Chapter 1

Written by: Sumanda Maritz

Mrs. Ratleigh stirred the potion in the large cauldron as instructed. Gacgon had added the first ingredients and intoned a chant over the cauldron. Toward the end his voice was hoarse and words stumbled over each other. Exhausted, Gacgon rested on a nearby threadbare couch.

Eventually, the mixture thickened to a glue-like state. She gingerly put out her thin hand and shook the lightly snoring sorcerer. 

“Sir, I think it is time for the final ingredient.” 

Gacgon snorted awake and rubbed his long white beard as he lifted himself from the couch. The hard snowspurt mandrake root soaked in common dragon blood was now slick and flexible. 

He cut his hand with a small ritual knife and cupped the blood pooling in his hand. Meantime, Mrs. Ratleigh removed the shell of the root and accidentally cut her thumb. She couldn’t stop her blood splattering on the root. She hoped that Gacgon didn’t notice.

Gacgon muttered another incantation over the root in his hand. The blood seeped into the root core and as he chanted he slipped the root into the cauldron. They waited until the mixture bubbled into a roundish ball that had the same hard outer surface as the root had before.

Mrs. Ratleigh laid a hand on the exhausted sorcerer. 

“Sir, you've said the egg will hatch only after a day. I can watch over it. Why don’t you go and sleep?” Mrs. Ratleigh ushered the stumbling sorcerer out of his laboratory.

Gacgon was so tired that he did not mind his housekeeper’s disrespect. He had managed to complete the magic for a fyredrake perfectly. He laid his head on the featherdown pillow and fell into a deep sleep.

An urge to go to his laboratory immediately woke him. As he opened the door he was surprised to see a keep-boy about to knock. Gacgon pushed passed the stuttering boy, he knew the beast was close to hatching because their blood was bonded.

***

The egg glowed in the dull light and something seemed to stretch and contract within the opaque shell. Gacgon picked it up and tried to nurse it as it wriggled like a child impatient to run. With a screeching tear, the egg split open and his marvel fell to the floor. 

Only it wasn’t. The creature did not look at all as he expected. There was no tail, wings or claws. It looked like a female human toddler with a scaled hide that swirled in multi-hued colours. Mrs. Ratleigh picked it up. “What a beauty,” she whispered.

“..e..auty,” the creature repeated in a child-like voice.

Disgusted, Gacgon stared at it while Mrs. Ratleigh nursed his dreadful failure. Hate and fury flooded him, as it sensed his disappointment the creature turned dull brown.

“Get it out of my sight!” he bellowed. 

She rushed it out as he unleashed his fury with explosions.

‘Oh my, what are we going to do with you?’ she wondered out loud.

Comments

Super chapter Sumanda. Very vivid description and great character development. I have big shoes to fill for sure!!
One thing I've realised is that writing fantasy in 500 words is VERY difficult. :)
I think it might have to do with the genre since fantasy needs a lot of description to let the reader understand what is going on. The world needs description as well as the characters, especially if they are not human.