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A boy finds a tunnel under his bed filled with all sorts of strange creatures
#839456 added January 27, 2015 at 1:55am
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Book 2 Chapter 6
One of the wyrms climbed up my shoulder to get a view of what the road behind us looked like. He started to chirp excitedly before wings appeared over us and snatched a couple of magpies out of the sky.

“I bet you haven’t been feeding them,” the dragon grumbled as he alighted on a milestone.
A grunt from the wyvern.

“I did not! I…I just happened to be coming this way and thought that these pitiful human creatures probably weren’t taking care of you very well, that’s all.”

My donkey snorted and stopped it’s foot. The dragon made a sound that mimicked the sound of the donkey’s quite well, the donkey snorted and again and continued on the path.

The dragon passed a magpie up to the waiting mouths of the wyrms and walked along beside us.
“Don’t mistake me, human. I’m only here to see that you treat my kin well, if you can’t understand them by yourself then I’ll make you.”

A grunt from the wyvern.

The dragon growled, “I’d like to see you try it.”

I watched as the wyvern’s wings extended on either side of Gemy’s waist. The dragon retreated so he would be shielded behind my donkey.

“Don’t you dare, I’ll leave you know.”

Another grunt and he slowly returned his wings to where they had been. The dragon mumbled the entire time we were traveling.

“The village should be around that bend. The people will probably not react well to seeing you.”
The dragon humphed, “you think I don’t know that human. I’ll watch for you on the other side. Don’t do anything stupid that would get my kin hurt.” He took off but kept low to the hill so he wouln’t be visible.
I looked down at the wyvern’s head as he and the wyrms settled themselves so they would be out of sight. “At least he thinks well of you, that’s worth something.”

He grunted back and tuched his head in as Gemy adjusted her cloak over him. It really did look like his wings were just part of her skirt.

There was a group of young boys playing just inside the barriers of the village, “Hello there,” I leaned forward in my saddle and tired to make myself as aggreable looking as possible, “might any of you direct me to the house of George and Gladys.” The boys looked at us with suspicion and an nearly unnerving silence, finally one of them pointed down the way. No further direction about how far it was just pointed. I nodded, there was no need to be rude back and I guess I was the grownup. We continued down the main street. Gemy inquired of a woman with a basket and we were finally told which house we were to look for. It was an imposing two story with a weathered front but a rich looking interior from what we could glean from a look through the window on our way past. Making our way to the door I helped Gemy dismount and pulled the knocker. It took rather longer then I thought it ever would before the door was finally opened a handsbredth and we were stared at by a pair of beady eyes that wore an expression even more sour than Thea’s. I gave myself a quick mental shake to remind myself of how wrong my first impression of his cousin had been and introduced myself and my errand. After I finished speaking he stared at me for an uncomfortable amount of time.

“And you think that is all that is necessary to gain entrance into a high society abode, do you? A meer suggestion from a cousin who is in no way on good terms with my family. You realy think that we will just put you up and bow to you, serve you hand and fot and help you on a journey that has little t do with me, my family or anyone else remotely connected with me?”

This was going far from well. I glanced at Gemy behind me.

“You’ll get no logings for free here and as for watching the donkeys.” He snorted a more unpleasant sound I’m not sure I have ever heard. “We won’t watch them for free so I hope you brought some money or are prepared to take them with you.” He looked down his nose at me. A difficult stask since if we were standing on a level surface I would be taller than him by a head and possible a shoulder. “You mountain folk always think you can get away with anything. With your high and lofty trades. You only ever come down here to mock us.” His eyes moved to Gemy. The look I saw in them made my blood boil but pining to the wall of this overly decorated probably beyond the point of comfortable use with a javelin was unlikely to go over well with the local, especially since saying ‘he looked at my wife’ would not be a decent excuse.

“We’ll be off then, we had been on the impression that we would be on our own anyway. Though we’ve been more than greatful for what help we have received. We will leave the donkey’s with you, as we told Muriel we would do and will call back for them when we are on our way back. With any luck it should be in not too long.” I took Gemy’s hand and passed him the reins in one swift motion before he could say anything to the contrary and turned to continue down the road, “we’ll be sure to ration the money we have so there is something for your trouble when we return.”

The door opened further and he sputtered, “why don’t you pay me now? You can leave your money with me and I can keep track of it and give you back whatever is not owed when you return.”

“We don not know how long it will take us to get there and back so that would be extremely problematic especially if we need to hire horses to take us to the city faster so we can be here on time,” I kept walking, driving Gemy at a speed that was a fair bit faster then what we usually walked at. “Crook,” I muttered for her only to hear, “he wants to know how much we have so he can find someway to justify charging us the entire amount that we carry.”

“You don’t think Muriel knows they would treat us this way do you?”

I pondered for a moment and shook my head, “I think she wants to believe the best of people, but no I don’t think she knows.”

“Should we tell her?”

I had no answer, I wanted to say yes on principlke but thinking about how the others treated her maybe she just need to believe that she was helping us by sending us along to her cousin. All things considered however, her house was much nicer looking and furnished then what I had seen of her cousins. She had the funds to send donkeys with us and not need them for a while, I had seen the other animals in her satble, then evidence of a stable hand, if anything the villagers there seemed to shun her more for the fact that she was wealthy than that she was disgraceful and a social misfit like this man would have me believe.

A little girl approached us with a basket full of berries. She caught Gemy’s eye and with a big smile offered the basket with a cheery, “penny for a basket of berries mum?”

Gemy melted in a second, and began fishing for her purse, I looked behind us to assure myself that George or whatever his name was wasn’t watching us greedily. He wasn’t.

“Little miss, do you know where the city is?”

She turned her big brown eyes to me and nodded.

“Is there only one road to get to the city from here?”

She put a chubby little finger to her chin and thought about it. “There is one road but if you go one way you don’t go to the city you go to the westland boggs.”

This was not what I wanted to hear but it was why I asked.

“Do you know which way we will have to turn at the sign post?” Gemy took over the questioning for me.
She shook her head with the most adorable frown I had ever seen on her face, but then she brightened, “my daddy is working a field near there, he can tell you.” We thanked her and gave her an extra penny, promising to give her basket to her daddy when we met him to ask for directions.
It was a beautiful day, a light breeze had started, the hills and field smelled rich with berries and flowers. The berries the little girl had picked we a bit tart for my liking, perhaps she had picked them a bit too early. It did wonders to restore my mood. Gemy seemed to sense my need to sork myself out quietly so marched along beside me, munching on berries and giving a couple every now and then to the wyrms but more often to the wyvern that seemed to take a shine to them. The dragon alighted to walk along beside us, looking with curiosity at the basket as Gemy fed the wyvern and her self alternately. He seemed to refuse to ask to try it out of principle but I could see him starting to drool from his curiosity, and I dare say whatever it was the wyvern was grunting wasn’t helping the dragon’s state of mind. What he was saying I had no way to even guess. The wyrms seemed to have a rich array of sounds to choose from, chirps and whisles to grunts screams and roars. The dragon seemed capable of any speech and to switch between them at the drop of a shoe. Based on the dragon’s reactin to the wyvern every grunt, that all sounded the exact same to me could be interpereted as a sentence, or even a whole speech. I picked up one of the berries and tossed it in the direction of the dragon. He caught it out od mid air and I’ sure swallowed it before he had a chance to taste it.
“Don’t make assumptions about me human, you cannot just feed me like a dog at your beck and call with no further consideration.”

I tried to make my expression as surprised as possible, “intentionaly feed you? I would never presume to do that. I was merely checking your reflexes.”

The wyvern grunted and from the mumbling that erupted from the dragon I’m guessing the wyvern had found our exchange amusing.

“Would you like another?” Gemy offered. The dragon fell behind us and reappeared on the other side of Gemy. The pattern now went, one for dragon, one for Gemy, one for dragon, two for wyvern, one for dragon and so on. Finally the dragon began speaking again.

“So why are you not riding now?”

I recounted what happened my anger flaring again at how we were treated and I could see the dragon becoming irate as well, though for a different reason.

“How dare they refuse someone traveling with dragon kin!” He looked ready to fly of when the wyvern grunted again.

He stopped and made a rather terrible noise that I’m guessing was meant for the understanding of the wyvern only. Another calm grunt from the wyvern. The dragon started mumbing again.

I braved the question, “What did he say?”

“He said,” the dragon spat back sith no small evidence of annoyance, “that is is better we endure one sunb the the entire village burns down. I still say be flame the fools and teach them some respect for dragon kin.”

“But they didn’t even know about the wyrms or the wyvern when we were there.”

“It makes no difference, there actions still resulted in the snub of dragon kin.” The dragon was unrelenting in his tirade and continued on until the wyvern grunted to alert us to the field full of workers we were approaching. The cross road was also in view, it was a good thing we already intended to ask which way to do since both ways the road curved seemed to sugest that they would eventually go around th4 city entirely. Gemy moved the last of the berries to the sack, the dragon used the cover of her skirts to hide since he wouldn’t be able to take off in flight without being noticed by one or another of the curous onlookers. I waved down the nearest of the men.

“Hello there, we met a little girl in the village she gave us some berries in this basket,” I reached my hand over for Gemy to place it in, “and told us that her father would be near by to tell us which way to turn to go to the city.”

The young man tunred and yelled to another man about a stone’s throw away. A short version of the tale and a showing of the basket, turned the man’s curios expression into a wide smile. Well at least now we knew it was difinitly just George and not the whole villages attitude.

“That would be my Katrina alright. I’ll gladly take the basket back for her, thank you for thinking to return it. I didn’t think those berries were ripe but you seemed to enjoy it. You’ll want to take the right fork up there, the other one would take you to the city, if you had a month for all the weaving around it does.” We thanked him gave our regards to Katrina for the fruit and went on our way. The moment we were clear the dragon removed himself from Gemy’s stirt. The more I saw him walking along beside us the more he reminded me of a dog.

“We should have asked how far to the next village.” My pace slowed as I realised Gemy was right. We had assumed that we would be able to get a further advance for a ride from George and since Muriel had no reason to doubt it we hadn’t asked her what the next leg of the journey would be like. The wyvern slowly uncoiled himself from around Gemy’s waist and took off as a gentle flight along the path. The dragon seemed to be put a bit on edge by this and after looking at us for a while extended his own wings and followed the wyvern. The wyrms chirped but didn’t seem alarmed. We continued our walk as I pulled out the map my dad gave me and tried to estimate where we were. If I was looking at this thing with any accuracy we were about half way there. The other half would be much slower on foot though. I said another quick prayer that the band we were trying to out run was not able to get mounts but knew that luck could only hold us so long. It had popped into my mind that asking for a horse was not the only way to get one, and certainly not the way to go about it if you didn’t want to be noticed. Our feet were beginning to feel the fatigue, even more so when we stoped moving them. We would go as far as we could but we could not rely on the wyvern to alert us at the slightest sign of people so we would have to be much more thoughtful about our campsite until they return. We ate while moving and soon realised that frech mountain streams were not so plentiful here as they were on the mountain. Water was a resource much more to be respected and we found after walking the entire afternoon without seenign one stream that the next one was a good place to fill ourselves up with water in afdditon to our canteens.

“The sun will be setting soon. We should find a place to camp now while we have proper sight. There are snakes in the valley that can be quite dangerous so we’ll have the wyrms scout whatever site we think might do but we need to get to work on finding it soon.” Tree cover was next to none existant so we finally settled on an area on the ground not too far from the path that dipped down so we wouldn’t be viible to the path with the tall grass. The wyrms found one very large very fat and no doubt very venomous snake to drive off. Something that was not to hard to do after puffing fire in its face. Cuddled with each other with the wyrms curled at our back we decided to brave the night without a fire and continue in the morning. It wasn;t as cold down here at night as it was on the mountain but the difference from the temperature of the day to the night was something to be reconed with.

“They sure make the houses here tall. I have not seen so many tall houses on the mountin.”

I smiled in the dark as I rubbed Gemy’s back to help keep her warm, I could hear the sleep in her voice. “It takes a lot of time to build those houses, only people with lots of resources and time, and that can justify needing so much space tend to do it on the mountain. I suppose down here it is more a fasion but there are probably other reasons. We are much more connected to the land and to the wild nature on the mountain so perhaps that has something to do with it.” Gemy nods nad nuzzles her face into my chest.

“What kind of a house do you think we will have?”

I consider for a moment. The conversation is making us both feel at ease and I can feel the wyrm behind me lift his head to consider the crickets and other sounds of the night every now and then. We don’t have to keep watch with them protecting us. “Well I had thought we would make something like what my parents have. It will start as a small shack and then get bigger as our need increases. If you want to have a double floor house though you will need to tell me since the walls much to be very strong to support it and we might have to make the main rooms narrower. What about you?” I try to angle my head so I can see her. “What kind of house would you like to live in?”

She hesitates, I can not see her face but I get the impression she is giving a puzzled scowl, “I don’t know,” she says at length, “I didn’t know there were other kinds of houses than the one I grew up in until we came to your village and then we come here and there are even more.”

I chuckle and rub her back, “shall we wait to design it until we see the city? I’m sure they have even more types of houses there nad there is the castle to look at as well.”

She laughed and slips her arms around me in a hug, “I don’t need a castle.”

I kiss her lips a gesture I am growing to anticipate and enjoy the more I do it, “just a goatherd and a fold?”

She hugs me tighter and humms slightly, “just you.”

We lay in silence for a while listening to the bugs and the occasional owl. It has been so long I feel since I last heard the sound of birds. I begin to wonder if it really was the wyrms who had eaten them. Being as birds fly I think it would be rather difficult for the earth bound wyrms to prey upon them, the mice nad the hares or rabbits, sure but not the birds. Perhaps that is the work of the wyverns and dragons. Slowly we start to give into sleep. It is such a lovely night.

The morning greets us with a rather red sunrise and large dark clouds on the opposite horizon.
“We’ll have to do as much traveling this morning as we can. I don’t know when those clouds will be upon us but I don’t think we want to be caught under them.”

We let the wyrms escort us back to the path before putting them in our pack, removing some food and talking off at a good clip down the road. From the map I think we are about a two days journey from the next village, our next change to beg transportation. We have managed so far to spend very little money but I know that cannot last long, I am not so worried about our trip back, we can take our time walking and foraging once the pressure is off but now is not that time. The rain started just after we had eaten our noon meal. It started gently, but by the time the sun had been darkened by the clouds we were getting near soaked through despite our cloaks. I could see Gemy’s skirt clutching to her ankels nad I knew that walking must be becoming increasingly difficult for her. Finally when we were on a rise and I thought safe from the ever increasing puddles in the ditches we huddles down beside the edge of the road. I held Gemy trying to keep her warm despite how wet we both were. We were like that a long time. The sun was completely blocked out, we might as well have tried to be out at night, but there would be no sleep or rest for us. I used my hand to try to keep my hood secure though it had ceased to keep the water out long again, in its drenched state it did little agains the wind but at lest it kept the sting of the raindrops off, and instead relegated them to just a constant pounding on my back. I hunched over Gemy as best I could when the hail started. I was more thankful then I had ever been before that moment that my ribs had healed, there was no way I would be able to endure this if that were not the case. The hail seemed to get bigger and then suddenly stop I relaxed my hold slightly but I was still one edge ready at a moment’s notice to leap back into position to protect my wife. Her presence there with was starting to warm me. As I protected her and felt like my back was going to freeze she stayed clutched to my chest, her gentle heat warming the front of me. The rain continued and then suddenly stopped as I felt a weight on my shoulders. I could look around and see the rain continued and I could still feel the pull of the wind. I could not turn my head to look up but looking ahead I caught a glimpse of what looked like a grey leather blanket. I breathed a sigh of relief. The Wyvern had returned.

He shielded us from the rain for the duration of the storm, one of the wyrms crawling from our huddle to hold itself against the wyvern’s chest to keep it warm while it held its vidgile. When the rain finally stoped it was so dark that it was hard to tell if night had fallen or if the clouds had simple relented in their assault on us but had yet to move off.

The wyvern was kind enough to shake himself off a good enough distance from us for us not to be further soaked by his water. Gemy dried him of with a small cloth that was no longer in use to hold food and let him return with a contented sigh to around her waist with the company of a wyrm to finish warming up inside the cocoon of her cloak. The other wyrm took the lead and gave a puff of fire every now and then to light the way. Gemy gave all but the very last handful of berries to the wyvern, I passed her some cheese and flat bread to eat while we moved. If it was anything to judge by, how hungry we were then it was most likely already the night and the remaining clouds simply blocked the stars from view.

We followed the wyrm for quite some time, though I can not reasonably assume how long as it seemed to take longer to step with boots that felt full of water but that would release none when tipped over. The wyvern gave a familer grunt and the wyrm held his head back and blew a constant stream of fire. In a moment the wings of the dragon appeared in the column of light and it descended, bathing in the light like a bird in a stream to get the last of the moisture nad chill from his wings.

“Well I hope that is the last of those type of storm we face,” his tone was gruff as though we had somehow caused the storm. The dragon made some funny sounds to the wyvern and got some muttered sounds in return. Gemy offered the dragon the last of the berries. He pretended to scoff at them but accepted quickly enough that there was no time to threaten to offer them to the wyvern. He ate thoughtfully, tore apart a fish he had brought back for the wyrms to eat and started in on his and the wyvern’s findings. “We scouted ahead to the village in front, however if we cut across the fields here we will come to the next village after that one while saving about three days walking for you. The village you are headed to is small, I do not think they would have a team for you to rent even if you could pay them with all the gems under the mountain, you will have better luck with that at the village I suggest you go to, though it will still take some manner of luck on your part, as most of the animals for the purpose seem to still be gone to the city already. Furthermore, I went back the way we came.” He leveled his gaze at me, his plinking eyes making him seem all the more focused. “The band you told us of, the four men and one woman, I have been tracking them since the mountain. They have been stealing horses and keeping to back roads. They will be upon you soon. I do not think they will take the path across the fields. It is too dangerous for their horses, too much chance of one of them getting injured in a gofer hole. You can regain a couple days lead on them that way but if you do not do this, they will overtake you, whether they see you or not is beside the point but your efforts will be in vain.”
I look at Gemy I can see the question and the fear in her eyes. We have to arrive before they do, I’m not even sure how I will get to meet Cornelius to warn him and I can not formulate any plans until I have at least seen the city.

Gemy speaks before I do. “If they have horses how quickly will they catch up to us even if we cross the field?” she looks to me, not giving the dragon a chance to reply, “we will have to hire horses there. There isn’t any other choice. I know we wanted too but we were willing to do without. Now if we don’t…” she shook her head, “if we can’t get any we won’t be able to get there in time at all, all our trip and effort will be for nothing.”

My voice catches in my throat. I want to reassure her to tell her that we’ll be able to do it but I can’t lie to her like that I don’t know what we are going to do. The dragon seems to smile.

“Fear not human, you have a dragon on your side, so long as you are with dragon kin I will help you. I spoke to a group of wide horses, they are comfortable with this field in any weather or night. They will come to the flame the wyrm blows and will take you across the field to the other village. I will ask them to wait till you have secured a ride from the village before they go on, but you must be prepared that they will leave so be genuine in your search for another mount.” Just as he finished speaking we heard a whinny. They stayed back a bit from where the wyrm was blowing flame. The dragon made some chirping noises to him and he stopped his beacon. “Remain still human, the horses will come to us.” I picked the wyrm up when I felt him move past my boot. We were in darkness. I began to hear the sound of the horses moveing closer, their hooves made little noise against the soft ground until they made contact with the road. Puffs and snuffs of air before I feel a warm presence close to me.

“Mount up humans, it would be prudent to cover as much ground as possible before the sun comes up.”

Horses are a lot bigger than goats, donkeys and ponies. I could hear the dragon trying to stifle a laugh as I repeatedly failed. I heard a voice above me. “Why didn’t yours kneel so you could get on?”

“He is too tall,” the dragon said from behind me, “but with his height getting on should have been easy.”
I gritted my teeth and tried again, nearly falling over the other side of the horse. I struggled for a while before setting myself more like a sack of apples than a person over the horses shoulders. It snorted and started off toward the field. The pace was jarring every now and then I could hear a sound from Gemy that suggested she wasn’t having that much of a comfortable time either. I continued to try to rotate myself so be in a position so I could at least take the rocking motion with the area of my body intended for that purpose. Sometime in the midst of that process The horses joined up with the rest of what I am assuming was a herd and had begun to increase their pace. Having finally attained a position in which I could lay hold of the horse’ mane I bent low over it’s back and prepared myself for what was sure to be a long ride.

My eyes took their time to adjust but we at length aided by the eventuall appearance of the moon as it finnaly found it’s was around the clouds. It was beautiful night the sky was a golden grey color in the light of the moon with the occasional tendrils of dark clouds passing across like the strands of a raven haired girl.

It took me a while to adjust to the rhythm of the horse’s gallop, occasionaly they would slow and we got a bit wet as they took us across a creek. The dragon flew abrest of the party, the wyvern I noticed had spread its wings over Gemy to touch the horse to better secure her. I could not tell if the wyrms were sleeping. The dragon said nothing if he was guiding out path I heard no communication but perhaps he had covered this with the horses with little need for other instructions before we got on them.
It became relaxing after a while. If it weren’t for the fact that I had to hang on for dear life while the horse adjusted speeds I might have fallen asleep. Slowly small details of the ground became discernable. The I noticed the slight hint of a lightening grey on the horizon. I looked out ahead of su I could now see the occasional farming dwelling where the man of the house had taken a lantern out into the barns to attend to the cows. We were aming a little beyond these to where I could make out the silhouette of some twenty or so buildings all grouped together. It was not a large village by the standards of the valley people. The shadows of men with their laterns gave no indication that they heard us passing though we were some distance out. Still the pouning of their hoves on the ground sounded loudly in my ears as we moved along. At length the dragon fell back his flight to me.

“The horses will drop you around that small hill out of sight of the village. From there we will walk in and you can arrange a ride.”

I scanned the area in view, able to make more details out now that there was more light. I couldn’t make out any horses. I glanced back at the dragon, he seemed to sence my observation before I could make it.

“I will ask them to wait for a time but you have to understand that their bringing us this far at all is a favor that few would receive. And you never would have if not for me.”

Talking was not easy while being bumped around on a wild horses back, but perhaps it was for the better that I didn’t reply. The last thing I needed was to offend our dragon in case there were no horses for hire in the village and we had to turn to other means to get by. When we stopped and dismounted though it would be more accurate to say when we fell off the horses snortend and pranced around a bit. The dragon alighted and seemed to converse with a few of the horses. Some of the others stood a way off and turned their ears alternately from the dragon to the direction of the road. The horses that had transported me and Gemy flopped down in the grass and rolled about kicking their feet and legs in the air. Gemy smiled at them and went over to rub their bellies. I watched her chooing and using her entire arms to rub them. I smiled at her before tunring to walk up the rise. It would take us a little time to walk to the village, we would end up backtracking but there wasn’t really a way around it. The sun was only just coming up, but perhaps the time it would take us to walk in would make us slightly less suspicious looking.

“Gemy, we should get going.”

Gemy paused what she was doing to look at me. She gave the horse one last scratch and get to her feet, she brushed off her skirt as best she could with the wyvern trying to get settled and comfortable around her waist. The dragon moved toward me, ackwardly shoving his way under my cloack but letting his wings hang down like a second layer.

“Are you sure you’re going to be comfortable like that?”

“How long can it possible take you to hire a horse?”

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