This came from a prompt ‘the rain is full of ghosts tonight’ and it turned out to be a conversation between Marcus and Sariya, with the usual interruptions.
Marcus looked towards the window from his comfortable corner of the sofa, “The rain is full of ghosts tonight.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? It’s creepy.”
“It just feels old and full of other lifetimes. Memories too heavy to hold in the clouds, so they fall to earth.”
“You’re not making it any less creepy.” Sariya got up and went to make hot chocolate, practical tasks always helped when unsettling things happened or were discussed.
Marcus laid his head on the back of the sofa, watching her, but also listening to the promise of old mistakes and lessons from the rain outside. “It is creepy I suppose, but we’re warm, dry and out of it, so the least we can do is pay a little respect to the echoes of the past the drops are bringing down with them. They’ll absorb into the ground fast enough and be lost in next season’s wheat or the stream’s run.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you so philosophical, what’s up?”
A wry grin, very little got away from her, “Trouble at home, through not learning from the past and not paying attention to the rain’s memories when they fell to us. It goes right back to when the gemscales adopted my family and we were supposed to rely on them for advice and inherited wisdom. Over the generations, our own complacency, and theirs, has turned them into amusing companions and not much more. And yes, that’s plenty, they’re intelligent, active and many other great things, but the history both sides were meant to pass down the years has turned into patches of childhood bed time tales, hinting at trouble and resolution, but nothing to actually grab hold of. So all I can do now is listen to the rain’s ghosts, try to pick up those memories and fill in the blanks.”
“I’m not sure whether to feel more lost or terrified. What do you think is happening to your kingdom?” Sariya brought over two mugs of chocolate and curled up more-or-less on top of him. He really had unnerved her with this conversation and she needed the physical comfort of his warmth and solid strength.
He took his mug and wrapped his other arm around her, hauling her in to his side, giving her the reassurance she needed.
“The old stories talk about changes in the west, drier weather, or even wet weather having no effect on ground at the base of the Drakkenspire as it gets drier and drier, plants die off and the earth itself starts to crack. It’s happening, and in my stories the cause was a dragon waking.”
“And that’s a bad thing?”
“Think the gemscales on the scale of one of your aircraft carriers, with the type of mood they get in when they’re hungry or bored.”
They settled back into thoughtful silence until movement by the bookshelf brought them to attention.
The passage opened just enough to fit all five little dragons and closed behind them.
Sariya sat up further. While she now knew, and had renamed, all of them. It was rare for all of them to be in the same place at the same time. They were usually scattered about, being Marcus’ self-appointed spy network.
She’d asked Opal Flame (formerly Rainbow Wings) how that worked, given how eye-catching they were. The little dragon smirked, and asked how often she looked up.
“We may have a problem”
“Yes, it appears a couple of the fluffies have realised they no longer have any sort of link with us, and they’re actually talking to each other.”
“They’re going to start investigating for sure” Mav had taken to Sariya’s world’s slang with glee.
Sariya slumped back against Marcus, “Is that a problem? You’re always dismissing them as shallow and, well, fluffy.”
“They are, but a couple of them have poisonous claws and those who don’t have venomous parents.”
“Are they likely to come storming down that passage at any point in the near future?”
The dragons turned as one to Rory, who focused, then gave a decisive head shake, “Too rough and uncertain. They prefer to attack on familiar territory.”
“But they’ll send people in on their behalf if we don’t head them off in the next few days.”
“So we have a bit of time to plan, and also to discus the bigger problem.”
That got a questioning look from the entire flock.
“Whatever’s happening in the west. What’s the name of it again?”
“I was wondering whether the stories you mentioned were about a for-real dragon, or if they were created as a way to explain a volcanic eruption. Sorry, I’m still not used to a place with magic, so I inevitably head for alternatives that aren’t magic, just to help me try and make some sense of it.”
Marcus considered it, “Based on what I remember of the stories, it’s quite possible, and given we don’t really have geology as an area of knowledge – at least not to the level that’s practiced here – I can’t say which is more likely. What do you think?”
The dragons by this time had settled themselves in various parts of the room and their mental presence collectively broadcast deep thought.
“We don’t know enough of your volcanoes but there’s no record of the dragon ever actually emerging from the mountain.”
Sariya ran through memories of documentaries and news stories of volcanic activity.
One of the dragons shuddered, “I think I’d rather a dragon to a fire-breathing mountain.”
The others nodded solemnly in agreement.