Artwork by aaronsimscompany
In the hope of saving her brother Zack, Gina Dore had intentionally “fallen into” a mysterious Map. She’d landed in a shimmering forest full of moving things, including an aristocratic tribe of pixies, and was now sitting on a smooth, jiggling rock.
“If it’s this beautiful at night,” she exulted, “imagine what it’s like in the daylight!” Her feet began to think-dance. “This can be my secret place, my escape! I can come here whenever I want to, and no one will ever find me! I can read for days if I want to, and no one will know where I am. It’s a world made just for me!
“No! Focus, you idiot!” she chastised. “You came here to save your brother! You’ve got to— Ow!” Something had just bit her butt. She slid off the rock and crashed bum-down on a low stone ridge. “Ow!” Turning her head, she noticed for the first time that she was in the middle of a circle made of carefully placed stones about the size of chimney bricks. Her tumble onto this miniature Stonehenge had knocked over several arches.
“Heathen human!” screamed the manly four-inch-tall Prince Jenblevó. This was followed by warning from his nurse: “My Prince, no!”
Gina heard the sounds, but they were so small and high pitched that she didn’t initially recognize them as voices. She did notice the sharp prick on her left hand, however—Prince Jenblevó, fiercely assaulting her with a goose quill lance—but before she could comprehend whence the discomfort emanated, she heard a sharp cracking noise and looked over to see something poking out of the top of the rock.
It was the thing that had bitten her bottom, and the “rock,” she now realized, was an egg. Like everything else in the forest, it was beautiful, with a surface of mottled golds, coppers, and blacks, but the egg’s beauty was irrelevant, for the thing inside, whatever it was, was quickly dismantling it.
Gina rose to her knees and peered into the opening made by the determined little snout. She was stunned to see two bright green eyes as alert and intelligent as any dog’s. There was a gentleness to them that melted her fear. She suddenly wanted to help this…whatever it was. It wasn’t a bird. Actually, what it looked like was…
“OK, this is totally insane, but are you a dragon?”
As if in answer, the little beast hiccoughed and a miniscule cloud of blue smoke popped out of its nostrils. Gina fell back, wiping out another section of the temple. She still hadn’t grasped what the structure was, much less that an entire band of Frengan pixies was ready to wage war over her desecration of it. “Uol will be revenged!” Prince Jenblevó shrieked.
Oblivious to the drama below, Gina peered into the egg, watching in fascination as the miniature monster tore at the shell with its muzzle. It watched her too, and the more it did, the more it began to take on an expression of—could she be imagining this?—adoration. It was no longer simply trying to get out of the egg…
It was trying to get to her.
Thoughts: Few things are more wonderful than being loved by an animal!
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