Luna ran out the door through the smoke. She cut down the path to the woods as the beast roared. The solid oak front door splintered like a twig. It was not an encouraging sound. She picked up speed, determined to make it to Nana’s house.

Following the shortest route, Luna ran into Nana’s cow field. The silence was deafening. The beast no longer crashed through the trees behind her. When she heard the flap of wings, Luna dove for cover and rolled down into the creek. The beast’s claws scraped her back, and she tumbled into the water. Spitting water out of her mouth, Luna watched the creature grab a cow and fly skyward. Nana would be angry about that. Focused on the cow in the left front claw of the beast, Luna didn’t notice the beast’s tail, until the barb on the end of the tail scratched her face.

Luna wiped blood from her cheek and ran. Overhead the beast exhaled, and fire spread across the sky as the cow was flame-broiled. Luna crossed the remainder of the field, running between the herd, and entered the woods. She continued to run, hoping the beast would take a minute to chew his food.

At the edge of the woods, Luna jumped the fence and smiled when she saw Nana’s house. When her feet hit the first step, the front door swung open.

“How many times have I told you? Never conjure what you can’t banish.” Nana walked down the steps and into the yard.

Luna sucked in air and watched her grandmother go to work. Everyone in the family with the gift was tied to earth magic. Nana lifted her arms to funnel the earth’s energy and spoke the banishing ritual. Nana’s voice, speaking the old language, soared into the night, weaving a spell around the beast. The beast screamed as blackness closed in around it.

Suddenly, the normal sounds of the country returned. Birds chirped, cows mooed, and Licorice barked.

“Is it gone?” Luna asked.

Nana patted Licorice, before looking up at Luna. “My favorite milk cow was lunch for a dragon. Dragons only exist in the Shadow Realm. They can only travel here when conjured by a witch. I didn’t conjure one. Your mother didn’t conjure one. Did you?”

“You know I did.”

“After I told you conjuring was not allowed until after you learned the old language.” Nana clicked her tongue. “Do you know the old language?”

“You know I don’t.”

“Come. You can practice your language skill while we fix dinner.” Nana walked up the steps with Licorice by her side.

Luna ran to catch up. “That wasn’t really your favorite milk cow, was it?”

More flash fiction by N. R. Tucker.

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