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Rated: E · Short Story · Fantasy · #2316929
A green queen arrives in a brown land. Second in Free For All in March 2024.
A green lady arrives from the sea on a dragon.

A Green Queen

In the Dawn of Time, Hermione, the Green Queen of the Unseen, arrived upon the island known as Ierne. She had not meant to come ashore but her water dragon, Haaganfeld, began to splutter as they approached. Fearing that it might break down while still at sea, Hermione steered through the breakers to the island, then beached the dragon on the sands of a broad beach. It puffed and huffed a few times, dragged itself above the high water mark , and fell asleep.

Hermione checked the dragon’s gauges. Its belly registered three quarters full, the pilot light still flickered brightly in one eye, and the wings and legs showed no signs of wear. Whatever the problem, it looked like being beyond Hermione’s basic skills of dragon maintenance. She looked up at the brown hills rising from the land beyond the dunes that circled the beach. It did not seem a likely place to find an experienced transport operative.

There was nothing for it but to look, however, and she girded her rather tight costume about herself and set out to surmount the dunes. Ten minutes later, she had traversed them and was surveying the land ahead.

It did not look very promising.

Rounded hills created a rolling countryside that continued to the horizon. The fact that the hills were brown in colour did not make them very attractive and the lowering dark clouds overhead added to the gloominess of the scene. With little option, Hermione set out to explore and, hopefully, find some assistance in repairing her dragon.

Hermione had crossed only the first range of hills when she came upon a dusty track that lay across her chosen direction. Reasoning that it must lead sooner or later to some form of habitation, she turned and began to follow the track westward. The very next bend around a hill revealed a little house crouched into a hollow as though sheltering from a storm.

The weather remained calm, if dark with threat, however. In fact, Hermione realised that the track and the hills were surprisingly dusty and unremittingly brown, as though they had not seen rain in many a long month. She pressed onward to the little house and rapped at the door.

A muffled crash sounded from somewhere in the interior of the house, closely followed by a voice muttering swear words and getting louder as it neared the door. Then proceeded the noise of locks turning and chains being removed before the door scraped open across a stone floor. A little brown face, wrinkled and with eyes narrowed against the increased light of the day, peered out at Hermione. It was much lower than she had expected and it looked up at her in surprise.

“Begorrah and there’s a big un you be!” it exclaimed, the mouth moving in exaggerated gyrations round the words. “And what’s a fine lady like you be doin’, wakin’ a poor feller at so early an hour in the mornin’?”

“I am Hermione, the Green Queen of the Unseen. I’m sorry to have awoken you, but my dragon has broken down and I was hoping you might direct me to a nearby transport operative who could take a look at him for me.”

The little man scratched his stubbled chin as he mused on this information. “A green queen, hey? Well I can see why they call you that, your ladyship, you bein’ dressed all in green, but where’s the unseen bit come in?”

Hermione drew herself up to her full height, towering over the man. “The Unseen is a matter that is invisible and cannot be seen therefore. I am not surprised that it puzzles you. But, come on, man, what about this operative? Are there any around these parts?”

“Now there, your majesty, you have been very lucky.” He threw the door wide open, took a step forward, and bowed expansively before her. “It so happens that I am one of these operatives you are looking for. ‘Cept we calls ‘em mechanics in Ierne.”

“And you are used to working on dragons?”

“Well, all except the very latest models,” the man replied proudly. “I don’t hold with these newfangled things that need a potato chip to diagnose. What year is your dragon?”

“Negative one thirty-seven, I think.”

“Ah, good,” he said, “that’s an easy one to work on.” He looked around, as if expecting the dragon to be parked nearby. “And where be the vehicule?”

“It’s down on the beach,” said Hermione. “We only just made it to shore.”

“Be with you in a moment, your highness.” The little man turned and disappeared back into the house. “I’ll get my tools…”

So it was that Hermione and the “mechanic” traced her path back down the track, over the dunes and down to the beach. On the way he announced that his name was O’Hooleran the Mechanic, though he found little call for his services these days. “The country’s goin’ to the dogs,” he said. “Not a drop o’ rain in years and there’s none with two pennies to rub together. Last dragon I worked on was a few months ago now. A Welsh model, lovely red creature it was. Tourist owned, of course.”

They had reached the beach by then and Haagenfeld lay there still, stretched out in green glory on the sand. O’Hooleran trotted over and began to examine him.

“Plenty of fuel,” he muttered. He lifted a dragonish eyelid as though it were weightless. “Pilot light on. And the wings and legs seem fine. Something internal then…”

Moving to the end of the snout, he heaved the upper jaw to an open position, stuck a stick in the gap to hold the mouth open, and disappeared inside. All went quiet for a while, although Hermione could see occasional bumps appear in the dragon’s sides as the mechanic moved about inside.

Then O’Halloran was back, climbing out between the dragon teeth and holding something very complicated and wet with ooze in his hand. “Clogged pressure release valve,” he announced over his shoulder, as he walked down to the incoming waves. “Pretty common in this model, though I think they’ve fixed it now.”

He washed it carefully in the water, blowing through it occasionally to ensure the blockage had gone. Soon he was back, climbing into the still gaping mouth. Two minutes and he was out again and removing the stick so that the mouth could swing shut.

“There ya go, good as new,” he announced.

As if to confirm his statement, the dragon’s eyes opened, he coughed out a piece of dried seaweed and rose to his feet. Hermione turned to the mechanic.

“That’s a wonderful job you’ve done, O’Halleran. How can I repay you?”

A worried look crossed the little man’s face. “Ah now, that might be a problem. I don’t suppose you have any gold about you, do you?”

“As it happens, I don’t carry such things when travelling,” she said. “But I might have something better.” She turned and indicated the brown hills beyond the dunes. “You say it’s not rained for years?”

“That is so, yes.”

“And those clouds up there are full of rain by the look of them?”

“It would seem so,” answered the man.

Hermione smiled at him. “They don’t call me the Green Queen because I wear it,” she said. “The thing is, O’Halloran, I’m Green because I’m the water Queen. Which is why I ride a water dragon, of course. And if I say it rains, it has to.”

O’Halloran was staring at her with his mouth open. “You serious?” he asked.

“Oh yes, I can do it. And I will, if it will pay the debt of one mended dragon.”

The mechanic laughed. “That and many more,” he said eagerly. “If you can turn on the rain, I’ll fix yer dragon whenever he needs it.”

And so it was. Hermione turned on the rain and it rained and rained and the island grew green as the vegetation recovered. It rained as never rain has done before on a single land, and the island became so green that today it is known as the Emerald Isle. Hermione brought old Haagenfeld once a year for O’Halloran to do his annual check up, and the little brown man’s kin prospered and multiplied, to become known as leprechauns, a race of little people with the power to bring both riches and luck to those they favour. And the big people, when they came, gave due respect to those who had been first in the land, tipping their hats whenever they saw one and speaking of the riches that could be gained if you could just catch one.

But. most probably, they would just fix your dragon.

Word count: 1,462
For Free For All in March, 2024
Prompt: As per illustration.
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