londonbard: walking tabby cat, (Tyger) (mask)
From here.

When the bard awoke the memories of her trip to elsewhere were fading like a dream. She would have disbelieved all of it, but the clothes she was wearing were unfamiliar. She stroked her own waist doubtfully. She certainly wasn't wearing the dress that she had been sent at the beginning; that would have been lost in the sheets if she had slept in it.

She pulled back the duvet and looked at herself, wondering where she had obtained the tight, thick white trousers that she was actually wearing. They were warm and stretchy, the kind of thing that she might buy, although probably in a more practical colour. She just couldn't remember ever seeing them before.

She stretched, scratching, then rolled off the bed and almost tripped over a welter of blue material puddled by the door. She started to pick it up, but then hesitated. It wasn't quite the dress-from-hell, but it was too sheer and silky to belong in her wardrobe and there was something skull-shaped hidden in the folds. She knelt and worked the fabric clear, carefully, revealing an oddly solid mask that she seemed to remember. It was too heavy and something moved inside it as she started to lift. She reached inside very warily indeed and then stared at the thing in her hand for a long time before she placed it gently on the bundled silk and went to the laptop.

Writing out a dream can sometimes help...

.....................................................................................

When she first saw the sleigh and the brightly coloured Christmas dragon the creature had looked at her so placidly that she had actually thought it might be Fawkes. It didn't seem likely that Fawkes would eat a poncho, though. He knew about colic - at least, she assumed that he did. The night after he had eaten his own jingle-bells-bridle should have taught even a dragon a lesson. She had given the Vet a bottle of whiskey for Christmas but he was still refusing to visit.

The snow was falling thickly even before the sleigh reached the border of Na Gurnaidh. It was settling, too. It stood in high piles of glimmering whiteness on every branch and streetlamp and she would have sworn that there could be no wind in the city, but the snow was drifting on the street itself. The small, spread hooves of the Christmas dragon seemed badly adapted to newly fallen snow and it occasionally missed a step and mired itself to the hock as it turned in the winding streets.

Bard started to dread the cobbled areas. The dragon's holly-leaf wings were beating harder with each misshap. She had a mental picture of the creature taking off with the sleigh dangling under it like the pendulum on an oldfashioned clock. Her imagination could be too vivid for comfort and she could almost feel the fall.

"No," she corrected herself, mentally, "I can almost feel the landing - and this damn silly outfit wouldn't make a good parachute." It was a qualified relief when the sleigh drew up at the high arched gateway and she realised that the striped dragon was being unharnessed by people that she could not quite see.
...................................................................................

Bard expected the next draft-dragon to be a Winter and she had mixed feelings about that; she didn't trust them. Those at the stables could be tricky to handle and she had a theory that they might use a variation of the vine's hunting techniques. The translucent dragons were very difficult to see against a winter sky, especially when they glided - but some had a habit of lying quietly in dips in the ground in the woods, spreading their darkshadowed wings under the trees. They would probably look like slab-ice in the heavy snow, but in some lights they looked like water when they lay quietly on the grass. They liked to relax in shallow streams, probably because the scent of wet vegetation masked their own. One of the older winters very rarely came in at feeding time, but it was doing well and there were stories that wild creatures in the area were becoming scarcer.

When she saw what was being led between the shafts she gave an disbelieving giggle. Didn't they know what it was? How would they ever get a harness on it? She cuddled into the mock-wolf coat and sat back in the sleigh, expecting to watch a slap-stick struggle.

The seat pressed something hard into her hip and she realised that she had pockets, and a silver flask that she hadn't realised was there. It was wrapped in sheets of paper that she glanced at idly while she sniffed at the drink; it had a rich scent of unfamilar fruits - and she gave it her respectful attention when she realised that it also seemed to have an instruction manual. The new dragon had been harnessed by the time she had finished reading.

TBC
londonbard: walking tabby cat, (Tyger) (mask)
Invitations to masked balls very rarely come on the day of the event, especially in a box that contains a mask and costume. However, the Bard felt little surprise as she examined the package; although she had encountered masquerades in her travels she had never been to one an ordinary guest and had no real idea of how such things are managed. The stuff fitted, up to a point, and that was a wonder in itself.

She wondered just what this celebration would be like as she tried on the dress. It was a silver-blue sweep of translucent silk the colour of a mermaid's tail (and it bore no resemblance to anything that the Bard had ever chosen to wear.) The neckline was cut far too low and, although the front of the bodice defied gravity to cling to her upper reaches like a nervous mountaineer, the stretchy trimming around her shoulders felt much too loose for safety, especially where it passed around the tops of her arms.

A few movements proved that it would be very possible to dance out of her bodice, or even lose it with a few simple gestures. After some thought she unpicked part of the seam, ran elastic through the upper hem and added a few stitches to both tighten the neckline and move it higher.

She was moving away from the mirror when doubt overcame her and, after a few moments hesitation while she considered adding a few dabs of superglue at strategic points, she bent forward, swinging her arms as a final safety check. Then she swore, mildly, stooped and pulled the garment up, donned her fanciest underwear and stitched the top of the dress firmly to the straps before looking in the mirror again,

"What?" she asked her reflection, "It's a brassiere, not a woolly vest." The thought reminded her, and she picked up an old knitted poncho and draped it over her shoulders before going to check on the strange sounds outside.

When she saw the scarlet sleigh with a long, glistening simulated winter-wolf cape draped across the black leather seat in a sweep of shimmering softness she understood. She had started to pull off the drab green poncho with more haste than thought when she felt it drag hard at her hair. She swore mildly again and dodged back through her front door to tidy herself up and add a few final touches to her outfit.

The huge creature harnessed in the shafts of the sleigh sighed, sat on his haunches, stretched his surprisingly long neck to bring the the green stuff within reach of his long toungue and prehensile lips and started to eat the poncho. Young dragons can be creatures of impulse.


TBC here.

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