The Dark Empire, Page 187-191 by Wolfenshire ()
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The Dark Empire, Page 187-191
“Are you still breathing?” asked Ciparo.
Madious groaned. “Is it morning already?”
“It’s past noon,” said Ciparo.
“Do you have to talk so loud?” grumbled Madious.
Ciparo pushed a book over the edge of the table and it landed with a thud next to Madious’ head.
“What the…why do you have to make so much noise?” He turned his head and lifted the rag to see what Ciparo had tried to drop on him. “Oh, that book, I can barely see right now, my friend. Perhaps I can solve the riddle of the ages later when the room stops spinning around.”
“Are you still going to help us?” asked Ciparo.
“I said I would…hey, are your legs numb? I don’t think I can feel my legs.”
Ciparo sat up and threw his legs over the edge of the table. “Most organic species can’t drink Dragon Ale, but your metabolism is more robust. You’ll be fine. You know, most organics wouldn’t agree to help us. They think it strange that dragons exist and are frightened of us.”
Madious sighed and rolled over on his side, Ciparo obviously wasn’t going to let him go back to sleep.
“My friend, you don’t even rate very high on the strangeness chart. The Crystal Palace has a flying talking dinosaur, a bird that tosses itself in cooking pots, a pride of talking tiger cubs, a bird betrothed to a talking lizard that walks between today and yesterday like a normal person walks from one room to the next. Then there’s the bird-tiger-boy betrothed to a talking tiger that won’t fall asleep unless you read her a storybook and tuck her in, and don’t forget the other bird-boy betrothed to a talking wolf that enjoys reading books and long walks in the moonlight. Then there’s a man sleeping in the walls for the next six years, and the ghost-man that has no shadow, and a talking train that flies through outer space, and don’t forget the war horse sized tiger that cheats at dice. I probably should also mention the ninja woman and her flying companion that goes out on the beach every day to talk with the sun. Then toss in a Knight, a Pirate, and a man that thinks garbage trucks are great war machines, and Buddy, you’re going to have to come up with something better than silver skin and bad dragon breath if you want to compete with that circus. But, speaking of dragon skin, there’s some dragon skin I’d like to see more of.”
Ciparo bent over and looked at Madious under the table. “I appreciate the compliment but you’re not my type.”
“Oh shatter my heart,” said Madious dryly. “I’m talking about that Lady Dragon last night with the harp. You know the one, she was wearing a long green gown and had eyes of the deepest sea green, and her skin was a smooth milky silver like the ripples of the tide on a moonlit night.”
Ciparo jumped off the table and stretched. “I can arrange a meeting, she has a music shop on Pier 33.”
“I only needed to know where to find her, I can do the rest on my own.” Madious pushed himself to his feet and started searching discarded ale mugs for one that might still be full. The door banged open and a dragon entered. “Ahh, close the door,” shouted Madious. “That’s far too much sunlight for this early in the morning.”
“Sir, it’s past noon,” said the dragon.
“You have a twisted sense of when noon is,” replied Madious. He found a half full mug of the dragon ale and downed it. “Oh yeah, there it is, hair of the dog.”
Ciparo motioned for the dragon. “What do you got?”
The dragon hurried over and handed a piece of paper to Ciparo. “Hmm, Lord Rotathian left the tour yesterday. He shopped for new armor and clothing, then went to the baths, then spent the night at Lady Salvorn’s home.”
Madious spun around with a shocked expression on his face. “Seriously? He took a bath? We should visit this world more often.”
Ciparo chucked and continued. “This next part is more serious. Governor Santi has been kidnapped by a minor political party.”
“Let me fix that sentence for you,” said Madious. “Governor Santi has kidnapped a minor political party.”
“Dragon Trakus’ people pursued them to the border of the Seed Ship Territories. A Shield Dragon working for Trakus confronted Governor Santi.”
“Will the Shield Dragon be okay?” asked Madious.
Ciparo glanced up at Madious. “The report says the Shield Dragon will recover. Would you be willing to tell me about Governor Santi?”
Madious found another half full mug of ale and downed it before turning back to Ciparo. “His real name is Jonathon Santi. He’s the bastard son of the late King Santi. Jonathon was his only son, so the King formally recognized Jonathon as his heir and when Jonathon was five years old, the King put Jonathon in the Crawler garage to learn the family trade. King Santi passed when Jonathon was fifteen. A rebellion was brewing over the throne, so Jonathon dissolved the monarchy and formed the Santi Nation; to be ruled by an elected council. That gave Jonathon the support of the people, but did make some enemies among the mostly worthless nobility.”
“He sounds like an amazing man,” said Ciparo.
“Oh it gets better. Jonathon didn’t immediately become Governor. When Jonathon was seventeen, the Geoggs attacked. The Commander of the Crawlers was killed early in the battle and Jonathon assumed command and led the Santi army to victory. The council made Jonathon the Governor and his power has grown over the years until he is now King in all but name.”
“Do you think he planned it that way?” asked Ciparo.
“I have no doubt of it,” said Madious. “Jonathon was a bastard and the nobility wouldn’t have supported him. So he found a way to keep the Kingdom together and slowly gathered his power. I wouldn’t be surprised if an event occurs that will necessitate dissolving the council and at last allow Jonathon to assume his rightful place on the throne.”
“But he made a mistake with the Titans,” said Ciparo.
“Nobody knew Zil was secretly working for Emperor Aestar. We were all ambushed by that, even the Ravens are upset. Santi will eat his plate of crow for the defeat at Zil’s hands and then move on, but maybe a tad more cautiously now that he knows the Mathors are in the game.”
“Governor Santi is a master stratigist.”
Madious leaned back against the table and grabbed a stale piece of bread. “Well then, are you thinking you got the short end of the stick, maybe trade me for Santi?”
“My friend, you’ve only known me a day, so I’ll forgive that,” said Ciparo. “Unlike the other two factions, I told you the truth of what was happening immediately, and I’ve kept you abreast of events as they are unfolding.”
Madious raised his hands. “I apologize, you have been straight with me, and for it I will do all I can to figure out how to remove that fail-safe. Aestar shouldn’t have that kind of power over you.” Madious knelt and picked up the book from the floor. “But, I looked at this book when you gave it to me yesterday, the entire thing is a big puzzle box with many riddles. I did solve one riddle, it was rather easy and jumped right out at me. Have you found the body of Great Dragon Lansae?”
“No we have not,” said Ciparo. “We’ve searched for years.”
“He’s in a cave on Mount Laruen.”
“We’ve searched Mount Laruen.”
Madious shrugged, scratched himself, and burped. “He put a boulder in front of the cave, but don’t go there. There’s a warning of a curse if he is disturbed, and I agree. Let the dead lie in peace. Lansae chose that as his last resting place, leave him be.”
“You are certain of this?”
“The Book of Lansae is the first chapter after the children’s book and the riddle was very simple. I checked the last chapter. I can’t say if it’s a puzzle also because it looks like a bunch of gibberish, but I’m guessing with each chapter the puzzles get harder. But the point is that the answer to the riddle you seek could take a lifetime to find.”
Ciparo scratched his backside and farted. “The last chapter is the Book of Revai, and it is gibberish. That isn’t any known language we know of, and we know them all. The only reason it was included in the Draconia is that there is a strong following of the Dragon Revai, but he was insane, as are his followers.”
Madious leaned to the side and released a long fart. “I would imagine every society has its insane cults. In fact, I just recently assisted a priest in reuniting with his cult leader.”
Ciparo stuck his finger in his ear and pulled out a long stringy piece of ear wax. “We are aware, but dragons can’t drown, so maybe don’t try that here.”
Madious stuck a finger up his nose and pulled out a booger, tasted it, then flicked it away. “Oh? You’ve got one heck of an intelligence service if you saw that.”
The messenger dragon took a step away. “Forgive me, Sirs, but you’re both disgusting.”
Ciparo and Madious both laughed. “Madious, my friend, we should have been born brothers, you have the soul of a Water Dragon. What do you say we hit up the baths, and then head out for a sail.”
Madious grinned and sniffed his arm pits. “Maybe a bath is a good idea, and after sailing perhaps I’ll visit that Lady Dragon at her music shop.”
Ciparo lifted a finger. “Oh, I forgot to tell you that Jasai has locked herself in her ship and won’t come out.”
Madious headed for the door. “What did Dragon Dreggo do?”
“He offered her a gift; a set of wings made from living metal. The wings would have been permanently attached and work as if they were her own living wings.”
“Ouch, yeah, I can see how she would be angry. That was a foolish gift to offer. Greggo should have offered a nice dagger or something like it.”
“That was the Seed Ships suggestion, but Greggo was trying to give her something special. I thought wings were the thing the Darai desire most.”
“They are, but did you offer wings for her friends back at the Crystal Palace?”
Ciparo shook his head. “I don’t believe so, no.”
“Well, there you go. She would have had to go back with living wings, the very thing all those Ravens want more than anything. It would drive a wedge between them and jealousy would have her shunned for the rest of her life.”
“But there are two Ravens at the Crystal Palace that have wings,” said Ciparo.
“Yes, Raen has wings, but he’s a prophet and it’s part of some sacred prophecy; he’s expected to have wings. And Gaevin was gifted wings years ago when he was just a small child alone in the forest and had no hope of ever seeing another Darai, other than his father. Nobody will begrudge him having been given that small comfort to stave off his horrible isolation from others of his kind.”
“I understand,” said Ciparo. “Greggo should have listened to the Seed Ship Dragons, they are the experts on alien cultures. I’m glad I discovered this before I presented you with my gift.”
“Oh nothing, I was going to offer you one of the quantum tattoos like some of the Ravens have so that you could take the shape of a Water Dragon, but now I know better.”
Madious froze in his tracks as Ciparo walked out the door with a slight grin on his face.
“What?...Wait…you can do that?…hold on, let’s talk about this…wait up…” Madious bolted out the door after Ciparo.