|The Hidden Path|
a fairytale by David Edgren
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
The Hidden Path - 10 - The Invitation
Susie peered carefully around the corner and into the cave. The sunlight cast a hard shadow a few metres into the cave making it nearly impossible to see inside. Susie focused into the depth of the cave and let her eyes adjust. What took shape before her was beyond belief. Laying just past the line of shadow, blocking the entire cave entrance, was a huge dragon. His head was by the far wall and turned into the cave. His tail was in front of Susie, curled in an S-shape, its tip just inside the cave shadow.
A huge sniffing sound came from the dragon. A sorrowful sob of sadness rattled down the dragon from his head to the tip of his tail. Each scale shook gently, giving the sound of a thousand shields clattering against each other. The dragon took in a slow deep laboured breath and then sneezed.
Suddenly the cave lit up with a burst of fire. The dragon’s sneeze had been accompanied with a fireball snort! In the burst of firelight, Susie saw the entire dragon. Like a camera flash, the fireball burnt an image into Susie’s mind causing her to jump back around the corner.
“It’s a huge golden dragon!” She shouted with excitement. As soon as she spoke she clapped her hand to her mouth. Then she whispered, “He’s sitting just inside the cave!”
“You could see him?” Henry said in amazement.
“He sneezed a fireball!” Susie laughed, her eyes wide with excitement. “I saw his entire golden body!”
An impossibly deep voice, far too close, rumbled, “Bronze, actually.”
Henry, who was facing Susie, saw it first.
Behind Susie a huge snout came into the sunlight. The dragon had heard Susie shout and now he was staring at both of them.
Susie saw Henry’s eyes before she heard the dragon’s voice. Henry stared above Susie’s head and turned white enough to pass for a piece of chalk.
Susie spun around and took in a shocked breath. The dragon’s head was completely out of the cave, one huge eye looking directly at the children. Sussie stared directly into the dragon’s eye. Divided into fractals, like a diamond, the eye stared back at her unblinking.
Henry and Susie were too petrified to move. Like thousand year-old trees, they stood rooted in place. What could they do?
Just then, the eye slammed shut and the dragon sneezed again. A fireball shot out of his nose and over the valley floor below the cave entrance. Susie felt the heat of it as if she had been standing close to a bonfire for too long.
The dragon’s eye opened wide, in what looked like a brief moment of panic. “Sorry,” he said. “Accident.”
The dragon pulled his head away from the children, making an opening into the cave. “Do come in,” he said. It was both a request and, clearly, a command.
Susie looked at Henry, took his hand, and the two children walked into the Dragon’s cave.
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