Casper ‘s Image DALL·E 2
Curled around a group of birches, Casper’s tail sparkled in the morning sun. His thick, weathered skin was like brass gone green, he needed a good cleaning, his spikes were tipped with bits of the forests depths it had swept through for months. Leafy remnants, spider’s webs, dried clumps of mud and more. Casper needed a bath. In his heart he longed for his mother who had taught him to fly when small; together they’d play in a hidden lake in another forest, diving while making thunderous splashes, refreshing their moods along with cleansing themselves all at once. He’d lost his desire to travel after his mother died, often losing days to grieving. At night he would find some solace in the gaiety of the forest fairies zipping about in whirls of colour, the plump trolls who were busying themselves with dutiful quests to prepare for winter amused him, especially when they strapped themselves upon gangly beetles like cowboys off for a rodeo. Often the fairies would light upon his long-arched nose causing him to smile, even if only for a very little bit. Their fanciful colours brightened the darkness within the forest as well as his heavy heart, quieting his sadness. As the beetles marched one by one back to their nooks in dead oak trees, the trolls who had dismantled quickly carried on with their purpose. With tiny mounds of moss gathered for insulation, bound twigs hoisted up on their shoulders like seasoned lumberjacks, they were diligently focused on strengthening the walls in their miniscule cosy cottage as the frosty winds would soon be upon them all. Casper yawned letting out a steamy sigh; this warmed the trolls who had snuggled up to sleep away the new day rising and could already be heard snoring. Casper stood, breaking tree limbs with his large body, causing creatures to scurry quickly before he took a step. He was not up for a roar nor a test of his powers. He was hungry and had a very picky diet for a dragon of his size. He snacked on nuts, berries and occasional bird’s eggs which had hatched but still had some gooey insides and crunch to them. He never was able to kill the critters around him. He was, as much as a dragon could be, gentle. His one hankering however was fish. With his mother he would swoop down in the fresh lake, open his jaws wide like a giant whale at sea then let the water into his mouth, using his clenched teeth as a filter the small fish swam straight into his belly. His mother said that small fish were good for his health. Today he would try and lift his wings, fly to the hidden lake and revive his thirst again. In a meadow, he sprang into the sky, flocks of geese screeched and redirected their course as he flapped his velvety wings. He circled the lake slowly and was just about to make a heavy dive when he saw a small, yet taller than normal looking troll. He knew that the aftermath of his landing would hit the being like a tsunami so he settled carefully in a just big enough opening on the ground where he could have a closer look. This troll had water running from its eyes and curly rust coloured hair.
Casper had never seen such a smooth skinned troll. The trolls he knew had warts and thick red noses, wore rabbit fur robes and boots made of birch bark. This troll was spotted like a poisonous mushroom, had dark blue cloth from his waist down to his bare feet. Casper had not seen a troll’s feet or toes nor cared to. On his upper body was a red as a cherry cloth that covered the troll’s arms and neck. In his hand he held a stick with a string attached. Casper was quite impressed, being cautious not to make the sighing sound that made new creatures run away. He watched until the troll began to shiver as the sun was now lowering behind the tall firs around them. Why did the troll not run to his cottage, seek warmth and comfort like the other trolls from his forest? Casper carefully moved toward the water, still on the other side of the lake from this spotted creature. He quietly lapped up some water, or so he thought, and it caused a rather noticeable wave on the opposite shore. The troll jumped up, then leapt backwards and looked up and saw Casper’s big emerald eyes and made a sound that was like nothing he’d ever heard. It was so high pitched it made his senses heighten and he felt a bit frightened. “Mooooom!”, a sound came out of the mouth that reminded him of a baby dragon’s cry when left in the nest alone. Casper lowered his body and remained still intending to show that he meant no harm. Neither moved. The troll inched backwards and hid behind some brush, regularly peering out and having another peak at Casper. Night was coming fast; would this troll be okay in the darkness alone? Casper always slept in his own forest where all the creatures knew him, and he felt welcomed. Suddenly the troll threw a stone across the water, and it skipped and bounced like magic. Casper turned to see the troll do it again and again. Casper picked up a stone and tried but it just sunk to the bottom quickly. The troll made loud noises again, “Mooooom! It’s a dragon, a real dragon!” Casper waited to see another troll, but no one came. The troll was obviously beginning to shake more either in fear or due to having no birch boots like most trolls on his small white feet. Casper decided to let out a warming sigh which would roll across the lake and perhaps comfort him. A steam rose above the darkening lake and the troll felt the sensation, his shivering stopped, and his mouth opened wide without a sound. Then it yelled, “Are you a good dragon?” Casper couldn’t speak this being’s tongue and blew warm sighs of air again. “Thank you for warming me up, I mean unless you are about to eat me for dinner!” The troll jumped behind the bush again and called out, “Moooom!” Casper decided he should swim to the same side to have a better look. He rose carefully from the lake and laid his head upon the rocky edge. The troll looked out at him and threw a stone bigger than the others and it hit Casper in the eye. Casper made an “Ouch” sound that dragons make when hurt. “Oh. I hurt you?”; the strange troll emerged once again and began to babble on with so much speed that Casper wished he could shut down his sensitive hearing. Instead, he chose to move carefully down the stony shore onto softer ground and lay on his side to feign sleep. Perhaps the troll would stop making so much nonsensical noise now, however he kept one eye slightly open to be sure this weird little troll wasn’t going to throw more rocks at him. Darkness had come and the moon was not full. Casper’s eyes saw easily in the darkness, but not the trolls. He continued to pretend to sleep and felt the troll tug on his tail then rub his wings gently. The bothersome troll crawled up on his back and crept up his long neck then looked down at Casper’s eyelids. He felt the troll touch the place where the rock had hit him and in a low tone say, “Poor dragon, poor me, poor us.” Casper tried to be still, yet the trolls little cold feet tickled tremendously. He opened his eyes and there was the troll hanging upside down peering into his giant emerald eye. “Please don’t sleep, I’m scared!” Gibberish again. Water fell from the troll’s eyes and landed into Casper’s. A warm, faintly familiar magical moment happened right then and there. In that very second Casper understood. This troll missed his mother, too. Once more he let out a sigh to warm the air and the troll ran down his arched-nose and stood as close as he could in front of Casper’s good eye. Casper could see the troll’s face very well and sensed his desperation and stared wearily back at him. His thoughts were both kind and grouchy. “I never had my dinner because of you, so can you please get off my nose, close your eyes and sleep now?” Since dragon’s can’t speak his own irritation was unnoticed, quickly he softened and felt the tingling of sadness for his new, seemingly unshakable companion. “Please stay awake dragon!” Casper doubted he could make any sound so complicated but gave it a try with just one wish upon the twinkling stars above, “Make this most unusual, loud small toad of a troll disappear.” To his surprise the troll crawled on top of his head, slid down his neck then nestled in the softness of his left wing. Casper worked up the courage and sighed, feeling love rise from his heart and flow out easily. Without much effort he simply cared. No noise came from the troll. He turned his big head down and made out the wee one in his wing. He was fast asleep. Casper thanked the stars for granting him peace and carefully closed his eyes to rest. It was the first time in a very long, long time that Casper felt a sense of comfort inside and together they slept in peace. Dawn woke Casper and he looked down to check on the troll. What? He wasn’t there? Suddenly he heard a new sound, a windy sound that was quite jolly. He looked about and there at the lake’s edge was the little one with the stick he’d had when he first noticed him. He had a long string dangling into the water; he saw the stick jerk downwards then in one swift move the troll yanked the stick out of the water and there, flopping on the end was a small fish. The troll made more giddy sounds and put the fish on a large flat stone. Casper was ravenous by now and knew that one small fish might feed the troll but never him. He let out his morning soft roar and the little troll ran toward him. “I have to eat, and I can’t give up on my mom finding me.” He screamed loudly, “Moooom!” several times and then the water in his eyes began to fall. Casper so wanted to help the pathetic, lanky troll. Casper nudged with his nose as carefully as a giant dragon could for the troll to move away from the lake. He kept nudging him until he was safely away from the flood he was about to create. The troll understood Casper had good reason and obliged. Casper immersed his head under the water, opened his mouth allowing the fish to swim in, and for the first time he didn’t swallow them rather he spat them all out onto the shoreline and there were hundreds of them flapping about. He went down again and took a big belly full for himself then sighed with smelly warm fish breath toward the hungry troll. When the troll saw all the fish, he was exuberant, yet instead of eating them he began picking up downed tree limbs, pushing them into a pile, and striking two stones together. Casper must have seemed curious as the troll looked up and tried to explain fire by gesticulating the shape of flames and making noises that came out like POOF! Casper nudged a fish that had stopped flopping toward him. The troll shook his head and kept on with his task. Casper decided if he ate the fish then maybe the troll would eat the others brought up for him. In one quick lick the fish was gone. The stubborn troll kept at his strange task when suddenly a small spark appeared. Casper now realised that the troll wanted fire, like the ones in his forests made when they stayed up on special nights and played their wooden flutes and danced. Casper nudged the troll to move back, he was more assertive now and the troll understood to run. Casper took in a deep breath then with all his might he roared, fire shot out of his nostrils and the fish, well, they were without a doubt baked. He then watched as the small, thin and obviously starving troll munch on them spitting out the bones which Casper licked up and found quite tasty. There were far too many fish for one small troll. Casper knew the feeling of hunger, of missing a mother and yet, he could not stay in this forest for long as he recalled his mother always coaching him to look about for strange creatures who did not like dragons. As much as he wanted to help the small waif, he knew he had to return to his own forest. He tried as much as a dragon can to communicate with the little eyes as green as his own, with rusty curls falling over his forehead, tiny brown spots on his nose and cheeks, with the cold bare feet and teeny toes. Troll studied Casper. He was clearly trying, too. Just in that second of what one might call friendship, one full of caring and tenderness, trust and newness a loud clanging noise came from the far side of the lake. Casper had never been that far, and his tail thumped shaking the ground beneath them. The troll looked up and with his high-pitched scream called out to the noise. “I’m here! Next, they heard a sound that echoed with a deep stern voice, “Benny? Stay put boy and we will come to you”. The troll had water in his eyes and rubbed Casper’s nose, “You must go, they will hurt you.” Casper did not move. Then the boy pushed Casper as hard as he could repeatedly. Casper realised the small troll was nudging him for good reason, urging him to go. “No one will believe me when I try to say you are gentle.” The sounds from the troll were more like a plea now and Casper recalled once again his mother’s instructions. “This is not our forest; creatures here don’t like dragons.” Casper’s emerald eyes were full of water, too; his tears were like buckets of rain forming small ponds. He stood and was much higher than the treeline, there he could see a group of taller creatures like his wee troll coming fast. He bent down and let his friend kiss his eyelids then sprung up from the opening from where he had his first glimpse of this new, quite loveable strange new creature. Benny waved with both sadness and joy, for he had made a memory no one would ever believe and soon he, unlike Casper, would be reunited with his mother. Casper’s heart still felt warm for this special troll had given him reason to care again. The late morning sun shone beautifully upon his wings reflecting a deep purple hue. Good things can still happen and just for fun he roared as loud as he could in a very long time. Although nearing his own forest, the lost troll could hear Casper and jumped into his mother’s arms and said, “I really was saved by a dragon!”; the mother smiled at her sweet son’s vivid imagination and held him tight. Casper vowed to return to the lake now, perhaps the spotted troll would, too. As he lay gently down in his usual spot in his own forest, fairies circled around him, delighted he was back. The small trolls in their rabbit fur coats and birch boots looked at him with relief. They too needed his warm sighs to lull them to sleep. Benny promised his mother to never run off from camp on his own to fish again without telling a grown-up. However, he knew, without a doubt he would return one day and so would Casper.