Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

Where is Gustaph? A Short Story by Daniel O’Connor, Part One

October 5, 2012


Where is Gustaph? A Short Story by Daniel O’Connor, Part One


     Seberden had been flying over the mountains for a day now.   After half of a day and most of a night in the air, he was beginning to despair. What would he find in the dark?  Yet, he could not bring himself to rest, knowing that with daylight, the men who’d taken his spaniel would be on the move again and this would decrease his chances of locating Gustaph.


     Gustaph was lost.   The day before at Seberden’s cave near Lake Ontwadt, Gustaph’s afternoon nap had been interrupted by a raiding party of men. They had robbed the cave of many valuables while Seberden had been away. The vultures had made off with Gustaph as well. It had been a fight, but the raiders had eventually trapped Gustaph and tied him to one of their wagons. Then they had viciously driven their mules off towards the frozen lands north of the lake.

     The group had stopped for the night about 10 miles north of Seberden’s cave. It had taken Gustaph half of a sleepless night, but he’d chewed through the rope and slung off into the black forest, dangling the remains of his leash behind him and dripping blood from his raw jaw.  Upon leaving, he headed in what he thought was the direction of their cave home. He wanted to alert Seberden to the presence of the raiders so as to put a stop to them.  Now, a day and a half later, he was utterly lost. He couldn’t find the lake despite walking miles and miles. Perhaps he’d taken a wrong turn in the dark.


     Seberden saw the light of a fire ahead of him. He grew very angry, but held back from an outright attack without inspection. He let himself glide near the clearing from which the light was emanating. He swooped in without moving a muscle in his wings, allowing a sharp view of the night without a sound.  Three men slept near the fire, curled up in a blanket Seberden had once purchased for Gustaph’s bed.

     “So these are the raiders,” he thought with not a little rage.

     One man, the watch in all likelihood, slumped at a nearby tree. He looked to be asleep. In his hand he loosely held a musket. As Seberden came right overhead, he looked closer for signs of Gustaph. All Seberden could see was a frayed rope, one end tied to a wagon.  Seberden gained height and swooped up into the clouds. The sun was peeking over the mountains. Ice covered portions of the eastern fields. The mountains to the west shimmered with the reflection of the first morning light. He felt the anger smooth out as a plan formed in his mind.  He then dropped straight for the clearing and landed hard, purposefully.  The sleeping guard fell over, dropping his musket.  Seberden grasped the musket and broke it in one action as the guard gaped up at him.  Seberden dropped the broken weapon and grabbed the guard in his right hand.  The three others had awoken at first sound and stumbled to their feet.  One regained enough awareness to reach for a sword.  Seberden spun around and threw his tail out, sweeping the feet from under all three men.  Seberden pointed to the wagon and the three men scrambled to it.  Seberden threw the other guard into the wagon, then grasped it by the sides and threw his wings out, lifting into the air with one strong downward thrust of his thirty-five foot wingspan.  He wasn’t the largest dragon in the land by a long shot, but he was strong, and determined.  He flew over the nearby lake and dropped the wagon from 20 feet.  He didn’t want to kill these men, but he wanted them to stop terrorizing people once and for all.  The wagon began to fill with water immediately.  Seberden flew off back to the camp.  He landed smoothly and looked around, scanning the ground near the frayed rope.  He walked to the edge of the clearing and peered into the thick woods.  He saw crumpled grass indicating where Gustaph had entered. He saw drops of blood as well. He must keep going. He must find his dog. 

     “Just a minute’s rest and I’ll find him. So tired,” he thought to himself as he dropped to the ground.  

      The energy he’d expended in his all night search and recent attack on the raiders took its toll. He lay there, eyes half open, tears welling up as the very real possibility came to him, “What if I can’t find him, or someone else does first? If only he’d stayed put, we would now be re-united. What other forest creature might want to prey upon my spaniel? A bear? A hermit wizard?”


Story © 2011 Dan O’Connor

Illustration © 2006 Nin Nelson

Henrietta, The Water Dragon, a Short Story by Daniel O’Connor

September 30, 2012



Henrietta, the Water Dragon

Nathalie flew high above the castle and then out across the adjoining fields, scanning the blue sky for an appropriate nesting place for her clutch. Her human companion, Queen Cecelia, would miss her. When duty calls to a dragon mother, its call is clear and demanding. It had been 117 years since her last hatchlings had taken their first, tentative steps into a world that could be so treacherous and so loyal in the same instant. She willed that this clutch would fare better than the one all those years past.

So she flew on for hours until the sun’s rays began to dwindle and she feared she may need to bed in the forest lest it get too dark before she found what she was looking for.
Finally, just when she thought it best to end her journey until tomorrow, she spotted a nesting place high above any source of

danger, on Peak Alegsia in the deep reaches of the Dianidia Mountain Range.

On spotting that peak she accelerated, shooting towards the foothills. So fast did she fly, she missed as one of the seven of her clutch slipped from her talons and tumbled toward the earth in Nathalie’s wake. Hundreds of feet did that egg fall and lucky it was that dragon’s eggs are stonelike in their solidity. For when the egg, about the size of a human head, plunked deep into the pond in the foothills, the shell held.

There Henrietta sat, upside down, stuck in the mud of a pond, as the autumn turned to winter. The cold ate at her, urging her to surrender her quest in favor of a permanent slumber. Yet she found the strength to endure, aided by the unfrozen pond and an unusually mild winter.

Spring finally arrived and the egg was warmed through the months until the peak of the season.

One fine spring day, as the birds whistled and the sky reflected itself upon the rippling pond’s surface, Henrietta decided it was due time that she broke free.

It began as a tapping that no one heard through the mud and water. A close observer would see a disturbance as a bit more water lapped the edge of the trees than was usual.

It grew to a rustle beneath the water and then, as the surface of the water was broken, a dragon’s head burst through. Henrietta took her first gasping breath of worldly air, clean and pure.

Sinking back in the water, she flailed about, upsetting the lilies which colorfully surrounded her in their greens, their blues and purples too.

Soon, her wings cleansed by the cool water, she learned she could hold herself at the surface of the water, floating easily.

Before venturing to land for the first time, she pulled her wings in, curled her tail and let herself drift lazily through the water and lilies.

She felt at home in the water. She found she could even breath well under the surface.

She had no mother and she had none of her kin. But she had her water and she had her amazing lilies.

Henrietta, a water dragon, had hatched.




Written by Daniel Thomas O’Connor on May 26, 2011.

Story copyright © 2011 Dan O’Connor.

Illustration © 2006 Nin Nelson.