Magico made his way across the town square. In the market the people had almost come to a standstill, their movements so slow, that he had to stare at them to catch the slightest action. The sky above was growing darker by the minute, all except that one shaft of light; a ray of hope that all was not lost. He needed to be quicker, and he cursed his old legs.
Over to one side he caught sight of a group of small boys playing. They moved at a sedated speed, but still faster than him. He called out to one of them.
“Tommy Tebbetts, come here.”
The boy looked up and hurried over.
“I want you to go as quick as you can to the Library Tower.” Magico jerked his head in its direction. “Tell Reuben Rymer that I sent you. That I want the last ancient records book and that you are to bring it to me.”
“What’s in it for me?” Tommy stood defiant, hands on hips.
“I’m a Wizard. You want me to turn you into a toad?” Magico waved a hand and a burst of sparks leapt from his fingers.
The boy jumped back. “No Sir. I was only joking.”
“Hurry up then and bring me that book and I’ll think twice about turning you into that toad.” He kept a serious face as he observed the fear in the boy’s eyes.
Magico settled himself down on a nearby seat to wait for the boy’s return. He wondered why The Writer was behaving like this, and what cure there could be for Writer’s Block. He only hoped if there was one, he could find it before it was too late.
It wasn’t long before the boy returned, book in hand. He held it out towards the Wizard.
“Well done. Off you go.” Magico waved him away and set off on the path home.
He placed a key into the lock, twisted it and the door whined open.
“You’ve been gone an age.” The dragon open its eyes, yawned and puffed out a haze of sooty smoke.
“Watch out! You’ll make my robes filthy.”
“Hah, that’s a laugh, or hadn’t you noticed that your robes are already black ?” The dragon stretched forward from its mount and sniffed Magico’s sleeve.
“That’s the colour, they’re not dirty you stupid knocker.”
“Who are you calling stupid?” A lick of flames danced around the dragon’s lips. “I’d be careful if I was you.”
“I think I preferred you when you were just a plain knocker.” Magico stepped inside the door.
“Wait a minute! I’ve never been plain. You’re not leaving me out here are you?”
“Where else would I leave you?.” Magico raised an eyebrow as he glanced back at the knocker.
“Take me with you, pleeeeeze. It’s so boring out here.”
“I have important matters to see to. I need to find a solution to those black clouds up there,” Magico pointed upwards, “before we’re all done for.”
The dragon directed its gaze towards the sky. “I could help. dragons have a long history of being clever, especially ones that can talk.”
Magico considered the knocker. It does seem on the ball, and I could do with all the help I can get. What harm can it do? “All right but you are to speak only when spoken to. Understand?”
“Oh perfectly, right ‘o.” The dragon sniggered to himself as Magico lifted him off his mounting and carried him inside.
Magico placed the dragon’s head knocker and the heavy tome on the table and went to fetch himself a drink. The dragon lying on the back of his head looked up at the roof, then tried to follow Magico’s movements with his eyes. But soon he became quite dizzy with the effort.
The Wizard returned with a pitcher and goblet which he placed beside the book. He pulled out a chair, sat down and poured himself a glass of wine. Opening the weighty volume, he started to scan the pages while supping his drink.
“I say,” said the dragon forcing his eyes in Magico’s direction, which gave him the weirdest look. “I could do with a drink too you know.”
“A drink? Don’t be daft, you have no body. Where do you think the liquid would go?” Magico stared as the brass knocker and tutted. “Anyway, I thought I told you not to speak unless spoken to.”
“Hah!” A wisp of smoke trailed from the dragon’s nostils to wind its way up towards the ceiling. “You’re speaking to me now, aren’t you? Besides where the liquid would go is my worry, not yours.”
Magico put down his cup with bang. “And what do you think you’d like to drink?”
“I’ll have what you’re having.”
“Very well.” Magico grabbed the goblet and held it above the mouth of the dragon. The dragon’s eyes lit up and a smile spread across its lips. The dragon open its mouth: Magico began to pour. So excited it was at getting its first drink, it couldn’t help itself and flames danced upon its tongue as the wine splashed down. Whoosh! A jet of fire sprang out like a blow torch. The heat was so intense, it flambéd Magico’s beard.
“Argggh!” Magico dropped the goblet and jumped up and down, flapping his beard with his hands, which only served to make it burn faster. He rushed to the sink, pumped out some water and stuck his head beneath it. Sizzling filled the air as he raised his head in a cloud of steamy vapour.
“You stupid dragon! I should toss you out.” He grabbed the knocker, marched to the door and flung it open.
“One little mistake and it’s the chop. Not very patient are you?”
“What do you expect. You set my beautiful beard on fire.” Magico grasped the frazzled remains of his whiskers and waved them at the knocker.
“I think I’ve done you a favour. It’ll be so much easier to look after now that it doesn’t come down to your knees.”
The Wizard was just about to place the knocker on its mount, when he looked up towards the sky. The dark clouds had parted a fraction and there was a sparkle in the shaft of light. The Writer sees everything, he thought. Perhaps what just happened was of interest to him?
“Look,” said Magico holding the knocker up. “The sky has cleared a little.”
“Oh yes, it does look a bit less gloomy.”
“I wonder?…” But Magico didn’t finish the sentence. Instead, he stepped back inside with the door knocker still in hand.
“You’re not leaving me out there? Thank you, thank you.”
“Be quiet while I wade through this information.”
The Wizard placed the knocker back on the table and sat down. He turned page after page of the records book, searching for something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. The dragon, bored, puffed smoke rings up into the air. They continued in this fashion, the Wizard reading, the dragon puffing out various smoke shapes, for a long time, until the Wizard clicked his tongue, as his finger traced the words on the page.
“By jove, I think I’ve found it!”
“Thank goodness.” The dragon sucked in a trail of wispy fumes and coughed. “I was beginning to think it was more exciting hanging on that door of yours. Pray do tell what you’ve discovered.”
Magico glanced at the knocker, then back down at the page and began to read: ’The Writer is a sensitive creature. It needs to be nurtured, encouraged and supported if it’s to continue creating.’
“Sounds like a sissy to me.”
“Shush. The Writer will hear you.” Magico continued to read.
‘Written on a stone somewhere in the past it was noted that the Writer can suffer from Writer’s Block. If not cured all that its created will cease to be. The Ancients were said to have cured it only once with something called A Writing Prompt.’
“A Writing Prompt? What’s that?”
“It doesn’t say. But the Writer seemed to like what happened in here with my beard. Perhaps that is something like a Writing Prompt?”
“Well, I could set fire to your hair if you’d like. It’s no problem you know.” The dragon puffed and smoke billowed out of its nose.
Magico held up a hand. “No, that will not be necessary. But I do need to tell the King what I’ve found. Perhaps he will have some ideas.”
“Oh goody, we’re off to see the King. I’ve always wanted to see one of those.” The dragon rattled and shook with delight at the thought.
Magico peered at the knocker. Is it safe to take him? he wondered. Only one way to find out I suppose. He picked up the book. Slipping the knocker into his pocket, he headed out the door and back towards the palace.
“I say,” said the dragon in a muffled voice. “It’s awfully dark in here. Could you not carry me in your hand? I’d love to do some site seeing.”
“You’re much safer in here.”Magico smiled and tapped his pocket.
“I want to see what’s going on. Hey Wizard, do you hear me?”
Magico ignored him.
The dragon took a deep breath, pursed his lips into the shape of an ‘O’ and blew out a stream of fire, burning a perfect sized hole through the pocket. “That’s better. Where there’s a will there’s a way.” The dragon grinned as he looked out of his new window.
“Hmm,” said Magico looking at his smouldering pocket. “What next?” He continued to march towards the palace. His legs now stiffer than ever, he forced himself onwards. Had he made a mistake bringing the knocker with him?
To be continued....