January 25, 2004
Once upon a time, before the Great Tree was great, and before a magic cloud could be found at its top, a problem arose in the land. All the wands seemed to be disappearing. Marious the wizard was furious, and when Marious was furious, the entire realm knew about it. He was angry - not so much at the wands' disappearance, but because he couldnít figure out where they were going. He called a meeting of all the mages and wizards.
"I will have an answer for all this nonsense before the week is out, or you will lose all of your imps," he declared.
This had serious implications for them. If they lost their imps, they would have to start doing all their own mundane chores. Thusly motivated, they scurried about, looking into crystal balls and waving their hands over portable cauldrons.
If it had not been for the bustle of the magic folk, the City of Medievia would have been very quiet. The warriors stayed out in the wilderness, the clerics fled to outlying temples, and even the thieves had gone underground.
But for the dragons in training, it was business as usual. Classes were held in the caverns beneath the castle every morning. The afternoons were left for study and practice. Theo was in heaven. He loved every minute of it. There were classes in flying and hovering, navigation, weather, and even etiquette - for instance, they were not allowed to Ďflameí any passengers.
One afternoon they had a surprise lecturer. A warrior from the Dragon Fleet came to speak to them. The warrior dragons were called upon when an evil dragon fled from their lair and set upon the folks of the realm. He told them of his struggle to become a warrior and of his adventures. He told them tales of battles and heroics. And then just as he was getting ready to leave, he told them of Marious and the problem in the city.
"You are now members of the Dragon Fleet. Yes, I realize you are our junior members, but as guardians, you do a great service for the realm. We dragons are the eyes and ears of the sky," he told them. "Right now, this is only a problem for Marious, but it could become a problem for us also if something is amiss with the magic in the land."
And with those prophetic words, the warrior dragon left the classroom.
"Class is dismissed," their teacher said and, giving a wave, unfurled her wings and flew up through the caverns.
"I wonder what happened to the wands," Theo said to his new friend Bootle.
"Donít know," said Bootle, a bright red dragon, "but I think we need to go practice hovering for a while before dinner."
"Youíre probably right," said Theo as he tried to stuff his glowing twig into his backpack.
"Hey, look at your twig. Whatís it doing?"
Theo took a good look at the twig, and sure enough, the bud at the end had turned into a lovely flower.
"It looks like a lemon blossom to me. What do you think?" Theo asked as he tucked it into his shoulder harness.
"A very dapper dragon, you are," Bootle chuckled.
The next few hours were spent circling the town and hovering near the Great Tree. They saw the pixie, waved, dipping one wing and went into a free fall. She laughed, threw some pixie dust into the air and disappeared into the tree.
That was when they heard a call coming from the wharf to the south of the city.
"Letís go get that call," yelled Bootle.
"We arenít supposed to answer calls yet - not until next new moon when we graduate," yelled Theo.
"Horse feathers, Theo! Thereís no one in this sector but us. All the big flight dragons headed out with everyone else when Marious went on his rampage."
Theo looked down at the city. The mages looked like a bunch of ants at a picnic; each one with a crystal ball, and each one trying to stay far away from Marious, who was now stomping around the fountain in the square.
The call came again, even louder.
"Ok, letís go," yelled Theo, as he banked and set a glide path toward the wharf.
As he glided closer, he could see a woman and a child standing at the end of a pier. The woman was waving frantically. The pair of dragons did a perfect hover and landed. The lady immediately put the child on Bootles's back.
"Hold on tight, sweetums, and donít do any magic until we get to Grandmaís house. Here, let me have your wand," she said taking the small stick from the childís sticky fingers.
"I didnít think there were any more wands left in Medievia," Bootle said.
In the next instant, the wand flew from the mother's hand and headed northwest.
"Letís go Bootle! Follow that wand!" called Theo as he launched himself skyward.
As they gained altitude, the woman on the dock was yelling, and the child on Bootles back was bouncing up and down, grinning from ear to ear. As they banked to the left the lemon flower on Theoís shoulder grew warm and the twig turned a golden color. The wand seemed to be heading for the Forbidden Forest. It suddenly vanished into the trees.
"Going down," Theo yelled, heading into the trees. Bootle followed close behind, the child hanging onto his shoulder harness, feet flying out behind him.
They skidded to a stop in a clearing just in time to see the wand disappear into the underbrush.
"Looks like itís heading back toward the city!" Theo exclaimed, "Letís try that way!"
"Again! Again! Letís fly more!" yelled the child.
Suddenly there was a huge puff of red smoke that filled the clearing.
"Cough, cough, sputter, cough! Must you use that infernal orb! There are other modes of travel, you know!" came a voice from the fog.
"You want to use one of your stupid mirrors that donít work half the time?" growled a second voice.
"Cough, sputter! Well, if you wouldnít have confiscated all the wands for that wretched lemonade fountain, we could have traveled more comfortably. It has taken me two days to figure out what was happening. I should have known you were up to something Wyrm."
"I am rectifying the situation as we speak. Donít be such a doddering old gnome," growled the voice.
"Sputter, cough! Who are you calling a gnome? I may dotter from time to time, but a gnome! And besides, you are much, much older than I! Do you have the wands back in place yet?"
"Almost," growled the voice, "Hold your breath this time so you wonít be coughing all over me."
There was another puff of smoke, this time yellow. They swirled and mixed which engulfed the whole clearing a strange orange fog.
As it began to lift, they could see Marious and the Golden Wyrm standing before them. Neither one looked very happy, but a look of understanding went between the two giants of magic.
"Whatís going on here?" Marious bellowed, his eyes on the child.
"I, we, ahh, the wand, following the wand," Theo stuttered.
"Got a call, wand flying, we umm," Bootle added.
"Silence!" boomed the voice of the Golden One.
"Marious, could you kindly get this child back to its mother?" the Wyrm asked.
"Certainly Wyrm," Marious said, smirking. With a flick of his finger, the child disappeared from Bootles's back.
The Golden Wyrm looked at the two young dragons and snorted. The glowing twig was vibrating so fast it was wiggling out of Theoís harness.
"Both of you, sit!" the Wyrm bellowed.
Their wings became entangled in their rush to obey; Theoís harness came loose and the glowing twig took flight. The Golden Wyrm snatched it out of midair. He stirred it in the remaining orange fog.
"Enough! PAUS QUILTOS EMERITOS!" the dragon bellowed.
There was a moment of silence and then wands began to fall from everywhere.
"As for you two, I, ahh, we, applaud your willingness to help and your eagerness, but you did break certain rules. I, ahh, we, believe you should spend the rest of your free time until graduation polishing dragon scales." the Wyrm said, nodding at Marious, who solemnly nodded in return.
The Wyrm tossed the twig back to Theo and said, "Theo, I have stirred all the lemon magic into this twig. As long as you keep this twig safe, the fountain in the City will have lemonade. Now, run along you two, and try to stay out of trouble."
"Marious, would you do me the honor of transporting us back to the City?"
"What? Your orbs arenít working?" asked Marious.
And with that blue smoke filled the clearing. Choking, coughing, sputtering sounds could be heard and when the smoke lifted, the clearing was empty.
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