Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Gathering of Dragons - Chapter Eleven

“Remember your manners,” Farloft instructed.

“I don’t need to be reminded to be polite,” Snow retorted with an indignant ruffle of his wings. “You are as nervous as a hatchling on their first flight. What has gotten in to you?”

Farloft stopped and looked back at the gryphon as they walked up the stone staircase leading to the shrine. “Naza is possibly the oldest dragon on our world. We need to show her respect.”

“I get that, but didn’t you also tell me she was one of your oldest friends?” Snow asked from behind him.

The staircase was narrow, suitable for humans and horses, so Snow had no trouble with it, but Farloft was larger and blocked the way.

“Yes… Yes…” Farloft conceded. “But I haven’t seen her in a long time. I am not sure she will remember me.”

Snow patted the dragon on the tail to soothe him. “Who could forget Farloft of Kerth?” he asked in a cheerful chirp.

Farloft noted it was the first time he had called him by his actual name on this journey. It didn’t help relax him in the least.

Naza lived, and was cared for, by the monks of the temple of the Flying Fans. Her home was in a cave on the top of the mountain retreat the monks lived in. The long winding staircase through the mountain’s core led to the dragon’s lair. The monks saw that the ancient dragon had all she could wish for, food, drink and comforts.

When Farloft and Snow finally made it into her presence, the old brown dragon lay on her pile of soft things, her tattered wings spread out to her sides as the monks palmed soothing oils over the membranes softening them to prevent further splitting.

Farloft stepped forward, extended his wings and bowed to the ancient dragon. “It was kind of you to see us, Naza.”

Naza waved a wing. “Nonsense, Farloft, you know I would always grant you an audience. What news do you bring me? I hear you have trouble brewing in your kingdom again.”

Farloft was always amazed at how much this elder dragon knew even though she never moved from her place in this cave.

“Yes, I am afraid my kingdom will soon be under siege, my dragoness.” Farloft shook his head in dismay and his neck spikes rose in anger. “The Baldar threaten us once again.”

“I told you to roast them the last time your human called you to battle,” she clucked her tongue dismissively.

“It was not Farloft’s fault,” Snow spoke up, even though he had not been officially recognized as part of the conversation. He had heard the story from his grandfather. “The King of Kerth was a kind-hearted man and hoped that just showing strength would keep them at bay.”

Naza’s lavender eyes cast over the gryphon. “See how well that worked?”

The monks brought food and drink for the two dragons and the gryphon. It was a privilege to have another formidable dragon visit their retreat. Naza and her guests settled down to talk well into the night.

After hearing of what Farloft observed about the Baldar King’s preparations for war, Naza stood in an unsteady stance and rearranged her soft things before settling down again. “I am afraid I have more troubling news for you.” She let out a deep sigh. “I heard of your battle with Thrax.”

Farloft’s neck spikes rose at the mention of the eastern dragon’s name. The battle had been vicious, and James was caught in the middle. Had it not been for the monk, Sim Chuk, who accompanied Thrax to Kerth, both Farloft and James might have died.

“He wouldn’t listen,” Farloft started to defend himself. It was not right for dragons to kill dragons.

Naza shook her head. “Calm yourself, Farloft. I heard all that happened from Sim Chuk. He told me how he had to intervene. We all know Thrax was out of control. He had let his hate fester and grow over so many years. Even his mate, Du, could not calm his heart.”

“He took a mate?” Farloft said with surprise. He had not known.

“Yes. They were not heartbound. I do not think Thrax ever really loved any dragon other than the forest dragon he lost his heart to when you first knew him. But he did mate and had two sons. Their mother died shortly after their birth, so they were raised by Thrax on stories of your misdeeds.”

Farloft didn’t like where this was headed.

“Graa and Kang heard the call from King Minuss. They are going to join his forces against Kerth.”

“Why didn’t you tell us sooner,” Snow asked in a puzzled chirp of objection. “We’ve all heard the story of the battle at the Great Divide between Farloft and Thrax. We have to move quickly to stop them, or at least hurry to gather the forces to move against them.”

“I did not impart my knowledge sooner because you cannot confront them here – they have gone into hiding. And I have been told that they are not due to join the king until the snows melt in the High Reechs.” Naza placed her paw over Farloft’s. She could feel his fear and concern. “You now have a firm timeline. The king will not go to battle before Graa and Kang join him.”

Farloft heaved a big sigh. She was right, as always. He now knew exactly when the troops, and dragons, would move against Kerth. He also knew it would now be a battle between dragons.

“Do you have any space in that pack for something small,” Naza asked eyeing Snow’s backpack.

“I suppose so. If it’s not too heavy.” Snow rose and opened his pack to show Naza what room existed.

“Good… Good…” the old dragon intoned. “Sim Chuk sent something for you when he heard about Thrax’s sons, in case you two came this way.” 

Snow ruffled his feathers. The day had turned into night, and the night back into day. He had dozed a bit while the two old dragons spoke, but what he did hear gave him the impression that the old dragon had magic at her disposal. She knew things she should not have known, stuck on this rock in the middle of nowhere. Even the monks assisting her could not explain her insight and knowledge of a world so vast. They had learned she knew Farloft and Snow were coming before they came within sight of the monastery.

Naza reached to her side and opened the lid of a large trunk. She pulled out a medallion on a gold chain, and a small red book. “Sim Chuk told me to tell you to give this to your Healer. She will be able to help you with the combination of it and the book. Do not lose it and you must return it when the battle is won.”

Snow liked the positive sound of that. She did not say, ‘if’ the battle was won.

Farloft reached out for the medallion. He recognized it immediately as the one Sim Chuk came to Brownbriar to retrieve from Theresa years ago. It possessed incredible power in the right hands. He handed it to Snow. “Keep it safe. It is very precious.”

Snow turned it in his claw. He could see his reflection in the large pink center stone, and smaller reflections of himself in the red jewels surrounding the pink. It was very pretty, but it also made him uncomfortable. He thought he could feel it pulsate.

Naza handed him a small piece of leather. “Wrap it in this and tuck it away. It is not for you, Bird.”

Snow folded it up in the cloth and placed it and the red book in his pack. He felt a sense of relief when it was safely packed away.

“Where will you travel next?” Naza asked.

“I thought to see if I could persuade Lemira to join us. As you know the Great Divide runs through my kingdom. If the enemy seeks to use it as a way to bring troops into the land by water, she would be invaluable.” Farloft looked to the wise old dragon for her approval of his choice.

Naza nodded in agreement. “It will be hard to get her to agree, but if anyone can, you are the dragon.” She reached out and wing bumped him in encouragement. Her skeletal touch feeling like a butterfly’s caress.


Farloft sat with the monk Naza sent to assist him. The scribe brought his table, stool and writing instruments.

“I am ready,” the young man said with his bamboo pen in hand.

“Please write small. This will have to be concealed,” Farloft said before he started to dictate.

The monk nodded at his instructions.

“Dear Theresa,” Farloft began. “I have learned that Thrax has two sons. They intend to join forces with King Minuss. The siege is set for late May. Sim Chuk sends his regards and the enclosed. Love, Farloft.”

The monk finished writing and set his pen down.

“Please fold it as small as possible and give it to Snow.” Farloft nodded toward the gryphon. “Snow, put it with the other two things Naza gave us in your pack.”

After the monk left, Snow turned toward Farloft. “I am not leaving you to deliver the medallion to your healer friend. You need me, even if you think you don’t. You would have starved coming over the pole if I had not been there. Who knows what could happen to you in the South or West of this world.”

“Calm yourself, Thunder-butt. I am not sending you away. I have someone else in mind for my delivery mission.”

Naza - by Elizabeth Babicz

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