The week rolled by quickly, and to my horror the day had come that Alorah was to be sold to those dragon trainers of the north. My father woke me before dawn and allowed me to have one more flight with my dear friend. My mood was somber and it flowed down into the beast as she carried me, slower than usual, no happy chirps would emanate from her broad chest as we floated on the breeze. By the time Alorah touched down right next to our home, two greasy looking men sat on steads that were loaded down it leather straps and chains in our front walk.
From my locked room I watch, tears streaming down my face, as the men bound my friend’s wings to stop her from escaping their grasp. My father took money from the taller of the two and shook his hand before waving them off. I knew that my sacrifice was for the betterment of my family, but something in my gut told me this was not good. My blood boiled with hatred towards the two dragon trainers as I cursed them aloud into my pillow. I could not control my rage, not even to unlock my door to the dismal coos from my sister’s sweet voice.
I got up from the window to go lie in my bed and beg for sleep when I heard the worst sound of terror I could. It was a sound that I only heard once before. When I was off picking apples with Alorah not even a year after her hatching, a wolf hunted us down and she defended me, getting her wing caught in the snarling jaws of our attacker. The deep painful bellow was something I never wanted to hear again, but there it was piercing through the morning’s air, sharp and terrifying. I knew I must do something. Alorah was in danger and I had to hope that I would not be too late.
My home was bustling with sounds from my family and I knew an escape would be futile before night fall. I devised a plan to leave right after the fire was put out by my father, after he finishes his pipe, from there I would follow the path to the northern city of Warenviel and track down my companion. She hatch for me, was bound to my person and I had betrayed her. She would defend me to the death and this was something I needed to return. Excitement and nerves surged through my veins while I tried to pretend to be calm in front of my family.
My father had decided that no offspring of his would mope and wallow for any period of time over a beast, but my sharp tone and bubbling attitude was easily played off as heart break. Deep down inside I knew it was fear of the unknown that I was about to embark on and the hope that I would find Alorah unscathed from her temporary captures.
After dinner came and went, I offered to my mother that I would clean the kitchen and table, stating that I needed to keep my mind busy and have some time alone with my thoughts. Thankfully she did not question my motives, just gave me a gentle hug and went off to get my sister ready for bed. Within an hour the house was winding down, it was only my father that was feigning rest alongside me. He huffed on his pipe at the table, staring out the window. It was not until he looked over at me while I was sweeping that I noticed the slightest of moisture in his eye as his voice cracked, “I am sorry for what had to be done. You are a good and brave daughter. Thank you for your sacrifice for this family, Roan.”
My heart sank, my father was not one to express sentiment of any kind. At this moment I had wished I had gone to bed when my mother asked me to hours ago to sleep off the sorrow. I stood, dumbfounded, staring into my father’s leathery face, unable to speak. Realizing my shock and unease, my father got up from his seat, gingerly walked over to me and hugged me strongly. For a few seconds I let myself melt into a man that was usually so tough and almost mean, I could not remember a time where he opened his heart like this. He usually left the parenting, especially the unpleasant parts, to my mother’s kind heart.
Right then I made a split second decision, one that was going to change the course of my father’s and my relationship forever. I decided to tell him of my plan. I explained to him about the painful cry I heard from Alorah, and the story of the first time I was forced to hear it. I body went limp as I sunk to my knees and cried at my father’s feet once my entire scheme had been unveiled. Terrified, I refused to look into my father’s eyes again. I stared at his feet as they left me where I knelt without saying a word in reply.
For what felt like a lifetime I stayed in that position, until the feet returned and my father’s grasp lifted me to stand. His voice turned low and strong as he walked me over to the table. My eyes grew wide while I took in the site of a hand drawn map, which looked like it was older than my grandfather, sprawled over the wood. My father explained that this was the record my ancestors used while enacting trades with their dragons. It showed the paths to and not to take clearly with written in descriptions of various food, water and danger spots all over. He turned to me with warmth and love filling with tears in his eyes, “This is all I can do to help in your quest, my dear. I will deny ever aiding you if questioned by your mother. Please be safe and hide well. Your journey will not be easy, but if you must go, I will not stop you.” He clapped his hand on my shoulder, untied his hunting knife from his belt and rested it on the table.
Without another word, I was left alone in the darkened room. My mind raced around the events of this entire day. I knew that if I did not leave soon, I would not get far before day break. I figured my prey was going not too much faster than I would be able to due to the way they had restrained my pet. I went into my room, got dressed in my hunting boots and jacket, grabbed both of my game bags, filled one with the treasures my father had given me and a canteen and set out into the night damped Anadorie Wood.
Fireflies were zipping around on the path, flitting in the moon light as I trudged along. I was thankful for my coat as the night air picked up into a gentle breeze. I knew that this was going to be an undertaking, but nothing could have prepared me for how grand my adventure it was truly going to be.For the next installment in this story, please see: The Last Dragon Keeper…