Jenni Clarke - Author
Ivy’s ingenuity has led her to Obediah’s shop, but does she understand the rules?
‘Ivy, come in, come in.’ Obediah’s voice slunk through the shadowed automatons, ticking clockwork, and crates overflowing with cogs and gears.
Ivy’s fingers twitched.
‘Keep your hands where I can see them, little thief.’
Ivy frowned and squinted through the steam swirling around the gas lamps. ‘I ain’t touchin nuffin.’ She stepped forward, shifting the leather bag from her shoulder to cradle it in her arms. ‘Though yous makes it ‘ard not too.’ A buckle on her scuffed boot snagged. She froze, leant down and untangled a filament of copper wire.
‘Give it a tug, Ivy.’
He chuckled. ‘For real. Trust me.’
Ivy tugged. A clockwork mouse scurried across the floor. She grinned.
Obediah sighed. ‘Should’ve known you wouldn’t squeal.’ More gas lamps flickered on, dissipating the gloom and reflecting off Obediah’s glasses, one pair perched on the tip of his nose, the other on the rim of his top hat.
‘Come.’ He beckoned her with his gloved hands. ‘Show me today’s offering.’
Ivy’s skirt clinked as she walked through the crowded shop, stepping over and around Obediah’s curious collection.
‘What are you wearing?’ He leant forward. ‘Turn around.’
‘Me clothes aren’t nuffin t’ya.’ She stared at him, her eyes narrowed in her pale face.
‘Ah. I see. Cogs and screws knit the rags together. You’re more than meets the eye.’ His gloved fingers stoked his goatee. ‘What have you brought along for me?’
Ivy opened her bag and pulled out a dragon the size of decent rat. It’s body, made from iron and steel watch parts, gleamed in the gaslight. A patchwork of colourful silk stretched across thin, hinged levers creating delicate wings, and rounded brass screws formed golden bulging eyes.
Setting it upon her arm, Ivy curled the linked tail over the dragon’s back, inserted the key which formed the tip into a slot, and turned it. The dragon whirled into life. It thrashed the trapped tail free, and stretched its wings for balance, while tiny clawed feet scrambled for purchase on her skin.
The dragon climbed Ivy’s arm, perched on her shoulder, turned its head as if to whisper in her ear and puffed smoke rings across her face.
Obediah’s gloves muffled his slow clap. ‘Enchanting.’
Ivy prised the metallic claws from her leather jerkin and handed him the dragon. She chewed her fingers while he scrutinised the quality of her work through his magnifying glasses.
‘There’s food in the basket.’ Obediah flicked his chin towards a low wooded table.
Ivy scurried across, stuffing bread and cheese into hidden pockets of her skirt.
Obediah shook his head.
‘This is pretty, little thief, but you know the rules, it has to be useful.’ He placed the dragon on the table.
Ivy turned it onto its back, and pushed a small catch which revealed a cavity. ‘You stick yer poison ‘ere an it mixes wiv t’ smoke.’
Obediah smiled. ‘Ingenious, Ivy. You’ve earned a place in my factory.’
‘An food, an a bed.’
Fiction - Ivy's Dragon
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