Batwing Howls and Dr. Morphew investigate a missing dragon. Dragons Sherlock Holmes style
| Batwing Howls and the Adventure of the Ohcrud Kraken
It was a blustery September day in the 13th year of King Glogger's reign when I was sitting with my friend Batwing Howls in our comfortable digs in the side of Mount Dragontop.
He was imbibing from his cobra venom hookah - a habit I detest but in which he persists when there are no cases to absorb his attention.
I was gazing out the window at the volcanic fog that was wreathing the surrounding mountains when his voice broke into my thoughts.
"Ah, Dr. Morphew, I think I would choose the yak butter if I were you."
"Howls, you astound me!" I cried, "You are a mind reader! How did you know what I was thinking?"
"Elementary, Morphew. When I see your claw tapping that platter of eel fillets, then you reach for the jar of marmalade and then withdraw your hand, it is easy to deduce you are remembering your episode of indigestion the last time you had marmalade on your eels. Your snout is still turned toward the platter of eels yet you avert your eyes toward the window - it is evident you are still thinking of toppings for the pies, for your left fore-claw is resting on your belly. A flicker of your tongue toward the condiment tray - obviously you are testing for the rancidity that yak butter so easily acquires. I can assure you it is fresh today."
"Amazingly simple when you explain it like that, Howls," I remarked. He smiled faintly. Our attention was arrested by the thud and clatter of heavy foot falls. Our landlady, Mrs. Fengel, crouched in the doorway, breathless from bounding up the vast spiral stone stairway that lead from her dwelling at the mountain's base up to our home near the top - nearly eyrie-height.
"Oh Mr. Howls!" she panted, "I'm so glad you're home! The most dreadful thing has happened. I need your advice." The poor dame was almost in tears.
"Calm yourself, dear lady," said Howls, ever courteous to females. He was, besides, as fond of Mrs. Fengel as his cold reptilian nature allowed. Well, I mean we all have reptilian natures in this neck of the mountains but his was more of the soul than a simple matter of biology. "Calm yourself. Pray, nest yourself in a cushion bank and tell me what's wrong."
Mrs. Fengel settled herself on the cushions, dabbed at her eyes with a beach-towel sized hankerchief, then blew her nose. "Mr. Howls," she said, making an effort to calm down, "have you ever met my sister, Nanna?"
"I have not had the pleasure, although I have heard of her. I believe she and her mate are greatly respected in the circle in which they move."
"Oh yes, indeed. Nanna and her mate, Etchwing, have a well deserved reputation for intelligence and wisdom. And their reputation reached all the way to the humans in Ohcrud." Mrs. Fengel wrinkled her snout. "That is, I think, the root of all the trouble that came afterward."
Batwing arched an eyebrow. I could tell by the way he leaned forward, his soup-bowl sized nostrils flaring as though he were on a scent, that he was keenly interested. Mrs. Fengel must have sensed this, for she rushed on: "The head of Ohcrud Univerity herself, a certain Professor Maglary, came to Nanna and Etchwing, begging for their help with a kraken that has been terrorizing the ports and bays of Ohcrud, making it impossible for any ship to enter or leave. Etchwing went to investigate - and now he's disappeared!" Mrs. Fengel wrung her claws in despair.
Batwing Howls heaved his vast bulk off his comfortable rock ledge. The hookah was forgotten, I was glad to see. I rose to follow him, accidentally knocking the hookah to the ground. Then I inadvertently jumped up and down on it, grinding it to powder. He turned to Mrs. Fengel. "You can take us to your sister?" When she nodded her assent he went to the casement and unfurled his great wings, the moist sunlight glinted on his scales, handsome dark iridescent blue-black, far more impressive than my own rather washed-out brown and tan hide. He called out as he launched himself out into the mountain air, "Come, Morphew! The game's afoot!
Note: This is an idea for a story using many of the same dragon characters in 'The Dragon Thief' (also in my portfolio) though set several centuries earlier. I would appreciate opinions on what readers think of dragons in a Sherlock Holmes style story. Does it work? Or is it too silly?