Gretel squeezed Quirin's hand. “I think Marti was happy to see his mom and
dad, don’t you?”
“Yes, I’m sure he was happy. Now, where is
Gordinth? I want you to meet him. He’s a very ancient wizard who has led a
long, purposeful life,” Quirin said.
An old man, dressed in a silvery gray cloak and wearing a hat similar to
Quirin’s stepped out of one of the huts. “That must be Gordinth. You have
a beard and he doesn’t. Why?” Gretel reached over and tugged on his beard.
“I prefer a beard, thank you,” Quirin whispered back. “There’s no rule
that says wizards have to have beards you know.” He winked at her.
Gordinth used a cane, much like the one Marti had used. Gretel remembered
something and tugged on Quirin’s sleeve. “Marti hasn’t used his walking
stick since we came here. Did you notice? I wonder where it is.”
Quirin shrugged his shoulders. “Ah, you noticed that.”
She sniffed the air. “Gordinth smells like pine trees.”
Quirin nodded. “It’s incense. He’s quite fond of the stuff. As for Marti,
he'll find that things are different here on Arbutel. He'll never need
that walking stick again, well, not for at least another nine hundred
years.” He chuckled.
Gordinth grasped Quirin’s arm. “Quirin. You’ve finally arrived. I can’t
wait to see the babies. Where are they?” Just then Venec and Cardew flew
by and landed on the ground next to Gordinth. “I see two babies. Is this
all that survived or are there others?” The ancient wizard looked around
for them. “I can’t see them anywhere. Did you already put them in the cave
with Jago and Rosenwyn?”
“Gordinth, this is Gretel. She’s Astrid’s and Reyka’s daughter. Do you
remember they had a child?” Quirin explained to him, knowing his memory
turned itself off and on at times least expected.
“Oh yes, Gretel. You were just a baby when
your parents were killed. Come here and give me a hug.”
Gretel wrapped her arms around Gordinth and hugged him. His life force,
strong and energy filled, enveloped her. “You’re a powerful wizard, aren’t
you, Gordinth. I can feel it.”
“Hee hee, child. I once was powerful. What you feel is experience. I
sensed strength in you too, Gretel. You’ll be a great dragonkeeper some
day. Did Quirin tell you?”
“Yes. I can talk to the dragons. Venec and
Cardew came here with us.”
“Where are the other dragons?” Gordinth
couldn’t remember Quirin’s answer.
“There were complications. Darmantha, Jorna and Provan showed up. They
took the dragons, but I think they are now on the island. We’ve come to
find them.” Quirin moved closer to Gordinth, knowing his hearing was
“Who’s we?” Gordinth gazed at Gretel.
“Gretel, myself, and Marti,” Quirin answered.
“Marti? Oh, Sindri and Claring’s son. We owe a lot to him, caring for the
babies all these years, without thinking of himself once. Great man. Where
is he?” Gordinth glanced around.
“He’s with Sindri and Claring, in their hut. They’re catching up on lost
time. He’ll be along shortly,” Quirin said.
“Can I see the hut my mom and dad lived in? I’d really like to.” Gretel’s
eyes moved from hut to hut.
“It’s over here, Gretel. Take my hand. I’m an old man. I need a pretty
young thing like you to help me get around.” Gordinth slipped his wrinkled
hands into hers. The bones, long and thin, held onto her. “There it is.
Why don’t you run inside and look around. Quirin and I need to discuss the
Gretel looked to Quirin for approval. “Go ahead. It’s your hut now.” She
smiled at both of them and ran inside. The two babies followed. “Wow, this
is cool.” She saw the four posted queen-sized bed. A pale green feather
quilt lay atop. Turquoise strands of thread wove through it from side to
side, in wavy lines, making it look much like the ocean. Gretel looked at
the pictures on the walls. Her mother and father smiled down at her from
their photograph. “So you’re my parents. You’re pretty, Mother. Father,
you’re quite handsome. I do look like you, Mother. Your hair was blonde
too.” She pulled the photograph off the wall and hugged it to her and then
put it down on the small set of drawers next to the bed. “I don’t have
clothes to put in the drawers, at least not yet.” Venec and Cardew jumped
up on the bed. “Well, hello. You’ve come to join me, have you?” She took
the seashell and emerald out of her pocket and put them on the table next
to her bed.
* * *
“That’s quite a few days you’ve had, Marti. Now you’re here with us in
this wonderful place we call home. We’ll have to build you another hut,
but for now, you can stay in here with us. It’s different, compared to
what you’re used to, but I’m sure you’ll learn to love it here,” Sindri
said. “Let’s have a feast to celebrate yours, Gretel’s and Quirin’s
return. I’ll do the cooking. Claring, why don’t you take Marti to meet
“Good idea. Come on, son. Gordinth is a treasure. You’ll love him as much
as we do, I’m sure.” Claring led Marti outside.
Gordinth and Quirin sat on two tree stumps in the middle of the village.
“Ah, there’s Marti now.”
Gordinth and Marti bonded immediately. The four men talked, answering all
of Marti’s questions and he theirs.
Sindri started the preparations for the feast.
Gretel took the lei from around her neck and draped it over a bedpost. She
lay down on her parent’s bed and fell asleep, her arms wrapped around
Venec and Cardew.