Sunday, July 8, 2018

A Gathering of Dragons - Chapter Twenty-six

Fafner, Mokum, and James followed Farloft single file through the depths of his mountain home. Rivers of lava bubbled and flowed beneath their feet as they walked on stone slabs placed by nature, or Farloft, centuries ago to make a path through the semi-dormant volcano to the other side of the Westridge mountains.

Unlike Farloft and James, the other two dragons did not possess an internal temperature control. Fafner’s fur was soaked with sweat and his tongue hung from his mouth. Mokum’s feathered white mane and tail hung limply, drenched in moisture from his perspiring scales.

They passed below a cascading waterfall of the hot molten rock. “It’s not far now,” Farloft offered as encouragement to the two older dragons.

Fafner licked his muzzle of the sweat and drool that had accumulated there. “I certainly hope there is water on the other side.”

“There is,” James piped up. “It’s a bit tepid, but refreshing nonetheless.”

“I would settle for anything less than boiling at this point,” Mokum said.

Within another fifty feet, they could see the opening and the mid-day sun of the west side of the mountain. The four climbed out on the ridge and James led them to a pool just a short distance away in a natural stone hollow. The dragons drank their fill.

Farloft moved further up the ridge and stood gazing to the west.

“Which way from here,” Fafner called as he approached. He had fluffed up his fur so the gentle mountain breeze could cool him off. As it dried, he began to look like a giant dust ball you might find under a seldom moved bed.

“Come.” Farloft wing waved them over. “Look at this.”

The other dragons climbed up to join him on the ridge. What they saw amazed them. They were overlooking the tent camp of their enemy, but it was virtually deserted. There were a few people, mostly women and children huddled around fires, but no soldiers or any men to be seen at all.

“Where did they all go?” James asked. “Adrian said there were thousands of them. They didn’t all make it through the gorge or get crushed in Snow’s avalanche.”

“Their trail leads west,” Farloft indicated with a nod of his head.

There was a wide muddy track leading back toward Dryden, the first village you encountered westside.

“Look!” Mokum shouted in surprise. He pointed with a paw. “It’s Soary and Sanna.”

Sure enough, the two little forest dragons were headed straight for them. They must have spotted Farloft’s green among the gray and black rock of the mountainside. They picked up their speed. The four larger dragons waited patiently for them to arrive.

“It is so good to see you,” Farloft breathed a sigh of relief. He worried about the sisters and the mission he sent them on. He had no idea what they might run into. Even though their sting was deadly, they were so small.

“I think we bring encouraging news,” Soary said, as she and her sister landed on a stone outcrop. “The men King Minuss promised land, slaves and the right to pillage, have turned against him.”

Sanna spoke up almost talking over her sister, she was so anxious to join in. “Once you sealed the gorge and killed the commander, they saw no way to gain any fortune other than turn against the king.”

“They overran his command tent. He barely escaped with his life.” Soary almost twittered in happiness.

“We thought to end him for you, but we were laughing so hard at his hasty retreat that we let him go,” Sanna said.

“He won’t be coming back. I heard a band of mercenaries say they were going to follow him because they were sure he was hiding his treasures at the castle.” Soary templed her wings and grinned.

“There wasn’t much in his tent,” Sanna said.

This was such splendid news. Farloft wished he could hug the little dragons, but they were so small, he would have crushed them. The old dragon’s mind was already working. When they opened the gorge next spring the land could be brought under Queen Larkin’s rule. She could be queen of the three kingdoms. Perhaps they would even give it another name. Start fresh. He mulled it around. They could call the combined kingdoms, The Kingdoms of Westridge. He liked the sound of that. He would propose it when the time came.

Now though, they had one last task – to put an end to the war, once and for all.

Farloft and the Forest Dragon Sisters, Soary and Sanna by Elizabeth Babicz

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