(( I took two prompts this week and mashed them together. One prompt was to write a story about an artist, and the other was to write a story about a contest. I already have an artist OC, so I decided to give him a contest to participate in. ))
Dragons. Beautiful bronze dragons. That’s what filled Vaildor’s canvas. Three of them were in the painting he was working on. It wasn’t just any painting either. It was for a contest at his art school. He paid attention to the reflects in the scales, from multiple light sources in the picture adding hues of blue and gold where appropriate. They were fighting a lone mage who stood in front of a sunset casting spells. One of the dragons had already fallen, the other two were in the process of dodging the mage’s glowing arcane bolts.
It was a scene done from memory, a greatly elaborated memory, but a memory all the same. It wasn’t something he could speak about with many people, not without being looked at like he was crazy. Those he could talk to seemed happier when it seemed he was forgetting what had happened to him in the past. He was allowed to paint whatever he wanted without having to talk about it- most of the time. There were a couple of questionable paintings he had done of dead dragons that the Confessor had taken him into his office to talk about.
Vaildor did like dragons, but the mage he used to live with was, in a way, at war with them. He had seen him slay dragons numerous times. Usually, he had stayed hidden away to be safe, but that didn’t mean he didn’t peek. Vaildor wished it hadn’t happened, but he also realized the mage had kept him safe for all of the years he had been with him. In fact, he wouldn’t even be alive if it weren’t for the mage taking him in the first place. He painted dragons the same way he had seen them for years, as the enemy, though he knew that wasn’t true now. Dragons were allies unless you pissed them off.
The mage had pissed them off.
Vaildor painted a thin light line down the middle of the arcane bolt. It almost looked as though it was glowing on the canvas. He stepped back to look at it. He was quite proud of his work, and felt it at least had a chance of winning the contest. He bent forward and signed his name in the bottom corner, then hurried to the kitchen to work on starting supper before his adoptive parents finished with their work.
A week later, Vaildor stood in the hall of the school. Many of the students had entered the contest. The top three prizes were scholarships to the school after all, and Vaildor knew how much it cost to send him here, even part-time. Paintings lined the hall on both sides. A few of the classroom doors were open to rooms where sculptures had been put on display. Vaildor was glad he didn’t mess with sculpting. He already got yelled at enough for leaving his paints out where his baby sister could reach.
He had been able to convince Lani, his minn’da, to come with him, even if it was a weekday. Normally, she would be in the office at the clinic in the front of their house, but she had taken the day off and left Isandri and Esladra to fill in for her. She stood nearby looking at some of the other pieces of art hanging in the hall. He had already seen the judges walk by his some time ago. Had they finished looking at the others yet? He looked up and down the hallway. He didn’t see them anywhere.
“Relax. You know yours is wonderful. That won’t change whether it wins a prize or not.” Minn’da said, putting her hand on his shoulder.
He was going to reply that if he wanted to make a living doing paintings, then he had to be better than other people who wanted to do the same thing. He was sure the answer would be that he had lots of time to improve yet. He wanted to be better at it now. However, as soon as he opened his mouth to speak, he saw the contest judges walking down the hallway. He merely twitched an ear instead, and watched as the judges stopped at one of the paintings. One of them placed a blue ribbon on the frame as another shook the hand of the student who had painted it. Vaildor frowned slightly as he clapped. It was nice for the other student, but he wished he had gotten first.
The judges moved on to another painting, placing a red ribbon on it, and shaking another student’s hand. He didn’t get second either. Third was also out of reach as the judges walked all the way to the other end of the hall to put the yellow ribbon on the frame of a painting there.
Vaildor’s ears drooped.
“Vaildor, your painting is great. I’m sure the winners are more senior students who have been painting for decades. You’ll get plenty more chances to win. I promise.”
One of Vaildor’s drooped ears twitched a little. “I know.” He mumbled.
Minn’da pulled him in for a hug. Vaildor glanced around at the other students hoping they weren’t looking at him. He loved his minn’da, but he didn’t want hugs from her in front of everyone! Then he saw the judges walking back their direction in the hall. They stopped at a painting nearby and placed a white ribbon on it. They shook hands with the student who had painted the scene of a bridge over a small stream, and continued on, stopping at Vaildor’s painting. Vaildor broke away from Minn’da, and approached the judges. He watched as one of them put a white ribbon on it.
The headmaster of the school was also the head judge. Vaildor had only seen him a few times. He stepped forward and nodded, “That’s me.”
The headmaster shook his hand, “Your painting is being recognized for excellence in our class of part-time students. Congratulations, and keep painting. You’re fast on your way to becoming a master painter. This is one of the best from someone your age that I’ve seen in years.”
Vaildor beamed with pride. “Thank you.”
The headmaster nodded as the other judges shook Vaildor’s hand and congratulated him before moving further down the hall to hand out the next white ribbon.
Vaildor turned back to his Minn’da, this time he was the one who hugged her. “Did you hear what they said?”
“I did. I’m so proud of you. We should head home and let the Confessor know the good news.”
Vaildor nodded, “Can we stop by that really good bakery first?”
His minn’da smiled, “We’re supposed to meet up with Hethurin for our portal back home. Why don’t we go there and ask if Terellion will make a cake for the occasion instead?”
“I love cake!” Vaildor hurried ahead of her out of the art school. He was content to have recognition and cake after all.