Merlin the magician is the man who first comes into our legends talking about dragons. He worked with a king called after dragons and lived in a country where they loved dragons so much they put it one on their national flag! There is no doubt that Merlin knew a thing or two about these magical creatures.
If you met Merlin, what would you want to ask him? I have always badly wanted to ask him about dragons and his relationship to these fire breathers. Of course,
as a writer, I have to put my curiosity into the mouth of a character, which is exactly what I did in A Darker Magic This Way Comes.
When Emily, one of the main characters in the story, flies in Merlin’s arms for the first time across the abyss, she can’t wait to ask him everything she can about them.
“Have you ever seen a dragon?”
And the cryptic Merlin answers with a question, “Would you like to see one?”
Emily responds to his answer like the true daughter of two university academics, “Yes. Dragons are not in our fossil record and therefore we don’t know what they look like because they only live in our legends.”
Merlin is an authority on dragons and he describes the ones living in Wales, “They can grow as long as ten to twelve feet and as high as five feet and as wide as six feet. They have four clawed feet and a rough, tough skin.”
Emily is disappointed. The magical creatures he describes sound like crocodiles. Merlin asks, “Do these crocodiles have wings?” He explains, “dragons have wings up until five years of age, when they lose them and their body seals over and leaves a useless flap like an earlobe.”
Emily has to wait until much later in the story for Merlin, one of the greatest show-offs of all time, to conjure a spectacular display for his parents’ guests. He sings as he summons the red dragon of Wales and the white dragon of the invading Saxons. Merlin sings about the Welsh dragon,
“A red dragon hatches from his egg.
His body is covered in crimson scales,
His liquid eyes grow larger
To see through the darkness.
Slowly he unfolds his bat wings
And dashes through the caverns.
He leaps the Hafren. He flies to us here.
Can you see him?”
The gathered crowd goes wild with excitement. Merlin has to calm them and reveals something else about dragons, “Sh, sh! He hears you murmuring. Beware. The hearing of the red dragon is so very sharp. He can hear everything that the wind catches.”
Then horror sweeps through the crowd. The evil King Vortigen has invited the white dragon into Merlin’s enchantment and it slithers ashore, its razor tooth mouth so big that it can swallow a man, his wife and still have room for his children. The dragons circle one another, the red dragon sparking with the fire of lightning leaps onto the invader’s back and sinks his teeth into it. Merlin calls on the Dragon Kings for help. First to Aurelius and then to Uther (Later known as Pendragon which means the dragon head.) “Where is the red beard with his sword, worked in the Angel’s blue enamel? Where is our glorious Dragon King? Where is he?”
The two princes will return in my second book, “The Curse of the Dragon Kings” to try to defeat the Saxon invasion. And by this time Emily has learned that if you ever ask Merlin a question sooner or later you will get a spectacular answer.