The Argenory Dragon
Misty yet cool with the light dampness of dew is the belly of a forested cave. Deep within vines wing the edges of dark groves of rich trees with limbs and leaves taking root in the ceiling as much as the wide roots as in the cave floor. The leaves and branches gave off their own hazy green glow of light that warmed my fingers as the mist cooled my face.
Both hidden and sheltered in the depths, wrapped in an enormous bird's nest of grayish-brown dry straw was an egg, a dusty white like royal icing of a wedding cake and glimmering in the dull light like a faberge egg (...or like that nest egg in Zork. Also, name this movie quote..."there could be chocolate inside, okaaaay?!") It was apparent even to the modern eye that the grove has grown in the cave long since any claw of a beast large enough to lay such an egg had been inside. The thickness of the trees precluded anything larger than a bear to have entered.
Somehow, many weeks later, I found myself in the care of a young wholly white beast with the body and legs of an adolescent horse, the wings of a pegasus, the horn of a unicorn, and the small patches of milky scales on its shoulders and haunches (argenory is the name of silvery white dye plants in Asherons Call). Its wings were a little too small even for its gawky young body, but it took brief practice flights from my small urban backyard.
One overcast afternoon, I spoke with my neighbor, a loveable elderly woman, and her grandson as they watched in awe and respect of the small winged bursts of my dragon. Afterward I went inside to watch again from my sliding glass door. My eyes turned from appreciation to woe and fear of the future. Most everyone in my city discounted the old mysteries eclipsed their minds with the soundness of science. The few that knew of my horse-dragon thought him only an exceptional horse, for his wings could be tucked away unseen. Would this horse-dragon that I loved, already prone to startling episodes of foreboding red anger and impulsiveness, prove to be the most devastating thing I could bring to my small town? Would years of human deaths only be ended by the death of the most beautiful creature I had ever seen?
Apparently the task of grocery shopping is just as frustrating for me in my dreams as it is in reality. After a frustration search for the items on an exaggeratedly long list, I found myself facing Patrick Flaherty, a friendly acquaintance oft seen in a few hobbies of my real life (and of whom I have not thought in ages), as the manager of the Mall-of-America-sized grocery.
As I approached the counter, I saw him secretly type into the register an added charge of 6.285% for the extended length of my visit as well as the annoyance of my Santa-sized list. This erupted into what seemed to be a thirty minute argument over the unfairness of the charge as well as what I thought of his rather unorthodox and slightly underhanded practices of grocery store management (how ironic).
The War of Snow
The foreboding fear of my argenory dragon and the verbal anger of my argument with Flaherty grew darker and more terrifying as the daylight of my hometown was swept away by the twilight of urban warfare. Dirty snow carpeted the ground and gave an eerily familiar and bone-chilling feeling of a city that has grown begrudgingly accustomed to war.
I was given the task of escorting, no chauffeuring, new police soldiers in from another city to help protect the growing war in the city. Navigating the snowy streets under the cold light of the electric light poles was not difficult. It was the dimming of my headlights in the attempt to remain unnoticed and the hushed talk of the three soldiers that set the mood.
They spoke to me, a woman, of their brutal survival and the never-ending war. One saw me as a mother, one as a lover, one as a daughter, each with the longing to be comforted, to feel powerful and masculine, and to protect someone they loved and knew well, not just hundreds of faceless city-dwellers their duty called them to fight for.
I drove on and listened until we arrived at the covered entrance of a high school where the were to gear up quickly and disperse in small groups into the frozen night. I gave farewell to each of the haggard, tired soldiers with the small comfort of a quick embrace that showed little of the reverence and respect I had for those who fought briefly and died, unremembered and uncounted, in the snow.
The time changes without warning, but the place is the same. I don't know if I'm dead or just watching in the third person. One of the soldiers from before, dressed to hide his purpose, hands in his pockets, enters an all-night bakery to stare unabashedly at the decadent icings and sweet buns under the blaring heat lamps that scald the skin of the soldier after the deadening cold outside.
A young woman, a waif, (reminiscent of Uma Thurmon as Fantine) approaches the soldier carefully and leans in to give a whispered offer of a warm bed, warm food, and her warm body for the night. The paranoia and instincts of the soldier is overcome too quickly by the thought of forgetting the war even for a short night. The waif steels half a cake off the warmed metal counter and slips into her purse.
The arrive at the door of a motel, snow obscuring even the doormat, and hurry into the dark of the room. There has not been electricity in parts of town for almost a year. He waits in the blackness for the waif to light candles. There has not been electricity in parts of town for almost a year.
When the glow of one candle alights the room, the soldier is struck startlingly in the head and held by two men long enough for the woman to shackle him, his back to the wall, his legs and feet on the floor. He cries out at the betrayal, the loss of one night of comfort, and the imminence of his death.
The soldier stares, I stare, too, in horror as one of the men opens an old-style, boxy suitcase at the soldier's feet. Inside sits a spherical star with no body, just long metal spikes. He knows, I know, too, that the ball of spikes will rolls across his chest, his legs, his face even and inject him with a burning serum. He knows, I know, he will be questioned, lie in unforgettable pain for hours, and die, his body flung in a snowy ravine.