Wednesday, April 15, 2020

WEP: One Fine Day at the Dragons' Library


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Big thanks, as always, to the WEP hosts and judges! I've missed a couple of these, and I'm glad to be back in the swing of it. The announcement post encouraged us to be humorous if so inclined, so I headed for a favorite spot: one of several rather... odd... libraries I've invented. There I learned some curious things about that old vase-thing on a back shelf...

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One Fine Day at the Dragons' Library


“Why,” Stella asked the librarian, “is there such an ugly old vase in the middle of the Forbidden Books collection?”

The Master Librarian of the Dragons’ Library glared over a pair of very strong-looking glasses. “Shh!” Then, “Do you have a library card?” The person behind the desk had an awfully powerful glare—surely that wasn’t a dragon? Wasn’t the librarian supposed to be a dragon? Or a wizard or an elf? Maybe a gnome? Stella hadn’t paid enough attention to her briefing, and now she couldn’t seem to get a good look at the librarian. He, or she, kind of shimmered and wouldn’t come into focus.

Stella accepted the form being handed to her, lowered her voice and asked her question again. She’d known a librarian or two and refused to be intimidated by this one, however famed the library or amorphous the librarian.

Whatever he, she or it was, it was a librarian, and couldn’t resist answering a question. “That’s no vase, but an urn. It contains the ashes of our founder, the great dragon Smaug.”

“Smaug?”

“His parents were fans of a certain style of book written on an obscure planet somewhere a century or two from now. They claimed it was the name of a heroic dragon in a tale that celebrates the power of dragons,”

Stella sorted through her recall of books encountered in her own journeys through all the libraries of time and found the answer. “They may have gotten some details wrong,” she suggested. Seeing the librarian’s expression—definitely dragon blood there, whatever the person’s shape—she added politely, “It’s a fine name though.”

They both knew it wasn’t. Not with what that chap Tolkien had done to the original Smaug. Could the original post-date the namesake by several centuries and more dimensions? Stella didn’t know and the librarian wasn’t saying. Who were they to judge?

“Still,” Stella has persisted, “why such an ugly va—er, urn? And why among the Forbidden Books?”

“Smaug himself made that vase,” the librarian told her. “In art class at summer camp when he was young. It is considered a fine example of the primitive school of dragon ceramic arts.  Considered by dragons,” the librarian added with the punctilious accuracy the profession demanded. She was looking less like a dragon now and more like a human, and Stella lost some of her fear.

“And why among the Forbidden Books?” Stella, a sort of librarian herself, never let go of a question once raised.

Another quelling glare over the glasses “For protection, of course. I don’t recommend you touch it.”

She knew what she was doing, issuing such a warning to someone like Stella. Stella knew, too. It was a test. By now she had forgotten what had brought her to the library, and turned all her powers to understanding the significance of Smaug’s ashes. She didn’t notice how the librarian’s gaze followed her with a mixture of amusement, resignation, and suspicion.

At last Stella laid aside the book she consulted and stood up.

The librarian, whom Stella should have known was Millicent herself, a wizard and the first librarian to bring order to the Dragons’ Library, watched with very old eyes as the investigator disappeared among the Forbidden Books. After a minute she went to survey the smoking remains. Millicent adjusted her glasses, which were in fact clear glass, picked a scorched medallion out of the ashes, and rubbed it clean.

Oh, yes. One of them, she thought. They never did learn.

“Sweep her up,” she instructed Pongo, the library’s page. “And never underestimate the power of a dragon, living or dead. Really, no one seems to understand who is being protected from what.” She sighed. “I’ll get the chains for the books before you get started. The fool woman has gotten them all stirred up.”

Within minutes, the cavernous reading room had resumed its usual quiet. Just a typical afternoon at the library.

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All images and text ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2020, unless otherwise indicated.
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

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39 comments:

  1. Hi Rebecca - oh well done ... seemed like the wrong librarian won - yet no ... the right one did ... I can see the library, the chains, the smoked up glasses ... I did enjoy it - all the best Hilary

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    1. Well, it was a bit hard on Stella. Other investigators the books have eaten have been more anonymous. And I'm wondering now about the organization she works for...

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    2. Thanks for correcting my wretch v retch!! Appreciate that ...

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    3. LOL! I'm maybe a bit OCD on that stuff... :D

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  2. Deeply satisfying. I do love your library tales!

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    1. Me, too! Maybe I should stop trying so hard to edit my novel and work on the collection of library stories!

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  3. I am amused by narration and awe-evoking concept.
    Sanhita.

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  4. Absolutely love it!! Curiosity must be handled with care! :)

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    1. Libraries run by wizards and dragons are amazing stores of info--but not always safe places :D

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  5. Oh, nice. When a Dragon Library librarian tells you not to touch something, you'd better pay attention. Those dragon librarians are surely knowledgeable folks.
    Love this phrase: "...the primitive school of dragon ceramic arts." So many hidden meanings.

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    1. LOL! Seems like dragons would have an edge with pottery--who needs a kiln? :D

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  6. Never disrespect a librarian - for all the very best are dragons at heart.
    Loved it.
    And would very, very happily read many more library stories.

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    1. Of course, there's the 3 volumes about the Ninja Librarian ;)

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  7. Oh dear, someone was insulted. So glad the books were safe though. LOL A great tale and I agree all great librarians are dragons at heart. Yes, I also agree, a book of library tales is the way to go! Welcome back!!!!

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    1. Oh, you don't need to worry about *those* books. They take care of themselves :D

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  8. Rebecca, so glad you've settled enough back home to be able to come up with this for the prompt. Dragon Library. Cool. Something cool had to happen even with a dragon-lady in charge. Glad no books were killed in the telling of this story.

    Thanks for your great flash for ANTIQUE VASE Rebecca.

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    1. Thanks! Believe it or not, I wrote this while traveling--I think I drafted it on a rain-delay day on a multi-night hike. It's true that the editing had to wait until I got home. I do find it easier to compose stories in odd circumstances than to edit them.

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  9. This is just lovely. Librarians, books, dragons, what more could you ask for, even with the chains. LOL! I could totaly read more of these stories.

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    1. I love the idea that libraries are magic. Well, of course they are!

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  10. Hi,
    A cavernous eating library. Poor Stella. She'll never get the chance to ask questions again.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

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    1. Well, *most* of the books are safe to read. And the librarian tried to warn Stella.

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  11. This story was a lot of fun! That sounds like an interesting library to visit, but I'd have to be careful. One should always listen to the librarian.

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  12. Loved the fanciful twist on the prompt. Nice job

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  13. I'm a big fan of both dragons and libraries and I loved this amusing tale. I'm wondering if Stella was sent to investigate all the other mysterious disappearances. It was clever to include Smaug as a reference to a "heroic dragon". The ending was really funny. She was warned, after all!

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    1. I had fun playing with the difference in what we know of Smaug's fate and how the dragons thought it all worked out :)

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  14. Nicely done! Is it awful of me to think that Stella deserved it?

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  15. Your shimmering librarian with attitude made me nod and smile, Rebecca - even if most don't shimmer in real life. Or do they? Smaug's ashes got me too as a fan of the Professor's work. Humorous with flames in its tail. Entertained me there and back again.

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    1. Glad to have offered some smiles and entertainment! We all need those in these weird and disconcerting times.

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  16. Thank yo Rebecca for transporting us to this dragon universe. Very entertaining. Take care.

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  17. A imangenative and descriptive tale, that tests the notion of letting sleeping (or in this creamated) dragons lie. Well done, Rebecca.

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    1. It is ALWAYS best to let sleeping dragons lie! Even if they sleep the sleep from which there is no waking :D

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  18. Such a unique entry - a great read.

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  19. Great mix with the prompt and the Tolkien references. I like how you wrote this.

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  20. Really, no one seems to understand who is being protected from what.

    Neat allegorical flash for our corona-stricken world! Enjoyed the read. Well done.

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