talisman of flight

The phoenix flew, disappearing into the azure skies forever. The sun glistened off his human lover’s fallen tears as waves crept up to steal them. He left her a feather, a talisman of flight. Angry, hurt, and unwilling to forgive him, she left it there.

The waves knew not to touch it.

The rocks held back. The sand shivered and lay still, hoping it wouldn’t be noticed.

A child toddled along, craving seaside treasure. Seeing the feather she grasped it and up and up she flew, soaring over islands, bays, and oceans, till she landed by the phoenix’s side.

The phoenix wondered what this could mean. Why had his human love sent a child in her stead? Could it be … his? But nay, such things aren’t possible. Are they?

“Bird,” said the child. “Fire.”

The phoenix nodded and sent the child home with fire. A fool’s gift to one too young to fear it.

Her village burned, till the waves came up and doused it, gathering the child and pulling her into the sea. Fascinated by the sky it could smell on her skin.

There it kept her, safe from flames. She walked the seabed a smouldering ember, her head above water. Not sky, not sea, not earth, not flame.

Not happy.

The embers of her skin cracked as she grew, dividing into plates. Toughening with endless callouses and turning green with algae. Her eyes brightened with inner flame and her pupils lengthened into slits. Webbing grew beneath her arms as the talisman of flight twisted them to wings.

She flapped the wings and left the sea, fire roiling in her belly. The dragon soared across the sky. She left the talisman behind, free.

Frightened waves hurried the feather to shore and dared not touch it again.

The rocks held back. The sand shivered and lay still, hoping it wouldn’t be noticed.

A child toddled along, looking for seaside treasure.

dragon season

We live by the tide rather than the sun when the season’s on. The world revolves around our nets and dragon bellows, catch sleep if you can, there’s a bunk on the bridge. Pee off the side, or pull up a bucket, we don’t spring for luxuries. Besides, urine attracts the dragons from the deep. For gear we’ve got a case of beer and a slicker. There’s a harpoon in the hold, but it’s best we don’t use it. Better to lure them away from the village, far as we can. Rumors say the dragons have a quota of three per village. No more. No less. That’s why we go out three per ship. Kiss your loved ones goodbye, we might not make it. But know if we don’t, they’re safe for the season.

Tour Guide

Oh! Hi there. Are you here for the tour?

Excellent. The Bay is always restless in foul weather. Stirs up the mermaids, you know. Gets them all riled up and showing off in the big waves.

Unfortunately the dragons tend to keep to their caves. The damp isn’t good for their fire breathing and no one likes a whiny, chilly dragon.

What’s that? Oh, no refunds I’m afraid. It’s in the fine print.

If we get lucky we might see the local sea monster, who only comes out during storms. Well. Hee hee. He causes the storms so there’s something of a relationship there. You’ll love him. He’s better than ten dragons. You can see invisible monsters, right? Right?

Now, now, no need to be rude.

You see that patch of snow to your left? It’s actually a crew of ghosts what prowl this beach. Or, you know, part of the storm. Best err on the side of the fantastical, I always say.

What’s that? You’re leaving? Hogwash, you say? Not at all – wait! Look out for that storm wraith! No, I swear, this one’s real, don’t breathe that mist, it’s poison – aw. Lost another one. Not good for business. Not good for business at all.

mouse’s new neighbor


She grumbled and grumped her way back inside her winter den. It happened every year, why should she be surprised? No matter how neat she left it in spring, the courtyard was always littered with leaves and bit of moss come late fall. At least there weren’t any mushrooms this time. A dark thought seized and she shuddered. What if – what if there were salamanders living in the walls again? The mouse swallowed, clutching her broom tighter. Nothing scared her quite like salamanders. Except for dragons. Dragons would be worse.

A wind blew past and rustled the leaves in the courtyard, making her jump. Last week she’d been bragging about her den in the country, but her summer city apartment didn’t seem so bad now. At least in the city the human screams would warn a mouse if there were dragons or lizards. Even another mouse. Here she was on her own. Vulnerable, and probably delicious.

She took a deep breath. She could do this. Her country mouse had simply grown dull over the her summer in the city. Dragons weren’t common, after all. She’d be alright as long as she didn’t let her imagination get the better of her.

“Oh, hi!” came a sudden, booming voice.

She turned.

A great green dragon stood before her, smiling and waving over a batch of fresh-baked cookies. “I’m your new neighbor! Moved into yonder cave a week or so ago. It’s wonderful to finally meet you!”

tips for spotting hobgoblins in secret and why that’s best


Over the course of my life, I’ve collected many methods for seeing the fey. As a former little girl, a mother, and a writer, I consider these the tools of my trade. Among my favorites are wearing your jacket inside out, gazing through a hagstone, and washing your eyes with dew at midnight on the summer solstice. My favorite one of all is peering through the natural hole in an autumn leaf.

This method is, in fact, the best way I’ve come across for spotting a hobgoblin unbeknownst to the hob, which is the best way. If they know you’re looking, they might adopt you and start doing your dishes and helping out around the kitchen. In return, they’ll expect you leave out a saucer of milk for them behind the stove. This might seem like a wonderful idea, but here’s where things can get complicated.

One night your cat is bound to discover the saucer and have itself a taste. Hobgoblins turn into boggarts when they lose their temper over the cat stealing their dinner, and the next thing you know kitty’s been turned into a dragon. Now you have to go out and buy a dump truck full of kitty litter every week. This can get expensive, and that’s without the fee of hiring an excavator to empty the stinky thing. Toss in the extra insurance charges for having a fire-breathing pet and suddenly you’re broke, your kitty litter’s overflowing, and you can’t even afford dragon kibble.

Of course, you do get a dragon out of the deal. This may seem wonderful, but be warned, the dragon isn’t guaranteed. I had a friend whose cat was turned into a saber toothed tiger after drinking her hob’s milk. I miss her. If only I’d told her about the holey autumn leaf.

the terrible infestation of a unicorn’s horn


He left the solitude of his cliff-side home to attend a family reunion against his better judgement. Unicorns are solitary by nature not just because they are introverts at heart, but because meeting in groups can be dangerous. Why, there were germs, viruses, poachers, and narwhals on the hunt for replacement horns to think about!

A week after the reunion his worst fears came true: an infestation of horn-eating beetles. They burrowed into his alicorn, carving out homes, laying eggs, and tickling him in places impossible to scratch! Legend has it the only way to cure such an infestation is to stab a virgin through the heart, but that just sounded rather medieval, foolish, and messy to him.

Still, he tried all the other silly-sounding remedies: ogre snot, troll spittle, and even dragon urine. Then he found a shaman and asked for help. The shaman smudged him with sage thrice a day for a week and soon the beetles moved on.

His alicorn still bore the signs of an abandoned beetle village and the caverns they left behind made an eerie, mournful hum as the wind blew through them. Soon rumors that his cliff was haunted spread throughout the land. The mailman grew too afraid to deliver the unicorn’s mail and he never had to worry about family reunions again.

secrets of the alabaster mountains


Deep in the Alabaster Mountains, there lay a secret cave. Few remain who still know how to find it, and those who do avoid it if they can. The cave is rumored to be home to a fierce dragon. Others say it is home to a family of gnomes who hired a dragon once upon a time, to scare away trespassers.

It’s hard to say which of the tales is true, though I like to believe in both the family of gnomes and the dragon. Dragons are lonely creatures, being both fearsome and fiery, and gnomes are small and subject to bullying. Working together would serve them well.

Sometimes I look up to the cliffs at night, and see their fire twinkling there. I like to imagine the dragon lights it for them every night. He warms his friends while they cook their dinner together and enjoy the stars from high up on the cliff. Every third bat who swoops across the moon might be the dragon, taking his pals for a joyride, or a quick trip to the grocery store so they can make more s’mores.

the wagon fairies stole


The fairies stole the wagon from the farmyard under the darkness of a moonless night. Perhaps they intended to return it in the morning, but as soon as they left they forgot where they found it in the first place.

The fairies hitched it to a dragon they hired for the occasion and went careening through the night. They tore down roads, cobblestone, paved, and dirt. When they grew bored of that, they gave the dragon full rein and she pulled them through the sky, scraping the wagon’s axles on the treetops, brushing past mountaintops, and narrowly missing the moon.

The old wagon had never had so much fun in all its life, and though it broke beyond all hope of repair, it didn’t much mind. When the sun rose upon their frolic, the fairies and the dragon abandoned the wagon in the forest and left for home. There the wagon sits still, telling wild tales of the crazy night it flew.

how the witch beat his writer’s block


He threw down his pen, disgusted with himself. Everything he wrote today felt so bleak. Where were the goblins, the dragons, the boggarts, and the banshees? Hiding in the folds of tomorrow, he bet.

He had an idea.

Running to the kitchen, he grabbed a moon shell and filled it with water. If he held it just so in the light of the moon, sometimes he could scry the future. Why wait ’til tomorrow when he could get a head start on its writing today?

the secret recipe of goblins everywhere


The waters flowed into the pool, refreshing and cool. Within moments it mixed with fairy droppings, the tears of a frustrated dragon, and a drop of diluted ink from the first book ever printed.

“That is the secret recipe we goblins have been guarding these many years, but we’re tired now, and we haven’t got paid in centuries, so there you have it. It’s yours now. Use it wisely,” said a goblin who’d been cooling his feet in the pond. He picked up his satchel and headed off into the shadows with two other goblins.

The bewildered family watched them go, unsure of what to say and wondering what the recipe might be for. It had been an odd vacation thus far.