2022 Annual Literary Contest
1st Place (Tie)
Young Writers – Senior (12+)
Silena started. “I’m awake!” She tried to frantically scribble notes in her notebook, but ended up knocking over her entire desk to the floor.
Perry suppressed a smile. “Evidently, you are. My question to you is regarding the answer to Question A. Under what circumstances is belladonna edible?”
She yawned. “Unless poisonous plants that cause hallucinations and death count as edible, never.”
“I’m afraid you’re wrong. One drop of drakovinicita is more than enough to eliminate most of the repercussions triggered by this food.”
Viorel raised an eyebrow. “Most?”
“Prince, it’s drakovinicita here – the Aroma of Death. Even a small whiff of it can cause insanity.”
“Does this mean we can try this recipe?” I smiled innocently. “It’s quite easy to access belladonna in the forest nearby.”
“Nice try, but, as tempting as it may be, I cannot afford to lose my job by irreversibly damaging your mental health. It’s true that belladonna is easily attained, but dragon scales are essential to making drakovinicita, and…” He smiled as we grumbled in unison. “Yes, I think that’s self-explanatory.”
I sighed. It’s said that even El Dorado could be found before anyone discovered a dragon.
“Although,” Perry glanced around before continuing. “Legend says there’s a way to meet a dragon.”
We all leaned forward.
“But,” Perry drawled, his eyes twinkling, “since you all seem quite disinterested in this class, perhaps you would rather not hear another boring tale of mine.”
“No!” Viorel exclaimed. “Please, tell us!”
“C’mon, P-man!” Silena added.
Perry shot her a glare before continuing. “Well, if you promise to complete your homework by tonight…”
We nodded enthusiastically.
“My teacher used this part of a poem as an example to show the improper use of Shakespearean language.”
He smiled before continuing:
“On the night of the mesmerizing waning gibbous,
In the middle of forests blanketed by vines,
The dazzling blue and resplendent viridis
There, thine eyes shalt meet the creature so divine.”
“Resplendent viridis,” I mused.
“Hey, Viridis, happen to be another of your self-centered creations?” Silena laughed.
“Or it’s a description of your uncontrolled mouth. Waning gibbous – decreasingly protruding.” I smirked at my cleverness. “Fitting, don’t you agree?”
“Or,” I added, “the dazzling blue describes the exuberant eyes of the ever-so handsome young Viorel.”
Viorel’s fingers grazed his cheek. “I think you’re forgetting the defining high cheekbones, but yes, I believe it’s accurate. I am quite gorgeous.”
We all laughed, and Perry stood, chuckling. “Enough of laughs for one day, everyone. I hope you are ready to write a 12-page essay for homework.”
“I hate botany teachers,” Silena muttered.
Perry grinned menacingly.
As he began drawing a chart on the board, Viorel, Silena and I exchanged glances. Waning gibbous – tonight. The mission was on.
I smiled at the summer sky before opening my book for magical botany.
“Ahh! Skipping through the forests of beauty at the dead of night, racing into the awaiting yonder! Could life get any better?” I grinned as I jumped across the boulders lacing the riverbank.
Silena grunted in consent as she smacked flies.
Our dragon hunt was going quite well. We weren’t caught by the guards, which was a first, and we had made it into the forest alive, again a first.
Viorel was unusually quiet, so I whispered, “Afraid of the dark?”
He laughed softly. “Unfortunately, no.”
I frowned. “Unfortunately?”
“Now I’m forced to ruin my beauty sleep and endure a midnight trip with you two.” He looked at me inquiringly. “Are there bags under my eyes?”
Silena strode in next to us, nudging him. “No, Mr Handsome, you’re looking just fine. I believe if you remove all that powder from your face, you’ll look less like the preserved body of a sloth from 65.7 million years ago and more like a slightly misfigured ape.”
Our laughter rang out into the night. I came up with the idea of splitting up so we could cover more space; we could use magic to communicate with each other or, if necessary, teleport out of the forest.
Viorel entered an area with dense undergrowth and Silena took to the west, whilst I followed a trickling stream. Suddenly, I slipped and fell to the floor; glancing back, I noticed a side path almost invisible amidst the crowded trees.
I tiptoed along this secret path when a streak of blue hit my eyes. Water, I thought, as Perry’s poem came to my mind. Dazzling blue – this must be it!
I ran swiftly till the blue enlarged to become an entire lake of reflective water. The breathtaking scene lured me closer, my eyes glued to the impeccable surface of the water. It was…miraculous. The way the surface rippled even when there was no breeze; the way it remained a brilliant blue, even though the sky was an ominous onyx.
I gazed into the depths of the lake, mesmerized by its heartbreaking beauty. Slowly, I placed my hand against the glass-like surface, the invisible water particles clinging to my skin. I deeply inhaled, savoring the wondrous moment, when I felt a slight tremor.
I remained unmoving. Just when I thought I’d imagined it, I felt it again, stronger. Then it repeated, faster and faster, gaining more power each time.
Suddenly, the water parted, making way for a creature to rise over 80 feet into the sky. The dazzling blue was not the water’s surface, but the scaled skin of a mighty dragon. Its colossal wings spread to a length of 65 feet, two burning flames on the outside, gorgeous green on the inside; from its legs, an electric ebonite, to its mane, a sky blue.
I gawked in utter shock as the creature’s eyes leveled with mine. It stared right through my soul. My heart was beating maniacally, but I stayed still. Silent. Hoping it wouldn’t notice me.
I didn’t realize I was holding my breath till I let it out. The dragon growled. I blinked.