Jorna and Provan looked at the tied up dragons. Darmantha's evil grin
reflected in a puddle of rain that fell during the night. The morning sun
inched its way upward, spreading its warming rays across the island. “We
need to keep a close eye on these dragons. Undo their chains and let’s put
them in a cage.”
Provan pulled a key out of his pocket and unlocked the chains from the
Darmantha waved his wand and a waist-high cage appeared. A black iron
barred door swung opened. He kicked the two dragons into the cage, amid a
roar of screeches and snarls. Jago and Rosenwyn weren’t going to go in
easily. Darmantha slammed the door shut. “You go ahead and fight all you
want. You’ll not escape this prison.” He poked the dragons with his
finger. Jago tried to bite him, but he pulled his finger away too fast.
“No, no, no.”
“I think they’re hungry,” Jorna said. “You don’t want them dead, at least
not yet, so we should feed them, don’t you think?”
“Good idea. And since it’s your suggestion, you can go out and find them
something to eat.” Darmantha spat at Jorna’s feet.
“I have no idea what little dragons eat.” Her arms flung out to the side
“Then you’d better bring a variety of things back, just in case they don’t
like something.” Darmantha went back into the hut, leaving a furious Jorna
glaring at Provan.
Darmantha opened the door enough to stick his head out. “Bring something
good back for Erron too.” He stroked the black crow’s feathers. “Bring him
two or three nucco. I noticed he enjoyed the last ones I got him. Make
sure you pull out their claws and whiskers this time. Poor Erron was ill
for a week until he passed them.”
Jorna turned to Provan.
He shook his head. “Don’t look at me. I’m not going with you. I have no
desire to feed them. You should have kept your mouth shut. You’re always
running off at the mouth, Jorna.” Provan went into the hut to join
Jorna looked at the dragons. “Stupid dragons! What am I supposed to feed
you?” She kicked the cage, causing the dragons to screech again and then
she walked off, beginning her search. An hour later she returned.
Provan sat on the ground, his back against a tree stump, watching the
dragons. He saw Jorna approach. “What did you get them? I hope its
something they like. Maybe it will shut them up. They’ve done nothing but
whine and make noise since you left.”
Jorna dropped a carcass near Provan’s feet. Blood splattered when it hit
the ground, covering his boots with red slime and gore. “I brought it
back. You can cut it up and feed it to them. I have to take the nuccos to
that stupid crow. We don’t want it to get hungry now, do we?” She walked
to the hut, opened the door and threw three nuccos on the ground near
Erron’s talons. “There’s your meal.” She slammed the door behind her,
wiped her hands on her pants and walked off snarling.
Provan pulled a knife out of his pocket, cut the skin off the carcass and
tossed it aside. Within seconds, thousands of huge black loosie flies
covered it. The buzzing sound nearly deafened him. He chopped the meat
into small pieces, brushing the annoying pests away with a swatting hand.
“I hope these are dragon-sized bites for you two,” he jeered, tossing a
few pieces into their cage.
Jago and Rosenwyn sniffed the meat. They’d never smelled or tasted raw
meat before. Both dragons backed away from it, refusing to eat.
“What’s the matter with you two? You don’t like dilbi meat? Would you like
me to roast it for you and hand feed you?” Provan threw more meat at the
dragon’s cage. Some of it clung to the iron bars. Flies swarmed around
each piece, coating them with a black, moving cloak of filth.
Darmantha came out. “What are you doing? These dragons won’t eat dilbi
meat. Go and find them some yamitas. What’s wrong with you two? Where’s
Provan pointed to Jorna’s hut. “It will take me hours to find yamitas.
None grow in these parts.”
“Well? You’re wasting time. Get going. NOW!”
Provan mumbled and cursed and headed for the woods.
Jorna chose that moment to come out of her hut.
“You! Go with Provan and find these dragons something edible, but first,
you’d better clean this mess up. I hate loosie flies. Get rid of this meat
and that bloody hide. Don’t either of you come back without some edible
food.” Darmantha went back into his hut, slamming the door behind him.
Jorna pulled the smelly pieces of meat off the cage. She reached her hand
inside to grab the bits of meat Provan had tossed.
Jago used this opportunity to nip her.
“Ow! Clean it up yourself then!” She shouted, picking up the skinned hide
with a stick. Holding it away from her, she dropped it into a hole and
kicked dirt over it, burying it and the loosie flies.
Jago nudged the meat out of the cage with his snout and then hit them away
with his tail. The flies dispersed, leaving the dragons in peace. He
curled up against Rosenwyn and with nothing better to do, they fell
Erron snuck up and grabbed the pieces of bug-covered meat, gobbling them
down. Squawking, it flew to the top of the hut, perched and waited for the
yamitas. He wasn’t going to let the dragons have all of them.
Around mid-afternoon Jorna and Provan returned, carrying armfuls of
yamitas. They dropped them near the dragon’s cage, pushing a few broken
pieces inside. “Here you go, you useless dragons.” Jorna stormed off,
leaving Provan near the cage.
Jago and Rosenwyn woke up, saw the yamitas and started eating.
Darmantha heard the commotion and came out of his hut. “Well, finally
you’ve returned. It’s about time. Leave them alone and come inside. We’ve
got plans to make. Where’s Jorna?”
“She’s off pouting. Let her be. She’s worthless anyway,” Provan said.
Darmantha shrugged his shoulders and the two of them went back inside.
“Now that the dragons are fed, we need to decide what to do. While you
were gone, I did some meditating and I know the other dragons haven’t gone
too far. They’ll be with Quirin and the others by now. It won’t be long
before they make plans to come after those two out there. We need to set
some traps. There’s no way we can take on Quirin, Gordinth, Sindri and
Claring by ourselves, never mind Gretel and what’s his name, Marti. Let’s
not forget the boy. He’ll also be there by now.”
“What are your plans? Wouldn’t it be better just to kill these two now and
the others when we’ve captured them again?” Provan tired of the way the
dragons controlled his life.
Angry shouts echoed off the walls of the hut. “We must have every dragon,
every last one of them! I’ve already explained that to you. It is vital to
my plans to have all forty-four dragons. The ritual cannot be accomplished
with them all. Don’t you ever listen?” He turned and faced the wall. When
he turned back around he said, “ I don’t feel like traveling into the land
of milk and honey, so I’ve come up with a few nasty surprises to welcome
them. Get Jorna in here. We’ll need her help.”
Provan sighed. “This is getting tiring, Darmantha. I’d like to rid myself
of these dragons as much as you do, but I’m fed up with all this nonsense
and with Jorna.”
“NONSENSE? Have you forgotten King Dinth and our oath to him? He endowed
us with powers. Well, he endowed me with great power and you and Jorna
with some powers, but we swore an oath to find every dragon on earth and
destroy them. I intend to keep my oath. Besides that, these dragons and
their ancestors have been a thorn in my side for most of my life. No more
arguments. Get Jorna and bring her to me. We must begin the preparations.”
Provan found Jorna washing her filthy hands in an already polluted stream.
“You’ve been commanded to appear before the great Darmantha. You’d better
come with me.”
Jorna stood up. “I’m tired of taking orders from that man. He’s obsessed
with this ancient ritual. He acts like a madman most of the time. What is
his problem? Why does he hate the dragons so much anyway?”
Provan said, “You’ve never heard the story?”
Jorna shook her head. “Unfortunately, no.”
“I can’t believe that. I’ve heard it nearly a thousand times. It goes back
to his days on Tritem. There were a lot of dragons living in the land. One
day Darmantha and his younger brother, Peranth, were out in the woods.
They saw a young male dragon, Herzog, about thirty years old, playing off
by itself. Darmantha urged his brother to tease the dragon. He picked up
some stones and started pelting it. Peranth hesitated, but then joined in.
They got carried away and got too rough. Herzog’s father, Gygax, heard his
son’s cries and after seeing the wounds and blood, he became furious. In a
rage the dragon roasted Peranth, incinerating him to ashes. Darmantha ran
away, leaving his brother alone with the angry dragon. He’s never gotten
over it. Since that day his entire being and reason for living has been
from his hatred for dragons. He never told any of the villagers what
happened, at least not the truth. It was his fault his brother died. I
don’t think he’s dealt with the guilt. Everyone thought Peranth had run
away and he let them think it. When King Dinth put out a call for
dragonslayers, Darmantha was first to join. He studied the wizard books
and everything he could find about dragons. One day he found a few lines
mentioning a ritual. He’s been obsessed with that since then. You know the
rest. Blah, blah, blah.”
“He does seem rather eager, or insane. Oh well. I say we go and make mince
meat out of those two dragons now, without waiting. What can he do to us
“I’ll tell you what I can do, Jorna.” Darmantha lifted his wand. “The next
time you decide to mutiny, I’d make sure your leader wasn’t around. You
told the story very well, Provan, except for the blah, blah, blah part..
I’d hardly go to the lengths of saying I was obsessed. I prefer to call it
anxious. As for you Jorna…” He shouted a spell, ‘Ilbana Dominus Cartigus’.
Jorna flew into the air, upside down, and up to the top of one of the dead
tree limbs. Her feet stuck to the branch.
“Maybe hanging upside down for a while will help clear that useless head
of yours. Next time you want to call me insane, you’d better think twice
about it. Be grateful I don’t feed you to the Poralfis. I’m sure the flock
would appreciate a nice snack.” Darmantha turned and left, shouting,
“Provan, let’s get to work.”
“I guess that answers that,” Provan said, looking up at Jorna.
The crow flapped around Jorna’s head, pecking at her. For the next six
hours, a defeated Jorna hung from the tree while Darmantha and Provan
discussed the traps.