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Dragonfire (part 1)

A story should start with a bang. It certainly shouldn't start with long-winded medical details. However, as not everybody is familiar with a dragon's anatomy, an elementary introduction into fire-spitting is indispensable in order to understand the plight Rufus found himself in that morning.

As soon as he woke up, he felt it coming: that unmistakable tickle behind his ears, the ripple just beneath his bellybutton followed by that dreaded pounding in the chest that competed with his heartbeat. His throat tightened. He tried to hold back but it was no good. Accompanied by a sensation like frozen feet on fire, it broke out of him with a cave-wall-shattering "hick!".

Now, the average human being's feeling concerning a hiccough will lie somewhere between funny and annoying, depending on the situation. Rufus went through all the stages of panic, including flushed face, neck scales standing on end and smelly feet.

And that's where the anatomy comes in. A gland embedded...

in the liver, next to the gall bladder, filters the ingredients for dragon fire (mainly sulphur and phosphorus) out of the blood, mixes them and spurts that fuel through a cartilage tube into the stomach. There, a chemical reaction between the fuel and the digestive acids will ignite a flame the dragon can spit out by contracting his solar plexus – in other words, his belly muscles.          

As a hiccough is basically a cramp of the solar plexus, it can lead to ever faster bursts of fire. At the same time, the dragon swallows unusual quantities of oxygen with every hick. Oxygen makes a fire hotter. In the best case, a dragon suffering from a hiccough will only melt a little bit into the crust of the earth. In the worst case, the dragon fire can become so hot that it incinerates the dragon from within.

(To be continued)