9/11/08 image post

Maybe someone can find a story here? Or a poem? This painting belongs to Broadus, and he would like a story, please. It’s almost bedtime.

Sept. 11, 2008 image prompt

. The Dragon Prince, by Openhand

. A Not-story, by Z (distillation infusion)

. Sailing Sunsets, by Angelica

. Night’s Invitation, by Pamela Olsen (coosacreek – amputated)

. Under the Big Top, by Tiel Aisha Ansari

. A Friend Told Me, by Annie Burie

. Dragons Descending, by Glenn Buttkus

This entry was posted in art, callings, ekphrasis, image prompts, painting, poetry, stories, storybook collaborative. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to 9/11/08 image post

  1. openhand says:

    The Dragon Prince

    The woman had been climbing and walking for many days, deeper and deeper into the mountain range, before she was forced to stop by exhaustion. She paused often to catch her breath, or to eat from the small package of rice balls and root vegetables she had prepared for her journey. Her going was slow, because of the thin air at such altitude, her advancing age, and because she was pregnant. Her hair was jet black and long, with thin wisps of silver shot through it. Her undergarments were silks, but she was made bulky by thick outer furs, warm boots and mittens such as a highland shepherd might wear. Even though her face was lined with age, any who saw her would know she had been extraordinarily beautiful in her youth.

    She had been following a path marked by signs she had been taught to read by her husband before he died. Claw-marks on trees or rocks led to secret ways that initially seemed impossible to traverse. And lead her they did, through crevices to passes, from ledge to valley. But now she could go no further.

    Her child was calling to her from inside that it was time to come out of her womb. Within the narrow crags where she stopped, she made a sort of nest for herself in which to give birth. It was cold, but her labor warmed her furs and the air in the little alcove where she sheltered from the wind. It was not an easy birth, for she was no longer young, and the child had stayed longer than normal and had grown large. As she labored, she took some blood from herself and finger-painted signs of ancient strength on the rock face, symbols to serve in place of the midwives she should have with her. She made low crooning sounds as the waves of birth-pressure came, singing and opening herself to invite the child into the world.

    After hours of pushing as she knelt, she gave one great cry that echoed in the canyon above, and the child was born, a boy. The woman lay back, delighted but exhausted. She drew the child into her furs to her breast, closed her eyes, and slept. As she lay there, her blood ran out upon the furs and the ground, and her body slowly became cold. She awoke briefly, and realized that she was dying. Her soul was so grateful for decades of contented joy with her husband. Knowing she would soon join him again, now she willingly gave their child life even as she left hers, fulfilling their old bargain. In the peace between worlds, she knew what she must do with her final energy. She took a bit of her cooling blood and wrote one more symbol upon the chest of her child, wrapped him back up to her breast, and shut her eyes for the last time.

    Wu Shou Long, have you ever seen such a thing? They do not come from eggs, but are born wet from their mothers! You were right to follow the echoes of her birth-shout to this place.

    Li Shou Long, indeed this is amazing, but what is more amazing is that sign the human mother has written on the wormling’s chest. I had thought we should eat them both before her blood cooled, but now I think we should take the little thing to Lau Long and ask him what it is.

    Wu Shou Long paused and scratched behind his ear, and blew smoke through his nostrils. I had grown hungry smelling this blood, but to see a human give birth was a show not to be missed. When we return home to tell them the tale, our cavemates will be sorry forever they were not here with us. Perhaps bringing the wormling to show off will make for an even better story. We can always eat him later, and the others will be even more jealous.

    They both climbed down into the crevice. One of them grabbed the child up in her claws, while the other sniffed the mother, deciding she was too cold to eat. Then both flew back to their lair in a cliffside, only a few mountain-peaks away.

    Strangely, the human child, bare to the mountain winds in the claws of the second dragon, did not cry.

    Lau Long, honored one, we bring you a strangeness and a treasure-story, and ask for your wisdom.

    The old dragon was pure white, while one of the two young dragons before him was pale green, the other a bright yellow that was almost gold. He lay with the length of his body warming above a steam vent that came hot from the earth’s core. His head rested on a ledge against the cave wall. It was known that he rarely spoke at all any more, but he was still King of the Dragons, and he lived on because he had no heir. Decades ago his son the Dragon Prince had disappeared, thought to have been killed by his own foolishness, either flying in high winds and dashed against a cliff-side, or killed by human hunters who used the dragon claws and hearts to make their fruitless “immortality potions.”

    Wu Shou Long spoke: We observed a human woman giving birth today, This show kept us from eating her immediately. She made strange signs with her blood on the walls of her birth-cave, but when her wormling came out, she made this sign on him before she died. Tell us, Lau Long, is this not the writing of the Elders?

    Young dragons did not care for anything but flying, competing in daring acrobatics, and gathering treasure in raids on human settlements. They ranged throughout the countryside in search of trouble. Only after the fire within them cooled, if they survived their youth, did they become interested in learning from their Elders the deeper wisdom of dragonkind. As their scale-colors deepened in hue, groups of males and females might then leave to start their own cliffside, or decide to stay, content within the caves of their youth.

    Lau Long’s eyes widened slightly when he saw the sign on the newborn human child’s chest, but he did not say a word. Slow tendrils of smoke emerged from his nostrils, and his chin lifted as he indicated the young dragon should bring the child closer. He sniffed it several times, and then sighed a great sigh, and his entire body seemed to relax again into the warm steam. He lowered his great head to rest once more on the ledge in the cave wall.

    We thought to eat this morsel in front of our worm-mates, and make them jealous to miss such a story and such a delicacy—began the second young dragon, but Lau Long’s silent stare stopped her cold.

    Wu Shou Long said, Then may we keep this one as a pet, Lau Long? This will also make our worm-mates jealous, a coup of wealth they cannot duplicate in their treasure hoards no matter how hard they try to compete. And it should be fun to play with.

    Lau Long’s eyes narrowed at Wu Shou Long, and then closed. Wu Shou Long looked at his worm-mate silently, and they both scrambled out of the Dragon King’s cave, taking his silence for assent.

    Wu Shou Long’s mother met them at their home cave mouth, as she always did, bothering them by checking them for arrows, wing-tears, and other blunders of youth. When she saw the little human baby, she hissed in surprise, and they proudly told her the treasure-story of where they had found it, and how they had taken it to Lau Long.

    As she stared at the sign on the child’s chest, her eyes widened as the old Dragon King’s had, and she said, I claim mother’s right to your treasure, and will take this human child for my own horde. He is too small and fragile to be your pet, and you would surely injure or kill it through your clumsiness or stupidity. Had you even thought how you would feed it? He has no teeth to tear the meat you would toss before it. I will give him back to you when he is stronger.

    The two young dragons protested mightily, but one flame from their mother’s mouth swept them from the cave back into the open air. They flew off to tell their story to their jealous worm-mates, making the best of the situation.

    Back in the cave, the mother dragon stared at the human newborn, which stared fixedly back at her. She took it further inside, to the hot sands where her latest eggs were warming, and set it against her. Each day I will fly far to the plains in the East, she told it, and catch for you some animal whose blood will nourish you. But first I shall lick this sign from your chest, for I think Lau Long was wise not to let those wormlings eat you, but there are others who would not agree.

    When, in some months, her latest eggs finally had hatched, she nursed the human child against her as she did her own new wormlings. She protected him from their claws, and they came to accept his presence as just another of her children. He drank her red milk as he had drunk the blood of the animals she had brought to feed him. In time, he grew strong, walked about on two legs, and knew language.

    For their part, the dragons who had first found the child, Li Shou Long and Wu Shou Long, forgot all about him. They lived in the eternal present of young dragons, which was both their strength and their folly. Those very few dragons who survived to adulthood learned the value of memory and experience as their rashness and heat faded into a cool, deep wisdom.

    As the human child grew, word of it passed to the other caves in the cliff-side. Adult dragons flew from cave to cave, discussing the peculiarity of the golden mother dragon, Wu Long. Some of the dragons grew angry, and others jealous, that their ruler Lau Long had allowed this human child to come into their midst without killing it immediately. After all, the human hunters had killed so many of their dragon children, there was nothing in them but hatred for the two-legged race. Yang Long, the purple dragon matriarch, led the other dragon families to Lao Long to protest.

    Lao Long, honored one, why have you let this abomination into our cliffside? Wu Long hides the human child like part of her hoard, but we all have heard how she lets it drink of her red milk, and play with her wormlings as one of her own. How will those wormlings know to stay clear of humans if one is growing up with them? They will all be killed! What kind of example is this for our other Great Mothers and their children? The green, blue, orange, red, silver, and purple dragons all protest! How can you let the Golden Mother Wu Long shame us all like this?

    Lao Long raised his head, and surveyed the audience of indignant dragon mothers until his gaze rested on Yang Long. Her purple scales blanched under his gaze, and she suddenly felt ashamed, taking his silence for disapproval. Well, she said we can abide one human child in a cave that we will never see, because he cannot fly. He has no way to get from cave to cave, and he cannot ever come down from this height. Soon Wu Long will see her folly, and will surely do the right thing and eat him up before he causes trouble.

    With that, Yang Long led the dragon mothers out of Lao Long’s cave, and they flew home to their wormlings. Lao Long sighed once more, and lay his head back on its ledge.

    But Yang Long did not count on the human child’s worm-mates when she said he could not fly. When each wormling reached the age of flying, their mother was moved by instinct and tradition to push him or her off the ledge, for them to fall or fly. Very rarely did any but the weakest wormling actually fall, almost always the wind caught their wings and they found themselves flying—first in alarm, and then in purest joy, only coming back to their home cave like arrows when their hunger grew too great. Later, as they weaned, she would take them East to the plains, so they could learn to hunt with claw and fang, and kill their own food. When they were injured, she would lick their wounds until they healed. As they matured, they would go on their own forays, in small groups, and later alone, building their treasure horde, and competing with their worm-mates.

    One day when Wu Long was taking her wormlings to hunt, one asked her why they must always leave the human child, who the wormlings had taken to calling Soft Brother, behind. Wu Long was self-conscious enough of other dragon’s opinions that she did not want to be seen carrying the child outside of her cave. But when two of her wormlings excitedly said they wanted to carry him to the hunting ground, she relented. Soft Brother had the wiry strength of a child that had grown up in a nest of dragons, and he was not afraid of heights. He wanted to see how to hunt, and gladly put his arms out for his worm-mates claws to carry him.

    On this hunting trip, the young dragons together brought down a large beast. But when it fell, it crushed one of the wormling’s wings who was a moment too slow. Soft Brother was glad to help lift the carcass off his worm-mate so she could remove her wing, but it was clearly broken. The poor young dragon could barely fly back to the home cave, even with her mother’s nose pushing and catching her when she faltered. When they were safely home, Soft Brother looked at the wing, and knew that no amount of licking by her dragon mother would heal it. He touched his worm-mate’s head, and then took the wing-bone and made it straight. The little dragon cried out in pain, but did not bite. In time, the wing healed. By then the two had become very close, having spent much time alone together in the home cave while the others went hunting.

    Soft Brother, how is it you knew how to make my wing whole again? If you had not, I would have surely fallen and died— for no dragon who cannot fly can survive long in the cave before she is pushed out.

    Scaly Sister, I just looked at your wing, and saw how it must be set to look like other wings. It was nothing.

    Soft Brother, you are too modest, and truly have the heart of a dragon even if you look like a mongrel dog. And she darted her head forward to nip his ankle, even as he playfully dodged and kicked at the air near her head.

    Thus it was between them.

    But the hunting trips with the human boy had set Yang Long to angry gossip again. She brought all the many colored dragon mothers before Lao Long once more, and asked for a full hearing before all the dragons. When they were all assembled in the great cave, Yang Long made her case:

    Lao Long, honored one, we protested that this human child was among us, an affront to all Great Mothers who have lost wormlings to human arrows and swords. But this teaching him to hunt and taking him about the countryside on wormling mischief is beyond bearing. He cannot fly, he cannot hunt with claw and fang, and he has no scales. He is not a dragon, even if he speaks like one. He should be pushed off the ledge like any other wormling, this is the right thing to do.

    Yang Long and all the other dragons knew that if they pushed the human child off the ledge, he would fall to his death. But it was right that any wormling was not fully a dragon—and could not long be left in the nest—without being pushed out. Tradition and instinct were strong in this case. Many dragons hissed and bellowed their support of what Yang Long had proposed.

    Soft Brother and Scaly Sister exchanged glances. They did not want to part. Scaly Sister worried for her human worm-mate who had saved her from certain death by fixing her broken wing. Most wormlings do not survive their first mistake, and Scaly Sister thus had the beginnings of wisdom in her. She spoke to the assembled dragons:

    Soft Brother has been our worm-mate since we were in the egg. He drank the red milk of our mother alongside us, and took our claws and tail-strikes and became strong. He has a noble dragon heart, even if he has no scales. He fixed my wing when I would surely have fallen. This should be enough to keep him among us.

    Lao Long, the ancient white Dragon King, looked for some time at this young wormling after her little speech, but said nothing.

    Yang Long, taking Lao Long’s silence for assent, drove her case home: This one you call your brother cannot be a true brother unless he is pushed from the cave. We all know this to be right. Golden Wu Long Mother, you must push him with your nose from this cave this instant. We all watch you with approval or disapproval, to see what you do next.

    Wu Long looked at her strange, small human child, and felt the instinct pull her forward to nose his chest. Soft Brother showed no fear as he walked forward to the edge of the cave. Scaly Sister gave a plume of flame and a howl in protest, but all other dragons were silent and waiting. Lao Long, behind them, raised his head high off its resting-place so he could see.

    With one last nudge, Wu Long pushed the human child off into the bitter empty winds. He fell without a cry, and Yang Long gave a triumphant grunt, as if that had taken care of the problem. All the dragons except Wu Long and Scaly Sister turned back from the ledge to face ancient Lao Long.

    But as they stared into the mist below, Wu Long and Scaly Sister exclaimed in surprised unison, drawing all the dragons’ attention back to the ledge and the sky outside. Wu Long began trumpeting and blowing long plumes of fire into the sky, and Scaly Sister leapt about and called her worm-mates to the ledge to see.

    Before the assembled dragons was an astounding sight—a small but spectacular wormling dragon, with scales of every different dragon color, a rainbow of green, blue, orange, red, silver, purple and gold. The human child had transformed into this resplendent young dragon as it fell.

    Ancient Lao Long broke the astounded silence, speaking for the first time in long dragon memory.

    When I lost my son, the Dragon Prince, I knew that he had not been killed in some exploit, but that he had fallen in love with a beautiful human woman from a province to the South. He had chanced upon her alone at her bath in the pools of a warm riverbank. When she saw him, she stood unafraid, overcome by his beauty as he was by hers. They met many times, and he flew her on his back in secret passion during the full moons. In despair and shame, he eventually came to me with his problem. He did not know that this was not the first time our races had joined, bearing lines of great human rulers, artisans, teachers and martial heroes over the centuries.

    Because I loved him, and saw how completely his heart was already joined with hers, I told him of the ancient dragon magic of transformation, with the cost that he could never assume his dragon form again, never fly again. That he would choose such sacrifice was a mark of his deep love. So I gave him my blessing to relinquish his bloodright as Prince, and to marry this human woman with part of my horde as the dowry. I asked only that he send me his own first-born son to be my heir, which he took his time in doing. He did not want to give away his own child, and they used human women’s arts to delay the quickening of a child. But they delayed too long.

    He did not realize that as a human, he was subject to age and disease that we would not be in our dragon form. When he realized he was aging, they finally made a child together, but he did not survive to bring it to me. He taught his wife to find the paths to our home, and taught her the Elder symbol for Dragon, which she painted in her own blood on the child’s chest so that I would know him. But the child’s scent alone would have told me all. May we honor forever the memory of his human mother and her sacrifice in bringing him home to us.

    Golden Mother Wu Lao has raised my heir, and he has grown strong on the milk of dragons. Once a century such a rainbow dragon is born, destined to rule because he carries the lines of all dragon families within him. And now for the first time in both our races history, he also carries human blood, and can change at will from form to form. Because he knows what it is to be weak, he will be a compassionate ruler. Because he knows what it is to be human and dragon, the age of his reign will help heal the ancient enmity between our two races.

    The dragons hung their heads low in honor of the young rainbow Dragon Prince, who landed lightly on the cave ledge. He crawled forward, his gaze and his head low before Lau Long, and said:

    Grandfather Lao Long, your scales were once rainbow like mine and my father’s before me; now you have turned white with age and wisdom. Thank you for welcoming me and for helping me find my true history. I will fulfill your prophecies with all my power. It is so good to be home.


  2. rick mobbs says:

    Wow! Broadus will love this! We’ll read it and get back to you. Amazing.


  3. Naomi says:

    what a gorgeous fable. I will dream of your dragons! wow.

    and thank you to everyone for the kind encouragement following Rick’s post of my poem…all of you are inspiring me to get back to writing…

    I hope Rick will illustrate this wonderful story…


  4. marlowe44 says:

    Yes, yes, Rick should paint something about the young rainbow Dragon Prince. Yes, this is a terrific tale, so compelling and complete with all the ingredients of a major fairy tale or myth. And Broadus can claim it for himself, first the story and then later the new painting. Ada, as well, will hear the story as she grows. Even Disney would die for such a tale, and what an animated wonder this story would make.



  5. I have a bit of a different take on it: Big Top


  6. Openhand says:

    Crossposting this from Tiel Aisha Ansari’s site:

    I like this one [Big Top] as well, very much–actually it fits the painting better than my story.

    Also, Rumi “friends always ask us how are you/ why don’t they ask: how aren’t you?” dredging that up from an old coleman barks/robert bly Rumi tape I used to listen to. Just seeing your site for the first time and love that concept of knocking from the inside.

    Warm regards,


  7. Pingback: The Boy and the Dragon « Looking in the Mirror

  8. cordieb says:

    Here is a poem I wrote for Brodus and this wonderful painting . . . Hope you enjoy!

    ~PLL, CordieB.


  9. cordieb says:

    Here is a poem I wrote for Brodus sparked by this wonderful painting. . . Hope you enjoy. The Boy and the Dragon

    (Reposted. Link did not post above.)


  10. ybonesy says:

    Wonderful paiting, Broadus. Really amazing!


  11. Z says:

    Beautiful, beautiful image, and here’s what came out.


  12. Angelica says:

    Amazing painting!

    Here’s something I wrote, Sailing Sunsets


  13. Pingback: Amputated Moon » Night’s Invitation

  14. Pam says:

    Here is my response to your lovely painting:

    Night’s Invitation


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