Saturday, August 6, 2016

Isle of Mystery - Chapter 3

Farloft woke up comfortably swathed in blankets laying in a stone depression filled with layer upon layer of soft furs. He raised his head slowly and found that he could focus for the first time in days. He was in a shallow cave and presently unattended, or at least he thought he was. When he tried to rise Trisk swooped down from her perch above his head to land in front of him on the floor.

“Don’t try to move just yet.” She cocked her small wedged head and pinned him with her bright blue eyes. “How are you feeling?”

“Better,” Farloft had to admit. “Much better. Where are we?”

“You are among the Moreth now. Rugarth and Kennioth will take care of you.”

Trisk flew up and grasp the blanket over his shoulder with her tiny claws. With effort on her part, because she was so small, she pulled it back and revealed that his wing was now nestled in a soft fabric then immobilized in a splint made from what looked like bones and sturdy twine.

“Rugarth says it will heal as good as new, but you must be kind to yourself until it does.” Trisk pulled the covers back up over it. Farloft’s tiny savior once again fluttered down to land in front of him. She templed her wings. “Rugarth is the wisest and most talented healer among the Moreth and Kennioth is the best of the healers among the Nal.”

“There are Nal here too?” Farloft asked.

“Indeed,” Trisk confirmed. “The tribe of Nal who live here are not nomadic. The Moreth and the Nal in this region are one community. You will see when you have enough strength to move around.” She gently fanned her wings. “You must be hungry and thirsty. I will tell Rugarth and Kennioth you are awake.” Without waiting for a response from Farloft, Trisk fluttered off to disappear around the mouth of the cave.

Farloft laid his head back down to wait. He realized once he was over the shock of not knowing where he was, that his keen hearing was picking up all kinds of sounds. He could hear rushing water somewhere nearby, as well as the sound of tumbling rocks. The rock sound was unusual as it went on and on without the usual outcome of silence once a rock slide hit the ground.

Added to this background noise was the soft tinkle of the bells, which he had gotten used to over the last few days in this unusual land, and the voices of both human and dragon in their native tongues. The sounds of water and bells had almost lulled him back to sleep when Trisk swooped around the corner into the cave closely followed by a large dragon ridden by a member of the Nal tribe. These were no doubt Rugarth and Kennioth.

By the looks of him, Rugarth was a very old dragon. He must have been a striking black in his youth, but now his muzzle, wing edges, paws, and the ridge running down his back was almost solid silver with age. He held himself erect, but walked with an aged gate and a bit of a limp on his right rear paw, as though his hip might be arthritic.

Kennioth matched his dragon friend in age, but moved as though he were a youth. He was a tall, willowy human with a long braid of white hair down his back and an equally long braided beard from his chin. Both braids were laced with colorful ribbons and a single bell tinkled from their tips. He was dressed in a vibrant red outfit identical to what Farloft has seen the Nal wear previously, pants, long tunic, leather boots, and the headdress of a square red hat. However, Kennioth’s hat bore an emblem on the front intricately fashioned from gold with a number of bright gemstones set in it.

“Aw, you are awake,” Kennoith said in perfect Dragonic.

Farloft had not realized a human could learn to speak Dragonic. He didn’t think their vocal cords could duplicate the growling language. In his homeland, the dragons had learned to speak the human’s tongue.

“I am Kennoith,” the old man said, as he advanced. “Let me have a look at you.” He squatted down and slipped his hand under Farloft’ chin raising his head so he could have a better look into this eyes.

“My name is Farloft,” he mumbled, as the human held his bottom jaw.

Rugarth advanced behind the old man and looked over his shoulder with interest. “And I am Rugarth. Good, good,” he confirmed, as Kennoith held back Farloft’s second eyelid so they could look at the color of his eyes. “Let’s have a look at your wing.”

The dragon pulled back the blanket with one large silver, spotted paw and poked gently at the wing beneath the splint. “How does that feel today?”

“Much better than in days past,” Farloft admitted.

“Scale of one to ten, how is the pain level?” Rugarth asked.

“About a six or seven, I would say.” Farloft grimaced as the dragon continued to poke and prod, while the old man held his head, prying his other eyelid open and then opening his mouth to look down his throat.

“Still a bit dehydrated.” Kennoith let go of his head and walked to the edge of the cave. “Mesanth!” he called. “Mesanth! Bring some water, milk and meat.”

By the time the old healer turned Rugarth was tucking Farloft’s wing back under the blankets. “Trisk?” he called. The tiny dragon glided down from her perch in the upper regions of the cave to land on his shoulder. “Work on getting his pain level down a bit further. I would like to see it settle below a five at least,” the old dragon ordered.

“Will do.” Trisk fluttered over to settle down comfortably on Farloft's head. When she began to hum Farloft immediately felt relief.

"Ah, Mesanth, good girl," Kennoith complimented. "Farloft this is Mesanth, my assistant. Mesanth, this is Farloft, our guest."

The young girl bowed to Farloft. She placed he burden of two bowls, one with milk and the other with meat before the young dragon. "I'll run and fetch the water." She smiled at Farloft. "Pleased to meet you," she growled in Dragonic. 

Farloft smiled. Her Dragonic was heavily accented with her human language, but she was trying.

“Once you have eaten, and we have reduced the pain, we’ll see about getting you up and giving you a little tour of our home,” Rugarth offered. “Until then, rest.”


It was late in the afternoon when Rugarth and Kennoith returned to take Farloft on the promised tour of their blended community. They really need go no further than the landing pad outside his small cave retreat. They stood at the edge as Rugarth and Kennoith explained what the young dragon was looking at.

They were in a cave midway up a shear rock wall. When Farloft looked up, he could see some of the peaks of the mountains actually disappeared into the clouds above. Scattered around and above him were numerous caves with landing pads and a long winding, interconnecting trail between them which he observed was being used by the humans of the community.

The rushing water he heard was a waterfall descending from the high peaks above, through a series of pools to eventually flow down the lower slopes of the mountain into a lake on the plain below.

The lower five hundred feet or so of the mountain had been terraced into fields which the humans had planted in crops. On the plain below there was a huge herd of the animals the nomads kept for food, milk and furs.

A young dragon almost the same shade of blue as Trisk, but of the Moreth clan, glided by with a Nal youth on his back carrying a shovel and with large baskets slung over his shoulders. The two landed on a platform above and to the left. The youth dismounted and pulled the baskets off the dragon. He took his shovel and started filling them with dirt. The dirt was being kicked out of a cave that an older dragon appeared to be digging. It took the youth only a moment to fill up the baskets. The dragon slipped his head under the straps that connected them together and wiggled until he got them settled back on his shoulders. Then the boy mounted again and the two took flight.

They flew down and across the valley to the next to last pool of the waterfall which cascaded down the rock wall. There they landed and a team of perhaps a dozen humans unloaded the baskets and started to scatter the dirt on the shelf.

Something bright caught Farloft’s eye. “You’re mining.” Even with it being a raw gem, Farloft could see the sparkle of a rough diamond. The more he studied the dirt from the cave, the more he could see. There were multiple gemstones in that load of dirt. The humans were tossing them in the pool of swirling water. That was where the tumbling noise was coming from.

“Yes,” Kennoith confirmed. “We have a very prosperous community here. We all work together.” He tucked his arms into the sleeves of his tunic. “Long ago the Nal came to the Moreth to beg for protection from invaders crossing our land in order to reach the riches of the southern isles. The Moreth obliged in exchange for food from the Nal herds. Later it was found that the slopes of these mountains were rich for planting where the rest of the land was poor and desolate. It was discovered that the dung from the Moreth was what made the crops grow.”

“It was not long before one of the Nal discovered the gems being kicked to the valley floor by the dragons digging their dwellings above.” Rugarth picked up the line of the story from his friend as though they were of one mind. “Now we mine together. Moreth dig, Nal collect, the water tumbles, and then we extract the tumbled gems to take in trade to the communities in the South for the goods we need here that we cannot make ourselves.”

“Mostly metal and wood of any kind,” Kennoith explained. “Tools, knives, cooking utensils, and bowls, plates, cups. There is no wood in this region. We burn our livestock’s dung for fuel.”

“When the winters are severe we Moreth heat the rock of the mountain’s lower levels in order to help the Nal survive the winter,” Rugarth added.

Farloft marveled at the community’s efficiency. “It is wonderful.” He felt Trisk move on his head. He had almost forgotten she was there. “How did Trisk’s clan come to be here with you?”

“It is not known for certain. The legend is that they are a birth of our happy thoughts and that is why they can calm out minds and relieve our pain,” Rugarth explained. He placed his wing over Farloft’s shoulder. “Now we should get you back to the nest and if you have the strength we would like to know where you come from and how you got here.”

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