Our son Christian (age 11) was feeling rather expansive yesterday evening about the firework-making job of his invisible dragon (descriptively named “Dragon”—Christian’s companion since he was 2 years old), and the use of fireworks in Dragon culture.
As soon as I realized he was on a roll, I grabbed for the keyboard and began typing a transcript as he chattered! (Evidently I accidentally hit “Publish” on the un-edited transcript, so those of you who received that by email will see that I haven’t changed his wording, just cleaned up my hurried typing-errors!) Here it is, word-for-word as delivered by The Dragon Biographer:
[we enter mid-sentence, as I began to type:] …fireworks once a month on the first, except in July when they do it on the 4th. Dragon is apprenticed to a firework-maker. I learned most of this last night—which is why I didn’t go to sleep until 1:30… He’s been busy preparing for 4th of July.
Dragons can go for a few days without sleep, easy. Older ones can go for more than a month. But of course they might sleep for a full year after that. What I remember, the oldest dragon on Dragon Record—no one even has a guess how old he is, no idea whether he was born MORE or LESS than a million years B.C…. but they say he once slept for a year, and then didn’t go to sleep for a century. Must have been some very special 4th of July.
‘Cause firework-maker is not an easy job, but in high demand. And apparently each dragon, when he becomes an apprentice, he gets to make fireworks, but mostly just basic fireworks. But when they become more than an apprentice–not a journeyman, it’s more of… put it this way. They start out as pretty much a well-treated slave. they don’t get paid, but once you get all the way up, huge payback. But at first they don’t get paid anything; they’re given room and board, and that’s when they start learning, mostly just history. Depending on who the master is, he might allow them to make a few firecrackers, but not actual fireWORKS.
And then you become a Pupil, which is… you can make firecrackers, no matter who your master is, except for some of the more conservative ones, but most do. And the you learn less history and more of the actual… this is where they start to learn HOW to make fireworks, smaller ones. the master may or may not allow them to make some of the little ones, you know the ones that spin really fast. Often times those are allowed to be made, and then apprenticeship, you are allowed to make fireworks, pretty much almost any, but you’re not allowed to design your own.
When you get to Disciple, that’s where you get to start designing them and experimenting, and—you don’t have full reign. You have to get your own resources. They’ll provide the very basics, mostly just the fuse, and like the gunpowder-y stuff that does most of the sort of explosion, if you need that. But other than that, all the colors and everything, you have to find.
You can sell your own fireworks. Any fireworks you make and they sell, you get a 50% profit off those, and you can pay them for the colors. And then when you’re a.. I don’t know what it is after that that they call it, but you’re allowed to design your own signature firework. You’re allowed to come up with designs for it, in your discipleship, but you can’t really make one and have it be your signature one until you’re past that level.
A lot of dragons if they like their master and the master likes them–not always–sometimes they choose to work together, but that doesn’t happen too often. But yeah, every dragon depending on the master, you can start designing your signature one as far back as… if you’re really lucky when you’re a pupil. During your apprenticeship you’re allowed to test it, provided you can come up with the resources.
And a lot of times, ’cause they do, their Business is a lot like ours, except it’s a lot easier to… the economy is never bad. At times it’s gotten to the point where the, I don’t know, the Dragon Powers That Be, I guess—like the dragon government—just says that for a period, until the economy gets better, everything is free. To a point, there’s a limit on how much is free, so you can’t go and buy 500 pounds of gold or whatever for nothing. But at least the necessities, things like that are free. Most of the time their economy is really good. They’re peaceful. That’s really the big difference from humans.
So firework makers can turn a big profit, and not only fireworks on the first of the month. Not only that, but sometimes dragons do them at parties, for big events, like when someone completes their apprenticeship, there is a big huge party and they’re allowed for the first time to do a full-scale model of their signature rocket, and they get to light it. Generally they light it by breathing on it, but for that, no. They have to use flint and steel.
They have to—’cause they don’t have hands—for making things, they have these sort of… it’s sort of arms that have thumbs, they’re robotic and controlled psychically. Yeah, they’re very advanced, and have been making high-end electronics that are still fancy today since we were going OOG OOG and banging our heads on rocks.
But yeah, so to start, ’cause it’s a huge party, it’s a big step because a lot of dragons drop out before they get to pupil, and then a lot drop out over time because, depending on how good you are, how fast you pick things up, how your master is, how your attitude is—all that can change how long it takes to get between the steps. I mean, it could take two decades if you’re slow, and if your master doesn’t kick you out (’cause they do), so it’s a huge ceremony because there aren’t very many.
So how it works is at the party, they have to light the fuse with the flint and steel, not with the robotic arms, but with their biological stuff, so they light the fuse, and that’s the first firework they light, and that starts the party. It can last for like two weeks.
[Mom asks what kind of party food] Dragon fruit? I don’t know. [Mom: "So does Dragon get his own food? Because I assume otherwise you'd know."] I don’t really know. I’ve never really met his parents. I think it’s like… you know how some fish just lay their eggs and swim away, maybe it’s like that. I’m guessing that it’s more like, they have more independence than most kids now, there’s a strong bond, but they build their own nest. The parents don’t just abandon the egg, though, they wait till it hatches.
Dragon is at Apprentice now. It took me a while to understand the whole system, because dragon-speak is a little different from ours, just a little-little bit… sort of like Ent-speak. Not as slow as the Ents, where by the time you’re finished saying “good morning” it’s night, but yeah.
[Mom: "I assume Dragon will be busy tonight?"] Yeah. ‘Cause if you get lucky and you’re at that particular stage around fourth of July, pretty much all studying gets off, and it’s just… you make as many fireworks as you can, maybe design a few ones that you think will be great. Some dragons sell the value packs–they don’t call it value packs, but—they usually sell their signature one and a bunch of the ones that everybody makes. A dragon can have a bunch that only he makes, or maybe his master as well, but yeah–they’ll sell those and a few of the more traditional ones. Just like ours, pretty much.
[Mom: "Do they have celebration or songs for the 4th of July?"] I don’t know, I really don’t think it’s an Independence Day for them. Just something they picked up from the humans: launch a bunch of fireworks, you know. He got that one from his parents, who said that’s kind of recent.
He said that someday I can meet some of his brothers. Or sisters, maybe? He wasn’t born in the first clutch, but he was the firstborn of his clutch. I don’t know how many, I know he has at least 3 sisters and at least one brother, I think two. He and one of his three sisters are pretty much exact twins, but for some reason in dragon society in that case male is still considered firstborn. And if they’re both girl-dragons I guess they draw straws, or maybe they share the title. I’m not sure if that’s allowed.
[Mom: "Is there any sort of privilege or responsibility with the title?"] Only the first- and second-born are allowed to go into the firework business. Don’t look at me for any questions about that, about dragon society I don’t really know much. That, and you’re supposed to look after your brothers and sisters, I think.
So he’s like me, I guess. Maybe that’s why I can really talk to him. Over the years I’ve sort of developed it, so I could probably talk to other dragons. ‘Cause we were born at exactly the same time, and we’re pretty much exactly alike, except for he’s dragon, maybe that’s why.
[Mom: "Is this a common arrangement, your friendship with Dragon?"] I don’t think so, I think it’s actually pretty rare. but we WERE born at exactly the same minute and everything. I’m not sure, but from what I’ve heard I don’t think it sounds like it happens too often. And I’m just guessing at why it might have happened.