Wednesday Writing — an Atonement TN Short Story

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Ice cream tea cups Pixabay

Welcome to my sanctuary.  I hope everyone is safe, warm, and dry.  Sit back, have a cup of coffee, a snack, or whatever pleases you.  There aren’t any calories here!  Now, I invite you to enter my “Atonement universe” for this story I wrote back in 2018.  I never furthered one of the concepts in this story (the reason for Cael’s black wings).  Although I tied that idea to a third book I had in mind for Ralda Lawton, the heroine of the first two books, way back when.  However, I’ve never pulled all the diverse elements together to give Ralda, Cael, and the rest a trilogy.

Anyhow, my new weekend serial “Atonement in Zugzwang,” is told from the point of view of a different heroine.  However, the Ice Dragon is mentioned in the first episode of the serial.  In order to give new readers a richer feel for the fictional town, I decided to rerun this atmospheric short story.

Remember, this story is from the point of view of Ralda Lawton, not the new heroine of the blog serial.

The Ice Dragon of Atonement

stefan keller ice giant pixabay
Stefan Keller, Pixabay

Shivering uncontrollably, I stiffly swung my legs off the bed.  The floor was not terribly cold, I couldn’t help being surprised to notice.

The brass bed was up to its old tricks.  

Not long after I moved into the rundown estate house in the quaint, but not so peaceful town of Atonement, Tennessee, I learned it was no ordinary bed.  It gave one dreams.  The dreams were often violent and always strange.  The trouble was that the far-fetched scenarios also had something to do with reality.

“I have got to get rid of that bed,” I muttered aloud.

Lilith, my cat, meowed in reply.  The calico was still nestled warmly in the covers, where my knees had been a moment before.

Lilith in snow

I shuddered, remembering the dream, and not just because it left me cold.  The dream froze my heart with the pain of betrayal, abandonment, and isolation.

Instantly all the events and feelings of the dream rushed back into my mind and my body.  Sudden pain pierced my ribs.  I fell back onto my bed.

It started as another prophetic dream from that bed had begun, with Arianrhod’s silver wheel.

In the dream I hung precariously from the spokes of the wheel, taunted by voices that were not seen.  In fact, they weren’t really heard either, but I knew what they said nonetheless.

Despair overtook me and I relaxed my grip on the wheel.  I wondered if I should simply fall into the nothingness.

A gust of artic air lashed my skin.  My hands knew the pain of extreme cold.  The joints of my fingers stiffened.  As the wind howled, I lost my hold and fell.

My heart hammered wildly.  My arms flailed useless as I tumbled.

Then a fiery jolt rocked me as something hit my rib-cage.  My descent into nothing stopped.

I gasped first in pain, and again in shock.  I was flying.  Or rather the massive beast that caught me flew.

The impact to my ribs caused me to shift uncomfortably.  Then I realized that I was held in huge talons.  I abruptly stopped moving.  Even if it had not hurt to take air into my lungs, I would have been afraid to breathe.

blue claw beast-pixabay

My hands grasped an icy talon, desperate to hold on, in case the beast dropped me.

The midnight clouds retreated, allowing the moon to light the sky.  Tiny lights winked far below.  As the beast flew lower, I recognized the town of Atonement.

I felt a gentle shift of the creature’s muscles as its wings caught a current of air that again took us higher.  Moments later it deposited me on a ridge.  I could see the town below.  A few people were out and about at the late hour.  They were so far away that they seemed like ants.

Oddly, they carried lanterns.  Suddenly I wondered when I was.

I didn’t realize that I was crying until I felt the tears begin to freeze.  Trails of tears froze on my cheeks and collected at my chin, as if they would form an icy beard.  With the back of my hand I brushed the cold moisture from my face.

A sound like steam from an old-fashioned radiator caused me to turn.  It was the beast.

In the moon’s light I could see it clearly.  The creature’s hide was blue as if with cold.  Everything about it was either blue or white, from pale blue eyes that glittered like diamonds to the white clawed tips of its blue wings.

It snorted, causing a cloud of condensation.  Although its breath was only slightly warm on the cool night air.

Fortunately, and I use the term loosely, I’d had enough experience with the brass bed to know that I dreamed.  Else I would have been terrified, rather than just scared witless.

“Who―  Why―” I stammered unable to find sufficient words for the many questions that collided in my mind.  “Are you a― an―”

“Dragon?” it supplied.  “An ice dragon?

The steam sound came again in a quick succession of hisses.

“Are you laughing?” I was startled into asking.

The giant pale blue eye nearest me blinked.  I could have sworn I saw the glint of mischief there.

eyes forest aqua fantasy-pixabay

“Look down there, Esmeralda,” it began in a rumble.

The creature instructed and jutted out its icy bearded chin as if pointing toward the town below.

It worried me that it named me Esmeralda rather than the shortened “Ralda” that I claimed for my name.  In my experience up until then with my new town, that didn’t bode well.  The supernaturals were the only ones who insisted on calling me Esmeralda.

“I borrowed Arianrhod’s wheel to speak with you, and though her power is nothing compared to mine, I will only borrow it, not take it.  Of course, I could have used the Queen of Winter to relay a message… but the wheel amuses me,” the ice dragon rambled in a reflective tone before getting back to business.

“But I digress.  Where was I?  Oh yes.  On occasion I give in to an odd, altruistic impulse.  So, I have brought you here to impart something important,” the dragon told me.

I was much too close and it was far too large for me to be able to see more than the one eye.  However, that eye narrowed slyly.

“I probably should not tell you, but where would the fun be in following rules?  You, Esmeralda,” it used my given name again and the tone suggested it knew the thought I had about that a moment before.  “If you want to break the cycle that keeps giving you rebirth into the same betrayed, embattled situations.  If you want to one day be born into a safe, loving existence, then you must learn and understand your origins.”

I stopped breathing.  With ice in the pit of my stomach, I knew that dream was just as prophetic and just as real as the first dream ― the first time I dreamed in the brass bed.  I also knew the real events that would result from the dream would be equally dangerous, and worse, full of detestable fae magic!

“But Esmeralda, that is not enough.  The Queen of Winter could tell you that much ― although she would make you earn the knowledge, probably through that willful mirror.  What you also must learn and understand is the origin of the town itself,” the dragon added.

Abruptly, rough gusts of cold wind battered me.  I staggered backward.  The ice dragon lifted into the night sky.  I stared up at the darkness.  Then I looked down at the tiny lights of the town below.

I jerked convulsively when the hiss of laughter was again at my shoulder, through whatever kind of magic the dragon held.

“Esmeralda, you must comprehend that some inhabitants of Atonement are not there to atone.  They have a fundamental relationship with the place.  If you want to survive, you need a better understanding of the townsfolk, like the Metatron sisters.  And you must, must understand why the wings of Cael Adriel are black, rather than gold,” the dragon finished emphatically.

gold angel on black pixabay

The huge blue eye glittered playfully.  It blinked and the dragon was abruptly gone.

Now wake, Esmeralda!”

Shuddering, gasping, I tried to shake off the aftereffects of the dream.

“Coffee… I really, really need coffee,” I muttered.

Lilith jumped down from the bed and went to the door.  In her mind, coffee meant breakfast for her.

I gave a different kind of groan when I sat up on the edge of the bed.  I lifted my pajama top and looked in the mirror.

A wide bruise purpled across my ribs.

♣ ♣ ♣

Now, I’m giving a rare offer.  When I write blog serials, I rarely post numerous links. Yes, if I kept a running list of links to previous episodes, it would make it easier for readers who don’t follow regularly.  The trouble is, that also makes it easy for pirates.  It’s a “read free” serial, so…  Anyhow for those who have not followed the serial, here are the links so far.




4) Weekend Serial — Atonement in Zugzwang Episode-4, featuring Robbie Cheadle! – Teagan’s Books (

Friendly comments are welcome.  Wishing you an easy coast down the other side of this midweek hump.  Happy spring!

♣ ♣ ♣

Now for the obligatory shameless self-promotion.

Universal link to my Amazon Author Page

The Atonement Series

Atonement kindle covers Cat eyes shelf 2023

Atonement, Tennessee

Full series of e-books with one click:



Also in Spanish, translated by Olga Núñez Miret! The title for the Spanish-speaking market is Expiación y Magia

Atonement in Bloom



The Glowing Pigs, Snort Stories of Atonement, Tennessee



♣ ♣ ♣

This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

48 thoughts on “Wednesday Writing — an Atonement TN Short Story

    1. Ah… I can see how that could get complicated in translation. Yes, that brass bed caused all sorts of bad dreams for characters, back in the novels (before you started following, I think). I’m trying to use a lot of small details from the books — like minor characters (the Deputy), some of the magical antiques (like the brass bed). I do that to try and make sure Pepper’s world (in this serial) looks and feels like the world of the novels.
      I hope all is well with you, Michael. Many thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing. Hugs.


  1. I love dragons, and I especially love this blue-and-white ice dragon. The juxtaposition of ice with the usually fiery concept that “dragon” conjures up tickles me. And I love that big, mischievous blue eye.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you kindly, Marian. I love contrasts. I was also thinking of how intense cold can also “burn” — like freezer burn, and as a kid, the burning sensation of being outside, playing hard, and sucking in a deep breath of icy air. Happy feline Friday to you and the kitties. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Olga. I don’t know quite why I never could pull that third book (for Ralda & Lilith) together. There were a few elements I had in mind, and I never found what was exactly right (in my head) for any of them. I appreciate your support. Big hugs.


    1. Thank you kindly, Fraggle. LOL, I was a little in love with Cael too. Maybe that’s part of why I never could pull that book together. The main thing I had in mind for it was Cael’s backstory. Maybe I didn’t want to put him through his history. Plus Lilith — I was always (and still am) on the fence about an element I had in mind for her and that third book.
      I almost brought Cael into the serial (I mean for a large part). His voice was heard in Episode-1… But I think Bheema is the better fit for Pepper’s story.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’ll be working on the episode inspired by your images the weekend after this coming one… Episode-6.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is good to be back in Atonement, Teagan. That house – that bed and Lilith. Your story kept me on edge, and it kept me wanting more. I know I always say that I love your descriptions, but I do. They are wonderful and always right for the portion of the story where they appear. Never tiresome. Always welcome. Thanks for this mid-week visit to Atonement. I hope the rest of the week is a good one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Dan. I blush ^^’ You’re more than welcome to repeat yourself with that kind of compliment. 🙂 I appreciate you visiting.
      There are positive things this week, but even good things are difficult for me. I hope all is well in your neck of the woods. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

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