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The Adventures of Howudino and Kashin

by Arthur

Chapter 4

Baragil's steps led him Eastward, during the day he ran at a steady pace through the forrest at ground level, after stopping only for a meal and one or two hours rest, he took to the trees, night time was the most dangerous in the forrests of Siava and so he stayed well above the ground during the dark times, his path lit by the stars and the rising moon.

Like most wood Elves, Baragil had excellent vision although for him it seemed that he had just a little more than those of his peers, during day time games, Baragil had a hard time keeping up with the others but, at night time he came into his own, he seemed to be able to not only see better, but know as if by instinct, where to place his feet during the complicated runs through the branches at night, this was how he now travelled, he barely even looked at his feet as he let his instincts guide him in the dark.

Baragil had no Idea how far he had travelled over the days since leaving his village, his steady ground loping pace during the day and his instinctual tree running during the night had left him with little knowledge of his location, all he knew for sure was that he was heading Eastward as though being pulled along by a rope from some magical force.

During tests with his peers back at the village, Baragil had been quick to take note that he was better suited for the trees, he knew that all Elves were part of the forrest but his smaller size meant he could walk on branches and go to the tree tops higher than any of the others, it was a distinct advantage when trouble arose and, with his fine senses during the night, he was a very hard Elf to catch by those who would do him harm.

Baragil had noticed that the trees were beginning to thin out, also that the first hint of the grey dawn light was making its appearance, Baragil began to look for somewhere to rest for a few hours, the pull of wanting to go East was now stronger than his desire to eat, something unworldly was forcing him to hurry, he tried to shake it off as he dropped earthward, almost dancing from one branch to the other without missing a step.

In seconds, Baragil was on the soft leaf covered ground, he had dropped over thirty metres with hardly a glance at where he was stepping, from the back of his mind, something warned Baragil of a newness around him, as he peered from the thinning trees at the edge of the forrest, he slipped his strong black bow off his shoulder and notched an arrow in preparation of defending himself, he was a long way from home and had only himself and his Elvin abilities to keep him safe now.

He stood in the deep shadow of a huge Oak tree, his black bow blending perfectly, his Elvin clothing made him almost invisible, his staff was leaning against the lee of the tree as his eyes scanned back and forth for the new feeling, he was not sure if it was danger or just something new that made him pause, ahead of him in the dawning light were the wide open plains leading to the Eastern coastal waters, to his left and right the trees of the forrest ranged as far as his sharp eyes could see.

Brushing back a few stray locks of hair, he cleared his pointed ears to listen better, among the early morning bird calls and soft scuffles of ground animals waking up, Baragil thought he could just pick up another foreign sound, it was almost like a soft purr, could there be one of the large and dangerous cats that roamed the forrest in both the early and late hours of the day looking for the unwary, Baragil could not take the chance.

Staying as still as the old Oak itself, Baragil let his senses work for him, the broken purring sound seemed to be coming from high in another Oak about ten metres away from where he stood, using his very sharp eyes, Baragil began to look the nearby trees over from top to bottom, taking in every branch and twig that the growing light and his sharp eyes could see.

Just as he was about to doubt his own senses, Baragil saw the faintest of movements half way up an Oak tree not more than ten metres away from where he stood, turning his eyes away from the tree for a second, he then quickly took in the trunk of the tree once more, it was this that showed him the anomaly, high in the old Oak was a strange bundle, it was sitting in the fork of two large branches, as his eyes became accustomed to watching the place, he saw what appeared to be human clothing, he had never of course seen human clothing but he knew what Elvin clothing was like and this was not it so there was only one other explanation.

For the life of him, Baragil could not think why humans would be this far from the coast, by his knowledge he was still a good ten days from the coast, it was common knowledge that the humans never moved more than a few days from their small villages, if the bundle up in the tree was a human then there had to be a good reason, Baragil stayed as still as the very shadows, he had nothing but time on his side, he would wait and see what rose from the bundle of clothes in the old Oak.

It took a little time before Baragil saw movement in the fork of the old Oak, at first he thought he was imagining things when he saw four arms stretch heavenward, it then dawned on him that there were in fact two bodies in the fork of the tree, for the size of them they had to be young boys, a grown man would have made a larger bundle.

Baragil watched as the two boys began to climb down the tree, it was then he noticed that the two boys had a sword each tied with a leather thong hanging over their shoulders, beside him he suddenly heard the rattle of his staff as it vibrated against the trunk of the old Oak, inside his stomach he also felt a turmoil as the two boys touched the ground.

Too Baragil's eyes one boy looked to be not much more than perhaps ten years old, although he had little idea of humans sizes or ages but the smaller looked to be very young, the second human boy was perhaps 5'7" but built solidly, Baragil assumed he was not much younger than himself, perhaps these two were brothers although they did not look alike, Baragil continued to watch from his shadows.

The real astonishment came for Baragil when the older of the two boys took hold of the sword over his shoulder, suddenly the ground around the two boys took on a soft blue glow, the larger boy knelt with the point of the sword touching the ground, he closed his eyes and, not more than seconds later, there was a brighter shimmer and a large quantity of food appeared where the boy was kneeling, something deep inside Baragil's head rang a bell .

Next to him his own staff was now vibrating and rattling, Baragil could hardly take a breath as he watched the two boys sit and begin to eat, the smaller boy now had his large sword across his knees, Baragil saw that the blade was red, it all started to make sense, here was his pilgrimage, he was looking at the swords of magic.

As though it had a mind of its own, Baragil's staff suddenly lifted off the tree and began to fly all by itself towards the two seated boys, Baragil was stunned and could only stand and watch as his staff flew at a terrific speed towards the tableau, when it reached the seated humans, it stopped and hung in the air, the boys looked up with startled expressions on their young faces as the staff hovered above them.

Both suddenly jumped to their feet, their swords gripped tightly in their small hands, Baragil had to move, he could not let the humans take his staff, drawing his bow to the fullest and aiming at the older of the boys, he stepped from his hiding place and into the open, as his movement caught the eye of the youngest one, Baragil called out in his best authoritive voice, he was lucky, it only cracked once as he made his demands.

"Why are you humans on my lands?"

"Your lands?" asked the older one, even with an arrow pointed right at his heart, he showed bravery. "These are free lands, they belong to everyone."

"Not so human, these are the lands of the wood Elves, humans belong on the coast, you are entering forbidden lands."

"We are not; we just slept in the tree for safety, now if you will put down your bow we will eat and leave."

Baragil did notice fear in the boys eyes but he also saw bravery, not for himself but for the younger one, Baragil eased the tension on his bow string just a little.

"Are you Wizards that you could steal my staff?"

"Your staff? It just flew at us, we don't know anything about it, so now, you can either come eat with us and be friends or take your staff and go back to your trees."

"And where do you plan to go after your breaking fast?"

"What's it got to do with you, where we go and what we do is our business but, I will tell you that we are going to the Western Islands in search of the Dragons, these swords belong to them so we are taking them back."

"The Dragon Islands, do you think you can go so far, you will be old men by the time you get too them, that's if you can find a boat to take you to such a place."

The younger boy smiled and then spoke up.

"You know the Dragon Islands?"

"Of course, every Elf knows of them."

"Elf, you're really an Elf?"

Smiling, Baragil pushed back the loose hair around his face to show his pointed ears.

"Do humans have ears such as these?"

The younger boy jumped up and down as he smiled widely, he then began to chatter to the older boy, the dangerous bow and arrow totally forgotten in his excitement.

"See Davin, you see now, I was telling the truth, there are Dragons and Elves, I just knew my Pa would not lie to me, see, he has pointed ears just like the stories."

Davin had lowered his sword; against a bow it would not have been much good anyhow, deciding to try to make peace with the young Elf, he sat back down to the waiting feast.

"Come Elf, join us, none of us need to fight before a good meal, perhaps afterwards you can kill us but a full stomach is better than an empty one when you die."

For the first time, Baragil smiled, not only at the older boys' comment but the continuing antics of the younger one, lowering his bow and replacing his arrow in its quiver, Baragil said.

"My name is Baragil of the Woodland Elves."

"I am Davin of Ferringol and this is Sprat, also of Ferringol."

"Ferringol? I do not know this place, is it far?"

"Well, we don't really know, you see these swords are magical, somehow Sprat's sword brought us here, is this Siava?"

"Yes, this is the land of Siava, wait while I get my staff, we will then eat and tell our tales, it is too nice of a day to kill humans, besides that food does look tasty."

The two human boys smiled as they watched Baragil reach for his suspended staff, as his hands wrapped around the staff, there came a loud peel of thunder from the clear sky.

The boys awoke just as the sun was sinking into the horizon, Davin and Sprat looked at each other as though to say 'Not again' but the surprised look on the slowly awakening Baragil made them keep their thoughts to themselves.

"What happened?" asked the confused Elf.

"I think you set off the magic of the staff, it did the same thing too us when we took hold of the swords." Replied Davin.

"But the staff is not magical, if it were one of our Elders would have felt it, there must be another reason."

"Well we have thought of other things but none of them explain what happened to us." Said Sprat.

Baragil looked down at the food still on the ground in front of them, it still looked fresh and hot, there was definitely magic at work, as he bent forward to take a sample of the food, something inside his head seemed to explode like a lightning bolt, he straightened up and stared at the two boys.

"I know, I know what these are, it just came to me."

"What, the swords and staff?"

"Yes, we three were meant to meet, this is the 'Staff of Life" your sword Davin, is the 'Sword of Plenty' Sprat's sword is the 'Sword of Realms', there is one more, it is called the 'Sword of Vengeance' we have to go and find the last sword and its owner, there is a bad time coming and we have to meet it together or all of us will perish as will every living thing on this world."

"How... How do you know this Baragil?' asked Davin.

"I don't know, it just came to me now, it was as though the staff was talking to me but inside my head."

"So where do we go to find the fourth sword?"

"To the West, the Islands of the Dragons."

"Well, I for one am not going anywhere until I've eaten." Said Sprat as he sat down and began to fill his mouth.

The others could do no less and sat with him, there was plenty of food for all of them and even enough to put into their packs to carry with them, both human boys still did not know if the magic would run out of their swords if they used them too much.

As they ate the plentiful meal, the boys relaxed more and more with each other, each retold their story and listened to the others, it was certainly destined to be the three of them together, it was a motley crew, a six foot Elf, a shorter but well built human and a boy who looked four years younger than he was as well as being smaller than the others, only their large shimmering swords told a different tale as did the bright reddish staff of the Elf which now shone with a new life.

After finishing their leisurely meal, the three boys sat and let the food settle until Davin asked what they should do next, Baragil answered him with.

"I suppose we should start to make our way Westward, it's a long, long way just to get through the forrest, and then there is another twenty days walk to the Western coast, after that we have to find a ship that is prepared to go to the Dragon islands and I have no coins for passage on a ship."

"Neither do we." Answered Davin.

"Well can you get us through the Forrest Baragil?" asked Sprat.

"Yes but it is a long way, it will take us more than a thousand days to cross it, we will be old men before we see the coast."

"Not if I use the power of my sword." Replied Sprat.

"That's all fine." Said Davin, but we don't want to end up inside a tree or mountain if you guess wrong."

"Yes there is that I suppose, wait, what if we just do short jumps, if I can see something, like I did with this tree, then we can go that far and look for the next place, Baragil, do you know things like land marks or very big trees or mountains we can use to jump to?"

"Yes I do, there are many very large trees in the Forrest we can use."

"Right, let's try that then." Said Davin,

All three boys got close together and joined hands while Sprat looked for a big tree to the West of them, once he had seen one he could get into his head, he clasped the sword tightly and thought of the huge tree, not more than a gasp of breath later and they were deep into the Forrest and standing under a massive Kalabilum Tree, its branches spread out even further than the oldest Oak.

All Sprat had to do now was see the next target unfortunately for them all, they were at ground level and could see nothing but the trees around them, Baragil came to the rescue.

"I can go to the top of the tree then drop a long vine down for you; if you two can climb up after me then Sprat will be able to see the next place to go."

Davin, who had little head for heights, hesitated, the only problem was that if he was not holding Sprats hand when he thought of a place, Davin would be left behind and never be able to find them again, he had little alternative, he had to overcome his fear and climb the huge tree, a small shudder went through his body as he looked up through the thick branches, it was a long way up and appeared to touch the very sky itself.

Baragil had already made up his mind and was disappearing into the thick foliage of the tree as the two on the ground watched in awe of his climbing skill, within seconds he had disappeared into the tree leaves, his Elvin clothes also helped to conceal his whereabouts.

It seemed like no time at all before a thick green vine came tumbling out of the tree and hung just above their heads; from above they heard the light sound of Baragil's voice calling down to them.

"I can see a mountain in the distance; if we can make it there we can rest for a while, take hold of the vine one at a time, I can pull you up if you can help by using your feet on the tree trunk, Sprat, you come first, you are the lightest and should be easier to pull up, then you can have some time to see the mountain while I help Davin."

Sprat smiled at Davin and jumped up to grasp the loose hanging vine, with little effort at all he seemed to suddenly disappear into the tree as Baragil had little trouble hauling him up as he was so small and weighed very little, it seemed no more than seconds for Davin and the vine was dangling in front of his face once more, it was now or never.

Davin took a deep breath to try to calm his pumping heart, taking the vine in his hands he felt the pull of Baragil, it surprised him the Elf was so strong, he seemed pretty slim on the ground, to help Baragil, Davin used his feet on the trunk of the tree to more or less walk up as Baragil pulled from above, Davin dared not look down, he knew he would be unable to hold onto the vine if he saw how high he was, he kept his eyes firmly above him as Baragil's legs came into sight near the very top of the Kalabilum Tree, Sprat was happily perched on a thin branch with a wide smile on his face.

Once Davin was secure, or as securely as he could feel so high off the ground, Sprat came closer to the other two, holding out the hand that was not grasped around the sword, he waited for the others to also hold hands then closed his eyes to get the picture of the mountain in his head, as it finally fully formed in the shape he had seen so far away, he felt the same familiar shimmer and the three boys were standing on top of the mountain, the afternoon wind blowing their long hair around their shoulders except for Baragil's which was till plaited from when he left his village.

The three boys looked around them, in the far distance they could see another large Kalabilum tree standing out from the rest of the Forrest, that would be their next target but before they went on they decided to stay and eat, the top of the mountain was a little windy and as the afternoon moved on it began to get chilly so they decided to go further down before they ate.

Finding a nice small cave they went in and Davin called up more food, this time he had more control and only called for a simple meal, however he could not resist the temptation to also ask for wine, that was all the travelling they did for that day as not one of them had a real head for wine and it was not long before they were giggling like small girls.

After a second bottle of wine, the boys were past being able to continue, they cleared a place in the small cave and settled down to sleep off their mistake, the morning hours would bring the penalty for too much wine, it was a lesson they never forgot.

Baragil's sleep was filled with strange dreams of misty figures, there were also songs and poems that seemed to fill his head from the darkness of sleep, at first it seemed like a night mare for Baragil, you see, Elves don't dream, it took a little time until Baragil settled down again as he understood it could only be the magic of his staff, once he gathered that this was what was happening, he let the 'Dream" continue in its own way.

Baragil was not the only one who's head was filled with dreams, Davin was also having a weird but at the same time, wonderful dream, he felt himself on the back of a mighty Golden Dragon, flying high in the sky with hundreds of other Dragons around him, to his right was an even larger Gold Dragon, its Rider was dressed in bright shining gold armour and behind him sat another young teen.

In his dream state, Davin looked to his left, there on another Gold Dragon of the same size as his own was Sprat and behind him sat Baragil, it them came to Davin's notice that he was the only one with no passenger, ahead of him was a massive range of high mountains from which dark black smoke was rising, it whirled and twisted as though it was alive, Davin and the other Dragons were heading straight for it.

As he lived in the dream, Davin saw a mighty bolt of lightning flash out of the black cloud and strike the passenger on the large Gold Dragon, the young boy slumped over in his saddle and turned a very pale colour, the Rider in front screamed with both fear and rage as, out of the black cloud came the most horrible and terrifying sight Davin could ever imagine.

From the blackness came thousands of demons, their blazing red eyes and pointed teeth were a horror to see, just as the horrors began to close on the large army of Dragons, Davin felt Sprat shaking his shoulder and calling for him to wake up.

"Wha, what is it Sprat?"

"You were having a bad dream, you were yelling something about demons and storms, I thought I had better wake you before you got too scared."

"Thanks Sprat, it was a bit of a horror dream."

"Want to tell me about it?"

"No, it was just a dream, made no sense to me, something about Dragons and demons fighting."

"Demons? I thought they were just a story, mind you I suppose if the magical swords and Dragons are real then there could be demons as well."

It was not long until dawn so the two boys just snuggled back down under the thin covering of Baragil's marvellous cloak and watched the Elf as he slept, he seemed to be talking in his sleep although most of it sounded like songs or poems in a strange language neither of them could understand, they just lay and watched the Elf until the first rays of morning light began to break through the darkness just before dawn.

Davin called up a simple breakfast for the three of them, once finished they all went back to the top of the mountain so Sprat could check on his directions to the large Kalabilum tree in the early morning mist, again it was only moments before they stood below it spreading branches, Baragil and Sprat almost broke out in laughter as they saw the look on Davin's face at the prospect of another climb high up into the top of the large tree.

Twenty minutes of climbing and they were looking out for the second jump of the day, Sprat picked a craggy outcrop of rock at the far edge of his vision and they were there, Davin was more relieved than the others to be once again on solid ground, the outcrop was far larger than they had thought, it towered over the forrest like a giant finger pointing up into the morning sky, the one saving grace was a small pond of crystal clear water at the base of the high crag, the green fresh smell of the forrest around them made them take more notice of their own bodies, all three had not bathed in days and, while the pond was not overly large, it would be enough for the three to have a good bath in.

As Davin and Sprat were about to disrobe, Baragil told them to stop until he returned, so saying he disappeared into the band of trees not far from where they had landed, ten minutes later he returned with two large tubers, he had brushed off most of the soil and as he came up to the boys he stopped to wash the tubers in the pond, once clean he looked around for a flat rock.

The two boys watched intently as Baragil took his dagger out and began to carefully peel off the thick skin of the tubers, inside it was a dense thick white closely matted fibre, laying the first one on the flat rock he took another stone and began to gently pound it until all the fibres were broken up, dividing the fibres in to two handfuls, he passed one to each of other boys.

"This is a Dangar root, you can use it like soap, don't throw it away when you have washed, you can use the last bits to wash your clothes."

The two boys took the root fibres and were soon naked, their clothes in an untidy pile at the side of the pond, with loud yells of joy they both jumped in the water while Baragil got the other tuber ready for his own use.

Davin had thought nothing of being naked in the water with the much smaller Sprat until the other boy accidently rubbed up against him as he was lathering up his thin body with the root, Davin's reaction was not only a surprise but embarrassing, his boyhood shot to attention in a split second, he had never reacted to another boy like this before but, then again he had not been naked with another boy either, trying to keep his problem hidden underwater, Davin turned his back and began to also scrub as hard as he could in the hope his body would relax before he got out of the pond.

Sprat was jumping and yelling as he also scrubbed although he was doing more jumping than scrubbing, it was not long before Baragil joined them, Davin could not stop himself from taking a quick glance at Baragil's wares, a flush lit his face, Baragil's wares were a lot bigger than he thought they would be, Davin quickly turned his eyes in another direction before he was caught looking.

Baragil hid his smile as he lowered himself into the pond, he had seen the quick glance at his groin by Davin, most Elves were well endowed although Baragil would be considered on the smaller size by his peers but from what he had seen of the two human boys, he was well over their endowments, he began to think perhaps he should make a suggestion when they stopped for their next nights rest, he would not be against a little play with the two humans, especially the smaller Sprat, the smaller boy had the smallest waist and hips Baragil could ever dream of being on a person.

Had Elves been in the habit, or have the capability of blushing, Baragil would have at that moment as the cute picture of Sprat in all his miniature glory had the same reaction to his manly bits as Davin had had, Baragil wondered if Davin would accept joining him and Sprat if that time came, it was a tempting possibility.

When the boys finished washing themselves, they all three sat on the side of the pond and began work on their filthy clothes, for Baragil it was a simple matter, he had only the inside of his tanned deer skin clothes to lightly rinse and rub with the scented Dangar root, for Davin the job was a lot harder as the thick work clothes of a farmer took great effort to clean, Sprat was in some ways lucky, while his clothes were not much more than rags, there were less of them, pants, a shirt and his small cap with flaps that came down over his ears when it got cold, his boots were of good quality which surprised Davin but he had no socks or underclothes, Davin also noticed that Baragil did not wear underclothes either, again he tried to take his mind off his now very rigid problem.

Had there been onlookers, they would have been chuckling at the three boys although not so much at Baragil as he seemed to not know what shame was but Sprat and Davin tried as best they could under the circumstances, to hide their boy bits which was an impossibility under these conditions, Davin had been surprised to note that while Sprat was the smallest of all of them in height and build, he almost matched Davin in the lower regions.

Finally the clothes were as clean as they were going to be, still trying to hide their problem muscle, they laid out their wet clothes to dry in the strengthening sun, Baragil had undone his braid to wash his hair and it now hung down in a shimmering black curtain to the middle of his back, Sprat, now clean showed that his scruffy hair was in fact a light brown which was almost a dark blonde, as it dried it sprang up all over his head in an unruly mop, for Davin it was not so bad, his was straight and hung down over his ears and at the front over his eyes.

As they all sat down to finish drying off in the sun, Baragil took out his dagger and began to sharpen it on a large piece of sandstone he had found by the edge of the pond, Davin and Sprat watched intently as Baragil worked away to get a very sharp edge on the blade.

"Why are you sharpening your dagger Baragil?" asked Sprat, the ever inquisitive boy.

"I'm going to cut your hair, you need to keep it away from your face or you might miss a step up in the trees, that's why Elves keep theirs in a braid, it could be very dangerous otherwise."

"You're not going to cut all of it off are you?"

"No, of course not, just the front and sides, the back I will tie for you so others know you are a boy, the same goes for Davin."

"What about your hair, can you plait it again by yourself?"

"No, I don't think so, I will have to tie it with a few pieces of leather thong I have in my pack."

"I could try to plait it for you if you want me too, I've never done it but I can try." Said Sprat.

"Would you? I would like that."

"Ok, after you cut our hair I will try to plait yours, you can tell me how to do it right."

Baragil smiled at Sprats enthusiasm, it would also give him a chance to be closer to the smaller boy, there was something about him that drew Baragil to him, he was not sure if it was a protective feeling or something more but he did want to be near the young teen.

Once he thought his dagger was as sharp as he could make it, Baragil asked Sprat to sit in front of him, once Sprat was seated between the long strong legs of Baragil, the Elf began to carefully cut his hair from the sides and front of the boys head, at the back it was long enough to lay just below his collar, he would tie that with a thong, when Sprat was finished he had Davin sit in the same place and started on his hair, when both boys were finished they went to the pond and washed their hair once again to get rid of any stray bits.

After using their hands to get rid of the excess water, Sprat went to sit behind Baragil while Davin sat to the side watching them, with infinite patience, Baragil instructed Sprat on the fine points of a neat braid, it took the best part of half an hour but at the end Baragil's thick black braid was again gently laying down his back, as Sprat tied the last leather thong in place, Baragil turned around and hugged Sprat for his good work, Davin noticed that Sprat did not pull away from the hug of the large Elf.

A stop for a small meal while the wet clothes dried, gave cause for tensions in the nether regions to ease, as the three sat and chewed on fresh smelling bread and tangy cheese, Davin suddenly realized what had been different about Baragil's body, apart from his eyebrows and head, Baragil did not have a single hair anywhere else on his body, even Sprat had a small dark brown tuft just above his boyhood, Davin wondered if he should ask about it but then thought it would be too embarrassing for both of them.

Once the meal was finished, the three companions sat for a short while in the hot sun, when they thought their clothes were good and dry, the redressed and collected all their belongings, such as they were, Sprat suggested they jump to the top of the large spire so he could see where to go next, no sooner said than they were right up on top of the tall finger of rock.

Sprat and Davin could see a long way but Baragil with his Elvin sight could make out a large range of mountains in the far distance, unfortunately for the two human boys it looked to be not more than a faint smudge on the horizon, Sprat selected a large tree far off at the very edge of his vision, once settled in his head, he clasped hands with the other two and they jumped to the base of the tree.

On arriving at the tree, Sprat let go of Baragil's hand and began to climb up alone, this time he would set the next stop in his head then climb down for the others before making the jump, Baragil warned him to be careful while high up in the tree.

As Baragil and Davin waited for Sprat at the base of the tree, Baragil suddenly stiffened up and began to look around sharply, his bow was immediately in his hands and an arrow notched ready as he scanned the nearby trees and bushes, being aware that Baragil could hear and see things he could not, Davin took his sword from his shoulder and stepped up beside Baragil.

The tension in the air was heavy as both boys searched the trees, suddenly, from out of seemingly nowhere to Davin's eyes, stepped four very tall Elves, they did not look like adults but were certainly a little older than Baragil, in the hands of the four were the familiar black bows, all were notched with black arrows and pointed directly at the pair under the tree.

One of the Elves looked the pair over before asking.

"Why are you here, these are our lands?"

"We are just passing through." Said Baragil, "We are going to the Islands of the Dragons on a Pilgrimage."

"Why are you, a Wood Elf, travelling with a human, you know we do not mix with their kind."

"They are my companions, we go under the protection of the Four Magic's."

"What Four Magic's, they are a myth, I think you are trying to invade our lands Elf."

"That would seem a little crazy for us to do, three youths against your whole tribe, it would not be much of an invasion, or are your tribe so scared of three harmless youths that you would make war on them?"

"What do you mean 'Three' I see only two?"

From behind the four Elves came a young voice, Sprat had jumped down behind the Elves without a sound.

"Uhm that would be me."

The four elves turned quickly to look where the voice had come from, close behind them they saw the third young figure only this one held his sword in such a way it was glowing red, with a quick glance back at the other two, the Elves now saw that both the other sword was glowing blue and the staff was sending out thin shafts of silver light from each end, a sudden paling of the four Elves faces made the three boys smile in the most innocent way they could.

"As I stated, we are on a Pilgrimage to the Dragon Islands, we mean no harm and will move on." Said Baragil.

With that Sprat walked up to his two friends and they all joined hands, suddenly the four Elves were standing alone in the Forrest, the three intruders had disappeared in a shimmer of light, if there was one thing that Elves feared and respected, it was Magic and the Magic the three boys had shown them was far beyond their understanding, they would have to hurry back to their hidden village and seek one of the Elders for advice.

The three boys found themselves in a small tree clad knoll, it gave Sprat enough space to see the now closer mountain range, with the meeting of the strange Elves, the boys decided they would not stay in the Forrest this night but make a last jump to the high mountains and find a cave to rest in, it would be safer than staying where they were not wanted, Sprat took great care in deciding on which mountain they would go too.

As the late afternoon sun sank closer to being hidden by the high mountains, the boys shimmered into being half way up the side of the towering range of mountains, they could see now that there were few trees this high up so they would have to spend what day light they had left to find a cave, as if in a daze, Davin said they should go to their left, there was a cave not far away, how he knew this he had no idea but he was sure there would be one there, with nothing else to do the three turned left and began to scramble over the loose shale and rocks that were scattered over the ridge they were on.

As predicted they soon came to a small cave, at the front was a narrow ledge that dropped off in a sheer fall to the Forrest far below, Davin did not go right o the edge, Baragil's description was enough for him, venturing into the cave they found a soft sandy floor, around the edge were odd rocks and a small drip of water could be heard from the back wall against which was another large oval rock, none of the boys went to look at it, one rock was like another and in the dim light all they wanted to do was eat and rest, it had been a long day for them all.

When the meal was finished, the boys cleared an area half way back inside the cave, there were no signs of any animals using the cave so they felt fairly safe for the night, the three snuggled up close to each other and Baragil covered them all with his fine cloak, he had somehow managed to get next to the small frame of Sprat and, as he settled down, he reached out and pulled Sprat closer to him, the smaller boy did not object but just wriggled around until he was comfortable, his thin back pressed tightly into the Elf's stomach, Davin was lying in front of Sprat but facing him, the boys eyes began to close as the long day caught up with them.

Unheard by the other boys, Davin began to mumble in his sleep, he was having another dream about Dragons but this time it different, there were no other Dragons or people around him, he was flying high in the air on the back of a Golden Dragon once again, the Dragon kept asking him for a name, Davin mumbled in his sleep, 'Aktus' the answer he got surprised him.

"A fine name for a fine Dragon, come Rider join with me so we can soar through the skies together."

Davin mumbled on, his soft mutterings woke Sprat but in his sleep sodden state, the smaller boy grunted and resettled back to the warm body holding him tightly from behind.

As Sprat drifted back to sleep, Davin thought he rose and walked to the back of the cave, in his dream state he looked down at the oval rock, it was glowing with a soft blue colour and had darker striations running through it, in his dream, Davin laid a hand on each end of the oval and then heard a cracking sound, before his dreaming eyes a small Gold Dragon appeared, it looked at Davin and said.

"I am here my Rider, you must sleep some more while I grow then we can fly together, soon we will return to our Weir at Mastik my Prince."

Davin looked at the small Dragon and smiled as he began to leave the dream and drift back into sleep, he settled down again and had no more Dragon dreams instead his breathing became soft and slow as the very stones underneath him seemed to soften and get warm, it was a good cave they had found, beside him his two friends slept on.

Baragil awoke with a feeling as though he had been sleeping for days, his mouth was dry and his stomach seemed more empty than it should have been after the feast of last night, as he began to take in his surroundings, something caught his attention, quickly he reached for the staff lying beside him and lifted his head, with a speed which even surprised him, he jumped to his feet with a loud shout to the others.

At the back of the cave, curled into itself was a very large Golden Dragon, its violet eyes were watching Baragil and its mouth was slightly open showing rows of razor sharp teeth, it did not move but only continued to stare at Baragil, as the other two boys tried to get up too see what had startled Baragil, Davin suddenly shook his head and turned to the back of the cave.

"By all the gods." Davin shouted he then shook his head again as the Dragon poked out a long forked tongue in his direction.

Inside his head Davin heard.

"Hello my Prince, did you sleep well, your friends seem a bit upset, tell them not to worry, I'm really quite friendly unless hungry."

Davin stuttered for a bit before realising his dream had been real, here before him was Aktus his Royal Golden Dragon just as he had dreamed him, Davin stammered out what his Dragon had told him to ease the worry of the other two, it was Sprat that seemed the least affected by the sudden appearance of the huge animal, with the curiosity of a small boy, Sprat boldly walked up to the huge Dragon.

"You're real, I knew there were Dragons, I just knew they were real."

Davin heard Aktus in his head.

"Tell the little one that his Dragon awaits him on the other side of the mountains, I will fly there and wait for you, we have to have the Messadine prepare your saddle before you can ride me, the little one can use the Sword of Realms to get you all there, I will wait for you outside the cave of the other Dragon."

Aktus rose to his full height and carefully picked his way to the mouth of the cave as Davin told the others what they had to do, they heard the loud swish of giant wings as the Dragon took to the air, there was no delay, they had to follow as quickly as they could as Sprat was almost jumping out of his skin at the revelation that he too had a Dragon waiting, he hoped with all his heart it was a fine Gold one like Davin had, but if not at least he would be a Dragon Rider like his new friend.

After gathering all their possessions, the boys held hands and Sprat jumped them to the top of the far mountain tops, once there they saw way below them the gold scales of Davin's Dragon shimmering in the early morning sunlight, he was made smaller by the distance between them but still looked impressive to the three boys high up on the far ridge.

Another jump and the boys were standing on the ground only a short distance from Davin's Dragon Aktus, before them was a large cave mouth, the darkness extending far back into the mountains where the boys eyes could not penetrate, Aktus spoke inside Davin's head once again.

"My Prince, tell the small one and his Consort to go far back into the cave, there he will find his egg waiting for him, while they are away you and I will go off to another cave as we cannot be here when the small ones Dragon hatches, our magic will fight each other at a time like this."

Davin related what he had been told, Sprat looked at him a little uncertainly but then decided a Dragon was more important than his fear of dark caves, taking hold of Baragil's hand for security, he led them both into the dark cave mouth, it was the last Davin was too see of them for the next three days, although he did not know this at the time.

Aktus then led Davin to another cave some little distance away, this one was even larger and deeper, going inside they eventually found a large cavern well into the mountain, Aktus then asked Davin to take hold of his two central horns and close his eyes, something strange ran through Davin's body as he held the large horns in his hands, he then felt a tiredness overcome him and, after releasing his hold and stepping back down onto the floor of the cavern, Davin curled up and went to sleep.

When he awoke, Davin had no idea of how long he had slept but he found himself curled up close to the large front talons of Aktus, he also now felt the magic of his Dragon flowing through him, as this realisation came to him he saw the solid stone walls of the cavern shimmer and a number of small childlike figures emerged and bowed to him, Aktus's thoughts came to him .

"These are the Messadine, they have your armour and saddle ready, follow them and we will get you dressed, your small friend and his Consort will join us shortly along with his Dragon."

Davin got to his feet and did as he had been told, the Messadine led him back through the new opening and deeper into the mountain, once inside he saw another larger cavern, there were many more of the small Messadine working away at various tasks, it was then that Davin realised he was now naked and yet not one Messadine stared at his revealed boy bits, Davin tried to cover himself with his hands as some of the Messadine approached him with bundles in their hands.

Not long after, Davin was dressed in soft but sturdy clothes, next came his glittering gold armour, Aktus told him it was made from his own scales and would protect him in battle, his sword was encased in a very fancy gem encrusted scabbard, it had a long thick belt for him to slip over his shoulders as his height was not enough to carry the sword at his waist, lastly was the saddling of Aktus, Davin saw it was a single saddle but much larger than he thought it would be, it had a high back where he would be able to rest against when flying, the thrill of his first flight was now foremost in his mind.

As the saddle was magically attached to Aktus by the Messadine artisans, there came a rumble from the other end of the cavern, Davin's smiled widely as he saw his two friends along with a new Gold Dragon walking towards him, the answering smile from the others was just as wide, Sprat's more so than Baragil's, the three friends hugged as though they had not seen each other for years instead of days, Davin felt a little touch of sadness too see his two friends holding hands in such a way that he instinctually knew they had something for each other.

When Sprat's Dragon, whom he had named Baraset, had his saddle mounted and both boys had been dressed in their armour, Gold for Sprat and Bronze for Baragil, Davin saw that the saddle was a double, again his heart jumped in an unfamiliar way, it was certain now that he was too be alone, Aktus's thoughts came to him.

"Do not despair my Prince, you will have many boys to attend you, it is the fact you carry the Sword of Plenty that makes it impossible for you to have a Consort, it's power is such that it would corrupt even the most honest of Consorts, it has selected you as you have a pure heart that cannot be corrupted, you will have many friends in your long life but some you must be wary of, they are or will be only after the power your sword carries but, never fear, I will be by your side at all times."

"Thank you Aktus, so what do we do now?"

"When we are all ready, it will be time for your first flight, your friends will now come with us and, once you feel secure on my back we will go towards our Weirs on the Islands of Dragons, there are many waiting for us there, I would suggest you lay out a feast for yourselves and the Messadine, it will be a long flight from here."

Davin did as Aktus suggested and used the sword to lay out a huge feast, finally, when the feasting stopped and the small group of friends ventured outside the cavern, they were surprised to see it was early morning, they were then told by their respective Dragons that it had been four days since they had entered the caves, now it was time to venture towards their waiting Weirs.

Once the boys had practised jumping up to mount their Dragons, they finally took a last look at the place they had all come together, Sprat sat proudly in his saddle with the much taller Baragil behind him, with a nod to each other, Davin led the way up into the bright blue morning sky, turning Westward, they began their flight to their new home and the wonders that awaited them.

At the same time they took flight, in the Tallas Weir, the four Messadine elders asked for an audience with Kashin, on being admitted to the throne room, they bowed and then said.

"My Prince, it is time to fly Eastward, the new Princes are aloft and beginning their search for the awaiting Weirs, you will need to bring them here to swear fealty to Tallas Weir, once done you will all control enough Weirs to fight the next battle which is coming this way."

Kashin thanked the Elders and turned to Seb as Howudino rose to his majestic height in readiness of the coming flight.

"Are you ready for a long flight and to meet some new friends my love?" Kashin asked Seb.

"What about the safety of the Weir?"

"There are no enemies close by so for now we can enjoy some time together in the air, it's been a while since you have come with me."

"Ok, let's go flying, who are they do you know?"

"No, but Howudino tells me they are named, Aktus and Baraset, they will rule over the Weirs we are watching for them, I hope they are fun guys."

"So do I, I don't want to have to go through another battle like the last one, even though I did nothing but I was so afraid for you the whole time."

"Everything will be alright now; we will have two allies if it comes to another battle." Kashin told Seb.

They mounted Howudino and, along with most of the fighting Dragons of Tallas Weir, took to the air to greet the new Princes, the mass of Browns filling the air around the Weir as they formed up into long and wide ranks, the huge Golden figure of Howudino in the lead.

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