Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Gathering of Dragon - Chapter One

Queen Larkin, the ruler of Kerth, stood on the parapet, in the cool night air, awaiting the arrival of Farloft, the Dragon. Her guard rested close at hand, for no one, least of all the Queen, was safe since they learned of the threat from the neighboring Kingdom of Baldar.

“They surely will return soon,” Sarah, her sorceress assured her. “You should try to go back to bed. The night is cold.”

“I know… I know…” the Queen sighed.

She paced a bit away from her companions and strained her eyes in the hope she would glimpse Farloft and Adrian returning from their reconnaissance mission to the Kingdom of Baldar. She had awoken from a very vivid dream where Farloft called her name. The two had been gone for almost a full moon’s cycle. However, she had a very clear picture of them arriving tonight through the cool fall air. She wanted to be here to meet them. She pulled her fur cape up higher around her shoulders and leaned against the wall of the north tower behind her.

“Let’s wait just a little longer.”


Sarah nodded and turned back to look out over the moonlit landscape around the castle of Kerth to the village of Brownbriar below and on to the Westridge mountain range where Farloft’s family waited in his lair. Just beyond the village and across the river she could see the smoke rising from her Aunt Theresa’s chimney. The Healer was up early too. Perhaps Farloft has sent a silent message to the two women. Sarah’s Aunt T said she could feel the ancient dragon when he needed her or was in distress. They were linked in some way. Perhaps that was strong enough Queen Larkin had felt it too.



One of the guards was the first to point out the silhouette of the huge dragon and his rider against the full moon. Farloft and Adrian glided in on silent wings. The dragon landed on the south turret, his claws biting into the tiles. Adrian, the kingdom’s bard, slid from the dragon’s back to land on the walk of the castle wall. He bent a knee at his Queens’s feet before Larkin waved him up and grasped his hand in friendship. Adrian was well known to everyone in the kingdom. He was friend to all and had become the eyes and ears of the Queen during his travels. It was he who came to warn the Queen that he heard rumors of a threat from Baldar.

Queen Larkin trusted no one more than Adrian, and the huge green dragon who watched over her lands. Farloft had been a resident of this kingdom for centuries and protected it from invasion more than once.

“It is true. We went as far north as Jaldraak and then on down through Baldar.” Adrian reached up and patted Farloft on the shoulder. “It’s been a long journey.”

Farloft tilted his wedged head toward the Queen. “I am parched. May we continue this conversation in the courtyard? I could get a drink out of the well.”

“I have a better idea.” Larkin crooked a finger at the closest guard who was hovering in hopes of hearing the latest news. “Damon, please light the fires in the Grand Hall and have food and drink, enough for a dragon, brought in.”

Damon motioned to two of the other guards to follow and left to do as his Queen commanded.

“We will meet you at the door,” Larkin said, as she reached up and patted Farloft’s paw. “Adrian, you can walk with me.” She turned and headed in toward the stairs in the tower.

Adrian stepped up quickly to Sarah, drew her up in his arms and planted a warm kiss on her welcoming lips. He pulled back and affectionately brushed the hair from her brow. “My Queen calls, but I will see you later?”

“You would have difficulty keeping me away,” Sarah replied and planted another quick kiss on his lips. “Go,” she urged.

The bard squeezed her to him one last time and then releasing her ran to catch up to Larkin descending the stairs.

Farloft chuckled deep in his throat. “He has missed you. I am afraid he is quite smitten, my dear Sarah.”

Sarah blushed and came to Farloft’s side. “Does Aunt T know you are back?” she asked conveniently changing the subject. She had really not known how much she enjoyed Adrian’s company until he was gone this past month. When her mind drifted, it often was to him. It was nice to know he felt the same.

“I called to her the same as I did to Larkin. She is on her way.” He gave Sarah a toothy grin.

“And have you summonsed Clearair and the rest of your family as well?” Sarah asked. She saw Farloft’s mate and younglings only two days ago and they were as anxious as the rest of them to have the old male and his rider safely home.

“No, I thought it best Adrian and I report our findings to the Queen first. I will go to them directly.” Farloft extended a wing. “May I offer you a lift down to the courtyard?”

Sarah smiled with delight and swiftly made her way up to the saddle Adrian had constructed for the reconnaissance mission he and Farloft took on at Larkin’s request. She settled into the soft leather and held on to the curved and cushioned iron bar in front of her. It really was very comfortable.

“Ready?” the dragon asked.

“At your convenience.”

Farloft spread his wings and with one downward thrust he was clear of the turret and gliding down to the courtyard below. Sarah’s breath caught in her throat. There was absolutely nothing like riding a dragon. She envied Adrian no end.



They were all gathered in the Grand Hall. The hall had been built after the first collapsed years ago. It was meant to house the people of the kingdom during time of war. Both Farloft and Adrian believed their investigation indicated it would be put to use in the near future.

Theresa, the Healer, arrived shortly after everyone was settled and had time for a drink and a bite to eat. “It is good to have you both home.” She nodded at Adrian seated by Sarah, and went to sit on a cushion Farloft patted as an invite to join him.

“It is good to see you too, Healer,” the dragon intoned. He leaned over and huffed in her hair. He could feel her stress and wanted to ease her mind. The huffing was a breath of mental relaxation to the woman. She silently sighed and snuggled in between the dragon’s front paws using his chest as a backrest. The dragon affectionately wrapped a paw over the woman’s lap and around her waist.

Now that everyone was present, it was time to dive into the information and formulate a plan.

“The riders from Baldar had posted flyers everywhere in the Kingdom of Jaldraak offering to pay anyone who is able to join in the invasion of Kerth. As you know Jaldraak is poor and there are many able-bodied men and women on the roads making their way to Baldar.” Adrian took a swig of his mulled wine and went on. “The troops of Baldar are going from farm to farm conscripting any man between the age of fourteen and forty to join the fight.”

Farloft shook his head in frustration. He had seen this kind of human behavior before and he didn’t approve of it in the least. “They are peasants and it will take time to train them. The good thing is, they really don’t want to fight, so when we show force, they will buckle and run if they are not backed up by knights and horsemen.”

“The troops are being ordered to assemble at the Baldar end at the mouth of the gorge,” Adrian reported. “At the moment they are a rag-tag group with little in the way of leadership, but I heard that King Minuss is also bringing in mercenaries for the siege against Kerth.”

“He has his smithies busy night and day at the forges,” Farloft said in his deep baritone. “They are building all manner of weapons to bring to the battle, but it will take time. We have perhaps five to six months to prepare. They will spend the winter gathering and training. It will be spring before they can launch an attack. Even then it would be wise for him not to try and move his men and battle machinery until the spring rains are finished. Otherwise, the large catapults will become bogged down in the mud.”

Queen Larkin stood and paced the floor of the Grand Hall as she contemplated their options. “We must prepare.” She turned to the dragon who had helped defend the kingdom for centuries. “Farloft… Do you think you could convince any of the dragon clan leaders to join us in this fight? I fear we will need all the strength we can gather for this siege.”

“I will do my best,” Farloft replied. “It will take some time. As you know, they are scattered over the nine known continents of this world.”

“Then you should hurry,” the Queen said with a smile of encouragement.

Adrian spoke up. “I will go with him.”

“And I,” Sarah added.

The Queen looked to her loyal followers. “I am afraid I cannot spare either of you. I need Adrian to continue with his observation of the gathering of the invading forces. I will want daily reports. Damon can assign a rider with you and a flight of pigeons. You must infiltrate the forces and keep me abreast of their movements.” She turned to Sarah. “And I need you to help prepare our defenses. I need a strong sorceress at my side.”

“I could go,” Theresa offered.

The Queen raised a brow. “What kind of fool would I be to let my healer leave?”

“The Queen is right,” Farloft said from his place by the door. “You all must stay and prepare. I must travel as quickly and lightly as possible.”

“Will you take James?” Theresa asked. All the humans were fond of Farloft’s adopted son.

“No, I will not take any of my family. They are strong and can help you fortify the village for attack.” Farloft rose from his haunches, his tail switching in agitation. “You need to go to the library and find King Alfred’s records of how he prepared for the Battle of Baldar. That will give you a plan. That battle never made it beyond the plain to the east of the mouth of the gorge, but he had the village and the area around the castle well prepared if it had.”

“Where will you go first?” Theresa asked.

“I think North to the land of the Fur and Frost Clan,” Farloft said. “But first I must make a stop by my home and see my family. If I might be excused?”

“Of course,” Queen Larkin replied. She came to Farloft’s side and stroked his shoulder. “Thank you, my friend.”

“It is always an honor to serve a kind and considerate ruler.” Farloft bowed his head and turned to leave.

The guards swung the double doors wide. Theresa hurried to catch up to him in the courtyard.

“Farloft,” she called softly.

She knew his excellent hearing had already detected her movement at his side. He swung his head around on its long neck to cast his golden eyes upon her.

“Thank you for not arguing to take Sarah with you.”

“As Larkin said, she is needed here.”

“You will be careful,” Theresa added. “I know clans are not always friends to outsiders who come calling. Especially, ones calling and asking favors.”

“I will.”

Farloft nudged Theresa in the chest with his head. She clasped him under the chin and stroked his cheek. They had been friends all her life and the dragon considered her his oldest human friend. They stood that way for a moment. Their thoughts mingled. Then Farloft pulled away. He huffed over her head and the warmth of his breath ruffled her hair. She let out another soft sigh of relief.

“I will see you soon,” the huge dragon said. “Take care of things while I am gone.”

She reached up and patted his jaw. “I will.”


Theresa and Farloft by Sarah Hyndshaw

2 comments:

  1. If Queen Larkin wants Farloft to come to the castle faster, she should have a cauldron of steaming hot chocolate out on the parapet!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That just might work. He does love chocolate LOL

    ReplyDelete

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