This is for Sarah, who likes people-eating monsters as much as I do. Happy Birthday, Sarah! 🙂
Daisy’s Day Off
* * *
Every week, Magnus the Magnificent would discuss any concerns or plans he had with the monster who guarded his treasure. The jabberwock listened, claws digging into the soil to sketch out questions, and proved quite willing to eat any would-be thieves.
“So, tomorrow, I would like–”
Daisy interrupted him with a squawk, the small noise resonant in her enormous rib cage.
“What?” the sorcerer blinked at her, startled.
She slowly swung her head from side to side.
“You’re not working tomorrow? But it’s not your time off.”
She drew an oval on the ground, then swiped out a section of it with the side of her claws, sketching in cracks and an opening from which a tail protruded as well as a long neck topped by a familiar shaped head.
“It’s your birthday?” he guessed.
She burbled agreement.
“Well, I don’t…” he paused, because she’d dipped her head down, very close to him, canted to one side so an enormous crimson eye peered at him from inches away. He would have thought it an intimidation attempt, except he’d seen her do it to flowers and shiny rocks. Jabberwock, it seemed, were a bit nearsighted.
Still, intentional or not, having those fangs so close to his face made him rethink what he was saying. “…rescheduling will be a problem,” he finished.
Daisy’s breath, a mix of copper and grass, wafted over his face.
“Have a happy birthday,” Magnus added.
She nodded at him, and straightened her neck up to its usual lofty heights. Rattling her vestigial wings, she opened her toothy jaws and roared happily.
“On you go, then, the day’s not over,” Magnus said.
Daisy galumphed off, trees swaying as she moved through them, patrolling the area around his tower.
“What does a jabberwock do for a birthday, I wonder?”
The next morning, curious, he sent a small simulacrum bird, a drab gray finch shape, to find Daisy. When the construct located her, she was in the river, splashing about, green and brown scales gleaming in the early sunlight.
Bath finished, she shook herself, sending water flying, drenching the shore. Daisy stretched, then rubbed her back against a nearby boulder. The large stone, half her size, scooted a quarter inch from her vigorous scratching, digging a deep furrow in the stony soil.
Itch defeated, she galumphed into the woods, the trees tossing in her path. The bird followed, soaring over branches, staying close enough for Magnus to monitor her, up in his tower, but not so close that Daisy would notice. He was pretty sure she wouldn’t eat the construct, but he didn’t want to annoy the best guard he’d had in quite some time.
Though she was unconventional, not one intruder had gotten past her, not even the enterprising group who’d brought two incandescently rage-filled minotaurs with them. He shook his head, remembering the bellowing. There had been tufts of hair absolutely everywhere, after.
In the shallow bowl, the water rippled as the image changed. Now, the jabberwock had neared a cliff, still moving at top speed. Magnus frowned. Daisy was a scaled mountain of muscle, built a little like a dragon, though her legs were positioned to let her also walk bipedally, and her snout was much shorter. And those teeth and claws–longer, sharper, and more numerous than seemed practical. He’d never seen her use her wings, and had assumed she couldn’t fly.
But the speed she approached that cliff suggested otherwise.
And sure enough, a few more lolloping strides put her to the edge of the cliff, and with a final push of her powerful hindquarters, she sailed into open air.
Magnus winced. Daisy was as aerodynamic as a barn.
But, somehow, she opened her wings, small in proportion to her bulk, and they held her aloft.
“Wait…” he muttered, manipulating the construct’s vision. Yes, there they were, secured to her wrists–levitation crystals, glowing against her scales. In the bowl, Daisy’s image opened her mouth in a silent bellow of joy. Magnus smiled, and severed the far-seeing spell, recalling the spell-crafted bird. He could only imagine what the nearby villages would think.