Archive | June 15, 2011

30daysmeme, Princess and Dragon

Day 11 of 30 days of Fiction: “11) Prompt: a dragon and a princess.” Dragons Next Door, and fun.

Juniper and Baby Smith were playing Princess and Dragon. To be fair, because Baby Smith was still very young and not quite up on playing yet, Juniper was playing Princess and Dragon with Baby, but Baby seemed to be having fun and, most importantly, had stopped leaking acidy unpleasantness from both ends.

Her friends at school, even Noni the pixie, had gotten bored with make-believe a couple years ago. All the girls were interested in was make-up and dresses and telling each other’s fortunes and, much to her annoyance, boys. Suddenly every word Juniper said about or to or near her guy friends was subject to scrutiny, numerology, criticism, and questioning. It was obnoxious.

The guys weren’t a lot better; on the playground, they treated Juniper like she was a scout for an invading army. Considering the way the girls were acting, she couldn’t really blame them, but you couldn’t say something like I’m not a girl, I’m just Junie without getting them going with a whole different set of teasing. Mostly, these days, she played with Gortan, whose people didn’t have gender, and Andy and Sera, who were just as confused by the whole thing as she was.

But they didn’t like make-believe either, which left her playing with Baby Smith or her kid brother. Baby Smith was better, and the fact that it was a real dragon just made thing that much cooler. And if she had to change the words that were in the story books a little bit, well, mom said that was okay, too. Stories lived to change.

“Avaunt! Come, friend, where should we adventure today?”

Baby babbled back at her, smiling with many tiny teeth showing.

“To the east, you say? I hear there are…” The book said ogres, but Juniper kind of like the ogres she knew, “auditors there! Away we go!” She made flying noises, vwoosh, vwoosh, and the fair princess warrior and her dragon friend flew off to battle foul beasts.

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Intro – Alexa

Alexa had spent more time in the Doorways than anyone else she knew, more than, as far as they could tell, anyone in their world, possibly in any world. She was, much to Aerich’s continual annoyance, the resident expert on the things. And yet, every time they went through one, she had to swallow a surge of panic.

They held hands when they went through the Doorways. Roping off would be too obvious if, as they often did, they landed in the middle of a population center. But Alexa wasn’t certain that they would all end up at the same place otherwise, and Aerich couldn’t say yay or nay to that with any certainty, so they held hands.

They made sure it was Cole, or Josie or Xenia, who held Alexa’s hand – her left; she Opened with her right – and kept Aerich on the other end of the chain. And they all pretended they couldn’t tell she was white-knuckled, palms-sweaty, clinging to that hand for dear life until they were all through the Doorway.

She was grateful for the fiction. It allowed her to hold her head high and walk tall into strange worlds, to maintain the cool, perfect Lady Diplomat façade that had held her so well for so long. It allowed her to lie with her body, and smile, and act as if nothing had changed.

Everything had, of course, changed. Since the day she’d stormed out of Aerich’s house and ended up in the desert, both her public persona and her internal self had taken a bit of a beating. The Lady Diplomat, Alexa Bianchi, darling of the US Foreign Services, was missing, presumed dead. While the team had thoughtfully provided her a new set of credentials, as far as their homeworld was concerned, she no longer existed.

And in something closer to reality, Alexa herself wasn’t totally certain of her status, or, on bad days, of her existence. She tried not to think about that, though, as much as she could avoid it. She had a job to do. They all had jobs to do.

They had made it through the Doorway, intact, safe, and not falling through mid-air. She felt the hard soles of her boots click on pavement, took in a lungful of sooty air, and, with the rest of the team, took quick assessment of their surroundings.

“Carriage,” Josie warned, and they stepped back out of the road as the brass-and-iron contraption- not, technically, a carriage, but calling it a car would be entirely inaccurate – clattered by in an amazingly tuneful ringing of pipes.

“Steam and soot,” Aerich commented, brushing off his sleeves. “You take us to the most lovely places, Alexa.”

We met Cole from the Facets of Dusk team two weeks ago, and now we meet Alexa. Stay tuned for more!!

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