Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Gathering of Dragons - Chapter Sixteen

The ocean crossing was easier this time. Farloft and Snow made their way through the dappled sunshine filtering through the trees of the Shadow Forest. They were seeking Soary and Sanna, the tiny forest dragons. It didn’t take long before the two sisters found them. They, unlike the others, did not take any convincing. They were eager to join.

“We have never been so far from home. It will be wonderful to see more of the world. Like a Dragon’s Youngling Trek,” Soary said, her delicate butterfly wings, of iridescent blue spots on coal black, pumping with excitement.

“It will be a hard flight that far, but I am sure we can do it,” Sanna added. Though they were sisters, her wings were a pattern of yellow brightening to orange on the tips.

Soary’s wings continued to pump with excitement. “We will start right away.”

Farloft appreciated the tiny dragons’ enthusiasm. Once he saw them and learned of their deadly sting, he hoped they might be the element to turn the battle in favor of the defenders of Kerth. With their small size, they might be able to make their way through the thick of the battle without notice.

“We would give you a ride, but we have one more stop to make before we head home.” Farloft said.

“Where do you go from here?” Sanna asked.

“Further west to see if we can recruit Arrud.”

Both of the little dragons looked at each other with a touch of fear in their eyes. “Good luck, my friends,” they said with quivering wings.

Farloft landed at the mouth of the cave. “You need to let me do this one alone,” he said to Snow. “He is a grump when he is first awakened, and his acid venom is deadly.” Farloft shook out his wings in an agitated fashion. “I can take a shot if he is feeling particularly nasty, but I would fear for you.”

Snow placed his claw over Farloft's paw. “Be careful, Old Lizard. I would not want to see you with holes in your scaly hide.”

Farloft nodded and headed into the cave calling, “Arrud… It is me… Farloft.”

Arrud stood up on his two legs and the claws at the tips of his wings curled and uncurled in frustration. “I told you I have no desire to help humans.”

“Then come to help me and my family,” Farloft begged. He really thought it was worth begging. Arrud was a powerful dragon with his unique acid venom. “I care about these people. You owe me!” he reminded the wyvern.

Years ago, Farloft came across Arrud in a trap. Because he had no front paws, the claws on his wings were not enough to drag him up out of the pit, and the pit was too narrow to open his wings far enough to give him lift.

Farloft pushed over a nearby tree and dragged it to the pit. It was sturdy enough to support the wyvern as he climbed out. His life was not forfeit to some human, trading dragon parts for potions and such, because of Farloft’s intervention.

“Will I never live that down?” Arrud asked with a sly grin. “This is the second time you have claimed favors for that one deed.”

“And your life is not worth two favors?” Farloft asked. “I promise I will not ask for a third.”

“Provided I survive this second one, I will hold you to that promise, Two Paws.”

Farloft shook his head and chuckled. He had to hold a record for the dragon with the widest variety of nicknames. He might just make up a story about that once this business was over.

It was evening and Farloft had lit a fire for Snow. The bird was preening, again. He was recounting their conquests as he pulled each flight feather through his beak.

“We have Fafner, for sure,” Snow said.

“He is a fire breather, so he can fly with Clearair, James and me,” Farloft made a mark in the dirt by the fire with one large claw.

“And Mokum.” Snow pulled another feather through his beak.

“He can immobilize any troops he can get close enough to breath on.” Farloft made another mark in the dirt. “We will just have to keep the catapult off him. His scales are not as tough as my family’s.”

“Lemira,” Snow said, “if she stays.”

Farloft drew another hash mark in the dirt. “She can sink any ships with troops being brought in, and protect our ships if they have to make the trip down the river.”

“If she stays,” Snow repeated.

“If she stays,” Farloft agreed, but did not remove the line he drew representing her.

“Rymit.” Snow ruffled his feathers at the mere thought of the snakelike black dragon. The dragon made his skin crawl.

“He is a key player.” Farloft drew another line in the dirt. “His assignment will be to tunnel below the catapults and raise the earth enough to topple them. King Minuss’ troops would need horses and harness to pull them upright again. It will be a totally unexpected move on our part. Once they are down there will be a lot less danger for us to deal with. We can concentrate on the sons of Thrax.”

“Soary and Sanna.” Snow had finished his cleaning. He picked up his backpack and brought it over to sit by the fire.

Farloft put two more lines in the dirt. “I hope to have them infiltrate the enemy’s forces, and if at all possible, take down King Minuss. Without a leader, their forces will fall apart.”

“That makes seven, plus us.” Snow opened his backpack and pulled out his grandfather’s journal. “I have been thinking that if the Thrax brothers are as fearsome as you say, perhaps we should look to others for help.” He opened the journal. “Grandfather has a note here that there is a gryphon rookery not much further west. WindCrest by name. I think we should stop there and see if we can recruit some of my brethren, some might even be kin to me.”

Farloft looked at the lines in the dirt. He knew they could use more help, and the gryphons were fast and fierce fighters. He just wished he could keep it to pulling in favors, or those who had a vested-interest in the battle for Kerth. All dragons would benefit from the overthrow of a king that would turn dragon clan against dragon clan. However, pulling in the gryphons was not something he had considered.

“I don’t know, Bird.” He scratched his chin with a paw. “Is it fair to pull them into my fight?”

“I think they might want to make that decision themselves.” Snow blew the feathers of his topknot out of his eyes. “You know us birds… we love to rush in, save the day, and then crow about it.”

Farloft grinned at the gryphon. “Okay. We have time. We will stop off at WindCrest and see what they say.”

Farloft with Soary and Sanna by Elizabeth Babicz

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you'd like to get a heads-up on my latest book releases, sales, and freebies, make sure to sign up for my newsletter! And you don't have to worry about getting a bunch of junk - I only send it out when I really have something you might want to hear about.

* indicates required