Hill of Sidh
Novelist : Judit Elias
The door opened with a soft creak.
Becky entered the room, half walking half
hopping. She carried a large basket full of fruit and ingredients that she
placed on the countertop. Humming a happy tune, she pulled her white apron over
her red dress. It was tricky to chop the fruit with the knife using her big
furry paws, but practice had made her an expert. She set the cooking fire to a
low flame and threw the fruit – today she had strawberries, blackberries and
blueberries – with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some vanilla powder into the pot.
She also squeezed over some lemon juice and added cane sugar. Becky loved sweet
things, so she never scrimped on the sugar. She focused on making the pie next.
Mixing the flour, eggs and butter was tiresome but she had a trick for it.
Mumbling softly, she conjured a spell for the spoon to stir by itself.
“Now, that was easy,” she said to herself,
proudly. “A delicious treat made with no effort at all.”
While the magic still lasted she kept
adding ingredients to the dough. “The marmalade filling must be ready”, she
thought, pointing one of her long floppy ears towards the pot. She could hear
it bubbling and decided to try a spoonful. She directed the spoon towards her
mouth and blew softly before tasting it. It was perfect. Her little round tail
wagged excitedly. They were going to love it! There wasn’t much left to do
except wait for the pie to cook itself in the oven, so she decided to go over
some of the spells in her cookery books. That’s where she found it. With a
gasp, she hurriedly stood up, picked up the book and ran out of the kitchen.
Ashes was in the library. It was not
unusual for him to be there, as the young grey dragon liked that room the best.
If there was one thing Ashes loved it was reading books and the knowledge he
could gain by doing so. Now all his attention was focused on the two big eggs
in front of him. One was smooth, the other cracked. He closed his eyes and
caressed the surface and the big cracks.
Becky the bunny hopped in, not even
bothering to knock first. She took off her apron, hanging it on a chair, and
slammed the book she had been carrying onto the table.
“I found it!” she exclaimed breathlessly.
“I think I’ve found it!”
With a flap of his wings, Ashes approached
“In a cookery book?” he asked, trying to
hide the sarcasm in his tone.
Becky opened the book and hurriedly turned
“Here, on page 224”, she said, pointing at
the script. “I think this spell could work.”
The dragon was unconvinced.
“Why would you think so? It doesn’t
“Oh, come on!” she complained. “Maybe this
is it! We’ve tried all the fire spells we can find and our results have been
disastrous! Zero! Nothing! We ought to try new things!”
Ashes shook his head. It was just not
going to work.
“Mother tried everything else before she
tried fire, and fire worked.”
“It worked for you! And for Lapis! And for
the twins!” Becky said, refusing to be swayed. “But we don’t know for Shy.”
The dragon snorted. He choose not to
remark on the name the bunny had chosen for his unhatched brother or sister. It
was a battle he had already lost.
“We will stick with fire,” he decided.
Becky shrugged her shoulders and picked up
the cracked egg.
“You heard the boss, Shy,” she said to the
egg. “To the courtyard!”
The small castle where they lived was
nothing more than a couple of stone turrets with a paved patio Becky liked to
refer to as the courtyard. Situated in a valley in the depths of the forest of
the world Sidh, the mountains surrounding it were green and full of life. The
grey stone that had once been smooth was now pitted and scarred, covered in
white lichens and bindweeds. The taller tower culminated in a big room skirted
by arcades, topped by a conical roof of black tiles that looked like a pointy
hat. Ashes and Becky started their routine as always, with the easiest spells
first, hoping this time something would change and the egg would hatch. They
had been at it for some time when a small shadow crossed the sky and a blue
dragon descended from one of the windows of the tower.
“Good morning, Lapis!” shouted Becky, as
the little dragon folded his wings and landed beside them.
“Good morning,” he replied.
Lapis was slightly younger than Ashes,
having been the second to hatch. Despite his age, he had always been calm and
mature. He was also the only one to have a third horn growing out of his
“How’s it going?”
“No results,” answered Ashes, but his
brother didn’t seem to hear him. Instead, Lapis was looking over his shoulder.
“Ummm… That is not a fire spell,” he said.
Ashes turned just in time to see that
Becky had conjured an enormous hammer out of nowhere. The hammer was as big as
Becky and she was running towards Shy’s egg with it at full speed.
“Becky, no! It’s dangerous!”
But she couldn’t hear him, it was too
“Here I go!” she shouted, exultant.
The hammer and the shell crashed with a
loud bang and a bright light flashed through the cracks, blinding them. A
soundless explosion sent Becky flying.
“Did I manage it?” asked the bunny after
landing on her feet.
Ashes examined the egg.
“Not even a dent. I told you it wouldn’t
work,” he said grumpily. “That was irresponsible, Becky, you could have hurt
Lapis caressed the shell and, carefully,
leaned his head to it, closing his eyes.
“It’s alright. Shy is safe,” he declared
with a smile.
“You can’t possibly know that,” replied
“I don’t know how but… I have this
feeling. He is fine.”
“She!” complained Becky.
She had been adamant in her hopes of Shy
being another female.
“He,” Lapis smiled. “If I had to bet, I
would bet everything on he.”
Ashes was too frustrated for all this
“We will call it a day for now,” he said,
Becky opened her mouth but, with a gentle
nudge, Lapis stopped her saying anything.
“Let him be. He is just angry at himself,”
he whispered, his eyes following his brother, now flying up to the tower.
“I know. I just wish we could cheer him
Lapis sniffed the air.
“Don’t you smell… smoke?”
Becky’s face turned pale under her pink
“The pie!” she moaned.
She had completely forgotten about it! She
ran to the kitchen, leaving a baffled blue dragon behind.
Ashes entered the highest room of the
tower through one of the many arcades.
“Good morning, mother,” he whispered,
keeping his voice down. “Today we tried to hatch the egg. Unfortunately, we
could not do it.”
The room was empty… except for her.
“I am doing all I can. I have read all the
books and checked the spells.”
Every morning he told her the same.
“I am lucky to have Becky and the others
to help me, but it is not enough. We are missing something. I just don’t know
Silence answered him.
“I wish I could tell you better news.
Tomorrow we will try again. Someday it will hatch. I will hatch it.”
Ashes raised his head to look at her: a
beautiful woman, standing still with open arms, as if she were a statue. Her
slanted eyes closed shut, her lips in a relaxed smile. Her pale skin was warm
to the touch and her sleek black hair fell to her back, softly swinging in the
wind. Ashes glanced at her throat. Where once there had been dark purple marks
spreading through her skin like branches on a tree, leaves now grew and curled.
Some of them were green, growing luscious and vibrant, while others had a purple
shade and spikes at the end. The stems merged with her skin and crawled from
her neck to her chest and downwards, covering her entire body in a dress of
vegetation. Through the stems, a dark purple fluid oozed. It was thick and
sticky, like tar. The leaves glowed softly and, every now and then, seemed to
tremble on their own. The plant continued down through the room’s floor and
down the tower to the ground.
Ashes caressed the woman’s cheek. He was
not sure she could hear him, but he took solace in the fact that he at least
“I miss you so much…”
He couldn’t continue talking without his
voice cracking, so he decided to remain silent. Her face looked so peaceful,
smiling kindly. He had come to know that smile so well. He only needed to close
his eyes and memories would flood his mind…
“Today is a special day, Ashes,” his
mother had said, as the young dragon climbed up to her shoulder. He had just
recently started to fly or, to be more precise, to glide. His wings were not
strong enough to lift him from the ground.
“Why is that?” he had inquired, curious.
“Today we are going to hatch one of your
siblings,” she had answered, triumphant.
She let him choose. Ashes had seen them
many times: five small eggs with runes scribbled all over them. He had asked
the meaning but her mother did not know. After much consideration, he chose the
one with the blue paintings. The rest would have to wait.
The fire spell engulfed the shell, not
burning anything else. Ashes heard a loud crack. Soon the flames disappeared,
as if there was nothing else to burn. In the ashes he could see the white egg,
with a big crack near the base. Part of the cracked surface moved, pushed by a
tiny sky-blue foot with navy claws. Soon another crack appeared, and the other
foot emerged. For a moment it looked as if the egg had grown legs. After a bit
of rolling, more shell became loose and a small blue dragon emerged from it,
The little one gazed at them with big
bright turquoise eyes and blinked slowly, as if everything was too bright and
overwhelming. Ashes approached him.
“Hello,” he said.
The hatchling just stared back, putting
his foot in his mouth. Ashes turned to his mother. “He doesn’t talk,” he complained, a bit disappointed.
“Of course not, you didn’t either when you
had just hatched,” she replied with a big grin.
Ashes noticed someone was touching him.
The newborn had crawled towards him and was now gripping his arm, his eyes
alert and focused on him. Ashes smiled.
“I don’t mind,” he decided. “I can teach
He patted the little dragon’s blue head
and his brother gurgled happily.
“What should we call him?” his mother
She was on her knees now, offering her
hand to the curious just-hatched dragon, who sniffed her warily, not leaving
his big brother’s side. Ashes looked at the hatchling’s vibrant bluish scales.
“Lapis lazuli… Lapis. How about Lapis?”
From then on, wherever Ashes went, Lapis
followed, crawling and later stumbling as he took his first clumsy steps. When
Ashes’ wings were big enough to support his body when he rose a few centimetres
off the ground, his little brother gazed at him with amazement. Lapis adored
One morning, baby Lapis was playing with
their mother near a small puddle, making droplets of water rise from it and
dance before his eyes before splashing the surface, which made him burst into
fits of giggles. Lapis seemed to have a natural gift when it came to magic
involving water. When the blue hatchling spotted his brother, all the droplets
exploded in all directions and then Lapis crawled towards Ashes.
“You’re up early, Lapis,” he said, patting
“Ashes, Lapis has something to show you,”
announced their mother. “Do it now, Lapis. Who is this?”
She was pointing at Ashes. Lapis smiled
and puffed up his chest, gulped down a mouthful of air and slowly spoke.
Ashes hugged his baby brother.
“You can talk! You can talk!”
“And that’s not all,” their mother
continued, proudly, pointing at herself. “Who is this?”