Aden of Aden

Chapter Sixteen

With there being three of us, and only one horse, Later simply walked with us.  A couple of times Dumourl climbed into the saddle to quickly check things ahead of us, but mostly stressed to me that the mount was there for me to flee.  Nick supported those words.  After hearing the men say those things one more time, I looked to the horse and told it that we would stay with the men with it nodding its head as if understanding.

Later that day Nick became agitated and directed us to some rocks saying that a dragon was coming.  Dumourl did not argue, but also started pulling out some weapons from sheathes on Later.  When Nick asked him what he was doing, the lizard person calmly gave a reply.

“I did not stop to fight that dragon.  I chased my horse.  The dragon should not be looking for me.”

Nick exclaimed, “But it’s a dragon!”

“You obviously are very unaware of my career choice.”

I had to ask, “Are you sure, Dumourl?”

“You grew up in Thiminy.  You should know a number of people other than your father and king who have killed dragons.”

“I accept that I am talking to such a person.  Still, there is a risk. That is a large intelligent monster.”

“Not really.  If this dragon is part of whatever troubles Nick, it should not know me.  It thus should fly on by.  If it sees me, it should put its mind on me and not on looking for Nick.”

I had to admit that there was a logic to what the lizard person said.  After assuring that he gained the weapons and items he desired from the saddlebags, I began leading Later to where Nick directed.  Dumourl however told me to leave the horse with him, as the dragon would surely smell it and the blood of the remaining antelope meat.  I did not like the idea of the lizard person taking a position out in the open with the animal, but accepted the logic and found Nick to obey when I ordered him to move into hiding.

There was a strong desire to watch, but I stayed huddled with the young man who nervously shook as he cowered so low to the ground that I felt he wanted to climb under the boulder.  Only an understanding of the danger a dragon could represent kept me sitting against the large rock with my knees pulled up to my head.  Luckily, the young man was quiet, so I could hear what went on in the open where Dumourl had stayed.

I believe he started riding the horse, as the way he spoke to calm the animal sounded like something spoken while in the saddle and not while walking.  Not really certain what Dumourl said, but he exclaimed something as if surprised by the sight of the dragon.  The sound of large wings could be heard reacting.  I had no way of knowing what Dumourl did, but I saw Nick look up with hope as if recognizing the sounds as something resembling an act he approved of.

A powerful voice said, “I will forget what you did.  As someone that appears to have some dragon blood, I will warn you to leave our kind alone.”

“I have no dragon blood,” Dumourl replied.  “I have drawn the life force from dragons.  That reputation pays handsomely, and I like having my own supply of wealth.”

“There is another who desires to be known as a dragon slayer that I seek.  Have you seen another attempting to match your claims?”

“If I thought I would have help, I would not be talking to you.”

The sound of wings increased, although then faded as if the dragon had powered its flight away.  Nick simply sat back breathing hard as if he had been holding his breath.  I understood to hold my position, as dragons would consider deception.  I guess Dumourl also did not trust the beast, as I only heard the sound of the horse pass close with the words coming soft.

“The plan worked.  Let us get back to moving.”  Nick shot up and began heading in the direction we had been traveling, although Dumourl paused to say to me, “In case you are worried, we are not going in the direction the dragon came from.”

I replied, “I never heard of dragons moving between worlds.”

“No.  We are up against something powerful.  Remember, use Later to get you to safety.”

“It was sending Nick to me.  I believe it would seek me out, even to Davelda.”

The voice of the young man said, “Yes, Belconosk sent me to you.  I fully believe he knew.  Of course, I say that wondering why he did not know about me.  He should have known I was stealing these pieces and working on them.  He should have known that I would rebel.”

Dumourl asked, “How long had you been in his service?”

“Years.  I believe he thought I was not old enough to truly register him murdering my father, but I did – fully.  I know what he said to Belconosk.  I know what my mother told me when she had me go with Father.  This is not a foolish journey.  My mother will be a help.”

“You believe him, Aden?”

I did not feel well at being put on the spot, but I kept my emotions under control as I answered.  “It does not matter.  I believe we are going to his mother.  I am who I am because of my mother.  I thus feel that there is a connection somehow between our mothers, and I need to face it.”

Nick mumbled, “Yes.  She must know.”

Dumourl however stated clearly, “If I wanted things to make sense, I never would have continued in this profession.  I however also want the two of you to know that this life is dangerous, so I know how to survive.  Aden, that means you can trust in protection, and a push toward Later if I feel things are really getting bad.  Nick, I hope your armor really protects you and you really can hurt things with that weapon.”

Actually believing my words of Nick’s mother and mine somehow being connected, I blurted out, “He said he did hurt that dragon.”

As if understanding my tone of voice, the lizard person replied, “And, admittedly, it has not been flying around until recently.  Still, I want it known that I am not comfortable with this situation.”

“Well, if that is all you want to say, let me add that I do not like having to wear the same clothes continually.”

Nick said, “Mother should have clothes for you, but it will still be a couple of days.  Sorry.”

Dumourl replied, “She was probably honest, but her words were still a misdirect, Nick.  Get back to leading us.”  While he set himself to following, the eyes of the lizard person continued to look to me until he had a chance to whisper, “Are you falling in love with him?”

I also kept my voice low in volume as I answered, “I don’t see how I could be.  I just feel there is something strong behind Nick.  For the moment I am willing to support him in the hope of what is behind him being something good.”

“Okay, as that is my gut decision as well.  I am still worried.”

“That is probably good.  Still, you said that Nick was not taking us in the direction the dragon came from.  Why not?  If his parents brought him to the dragon, wouldn’t they be in the same direction?”

“The omniverse is more complicated than that.  The fact that this dragon can move between worlds further complicates things.  I am just going to have to see where we wind up and see if I can get a sense of directions from there.”

I did not want to cause Nick to begin to distrust us, so was glad that Dumourl went quiet.  I actually attempted to think up some topic to speak with the young man about.  I did try to smile at him as he confidently directed us through portals to other worlds.  The couple of times I tried to say something, he however just reminded me that we needed to be introduced and quietly went back to directing us.

It was the lizard person who began to curse after stepping through another portal.  He asked me if I could shoot a bow while I heard Nick scream a battle cry.  I replied that us girls were taught to use a bow, as it demanded proper poise.  Dumorl handed me a bow, told me to shoot at the tail, then stepped back to Later to pull out a large sword.

The thought that I had not told the lizard person that I was good shot came to me as I pulled back with a notched arrow.  We were seeking a camping spot, so it did not surprise me that the sky was dark.  I however made out the form of a wyvern.  The lean reptilian had front limbs with folds of skin that could be stretched out to create wings.  It surprised me to see Nick’s weapon tear through the membrane preventing the creature from fleeing into the air.  That however made him a target for the envenomed tail.  Understanding that the young man was in peril, I concentrated on making a good shot.

I just released arrow after arrow until the quiver was empty.  Not all of them hit, but I felt the wyvern grow concerned for its rear appendage.  What impressed me, and I believe surprised the lizard person, was that Nick actually made good strikes with his makeshift weapon.  The strange collection of pieces that made up his armor also proved themselves able to turn a strike.  I did not doubt that he was hurt, but no slash or bite from the wyvern was able to truly cause damage.  After releasing the last arrow I thought to simply say a prayer, but stood still realizing that he had won the combat.

“Belconosk will not be informed,” Nick proudly said.

“It was a wyvern,” Dumourl replied.  “Not a dragon.”

Not wanting to belittle what Nick did, I said, “Yes.  Dragons were divinely created, but wyverns are just monsters and need to be killed.  Still, you fought very well.”

“I have to give you that.  I cannot say that what Aden said is true for this world, but it is true that a wyvern is not a true dragon.  It is also true that you fought it very well.”

Nick panted as he admitted, “I fought scared that we had come across another agent for Belconosk.”

Dumourl said, “Well, now that you killed it, I guess we need to gut it and see about the meat.  The poison might be contained, but it also might be all through the creature.  Aden, if you don’t mind, fix us another meal from the antelope while we work.”

I replied, “You two are going to be a while with that large carcass.  I will try and make a stew.”

“A good decision.  If the meat of this thing is edible, I will just get some of the gravy to pour over my steak.”

And Aden of Aden gets to learn things of Nick.