Prestor’s thick dragon lips curved into a smile. It was finished: his own toy garden laid out in the lid of a biscuit tin, just like C.S. Lewis’. It was full of moss, twigs, pebbles and red spiral (a hardy plant only found in his province). He even laid a row of speckled stones diagonally across the lid to represent the Angor Mountains in which the library lay burrowed deep in the western ridge. It was quite a surprise to the dragon when he realized he had created not a garden, but a miniature map of his entire province.
But never mind all that. It was time for the test. Prestor leaned over the lid, waiting for moss and stone to do what it had done to the human C.S. Lewis when he was a boy. The dragon waited for revelation, for an awakening, for a pinpoint of light. At first, nothing. But then!
No, no, this couldn’t be another dead end. Something had to happen, something had to reveal itself the way it did to Lewis. What had the human seen? Was it supposed to be tangible? Audible? Where was it?
The yellow specks in Prestor’s green eyes began to glow as he stared, trying to squeeze Lewis’ Something out of the miniature landscape. He stared until his eyes burned (a hard thing for a dragon to accomplish) and when Nothing kept happening, a sharp noise broke in his throat. He crawled away, unfurling his wings—something he did subconsciously when an experiment yielded no results. He looked around his study: tattered papers and pieced together stories, so much effort for so little knowledge. Human magic was infuriating. Most of it was invisable. It didn’t spark or flash or make things move without touching them. Prestor knew dragon magic: thick, leathery, earthy, explosive, an undeniable fire in a dark sky. But humans? Their magic was light, unpredictable, fragile, and could easily be undone by the same magician who conjured it. The only way you knew if human magic had taken place was if a human claimed it had, and even then he or she explained the spell so terribly that a dragon’s understanding of it was no better off after the explanation.
Humans. Why should he waste time trying to understand them if they may not exist? Every experiment died on the table. If a moment of clarity somehow shined through, it only revealed more questions, more mysteries—like the power of human eyes, which alone could not only cast spells, but see a realm hidden from dragons. It was a lost cause. The door to human magic was barred and, no matter what he did, he couldn’t claw his way through it.
Experiment abandoned, Prestor folded his wings and lay in front of his roaring fire. He understood fire. He understood the world in which it reigned. Perhaps it would be the only world he could ever know. Whatever Lewis experienced, whatever it was he saw in his toy garden, there was no way for Prestor to see it. The spell didn’t even have a name.
Had Prestor moved his head only a little to the right, he would’ve seen it. But he was too focused on the flames to notice the tiny movement that disturbed the moss and twigs of his toy province. The movement had eyes, and those eyes watched him.
They’d been watching him for some time.