Chapter 6

Chapter 6

A Chapter by Havatara

Mary woke up early the next day.  The after day they would head to the mountains.  To say she was nervous was an understatement.  She had absolutely no idea what she was heading into, but the conversation that she had heard between Lady Jade and Mr. Thomas made her more than worried.

“It’ll be fine.  You have nothing to worry about.  We’re just going to visit some of my friends and family up in the mountains,” Lady Jade had explained the night before.  “You and Russell are just coming along so I’m not bored out of my mind from being alone on the ride there.”

That hadn’t made Mary any more relaxed about the situation, but Lady Jade refused to say anything more about it.  Just that she had to bring all of her winter coats and summer clothes.  That was a strange combination.

“Do you know where we’re going?” Mary asked Russell at breakfast.

“We’re going west to the mountains.  Our country is really just an island with mountains on the southwest side, swamps in the southeast, plains in the northwest, and forests in the northeast, with the capital in the middle.  It should only take a few days to get to the mountains,” he explained.

Mary fiddled with her breakfast before asking, “Do you think I could go talk to Lily before we go?  I haven’t seen her in a while, and it was fun talking to her.”

“Of course you can see her!  Here, I’ll take you to her right now.”  Russell led Mary to the quarters of the woman that Lily worked for, Lady Taylor.  Lady Taylor was an old woman with a hearing problem, and she was shouting, “Where’s my apple juice!  You can’t start a day right without a nice glass of apple juice!”

“It’s coming, Lady Taylor.  While you wait, do you want to have some grapes?” Lily asked her.

“No.  Grapes are sour this time of year.”

Lily sighed, frustrated.  “Lady Taylor, I had the cooks make sure that they only gave you sweet grapes.”

“How could they know if they hadn’t bit off of them?  I refuse to eat grapes that have already been bit off of.”

To save her friend, Mary knocked on the door.  Lady Taylor asked, “Who is it?”

“It’s Russell, madam, and a Miss Mary.”

“Well, come on it, don’t be shy,” Lady Taylor said cheerfully.

As soon as Mary walked through the door, Lily grabbed her and towed her into her room.  “We’ll be safe here,” she whispered.  “As long as Russell keeps her busy.”

“Russell, you old monkey, why haven’t you come to visit me lately?”

“Lady Jade is going on a trip to visit her relatives, Madam, otherwise I would have visited more often,” he explained.

Lily nodded.  “That should keep her busy.  Anyway, what’s up?  I haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Well, like Russell said, we’re going on a trip tomorrow to the mountains to visit Lady Jade’s family.  But that wasn’t decided until last night.  In fact, it was only decided after she had a very strange and confusing conversation with Mr. Thomas,” Mary explained.

Lily huffed.  “I don’t see how you can do anything about it.  You’re going with Lady Jade no matter what, right?”

“Yes.”

“Then what did you want me to tell you?”

Mary shrugged, pushing her mousy brown hair behind her ear.  “I don’t know.  Maybe that it isn’t as strange as it seems, and that it’s just an innocent visit into the mountains to see her family.”

Lily giggled and replied, “There’s one thing you should know, and that’s the fact that there is no such thing as a normal Lord or Lady.  They’re all strange in their own way, and there is no way we can understand them.”

“Thanks for the advice,” Mary said dryly.

“You’re welcome!” Lily laughed cheerfully.

Mary didn’t sleep well that night, even though she knew that it would be better for her if she had a good night’s sleep.  She couldn’t help it.  Her dreams were filled with nightmares of a woman running through the forest from men on horseback, carrying a bundle in her arms.  But it was an oddly shaped bundle.  Almost like an over-sized egg. . . .

She woke up startled and scared, shivering in her bed.  Lady Jade must have had some psychic powers because she came in just then with some calming tea, cookies, and an extra blanket.  “Here now, it’s okay now.  The scary dreams won’t come back tonight.”

“How do you know?” Mary demanded quietly.

Lady Jade just giggled.  “I just do.  Now, drink your tea and try to get some more sleep.  We have a long day tomorrow.  Or later today, I guess.”

Mary did as she was told, and had a few cookies as well, but no matter how hard she tried she just couldn’t fall asleep again.  So a couple of hours before the sun rose she got up and looked at her bookshelf.  The book about dragons caught her eye again, but she decided to read the book about horses again.  That’s what she did until Lady Jade knocked on her door and told her that they were leaving in an hour.

Mary decided to pack a small bag of books to read.  She didn’t know how long they were going to be gone, so she backed some interesting looking books about tigers and bugs and all different sorts of dogs.  After pausing for a moment, she slipped the one about dragons in there as well.

When the group got to the front of the castle, they stopped, completely surprised.  There was a large group there waiting for them with banners of dragons leaving their land.  Mary didn’t understand what they meant and didn’t know if she wanted to know.  Lady Jade led her and Russell to their horses and they rode through the noisy streets and into the forests outside the city.

“How dare they do that?  They’re being disrespectful to the very race that gave them protection when they were just little peasants in their huts!” Lady Jade burst out after almost an hour of silent riding.

“Um, what did those banners mean, exactly?” Mary ventured to ask.

“They were symbolizing that they don’t want dragons to be in their lives anymore.  They think they can last without them.  They’re being rude, of course, but there is no way we can stop them,” Russell explained, sighing.  “I really don’t understand them.  We have so much to be grateful for that came from the dragons.  Our roads, our buildings, almost everything we learned from the dragons.”

“And the dragons wanted to help.  They had fun doing it.  Dragons were always looking for fun.  Then things changed,” Lady Jade said quietly.  “The evil dragon clan attacked the kind dragon clan, and they had to stop helping.  They couldn’t have fun anymore, and after a while they completely forgot what fun was.  But we shouldn’t talk about that now.  Russell, how much longer until we get to our hotel?”

He looked at the map in his hand.  “A few more hours.  Do you want to stop for lunch?”

“Yes please.  It’s been so long since breakfast,” she replied.

They stopped in a small field and were unpacking their food when Russell whispered quietly to Lady Jade, “There’s someone watching us.”

“I know.”

“I think there’s more than one.”

“There is.”

He huffed.  “Aren’t you going to do anything about it?”

“We’ll wait a bit.”

Mary squirmed.  People watching them?  How could they know?  Instead of dwelling on it, she asked Lady Jade, “Do you want a beef or chicken sandwich?”

“Hmm.  Beef, I think.  Yes, lots and lots of beef.  I’m suddenly starving.”  She smiled.  “I will have a beef sandwich on wheat bread with lettuce, cheese, tomato, and mayo.”

“Coming right up!” Mary replied cheerfully.  She was almost finished with the sandwiches when they attacked.

At first it was just a slight rustling in the trees.  After that there were some crashes.  Then there were four guys running out from the surrounding forest.  Lady Jade muttered something that Mary couldn’t hear, and soon they were surrounded by a fog so thick that Mary couldn’t even see her own nose.

Russell said something to Lady Jade, and soon there was a lot of grunting and people saying “ouch!” and when the fog cleared Mary could see four men and a boy a few years older than her tied up on the ground.

“We weren’t trying to steal anything, really!” the boy was saying to Lady Jade.  “We were just, uh, asking you for directions.”

“You are lying, and that is rude.  Did your mother ever teach you that?” Lady Jade asked him.

“No,” he replied glumly.

She sighed.  “Then I suppose she never taught you that it isn’t okay to steal.  Well, I suppose I’ll have to take her place.”

“You’re going to be my mother?” the boy asked, shocked.

Lady Jade smiled extra sweetly.  “Yes, and by the time I’m through with you, you’re going to be the prettiest, most proper boy in all of Dragonland.  Now, the first thing you’re going to do as my adopted son is apologize to these men for making them follow you around the forest.”

“I’m sorry for making you follow me around the forest,” the boy said with a sad little voice.

“It’s okay.  No one was hurt,” one of the men said.  Russell smiled at them and untied them, and soon it was just Russell, Lady Jade, Mary, and the boy in the clearing.

“Well, we don’t have enough horses, so in the next town we’re going to have to stop and get another one,” Lady Jade said.  “Until then, you’ll ride with Mary.”

“But she’s a girl!” he exclaimed.

“Yes, and you’re a boy.  There is no such thing as cooties, so you might as well get over that as well,” Russell said in a bored voice.

The boy sighed and held out his hand for Mary to shake.  “I’m Brad.  Nice to meet you.”

“Mary.  Nice to meet you, too,” she replied, shaking his hand.  As soon as they let go, they wiped their hands on their pants to get rid of any cooties they might have gotten.  They both laughed.

“We’d better get going.  My family is expecting us in a few days, and if we don’t hurry soon we won’t make it to the next town by nightfall,” Lady Jade said.  They all packed up their things and were galloping off within ten minutes.

They did reach the next town by nightfall, and as they were checking in Mary noticed a man standing on the other side of the room looking in her direction.  He looked directly at her and walked towards her, asking her, “Do you like chocolate, little girl?”

“Yes,” she replied instantly.

He smiled kindly.  “Do you like cake?”

“Yes!” she said just as fast.

“Well, then you’re in luck.  If you come out to the stable with me, I’ll give you a piece of chocolate cake.  It’s very delicious,” he said quietly so that Lady Jade and Russell couldn’t hear.

Mary thought about it.  He seemed like a nice man, so she decided that it was okay to follow him.  They were almost to the door when Brad called out, “Mary, come back here.  We have to go to our rooms!”

“I’m just going to get a piece of chocolate cake!” she called back, following the man again.  Brad ran over and grabbed her arm and dragged her away from the man.  She whispered, “What are you doing?  He has chocolate cake!”

“He was going to kidnap you!  I heard him talking with his friend.  You can’t trust everyone you meet!  Jeez, girls and their chocolate,” he huffed when they got to the stairs.

Mary stopped in her tracks.  “You saved me.”

He smiled sheepishly at her.  “Yep.”

“I’m a girl, and you’re a boy, and you saved me.”

“Isn’t that how it usually works out?” he asked, laughing.

She glared at him before giggling herself.  “I guess.  But I don’t like owing you anything.”

“Don’t worry.  That one was free.  Next time, on the other hand....”  She punched him playfully in the arm.

Lady Jade looked over at them and laughed.  “I see someone is getting along.”

“Who’s getting along?  No one’s getting along,” Brad replied stubbornly.  Mary giggled, and he winked at her.

A few days later, after riding almost nonstop through the mountains, Lady Jade sat up straight in her saddle and said, “We’re here.”

Mary looked around at the white snow and bare trees.  “We’re where?  There’s nothing here.”

Lady Jade smiled.  “That’s what they want you to think.”

There was a great roar up above them.  Mary looked up and nearly screamed.  There was a large red dragon flying towards them.  It landed a few yards ahead of them, and their horses shied away.  Lady Jade jumped down and hugged the dragon’s snout.  “Father!”



© 2010 Havatara


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Added on July 26, 2010
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Author

Havatara
Havatara

The Town That Moved, St. Louis County, MN (aka Hicksville), MN



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