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Chapter Twenty Four: A Time of Change

Posted on August 31, 2014 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Eamon looked up from his journal and rubbed his eyes. He was worried about his brother Rolfe. In spite of Eamon’s warnings, Rolfe had married a woman from the townspeople fifty years ago. Even Eamon’s son Bryant had told Rolfe it was a bad idea to marry someone so short lived, but Rolfe was determined. A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts.

“Come,” he said and Bryant opened the door.

“Are we going Father? Everything is packed and waiting on the horses,” Bryant said.

“Yes. I’ll be out soon,” Eamon said.

Bryant shut the door behind him as Eamon shut his journal. He soon had put it away in the secret bookcase. He was looking forward to this camping trip with Bryant. It would give him a break from his worries. He found Miranda waiting out in the courtyard with Bryant.

“Go and relax,” Miranda said after he kissed her. “I’ll take care of things while you are gone. Haskell can tell you if we need you back sooner.”

“Keep an eye on Rolfe and Emalyn,” Eamon said. “I noticed she has trouble staying awake and walking lately.”

“She’s nearly seventy,” Miranda said. “That’s older than most of her people live.”

“As much as I love Aunt Emalyn, I still think it was a mistake for Uncle Rolfe to marry her,” Bryant said.

They mounted up and rode out the portcullis into the town. Some of the people waved to them as they passed. The town had grown over the years and occasionally there were merchants that passed through. They reached the edge of town and took the path uphill into the mountains. At the top Eamon heard Bryant laugh just before he passed at a gallop. Eamon urged his mount to follow and they raced across the rolling field scattering the cattle. Being alone with Bryant always brightened his spirits.

‘Bryant enjoys it too,’ Haskell told him.

They slowed down as they reached the edge of the field. At the top of the hill they went around the rock outcropping to where they had camped before. Soon they had the horses unpacked and turned loose to graze.

“I love being alone up here with you,” Bryant said.

“I do too Son. It lets me forget about my duties as leader for a while.”

“Every time I do something with people my age everyone looks to me to decide what to do or to stop a fight,” Bryant said as he sat down. “It makes me uncomfortable.”

“You need to get used to it, Bryant. Someday Lord Dracona will be more than your title it will be your duty.”

“I’d be happy to be just one of the crowd for once. I don’t want to have to worry about taking care of anyone except myself and my family.”

“We don’t always get what we want. The people of Dracona need us to lead them,” Eamon said as he decided to change the subject. “I see you brought the practice blades. Want to have a duel?”

“Of course,” Bryant said as he quickly got to his feet.

As they dueled Eamon was having a hard time keeping up with Bryant. They tested each other’s skills for a while before Eamon disarmed Bryant. They drank some water and sat down to rest. They spent the rest of the day talking about trivial things and young women. He could tell that Bryant would soon be ready to choose a wife.

When Eamon lay down to sleep he watched the stars become brighter against the night sky. He remembered the times he had camped with his father and Rolfe. He wished Father was still alive to counsel Rolfe. When he slept his dreams were of the times he spent with his father and brother.

Eamon woke to find Bryant putting more wood on the fire. It was well past dawn.

“It’s about time you woke Father,” Bryant said. “You’ve been working too hard lately.”

“I know,” he replied.

“Do you think Haskell and Evelina will ever produce eggs? Other than Mackin they are the only dragons left.”

“They will produce eggs when the time is right is what Haskell told me,” Eamon said. “They need to keep the dragon population so the land can support them. When the queen dragon lays eggs it means they are ready to die. Evelina is not yet ready to die.”

Bryant nodded and began fixing breakfast. They spent another day camping before Haskell told him they should come home right away. It felt good to sleep in a soft bed with his wife again, but Emalyn was not doing well and Rolfe was distraught. Eamon fell asleep wondering what would happen when she died.

‘Wake up!’ Haskell’s voice had a panicked tone to it. ‘Emalyn has died and Rolfe is insane from grief! I can’t even get Mackin to respond to me!’

Eamon quickly dressed and grabbed his sword. He left the apartment and ran towards Bryant’s room. He saw Mackin with Rolfe mounted fly past the hall windows overlooking the mountain. Eamon pounded on Bryant’s door.

“What?” Bryant asked as he opened the door.

He seemed half asleep.

“Emalyn has died and Rolfe has gone insane! Get dressed and bring your sword!” Eamon commanded before running down the hall.

‘If we can’t stop Rolfe and Mackin people will die!’

He ran down the stairs to the open door of the caverns and mounted Haskell. As they rose into the sky they saw Mackin blowing flames as he dove towards the town surrounding the castle. Eamon realized that everything he knew was about to change forever.

 

Find out what happens next by reading Dracona’s Rebirth.

 

Chapter Twenty Three: A New Generation of Dragons

Posted on August 30, 2014 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Kennard put his arm around Magda while they watched their sons stand near the eggs in the sand. Eamon’s wife had already bonded with the new queen named Evelina. Aylward’s mate Etana had died yesterday and Aylward wouldn’t survive much longer. Suddenly a crack appeared in one of the eggs and a claw soon showed. Eamon rushed forward to touch the claw. The egg burst open and the dragon was the same color as the bronze dragon clasp that had passed from Kennard’s father Fanchon to him and then to Eamon as a symbol of their duties as Lord Dracona. A second egg began to hatch and Rolfe joined his brother among the eggs that were all beginning to show signs of hatching.

“I’m worried about Rolfe,” Magda said. “He still hasn’t picked a wife.”

“He’s only a hundred and six,” Kennard replied as Rolf’s dragon hatched. “Maybe it’s time for us to let Eamon lead Dracona.”

Deal with it tomorrow,” Magda said as their sons approached with their dragons.”

“Isn’t Haskell beautiful?” Eamon said.

“Mackin is too,” Rolfe said.

“All dragons are beautiful,” Magda said with a smile. “Get them fed while you wash and oil them.”

The following morning Fanchon found Miranda and Eamon in the cavern with the dragons.

“I need to talk to the both of you,” Kennard said and they glanced at each other. “In my office.”

Eamon then looked at Haskell with an annoyed look on his face.

“What’s the matter?”

“Haskell says he knows exactly what you want to talk to us about but won’t tell me,” Eamon responded. “He’s laughing at me.”

Kennard began laughing a bit and said, “It’s good you have a dragon with a sense of humor. You are too serious sometimes.”

They followed him out of the cavern to the sitting room on the other end of the great hall. Magda was waiting for them there. They went into the office and shut the door.

“This is a private conversation for now,” he said as he locked the door.

Miranda glanced at Eamon again before they sat down in the chairs facing the desk.

“It’s time for you to take on more responsibility,” Kennard said. “Tonight at supper I’ll officially pass leadership of Dracona on to you.”

“I don’t know what to say, Father. Why now?”

“Because you are ready and I am ready to turn things over to you,” Kennard said.

“We are so very proud of both of you,” Magda said.

“I want to show you some things about this office that no one else knows or remembers,” Kennard said as he walked over to the wooden dragon head that was mounted to the wall behind the desk.

Unlike the other decorations in the castle, this dragon was fierce with an open mouth and sharp teeth exposed.

“Come around here and put your arm down the dragon’s throat,” Kennard said and Eamon obeyed. “There are two levers. Each one opens a door hidden behind a bookcase.”

Soon the bookcase to the west opened exposing a second bookcase.

“This is where I have stored my personal journals. Many of these belong to your grandfather,” Kennard said as he opened it wider.

He shut the bookcase and Eamon pulled the second lever which opened the bookcase to the east.

“This one conceals an entire room,” he said as he opened it wider. “Your grandfather made all of this jewelry. Many might see this as wealth but to me its true value is in the memories it brings. There is a pin I want to give to you.”

He found the small round pin. It was a circle with a dragon in the middle of it. He handed it to Eamon.

“What’s this say on the back?” Eamon asked. “It looks like three words, but I can’t read it.”

“I’m not certain,” Kennard admitted. “I was told that it is a reminder of our duty as Lord Dracona to serve the people with honor. He said he had forgotten the language long ago. There is more.”

He picked up the rough stone box and piece of paper that sat on the end of one shelf.

“What is this?” Eamon asked as he set it on the table in the center of the room. “It’s just a square rock.”

“No, it’s a box. I don’t know what is in it, just that it must be guarded until it is needed to keep Dracona safe. Written on the paper is the key which must be memorized and passed to your son.”

He then carefully lifted the long wooden box from the shelf.

“These words don’t make any sense,” Eamon commented.

“It’s written in the language my father spoke before founding Dracona. He never would teach me more than a couple of words. Now this box is also to be kept safe until the day it is needed. All Father would tell me is that I should never touch anything inside the box because it will choose the man capable of wielding it.”

Eamon looked puzzled but gasped as Kennard opened the box to reveal the exquisite sword nestled in the fabric lining.

“Never attempt to touch it. It was forged in dragon fire the night before Malvin committed himself to the volcano.”

“How will we know who will be its bearer?” Miranda asked. “Certainly no one can claim it hidden in here.”

“I feel that the time approaches that it will be needed,” Kennard said. “What you do is up to you. I’ll help you with the proper pronunciation of the key for the box, but not anywhere near the box.”

 

Chapter Twenty Two: Refuge from the Storm

Posted on August 29, 2014 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Fanchon woke to a loud crack of thunder that rattled the shutters. He sat up to find Aloysia sitting in on the settee between their children Greta and Matias with a quilt wrapped around them. Their faces were pale and eyes wide.

“I don’t know how you could sleep through this,” she said as there was a knock on the door.

“Come,” Fanchon said.

The door opened and Kennard entered.

“Everyone is frightened Father,” Kennard said. “They are afraid of the storm.”

“Gather everyone in the dining hall,” Fanchon said and Kennard left.

‘I will have word passed by the dragons,’ Aylward told him as more thunder rattled the shutters again.

Greta pulled the quilt over her head and Matias buried his face in his mother’s shoulder.

“Let’s get dressed,” Fanchon said. “It will be alright.”

Kennard would soon turn one hundred and showed signs of being a good leader. Greta was fifty but still timid at times. Matias was nineteen afraid of nothing, well nothing except this storm. Fanchon led the family out into the hall where others were coming out of their rooms. They met more people going down the stairs to the dining hall. Eventually everyone was accounted for. He stood at the head table and looked out over the frightened faces as a lightning lit around the shutters for a second before thunder followed. Some of the children hid under the tables.

“I know this is the worst storm we’ve ever seen, but this castle is strong and safe,” Fanchon said. “Having several weeks of storms that have gotten progressively worse has made all of us nervous.”

“What about the lightning Lord Fanchon?” someone asked. “There was a cow that was struck last week. It was killed instantly and half cooked. The tree it was next to was split in half”

There were gasps and murmuring among the people.

“I know,” Fanchon answered. “We are safe within this castle. When we were building it Malvin mentioned the lightning was drawn to the veins of metal in the mountains. We made a thick rope of metal to go from the very top of the castle to deep under the ground on the north side of the castle. I’ve seen lightning strike the pole on top of the castle and the rope carry the lightning into the ground.”

Another crack of thunder interrupted him.

‘The village has been flooded,’ Aylward said. ‘The people are frightened and confused.’

“Aylward just reported that the village nearby is flooded,” Fanchon said. “Their homes are built from wood alone, not the strong stone we are surrounded by. We may need to give them aid in rebuilding. This storm will pass and we will be safe.”

“I am grateful for this strong castle along with all of our friends and family here,” Kennard said as he stood up beside Fanchon.

“The village has flooded before and will flood again,” Fanchon said. “Here we have water that is clean and safe to drink that comes to every bathing chamber in the entire castle. It is warmed by the heat of the volcano. I know the storm is frightening but here we are safe.”

“Let’s all have some warm cider to drink until the storm passes,” Aloysia said.

Everyone spent the rest of the night in the dining hall. The storm broke and began to clear at sunrise. The courtyard of the castle was full of debris blown in by the storm and the kitchen garden was barely salvageable. It was late afternoon a few days later that they finally had most of the courtyard cleaned up. As he walked out of the portcullis Fanchon noticed a couple of men approach from the south. They were covered in mud and appeared exhausted as one dropped to the ground.

“Bring two horses quickly,” Fanchon said to Tor.

He ran over to where the second man sank to his knees beside the other.

“Are you from the village?” Fanchon asked and the man nodded. “You are safe here. We’ll get you inside so you can clean up and rest. We’ll be having supper in about an hour.”

Tears began to run down the man’s face. Fanchon helped Tor get the two men onto the horses. Other men joined in to carry them up to rooms on the first floor. Fanchon helped with the man who had been on his knees. The man was at first frightened of the dragon head faucet but soon relaxed into the warm water.

“The village flooded and most of the fields were washed away,” the man said at last. “Some are now covered by the stream. It won’t be long before it starts washing homes away. Everyone wants to move. Some have left already.”

“My dragon told me the village flooded,” Fanchon said.

“It’s happened several times before. Last year I went south to Brinley to see if there was somewhere to build a new village, but the villagers I found said that they barely survive on what the king leaves after collecting a portion of their harvest for his own use. Every man is taken from his village at seventeen and forced into the army for at least three years.”

Fanchon remained silent.

“Everyone in the village is terrified of the dragons, but there’s nowhere else,” the man said softly.

“I know,” Fanchon replied.

“Is it true you live longer than we do?” the man asked.

“I am two hundred seventy two years old,” Fanchon said nodding. “We arrived a hundred years ago. I visited your village shortly after we arrived.”

There was a tap at the door.

“Come,” Fanchon said.

“Here are some dry clothes, Father,” Kennard said. “What about the rest of the villagers? Will they be safe where they are?”

“We should build homes and shops outside the castle wall for the villagers,” Fanchon said as he shook his head.

“What would you expect in return?” the man asked.

“Only for your men to help build the buildings and care for your own fields,” Fanchon said. “It makes no sense for us to not help you when we have been so fortunate.”

 

Chapter Twenty One: Malvin's Sacrifice for the Future

Posted on August 28, 2014 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Fanchon really didn’t want to get up in the morning knowing that Malvin would soon die.

‘I don’t want to die either, but I know it must be done,’ the tone of Malvin’s voice revealed his sorrow. ‘I know I would die within weeks if I didn’t commit myself to the volcano tonight. This will insure Dracona’s future.’

Fanchon finally got out of bed. Aloysia hugged him. The cheek she pressed against his was wet. He wiped her tears and kissed her tenderly as the baby kicked against him.

“It won’t be much longer before we are parents,” Aloysia said. “Glynis seems so long ago now.”

“This is now our home. We’ll finish the castle and it will be filled with love and laughter,” Fanchon said.

They walked out to the great cavern where the others were beginning to gather for breakfast. Malvin and Fae lay nearby. The meal was eaten nearly in silence.

“Today is Malvin’s last day among us,” Fanchon said breaking the awkward silence by speaking of what was on everyone’s mind. “We owe a lot to Malvin and he will never be forgotten. Without him we would not have the castle so nearly completed. Soon the eggs will hatch. The new dragons will not replace Malvin in our hearts but will be a piece of him that is ever present in our lives.”

There were many nods among the group.

“I’ve been drawing something,” Leora said quietly. “I used to make pictures from pieces of stone. I was thinking we needed something beautiful for the floor of the great hall.”

“Show them, dear,” Marcus said and she picked up a scroll of paper that had been between them.

She unrolled the paper and laid it out on the sand. The drawing showed a large dragon at the top with wings outspread. There were other dragons forming a border along with another large dragon below the first one also facing the center so that either end could be up.

“When facing the doors to the cavern you would see Fae and when facing the outer doors you would see Malvin,” Leora said.

“It’s beautiful,” Aloysia said. “Fae likes it.”

‘I do too,’ Malvin said.

“Malvin likes it as well.”

‘I want to take you flying so you can see the world as I see it,’ Malvin said. ‘Someday you can go flying with Aylward.’

“I’m going to spend some time with Malvin. He wants to take me flying,” Fanchon said.

Although some expressed concerns over his safety Aloysia simply kissed his cheek. He climbed up Malvin’s offered foreleg and onto his shoulder’s in front of his wings. Malvin took him to the outer entrance to his den then launched into the sky. Fanchon’s heart was pounding as the dragon took him higher.

‘Relax, I will keep you safe.’

Fanchon began to relax as Malvin leveled out gliding on his outstretched wings. He could see the village, then Malvin turned towards the mountain. The cattle grazed below near a small lake. There were more mountains and high valleys before they came to an area that was all black rock devoid of even plants for the most part. Beyond the rocky cliff stretched an ocean. It wasn’t long before the island came into view.

‘Fae told me that all of this is your land. She said even the black cliffs can support life if food is collected from the ocean.’

Malvin turned back to reveal the waves crashing against the cliffs.

‘Your dreams have revealed your past to me. I know you have doubts about your decisions, but I know that something brought you to help us. For that I am grateful. I will die knowing that both your descendants and mine will prosper in Dracona.’

‘I really didn’t know quite what I was doing when I left my family behind,’ Fanchon admitted. ‘I am grateful to have found you as well.’

They returned home to find the others working on the castle. When night fell Fanchon knew it would soon be time. Everyone gathered around Malvin after supper was finished to say farewell. Fanchon and Aloysia walked with the dragon deeper into the mountain. When they reached the center there was a large cavern with an open pit large enough to swallow a dragon whole.

“Goodbye, Malvin,” Fanchon said in a whisper.

“We’ll care for the hatchlings,” Aloysia said. “We’ll miss you.”

Malvin softly nuzzled each of them before turning to Fae. The two dragons nuzzled each other before Malvin turned and dove into the pit. Smoke rose from the pit along with an acrid smell before a glow began just above the pit in the center of the glow was a strangely dressed woman holding something in her hands.

“Malvin’s sacrifice will insure the future of Dracona’s dragons and your people,” the woman said. “You in turn must guard and protect Dracona. Fanchon I give you the title Lord Dracona and Aloysa Lady Dracona. Your family name is Donley. Take this stone box and keep it safe for a time your descendant must speak the key given to you by Malvin to insure Dracona’s safety. It will bind him and his lady together and to Dracona.”

Fanchon held out his hands and the woman placed the heavy box in them.

“I don’t understand how the words Malvin gave me can be a key but I have written them down to memorize them,” Fanchon said. “We are now using only the local language and will not teach the old language to our children.”

“In time that language and the knowledge of their past will be fully restored to your descendants. Guard well the dragons for they are precious to your people. Their fate and yours will always be one.”

The woman flickered like a candle before vanishing.

 

Chapter Twenty: Aloysia's Talent

Posted on August 27, 2014 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Fanchon wiped the sweat from his brow as he studied the unfinished sword. The design he had chosen was not a simple one and involved making the hilt from brass. He had created a dragon whose body would be the grip with outstretched wings as a cross guard and tail as a knuckle guard. The tang of the sword would fit into the throat of the dragon. It had taken him most of a week to forge the sword. All that was left was to join the blade to the hilt and sharpen it. He had created a beautiful fabric lined wooden box to store the sword in until it was needed. Although it would harm any not its master the sword would be both beautiful and a functioning weapon.

‘Night is falling,’ Malvin reminded him.

‘Once joined they will never come apart,’ Fanchon replied silently. ‘I hope I got the balance right.’

He slid the tang of the blade into the hilt until he felt it click into place. He balanced the sword on his finger and was pleased with the result. He carefully sharpened it and polished the metal as the sun set turning the sky into a blaze of color.

‘Tomorrow is our last day together,’ Malvin said in a sad tone.

‘You shall be missed as will Fae when she dies.’

‘You have been like a son to me,’ Malvin said. ‘Aylward will hatch shortly after Etana and will be her mate.’

‘We will care for them. That I promise.’

“Fae told me you were ready to put the sword in the box,” Aloysia said as she came out of the tunnel carrying the box and a torch. “She also told me that I was to be the last to touch it.”

She placed the torch in a crack at the tunnel entrance then held out the box on her hands. Fanchon opened the box and gently placed the sword in it along with the sheath and belt he had made for it.

“Ki-Mal told me that your talent is an ancient one that has not been needed for many generations. It will bind this weapon to the man worthy to bear it. No other can touch it,” Fanchon replied as he took the box from her.

She nodded before beginning to glow a deep dark red. She closed her eyes as she placed her fingertips on the sword. The sword began to glow red but soon the glow turned orange which shifted to yellow then green and finally blue. Under her fingertips letters began to form down the center of the blade.

“Lord of Dragons, Protector of Men, pure of heart, strong of body and mind. Imposters beware!” Aloyisa spoke the words forcefully.

The words and the tone of voice struck fear in his heart for a moment. As she opened her eyes and raised her hands the words she had spoken were engraved on the blade. She gently closed the box as her glow faded.

“It is done,” she said softly. “Now it will await the man capable of wielding it.”

“There is much to do before then,” Fanchon said. “We must teach our children the things that will prepare our heirs to rule over Dracona and lead our people back to where they came from before arriving in Glynis.”

“I’m tired.”

‘Sleep well and I will see you in the morning,’ Malvin told them.

Aloysia carried the torch and Fanchon carried the box down the tunnel to the main cavern where the others were waiting.

“We want to see it,” Markus said.

“Just don’t touch it,” Fanchon said.

“You can always polish it again,” Mari said.

“It’s not that,” he said.

“I finally found out what my talent is,” Aloysia said. “It is one that hasn’t been used for a very long time. My talent is to bind a weapon to a single warrior. The message on the blade wasn’t there before I touched it. It is a warning.”

She opened the box and everyone crowded around to get a better look.

“It’s so beautiful,” Sarma sighed.

“I see what you mean about it being a warning,” Tor said.

“It looks sharp,” Gareth said.

“I do not know what power the blade possesses other than it can only be wielded by one man,” Fanchon said. “I forged the sword to be a weapon regardless of its powers. It is sharper than my own blade and perfectly balanced.”

“For now it will remain in the box,” Aloysia said. “Fae sees a time when it will be needed to defend and rebuild Dracona before our people return to their original home.”

“We’re all tired,” Fanchon said. “Let’s get some sleep.”

 

Chapter Nineteen: Challenged by the Village Elder

Posted on August 26, 2014 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

The old man looked at Tor.

“My uncle was one who tried Fanchon as an apprentice,” Tor said. “I heard him talking to my father about Fanchon. He said that Fanchon was a quick learner, but would never be content as a farmer. Fanchon pointed out things that could be done more efficiently and told him how to do them differently. It really annoyed my uncle that someone so young could be right about things he hadn’t figured out in all the years he had been farming.”

“So where did you come from?” the man asked as he turned back to Fanchon.

“Far north of here. We come from a narrow valley and there are almost too many people living there. We decided that we should establish a new village or town somewhere. We have been traveling for over a year now and finally found somewhere that suits us.”

“I still worry that you will expect to rule over us. Why build a castle if unless you want to be king?”

“It seals the entrance to the dragon’s cavern and protects their eggs from cold and predators. They have tunnels that exit the mountain they can use instead of the main entrance,” Fanchon said. “I don’t expect to be a king any more than you do. We both serve as leaders because it is what others expect from us. It does not exempt us from working beside those who follow us, but places an additional responsibility upon our shoulders. If one we are responsible for breaks a law, we must deal with the consequences.”

“You can make any law you like and punish or spare at a whim,” the man challenged.

“The laws of the lands we travelled through had to be obeyed,” Fanchon replied. “I saw my best friend killed because he broke that law. I stepped in to calm the wronged party and prevent others from dying. I made the casket with my own hands knowing that I would have killed him if I had gotten to him before the other man did.”

“He dug most of the grave too,” Tor said.

“You have your own laws to keep peace within the village. We will respect your laws and your property,” Fanchon said. “All we ask in return is the same.”

“What of the dragons?” the man asked. “Something that large can take what it wants. So far they have left our cattle alone.”

“We are establishing a large herd in a mountain field to feed them from. They have long been aware of your presence and reliance on your cattle for food. They will not bother your cattle.”

“How old are you, Fanchon?” the man asked sternly and Fanchon wondered what to say. “I expect the truth.”

He realized that the truth would be far better than attempting to lie.

“You may find the truth hard to believe but I am one hundred and seventy two.”

The man’s eyes widened and the other men stepped back to murmur amongst themselves.

“We are of a very long lived people. If I were of your people I would be seventeen, hardly more than a boy.”

“So that’s what I see in your eyes,” the man said. “Your eyes are far older than your body. You could have simply said you were seventeen.”

“Yes, but I will age far slower than your people. I will see generations of your people born, live and die before I appear as old as you are. It is better that you and the others here understand that since we are neighbors. Any agreements we make this day will be long remembered by myself and my descendants.”

“Come with me, Fanchon,” the man said. “I want to speak to you alone. The rest of you go back to your fields. These are now our friends.”

“Watch the horses, Tor,” Fanchon said and Tor nodded.

He followed the man to a small house in the center of the village. They went inside and sat at the small table.

“Certainly if you live so long you must have new ways of doing things that make life easier,” the man said as Fanchon noticed that besides the table and chairs there was a bed, a fireplace, a ladder and a tub of water with a bucket nearby.

“Yes,” Fanchon said. “We know how to bring water into a home without drawing it from a well with a bucket and how to clean the dirty water before it returns to the stream. That is only one of probably many things we do differently. There are things we have chosen to abandon so that we can live outside the valley we were born in. Life will be harder, but we have confidence it must be done.”

“It will take time to convince the others to trust you, but perhaps in time you can teach us some of what you know,” the man said.

“I will speak to my group about your village. We have not yet discussed laws of our own, but I’m glad you brought that need to my attention. My wife and I will make laws that are simple and fair.”

“You are welcome in this village Fanchon,” the man said. “My name is Buckley.”

 

Chapter Eighteen: Preparing for the Future

Posted on August 25, 2014 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

When Fanchon woke in the morning Malvin had returned and was lying near the eggs in the main cavern.

‘I found the island and spoke to a woman who lives there,’ the dragon said. ‘She spoke some words that I don’t understand and told me that it was a key for you to pass down to your male heirs.’

‘I’ll get some paper and write it down then,’ Fanchon said.

Aloysia was straightening the bedding and folding it out of the way.

“Malvin’s back and has something to tell me that I must write down,” Fanchon said as he found the pen and ink. “He found the island and there was a woman living on it.”

“Fae told me,” Aloysia said. “She said you must forge a sword that will be stored waiting for the day it is needed.”

Fanchon nodded as he pulled out his journal and sat down.

‘Here is the key,’ Malvin said then began speaking in the language spoken in Glynis. ‘Through the gathering darkness hope lies in the hands of two hearts joined as one.’

‘You’re certain that’s what she said was the key?’ Fanchon asked after writing it down.

‘I don’t know if what she said are actual words or just meaningless musical tones,’ the dragon replied. ‘She said you must pass it down to your male heirs and only a man will be able to use it as a key.’

‘It makes words and a complete sentence, but why that was chosen as a key is both puzzling and troubling,’ Fanchon said as he thought about the key.

‘Yes, that is a troubling message to be used as a key,’ Malvin agreed as Fanchon remembered what Ki-Mal had told him. ‘That does fit. I can provide the fire to forge the sword.’

“Fae says you need to visit the village,” Aloysia said. “We’ll be fine for a few days.”

‘I can guide you to the village,’ the dragon said. ‘I would feel much better if you make peace before I commit myself to the volcano on the night of the full moon like the woman told me to.’

‘Why would she tell you to do that?’

‘I don’t know. She said it was important and would insure Dracona’s safety.’

Fanchon and Aloysia gathered everyone together. As they ate breakfast Fanchon thought about what to tell them.

“Last night Malvin found an island on the ocean beyond the volcano. A woman living there spoke to him about keeping Dracona safe,” Fanchon said and silence fell.

“What she told him agrees with what Fae told me,” Aloysia said. “There are things we must do before the full moon. One thing is that Fanchon must forge a sword that will be stored away until it is needed for the defense of Dracona.”

“Any of us who can shape metal can make a sword easily,” Tor said.

“It must be Fanchon and it must be forged in dragon fire,” Aloysia said in a commanding tone that surprised Fanchon.

“I’ll need an anvil created and a hammer head along with tongs to grip the steel with. I’ll also need enough steel to create the sword,” Fanchon said. “I’ll make a box for it and once it is in the box no one must touch it. It will serve only one man and harm all others that touch it.”

There was murmuring among the group that ceased when Aloysia spoke.

“There are things only a seer can tell us and we must have faith in the truth of their words. Fae is a seer and she has foreseen this sword kill men who attempt to take it up. When the man who is worthy to claim it is ready the sword will choose him. Until then it will remain in the box.”

“There is a village nearby that Tor and I must visit and make peace with,” Fanchon said. “I don’t know why it is important to do it right now, but I want us to live in peace with our neighbors.”

There were many questions that Fanchon tried to answer, but some he didn’t have any clear answers to. Soon after breakfast Fanchon and Tor set out to find the village. They found the village south of Dracona early the next day. The people were wary of them and soon some of the men gathered around as they dismounted.

“We come in peace,” Fanchon said.

“You come wearing swords,” one of the men challenged.

“They are only for defense,” Fanchon replied.

“You allow your son to speak for you?” an elderly man asked as he looked at Tor.

“Fanchon is not my son, but my friend and my leader,” Tor responded.

The men looked puzzled and glanced at each other as the elderly man stepped forward and looked Fanchon over closely.

“What is your business here?” the man asked at last as he met Fanchon’s eyes.

“We recently settled at the foot of the volcano and are building a castle there. We came simply to introduce ourselves to you and let you know that we want to live in peace with our neighbors.”

“What of the dragons? Do they still live?” the man asked. “With them as allies you are invincible in battle, especially against simple farmers like us.”

“They live, but we wish only friendship, not battle with you,” Fanchon said. “We are planting our own crops and have our own cattle. We just wanted you to be aware of our presence because we do not wish to be attacked either. There are twelve of us plus one baby. Over the next several months there should be five more babies born.”

The old man stared intently into Fanchon’s eyes for several uncomfortable minutes before speaking again.

“You do not look like a farmer to me. He does, but you do not. What is it that you do besides lead?”

“I have tried many trades,” Fanchon said. “I know how to cut gems and make jewelry. I know how to make things from metal on a forge and how to shoe a horse. I even know how to plant and tend a field along with milking cattle. Every master I learned from told me the same thing; that I made a poor apprentice because I wanted to be in charge. I mastered the skills readily enough, but soon I was giving directions to my master.”

 

Chapter Seventeen: Beginning a new life

Posted on August 23, 2014 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

After a week of debate and careful measurements everyone was satisfied with the plans for the castle. Trees were cut down for Fanchon to begin to build into doors to cover the entrance to the cavern. Malvin dug out all of the soil where the castle would be built and helped to set the stones that created the foundation. Aloysia directed the planting of crops so they would have food for the cold season. Fanchon designed a system of gears that would both balance the large doors and allow them to be opened and closed by a single person turning a wheel on the wall. Malvin told Fanchon that he and Fae were pleased to have the doors protecting their eggs. Building the castle was hard work, but Malvin’s strength allowed them to move large stones and set them far more quickly than they would have been able to on their own.

Fanchon decided that if the great hall in the center of the castle should be completed first along with the outer walls, the floor support structure for the upper floors and the roof. Gareth and Thia were the first to build a house near the fields. By the end of each day the men were exhausted. Thia gave birth to a boy just after the small house was finished. They spent an entire day celebrating the birth.

“We’ve decided to name him Freydolf,” Gareth said.

Fanchon noticed that Aloysia was a little quiet.

“Is anything wrong?” he asked her quietly as he took her hand in his.

“Just thinking,” she replied, shaking her head.

“About?”

“We are establishing a new village,” she replied and he nodded. “It needs a name just as a new baby needs a name.”

“Here we met the dragons who will share our home. Maybe the name should reflect that,” he said as Tor turned towards them.

“What about Dracona?”Tor asked.

“For what?” Marcus asked.

“Our new home needs a name,” Aloysia said loudly and everyone quieted down. “How does everyone feel about the name Dracona?”

“Perfect,” Malika said.

“The castle is nearly ready for the roof,” Fanchon said. “Once the roof is on then we can work on finishing the inside.”

“I’m glad we built homes to live in,” Tor said. “At least the tunnels don’t glow like the walls in the main cavern. I don’t think I would have been able to sleep in there.”

Everyone laughed as they nodded in agreement.

Fanchon said. “There is much to do still, but to see the walls in place is more than I expected so soon.”

Later that evening as they walked home, he sensed that Malvin seemed worried. They found the dragon waiting for them near their house.

‘What’s the matter? Are the eggs alright?’ he asked the dragon.

‘The eggs are fine and will hatch shortly after the moon is at its fullest,’ Malvin replied. ‘I know that I will die soon. Fae may not live to see the eggs hatch. I worry about the hatchlings and about you.’

‘We will care for the hatchlings,’ Fanchon said firmly. ‘Why would you worry over me?’

‘The men from the nearby village have noticed the activity here. They are both curious and defensive.’

‘Perhaps Tor and I should go meet them to assure them we wish to live in peace with them.’

‘There is something more,’ Malvin admitted. ‘It is like someone is calling to me in my sleep. I see an island surrounded by ocean beyond the volcano. I feel drawn to it.’

‘Perhaps you should see if this island exists. Would you be able to see it without the moon to guide you?’

‘The stars are bright enough,’ Malvin said as he put his head down.

Fanchon came over and stroked Malvin’s face. He could still feel the dragon’s uncertainty. He also felt the itch Malvin felt on his neck where he had recently shed some scales. Fanchon rubbed at the itch as he leaned his head against Malvin’s neck until Malvin relaxed. As he lifted his head some of his hairs stuck in the scales.

He was about to pluck them out of the scales when Malvin said, ‘Leave them. That way I carry you with me.’

Fanchon laughed softly and rubbed the dragon’s face.

‘Go and find the island. I’ll see you in the morning.’

Fanchon watched Malvin as he launched into the sky. He heard soft footsteps behind him.

“Fae says it is important that Malvin do this,” Aloysia said as she took his hand in hers. ‘She sees that Malvin visiting the island starts a chain of events that insures Dracona’s future.”

 

Chapter Sixteen: Plans for Building a Home

Posted on August 22, 2014 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

“We could build a castle in front of the entrance here since the dragons have other smaller tunnels to use as entrances,” Fanchon said.

“A castle?” Aloysia asked. “Malvin must have.”

She paused suddenly.

“No, it was your idea entirely, but Fae and Malvin like it,” she said. “Fae said that would keep her eggs warm.”

“Where are we supposed to live?” Thia asked.

“Do you know how long that will take to build?” Marcus asked.

“Look, we’ll design the castle together and everyone will live in the castle. Our descendants will need a safe, secure home for generations to come,” Fanchon said. “In building the castle we will clear some of this forest which will allow us to plant crops.”

Aloysia dismounted and walked towards Fae. Fanchon walked up to Malvin and reached out his hand. Malvin put his nose against Fanchon’s hand. The scales on Malvin’s face were both smooth and bumpy.

‘There is more to you than other men,’ Malvin said. ‘There’s a village nearby, but their minds are filled with simple needs and wants for themselves, their families. Even among your group you care for more than yourself and your mate. Your thoughts are more words than images.’

‘Is that why you spoke to me?’ Fanchon asked silently.

‘I knew I would be able to communicate with you and you would care about helping us.’

“Oh, Fanchon!” Aloysia exclaimed softly as she collapsed against him.

“What?” he asked as he put his arms around her.

“Fae is still mourning for the eggs that died. We have to stay and help them.”

‘Fae will not bear the touch of any except Aloysia,’ Malvin said. ‘She is my mate, my queen.’

‘I will make certain the others understand that.’

It took some time to reassure the others that no harm would come to them from the dragons as long as they didn’t touch Fae. They explored the cavern and found that the sand in the center was very warm, but on the ledges surrounding the sand it was cooler. Each of the ledges had multiple tunnels opening into the center. Soon stairs had been formed and tunnels chosen to house them until the castle could be completed. Fallon killed a deer and wood was gathered for a fire. Malvin hiccupped and flame shot past his dagger like teeth lighting the wood on fire. There were gasps as most of the group backed away.

“Thank you, Malvin,” Fanchon said and motioned everyone back around the fire.

While the deer cooked Fanchon took sticks of wood and began trying to shape them into paper. Eventually he found a method that created a thick stiff paper. After creating a pile of large sheets he shaped a stick to form a straight edge on one side. It would be long enough to make straight lines across a page. He retrieved a twig that had fallen from the burning wood. The end was blackened enough to make a clear line.

“So do you want to let the rest of us in on your wild plan?” Tor asked quietly as he sat down next to Fanchon.

“The mountain and cliff are sheared off straight on the north side of the cavern,” Fanchon said as he began to draw. “Then the south side curves inward before coming back out nearly even with the north. If we build the castle here it can be simply attached to the cliff and mountain on the north, then continue straight out on the south putting the cavern in the center of the back wall.”

“This is huge,” Tor said. “We don’t need anything that big.”

“We are all young and our wives are with child. We may have more than one child. Our children will have children who will have children,” Fanchon said.

“Who will all need a place to live.”

Fanchon nodded and continued to draw. He realized that there needed to be at least three floors in the castle just to reach the top of the cavern opening, but a fourth would allow him to leave a way for the dragons to get through that opening if necessary. There would be a great hall with the front and back walls both being large doors. The south wing could contain a large dining hall and kitchen on the main floor and a library on the third and fourth floor.

“What about a place to play music?” Mari asked as she looked over his shoulder. “I loved going to plays in Glynis.”

“We’ll need somewhere to teach the children too,” Tor added.

“Okay that fills the second floor on the south side then. On the north an office and sitting room for meetings will be on the ground floor, then individual apartments on the upper floors.”

“It’s still huge, but eventually we will need it,” Tor said with a sigh.

“It will take time to build all of that,” Raynor said as he looked at the drawing. “We need somewhere to stay until it is built.”

“We need to build enough to protect the dragon eggs immediately,” Fanchon said.

“Maybe we should build the shell of the castle, then build homes to live in until the castle can be completed,” Gareth suggested.

“We can start by figuring out exactly how big this needs to be then mark the corners. We can build houses to live in until this is completed, but we need to cover that opening right away,” Fanchon said.

 

Chapter Fifteen: Flying Defenders

Posted on August 20, 2014 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

After helping to pack up camp, Fanchon went to stand at Jerron’s grave. He noticed that the flowers were all withered and dried up. He left more flowers on Jerron’s grave before they continued their journey but noticed they seemed to immediately begin to wilt. He felt intense curiosity drawing him forward as he led the group directly south across the field of flowers to the forest on the other side. They came across where the land had risen up creating a cliff that grew as it went south.

“Up or down?” Tor asked as Fanchon came to a stop.

He knew the answer immediately.

“Down,” he replied and felt pleased.

He urged Midnight forward and the others followed. The cliff got taller as they went further south through the forest. They stopped at a stream that had carved a cascade in the cliff for lunch.

“I hope we find somewhere soon,” Aloysia commented as they sat down to eat.

Fanchon felt anticipation as he said, “I know we will.”

There were flashes of images in his mind; a tall dark mountain with a volcano at its heart, the mouth of a large cavern with a spring bubbling up next to it and rolling grassy hills. He shook his head.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“I keep seeing images, feeling emotions,” he said and felt surprise. “Like I’m sensing someone else’s thoughts.”

“I’ve noticed that much of this forest seems to be young trees,” Fallon said. I’ve noticed fallen logs that are charred as though there was a fire.”

Fanchon looked around and Fallon was right.

“I don’t like it,” Aloysia said in a worried tone. “How would you sense someone else’s thoughts and who are they?”

“What if they are luring us in by controlling you?” Tor asked. “Do you think we are in danger?”

“Who are you and why can I hear your thoughts?” Fanchon asked out loud. “What do you want with us?”

‘My name is Malvin,’ a deep voice replied in his mind. ‘I have heard your thoughts for several days now. You are searching for a home. I can help you and you can help me.’

“His name is Malvin and he knows we are searching for a home. He needs our help and will help us,” Fanchon said.

‘I promise no harm will come to you,’ Malvin said.

“Both Rollan and Ki-Mal told me some things that now make more sense. I will know for certain when I see Malvin,” Fanchon said.

“You’re certain about this aren’t you,” Aloysia stated more than asked and he nodded. “I trust you then.”

“I trust you too,” Fallon said.

“You’ve led us this far safely,” Tor said.

“And you found your uncle when I didn’t think it was possible,” Sarma added.

“Let’s find Malvin then,” Fanchon said and urged Midnight forward.

As they progressed farther south, the horse got increasingly restless as it sniffed the air. This worried Fanchon.

‘He can smell me and doesn’t know what the smell is coming from,’ Malvin’s voice said in Fanchon’s mind. ‘The other animals with you are nervous as well. I will try to reassure them that I mean no harm.’

Soon Midnight settled down. At last they came around the end of the cliff and could see a mountain through the trees.

“That mountain is what we’ve been looking for,” Fanchon said as he noticed the ground was sloping upward.

“How do you know?” Aloysia asked.

“I just know it,” he replied.

She shook her head. When they finally came out of the trees they were at the foot of mountain. The face was sheared off exposing a large cavern in the dark stone nearly at ground level. Lying in the mouth of the cavern was a creature that Fanchon had never seen before. It was large enough that the head was about as tall as he was followed by a long neck, powerful chest and forelegs. Each toe ended with a sharp claw. It was covered in scales and had wings folded against its body.

‘We call ourselves dragons,’ Malvin said.

“What is that and why would it need our help?” Aloysia asked.

He glanced at her and her paled face mirrored the panic in her voice.

“This is Malvin,” Fanchon said as he dismounted. “He says he is a dragon.”

“What can we do that he can’t?” Tor asked.

‘That is a bit harder to explain,’ Malvin said as he stood up and walked out of the cavern followed by another dragon. ‘This is my mate, Fae. We are the last two dragons. We have a clutch of eggs we have been guarding, but we have lost thirty seven eggs. Those died either in the egg from the icy winds of the cold season or because of predators that broke into the eggs. We have eight eggs that still live that will hatch soon. Without help they will die. They are incapable of feeding themselves until they can fly and hunt for food.’

“So you need us to feed your young,” Fanchon said. “I hardly dare ask what you eat.”

‘The cattle would suit our purposes.’

“They better not eat people,” Fallon said.

“Malvin said that they would eat the cattle. With a place to graze the cattle could be left to breed and establish a large herd,” Fanchon replied. “Is this the only opening to the cavern?”

‘No, there are many smaller tunnels that exit the mountain,’ Malvin responded. ‘Yes, covering this opening like that would protect the eggs from the wind and cold.’