The Midnight Festival – Chapter 1

Sara knew the egg couldn’t be real. Little girls didn’t win dragon eggs, especially not at random, and not in the village Pirth. But what if? She wondered, walking back to the house with her brother, Hue, as the festival behind them burned to its dying embers. Soon, the multi-colored wagons lining the circle would pack up and move on to the next village, to the next celebration somewhere far off. They would take their streamers and fireworks, their popped corn and instruments. The festival would continue somewhere else. Somewhere with adventure, Sara imagined. Where the festivals did not end with the dawn.

Sara held the egg closer to her chest, both hands clasped around the bottom. It filled her arms and then some so she had to stand tall or risk it smacking her in the chin. It was beautiful, even if it was a fake. The shell had scaly engravings that shimmered with a brilliant shade of blue. When she gazed into it, it was like gazing endlessly into the night sky speckled with milky stars.

Just then, a comet streaked across the shell.

“Sara!” Hue said as she bumped into him for the third time.

“Sorry,” Sara said. “There was a—” But Sara stopped short. Ever since before she was old enough to stay up to midnight, Sara wanted nothing more than to win a prize. Any prize. And every year, she tried her hand at the games with no luck. This year would be different, she had promised herself. She had to win. If not for her, then for Hue. He hadn’t always walked like a boulder sat between his shoulder blades. Their mother had been sick for a long time before she…

Anyway, she and Hue could both use a win.

When they got home Sara hoisted the egg up into the top of the bunk bed she shared with Hue before climbing in herself. Was it really all that impossible? she wondered. No, she resolved. Sometimes little girls did win dragon eggs, especially when they came from travelers in town for the Midnight Festival. Everyone knew the Festival was blessed with Botan the night blue dragon’s Dust — her magic. It was about the only time she could think miracles might happen.

She held the egg close as she pulled the covers over her head and whispered, “Anyone in there?” That’s when the bed started to shake and a brilliant blue dragon eye appeared at the window. It winked.

*

“Stay inside!” Hue said, grabbing their father’s dusty old sword off the wall.

“Yeah right,” Sara said, clutching the egg even tighter and chasing her brother outside. The other villagers hadn’t returned from their night of revelry yet. Even so, someone was bound to notice the gigantic dragon mother in their front yard.

Hue held the sword, almost as long as him, up. “Be gone, dragon!”

The dragon seemed to smile.

“What do you want?” Sara said, ignoring the look her brother shot her. She could feel the egg in her arms move as the dragon peered at it. “You’re not taking my egg,” she said to the dragon. “I don’t care if you’re Botan herself.”

But I am, a voice said telepathically to Sara.

“Woah!” Hue said. He’d heard it, too.

The egg in Sara’s hand pulsed.

It seems he likes you, Botan said. But I would have my egg back, please.

“No!” Sara screamed.

“Sara!” Hue said.

“You can’t have it. I won it — him.”

My egg was stolen by a creature not of this world. A creature of the Black. If he wanted you to have it, then there must be some sinister reason for his desire.

You would keep a mother from her child? Botan said, her massive eye turning dark.

“Sara,” Hue said, touching her gently. “Think of our mom. What would you give to be back with her?”

“Fine,” Sara said tearfully. “On one condition.”

Name it, small one.

“Take us with you.”

Sara and Hue soared through the night, clutching to the tendrils along Botan’s back. She cradled the night blue egg, Botan’s baby, against her.

“Woohoo!” Hue screamed, exalted as Botan flew through a cloud. Sara had not seen Hue this happy in a long, long time. A win. She gave him a win.

You are strange humans, Botan said in their minds. I am glad that if humans had to find my egg, it was you—

An ear-splitting boom drowned out Botan’s voice as a cannon blast tore through her wing. Opeth, the Osiris Beam careened up and took aim to strike again.

To be continued in Chapter 2…