Chapter 4

Written by: Ray Stone
Dark clouds had been forming all night, and the howls of the Ipsolin disturbed Mrs. Ratleigh so that she spent the early hours sitting next to the dying embers of her kitchen fire. ‘Gretchin the femdrake,’ for that is what Mrs. Ratleigh named her, slept soundly in her straw bed until the howling started. Agitated, Gretchin sensed the danger and began waving her arms in the air with anger. Her mouth opened to reveal a thin gray tongue. She rose from the bed and stood, the scales on her body moving in and out slowly.
“It’s all right, Gretchin,” said Mrs. Ratleigh in a gentle whisper. “We are safe for now. Tomorrow we will go back to the castle and seek Gacgon, the sorcerer. He will protect you.”
“Pro-te-ct.” Gretchin made a clicking noise as she pronounced each syllable.
Mrs. Ratleigh had not been surprised at the rate of growth or the ability to talk within such a short space of time. A fyredrake normally took between two and three days to grow to the fire-breathing size and measured at least two peds from shoulder to ground and five peds long. Gretchin was already five feet tall, and strong muscles showed through her tough hide. 
Crimson eyes with black pupils stared unblinkingly at Mrs. Ratleigh.  “Safe castle.”
It took Mrs. Ratleigh a few minutes to pack a bag and dress Gretchin in a robe. She decided to leave before sunrise, the time the Ipsolin pack set out to hunt for food each day. 
“Come to your senses, have you? I already know what you did.” Gacgon didn’t look up. He was too busy looking through the ingredients for another attempt at creating a fyredrake.
“I’m sorry. I should have told you that I cut my finger.” There was a pause. Then in a less apologetic voice, she announced, “I brought the femdrake, Gretchin, with me.”
Gacgon swung around. His jaw dropped, and his eyes lit up as he saw Gretchin. He lowered his gaze to Mrs. Ratleigh. “You still have something to tell me for I can feel anxiety about you.”
He listened at the revelation foreseen by Alwena, the old witch. It was true that the Ipsolin would know of Gretchin’s presence and know her to be a dangerous threat, especially as she was not a genuine fyredrake. Gacgon remembered the warning on the parchment. ‘The resulting creation will surpass the destroying powers of a fyredrake.’
“We’ll keep her safe until I have strengthened her powers and endowed her with wings that will carry her with speed to the Ipsolin caves.” He nodded wisely. “We have to cast a spell for ferocious breath without fire that will blow the Dog-Heads to oblivion. Much attention has to be paid to one ingredient, Mrs. Ratleigh. You must find Alwena for she alone knows where to gather Wergrantor, a flower that grows near the clifftops above the Ipsolin caves.”
Mrs. Ratleigh shivered.
Gretchin stepped toward Gacgon. Her eyes narrowed. “Dog-Head,” she snarled.


Wow Ray!! This chapter left me in awe because you have so wonderfully weaved the fine details of the past four chapters (including the preface) in your description. It seems now that the story is actually coming together and the chapters are flowing as if written by the same author. Loved how you have shaped the character of femdrake who even has a name!!
Thank you both. I have never written fantasy before. It's quite a challenge.
Love your chapter, Ray.
You have managed to not only take the story forward, but also added depth and intrigue to the characters. No small feat when trying to write fantasy in 500 words.
I loved this line from Gacgon: “You still have something to tell me for I can feel anxiety about you.” This captured for me the ethereal feeling of this story. Yet while I say that it is amazing how grounded in woven fiction it is. The characters are terrific!