by Milton H Peebles III
previous chapter: Black Dragon
They were just two mischievous little girls running barefoot through the lair. They were supposed to be under supervision. The dark haired girl was almost a year older, but anyone that did not know them would think that the white haired little four year old girl was the older. Mainly because she was the one that always came up with the idea of where to go exploring each time that they got away from whoever was assigned to them that day. These excursions were the delight of their lives and they were a delight to the many people and dragons that they met within the lair.
Of course whenever they were missed or it was time to be someplace, someone always found them. Most of the time it was one of the mysterious Red Ladies who kept their identities hidden under a red robe. Then also their father, who was the Dragon Keeper, had an uncanny knack of being able to find them anywhere. With him or the Red Ladies, they knew better than to run. Actually their father was always the favored one to find them, because he encouraged them to tell all about their adventures as he walked holding their hands. He was tall with long dark hair that he kept braided. It hung down to his waist. Most of the time he was wearing his uniform made from the shedding of young dragons. The girls loved the feel of this very strong durable material. He was a busy man. Being leader of the Honor of Dragon’s Army and being married to the adopted Daughters of Kothar kept him so. Then also there were his four daughters and two sons. Yet still he found time to be with each of them.
These two young imps were sisters by the same father, but they did not share the same mother. So when either of their mothers showed up looking for them, it was always fun to play hide and seek. Don’t blame the girls; it was the white haired girls’ mother that started this game. In fact the white haired girl’s mom sometimes went looking for them just to play this game. It was one of her favorite things to do just so she would not have to show up and teach the soldiers her unique way of handling a sword. Whenever this happened the only way to tell the mother from the children was by their size. The three of them could giggle and squeal like a herd of children.
It was on one of those chases that they found the hatching chamber. There they found Therakar next to a nest built around a steam vent. Therakar had recently mated with Garthlac, son of the High Father Dragon Gynyorra. She was attending her egg and it was floating about a foot above the nest. All the other eggs were lying in the nests that their mothers had made. They were the first humans to ever see this place. They stared at the floating egg as the mother reached out and gently turned it a little. Therakar smiled at them with pride. They asked why it floated and she told them this was a special dragon. Once every fourth or fifth generation did this happen. This meant that this dragon would be able to fly even if it had no wings and this dragon could fly higher and faster than any other dragons.
This day did not seem any different. They had snuck out right after eating and were now heading down some winding stairs that they were not supposed to know about. In fact they had been told over and over many times not to play down in the scrap piles next to Ohlfgon’s forge. If Ohlfgon or any of his helpers found them going through all that mess, they were for sure in for a scolding. He didn’t give a hoot that their mothers were the favored by the dragons. To him kids needed proper punishment when they misbehaved. That is what he would say, but he practically spoiled his brother’s only son.
The girls loved coming down to the forge and had learned long ago it was best to come down when Korlio, Ohlfgon’s nephew, was around. Korlio was in the army and was a good friend of their father’s. They knew he would be here for at least a week, since he had been invited over to eat the evening before. He even winked at the girls as they ate. So they knew they would get some time to explore if they were able to sneak away.
They were now getting close enough to hear someone working on something metal. This excited the girls as they got closer. They hoped it was Korlio. He liked to help when he was home. He was very good at helping his uncle make swords. He even had a hand in making their father sword that he received when he was named the new Dragon Keeper. He also helped make the special dagger for Monorra and the Dragon Dancer sword for Avris. The young white haired girl thought of how beautiful her mother Avris’s sword was and hoped that one day Korlio would make one for her when she grew up.
When the girls reached the bottom of the stairs they slowly peered around the wall to see a big round pit with bright red coals in it. Korlio and Ohlfgon were working on a blade together. On the other side of the pit was Thander a young dragon with a bright orange body and dark green wings. He was there to help keep the pit hot. Thander saw the girls and when Ohlfgon was working intently on the new sword he winked at them to let them know they could pass by without being seen. Quickly they did just that. Little did that white haired girl know, but one day years from now she would be right there working with Ohlfgon. Pounding the metal and sweating profusely as they made her Dancer sword.
The girls made their way past four more pits full of dark coals giving off heat. Later that day this room would be full of soldiers wanting repairs or modifications to their swords.
The girls stopped and looked back. The two men were still busy and the other dragons were asleep. Even if the dragons were awake, the girls knew they would not give them away. Now all they had to do was go to the right and they would find the small hallway that led down to the hatching chamber or they could take the next left and be in the junk and scrap chamber. Without hesitation they went left. This was a child’s delight. This huge chamber was filled with piles and piles of broken armor and so much other stuff that was in need of repair. The girls now headed to the very back cause this was where the oldest stuff was and they would not be seen unless someone went back there to look.
The first time they ever came down here, they found a chest. They spent hours trying to get it open. They were discovered because of the noise they were making beating on it. They thought they would never get to see what was in that chest. But when their father got home later that week. He went and found that chest and helped the girls open it later that night. All it had was very old blank writing paper.
They went all the way to the back because that was where the oldest stuff was. There was light back there from a crack in the rock overhead and this was where they found the most interesting things.
The white haired girl was the first to find something and she started tugging on a boot. Her sister saw how much trouble she was having pulling on it and also grabbed hold to help get it out of the pile.
Suddenly the boot gave and the girls tumbled back as the pile came down almost covering them. This made a lot of noise and the girls were certain that someone would be coming soon. They worked quickly to free themselves and then they saw it.
There laying in what was left of the pile was dead skeleton wearing black armor and in its hands was very tarnished box. Curiosity got to the girls and the climbed up on either side. There were two faded black marks on what was left of the front piece. The girls had never seen that mark before and the same mark was on the top of the box.
They opened the box and looked inside. There were several little bottles along one side set in slots. Two slots were empty. On the other side was an odd curved metal thing with what looked like a leaf carved on the side that was showing. On the top and the bottom were corks stuck in it.
The white haired girl reached for the odd piece of metal and before she could touch it a woman’s hand grabbed hers, “Don’t touch.” She looked up to see two Red Ladies and Ohlfgon.
Ohlfgon’s eyes were wide with fear as he looked down at the mark on the chest of the skeleton. The girls heard him mumble in a distressed tone, “Black dragon.”
The Red Ladies then put on gloves, closed and wrapped up the box. When done one of them took the box away. The other took the girls by their hands and spoke to Ohlfgon, “Let no one touch this body or anything in this pile. Other ladies will come today and safely take it all away.”
Her tone told the girls that they found something terrible and they also could tell they would not be told what was going on. The Red Lady then took the girls and had them bathed before taking them home.