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The 44 Dragons
by Margo Fallis
Part Two - Arbutel - Chapter 26

          “There are the huts, straight ahead,” Quirin said.

“You’re excited, aren’t you, Marti?  Your parents are there.” Gretel knew she’d be happy if her parents were alive.

“It’s been so long, nearly twenty years,” Marti said.

“Well, I am going to beat you both there.” Gretel ran towards the huts, leaving the two men behind.

Venec and Cardew flew behind her.

“I’m not going to try to keep up with her. I’m too old.” Quirin laughed. “I think we’d better switch back into more presentable clothes. I don’t think Gordinth could handle seeing me in a tee-shirt and shorts.”

Marti looked down at his own outfit. “I think you’re right.”

Quirin took out his wand and waved it at Marti. Tiny pink sparkles flew out the tip.

When he looked down, he saw long pants adorning his legs, socks, and sturdy brown leather shoes. His shirt changed into a plain blue button up.

Quirin switched back to his green cape and hat. “Much better,” the wizard said.

            Gretel ran into the center of Luba, shouting. “We’re here! We’re here! Gordinth, Marti’s mom and dad, we’re here!”

           Sindri came running out of a hut, wiping her hands on her stained apron. She saw Gretel standing there with the two dragons. “Who are you? Where did you get these baby dragons?”

“You must be Marti’s mom. Hi, I’m Gretel and this is Venec and Cardew.”

“How do you know about Marti?”

Claring rushed out of another hut. “What’s going on here? Who’s this? Where did…?

“I’m Gretel. You must be Claring, Marti’s dad.”

Claring stood in front of Gretel. “Oh my goodness. You’re Gretel. You’re Astrid and Reyka’s daughter. Sindri, it’s Gretel. Where did you get the dragons?”

“Quirin brought us here.”

Claring opened his arms wide.

Gretel ran into them when she saw the tears forming in his eyes.

He squeezed her. “You look just like your mother. Your lei is beautiful. Where did you get it from?”

“It is pretty, isn’t it? Quirin and Ma…” She almost ruined her surprise.

Tears rolled down Sindri’s cheeks. “Come to me, child. Let me see you.”

            Gretel stepped back.

           Sindri smiled through the tears; about to speak, Gretel interrupted, “Don’t get too sad yet, or too happy. I’ve got another surprise for you.” Gretel couldn’t wait until Marti arrived.

Quirin waved his arms and walked into the village.

Marti followed.

Sindri and Claring let go of Gretel. Unable to speak, both he and Sindri stared at the approaching men.

Marti saw them at the same moment. “Mother. Father.” He ran to them, threw his arms around them both and the three sobbed, wrapped in love.

Quirin whispered to Gretel. “Come on. Let them have a private reunion. It’s been a long time. Come with us Venec, Cardew. There’s someone I want you to meet.” He took her hand and they went to look for Gordinth.

                                    #  #  #

           Marti, Sindri and Claring pulled apart. “Look at you son. I don’t know if I’ll never get used to having my son look the same age as I am. What have you been doing for the last twenty years son and where are the baby dragons?” Sindri, full of questions, took Claring’s hand in one and held Marti’s in the other. She led them into their hut.

           Marti sat on one of the beds. “Mother, we believe the dragons are probably right here on Arbutel, so are Darmantha, Provan and Jorna. They came to the cave, back home, and took them. It’s a long story.” Marti didn’t know where to begin.

“Why don’t you just take it from the very beginning. We’ve got plenty of time, son.” Claring poured Marti a drink of horp, handing it to him. “Drink up. You’ll never taste anything like this again. Horp berries grow in only one place on the island. It’s quite a walk up the mountainside and I’ve got to fight with the birds; they love the horps too. Anyway, enough rambling. Go ahead and try some.”

           Marti looked at the green drink. “It looks like lime juice.” He took a sip. “Tastes good, not at all like I expected. It tastes more like watermelon.” He glanced around the hut. Two large beds stood against opposite walls, each covered with a tropical floral patterned cover. Large conch shells hung from nails, giving decoration to the room. A large chest of drawers made from some sort of dark wood, stood opposite the door.

          “I’m sure everything here is different than you’re used to. Horp is only the beginning of delights you’ll find here,” Sindri said. “Go on. Finish it up. Horp has an amazing benefit. You’ll feel rejuvenated after the glass is empty.”

          “Are horp berries anything like yamitas?” Marti snickered.

          “Oh no, Marti. Horp berries are much smaller. I’ll show you later on. Now, why don’t you tell us what’s been going on since we left,” Sindri said.

Marti drank every drop.

Sindri and Claring sat on two woven mats spread out on the floor and listened. Marti began his story, telling them every detail, from the time Crispin and Gretel first entered his cottage until he arrived in Luba.

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