?

Danu: It was tragic really. While I was away there was sickness in Bluehaven. My mother contracted it by visiting and ministering to the poor who were sick. she then contracted the disease and my brother caught it from her. She recovered. My brother did not. Mother blamed herself for his death right up to her own. she never really recovered from it. A terrible thing, the death of one’s child.

Me: I am really sorry to hear of this tragedy.

Danu: Thank you. Of course my father sent for me straight away and told me that I must learn to be the Duke and give up my magic practices. I have, however, always kept an interest in magic, and although I never did the Apprentice Tests I have kept up with what is going on. This was why mabryl brought the prophecy to me when Carthinal found it in that old book.

Me: Did you know Carthinal then?

Danu: Not at that time. I knew Mabryl had taken him on as an apprentice. I advised him against it though. To take on a wild thing like him, who knew no discipline. Madness! Many times Mabryl came to see me in despair at one thing or the other he’d done. Then he went and adopted him! I will admit now that I was wrong and he has turned out alright in the end.

Me: About the prophecy. Did you know what it was about?

Danu: Not really. I could make some wild guesses, but they were just based on myths and legends so I didn’t say anything of my suspicions. I don’t want to say any more at the moment, but I have an idea as to who the ‘immortal mortal’ is.

I opened my mouth to ask him when he held up his hand.

Danu: No, I’m not saying any more until I have more facts of the matter.

Me: Tell me about Randa then.

Danu: She was a spoiled brat of a child. Rollo tried to make up for his earlier neglect of the girl by giving her everything she wanted. That made her think she was superior to everyone else, and her attitude to those not of her class was appalling. And to those who were non-human, like the elves and dwarves she was even worse. When she wanted to learn swordmanship I thought he would draw the line. What highly born young lady would ever need to swing a sword? It just isn’t lady-like. But no, he allowed her that too.

Me:  Wasn’t it a good job, though, that she could use a sword when she went on the quest with Carthinal and friends?

Danu: Perhaps if she hadn’t been able to wield a sword she would never have gone on the quest in the first place! And she would have chosen a husband instead of rejecting all those suitors that have asked her father for her hand. If she had been settled down with a few children she wouldn’t have been able to go on the quest, would she?

Me: Some say that it was foreordained that those particular folk went on that quest; that the gods had a hand in it.

Danu snorted: The gods, as you well know, young lady, do not interfere in the doings of humanity.

Me: But it does seem as though there were a few ‘pushes’ propelling them in the right direction.

Danu: Believe as you will, but I cannot think that the gods would have instigated that flood that killed so many people.

Me: Thank you for you time, Your Grace.

If you liked this interview, or even if you didn’t, please add your comment to the comments box. I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.

If you want to find out more about The Wolf Pack, click on the link at the side of this blog.

An Exciting Read

I am reviewing Dissolution by C.J.Sansom today. I bought this book because I read the third Shardlake book, having bought it in a Charity Shop, and enjoyed it immensely. I decided I like the character and wanted to know more about him, so  bought  the first two. I’ve yet to read the second one. I’ll review it when I do.

Review of Dissolution by C.J.Sansom

Blurb

It is 1537, a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England since 1066. Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church. The country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. And under the orders of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent throughout the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: dissolution.

But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell’s Commissioner, Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege.

Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell to uncover the truth behind the dark happenings at Scarnsea. But investigation soon forces Shardlake to question everything that he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes …

Review

This is the first book in CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series and I gave it five stars.

Shardlake is a lawyer at the time of Henry VIII. He is not what one might call a traditional hero. He is a hunchback whose infirmity often troubles him. He is also regarded with suspicion and superstition by those around him, but he is a clever man.

C,J,Sansom has captured the period very well in this work. There is a very real fear amongst the people that the new Protestant religion is threatening them if they are not seen to fully embrace it. The characters he has created are very believable with all the foibles of humanity throughout the ages.

The book is very well written and moves along at a fast pace, carrying the reader along with it. There are clues as to the murderer if the reader can manage to piece things together. I didn’t, and so was surprised at the ending.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

If anyone wishes to make a guest appearance on my blog, please message me. I would be only to pleased to welcome you.

Whatever happened to the Bilberry?

moorland

 

I was remembering the bilberries I used to buy from the market in Rochdale, England in the early 70s and got a desire for a bilberry pie. Nowhere can I find anyone who sells them, except for Amazon who sell dried ones.

The little purple berries are about half the size of their cousin, the blueberry, but are packed with so much more flavour. There is nothing quite like it. Imagine a blueberry, then concentrate its flavour into a volume about one quarter its size, then double the flavour for good measure. You might then have a slight idea of the pleasure of eating bilberries.

They were made into pies, jams or stewed and served with ice cream or cream Mmmm, delicious. Their sweet tartness bursts on the tongue like nothing else. I’m sorry, my American friends, but the blueberry is NOT a substitute, but is bland, squishy and watery in comparison.

Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the occasional drink of blueberry juice or fresh blueberries in a fruit salad, it’s just when I think to compare them with the bilberry I feel disappointed. I’ve been searching websites for pictures of bilberries, but there is confusion here and all the ones I could find were actually of blueberries. Some even said they’re  the same fruit!

Why has this delicious little fruit fallen out of favour? Who knows. I suspect it’s something to do with the low-growing habit of the plant. Gathering bilberries is back-breaking work, and not one that many people would relish except for gathering a few wild ones for their own consumption.

They grow on heath and moorland. wild country where few go these days, when people don’t move more than 50 yards from their cars and think themselves adventurous for driving up into the hills and walking so far. So people don’t see these little beauties. Anyway, we have grown so far from nature that unless something comes in a neat package from a supermarket, many are afraid to gather the wild bounty of our hedgerows. (I don’t see many people gathering blackberries from the hedges or picking mushrooms from the fields these days.)

I’ve picked wild stuff since I was a child. Going mushrooming was a delight. we quickly learned to recognise a delicious field mushroom, and to eat them fresh for breakfast, with egg and bacon, well, it makes my mouth water just to think of them. They, like the bilberries, burst with lovely mushroomy flavour.

To make a pie with blackberries you’ve gathered yourself is a pleasure. To be out in the countryside, listening to the birds singing and watching the butterflies and bees–there’s nothing like it, quite apart from the health benefits of the walk.

I do see people gathering blackberries, but they are picking them from the roadside with lorries, cars and buses hurtling by and throwing up dust to coat them, Not to mention those lower down that I’ve seen people picking, just at dog pee level.

I’ve picked elderberries and made wine and jam from them, and the fluffy white umberellas of blossom also makes a lovely cordial as well as elderflower wine.

I’ve digressed from my original thought about bilberries. I long to eat another bilberry pie before I die, but they seem to be a forgotten fruit. Even Word is putting a red squiggly line underneath it everytime I write ‘bilerry’, but it doesn’t under ‘blueberry’.

Amazon’s dried bilberries, at nearly £11 for 250g seems rather a lot. and one of their products is called ‘blueberry juice (bilberry), which isn’t the same thing at all. The only review of the dried bilberries says they are horrible.

I’ve looked on the websites of all the major British supermarkets and none of them stock even jars of the fruit, even though I’ve come across websites that say they do.

So if anyone out there knows of somewhere I can get them, please let me know. I’ll be forever grateful.