IN DARKNESS IT SHINES - The Flash of a Drakonian Tale
I only have a single writing snippet of my brief dance with the man who was actually a colossal dragon under his human facade. For many years, I still had the mini-notebook where I'd started compiling all the notes, plot lines, and character sketches--y'all know how I am about that stuff by now. 😜 When I write fiction, I go through copious sketches, drafts, musings and rounds of research before I settle on something. More like before something settles on me.
Throughout the years, I would come across that notebook. The word-sketches would always bring a nostalgic smile to my face. Occasionally, I would get a tiny poke, similar to what had happened upon re-reading that little Colosseum story. You should do something with this.
But unlike the novel series that was spawned from my Gladiatrix, nothing ever took hold with the dragons, and eventually the notebook vanished amidst one of my many moves.
Fitting, considering the subject matter and my relationship to it.
For months now, I've been on a deep dive into my college journals, memories, and old writing as I compile all these tales of how I first became a dancer, writer and martial artist. Just like all those years ago in the scorch of my patio-turned bedroom, I hauled out that binder of my oldest fiction and started thumbing through it. Now, after twenty-five or even thirty-five years, I encounter seed after seed of the novels I've written in those earliest fledgling attempts to learn how to tell a story.
I'm still learning that. I always will be.
In the middle of that binder stuffed with my high school and junior high writing, I found a couple pages with no date, but I know when I wrote them. I also know when I ripped them out of an old spiral-bound notebook and slapdash-shoved them into the binder. It was in preparation for a move. My downsizing tends to require projects like that--shredding or burning pages, and organizing what remains into the smallest, most tidy bundle possible.
Shortly after I retired Phoenix & Red Dragon from performing it on various stages between 2010 to 2012, I had to move. My flight from that house came on unexpectedly, and it required a burn session of papers I no longer had room for--not in my living space and definitely not in my heart. After being punched in the face, I had to jump off a cliff with no financial wings. Downsizing from a five bedroom house into a friend's basement bedroom required massive purging, so I know that's why this scene snippet was shoved without consideration into my binder's meticulous organization.
I have a vague recollection of writing it. Kyle and I were traveling somewhere--one of our adventures to see pretty nature in Minnesota. I don't know if it came from a trip we took before he moved to California, or something we did during one of his returns.
I only remember that it was summer and I wrote it in a car while he was driving. It came from a conversation we'd had. We were just spitballing a myriad drakonian ideas, really. This backstory setting sketch was vivid enough that I didn't want to lose it, so I quickly jotted it down.
It's the only thing I still have from my Dance with the Red Dragon.
Found July 12, 2021
Scribbled almost thirty years earlier
A note in the margins:
In darkness it shines.
Looking out upon the shimmering surface of Dragonsblood Lake, one is always reminded of ages past. A centuries-old sight. When the sun shines on the lake, it seems to be an ordinary body of water. Blue, deep, surrounded by trees.
But after dusk, a change occurs. A sadness — a longing overtakes the air, the land, the water. Even the trees seem to droop, their branches reaching out toward the water. Leaves fall like crinkled tears, floating down onto the glassy surface of the lake, for there is no wind. Not even the gentlest breeze.
On cloudy nights when the moon and stars cast no light, when the sky is darkest, one can see the strange defect of the lake. Or perhaps it is a perfection. The lake appears silver – a shining, polished silver - for it is not a body of water. It is, says the legend, a deep basin filled with the blood of a dragon.
Have you ever seen a dragon bleed? Its blood is silver, flowing from the veins like mercury. If spilled on the ground, it does not seep into the earth, but rather coagulates in a pool on the surface. If enough dragon blood is spilled, a lake forms — like the lake named Dragonsblood.
If someone were to swim in this lake after sunset and then climb back out, they would leave the water, sparkling and shimmering like the lake itself. But no one has ever entered Dragonsblood Lake at night and lived. For a moment, standing waist-deep, an ecstasy fills the person, as if the power of the universe has just overtaken the soul. This is how it has been described, retold by those who have watched someone enter the lake.
The last expression they see of their friend, or loved one, or enemy, is one of overwhelming bliss, before that friend, loved one, or enemy vanishes before their eyes.
The lake is cursed.
No fish or other animal swims there. No reeds grow at the waters' edge. For nothing can survive the night, when the water changes to silver and the wind dies.
It is an enchanting site, day or night. During the day, one can even swim or drink the water, but few do. Most only stroll the many paths that follow the lake or they picnic beneath the trees, staring out at the fascinating pool, remembering the bedtime stories of their youth.
Remembering the Legend of Dragonsblood Lake…
What I didn't write down is that the dragon in question is my Red Dragon, eventually deceased after centuries of adventures that we were to gradually learn throughout the story. Deep, deep down, further than anyone can dive, rests the skull of a colossal beast much like the one projecting upright in I Am Dragon.
That was yet another eerily familiar sight in that movie. The first glimpse of it made my hair stand up on end.
In my story's modern age, when people become brave enough to use protective vessels and innovative technology of the day, they venture down there into what they think is a great crevasse. While poking about, they realize that those are teeth protruding from the walls of the abyss.
And they could swear their submersible just shuddered from a gust of air rumbling up from underneath.
Kind of like an exhalation.
Would you want to be down there when those jaws slammed shut?
Legend says that once upon a time, once very long ago, there was a girl who wasn't afraid. I mean, she was. How can a piddly human not be terrified when face-to-snout with the Great Red Dragon? But her curiosity was greater than her terror, and his heart was bigger than his rage. Sometimes they laughed together, the girl and the dragon, when she crawled up inside and perched for a ride as he launched up and flew 'cross the skies.
"Ohhhhh, Izzy, maybe some day you really will write that story!"
Maybe. But if a dragon or few ever comes to alight upon my pen, I'm sure that tale will look quite different from the one I imagined in college. Because that dragon has transformed into another character in another imaginary world inspired by my days reenacting veiled ladies and knights in medieval armor. That world and plot line is still heavily in development. The first book-and-a-half have been drafted, but I think I started way too early in the timeline. That's okay. Never a wasted word, even when they end up on the cutting-room floor, right?
Oh yeah, and I've already finished the tale of my princess-terrifying, fire-breathing cavern-dweller. Some of you know him well.
He assumed a smart, proud stance. Sweeping his hands up his torso, he clipped his heels together and presented his palms to the ceiling. “And here he is!” His cape made a grandiose flourish in time with his theatrical bow as he snarled, “Haides, Lord of the Underworld, Commander of Copious Creepers, Host of Way Too Many Ghosts, King of the Fucking Dead.”
~From the chapter called Restraint
We're headed back to my college campus now, to the tales of what I decided to do about this fantasy writing obsession, how I became a History Major, and how writing about a gladiatrix taught me to stop waiting for knights to rescue me. She showed me where the colossal dragon lives under my human facade, and she taught me how BellaDancer could ever love that Beastie. Here's a hint. It has everything to do with the Heroine's Journey vs. the Hero's Journey.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
--UP NEXT: STAMINA - Spectacled Book-Nerds Teach Me How To Fight
--OR: I tend to write a lot about mermaids, monsters, and creatures that live deep, deep down. You can find more of them HERE.