The Dark Empire, Page 176-180 by Wolfenshire ()
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The Dark Empire, Page 176-180
He had gained as much information from the two small dragons as he could before they bored, which coincided with him tiring of carrying them from honey merchant to honey merchant. The two little dragons launched themselves off his chest and out of his arms in a spectacular summersault. Their names were Avron and Brython, and brothers poured from the same batch of living metal, making them the dragon version of twins. He was surprised to discover that not all dragons became Dragon Seed Ships. There were as many varied careers among them as any species. A Dragon might do a tour of duty as a Dragon Seed Ship, wandering the universe for a hundred million years, seeding planets and carefully nurturing a budding civilization, before returning to this world to take up other interests.
The two small dragons were ahead of him now and attempting to annoy a dragon carrying a box of crystal goblets. They were running in tight circles around the older dragon’s feet as fast as they could. The merchant tried to ignore them, which only invigorated the two young dragons to redouble their efforts.
A market stall with colorful cloaks caught Rotathian’s attention. He left the two small dragons to their amusement and went to watch several customers inspecting the cloaks. The products in all the market stalls were finely made and made obvious the dragons were master artisans. He had to stop and think about that for a moment; he was on another world. Nobody back home would believe the fantastical events that had led him here. Even he was having trouble believing all this was real and not a fevered dream. Perhaps he was back home in his bed with sickness and was imagining all this.
“That is a fine choice, it matches your eyes,” said a female voice.
Rotathian was startled to find himself fingering a sky blue cloak of the softest material he had ever felt. The material flowed over his hand like water, though equaling giving the impression it wouldn’t be easily damaged.
“Forgive me, I do not know the correct title to address you by,” said Rotathian.
The dragon woman smiled. “I suppose you could use any number of titles; dragon, ma’am, master, artesian, m’ lady, miss, merchant, vendor, or even perhaps just introduce yourself and ask my name.”
Rotathian bowed from the waist. “Again, forgive me, I should know that. I am overwhelmed by the events of the day and my manners have flown away to a mythical land beyond the sun. I am Lord Rotathian, Protectorate of the Aomo Kingdom. Might I be so forward as to ask your name?”
The dragon woman tipped her head. “I am the Dragon Seed Ship Salvorn.”
Rotathian’s expression clouded with confusion. “Forgive me, great dragon, I assumed you were the merchant of this stall?
“You ask forgiveness for things you have no reason to seek forgiveness for.” She gave him a wry grin and he felt a wave of calmness wash over him. Rotathian realized the dragons had their own Jinn magic, though in this case it was quite welcome as he had been somewhat tense and now felt calm. The dragon woman continued. “My ship is being upgraded and while that event takes place, I am relaxing my mind with simpler tasks.”
“I understand,” said Rotathian. “The responsibilities you bear must weigh heavily. When I find myself in need of relaxation, I spend several hours in the armory forging armor for the apprentices.”
“If it is metal you enjoy working with, you should ask your two miscreant guides to show you one of our metal forges.”
“Thank you, Dragon Salvorn, I will do that,” said Rotathian.
“Are you interested in this cloak?” asked the dragon.
“Oh, it is a wonderful cloak, but the few coins I have certainly have no value here on your world,” replied Rotathian.
The dragon woman reached into a finely carved wooden box and retrieved a shiny round ball of the same color as the cloak, and the size of which would fit in the palm of the hand. “Hold this in your hand,” she instructed.
Rotathian took the sky-blue ball and held it. “What is it?”
“Now think about wearing the cloak, imagine it draped across your shoulders,” she replied.
He did as he was bid and the ball melted in his hand, then flowed up the armor covering his arm to his shoulders. He twisted his head to watch as the fluid spread across his shoulders and formed into the sky-blue cloak and fell lightly down his back. The cloak billowed in the breeze and he took the edge of the cloak and pulled it around to inspect the soft cloth.
“This is amazing.”
“It makes you look very regal, Sir Knight, though you need better armor than that which you wear.” She reached out and touched his arm. “This metal is very old, forged from Titan armor if I’m not mistaken. I see many stress fractures in the metal, it will fail if submitted to any real abuse.”
“I am afraid this armor is the best available to my people for now,” said Rotathian. “I hope to ask the Mathors to provide teachers that can help us improve our metal working techniques.”
The woman smiled pleasantly. “If you wanted a finely bound book of exquisite workmanship, you should ask a Mathor, but if you want the finest armor, I would suggest asking a dragon.”
Rotathian held his hand out and concentrated on the cloak. The cloak flowed back down his arm and reformed into a ball in the palm of his hand. “Someday, I should like to own such a fine cloak, and perhaps dragon armor, but for now, I am without the currency to pay for your skill. Thank you for letting me try this on, it is truly the finest cloak I have ever seen.”
Dragon Salvorn took Rotathian’s hand and closed his fingers around the tiny orb. “It is yours.”
Rotathian shook his head. “I know the gesture is with the greatest of intentions, but I cannot accept charity.”
Salvorn’s eyes sparkled with delight. “So, you are truly a knight as your ancestors once were before they changed.”
Rotathian turned his head slightly, her eyes were dazzling in their beauty and he was acutely aware of her hand still wrapped around his. “I do not understand, my ancestors were monsters?”
“No, dear knight, they were not always so,” she whispered. “They did not become so until after they had achieved the power of gods. In their earliest days, long before the age of technology, there were knights among them that protected their small fledgling civilization. Did you think you were the first Aiden to don a knight’s armor and protect the innocent? It was buried deep within you to become so.”
“I see, that is a history of my ancestors I did not know, but I still cannot accept this gift,” said Rotathian.
Salvorn sighed. “We do not use money, nor have we ever used any form of currency. You, or anyone, may take whatever you find here in the market that you need. We take only what we need and nothing more, each dragon’s service to the whole is the only payment required.”
“Then surely you must be a utopian society,” said Rotathian.
“Perhaps an altruistic society, but not utopian,” said Salvorn. “Each dragon gives according to their abilities, and there are some that evil does slip into their hearts, but even that serves the whole. I am a Dragon Seed Ship, I further the honor of the dragons among the stars, and yet others serve in roles just as important. This road you stand on was built by a dragon, and maintained by dragons. It is far better than standing in the mud, don’t you think? Even the eldest among us still serve a role in our society. Look at your two energetic guides.”
Rotathian turned his head to search for the two small dragons. He found them sitting side-by-side in the middle of the road with their heads hung down. An elderly dragon woman with silver hair and back bent with the age of time was waging her finger at them.
“Do you see?” asked Salvorn. “That is Dragon Sarious, she is one of the oldest among us. She is imparting wisdom to those two young dragons, teaching them the value of not being such an annoyance to those around them. She still serves a valuable purpose. Perhaps those two miscreants might behave for a few hours after that scolding.”
“I think I understand,” said Rotathian.
Salvorn inched a little closer. “We should talk more, Sir Knight,” said Salvorn. “Perhaps you would dine with me this evening at my home?”
“I…umm…I…” stammered Rotathian.
“Good, it’s settled, your two young dragons know the way,” said Salvorn. “Do have them take you to the baths first, you are rather fragrant, and have them take you to one of the armor shops, it is time you retire this set of armor, I believe it is beyond redemption.”
“Yes, Lady Salvorn, I look forward to this evening,” replied Rotathian, regaining a bit of his composure.
Dragon and Knight stared into each other’s eyes for a long moment before they were interrupted.
“Oh gross, are they going to kiss?” said Avron.
“I’m going to hurl,” said Brython.
Rotathian smiled and looked down at the two young dragons staring up at them. Rotathian stepped back from Dragon Salvorn and bowed. “Until this evening, m’Lady.”
Rotathian left the market stall with the two young dragons following. Avron took up a chant and was quickly followed by Brython. “K.i.s.s.i.n.g, first comes dragon, then comes knight, then comes a hatchling swinging in a sling.”
“Should I go find Dragon Sarious?” asked Rotathian. Both little dragons abruptly ended their song and glared up at Rotathian. “Very good, where might I find an armor shop and the baths?”
The two little dragons darted ahead. “Bath time! We love bath time!”