By The Story Lover
Preface and dedication: This story may seem familiar to you and there are reasons for that. This story is inspired by “Memories” and “A New Day Dawns” as well as the true life story of our favorite nephews THP. I want to personally thank both ACFan and Gunrunner for allowing me to write this story which infringes upon their copyrighted material. I greatly appreciate them for doing this. This story is a Fantasy it will have Dragons and Elves and sundry other Fantasy Races. It is also being written as a tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey two of my favorite Fantasy Authors. This story is dedicated to August Christopher as a continuation of his legacy.
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Portions of this chapter contributed by A. Martini
Chapter One - The Discovery
Joth awoke from a restless night's sleep sweaty and disoriented. He threw his supple dragon skin bed covering off of his lithe and athletically toned body. He shook his head to clear out the cobwebs and headed towards his private bathing facilities. After relieving his aching bladder, Joth stepped into his shower, took a deep breath then gave a quick short pull of the blue cord hanging from the ceiling and gave a short shout as the near freezing water cascaded over his quickly shivering body. Joth gave a quick shake of his shoulder length auburn hair then pulled the red cord and relaxed as the thermal vent warmed water cascaded over him and chased the shivers away. He grabbed his favorite soap root and started lathering his body, paying special attention to his luxurious hair and slightly odoriferous pits. When he felt he was completely clean and his muscles had recovered from the initial shock of the eye opening cold rinse, Joth pulled both cords and rinsed off quickly. Using his hands as squeegees he stripped the water from his hair and then gave it a quick shake and a swirl, then grabbed his towel, also made of dragon skin but tanned so expertly it absorbed water like a sponge. Drying himself quickly, Joth quickly donned his riding clothes, a tunic, breeches, dragon hide boots, and his flying jacket and then he headed towards the cooking chamber.
Upon arriving at the cooking chamber and finding it empty, Joth quickly grabbed some nut bread with fruit spread and a huge mug of cafa. Sighing to himself, he sat down at the table and gazed out at the valley below thinking 'late again, oh well, I can only get more public duty; gotta get up earlier'. He saw the verdant green rectangles of growing plants, interspersed with the gold of drying maise. Several of the farms were separated by meandering ribbons of blue, the rivers and streams which allowed Highmont Valley to not only feed itself and the castle, but still have plenty left over to trade and sell to the rest of the kingdom and to other kingdoms as well. Joth finished his meal, cleaned up his mess and headed for the ledge outside of the cooking chamber.
When Joth reached the ledge, he donned a pair of flying lenses from his flying jacket pocket put two fingers in his mouth and gave a piercing five note undulating whistle. As soon as the whistle was finished, Joth tried to remember the sense of pain that interrupted his sleep and made him miss his mom and dad this morning. Hearing the sound he was waiting for, a huge beating of wings and an answering whistle, he quickly looked around the ledge and up to the battlements above and below him. Seeing that there were no guards or other observers to see him, he counted to three and jumped off of the ledge into the air. Before he could fall more than a few feet he landed with a thump on the back of his dragon, Gustavo, King of the Royal Dragons of Venezel. Gustavo banked sharply left as Joth grabbed the reins, carefully hooked in place just for occasions like this.
[This song by Declan Galbraith gives wings to the following scenes - Walking in the Air ]
Joth leaned forward and scratched the ridges of Gustavo's neck just behind his ear. He could feel the vibrations of Gustavo's purring and could feel his delight coming through their mind link. Joth took a quick look at where they were and then took the reins in his hand and as he pulled slightly to the left sent 'down and circle the valley then up and circle the peaks'.
Gustavo quickly banked left and down causing Joth to tighten his legs and hold on to Gustavo's neck as his friend became a diving 30 foot long behemoth. He just had to shake his head and grin at his dragon's love of flying, and especially love of scaring the crap out of him. Gustavo then did something dragons of any size, let alone one as large as him rarely did, he turned his head and looked back at his rider and grinned widely. Before Joth could react and smack his impudent ride Gustavo had turned his head and was heading towards the rivers at the far side of the valley. 'What we looking for Joth? You seem quiet and different today.' Gustavo sent in Joth's mind.
Joth responded 'I am not sure Gus, someone injured or abused. All I know is that they are in pain. I don't even know if they are in this valley or another one. I think it is a boy, but I am not sure, all I could feel was pain.'
'We find them and help' echoed through his mind as his dragon increased his wing speed and the degree of his dive.
One early spring morning while Joth and his father were inspecting the Royal Dragon Dens, Joth heard a noise from a supposedly empty Weyr. As Joth went to investigate the noise. The Royal Dragoneer had informed The King and his son that the Weyr was empty.
Joth replied "Father, I know I heard something, may I go look?"
"Of course Joth, Dragooner Jefford and I have a lot of boring stuff to talk about. Just stay out of the way and please don't get stepped on or your mother would never forgive me", Rafaelo informed his son.
No sooner than the words were out of the kings mouth, Joth took off at a run and soon was deep into the depths of the supposedly empty Weyr.
The King and his Dragoneer had just started discussing the status of the feed flocks when they were interrupted by a loud scream from the direction in which Joth had disappeared.
" Daaaaaaaaaaaad, Daaaaaaaaad come quick, please come quick!"
The two men looked at each other then quickly turned and headed towards the Prince's voice.
"Dad, you won't believe what I found, hurry it is amazi………………"
As the last word was cut off, the King and Dragoneer began sprinting towards Joth's voice. They were only slightly concerned because this was one of the safest places in the kingdom. Who in their right mind would try and sneak into a place full of steam vents and twenty-foot long giant lizards with huge mouths and razor sharp teeth?
They quickly reached the mouth of the Weyr where Joth had gone. As they entered the Weyr, it took their eyes a few seconds to adjust to the diminished light. Not seeing Joth at first they continued deeper into the Weyr, and after rounding a bend they came across a most amazing sight.
While the King and his Dragoneer began their, what was to Joth boring discussion, he was wondering what had caused the noise. He knew that the Weyr was supposed to be empty because it was the Weyr of The King of the Royal Dragons of Venezel. There had not been a King Dragon in many years. Joth was extremely curious, as any twelve, nearly thirteen year old Erewhonese naturally were. As Joth rounded the bend in the Weyr he came to a stunned and abrupt stop. For in front of him was the source of the sound which had caught his attention. In the corner, looking at him with eyes of the deepest sapphire, sparkling with an inner fire, was a young dragonet. What was even more amazing than finding a dragonet in the supposedly empty Weyr was the fact that the dragonet bore the markings of a King Dragon!
As Joth stood their totally amazed, he took a deep breath and then started forward. Before he had taken three steps, a voice rang out in his head 'My name is Gustavo, are you my Dragonrider?'
When Joth stumbled and had to catch himself from nearly falling over, the voice continued, 'You are My Dragonrider and your name is Joth.'
Time came to a standstill as Joth had to absorb the immensity of what had happened. He and Gustavo stared deeply into each other's eyes communicating on a level that needed no words or thoughts. Joth's last conscious thought was 'I love this dragon.'
This was the scene that greeted King Rafaelo and Dragoneer Jefford as they rounded the bend. The two men turned and looked at each other and asked "How, What?" at the same time.
Before they could answer each other there was a loud flapping of wings from the Weyr entrance. As the two men turned to see what was causing this new disturbance, the King's War Eagle Paladin came gliding in, his wings having plenty of room in the large den. Paladin instead of landing on the King's outstretched arms, landed near Joth and the dragonet. Then with a few short hops reached the young pair and unfurled his large wings and wrapped the two in their security.
The two men's jaws nearly hit the ground at this truly unexpected occurrence. The King's eye took on a slightly glassy, far away look and he began to speak "His name is Gustavo and they are Dragon and Dragonrider. He is the new King Dragon." the words were spoken in a voice unlike the king's normal one.
With a blink of his eyes and a shake of his head, King Rafaelo regained his composure and in his normal voice told Dragoneer Jefford "That was Paladin and he says everything is okay. Gustavo is safe for Joth and then he wouldn't say anything more."
The two men looked at each other wondering what was to come next.
Joth was extremely glad that he was wearing his flight jacket and his breeches, not just his short breeks and tunic like he usually did. Although this was midsummer and as usual, quite warm the speed at which Gustavo was flying was causing the wind ruffling through Joth's hair to be quite chilly.
After flying across the valley for several hours and finding nothing, both Joth and Gustavo needed a break and some food. With a slight nudge of his right knee and a quick 'send' to Gustavo they headed towards a Royal Farm where they both could slake their thirst and eat also. This ranch was Joth's favorite of the Royal Ranches as this was where Gustavo was raised and where his nanny and her husband had retired. There was a large covered structure that served as Gustavo's Den when he and Joth visited. Joth thought that Gustavo had been flying fast before, but the sudden increase in speed once Gustavo realized where they were headed, almost unseated him again. Laughing to himself, Joth just leaned forward and made himself as small as possible on his dragon's back, so he could feel the increase in speed that made. He knew that very shortly he wouldn't be hungry again and he and Gus would be waited upon like the King and Queen. His nanny and her husband had a large family living with them as the farm was quite large. The nieces and nephews and grandchildren loved it whenever Joth and Gustavo paid them a visit. For Gustavo, unlike most of his kind, utterly loved children of all kinds and especially adored the human younglings of Joth's nanny and her husband. He allowed the children to climb all over him as if he was their private mountain or castle. The children grabbed brushes and climbed all over him cleaning him even more thoroughly than Joth. The children positively screamed with joy when Gustavo would pick them up and throw them into the air to land on his back or forewings. This throwing of the younglings in the air started accidentally several years ago when Gustavo reached down to place one of the younglings on his back and lifted his head too quickly. The youngling went flying through the air and landed where Joth usually sat. The young boy sat there with a stunned look on his face then screamed with joy. Soon every youngling, girls included, lined up to be tossed in the air. Joth laid down a few rules though. Either he or one of the older relatives had to be sitting or standing on Joth's back and they could only play the game in the center of the hay barn with plenty of loose hay strewn about. Of course the youngsters were no fools and a new tradition was born. Unknown to Joth, Gustavo had a personal favorite tickler and groomer. It was Jonah, Nana's six-year old grandson who could speak to ' Goos' as he called him, and knew all of Gus's spots that needed to be scratched and tickled. Unbeknown to Joth, Jonah and Gus used to play toss the kid together when no one else was around. Jonah was slightly empathic and could feel where Gus was itchy and sore. In addition to knowing where to scratch and tickle, Jonah could block some of Gustavo's pain. Whenever Joth and Gustavo came to visit, Jonah usually ended up napping with Gus.
After a sumptuous lunch, which Gustavo ate after being tickled, brushed and polished to perfection, the two left on their search again.
Joth instructed Gus to circle the peaks and ridges of the valley in case the person they were looking for had become trapped on a mountain trail. Joth was beginning to think he dreamed the whole thing when Gus sent, 'No Joth something is not right, the War Eagle named Orphan kept the mew awake all night with his fussing and hopping back and forth. The disturbance woke a few of us dragons also. None of us could understand what was bothering him though so we went back to sleep.'
'Orphan huh? Gus, quick, back to the castle, Orphan was found in the valley that leads up to the back side of Castle Ridge. Maybe that is where we should search' Joth sent. Gustavo quickly climbed even higher with strong strokes of his massive wings. Surprising Joth, Gustavo unfurled his second set of wings normally only used in emergencies or a fight to the death.
Quickly recovering their ground, the pair headed straight for the castle, now far below them. Gustavo now folded both sets of wings slightly so they overlapped and became a true airfoil. At Joth's leaning forward and tucking of his legs in tight, Gustavo dove at nearly his top speed, the wind was now whistling past Joth's head so loudly that without his mind link and Gustavo's knowledge of Joth's body, signals communication would not have been possible.
Joth had decided to search the far end of Simon's Valley as it was called and then work back towards the castle to save wear and tear on Gus. As they passed over the castle, Gus did something nearly impossible, he pulled out of his steep dive for just an instant and dipped his wings and tail signaling to the castle that their was no problem. Joth was amazed that Gus had signaled the castle without him even asking it. He sent a thank you along their link while rubbing both sides of Gus's neck in appreciation.
'I knew you wouldn't want your parents and the guards to worry when they saw us in a war dive. Isn't that why we trained so hard in secret so no one could say you didn't deserve the King Dragon?' Gus asked across the mind link.
'That is exactly why, plus the fact that my father couldn't ride a dragon and you being so young. We had to become the best rider and dragon pair Highmont as well as the Kingdom of Erehwon had ever seen. And we did it and we keep getting better. Of course it couldn't have hurt that Nana let me sleep with you and that father read us both those training manuals of King Arthur the Great. Why didn't you tell me my father knew I was sneaking out to sleep with you and build our bond and link?' Joth questioned across their link.
'Because your father asked me not to. Besides he read to both of us after we were asleep. Several times your Mother had to wake him up and drag him back to the castle before the guard changed……'
'What? Mother knew also – you never told me?'
'Queen Angelina saw no reason to inform you, and so I didn't, besides she said she wouldn't scratch me under my ears if I told you' replied Gus with a hint of mirth coming through their link.
'I can't believe my own mother bribing my best friend' sent Joth along the link smiling as he did. Joth felt Gustavo slowly break out of their dive and saw the second set of wings retract tightly against his dragon's body. Joth slowly sat up and looked around; he saw the town of Spring below him and knew they were near the end of the valley. Unlike Castle Valley or Highmont Valley, as it was also called, Simon's Valley didn't spread out directly below the castle. Simon's Valley took a sharp northward turn before opening up to meadow and farmland. In reality, the portion of Simon's Valley that backed up to Castle Ridge wasn't much wider than the road that connected Highmont to the towns of Simon's Valley. The road was very twisty and consisted of many mini valleys and hills.
Just as Joth finished his survey he felt Gustavo falter and then he was hit with a blast of pain and anguish so strong he almost lost his grip on Gustavo and actually did drop the reins.
Gustavo quickly changed course to where the burst of pain seemed to originate from. Joth quickly recovered the reins and began the mind healing mantra his mother had taught him. Once his own pain was under control, Joth began the set of mental exercises that would allow him to open his mind to the thoughts and pain of the injured person, but not allow his mind to be overcome again.
Joth turned his senses in the direction that Gustavo had chosen and sure enough, someone was emanating a large amount of pain. But the mental anguish Joth was receiving nearly swamped his shields and defenses until he felt the feather touch that was Gus augmenting his shields. Along with a quick thanks, Joth 'sent' instructions to find a landing place as close to the large firpine ahead and to the left of them. As Gus was answering Joth, he spied a clearing just big enough for him to land if he did a vertical drop landing instead of the normal horizontal swoop.
Joth, knowing what was coming, secured himself as tight as possible to his friend and waited for the jar and bounce that normally would accompany their landing. Basically Gus was going to slow them up as much as possible then when directly over the clearing, close his wings and drop the remaining distance, then open and flap his wings at the last possible moment. The clearing was too small for any other type of landing and the next nearest clearing was too far away.
Joth was shocked and surprised when he wasn't bounced to the ground by the shock of the landing. It seems Gus had learned a new trick and had hit the ground with his legs bent and flexed. As soon as his feet hit the ground he pushed off while flapping his wings to hold them down. The shock of the landing was absorbed by Gus's strong legs and by the cushion of air created by his wings.
At a cry of pain, Joth snapped awake and jumped off Gus, something he wouldn't normally do. He raced towards the base of the firpine where the sound had emanated from. As Joth neared the base of the tree, he could see some slight movement and a flash of flesh color. He increased his speed, now nearly sprinting; reaching the base of the tree he pulled back a few branches and found a severely beaten youth, nearly his same age and size. Quickly dropping to the ground, Joth carefully reached out to the youth and turning him over very slowly, placed the youth's head in his lap. He looked the youth over and realized the youth was beaten even more severally than he first thought. As the truth of what he was seeing hit Joth, he began to unconsciously run his fingers through the youths brown hair. When Joth saw that what he thought was the youth's clothing was only a roughened patch of very torn and bruised skin; he began to cry in shock and sympathy.
Justin felt something new though his severe pain, he felt someone trying to comfort him. He came completely out of his stupor when the warm tears hit his face. Justin opened his eyes and looked into the deepest most caring sapphire eyes he had ever seen. "My Angel, I am Just……………"
This is my first attempt at writing a Fantasy Story so be gentle. I would like to thank those who have helped me create this fantasy: ACfan and Gunrunner whose "Memories" and "A New Day Dawns" for the situations and character likenesses that spurred the creative processes. To Akeentia for the wonderful cover art he created for me. To my "Son" for his proofreading and suggestions. To Str8mayb and The Radio Rancher and reader A. Martini for their time editing this story. To all those who have encouraged me so far thanks. To those who think it all right to abuse in anyway those who are different than you. You are wrong just plain wrong, please seek the help you need!
One final word if you think you see yourself in this story it might be true. :) Don't forget feedback feeds the muse - email@example.com
Very nice, good start to the story. Joth seems like a good and caring Prince and a good match for Gustavo. I sure hope Justin is going to be alright or else this could be a very short story. (Grin) I think this Justin must be very special to have caused so much lost sleep last night in people he has never seen before. (Well, people, War Eagles, Dragons and who knows what else.)
C+ on the cliff hanger, but not everyone needs a cliff hanger for every chapter.
Str8mayb AKA Evil Author & Master of Misdirection
Still another Editor's Notes:
I would like to point out that I have been editing later chapters of this story which in fact appear on TSL's own website Storylover.us which, by the way has some excellent stories and authors hosted there. I can therefore tell you without the slightest hesitation that Justin is indeed very special. It has been quite some time since I have read this chapter, and in fact I had really forgotten some very important things that are mentioned in it. I used several piles of tissues while reading and editing it. I know that anyone who reads this wonderful story and the other stories that join with it in the Dragon Earl Universe will fall in love with most of the wonderful people that live here. I use the word LIVE very deliberately. TSL has a talent for bringing his characters to life and to cause us to fall in love with them. He shares this talent with a select few authors. Watch this space for new chapters of this story as well as others. Try not to miss any of them. I promise you that they will be worth reading.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher