Soft snores blew from Gretel’s mouth as the first signs of dawn appeared
in the sky. She rolled onto her side and heard the distant rumbling.
Sitting up and rubbing her eyes, she wondered if a storm headed her way.
“Is that thunder?” She listened again and then looked into the morning
sky. No lightning strikes streaked across the black heavens. “Doesn’t look
like a storm, so what is that noise?” Thoughts poured into her mind. “What
if it’s a lagupa?” She looked at the fire. Embers glowed and the heat
warmed her chilled hands. Tossing a few more branches and sticks on top,
the fire burst into life. “That should keep them away.” The noise grew
louder and the ground started to shake. Some of the marble stones from the
toppled houses vibrated, making the noise even more frightening. “What is
it?” Sorting ideas in her head, she remembered the elephants. “That’s what
it is! The elephants must be early risers and are out running around.”
roaring noise rushed towards the bridge. Marti woke up. The shaking
ground knocked a nearby pillar over. “Earthquake!” He sat up and
Quirin, who had fallen asleep on his turn to watch, woke up, along with
Claring and Sindri. “What’s all that noise?” He forced himself to stand
Marti jumped up and stood next to her.
“Gretel!” He ran for the bridge.
wall of black water, at least one hundred feet in height rushed down the
river towards the bridge. Gretel saw it and ran toward him. “Marti! Marti!
“She’s not going to make it,” Sindri cried and
ran for higher ground.
“Quirin, can’t you do something to help her?”
Claring looked at the wizard.
Quirin raised his wand. The powerful floodwaters carried pieces of marble
columns, huge chunks of pillars, and massive boulders as it raced for
“Help me, Marti!” He heard her shouts and rushed toward the bridge.
“No, Marti. There’s no time.” Claring ran after his son and pulled him
out of harm’s way as the water and debris pounded into the bridge,
carrying it away in pieces. “Come on, Quirin. There’s nothing you can do
now. It happened too fast.”
Jago and Crispin flew just ahead of the water, dodging the tumbling
debris. “There’s Gretel, on the bridge. The water is breaking it into
large pieces. She’s going to die if we don’t get there fast.”
Jago moved his wings up and down, increasing his speed. The water came
crashing into the bridge.
Gretel flew into the air.
Crispin learned over and grabbed her arm in mid-air.
“Don’t drop me,” she cried, feeling her wet arm slipping from his grasp.
Using both hands, he held her, his nails digging into her skin.
Jago veered to the right, carrying the two of them to the safety of the
Crispin lost his grip and she fell to the grass.
Jago’s dark scales hid him from Quirin and the others view. None saw the
heroic rescue. The dragon landed nearby.
“Come on, Gretel. Climb back on,” Crispin said.
Gretel stood up and ran over to them.
He helped her climb up the dragon’s back.
The water rumbled past. “NO!” Marti cried in anguish. “She’s gone, washed
away.” He fell to his knees and wept. The others sat with their heads
hanging low, full of sorrow and despair. “I don’t think that flash flood
happened by itself,” Marti sighed.
“You’re right. It’s more of Darmantha’s handiwork. How many of us will
lose our lives before that evil man is stopped?” Claring pounded his fist
into his thigh.
Quirin heard a noise and recognized the sound of flapping dragon wings. He
looked up and saw Jago, with Crispin and Gretel holding onto his neck.
Marti and the others looked up and saw the children.
The dragon landed. “Gretel!” Marti ran to her, caught her as she slipped
from the dragon’s neck and held her in his arms, squeezing her tight.
Claring and Sindri wrapped their arms around both Marti and Gretel.
“You’re alive.” Marti put Gretel down.
“I’m soaking, but I’m alive because of Crispin and Jago.” She smiled at
the boy and then noticed his appearance. “Crispin, why are you wearing
Gordinth’s cloak. Did it shrink? When did you learn to fly on the back of
Quirin interrupted Crispin. “Tell me boy, what about Gordinth?”
He couldn’t hold the tears back. They rolled down his cheeks and he
collapsed into Quirin’s arms.
“Sit down, Crispin and tell us what has happened.”
“It was Darmantha. He…he…he killed Gordinth.”
Crispin told them of Gordinth’s death and the burial and how Gordinth had
passed on his wizard’s wand and the sapphire amulet to him. “I found this
cloak lying on my bed this morning. I’m sure Gordinth did that before
“Darmantha’s killed one too many people. Crispin, take Sindri and Gretel
back to Luba. I want no argument about it. Gretel, do as you’re told this
time. They need you there, Sindri.” Quirin’s stern face showed he meant
it. “It’s daylight now. The dragons will be getting hungry. Someone must
be there with them. I’m sure Rosenwyn is concerned about Jago.”
“You’re right, Quirin. I’ll go with the children,” Sindri sighed. Goodbyes
were said and then with saddened hearts, she, Gretel, and Crispin climbed
on Jago’s back and he flew them back to Luba.
Jago touched down near what was left of Sindri’s hut.
“What a mess. There’s nothing left of our village. Come on, Gretel. Let’s
see if we can save some of our things.” They spent the next few hours
rummaging through the rubble.
Crispin tossed the fallen pieces of walls into one pile while Sindri and
Gretel tried to salvage the food and clothing. “I’m taking Jago back to
the cave now,” he said. “Come on, Jago.”
“Just a minute. Why don’t I believe you? You’re not planning on leaving
us, are you?” Gretel sensed he wasn’t being truthful. “Listen, I’m a
wizard now. Gordinth taught me some magic. He passed his powers to me. I’m
going to help Marti, Quirin and Claring and I’m taking Jago with me.”
Crispin knew he had to tell the truth.
“Oh no you’re not, young man. You heard
Quirin. He wants us to stay here and watch the dragons.” Sindri grabbed
“I have to go. I’m a wizard. I’m a dragonkeeper. I’m not the same little
boy I was two days ago. Gordinth wants me to do this. Along with his
powers, he joined with me in spirit. I am going and there’s nothing you
can do to stop me.”
Gretel and Sindri realized there was nothing they could do. “Be careful,
Crispin. You’ve seen what Darmantha’s capable of. Watch yourself.” Sindri
gave him a hug.
“Be careful, Crispin. By the way, thanks for
saving my life.” Gretel reached over and kissed him on the cheek. “Thank
you too, Jago.” She waved at the dragon.
An embarrassed Crispin blushed. “Please go to the cave and stay with
Rosenwyn and the babies. Their survival comes before mine, Quirins, or
even yours. Please stay.”
“We’ll go to the cave. Don’t worry about us.
Please, be careful.” Sindri slipped her arm around Gretel.
Crispin climbed on Jago’s back. “I learned a
trick.” He shouted down to Gretel. “Watch this.” He pulled out his wand
and said, “Bicto Zomani Xeler Uripa!”
“Where did Crispin go? Crispin, where are you?
He just vanished, Sindri. Where is he?”
“Silly Gretel. I’m right here. Bicto Zomani
Xeler!” Jago disappeared.
“Wow, Crispin. That’s cool. Where is Jago? Is
he there still?”
“Yes, he’s here. We’re both here, but we’re invisible. Gordinth taught me.
I am going to stay invisible and find the others. I told you not to worry.
Both Jago and I will be back later. Take care of the dragons.”
The air stirred around Gretel and Sindri. They heard the flapping of
Jago’s wings. “Goodbye, Crispin.” Gretel shouted and waved her arms. No
“Come with me, Gretel. There’s something we both need to do.” Sindri took
Gretel’s hand and they walked into the woods. “Help me pick some of these
flowers.” She leaned over and plucked one from its stem.
“They’re not brasti flowers, but they are still beautiful.” Gretel held
the bouquet of pale lavender orchids with bright orange centers. “Smell
them.” She pushed them closer to Sindri’s nose.
“They’re lovely flowers. They were Gordinth’s favorites. He used to come
for walks down here and sit among them and sleep. I think it’s only
appropriate that we put them on his grave. Are you ready?”
The two of them walked slowly toward Gordinth’s grave. Gretel knelt down
near the headstone. She caressed the engraved writing with her fingertips
and lay the flowers down in the mound of turned-over dirt. “Goodbye,
Gordinth. I won’t forget you.” She wiped the tears from her eyes.
“You were a hero to me, Gordinth. You taught me many things. I’ll keep you
in my heart always.” Sindri wept and stood with bowed head in honor of the