EXERCISE Picture challenge #15: Dragon

Discussion in 'INSPIRING MUSES' started by redblood, Mar 22, 2015.

  1. INFO: They say that a picture can tell a thousand words. How many can you find?

    Each week a new image will be posted, and your challenge will be to write whatever the image inspires you to write. It can be anything as long as it relates to the picture. A plot, a scene, a short story, a poem, a character, etc. You can write as much or as little as you wish. It's not the length that matters, it's what you put into it. There is no time limit to these challenges, so feel free to jump in at any time.

  2. Caught on The Thatcher's Prick
    Or; An Exercise in immaturity

    "'Eh, Ken it's over here!" Reynold called from behind some foliage, "I knew there were a way! There ain't no fishin' spot that can 'scape me". I knew exactly what he was talking about, as I had had spotted the unholy goat-path nearly an hour earlier. "Git o'er 'ere! Don' wan' me cachin' all the fish on my lonesome, do yeh?" In reality I would have liked nothing more. His mad quest for 'the perfect fishing spot', driven by his ego and further emboldened by his own batch of tainted cellar hooch, was about to be realized. A fisher's paradise, free from competition and strategy: Thatcher Falls. Or, more specifically, The Thatcher's Prick. A small erection of rock jutting from the side of said water fall. No doubt named by someone of similar inebriation to Reynold.

    "Were you be, man?" He called again. I don't know why I followed him, guess I didn't have anything better to do that day. Then again, I didn't do much even on my best days. So I'll just blame it on raw stupidity. Hells, I had only known the bastard for a couple months at best.

    "'Eh! I see ya dawdlin'!"

    "I ain't a child Rey! I can dawdle as I please! The fish aren't going to get too far."

    Reynold snickered. Or cackled. You could never really tell with him. I uncaught my line from the foliage for the fifth time that day and made my way to the bastard. I took my time with every step, savoring every moment before I arrived at my dreaded destination. The crashing falls to my right and a straight drop to my left, in between was the goat-path. My mind struggled to come up with a safe plan of action, all the while Reynold wore a snaggle-toothed smile. I had it in my mind to push him off right there and then. No one would've questioned his disappearance; Hells, I could have told everyone I straight up murdered him and they probably would have welcomed me a hero. Sadly, I didn't have the guts and proceeded down to The Thatcher's Prick. Rey was almost inhuman, I'm sure if there were any goats to witness him they would've crowned him the king of the bloody mountains. In stark contrast, I was so focused on not dying I forgot to move with any grace, instead slowly crawling and praying to every god that could feasibly save me. By the time I made it to the rock the bastard had already finished setting up. At least then I would get some bloody peace, nothing came between Rey and his fishing.

    I did my best to brush off the dirt of my clothes and went to work untangling my line, something that took far too long as Reynold had already managed to "angle" two trout before I let down my first hook. The strategy on The Thatcher's Prick was so simple it might as well been non-existent. You let down your line and waited for the fish to helplessly tumble from the falls and onto your hook. It was brutish and wholly unfair and I admit that's the way I liked it best. We sat in holy silence for hours and I fished up a good half-dozen trout. I dared not look at Rey's catch, as it would no doubt have made mine look absolutely miserable in comparison. More time passed and before I realized it night overtook us. It was then a lurking terror came over me. One I had blissfully ignored until that moment; The way back. I would have to go back up the fucking goat-path in the dark with a load of dead trout, or I would have to spend the night on The Thatcher's Prick with Reynold. I didn't know which was worse. My mind was torn from those thoughts however, just as my rod torn from my hands and went tumbling into the falls. "Musta been quite a lunker." Rey mumbled, the only thing he said to me since we made it to that cursed rock. I didn't bother replying, that was the third rod I lost on Reynold's little expeditions and I was right pissed. I started packing my catch before I was struck by a violent spray of water. My trout washed off into the torrent and I was knocked flat on my ass. I felt ill with raw rage and under normal circumstances I might have completely lost my temper, but normal it was not.

    There, as real as could be, a big, blue bastard of a dragon had raised it's scaly head through Thatcher Falls. It's beady eyes searched and it's nostrils flared as it loudly snorted, obviously searching for something. I tried calling out to Reynold, but all that came out was a breathy weeze. The beast shuddered as it further pulled it's massive body from the hidden cave, sending more spray to drench me and Reynold. The stupid bastard kept on fishing, completely oblivious to the awesome event unfolding less than a stones throw away from him. I managed to wrangle my nerves. "Rey, th-there's a bloody fucking dragon." I screamed as quietly as I could. This time he managed to hear it and turned to face me, his sneer of annoyance turning to... A greater sneer of annoyance as he spotted the dragon. He mumbled something nearly inaudible that sounded awfully like "You're late."

    Confusion hit me, I thought he surely must have been in some sort of shock, but as I opened my mouth to question it he started screaming bloody murder. Not real bloody murder, mind you, it seemed oddly forced. Like a apprentice actor trying dearly to come off that he was stabbed. Regardless, the dragon took notice and with it's mighty claw reached over me and gingerly plucked Reynold from The Thatcher's Prick. The blue beast inspected the screaming bastard before retreating behind the falls with it's catch, mercifully ceasing the shrieking.

    The goat-path suddenly looked very inviting and I accepted its calls with feverish fervor. Behind me I heard the groan of stone then a massive smash as the great blue dragon burst from it's cave. Rey renounced his reign as king of the mountains as I bounded up the path. The only thing stopping me from making the trip being the dragon itself, perching it's massive form right were the path met proper land. I turned about and made my way back down to The Thatcher's Prick only to find to my complete terror Reynold standing on it. His snaggled grin spread wider than humanly possible. I stooped to pick up the largest stick within reach, half-intent to beat the bastard to death.

    "Calm yerself," he said, trying and failing to not snicker, "It's jus' me man."

    The stick slipped from my hands. I was unsure what god I angered, but it was smiting me with a vengeance. I tried to think of something clever to say, but failed, resigning myself to weakly mutter, "What?"

    "'Tis jus' a joke Ken. Don' go killin' anybody." From behind me I could hear the dragon burst into a fit of guttural laughter.

    "That's..." I pointed to the laughing lizard.

    "An ol' friend."

    "Oh." It was all I could say. I guess if anyone could befriend a dragon it was Reynold, though finding one with a similar shitty sense of humor must have been quite a feat. Uncomfortable silence hung for a few terrible moments as all three of us stood quietly.

    "Can I just go home?" I sighed, "I'm fucking tired."

    "Jus' answer me one question firs'."

    "Sure, whatever."

    "'Owed it feel playin' wit' yer rod on The Thatcher's Prick?"

    I wished that the dragon had just eaten us both.
    #2 Snakey, Mar 23, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
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  3. The moment you saw the swell on the horizon and knew it for what it was, you knew you weren't going to make it. If you were on the mainland, maybe--maybe--you'd have a chance of getting to higher ground. On this little rock in the middle of the harbor, the tide keeping you here for another two hours at the least, you know you don't stand a chance. You mouth nothing for a voiceless moment, before a hoarse "...Takada?" escapes your lips. Your friend glances up, follows your finger, and simply looks for a long moment without saying anything. Not that he ever says anything, really, but you think that maybe just this once the situation might warrant words.

    On second thought, perhaps it's the single point in time when words aren't really needed at all.

    He climbs to the top of the rocky pinnacle that shields you both from the breaking waves and watches it approach. It's small now, tiny even, and against the vast shimmer of infinite wavecrests in boundless moonlight it doesn't look all that impressive. You know better. The sheer natural power that that one wave carries beneath its innocuous little roll is enough to wipe out entire villages, and you are glad that yours is currently deserted for the Shrine Festival, in the mountains.

    Maybe, you think, this is your punishment for dismissing the gods in favor of a little nighttime excursion. It would work that way, wouldn't it. You grin and climb up to sit next to your friend, watching your death approach in the mutual understanding of two humans facing fate together. The swell is still barely off the horizon, growing ever so slowly as the shallower grounds of the bay force the energy into a more visible form. You jump when Takada grunts quietly and turns his back to the great wave, sliding off the column onto the lip of rock directly over the water. He pulls his hat low over his face and casts his rod out, and you understand that he does not feel that death is worth something agonizing uselessly over. You turn back with a grim sort of fascination and watch death approach.

    Takada has caught three fish in a streak of incredible--and ironic--luck by the time the wave is close enough that you can hear it: a low rushing sound, building slowly to something akin to a roar. You had thought that in the moments before your death you would think of your life, your family, the things you regretted and the things you had loved, or maybe of the pain and horror of the manner of your death, or wondering if it would hurt, or where you would go after, but instead you simply watch the wave, entranced beyond any fear. You surprise yourself when you look within and discover only awe and wonder and curiosity, bundled together in a feeling that you might even describe as transcendent.

    The wave is close enough now that its shadow blocks the moonlight from your gaze, and you can make out the beginning of what will be the foam-capped crest. It fills your ears with a dull rumbling, the very rock beneath you quivering with power as the sheer fury and power dwarfs anything you ever thought was important or magnificent. It's a surreal experience, everything tinged with unreality.

    You think, Death is beautiful.

    Something in the hollow center of your soul clicks as if snapping into place, and you feel it and know its being and you turn without moving and you call.

    The instant before the wave crashes over you, your world explodes.

    It is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, and the most powerful, and you know this without ever needing to question anything. Even the wave dulls in comparison, although it reminds you of the wave in the lines of its body and the power of its movement, and the calm stillness that threatens to break the fury of nature upon anyone at any moment.

    It looks directly at you and you fall off your rock as a presence touches your mind, vast and alien as the depths of the sea itself. Maybe it is the sea, the embodiment of its power, and you look back at it around the rock despite your weakened knees and you make a silent request. Even you aren't sure what you asked for; you just poured all of yourself into a single moment and offered it to the great being. Your thoughts still to the point of total calm, of simply living in the moment and not thinking but existing and looking and waiting.

    You are acknowledged.

    A great wing stretches forth, small against the crescendo of the wave but somehow infinitely larger, and unfurls itself protectively over your rock.

    Takada looks up, grunts appreciatively, looks down, and casts his rod again.

    The wave passes around you harmlessly and continues its path, dispersing itself against the barrier rocks without sweeping over them and into your village.

    You look back at the deity or god or embodiment of nature and find a single ice-blue eye staring at you with something that might be likened to the human emotion of amusement, and you wonder if the outpouring of your entire soul was even enough to cause a ripple in the vast consciousness you sensed. You decide after a moment that it doesn't really matter anyway, and as paltry as giving thanks might be in this situation you press your palms together and bow deeply.

    You wake on the rock the next morning next to Takada and three fish, your back aching and limbs stiff from sleeping on rock all night. Your clothes are stiff with salt spray and Takada's hat has been claimed as a perch by several enterprising seagulls who are eyeing the fish as if trying to decide if it's worth the effort. You blink for a moment, sitting up and pressing a palm to your forehead as the dream you just had rushes through your mind with instantaneous clarity that dissolves into chaos the moment you try to capture it. Like the aftermath of a tsunami, you think, and then wonder why that particular comparison comes to mind. You wish you could remember what you'd dreamed, though. The feel of the dream lingered with you yet, a strangely exhilarating sense of peace and wonder. Oh, well. It was time to get moving anyway; the tide was starting to roll back in and you didn't fancy having to wade the last half of your trek back. You nudge Takada, who sits up instantly with an odd look on his face that slowly dies as he takes in his surroundings.

    You wonder what he was dreaming about.
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