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Lenna and the last drago.., p.1
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       Lenna and the Last Dragon, p.1

           James Comins
 
Lenna and the Last Dragon
Lenna and the Last Dragon

  by James Comins

  Lenna and the Last Dragon

  Copyright 2012 by James Comins

  Cover photograph by Tina Negus. Used with kind permission.

  Thank you for downloading this eBook. This book is the sole property of the author. It may be excerpted or reproduced for non-commercial purposes. Your support and respect for the property of this author is appreciated.

  This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead, places, events or locales is purely coincidental.

  Also by the author: Where the Cloud Meets the Mountain and the Mountain Disappears

  Table of Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter One: Pigs

  Chapter Two: Remembering Airplane-Land

  Chapter Three: Dragon and Empress

  Chapter Four: The Pit of Old Magic

  Chapter Five: A Meeting

  Chapter Six: A Secret

  Chapter Seven: Waking

  Chapter Eight: Another Visit

  Chapter Nine: Gone Missing

  Chapter Ten: Höfn

  Chapter Eleven: Kells

  Chapter Twelve: Ham Sandwich and Dinner

  Chapter Thirteen: Druids and Stones

  Chapter Fourteen: Annie

  Chapter Fifteen: A Story About Icebergs

  Chapter Sixteen: Mo Bagohn

  Chapter Seventeen: Wicklow

  Chapter Eighteen: The Cathedral in the Cliff

  Chapter Nineteen: The Story of the Coming of Bres

  Chapter Twenty: The Story of Brendan

  Chapter Twenty-One: Revelations

  Chapter Twenty-Two: Unicorns

  Chapter Twenty-Three: Into the Liffey

  Chapter Twenty-Four: Barrows For the Dead

  Chapter Twenty-Five: The Voice of Manannan

  Chapter Twenty-Six: Darkness

  Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Story of Sigfuss

  Chapter Twenty-Eight: Mrs. Bres' Mom

  Chapter Twenty-Nine: Lord of Stone

  Chapter Thirty: Introductions

  Chapter Thirty-One: Fimbulsummer

  Acknowlogies and Apoledgements

  About the Author

  Prologue

  The infant was bundled in swaddling like a mummy’s wrappings, keeping the fiery cold away. Her face was bright red in the howling wind. The messenger stepped out of the tomb and leaned into a snow-flecked torrent of air. Pressing the bundle to his chest, he made his way across the short rocky promontory, around the buttress of rock that hid the tomb from sight, and out onto the sparkling white slope of the frozen island mountain.

  The baby wailed. He bobbled her gently. As he did so, the ice under his feet broke apart. He fell onto the bare face of the slope and twisted to keep from crushing the baby. Together they slid half a mile down the desert of ice. The messenger plummeted headfirst on his back, his arms tight around the tiny bundle, sliding. He received a painful knock as they flew over the barrier rocks and spun out onto the solid frozen sea, wheeling flatly across the blue-white expanse. They finally came to a dizzying stop on the ice. The baby sneezed and began crying again. Groaning, the man lifted her over his head and bounced her up and down again until she calmed. Digging his boots into the slick ice, he pushed himself gradually upright and looked around.

  The Irish Sea slopped at the crust of ice he stood on. Looking over his shoulder, he saw that the mountain was probably unscalable now without an ice pick and pitons; there was no going back up into the tomb. The shraww and screee of gulls sounded above the peak. The man arched his aching back and sighed as the baby began to wail again.

  Placing one boot after the other on the treacherous ice, the messenger crept back over the rocks to the land. It was time to bring the child to the Lady for safekeeping. First he lay her in a bundle on the ground. From his fanny pack he took out a still-twitching orange salamander tail, a pinch of saltpeter and a pinch of powdered cinnabar and rubbed them all together. His hand glowed hot red as the materials connected. Wincing as heat built up, he breathed steadily, trusting his training to keep the magic from burning him. His broiling hand touched the ice. He sighed as it melted, hissss, revealing the weatherworn soil beneath. The minerals flamed out suddenly and his hand faded back to cool pink. As the last of the ice vaporized to steam, he returned the slightly shriveled salamander tail to his fanny pack and took out new ingredients.

  Turmeric for precision.

  Duck eggshell for distance.

  Powdered plum pit for height.

  And a living yellow snapdragon on a ball of mud.

  Checking a pocket compass, he set the snapdragon on the melted-clean turf and adjusted the direction of the flower to match the compass heading. He rubbed the other three items together in his palm and sprinkled them on the little flower.

  Then he breathed on it.

  Erupting, the snapdragon’s stem flexed and heaved as it thickened. The flower grew until it was as tall as a person, as tall as a house, as tall as the island’s peak. The lemon-colored flower at the top groaned as it blossomed into a sleigh.

  The man slung the baby to his chest. Stretching his thick arms, he began to climb.

  As they rose toward the top, the air was sharper and thinner. The wind wailed and rasped like angry spirits. The child was wailing, too, but he couldn’t stop to tend to her. Any moment now, the spell would end and they would fall. Feeling every twitch and bend of the great stem as a warning, feeling the seconds tick away, feeling the weight of his calculations bearing down on him, the man found the draped yellow petal in his hand at last. He pulled himself up and over into the flower and sat on one of the furled petals, clutching the shrieking bundle. Leaning over the precarious side, he began screwing a heavy-duty steel clamp over the snap-jaws at the base of the flower. The icy ground below was dizzying. With each turn of the vise he felt the sleigh-mouth widen, felt the sepals compress and the tension rise. He lay back in the sleigh as the jaws opened, twirling the handle of the vise with a fingertip until the spring-loaded flower was shaking from the pressure of the powerful forces.

  One more turn.

  And one more after that.

  And one--

  The connection between the flower and its stem snapped. The pressure was unsprung. Flung.

  And they flew.

  Accelerating with enough force to billow the messenger’s eyelids open and his nostrils apart, the yellow snapdragon sleigh was catapulted up into the clouds, above the clouds, into the lower atmosphere. His legs were tucked into the petals, his hands on the swaddling tied around him. The baby had stopped crying, and the man was able to relax a little and trust his calculations:

  The height of the plant.

  The angle it would grow, calculated from magnetic north.

  The size of the snapdragon blossom.

  The pressure that the flower’s torsion-spring could sustain until it released its kinetic energy.

  The distance from Avalon to Iceland.

 
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