Woohoo, the tease is back. Did you miss us? Big thanks to Angelica Dawson, who is our new host for this year.
So, without futher ado here is my first Mid Week Tease of the new year. Taken from my upcoming Naughty Fairy Tale, The Dragon in the Stone, this is the moment Lord Drorgan first meets Rhonda....
The lanterns dotted around the edges of the marshes flittered into light as the sun disappeared, and emerging from the stone, he shook the kink out of his atrophied muscles. More houses had sprung up along the outskirts, and he could see the humans seemed intent on reclaiming this piece of land as they had done for generations.
The distant hum of the motorway could be heard, and a train hooted its whistle as it approached the local station. Shaking his head, he traipsed out of the water, and raised his nose in the air to get his bearings. Pollutants in the air seemed to grow exponentially, too, every time he awoke. Another reason to seek out his realm, where the air was fresh and the only constant background was the breaking of the sea against the bottom of the cliffs his castle was perched on. The humans saw nothing but a ruin, but once he crossed the threshold it came to life with all its magnificence. Every time he returned it changed, not in keeping with human modern standards, but from what he could gather it resembled a late 16th century castle now. Or at least it had done the last time he’d been awake.
Through the books in the ever increasing library, he’d learnt of the fate that had befallen the little witch who had placed that god-awful curse on him. It seemed she had regretted her hasty decision, and tried to amend the curse for the rest of her natural life. Eugene, his trusted butler, surmised that was why things were in constant flux. His old retainer lived in hope that Drorgan would find the woman to break the curse and set them all free. Drorgan, however, had all but given up on that.
He had learned long ago that trying to use his own magic against the powerful safeguards left in place brought with it nothing but unexpected results, so he reserved his magic to cloaking himself when in the human world. It kept him safe, but perversely also meant he would never find a woman prepared to see past the dragon to the man underneath.
The few times he’d tried, when a female had caught his attention, they had either screamed the place down, or fainted. Drorgan smirked and spread his wings ready to take off. It was not an experience he had any wish to repeat. Not when female screams didn’t just bring villagers with pitchforks these days, but armed police with guns that could put him down in an instant, and if he died, then all those in his care would die also. He certainly didn’t need that on his conscience.
He was about to lift off when he heard it. Faint clicking sounds interspersed by bouts of crying. Turning round he found a small human child. Dried tears had run zigzag paths down her dirty face, and he froze when she looked straight up at him, as though she could see him. That should be impossible with his cloak in place, but this little girl, whose teeth chattering with cold were the clicks that had first alerted him to her presence could be no older than two and a half at best. Clutching a tattered, old stuffed dragon, of all things, in a death grip, she wore nothing but a thin shift, which humans wore to bed. No wonder she looked half frozen.
That thin and worn out shift wouldn’t keep her very warm in bed, let alone out here with an icy wind blowing in across the marshes. A quick scan of the area showed her to be utterly alone, and try as he might Drorgan couldn’t just leave her there. She would freeze to death. Besides, the utter lack of fear in her big brown eyes, as she stepped close enough to touch his scaly side had him rooted to the spot.
“Y-y-ou a-a-re s-s-o b-i-i-g.”
He hardly could make out the words over her cold-induced chattering, and not caring of the consequences of possible discovery, he blew out a fiery breath to set alight the bush she was standing next to. The little mite shrieked and ducking under his legs wrapped her body round his front leg, while staring into the resulting impromptu campfire with big eyes.
Don’t be afraid, little one. This will keep you warm.
He felt her nod against his leg, as though she had heard his thoughts, and her death grip relaxed somewhat. Carefully he lowered himself, curling his long tail around him, and adding his wings to surround the little girl with his warmth, without squashing her. She let out a little sigh, and snuggled closer into him in such a way that his stone cold heart warmed in tune with her.
Keeping his senses tuned to any incoming threat, he startled when he heard her little voice in his head.
My name’s Rhonda. He’s dragon.
She lifted up the stuffed toy and smiled at him, when he looked at her.
He looks like you. Me lost? Mummy be cross with me?
Too stunned at her ability to communicate with him telepathically he didn’t say anything, and to his utter horror she burst into tears.
You’s cross, like Mummy. Mummy always cross.
I’m not cross, little one, just … don’t cry. I’m sure your mummy won’t be cross with you.
Again he stretched his senses to establish where this little scrap of human might have come from. She was too cold to have left a heat signature, however, and there were no scents nearby that matched hers. No frantic mother looking for her lost child.
It had to be way past this little girl’s bedtime, and judging by her attire, she ought to be in bed. Had perhaps wandered away from home. Children could sleepwalk, he knew that. There was a boy in the village at home who did so with alarming regularity.
The thoughts of home made his dragon itch to take flight, but he couldn’t leave this child here, unprotected. He wasn’t that careless bastard anymore. In truth he had never been so careless as to harm children. There was only one thing for it. Calm her down, keep her warm, and look after her until her family came looking for her. They would notice her missing come morning at the latest, surely.
She was still crying in between giving big yawns, and Drorgan’s chest felt tighter with each falling tear that scalded his scales.
Shush, little Rhonda, don’t cry. Perhaps I’ll tell you a story?
The sniffling stopped, and he breathed a sigh of relief when she nodded.
Pwease. One ‘bout dragons, pwease.
Drorgan laughed, surprising himself. Too bad he couldn’t break the curse by looking after Rhonda. It was typical that the one human female not afraid of him was barely out of nappies.
A story, you say. Hmm, let me think. Once upon a time there was a very naughty dragon, called Lord Drorgan. He ruled his world with magic and disdain.
Penance needs to be paid come what may…
Several Centuries ago Drorgan was cursed into stone. Every twenty five years he is given one night and one day to find the woman willing to accept him in both forms.
It's the price to pay for his past behavior.
As a lost, lonely little girl Rhonda Butterbaugh was rescued by the dragon in the stone and she has never forgotten her fierce protector. It sparked her fascination with all things dragon. If only they were real. There are no such things as fairytales, however.
When she is attacked on her way home, and wakes up in a cursed magic castle, complete with a fierce dragon shifting lord, her life takes a turn for the surreal.
Determined to break the curse and rescue Drorgan and his kin, she hasn’t counted on Drorgan’s resistance.
Dragons aren’t supposed to be noble.
Scheduled for release February 3rd
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Til next time, and do stay naughty, folks.