From Chaos to Dream
An early call, light screaming through the window,
and she rose with a stretch and hushed the air.
'Not another word' said she, 'I'm not in the mood,'
but the sunlight refused to be fair.
She searched for the phone, somewhere in that pit
of clothing and tissue that once was warm,
and found it among her dusty red jacket, inspecting
the screen with a frown about to form.
'Today is the day,' read a note, black against the blue,
'Today is the day, you know now that a week
is all the world needs to fulfil it's dream.'
'What dream,' wondered she, 'the world is meek,
and a dream would mean purpose to chaos.'
She left that note to sit on the stove, smoldering,
hoping to ignore the skin-tight message it displayed.
'What's wrong, you're vacant,' her mother said,
'You've got bruises all over your face, conveyed
and broken like a lifeless dog.'
She shook her head--how could her mother,
so unknowing and innocent to what she knew,
be saved from what she was about to tell her?
'It's about the world, such an aquarium of a place,'
said she who knew their fate. 'I can't know,
there's some sort of fear people live in from Hell
and I have my own fiery forest in which to go.'
Her mother, mistaken, left her to tend her own wounds.
On Tuesday, day two, she went out to school and found them.
Her friends, taking word for null, played hookey in gym
to go home with their partners--she knew that was best,
for only five days left, she didn't chide and let them swim.
'What better way than let them be, they should not need
to know of the horror that awaits,' thought she, 'With innocence
I will let them live, live for the life they squander.'
And yet, as she watched their animal growls, recompence
enthralled and goaded her to act similarly doglike.
A boy of eighteen, he was a hound when hunting,
and sniffed her out like a duck in the weeds.
'I see you're troubled,' said he, words floating,
'Sure, you found out' said she. 'And so are you, I see.'
When she awoke, he had her tight in a warm nook,
and for a moment she forgot the torturous world outside.
But then, as he stirred and breathed sense against her spine
she was chilled with the shadow of Hell's fireside.
'Good morning, my love,' said he sweet and new,
'What bothers you? I am someone to open and talk at.'
'It's nothing, really,' said she unsurely, 'it's just
that something is creeping up and at me once spat.'
Of course he couldn't know, that would be foolish
like a sheep that would wander into a forest of wolves
and hope they had dull noses to escape them,
all without knowing it's sheepskin were cloves,
So she kept the second shadow away from him.
He called her, day two of their rendezvous,
and asked for her name, if she so had one to give.
'I tell you now, boy, that unless you want me again,
I am an uncaged bird that away from you will live,
and run from my fears to hide and keep myself
safe from the shadows that will follow you,
should you choose to follow me too. I hope that you,
by asking myself my name, with give yours too,
so I have someone to blame when the shadows take me.'
He laughed and said his name was Lez, for real,
no joking or lies weaved into this fateful encounter.
'In that case, Lez, you are a pup in dasies, I feel,
so I will tell you that never again ask about the shadow
that follows me streetwise and privately, I am Mel.
And so he didn't, but he did see her tense
with every second that ticked from the clock,
her shoulders would shift and shudder with fear
as though the ticks were her long-dead flock.
He wondered why she had two shadows, saw,
on the ground where she trod, four footsteps,
and the way she would rise and talk to the sun,
asking for it to keep shining, shut up, kept
from settling on his bed or the sil.
'Mel,' said he, 'you know I am here, in emergency
and pain, although you asked me not to ask,
so I won't.' 'Good,' she quipped, 'and though tendency,
do not ask me why my footsteps and shadows double.'
The final day she awoke like she had, under blanket
of soft fur and Lez, just stirring, with a small smile.
'Today it will happen,' said she, her fear flying
from her heart and her shadow laughing from it's guile.
She dug for her phone in the red dusty coat,
looked out the window to the eastern rain-filled sky,
but the message was gone, instead replaced,
a mean-faced boar harked her with Lez not to lie,
and as she turned to him, he saw the outside,
his look understood her weeklong fear, truly a beast
that was her shadow, stalking her, and he met her gaze,
'This is it,' said he, 'I see them, how they will feast.'
Rain became lightning and the world turned to dream.
Close Encounter: The Death of Art
“DAVID! WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO TO MARCY?!”
I paused mid-stroke; Mom had seen what I’d done. She was running, pounding up the stairs so fast I barely had time to prepare for war.
“Well?” She huffed from the doorframe, still in the blue-collar clothes of a construction worker, “What do you have to say for yourself?”
Marcy was standing behind her meekly, her face painted rainbow and her blonde hair streaked with black ink. I carefully put my brush aside, slowly and deliberately to show I had been busy with painting.
“Well, you see, mother--”
“Get to the point, Mr. Harrison, before I lose my patience.”
There was no avoiding it.
“I don’t know why. I just wanted to, and Marcy said she wanted facepaint.”
Mom looked doubtful. “Blame it on her, huh? That’s low, even for you.”
Ouch. I cast my eyes to her feet.
“I’m sorry.” I mumbled, “It’ll wash off in the bath.”
I wasn’t sure what else Mom wanted from me, other than the apology. She looked dissatisfied.
“You know, that thing you do really isn’t productive. Multiple times now you’ve lashed out because of it.”
Because I did art?
“Not like I’m gonna stop, I like what I do.” I replied, trying not to sound harsh. It didn’t work. Mom scowled.
“Yeah, well, maybe it’s time you did stop that… art stuff, or whatever the hell you do.”
“It’s not that bad, is it?”
“It’s repulsive.” She slammed my room door, her footsteps fading down the stairs with Marcy’s tiny ones in tow. I cringed in my seat and turned back to the painting.
“AND GET DOWN HERE TO HELP WITH DINNER!” She yelled. I ignored her.
On the canvas lay a tiger sleeping in a meadow, the grass splitting in the background just enough to glimpse a fox sneaking up. Only, the tiger didn’t have stripes yet, and the fox was uncoloured, so the entire painting looked like a freaky rendition of a dead animal being overlooked by a spirit bear on the savannah. I had just begun working on the vined jungle trees.
I rose and opened the window, feeling uninspired as I passed the other canvasses leaning against my room’s blank, gray wall. Outside, a few younger kids played hockey in the street, pushing their puck--a tennis ball--around and around the cul de sac’s centre island. The trees rocked in a breeze, and one of the kids’ hats flew off, receiving the muffled screech of giddy joy. I shut the blinds. It was too cloudy for proper light anyway.
A little knock sounded at the door.
“Brother?” Marcy squeaked, creaking the door open slightly. Her large hazel eyes looked guild-ridden, her now clean and blonde hair still damp from the bath.
“What is it?” I asked, taking a seat beside my painting once again. She hurried in and leaped onto my lap.
“I’m sorry I got you in trouble.”
I hugged her, “It’s alright! You wanted face paint, and you got it. Did you enjoy having a colourful unicorn face?”
“Hehe, yup!” Her little arms squeezed my neck. “Why does mommy never smile?”
“Because she’s angry.” I said. Mom had always hated my paintings, even anything I tried to do creatively ever since I’d begun middle school. Marcy said, “I like them.” She let go and turned to my current project. “What’s the tiger doing?”
“What is that?” She pointed at the fox.
“It’s a sneaky animal coming to scare the tiger awake.”
Marcy laughed, “I thought it was a goldfish!”
Why? I don’t know. I could use the excuse that she was seven, and her creative mind was a little absurd, but that wouldn’t be true. Marcy was Marcy, she had always been a little odd. Like me.
“Well, it could be a goldfish…” I tilted my head sideways, “Can a goldfish be sneaky?”
Again, she giggled. I said, “I’ll show you the finished picture, ok? Go play outside with the other kids.”
“Okay!” She hopped off my knee and ran off. I turned back to the painting, once again ignoring my homework.
The next day after school I went back to the painting to find it gone from my little desk. The other pictures, previously leaning against the wall, were missing as well.
“Mom!” I called, racing back down the wood staircase, “Where are my paintings?”
Mom was peeling potatoes in the sink and paused when I came into the kitchen. Her green eyes said all they needed to.
“I got rid of them.”
I clenched my fists and swallowed my anger.
She shrugged and went back to peeling, “They were interrupting your schoolwork, and besides it’s a pointless thing to be doing with your time. You’ll thank me later.”
“Thank you? You really think I’ll thank you? Like when Dad left and you said ‘you don’t need a dad, you’ll thank me’ or when you didn’t let me start band because it’s another ‘pointless thing’? Have you ever, ever heard me thank you?”
She turned, ablaze, “No, I haven’t. I haven’t ever heard a single ‘thank you’ from you, your father, my parents… only Marcy ever voices her appreciation!”
We stopped, both surprised at the outburst and unsure of what to do, I ready to pummel something or break down into tears, she standing firm with that damn potato peeler. Mom straightened, said, “You’re in highschool now, David, you should be doing boyish things” and turned back to peeling.
“Mom, why don’t you like my paintings?” I asked, a little quieter for fear of unleashing the beast. She put her hands down to rest in the sink.
“Still with those damned things?”
She turned. I wanted to stand up to her, but she was terrifying. Seeing my fear, she softened and went back to the potatoes. It was irritating.
“I’m sorry you feel like I did a bad thing, but I didn’t.”
“Not for you!” My anger flared again. What right did she have to take my art? I was the creator, I should have had some say!
“Don’t get all relative on me, David, just… go back to your homework.”
I sizzled. “I’m starting to wonder what’s ‘worth it’ for you. Is it just studying and finding a job that pays more than what you get? Is it throwing your enjoyment and passion away for a damned robotic life? Because I want no part of that, Mom. No part!”
“You think I have time for ‘enjoyment and passion’? You think I’m some sort of robot?”
“That’s not what--”
She twirled. “Don’t fuck with me, boy! You’re smart enough to know that a good education is the only thing that’ll give you a good life, and damn it if I’m gonna encourage you to do pointless things like art!”
“You could at least let me enjoy art instead of squashing my talent like your parents did!”
That one hit home. Her expression shifted into unease. Regret. I had swung my bat too hard, and had hit not only the ball but the back catcher. She turned away and continued to peel potatoes. After a moment, I took out a knife and grabbed a potato.
“What are you doing?” She said tersely. She didn’t look at me.
“I’m helping with dinner” I said.
“Go do your homework.”
“That’s not important to me right now. I’m sorry I snapped, but I won’t stop painting.”
When I looked over, Mom had stopped peeling. There were tears in her eyes.
“I… I didn’t throw them away.” She muttered, “I like your paintings, David, but I want you to stay focused… I don’t want you to grow up like I did. They’re in the basement.”
I remained by her side. “Thanks, Mom.”
She smiled a little.
“I’m sorry too, for everything. I won’t stop you from painting anymore, but I do think it’s a waste of time. You can go paint, or do homework or whatever.”
That was good enough for me. Grinning, I replied, “I’m going to help you first.”
The next day was Saturday. Mom went to work and I had the day to paint. When she got home, Marcy and I were making KD over the stove.
“What are you two up to?” She asked, visibly tired. She slugged into the kitchen and peered into the pot. Proud, Marcy said, “We’re making dinner!”
Mom blinked, then went to put her keys away. I told Marcy to watch over the pot before racing to my room, bringing the finished--and dry--painting into the kitchen area.
“Mom, I finished my painting!” I said, holding it up to her. She looked at it unenthused, then her brow furrowed for a moment. Slowly, as though a great effort, a smile spread to her face.
“Cool tiger… is that a goldfish?”
If Only: A New Year Wish
If only I, a soul, could fall in love
And be complete with you, on a new day,
Or, would, as I unnoticed go and pray
with time, perhaps, you'll notice me hereof.
Alas, the sweetened blue reflects a dove
And I know true, you hear not what I say
As burdened my dear heart in shadows lay
With poison-tip spears and bleeding black glove;
And yet, today when I was gone so far
Your hair so bright and soothing, tempting I;
And removing loathsome poison to marr.
Eyes so blue the poison cannot scar,
With a glance to me I cannot then cry,
For you with golden locks never see me,
But seeing, searching, you has set me free.
Chapter One Snippet
THE DAY WAS RAINY. Dreary. Cloudy. The street lamps and house gutters were already dripping in the early light, puddles already forming on the cobbled street below.
It should have been snowing. It was, after all, December in Lower Saxony, Germany. There was always snow in December. That being said, it was early in the month. Another week, perhaps.
A knock on the door pulled my attention from the rainy window to who was expected. Down the stairs and across the small kitchen I went, wincing at the movement of my right shoulder as I opened the door to a panicked—and angry—Wolfgang.
“WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL?” He exclaimed, emotionally exaggerated. “IT’S BEEN THREE FRICKIN’ DAYS!”
“Shut up” he interrupted, clutching his umbrella. “Anyway, it’s Saturday. You haven’t been at school for the past two days and need an outing.”
I wasn’t sure if going out was a good idea yet, but agreed nonetheless. Wolf beamed, rosy cheeks dimpled with determination to make my day good no matter what, and I got my coat and boots to join him.
“Where are we going?” I asked, locking the door behind me and slipping the key into my boot. Wolf just shrugged and headed off coyly. I knew by his face that it would be the town square, possibly his favourite place in the entire country.
The rain was just as dreary outside as it was from inside. Still, it didn’t dampen Wolfgang’s mood one bit, and mine couldn’t really be dampened anyway, so it was only the rest of the city that felt its effects.
Wolf and I had met when we were kids. I had been seven at the time, he a year younger at six. Whatever had possessed him to talk to me had practically sealed our friendship, and being without blood siblings we had adopted each other as brothers. Unsurprisingly, thinking of him as my brother was sensible, and felt more like a family than either of us had.
“All this rain’s gonna wash away the bad karma this year” Wolf grinned with a glance my way, doing a double-take once seeing blood peeking from beneath my rain coat. My shoulder wound had bled through the bandage.
“Dang it, change of course.” he muttered, and took my arm—the uninjured one—to lead us towards his house, the nearest place of treatment.
My parents died when I was four. My father was killed in a car accident with me in the backseat, only I survived (obviously); my mother went missing about a month or two after we moved to Germany to live with Klaus, his brother. He hated me for being the one to survive the crash, and being an alcoholic on top of disliking kids didn’t help in the slightest. Sober, he was terrifying; drunk, your worst nightmare. On more than one occasion he had caught me while mad and drunk and beaten me senseless, but it was also common when sober. I used to dump most of his drink when he was passed out, so the next day he thought to have finished the bottle, but once he had caught me in the act. More importantly, had remembered. The only safe place in the house was my room, a stairway and short hall away from the rest of the house, with the bathroom and laundry to keep me company.
Wolfgang lived a very different life. His parents had given him up as a baby, so he’d never met them, and while his foster parents did love him on some level they mainly didn’t interact other than during the summer. They weren’t aware of my predicament, thank goodness, as I’d asked Wolf not to tell a soul. He would never tell, the greatest thing about him being that, despite the extrovert he was, he could keep a secret. As I would for him.
We arrived at his place and, kicking off our shoes, went to the bathroom where I was ordered to sit on the toilet seat for him to inspect the wound.
“I think you need stitches. As in hospital-type, not just mine.” He said, unsure whether I would agree. I shook my head as he pressed a towel to my neck.
“You know I can’t do that.”
If I did then people would ask what happened. If they asked, I would eventually have to tell them about my guardian uncle, and how much of a guardian he really was for me. They would probably send me off to some other part of Germany, and then I would be leaving Wolfgang. I couldn’t do that.
“How long has it been open?” He asked. I shrugged my good shoulder.
“Since last night, I think. I’m not sure.”
Wolf’s eyes dimmed as he muttered “I wish he wouldn’t beat you, you know? Why can’t you just move out and come live with me or something? Anything.”
Apart from alcoholism, Klaus was not in the best financial situation. Yes, he worked, but that didn’t mean he saved what he earned. The money I got from busking on the street had contributed to more than he saved in a week at times, and it I saved. When we really needed I would take some out, but otherwise it was kept away from the consumer’s grasp.
Wolf was rummaging through the cupboard now, searching for stitching material.
His father was a surgeon, his mother a dentist, and watched surgical programs with them often. It was, therefore, no surprise that they kept stitches in their bathroom cupboard, nor that Wolfgang was immune to the paling sight of blood. If anything, I would have said he was most comfortable chatting away to someone while stitching their arm closed.
“Okay! Found them, but I can’t find anesthetic…” He shoved his head beneath the sink, and I sighed.
“Don’t bother, then.”
“If you’re sure.” he shrugged. “Want a carrot, though? You look like you could use a carrot…” He raced off to fetch the unnecessary distraction, returning with an enormous carrot, green hat still attached.
“Here ya go.” he handed it to me, telling me to use my left hand to hold it and ordering me to lean back and relax while going through the ordeal. He was about to begin, sterilized needle millimeters from my skin, and paused.
“I don’t hear chewing…”
Really? I grudgingly took a bite, so he would start.
By the time I had finished the damned carrot he was tying off the end of the final stitch painfully, grinning as he placed the final bandages across it.
“Finest work yet by yours truly, Wolfgang Werner.” he bowed. “Please, no need to get excited.”
His comical tone amused me.
“Thanks” I said. He took another theatrical bow.
The stitch ran from just beneath my jaw-ear connection point to snake over my right shoulder, across my collarbone, and end just after it, in the soft spot between shoulder and collar. There were branches off the main track because of the ragged cut, and I wondered why it hadn’t really hurt until now; I hadn’t noticed how torn up it really was. Since it snaked and was so long there were multiple different stitches, I couldn’t tell how many, nor could differentiate where one ended and the next began. Wolf bandaged the wound before I could feel panicked, and as I put on my shirt he gave me instructions.
“Don’t move it too much if you can. We don’t want a stitch to break or something. Anyway, let’s go get lunch.”
Lunch? Already? Scheiße, I just wanted to sleep, but instead followed him to the kitchen.
“How much blood did you lose, anyway?—speaking of which, here’s some juice—and what caused it?”
He shoved a glass into my hand. I shrugged my left shoulder.
“I don’t know. Probably a lot. I wasn’t the one to clean it up.”
I didn’t want to answer the second question, but I knew Wolf would ask me until I told him. He was beginning to open his mouth when I spoke first.
“He chose a lamp, this time. It broke.”
Wolf kicked the fridge shut with a bang, face reddening to match his hair.
“I hate that man” he growled as I sipped the drink, then shook his head with a sigh. “We will have a good day!”
Confession: a sonnet
In early fall, you said you’d call me near,
And tell me toiling trials inside your mind.
A cutthroat gift, of words you cannot find,
An endless game of “say it next week” fear.
Once soft, now painful, dry and sharply clear
That feelings can be packaged, but the bind,
So rough and careless, fully silver line’d,
Is bursting tunes of erroneous leer.
Because, you think a different way by now,
And turn those trials on tails to run away;
You give the tender truth a gleeful bow,
And sit, with gentle hunched resolve you stay.
Yet, now I am so cruel, another trial,
Because your gift causes my denial.
A stained-glass window, vibrantly singing
Light filtering the beauty
No matter the time of day;
Slinging it’s glass,
Full of joy,
Toward the sun’s screeching face,
Bringing the world into play.
At night’s call, measured and comfortable,
Cuddled with Peace under a crocheted blanket,
Watching the world,
The light, although fading, cannot be dimmed.
Autumn in Berni (trial excerpt)
The Encian Wyrm is one of the most fierce when cornered or threatened. Due to their natural choice of ground-nesting, they will more often than not attack on sight. A male wyrm, less fierce than a female, may abandon the nest and find territory in the North, somewhere the eggs cannot survive, but the migrated mother will stay. If a nest is in the area, the mother wyrm will assume one is a predator to her eggs, and if one is too close will attack using her extraordinary skill of sparking a fire. Her eggs are immune to such damage. If coming face-to-face with an Encian Wyrm, do not break eye contact and pray it is male.
~The Advanced Account of Dragon Species
Down the darkening, dusty path, the wood-house buildings became cloaked in gray dusk and fog. Port Berni was always like this, the sun setting over the West Sea like a fire-spewing dragon illuminating the water before diving in. Yet, it was hardly a simple. Meg knew.
She arrived at the general store—a large-log cabin with thatch roof and an arching door only the best carpenter could supply—and pushed the age-engraved door. Carl was sitting head down (as he always was) behind his quaint oak desk, glasses glinting with intrigue as he turned book pages on the War of Karkin. His store had always looked odd, with trinkets and clothing and farmer’s tools arranged in sections by use.
“Carl, have you mirrored the store?” Meg asked. The little man leaped a foot in surprise.
“Margaret! So nice of you to visit. As a matter of fact I ’ave, so kind to notice… so kind…”
She leaned over the cool desk.
“So, any news on the eggs?”
“Oh! Yes, yes! So much news, my dear. Where will I begin…” He pushed up his wide glasses and shut the loose book, rifling dysfunctionally through notes and maps layering the desk.
“Ah, ’ere we are…” He leaned forward, “I went out just yesterday and this morning, before the store opened of course, and I found that little ground-nest ’ad grown. The mother was off ’unting—I could only assume so anyway—and so I could observe the eggs more closely. They’ve taken a greenish ’ue to match the surrounding environment, ’owever spots appeared on their shells. The most developed ’ad spots of orange and brown colours, ’arder to touch and nearing ’atch time I suspect. The lesser developed still ’ad those spots, only they were more yellow than brown.”
“I’m going to have to document this. If they’re changing colour, the Guidebook is wrong again,” Meg grinned, feeling like she would fly. She raced from the store, with a wave of thanks and goodbye, down the thin street and into the darkening forest beside North Mountain. She didn’t slow down through the graying foliage, rushing between the deciduous trees as easily as the street, and eventually slowed as she came to a small ravine. Behind a fallen log, white fungus blooming along the linden’s base roots, she crouched and drew out her notebook.
Over the sloped edge, amongst the ferns dripping with day-end’s dew, sat the little ground-nest of a brave Encian Wyrm mother. The nest wasn’t so little anymore (last time she had visited, it was approximately an arm length in diameter), now about two to three stride-lengths across, the thistle and rock boundary extended to room more eggs. These were a little larger than two fists, about ten in number, which was quite a lot of mouths for an Encian Wyrm. Typically, they only produced five to eight. Mostly pale gray, they had, as Carl said, taken on a green hue, with autumnal coloured spots varying in size depending on volume of the egg. She didn’t dare touch one, for fear of angering the mother, but she wanted to. They looked so delicate, as most dragon eggs do, but like others these were tough. So strong, occasionally mothers would assist their young in escaping once the first hole was poked through.
This contradicted what the Guidebook for Dragon Naturalists said of the creatures, but it had been outdated the moment it was published. Copies were scarce, as they had to be done by hand, however there were still more of them than Bibles in Berni because the writer was a war hero. Having fought in the Vestuvia-Encia War for ten of the twenty years and slaying enough foes for a medal honour, he had decided dragons would be his next area to conquer. He set out to do just that, taking his knowledge of dragons gathered from his travelling military years and putting it to ink, resulting in the Guidebook for Dragon Naturalists. The book gave a great beginners view of dragon species and basic temperaments of most kinds, but it lacked any real research into how behaviourisms and methods of territory functioned. The public took it as all they needed to know of dragons, and no one questioned it for two decades.
Then the Encian government got curious.
There had always been a ban on using creatures for combat, for animal abuse reasons passed as law centuries ago. They were, however, interested in learning more so they could train soldiers to take care on the battlefield, as previous poaching and the accidental crushing of eggs had left some species nearly extinct. They called upon Mr. Klark, the headmaster of government-controlled Home Base, and he had positioned Meg with a side mission to watch over the Encian Wyrm population that commonly nested in the area. He had other students assessing different species, not just her, and had essentially made a small team dedicated to the subject. Over the past five or so years the team had verified or scrapped items from the Guidebook as they learned the true natures of certain species. They were creating their own account, called The Advanced Account of Dragon Species, full of their findings and much more worthy of publication than the Guidebook.
Meg answered to her senior, Joseph, nearly finished his education at the Base, and gave him all she found on the wyrms in her area. Already, they had learned more than the elusive Guidebook, and further in-school publications were submitted by teachers interested in natural biology. The only time the Base used the Guidebook was for basics, at the early levels of learning, and for species no one knew much about nor had any experience tracking and observing.
Not long after being appointed to the group, she called on Carl as a sort of scout while she was away and couldn’t watch over the land, and when she came back he had asked to be permanently included. Of course, he couldn’t be officially part of the process since he wasn’t a student at the Base, but she got around that by calling him a “local informant,” thus silencing the Headmaster’s protests.
As she scribbled notes in her book, the mother returned. Green-gray scales mirroring tree bark, glinting brown in the light filtering through the trees, she hissed and crawled over the nest, eying Meg with a wary amber glare.
Dang, this wasn’t good. Sure, she was just taking notes on the eggs, but the mother couldn’t understand that! Meg was too close, upon a ridge overlooking the nest within ten feet, and as the Encian Wyrm craned her neck in disgust, her head, nearly the size of a horse’s, met eye level with Meg. Not good.
The wyrm hissed, golden sparks flitting between her tongue and teeth, and Meg backed away slowly. Another spark, and the log Meg had previously been hiding behind set on fire, illuminating the forest with a menacing glow. Now two horse-lengths away, she sped up and, once the distance had doubled, turned and ran. Yes, her teachers told her not to break eye contact; the only way to escape was to flee however. Not only that, but a fire could possibly burn the forest and the town if not stopped.