Barely a day has passed since the Austrian national elections. While some may be cheering Sebastian Kurz and the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) for their win, and others are popping the bubbly and toasting Werner Kogler and the Austrian Green Party for their historic gains, others have likely spent the day in bed bemoaning their party loss. And while most politicians still have their cushy jobs to return to, there are some who may be scanning Karriere.at for a new line of work. Would any of them be up for the position of Dragon Hunter? Unlikely. Surely though, one or two of them would deserve it.
This week we have two stories to share with you. One, as you may guess, is indeed about dragon hunting. Many thanks to Jennifer Cornick and Patrizia Stiegler for their joint contribution: Interview with a Dragon Hunter. And an equally big thank you to one of our new Sunday Writers’ Club participants: Ronja Panholzer for her poem: It Starts With.
We hope you enjoy reading the latest creative writing, and feel free to comment and share. Please take a moment also to find out more about some of our contributors this week:
Interview with a Dragon Hunter
By Jennifer Cornick and Patrizia Stiegler
Writing prompt: “The Interview” (partner writing )
Simon the Superfluous: Welcome. Please have a seat. The chair is made of dragon scale and bone and specially designed to be ergonomically correct. Our founder brought the materials back from the Deserted Desert. I’m Simon “the Superfluous” Swiftbolt. Well, my Human Resources colleague, is sick today, but she left me a check list and questions. First things first, make the candidate comfortable and be sure to smile (rictus grin). Check mark. An interview can’t be anymore nerve wracking than an acid spewing draconis acrimonious diving towards you at break neck speed vomiting bile, right? So, let’s dive in, as it were.
Findel the Frenetic: Yeah, sure! Thank you for inviting me!
Simon the Superfluous: Enthusiastic, excellent. I am supposed to note your emotional reactions in this little column on the left here. So, you have applied for the position of Point Lead in the Left-Wing Squadron. We are looking for a dynamic and flexible individual with previous leadership experience but you know all of this from the posting in The Iron Fist. Tell me about yourself and why you are the ideal candidate for the position. And pretend I haven’t read your cover letter or CV.
Findel the Frenetic: Well, I am sure you have read the cover letter so this nothing new to you, but I originally started dealing with garden variety snapdragons and worked my way up from there. Rousting out Chimney Chewers and Flue Flyers, until I went into underwater dragon hunting. Yeah, I know, I know, it is not a typical specialization but it did give me great experience in nearly every aspect. Rousting giant Electrical Eels from their cave networks and creating non-electrified lakes for small communities has been one of my favourite and most rewarding work experiences.
Simon the Superfluous: We often forget the smaller subspecies in our quest for glory. It is just as important to work with home infestations of the tiny beasties as it is to slay the giant fiery sky marauders. To the question: please describe a time when your equipment failed in the field and you needed the help of your team mates to overcome the difficulties. Is there anything you would do differently now?
Findel the Frenetic: Well, there was the one time when we were hunting a Raging Rock-eater in deep water. Properly domesticated, they can prove quite profitable in sand and glass production, but left alone they are a real bother. We were in the cave network, when our air runes started to fail. Uwe the Unprepared, surprisingly, had an extra air rune in his pocket. Honestly, I couldn’t believe it at that moment, he never had a proper knife. We all shared the rune as we pulled the Raging Rock-eater out by its tail. The community is quite prosperous now – doing a brisk trade in carnival glass. What we have been doing differently is ensuring preparedness means having extra rune stones. Leaving it to Uwe to be the most prepared had to be one of the scariest experiences of my life.
Simon the Superfluous: The legendary moniker says it all doesn’t it. We got started together. Two young gentlemen out in the field looking for glory. Next question: we all deal with death in the field. The very reason this job was posted was because Christian the Christian died in a freak acid fight accident. Describe a time when you had a gruesome death in the field and had to rally the team to keep going?
Findel the Frenetic: Oh boy. You really don’t hold back. Only a few weeks ago we had a workplace accident. We were doing an onboarding of new staff, you know a six-week orientation program as required by occupational health to make sure everyone can lift properly and pull their swords out of the scabbards without cutting themselves. Not that it helps, the young ones still tend to loose a few fingers. Our trainer was demonstrating the proper technique for capturing a Feisty Fire-sniffer from a home chimney when he lit himself on fire. This might have been a good teaching opportunity to show trainees the proper extinguishing methods and, normally, you would be correct, but he forgot his personal protective equipment and we couldn’t get to him fast enough. Occupational Health was involved. We had to get counselling for the trainees who witnessed the death. It was more of a to do than deaths in the field – which we just write a report for, attach it to an owl, send it back, and manage to move on because that is the job, right?
Simon the Superfluous: Glorious death in the field is something for which we all sign on the dotted line. To be remembered for defending helpless villagers from a swooping dragon looking to add to its hoard or dine out on the soft flesh of noble women – very like veal I am told by a cannibal friend of mine from Brobdingnagia. To the question at hand: we are a small, family run company, as you can tell. What strategies have you used in the past to develop clients?
Findel the Frenetic: Well, I prefer small companies, to be honest. It is a more personal service. Offers can be tailored to meet a client’s need rather than a gingerbread mould approach. In my experience, people, even local governments prefer an individual touch.
Simon the Superfluous: The Swiftshots pride themselves on ingenuity in the field. Our marketing strategy could use some work though. We are nothing if not open to innovative new ideas. Speaking of which, we have started employing necromancers on hoard hunts. Can you describe a situation here you needed to adapt your field strategy for a magic user, especially one of the darker magics?
Findel the Frenetic: I make it a personal policy to always put the needs of magic users first. They should know what their needs are well in advance and be capable of sharing it with the team. For a necromancer, there is generally no shortage of usable bodies on the field to make use of for battle or for questioning, especially when hunting for a dragon’s hidden treasure hoard. And most people don’t really mind being resurrected. I have met some really happy zombies. I do draw the line at human sacrifices. Bad for team morale overall. But the best experiences I have had were with air magic users, flighty but a strangely focused whirlwind when needed. We had a case last week where we coordinated air and ground tactics to take down a Floating Fafnir.
Simon the Superfluous: We strongly frown on the use of blood magic as a general rule but sometimes the only way to get the job done is through personal sacrifice. Well, I think that covers it from our end. Any questions for us? My Human Resources colleague informs me this is your chance to interview a prospective employer.
Findel the Frenetic: Who is your weapon supplier? Or do you make them in-house?
Simon the Superfluous: We are strictly in-house supplied. We find it easier because of the multidisciplinary nature of our teams. We have an enchanter on staff, who we pay heaps of money to not leave us; she can make any weapon magical. We also have a rogue scientist – he is a scientist who is also a rogue – who specializes in the flash and dash of battlefield spectacle. He can make anything explode. Need a repeating crossbow which explodes when you throw it because you ran out of bolts – we have it. Well, not yet. I believe he is still in feasibility testing. But it is coming.
Findel the Frenetic: Thanks. Surprisingly, an important thing to know. Do you have problems with the quality of your in-house weapons? I have seen some ugly things when swords and shields, especially anything including fire shields, fail.
Simon the Superfluous: Most of us who have survived a few rounds with the infernal elder beasts have seen those sorts of tragedies on the field, swords left in the scabbard after you heroically stand with only the pommel and partial tang aloft realizing the fact only after seeing the panicked looks on your colleagues’ faces. We pride ourselves on the family run nature of our business. We want all our employees to feel like they are part of our extended family, like second cousins six times removed on your great grandmother’s arm of the family tree. And no one wants to accidentally kill a family member with a faulty weapon. On purpose with poison is another matter entirely.
Findel the Frenetic: I will always be sure to keep my antidotes on me. Preparation might be the key to survival during a family squabble or not ending up as a corpse due to a dinner invitation.
Simon the Superfluous: Good plan. My nine-year daughter, my pride and joy, has tried to poison everyone at least once. A Firestarter in the still room. She distilled nightshade extract to make a perfume for her step-mother’s birthday. Such a delightful child.
Findel the Frenetic: You start training young. Has she slayed her first dragon yet?
Simon the Superfluous: She is full young to be out in the field yet. I can see us using a few of her concoctions, should she be persuaded to make things which are beneficial to humans. We are proud of her though.
Findel the Frenetic: That is all from me, but thank you for your insight and the interview.
Simon the Superfluous: We will of course get back to you with a response as soon as we have finished interviewing everyone else waiting outside the doors (wink). Provided I make it through Tuesday’s child hunt everyone will receive notification on Wednesday at the Velvet Glove. There is a round of drinks on me if I make it back with all my limbs.
It starts with me
By Ronja Panholzer
Writing prompt: Sweet Dreams 2 „It ends with us“ by Colleen Hoover
Like many things in the world over time
the dating scene is subject of change.
To be more specific – it’s become kinda strange.
The options are countless, there are so many Apps.
Same interests, perfect look – to find a suitable match.
It’s so easy to have at least one date per day,
sometimes even two if you think that’s okay.
You easily find yourself surrounded by
small talk, drinks, information
getting bored and losing interest
because you are still waiting for „the best“.
Someone that excites you,
makes you happy – someone maybe a little tacky
A person that turns your world upside down,
a mysterious lover not from this town.
There you are – waiting for your love story to happen.
Yet, not listening attentively,
not understanding mentally,
what the person in front of you is actually sharing.
You really believed that you are caring?
Seizing your chance to finally speak,
presenting yourself in great light, sharing stories, showing pictures
while in the meantime you forgot –
that a perfect match takes two
a romantic space for a couple to be
About Ronja Panholzer
Ronja Panholzer is a visual designer and anthropologist from Vienna who is currently focusing her work on moving images. Writing is only a hobby.
Feel free to check out projects: https://vipanni.wixsite.com/ronjapanholzer