Sunday, February 24, 2008

Chapter 7: Dragon Knights

        Rilyn walked behind Caden and Su. She seemed normal. Her hair was the same dark brown most people had in this country. She was about a head shorter then Caden. Rilyn guessed she was around 15 harvests. Which was the oddest thing about her, traveling alone so young.

        Caden wasn't saying much, but she was talking on and on. Nothing unusual either, just meaningless chatter. Rilyn couldn't understand why she hated her so much. Watching her pick wildflowers, making Caden laugh. Rilyn didn't want Su to be a witch. She just wanted a reason to get rid of her. Rilyn watched as Caden and Su talked. How she made him smile, made him laugh. Caden was talking about what happened. Rilyn gribbed her swords, imagining Su without a head.
        "... and that's when the Dragon Queen took Keilee. Now I'm on a quest to save her."
        "Wow," said Su. "When I asked why you needed the Dragon Knights, I didn't expect all that."
        "I figure it's what they're best at, right?"
        "I don't know." Su rubbed the back of her head. "I mean, I didn't even think Dragon's existed."
        "Of course they exist," Caden said. "Didn't you listen to all the stories when you went to temple?"
        "To tell you the truth," Su said. "My family didn't go to temple all that often."
        Caden looked at Su. She looked up at him. He blushed. She laughed.
        "Why?" Rilyn asked. "Too sacred for your family traditions?"
        Caden looked at Rilyn, his brow tight, his mouth frowning, and his eyes looked dark. Was she bewitching him? Clouding his mind?
        Su looked back over her shoulder. "What? I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were in this conversation." She sneered at Rilyn and ran ahead. She ran up the hill, and climbed onto one of the jagged outcroppings of rock. "Hey Caden," she called. "Come here and look at this."
       Caden looked at Rilyn again. Then he ran up the hill to join her. Starlight snorted and trotted behind him. Even the horse hates me, thought Rilyn.
        Caden let go of Starlight's reigns so he could climb up the rock after Su. She pointed out into the distance. "Look," she said. "You can see the Dragon Knight training camp from here." Caden looked out. 
        On top of another hill, about two hours away, Caden could see a green wall. "Still pretty far."
        "Well, I showed you the way."
        Caden looked at Su. "Are you leaving?"
        "I only said I would show you the way," Su said. "I don't want to go there."
        "Okay, well..." Caden looked at Rilyn drudging up the hill. "Thanks for your help."
        Su touched Caden's cheek. "Tell you what," she said. "I'll wait here for you. If you want me to continue traveling with you, come back for me."
        Caden jumped down off of the rock. Rilyn made it up the hill. Caden mounted Starlight. Rilyn looked up at Su sitting on the rock. "She's not coming," Caden said. He reached out to Rilyn. "Come on, if we both ride, we can get there sooner."
        Starlight looked at Rilyn and snorted. "Can you carry us both?" Rilyn asked. Starlight pawed at the ground, snorted, and shook her head. Rilyn looked at Caden. "Was that a yes?"
        "No," Caden said. "That was a, 'I can't talk, I'm just a horse.' Now hurry up."

        Rilyn and Caden road up to the camp wall. As they got closer, they could see the wall was a fathom tall rose bush. It was thick too, Caden looked at it, and couldn't see through. The branches seemed to twine together tighter and tighter farther in. They rode around the camp till they reached the gate. It was a large stone and wood door, with two Dragon Knights standing guard in front. They wore metal breastplates, except the left shoulder pieces were made from wood and leather. Their left ears and eyes were missing, replaced by jagged scars.
        Caden dismounted and approached the Knights. They drew their swords. "Halt," they said. "Come no closer to this holy land."
        "We come to seek the aide of the Dragon Knights," Caden said.
        The guard on the right sheathed his sword. "Fear not," he said. "The Dragon Knights protect all the citizens of this Kingdom. Return home, for you are safe."
        "But I have urgent news," said Caden. "A general was in my town recently. He came here with three recruits from Erdon."
        "It is an honor to serve the Dragon Knights," he said. "I hope you're not here to ask for their return."
        "No, I'm here to ask the general for many more knights to return and protect us from a great evil."
        "Then tell me what you wish to say, and I shall convey the message."
        "No, I will only talk with the general," Caden said. "He must here this from me."
        The two Knights looked at each other. The one on the left whistled. A falcon flew down and landed on the wooden shoulder guard. It sat there for a minute before it took off. "The general will be coming shortly," he said.
        Caden and Rilyn sat and waited. Starlight grazed. Caden kept staring at the horrible scars they had. He wondered how they lost their left ears and eyes. The scars were similar, so it looked like it happened in the same way.
        The gate opened and the general stepped out. He looked at Caden and smiled. "Long way from home," he said. "Aren't you boy."
        Caden stood up. "I want you to know," he said. "I learned my lesson from our last meeting, and everything I say is the truth."