Artwork by gene1970
En route to Rennou, Gina used the same subject-changing skills on B’frona she’d perfected on her dad. She coaxed him into telling her about Frengan art and architecture, its famous knights and battles. Southern Frenga, she learned, was a multi-colored quilt of grainlands, vineyards and verdant wealds. Gina was astonished at how much the book-loving miller’s son knew:
“But more than anything else,” he summed up, “it is known for its dragons. There are dragons throughout the Ten Kingdoms, yet none is as magnificent as the dragons of southern Frenga. They are the most beautiful creatures in the world!”
Gina looked down at Puff, the dragon pup toddling beside her, his beloved adoptive mother.
“Every town in Frenga either has or is desperately seeking a dragon,” B’frona concluded.
“So it’s a marketing thing,” Gina decided. “People come to see your dragon, and then they buy, like, dragon flip flops and eat dragon burgers and play dragon golf and—”
“How can you be so ignorant? No! It is because, as everyone but stupid girls who make up nonsense about dragon buggers and fib-fobs knows, a village without a dragon is cursed!”
“So you’re saying that villages without dragons are usually—”
“—are always cursed?”
“And Rennou has been cursed without a dragon for—”
“Almost fifty years!”
They finally arrived at the edge of Rennou. Gina gasped. It was the kind of storybook village she thought only existed on grandmother’s sewing room walls: a cobbled main street that wound its way between shops with over-hanging garrets and flower-boxed windows, set against a backdrop of watercolor hills and sun-dappled vegetables. Some of the houses were two or three stories high with live irontrees growing out of their roofs. But others, at four, five and six storeys, were complete and festooned with ancient nectair vines full of succulent blue grapes. The newer structures were made of cross-hatched timbers, thatched in pale green shrennel.
“These are waiting for a dragon,” B’frona explained, “so that permanent houses may be built in their place.”
“Um, you need to explain that, Fro.”
B’frona rolled his eyes in that exasperating way only pre-teen boys can. “The dragon lifts the heavy materials to the upper floors, then tempers the tree with its burning breath. And after that it is like iron.”
“Which is why they call it—”
“An irontree, yes, you witless girl, and why the tree is strong enough to support an entire building for thousands of years.”
“Holy…! And so no more houses can be built until Rennou has—”
“A dragon!” the voice of a child shrieked. Within seconds, people began flooding into the street, pointing at Puff and shouting: “The curse is over!
“The curse is over!”
Thoughts: Have you ever been to a place so enchanting that it caused you to fantasize about moving there and starting life over again?
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