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In the online game Flight Rising (see my last post) one of your chores is to gather food for your dragon clan. Flight Rising provides four types of food — vegetation, insects, meat and seafood. You need to collect some of each, because every dragon breed likes different foods.

As I’ve clicked my way through this, various dragons from past stories* began to knock on the door to my brain. They’d say things like, “Vegetation. Really? What fool thinks a dragon could survive on vegetation?”

Out of respect for their opinions, here are five statements on what dragons eat.

Carnisha, from the Cragmaw Mountains, was blunt. “Dragons eat whatever we want. But not salad.”

According to Cazarluun, Spectral Guardian of Venge Hill, “Dragons are spiritual beings. As such, we may partake of food or drink for our own pleasure, but we do not actually have to eat.”

Lythiskar, Mystik of Yabble, agrees in part. “We dragons are learned creatures. Our taste in foods should be equally refined. This is why so many dragons prefer Virgins — no musty, gamy odors there. By the way, did you know a Virgin doesn’t have to be female? Many priests and the nerdier young men can be equally choice fare.”

From Shoredance Island, the sea dragon Tetheus said, “Whatever it is, it has to be big enough to satisfy a dragon’s appetite. Large sharks and whales are good. On land, there are horses, moose, water buffalo… I just don’t see insects as a substantial meal.”

Wrotha, the Great Wyrm of Hot Mountain, reported, “Whatever comes too close to my eggs, I eat it.”

*  Wrotha is a featured character in my middle-grade fantasy, Masters of Air & Fire. Carnisha appears in the anthology The Dragon’s Hoard. Tales of Cazarluun, Lythiskar, and Tetheus are as yet unpublished.

Flight Rising

Knowing my love for dragons and video games, my daughter brought this game to my attention. Of course I joined in — how often does your kid allow you to be part of her online life?

Flight Rising is a browser-based video game. That is, you play in your browser rather than through a console or PC. The setup is that you’re starting a clan of dragons, which is loyal to one of several elemental powers. Each Flight is led by a unique dragon of godlike powers. If you’re into world-building, there’s a very cool back story explaining the history of this world.

So what do you do with your dragon clan? You hunt and gather resources to keep them healthy. You breed them and see what cool new dragons result. You collect various breeds of dragons and take them into an arena to level up in combat. You play games to earn treasure, which you can spend in a marketplace or the auction house if you’re a bargain hunter. You dress up your dragons, buy them pets, and join your Flight in making plays for dominance.

I’ve only been involved for a few days, but so far I’m enjoying it. It’s fairly casual — you play the parts you like and ignore the rest. Best of all, my daughter approves of my hatchlings!

Mt. Pilatus rises among the Swiss Alps, not far from the city of Lucerne. From ancient times, local people have believed this peak was an abode of dragons. Climbing it was forbidden, both for the dangerous climb and the fear of provoking an attack on the city below.

But one fall day, it is told, a young cooper* set out to collect wood for his trade. It was so beautiful on the slopes of Mr. Pilatus that he lost track of where he was. At dusk, he discovered to his dismay that he had climbed all the way to the summit! He turned to hurry down, but his heavy load made him stumble. Down, down, down he fell, thinking each moment would be his last, until suddenly he plunged into darkness.

When he regained his senses, the cooper had a huge lump on his head but otherwise he was unhurt. Alas, that was the extent of his good news. He had fallen into a deep cavern. Only a small patch of sky showed high above him. He was trapped!

Worse, he heard strange noises behind him. The cooper was horrified to find two great, scaly dragons sharing his prison. With fiery eyes and snorting sparks, they approached. Once again the cooper thought he must be doomed, but the dragons merely sniffed him over and turned away. Farther back, the cooper spied a vein of moonmilk** oozing from the cracks. The dragons lapped at it hungrily. Once they had eaten their fill, the cooper tried it himself. The moonmilk was soft, like cream cheese, and he ate to his heart’s content.

Days turned into weeks, and winter snows covered the cavern entrance. The cooper snuggled up with his tolerant dragon friends and passed a warm, comfortable winter. Eventually, spring sun melted the snows and bird songs echoed down into the dragons’ lair. The great beasts stirred and stretched their wings. One of them took off, soaring easily through the exit far above.

Then the cooper was afraid, for he still could not escape. But the second dragon nudged him and offered its tail. The cooper held on for dear life as the dragon carried him out of his prison. He whooped and laughed as they soared through the sky, until at last the dragon glided into a meadow of flowers. The cooper dropped off and the dragon flew on its way.

After he spent some time rolling in the grass and smelling the flowers, the cooper returned to the city of Lucerne. His family and friends were overjoyed, since he had been thought dead. Over and over, the cooper told the tale of his miraculous rescue by the dragons on Mt. Pilatus. Now the people knew the dragons were kindly rather than fierce. Seeing one became a mark of good luck. However, they still stayed off the mountain out of respect for their good deeds.

*A cooper is a barrel-maker.

**Moonmilk is a real thing found in caves. Since it’s mostly calcium, it probably wouldn’t be a nutritious food, but this is a folk story.

This anthology caught my eye with its juxtaposition of modern (Steampunk) with ancient (folk tales). Traditional stories have a way of drawing new authors and artists to re-create and re-examine, so it’s no surprise an editor would give them a Steampunk twist. The combination could have been almost too cute, but these stories worked for me.

Of particular interest is David Lee Summers’ “The Steam-Powered Dragon,” which adapts one of the less known Grim Brothers stories, “The Devil and His Grandmother.” Summers brings the deserting soldiers to life with gently pointed humor, and succeeds in convincing us that even a steam-powered monstrosity can still love its Grandma.

I also enjoyed “From the Horse’s Mouth,” by Bernie Mojzes, which is based on “The Goose Girl,” and “The Clockwork Nightingale” by Jean-Marie Ward, inspired by Andersen’s “The Nightingale.”

If you like a good fairy tale and a swashbuckling Steampunk good time, you’ll enjoy Gaslight & Grimm.

Summer Repeat 3

Here’s another reblog from July of 2012, when the London Summer Olympics were in full swing.

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Fantasy Olympics

Swept up in Olympic Fever, I here offer what the Olympics might be like if fantasy creatures were real.

Marksmanship would have two categories. Dragons and other fire-breathers would compete in the Heavy Weapons category, while magi with magic wands would make up the Light Weapons category.

Wizards and witches also would compete in transforming objects or themselves. Transforming other beings is not allowed.

Aerobatic events would include precision flying by dragon formations. Giant eagles would dominate aerial speed racing. Magic carpets and flying brooms would have their own category.

Gymnastics: Gnomes and fairies are heavy favorites, although flyers must somehow contain their wings to avoid having an unfair advantage.

Aquatics: Sea serpents would compete in swimming races and also have their own water polo team. Naiads and water hags would be heavily favored in swimming and diving events.

Equestrian events would be dominated by centaurs and would include physical combat.

Archery: Although humans try hard, elves own the field. It’s only a question whether dark, light or woodland elves take the medals.

Weight lifting is the pride of dwarves. However, they refuse to take part in boxing because nobody bleeds.

So tell me, friends, what fantasy Olympic events would you like to see?

Here’s my newest dragon friend, Hafzilla.

Hafzilla

Hafzilla


Hafzilla is a foundling dragon. I was riding my bike and stopped to pick up a water bottle from the curb, when I noticed something bright green in a parking lot. Turns out it was part of a Godzilla toy. You know, the wind-up kind. It had been crushed by a car. What I salvaged was the largest piece.

Normally I hate litter, but who could resist poor little Hafzilla?

Here we are in what are traditionally called the “dog days of summer.” From this we all imagine sweltering weather with both people and dogs flopped in the shade.

The phrase comes to us from Roman times, when the bright star Sirius rose along with the sun. (Sirius was part of the constellation Canis Major and was known as the Dog Star.) Thus the rising of Sirius became associated with the hottest days of the summer in late July and early August.

So the Dog Days and their constellation made me think about the constellation Draco. If we had “dragon days,” what would they be?

1) Ironically, this really sounds like a sales event to me. Can’t you just see some auto showroom decked out for a Dragon Days Clearance Sale?

2) Draco is a fixed constellation in the northern sky. It doesn’t rise or set the way Canis Major does, so you couldn’t base anything on that. However, there is a meteor shower that appears to originate with Draco. Dragon Days could be held to honor the Draconid meteor shower, in early to mid-October.

3) Chinese New Year, a.k.a. the Lunar New Year, occurs in late January. Certainly there could be a Dragon Days associated with this world-wide festival.

4) An international competition of fire dancers or pyrotechnicians could be designated as Dragon Days.

5) In a fantasy setting, where dragons were real, Dragon Days might be the season when their eggs hatch.

Well, what do you think? What should Dragon Days be about?

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