11. Dragon: Envision a dragon. Do you battle him? Or is the dragon friendly? Use descriptive language.
Dragons are not good or evil. They are like people, they are complicated. But there is one important difference: dragons are wild. They are dangerous and they will hurt you if you say or do the wrong thing.
This one looks at me evenly, eyeing me up and down. I can tell by the sheen of its scales that it is a relatively young dragon, only a couple of hundred years old. This doesn’t mean anything of course. Dragons don’t mellow with age.
His scales are dark purple, a rarity which I am sure he is aware of. He keeps raising his neck, swishing his tail so his scales catch the light. This doesn’t mean to say that all dragons are vain. Lots of them are. But a few couldn’t care less about their appearance. I met one who clearly hadn’t cleaned his scales in centuries. He had a coat that was grey with either dust or age, probably both. He had had sleepy eyes and a lazy smile. For a second I had had to remind myself of my own rule that all dragons are dangerous, because he just looked so harmless. I just wanted to be friends with him.
But anyway, back to Obsaquin (for that was the purple dragon’s name). He flicked his tail as he watched me, and I realised it wasn’t just vanity – it was watchfulness too.
“All I ask,” I said, as clearly and as respectfully as I could, “is safe passage through here.”
“Why do you say safe passage?” Obsaquin asked. “Why do you think your passage through here would be unsafe?”
Flick. Flick. Flick.
“Ah, I merely meant-”
“Well then you must say what you mean!”
His voice reverberated around the cave. He was enjoying this.
I tried to keep my face impassive. Obsaquin was small fry. I had met the Lord of the High Dragon Council, Tallo, the Sorceress. I bet Obsaquin hadn’t.
“If I do let you pass….” Obsaquin continued, still playing his little game, “what is in it for me?”
It was getting difficult to hide my impatience.
“The knowledge that you have helped a traveller along her way,” I said, keeping the sarcasm in my voice to a minimum. “Hmm…” he said, pretending to think. I began to reach into my bag. “Not good enough!” he roared, and a plume of fire shot from his grinning lips. I rolled out of the way, but the fire kept coming. All I needed was a second…Damn. I had given Obsaquin too much of a chance, and now I wouldn’t have time to hit him with the potion. I would have to cast a spell instead, which would be much more difficult.
As I ducked and dodged, I tried to think which spell to use. Then it came to me. Perfect. I found a large cauldron and ducked under it, wedging it in a corner of the cave where it would be hard for Obsaquin to move it. He was still in a playful mood, however, for he simply spat more fire at the iron, laughing.
Now came the difficult part. I had to think of cool, and cold. And ice. In a boiling hot cauldron while having fire spewed at me. But I did it. I closed my eyes and thought. I thought of a lake frozen over with ice. I thought of how cold it would feel to fall through the ice, into the freezing water below. Of the quiet beneath the ice. And then I said the Words.
I opened my eyes. The noise from outside had stopped. Another one of Obsaquin’s games? Carefully, gingerly, I looked out from under the cauldron.
Obsaquin was completely frozen. His fire, still shooting from his mouth, was frozen too. His eyes glinted like sapphires. I took out my bag and took out the herbs I needed. I placed them carefully in a circle around Obsaquin. Then I communed with the magic. I told it to thaw Obsaquin out, slowly. I told it to erase his memory of the last twenty minutes.
I swung my bag over my shoulder and headed for the door. I stopped for a second, deciding whether to take some of Obsaquin’s gold. I decided against it. He was only young, after all.