Monday, May 23, 2016

Prisoner of the Stone - Chapter Four

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Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Humans are a plague and a pestilence. They are like tiny parasites all over this world, though I will not deny that it is your world. Most humans seem to revel in their ignorance. A few good ones move the whole species forward, but in times like these the whole species moves backward,” The dragon said, as if lecturing Brother Aron about his own species, “Knowledge is lost. The Romans built roads and devices that your people could never duplicate presently. If it weren't for the monks and their monasteries, who would collect and store knowledge?”

The sun was peeking over the horizon.

Europe is being savaged by a plague. Humanity will recover,” Brother Aron said, “I have faith in that, as surely as I have faith in my messiah.”

The dragon seemed to sigh, but it ended in a long growl, “I want to see more of your peoples future, and I don't think I want to eat any more of them in this time of plague. Climb on.”

They flew and soon things once again shifted. Brother Aron felt a but nauseous and had to lie down on the back of the dragon. He was perfectly safe there, the magic it carried kept him from falling. After the transit through time the dragon seemed impressed by something.

'The human parasites have bred a lot these past few centuries.' Aron heard the thought from the dragon.

Centuries! Aron looked down to see a rather large city spreading out beneath them. 'Tens of thousands of people must live in that city,' Aron thought to himself. Many ships docked at wharfs, a very busy seaport it was.

'I will make myself invisible and land atop the dwellings. Maybe we can see how the people live,' The dragon projected to his human passenger. Soon enough the dragon was sitting comfortably atop a building passing judgment on the lives of the people.

'Dirty, smelly place,; The dragon thought at Aron more than once, 'The sewage in the streets, pouring into the river is an insult to any species. Animals often bury their excretions for good reason.'

They heard two men arguing.

The water supply is contaminated, we've known this for a score or more due to Doctor Snow,” One of the men said, “The authorities have done little to stop the miasma from killing us.”

Not completely true, it is a slow process but the Board of Works has been on it for nearly a decade. It's not as if they can clean the slate and rebuild a whole new London.” The second man said, “I think Mr. Bazalgette has done a competent job given the limitations. We haven't had a Cholera outbreak in a good long time, at least.”

The first man sarcastically replied, “Most of those limitations are political. We should thank the stars that we haven't seen another Cholera outbreak, definitely not the Board of Works!”

The dragon whispered, “Politics. The most infernal human invention, so of course it continues to get worse. Whenever humans get crowded they always feel the need to try and control each other.”

“I don't disagree that politics is a problem, but government is a necessary evil, as they say,” Brother Aron said, “As opposed to unnecessary evils.”

The dragon laughed and looked away, 'Is that supposed to offend me? Hardly.'

Two men were passing in the tight alley below.

Good evening, Mr. Samuels,” The first man said, tipping his hat.

G'evening, Mr. Farriner, are you headed to work then?”

Yes, got a night of baking bread ahead o' me!” came the answer as they passed below. The bread maker entered the building they were on top of.

The dragon looked around at the rooftop, with many chimneys and smokestacks. “I suppose this is where they bake bread then?”

Brother Aron agreed, “In my time the bread is usually cooked in the manor houses of the lord or dukes. Thankfully, monasteries didn't have to crawl to the local landlord for their daily bread.”

The dragon chuckled, 'Oh yes, feudalism. The good ol' days. Well, climb on, I have to get back to my evil-doing or you might forget that you wish to smite me.'

The dragon shook his mighty wings and the building shook horrendously before it finally lifted off, carrying Brother Aron on its back. The baker, Mr. Farriner rushed out of the building below, back and forth indecisively he began to move. Then, with one last look inside the glowing interior, he ran away without shouting any warnings or for help. The pop and crackle of a fire could be heard within.

Somewhere over continental Europe the dragon set down on land, a clearing in a forest,“You can stay here while I feed. There is a small village not far from here.”

Brother Aron climbed down, “Feeding again so soon?”

The dragon paid no heed, it began to flex its wing muscles. Aron tried to get closer to its head, “What did dragons eat in the old days, then? Surely not humans.”

The dragon looked back and projected its thoughts, 'We can talk later, human.'

Then it threw itself into the skies and was away. Aron would have to find a place under a tree and wait for the evil dragon to return. With a start he realized that a very old woman was staring at him from a tree across the clearing.

Hello, may I help you?” Aron asked in French and Latin and then English as he approached the elderly woman. He had no idea what part of the continent the dragon had dragged him to.

I am here to help you.” The woman said, “First tell me why a man dressed as a friar is riding around on the back of a demon?”

Aron decided that she didn't want the long version, “I am trying to find his weakness, so I can defeat him and return him to his realm.”

The woman looked back into the sky and then nodded. “I see. That must be why we have been brought together.”

Do you know something about those?” Brother Aron asked, indicating the dragon with a nod.

Aye,” The gray-haired woman said, “An ancient curse they were, I had thought them extinct. The main thing you need to do is to find its true name, with that word you can banish it back to whence it came.”

Aron had heard the same thing from the storyteller of Grantwood. How was it possible to determine the true name of the dragon? The dragon certainly wasn't going to tell!

The woman dug something out of her satchel. “Those beasts haven't been seen by human eyes for a thousand years, but they do have weaknesses. Their true name, of course, but they can be captivated by the sight of another of their kind.”

Fat chance of that happening. 'Besides, who wants to have two of these things around?'.

She pulled out a small piece of polished metal, a short stretch of twine and what looked like a claw from a large wildcat. “These are the things you need. If you are able to captivate the dragon, you might also be able to get from him that information you require.”

Then she walked away.

Brother Aron looked at the three ordinary objects in his palm and thought the woman might truly be insane. The idea that one could capture a dragon with these things and then talk the dragon into revealing its true name was, as far as he could see, crazy.

Aron looked into the sky. “You send help and this is it? This is impossible.”


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