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The 44 Dragons
by Margo Fallis
Part Three - The Dragon's Hope - Chapter 46

Back in Luba the celebrations started. All forty-four dragons, together at last with their ancestors, rejoiced.

Sindri and Gretel busied themselves preparing foods for the feast.

Claring and Marti repaired the huts.

Quirin sat in the middle of the village waiting for Crispin. The boy went off by himself and hadn’t been seen since they’d returned. Quirin sensed the battle going on in the boy’s mind. A tear fell from his eye when he finally spotted him.

Crispin put Gordinth’s wand in his back pocket and walked toward the grave.

Quirin stood and followed him, staying hidden from his view.

Crispin leaned against the headstone. “Gordinth, I’m going to let you rest now. You must have been tired. I will see you each time I see a shooting star. I will feel you each time a butterfly’s wing caresses my cheek. I will smell you each time the fragrance of an orchid floats past my nostrils. Each time one of the dragons sings a lullaby, I will hear your voice singing with them. Your grave will be a place of honor, where dragons from now until eternity ends will visit and weep a dragon’s tear for you. Children will pass by and talk of the hero, Gordinth, who saved the dragons. I will live to be the man you taught me to be. Good bye, Gordinth, my hero.” Crispin knelt next to the mound of dirt and dropped a bouquet of light purple orchids, Gordinth’s favorite, on top.

Quirin couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. His heart swelled with pride at being in the presence of a boy so grand. He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned.

 “I saw and heard it all,” Marti said. “It’s hard to believe this is the same lad who broke into my cottage just weeks ago, or was it days? He’s a good lad and Gretel’s a good girl. We’ve got our five dragonkeepers again, Quirin; you, Mother, Father, Gretel and me. Darmantha’s gone; Jorna and Provan should be enjoying their flight over the sea about now, dangling from the claws of that giant tutu bird. I hope it doesn’t drop them on their heads too hard. They’ll need all their strength to fight the lions and tigers when they get to Mount Kilimanjaro.”

Crispin walked over to them, wiping the teardrops from his cheeks.

Quirin took his hand and held it between both of his. “You’re our leader now, boy, I mean Crispin. You will be our leader with a few more years of training, you will soon be ready to take charge of the five dragonkeepers and of the forty-four, plus two dragons.”

Crispin nodded, unable to speak. His lips trembled when he looked at Marti.

 “Good job, Crispin,” Marti said.

“Quirin, I do have one question,” Crispin hesitated, wondering if it was the right time to ask.

“What would that be?”

“Why are little Jago and Rosenwyn so important? What is in store for them?”

“I’ve wondered that myself,” Marti said.

“Jago and Rosenwyn were chosen when they were eggs to be King and Queen of the Dragons. They had a direct bloodline back to the first eggs from the Springs of Sparma. Right now they are too young. Big Jago and Rosenwyn will train them. They’re getting old too and know they won’t be around forever.”

“Dragon king and queen?” Crispin sounded confused.

“Yes. Jago and Rosenwyn are the twin babies of big Jago and Rosenwyn. Little Jago and Rosenwyn are the only eggs she ever laid. Now that all the dragons are safe, they can live here with us forever in Luba. Darmantha’s gone and won’t be coming back. Jorna and Provan will be too afraid to come back, even if they survive the flight to Africa.”

“Oh,” Crispin said and then smiled. “Africa?”

“I’ll explain it to you another time. There is a lot about dragons that you’ve yet to learn. Just accept what I say as truth and you will see in time,” Quirin said.

“Does that mean I have to call them Prince Jago and Princess Rosenwyn?” Crispin chuckled.

“That might be a wise thing to do. They are royalty after all. One more thing, Crispin. Gretel will also rule as guardian of the dragons. Gordinth selected her, along with you. Always remember that. Who knows, you might end up falling in love with her and marrying her some day.” Quirin joked.

“No way. She’s a girl!”

Marti and Quirin burst out laughing.

 “I do have just one more thing to ask,” Crispin said. “What about my family back home? They’ll be wondering where I am.”

“We’ve thought of that already. I don’t think they’d be too thrilled, or even be able to comprehend their son being a wizard and leader of the dragonkeepers, so I have put a spell on them, with your permission, causing them to forget about your existence.”

Crispin’s head dropped.

“I know that’s a bit harsh. You’ll always remember them and the day you wish it, you can return their memories to include you once more, but it’s unfair to make them worry all the time, or to force them to accept all the responsibility you have now been given. You are permitted to go and see them any time you wish, but keep your identity hidden until the time seems right. You will know when. What do you think about that?”

“I suppose it was the only way. I’ll go and visit them now and then as a passerby. I’ll check on Heidi for you too, Marti.”

“Good lad. We’ll all be here with you, Crispin. We are your family. There are many great things coming your way.” Quirin tossled Crispin’s hair.

“I’ll be here too,” Marti said.

“You did a lot of cool magic spells. “The boy looked at the wizard. I’ll have to practice so that I can do them too.”

“There’s a whole word of magic out there, Crispin, just waiting for you to discover it,” said Quirin.

“Come and get it! Bring the dragons! We’re going to party tonight!” Sindri shouted so loud she could be heard throughout the entire village.

Crispin ran to get the dragons.

The others gathered round the table while Gretel and Sindri brought plate after plate piled high with succulent taradak meat, dizban, ugnig, yamitas, and cardooli bread. Everything their hearts desired sat on the table in front of them.

“You made all this food, Sindri. You should have just asked Quirin, or even Crispin, to use their magic and make it for you,” Gretel said.

Sindri smiled at the girl. “I could have done that, but I enjoy cooking. How many women do you know who get to make dizban and ugnig?”

 Gretel shrugged her shoulders.

 “That’s right, not many, so think of the recipe books I can write.”

Gretel giggled. “You’re so funny. No wonder I love you so much.”

“Enough of this blethering. Let’s celebrate!”

The feast continued for hours. The nutui bugs showed up, flickering their colors all around the dragons, waiting for them to finish eating so they could have the taradak leftovers. Unfortunately for them, the babies ate every bit of taradak meat Sindri allowed them to have and even the pieces Crispin and Gretel ‘accidentally’ dropped. Jago and Rosenwyn enjoyed watching the babies interacting with the others. 

“I’ve got something for you,” Claring said to his son.

“Oh? What’s that?”

“Close your eyes. I found these in Darmantha’s hut with Jago and Rosenwyn. Your mother will be thrilled to see them again too. Claring teased his son.

“What is it, Father? Can I open my eyes?”

“Hold out your hands.” Marti put both hands out in front of them. Claring placed something familiar in them. “Now, open them.”

Marti held one of the three stolen rainbow lights. “You saved them. Thank you.”

“It’s the rainbow lights!” Gretel shouted.

Sindri ran over to see. “I’ve not seen those in years. They’re still as beautiful as the day Gordinth gave them to us.” She held one up and watched the rainbow colors dance about inside.

“Gordinth gave them to you?” Crispin paid more attention to them. “Can I hold one?”

Marti took the one he held in his hands and gave it to Crispin. “This one is yours now, boy. Gordinth would have liked you to have one. Gretel, you can have one too. We’ll keep the other one with us.” He smiled, looking at his mother.

“Thank you, Marti. The rainbow’s still shining.” Gretel held it up to her eyes.

Crispin gazed with fondness at his new family. “Thank you so much. I think I’ll take it to my hut so I don’t break it. I’ll treasure it always.” Holding it carefully with both of his hands, he walked into his hut and laid it down on his bed, along with both of the wands. He felt the amulet around his neck and clenched it in his fist. A few minutes later he went outside and stood, quietly looking up at the heavens. The night sky, now filled with millions of twinkling lights, entranced him. A star shot across the sky. “Goodnight, Gordinth.”

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