Fiction

Proud Colors (LGBTQ Flash Fiction)

Red. Red is the color of romance and passion and successful first dates. This red did not cut it. Need a darker shade of red. Like glass of chilled Merlot red. Like matching his football jersey red. Makeup remover to the rescue. I viciously wiped Ruby Explosion off my lips. What else is there? Tickled Pink. Burnt Berry. Cherry Pop will have to do.

Mascara gives me eye lashes like Ramona Ortega from down the street. That girl has ridiculously long eyelashes. And curvature like no other. I’m built like a tall can of beer. Light beer. The kind women pretend to enjoy at Super Bowl parties. Mascara can’t give me curves like her.

Eyeliner is a game. Playing connect the dots with you eyelids. I always manage to draw outside the lines. “Al,” My sister stands in the doorway, folding her arms across her chest. There’s a constellation of freckles scattered across her nose. A smile curls onto her lips. This week, Pepper dyed her hair purple. Purple. The color of childhood dinosaurs and artists on the brink of insanity. Moody purple is tied into a top knot. “Need help?”

My hands brace against the granite counter. Doubt is grey, if you look at it close enough. Grey creeps along the shell of my ear. “Be honest, Pep. Do I look like a clown?” I ask because a clown was definitely staring back at me in the mirror. What if baby deer eyelashes isn’t enough to win him over? What if cherry red lipstick isn’t enough to earn a goodnight kiss?

She stands beside me, offering a simple shake of her head. “Are we going for beautiful or handsome tonight?” She asks as she skillfully traces my eyelid with the pen. Like an artist at her canvas.

A laugh hiccups in my chest. “Both, if I’m lucky.”

“Good. Because you look like both,” Pepper straightens my jacket and runs her fingers through my hair. An encouraging, motherly touch that came from my sister. Stew together yellow, orange and gold and you’ll end up with a bowl of encouragement and pride. “He is gonna fall head over heels for you. I mean, he’d have to. You’re the only guy crazy enough to wear a full face of makeup to a roller skating rink.” She adds as she finishes a near perfect cat eye with a flourish.

I face off against my reflection and dust the nerves off my shoulder. The doorbell rings. A kaleidoscope rattles in my brain. He’s early. With a playful wink, she pats me on the shoulder.

“Go get ’em, Albert.”


To everyone celebrating Pride Month, this one’s for you.

– Lady Jabberwocky

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Skeleton in the Closet (Mystery Short Story)

“You sure you’re sure about this one, boss? She just a sweet old lady.”

His wrinkled face pinched into a scowl as he glared at the muggy March sky. “Dreadful weather today.” He grumbled, fastening his coat. Cold and rainy, my mother would call this ‘soup weather’. Clutching the handle of his cane, he teetered down the pathway of the Madam’s estate.

Keeping with his turtle slow pace, I held an umbrella over both of our heads. “Are you even listening?”

“Of course.” Mister Barnaby assured me. I had worked with him long enough to know he was certainly not listening.

It was an awfully big house, far too ritzy for my taste. May as well live at the Plaza. Upon entering the sprawling mansion, a church mouse dressed as a maid met us at the door. Glancing behind her, she presented us with a simple key, the last piece of the puzzle. As we were led into the living room, I stuffed the skeleton key into my vest pocket.

“Detective Barnaby, come in. Come in!” A gracious greeting offered by the lady of the house. Mrs. Matilda Pierce, a well kept woman, with pristine makeup and not a hair out of place. Trust me, this broad didn’t look a day over 50. Perched by the fireplace, she sat in her antique rocking chair, wearing a dressing gown embroidered with orchids.

“Fiona, dear,” Mrs. Pierce beckoned for her timid maid. “Bring some more tea for the detective and his assistant.” The maid scurried off. After sipping her cup of tea, her lips curled “Did you find him?”

Three months Franklin Pierce had been missing. His shiny automobile still parked in the driveway. Most of his personal possessions were still in the home. And none of the staff members saw him leave either. An odd case, wouldn’t you say?

Tipping his tweed cap like a proper English gentleman, Mister Barnaby eased into the chair opposite her. “Unfortunately, your husband is still missing. We are still investigating. Your granddaughter is quite concerned, last we spoke to her.”

Her hand waved dismissingly. “Oh she worries too much. Franklin probably went on another fishing trip.”

“One of your maids said that you were arguing with you husband before his disappearance.”

“Couples have disagreements. Couples take breaks,” She patted my cheek like a long lost grandmother. “You’re young, sweetie. You will learn soon enough.”

“I see.” Mister Barnaby gave me a measured nod, a signal that meant ‘fetch, dog, fetch’. Oh, the joys of being a detective’s right hand man. I excused myself to go to the restroom, leaving my employer and the madam alone by the fire.


Last night, the detective lectured me on old homes with their various hiding places. How he suspected Mr. Pierce was still on the property, one way or another. How the maid promised to give us the skeleton key when we arrived tomorrow.

“Check behind every door, every closet.” Mister Barnaby instructed. “Mr. Pierce is still in that house.”


I searched anything that had a hinge. Cupboards with hidden compartments. Closets within closets. What kind of maniac built this house? Then, I checked a closet in one of the guestrooms. Behind fur coats and cardboard boxes of leftover Christmas decorations was a narrow wooden door. A secret passage, if you will. The door led to stairs, and the stairs led to a basement.

I found Franklin Pierce. Strangled to death and left to rot in a cement room under his home. A kiss of red lipstick stamped on his cheek. Early stages of decomposing. Poor fella had seen better days. When I returned to the detective’s side, Mrs. Pierce was reapplying her red lipstick in the mirror. And she began to laugh. “Oscar, darling, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“More like a skeleton in a closet, boss.” I muttered to Mister Barnaby, lighting a ciggy in my mouth. The mad madam continued to laugh.


To end May of Mystery, here’s a story based on a prompt of the week, featuring characters from my WIP, Detective Barnaby and his assistant Oscar. Enjoy!

– Lady Jabberwocky

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The Artist Who Paints Sunflowers (Flash Fiction)

My therapist told me, for once, write a happy story. What a writing prompt for a gloom and doom writer such as myself. A difficult task, I admit, what with all the death and tragedy and misfortune in the world. I sat at my writing desk, pouring a glass of whisky and pushing notes of cynicism aside. Like some Peter Pan, I instead grasped for blissful thoughts.

Then, I thought of Gertrude. A friend, you could say.

A twinkling lost soul in a lost generation. Worries never seem to stain her coat. I can’t recall where she lives, but wherever it is, summer is eternal. Her life is simple. Perched on her sunny balcony like an exotic parrot, she paints flowers at her wooden easel. Daisies, roses, poppies. Sunflowers are her favorite.

When Gertrude laughs, her head tilts back and expels champagne bubbles from her lungs. With Sinatra crooning through the speakers, she slow dances with lovers in the living room. She relishes even the most boring of dinner conversation. A nymph perfectly content with simply existing.

Every morning, she returns to that easel, a servant to the art. She makes love to colors on a blank canvas. Gold drips from her paintbrush. Satisfaction curves her lips into a smile. Leaning back with a mugful of coffee, she appreciates her painting. A sunflower smiles back at her.

Gertrude is fiction.

A mere wisp of delight on a page. Although I would not be surprised if some form of Gertrude walks the earth today, an artist who paints sunflowers on a light soaked balcony. Still, there is a joy that comes with flights of fiction, isn’t there?

Perhaps my therapist was right about these so-called happy stories.


The other day, I was talking to my boyfriend about what I should post for you all during quarantine, to help uplift other writers. He simply said “Write a story. People want to read happy stories right now, to take their mind off things.”

Thank you to my better half for inspiring this story.

Keep writing, writer bees, and stay safe.

– Lady Jabberwocky

The Charlatan (Fantasy Flash Fiction)

“Excuse me, kind sirs. Could I have a moment of your time?” A plump gnome woman approached a table with three half orcs clad in leather armor. Cradled in her arms were three cork-topped bottles filled with burnt orange liquid. The opal ring on her finger winked at the weary adventurers. “I’m selling home brewed health potions.”

The group exchanged looks, grunting and crossing their arms. “100 gold for the whole lot.”

A sigh in surrender as she glanced over her shoulder. “Well, I didn’t want to say anything but… See that fellow over there?” Stationed at the lonely table near the tavern door was a figure wearing a dark cloak and a crow like mask. He appeared entranced by the lute playing bard across the room.

The trio of warriors leaned closer, now intrigued. Her tragic tale of woe began. “Would you believe it, a bolt of lightening set his house on fire. Left his face severely burned and hideous scarred.” After setting all three vials on the table, she dabbed the corner of her eye with a handkerchief. “100 gold per bottle would greatly help him get back on his feet.” Her offer was coated with a honey sweet voice.

Coins clattered onto the table.

Hooking her arm in the crook of his elbow, the two strolled into a secluded alleyway, embracing the shadows. “Severely burned and hideously scarred,” He mocked while he counted the coins in the pouch. “You really laid it on thick this time, Poet. Those poor fools.” His cape enveloped her, eyes faintly glowing silver behind glass windows. Autumn leaves skittered across cobblestone streets.

For a brief moment, the opal ring shimmered. Her entire body transformed. A sly grin spread across burgundy lips as she snickered like a conniving witch. Lavender painted her skin. On both sides of her head, ram horns curled. No longer a mere gnome, but a roughish Tiefling.

“The world is built on poor fools.” Poet kissed the beak of his mask, her devilish tail swishing like a pendulum. “Come along, Endymion. We need to make a new batch of Poppy flower tea.” With her masked companion trailing behind, the charlatan disappeared into the night.

“On to the next town.”

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Since our DnD is suspended until further notice, I decided to write this short story inspired by the game and our characters. And it’s based one of my prompts of the week. Stay safe and stay healthy out there, everyone.

Lady Jabberwocky

To the Teacher Made Me a Writer

In the spirit of International Women’s day, I’ve decided to take a sentimental stroll down memory lane today. Let me tell you the story of the teacher who made me a writer and changed my life.

So Back in High School….

Let me give you an mental image of the kind of kid I was in school. An average B student. Definitely not one of the cool girls. I was awkward and lanky and a total mess. And I had no idea what I would do with the rest of my life.

In Freshman year, I wrote my first fictional story and discovered I actually liked writing. English was my favorite subject. Here was the problem. In my personal life, there was no one to encourage me to pursue my talent, nor acknowledgement that I even had a talent.

Until I Met this Teacher

For now, let’s call her Miss J. She was my English teacher in both my Freshman year and my Senior year. And she saw the potential in me that I didn’t even know existed.

Miss J was a kind and lovely person. She introduced me to literature that initially inspired me to write. Works like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘Of Mice and Men’ And Greek Mythology. The first story I ever wrote was probably in her class.

Speaking of Mythology, towards the end of Freshman year, my high school wanted to remove Greek Mythology from the curriculum and planned on throw away a bunch of books away. The horror. Before they were tossed in the garbage, she gave me one of those books. Torn and tattered, it will always remain on my bookshelf.

Struggles with Self Esteem

This one time, we were assigned to write a scene inspired by Hamlet, the play we were reading at the time. I was so excited that I worked extra hard on this two page script. Even researched authentic Shakespearean language. After I handed it in, my teacher was genuinely impressed and asked if she could read it to the whole class. I told her ‘no’.

And even today, I still regret that decision. See, my confidence was under the floorboards at the time. I was incredibly self conscious, and felt like I was rubbing my great story in everyone’s face, and then everyone would hate me. “No, no, it isn’t that great. Surely, my work isn’t the best in the class.”

Man, some days, I wish I had a time machine and could tell my younger self to not be afraid of showing my talent. That being awesome at something won’t belittle others. And honestly, I still struggle a little with that low self esteem logic today.

One of her many sweet notes.

Words of Encouragement

In my Senior year, Miss J asked us to write journal entries, which she would read. I was still nervous about others reading my writing. To break from that fear, I decided to just be funny. My journal was filled with my (embarrassing) humorous observations, kind of like what you see on the blog today. And she loved them.

So, I kept writing. She said I had a natural talent as a writer and that I had a quirky voice. Thank goodness for that quirkiness. I was amazed and humbled and happy. My silly scribbles made someone laugh. Nothing was more fulfilling. Miss J wrote me these encouraging notes, pushing me to pursue a career as a writer. I still have those notes. The most touching note from her is scrawled in my yearbook, hoping that the next time she hears my name, it’s because I’d have won the Pulitzer prize. (Insert tears here.)

Her note in my yearbook, from 2011.

To a wonderful teacher, I’d like to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know where I’d be right now if it wasn’t for your encouragement. You inspired me to pursue creative writing and made me the writer I am today. And you also inspired me to start this blog, where my quirkiness has room to roam and where I can encourage other writers to write their story.


[This is a repost, but an important post, nonetheless.]

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Stop the Presses (Short Story)

You know, if the school wanted to foster a love of writing and journalism among the students, they’d have given us a nicer room for the school newspaper.

The musty smell of that room still lingers on my coat. A dark, dreary janitor closet of a room with murky windows. File cabinets, cramped desks and windows that were stuck shut. Oh and a coffee machine that only produced mud flavored water. What a inspiring, creative place it was.

Only three of us students ran the school newspaper. That week, two were out sick with mono that they contracted from each other. And our supervising teacher had a meeting with their divorce lawyer.

I, Bianca Pellegrini, had to singlehanded write, edit, proofread, publish the entire ‘Sullivan Spectrum’ newspaper before the impending deadline. And I refused to miss a deadline. Thank goodness nothing interesting ever happened around here.

There was a knock on the door. No one ever knocked on that door.

By Thursday, the mountain of stress and my foul mood reached it’s peak. You really shouldn’t meet the love of your life in such a state.

With frizzled curls tied into a messy bun and raccoon bags under my eyes, I stalked over to open said door. And there he was. Picture handsome and humbleness wrapped in a theater kid package. Tobias Bernard.

“Can I help you?”

An earnest smile greeted me. How dare he. “Hey, I’m Toby B-“

“Oh I know who you are.” A proper journalist needed to know who’s who. “Your sister made the front page last week.” How could I forget that cover story? A picture of a “artistically defaced” statue and his sister Kimber with paint on her hands. Literally caught red handed.

An amused smirk played on his lips as he scratched the back of his head.”Yeah, that’s my sister. Don’t hold it against me.”

“Actually, that old statue needs a pop of color.” We shared an awkward laugh. “Did you need something?”

Without an invitation, he waltzed himself in the room. “Bianca, right?” I nodded as his hand rifled inside his backpack. “You wrote the review for the school musical.” From his backpack, he pulled out a rolled up, crumpled newspaper. “I need you to change it.”

Crossing my arms, my brows knitted together. Excuse me?

A bit hesitant and bashful, Toby continued. “See, my friend was the lead. And there were some… Critical things written and she’s been crying about it for days.” He offered me the newspaper, to see for myself, but I didn’t bite.

“It’s called being honest.”

“You called her mediocre.”

“I called her singing mediocre.” I corrected. Trust me, mediocre was an understatement. “Besides, I can’t reprint my review. I’d lose credibility.” Definitely couldn’t lose my credibility. I slumped back in my seat behind my desk. “Sorry about your friend, but there’s nothing I can do.”

After a brief stalemate, he conceded. With a deep sigh, his shoulders shrugged. “Well, It was worth a shot.” His fingers idly lingered on my mug of coffee, peering inside with a grimace.

Snatching the mug from his grasp and turning back to the computer, I began working on the next article. A half baked piece about the prom’s unoriginal theme, under the sea. Drown me already. I thought he would leave, but he didn’t. His eyes glanced around the empty room. “Wait, are you working on the paper by yourself?”

“Yep.” I grumbled before sipping my coffee, which no longer tasted like sludge but like a fancy, overpriced espresso. Little did I know, that was the first sign of his “magical talent”.

Toby leaned against the desk, tossing me a skeptical yet intrigued look. “But you’re only a freshman.”

Okay, make that one big gulp of coffee. “Bottom of the totem pole. I know. Gotta work my way up.”

As it turned out, we kept talking until free period was over. All thoughts of stress and deadlines lifted off my shoulders. The conversation was oddly comfortable. Toby had brought me a welcomed break, I’d say. Talk about stop the presses. I told him about my plans for my own column next year. He asked what I’d write about.

“Paranormal investigation.” Unusual subject matter, I understand. Ever since I was a kid, I chased the things that go bump in the night. Stories of witches and ghosts and aliens caught my interest.

His once relaxed demeanor grew tense. He shifted away from me, rubbing his arm. Trying to play it smooth, a magic he had yet to learn. “That’s pretty cool.”

The bell rang and we parted ways.

“We should hang out sometime.”

“Yeah, maybe we should.”

As he walked away, he sent me a wink. Corny fool. But that corny fool eventually became my boyfriend. Who was the fool now?

“Lemme know if you find any witches, Bianca Pellegrini.”

Bianca and the Mysterious Happenings (Mystery Short Story)

“You suffered a serious loss this summer, Bianca. The school faculty was concerned, even the principal wanted me to check up on you.” Let me assure you, I did not have time to have a conversation with the school’s psychiatrist. Sitting amongst a sea of throw pillows in a cramped office, I adjusted my Edgar Allen Poe patterned socks. On his desk, a wooden crane dipped up and down, moving on its own accord.

“Oh I’m fine.” Reassuring others that I was fine seemed to become a common occurrence nowadays. Students treated me like I was some tragic mess, fragile and ready to crumple at any moment. Hardly. There’s more to my story than that.

“It appears so.” The therapist shuffled his paperwork. My life condensed in a manilla folder. “Excelling in all of your classes. Writing for the school newspaper. Volunteering in the school play.”

My shoulders bounced. “I try to keep busy.” And Chester always did like the theatre.  

“This is a safe place to talk about him.” Mister Raphael reminded.  Yes, because the motivational poster of a polar bear climbing a mountain really made me feel safe to express my feelings. “Grief takes many forms.”

Fingers fidgeted with the sleeve of my wool sweater. My eyes kept glancing at the clock. This meeting lasted 6 minutes and 47 seconds, 5 minutes longer than necessary. Why did I give up free period for this?  Although my jaw tightened, I forced a smile. “He was my boyfriend since freshman year. We were planning to go to the same college together. Get married. Kids. White picket fence.” Excuse the cynicism, it had been a long semester, with more sympathetic looks than I could count. Some of them didn’t even know Chester.

“He’d want me to keep going.” Not very poetic, but very true, nonetheless.

After a couple seconds of silence, I informed Mister Raphael about the pieces I planned to write for the school newspaper. I had a journal filled with notes and outlines for possible articles. While talking about news topics, an eagerness returned to my voice. Are the tofu burgers in the cafeteria really vegan? Did last year’s valedictorian cheat on his SATs?

“And I’m also looking into the recent disturbances at the graveyard.” Mysterious happenings were happening in the Westminster Cemetery. The reporter in me must investigate. The ceiling light flickered above.  “Or maybe I should write about the school’s faulty wiring.”

We share an uneasy, cordial laugh. Then, It was time to leave. “Well, my door is always open, if you need an ear.” 

With my chin raised and a sigh of relief, I exited the office. Ponytail swishing from side to side. The halls were mostly clear, except for a few lingering students and a security guard distracted by his smartphone.

“Grief takes many forms.” Those empathetic words felt lackluster on my lips. I stared at my reflection in the vending machine window. “How am I supposed to grieve when you won’t quit bothering me?” One of the metal rings in the machine spiraled, releasing a snack from it’s grip. A bag of honey wheat pretzels, my favorite.

I couldn’t help but smile. What a charmer, even in death.


Hey Writer Bees! Hope you enjoyed this little scene. Lately, I’ve been playing around with the idea of a having fiction series on this blog, updating with a new chapter each month. This is just a snippet of a mystery plot, following Bianca, the school reporter, and the unusual events happening in Baltimore.

Want to read more of this story? How do you feel about a regular series on this blog? Be honest, and let me know what you think in the comments.

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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All is Magic and Bright (Fantasy/Humor)

Juniper dusted the snow off her cloak as she entered the claustrophobically small shop. Shelves full of trinkets and bobbles and bobbled trinkets. Potion bottles and feather tipped arrows too. And a leather glove with brass trimmings and a brightstone set in the center. The topaz yellow gem winked at her as she stared at it.

Gus, the shopkeeper, leaned over the counter. “Hello, hello. What can I help you with, little missy?”

“I need one Gauntlet of the Scorching Sun.” She dropped three gold pieces onto the counter. The earning from too many oddball quests.

Adjusting his spectacles, he eyed the coins, then the fairy girl with wings like a monarch butterfly. The gap in his teeth let out of long whistle. “No can do, little lady. That there doohickey is five gold.”

Her wings stiffed in agitation. “What? But I need that for a friend. It’s supposed to be a gift for the winter solstice celebration.”

Shoulders bounced. “Holiday inflation, you know. “

“You gots anything to trade? Adventurers always got things to trade.”

Her lips pressed into a thin line. Grumbling under her breath, she searched her bag, sifting through miscellaneous items acquired during their adventures.

“How about three gold coins, fifty silver pieces and two bubble potions.” Two vials of pink liquid were set on the counter. His head shook slowly. Thumb jabbed over his shoulder to an entire case of bubble potions. She dug deeper into her satchel and held up a bloody canine. “Annnddd a…. Goblin tooth?”

“That’s a troll tooth.”

“Same difference.” Juniper pushed her items closer before reaching out her hand to shake. “Do we got a deal or not?”


The door creaked open. Cecil flinched in surprise, a book tucked under his arm. A smile spread across his face. “Juniper! What… What are you doing here? I thought you were leaving to Mirinda already.” Those plans were still true. There were a bundle of fairies down south waiting to celebrate the solstice with her. Juniper offered the young wizard a poorly wrapped package.

“Oh, I’m on my way now.” She assured. “Couldn’t leave before delivering your present first, could I?” He gestured her inside the tiny cottage. The warmth of the fireplace embraced her. Frost melted from her wing tips. She gave a quick greeting to his mother and grandmother, who were preparing a small feast for the three of them.

“You s-sure you can make the flight in this weather?” Cecil ask as he unwrapped the gift. Snow and wind blustered outside.

“I’ll be fine. I still have bubble potions left.” Two potion bottles were holstered to her belt.

The wizard gasped, holding the gauntlet in his hands. “But how did you…?” A anxious look flashed through his face, worried about the cost of such an item.

“Don’t worry about it. Go on. Try it out. ” She nudged him as his fingers slipped into the glove. The golden gem shimmered. A glowing sphere appeared in his hands, hovering in the air. Watching her young wizard friend cradle a bright ball of light made it all worth it.

After the shopkeeper declined her deal, he was asking for roguish deviance. Juniper left the shop with a huff, claiming that she’d take her business elsewhere. In actuality, she snuck back in with the stealth of a true thief. Smoke bombed the cramped shop. Amidst the chaos, she swapped the gauntlet with 3 gold coins and a bloody troll tooth. Tis the season, after all.


Happy holidays everyone! Love, Lady Jabberwocky

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The Cinnamon Witch (Slice of Life/Horror)

“Hey Jude. Don’t make it bad.”

A baker sings a Beatles song while sifting flour into a mixing bowl. Amber hair tied into a low ponytail. Freckles and flour smeared across her cheeks. She works on a shiny metal counter, disinfected daily, per the Health Inspector’s orders. Halloween banners hang in the window. It’s sunny today. 

Add sugar. Add baking soda. Time for seasoning. Ground nutmeg. Ground cinnamon. Ground finger bone. Freshly sourced, of course. She whisks until her elbow goes sore. 

“Take a sad song and make it better.”

Wet ingredients next. Crack an egg. Make that two eggs. A splash of milk. Cold butter. A spoonful of blood, for color. Who needs red food coloring anyway? Mix again.

“Remember to let him in to your heart. And you can start to make it better”

Her hand finds a rolling pin. Roll out dough. Flatten like roadkill. Cut into cute pumpkin shapes. Line the sheet. Bake at 350 degree for thirteen minutes. Lips curl into a smile. Wait thirteen minutes. Take out of the oven, let chill. Finish with a final dusting of cinnamon and powdered sugar. Perfect. 

“Hey Hazel!” A voice bellows from the front of the shop. “How much longer on those cookies?”

She does not answer him, only keeps singing as she piles the cookies on a plate. Ready to serve.

“Hey Jude…. Don’t be afraid.”


Happy Halloween, Writer bees!

– Lady Jabberwocky

Lyrics from ‘Hey Jude’ by the Beatles

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Two Young Adventurers Walk Into a Tavern (Fantasy Flash Fiction)

“Juniper…This….This…. Is a bad idea…”

“Why do you say that?”

A young fae and a novice wizard stood outside of a tavern. Shouting and laughing and glass smashing rumbled the stony building. Candle light spilled into the dirt road through a crack in the door. A burly patron wobbled out, a stein of ale in his mits.

Cecil quivered behind her. An exasperated sigh huffed out her lungs. Wings tilting downwards. “Oh come on. We have to find this Brutus guy. He knows about the dragon.” Chin raised, she dragged her friend into the seedy establishment. “Brave adventurers fear no danger.” She reminded proudly to her nervous companion.

Busty barmaids hustled around the room. Brawny men and women clinked glasses, toasting to successful quests. A heated game of darts was being played in the corner.

Look for the man with serpent tattoo. That’s what Ramona had told them. In him, you will find the answers you seek. Over by the roaring fireplace, a chiseled dwarf. A winged serpent painted on his bicep. Smoke from his pipe billowed into the air. A Warhammer strapped to his back.

“Are you Brutus?”

“Whose asking?” His voice gruff and disinterested.

“Me, obviously. Or are you blind?”

He scoffed, eyeing the fae girl. “Haven’t seen a fairy around these parts in a long while.”

“Good. Now you have. My friend and I are looking for information, about the Dragon of the South.” Juniper plucked the rolled up scroll from Cecil’s hands and unfurled the map for the dwarf.

He stiffled a laugh and shook his head, dismissing them with another puff of his pipe. “Fly away, little moth, Or you’ll – ” The tip of her gleaming rapier appeared inches from his face. Incoherent words stammered out of Cecil’s mouth. Juniper’s scowl never wavered. A growl gargled in his throat. Everything in the bar halted to a stop. Then, impish cackle broke the silence.

Perched on a table, a scrawny man strummed a lute, shoulders bouncing in giddy giggles. Pointed ears and eyes like lost emeralds. Opal white hair tied into a pony tail. The dwarf jabbed his thumb in the bard’s direction. The elf bowed his head, holding his instrument in his arms, ready to play a tune.

“Brutus P. Capatrius the Second, at your service.” With a dramatic wave of his hand, he beckoned the barmaid over. “Some cups of apple cider for the youngins.” A sly grin smeared on his lips. “You two are awfully adorable.”

You’re Brutus?”

“Miss Ramona, our mentor, sent us. To find the exact location of the dragon. A-And she also said…-”

“That we were lovers? In our youth, of course. Though I suppose it’s not a story for children.” He gestured for them to sit. “Sit, Sit, little dears.”

“Wait,” Juniper’s head shook in disbelief. Wings aflutter, she hovered off the ground, drawing closer to Brutus. “You’ve fought a dragon?”

“Definetly not. I simply sang it a lullaby.” He grinned, beaming in his mirth. “But I have seen the nasty bugger.” His fingers stroked the strings once. “I wouldn’t go chasing him if I were you.” He warned in a sing song tone.

“We must collect….” Cecil tossed Juniper an uneasy glance. “something from the dragon’s lair, for one of Ramona’s spells.”

“And what Ramona wants, Ramona gets, no?” He snickered, gingerly taking the map. This dragon was notorious for being difficult to find. Lots of tunnels and caverns, he explained. The two children drank cider as he told his tale of the dragon of the south. With a feather quill, Brutus marked a point on the map with a circle. “This… Something…. That you two are searching for better be worth it.”

“We can handle it.” Sticking her nose up in the air, she grabbed her companion’s hand. After giving their thanks to the carefree bard, the two adventurers scurried outside.

Cecil hugged his stomach, letting out panicked breaths. “I can’t believe we survived.”

Lifting off the ground, Juniper swooped the wizard up underneath his arms and carried him through the night sky. “Now all we have to do is find that dragon egg.”