Spring was in full swing, the days seemed to blur by as the boys spent their days training and learning about the preserve. It had been uneventful since their run-in with Groxocho. They met all sorts of wonderful whimsical beings, and learned of the dark creatures as well. Eric and Jamie had learnt fast; they became proficient with their weapons and at the same time learned to use the magic they possessed, but were unaware of.
They also spent time getting to know their dragons; even Jamie finally broke down and let his dragon take him for a flight. Nilanth carried him in his fore claw; Jamie hung there, his arms spread, pretending he was an eagle soaring high above in the sky. In the course of his flight, Nilanth did a series of dives, loops, and rolls. On the ground Swift, Kyle, and Eric could hear Jamie's gleeful cries. At one point Nilanth went invisible, he had told Jamie what he was going to do, and Jamie then pretended that he had started to free fall. On the ground Swift, Kyle, and Eric let out a scream of terror.
"Oh my god he's dropped Jamie!" Kyle shouted in shock, as Jamie appeared to be plummeting to the ground.
"I can't watch this!" Eric screamed and ran for the porch.
"Oh no," was all that Swift could say, a slight smirk on his face, as the adults looked on smiling knowing the dragon still had a firm grip on Jamie.
Just before landing, the dragon reappeared with Jamie still gripped firmly in his claw; Jamie laughing so hard he had tears flowing down his cheeks as the dragon lightly touched down and set him on the ground.
Jamie stood there for a second and then let out a huge sigh. "Woah!" he exclaimed, as he fell to his knees on the ground.
Kyle rushed to his side, still in a state of panic, and asked, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine just … WOW … That was something I never experienced before, my stomach is feeling funny," Jamie replied. "The looks on your faces were priceless!" he laughed, as he lay on the ground.
"You're a devil! I always knew that! I dang near pissed my pants, and I think Eric actually did. Swift, I get a feeling he probably knew," Kyle said, finally relaxing, while looking over and seeing a grin on Swift's face.
"It's motion sickness, it'll pass. Just lay there for a bit," said Swift, reassuring both Kyle and Jamie that he was fine. "Jamie that was funny, but you did really scare us. Even I was a bit worried."
"I'm sorry, we both thought it would be funny," Jamie said, truly meaning it.
Kyle hugged him tight and said, "Sunshine, it was funny, but it really did scare us too."
"Yeah buddy, I really thought that Nilanth had just left you to fall," Eric said, finally calm enough to speak. "But I gotta admit, after the fact, it was funny … scary … but funny," he finished with a grin.
"We need to feed. Just call us and we shall come," said Nilanth.
"Thanks Nilanth, that was super fun," said Jamie as he petted the snout of his dragon. The two had bonded quickly, and Nilanth really enjoyed Jamie's companionship.
Jamie's dragon flew off and disappeared into the air heading to where he could find food to feed on. Eric finally recovering completely from the fright then smiled and said, "Man bud, you really did scare the crap out of me! I've got skid marks in my undies now!"
"Honestly it was Nilanth's idea, he's got a great sense of humour," said Jamie. "That had to be the most awesome thing I've ever done. I don't think even a stunt pilot could fly like that, that was so wicked cool! I really am sorry for scaring you," Jamie finished, the smile still on his face and the euphoria of the flight still flowing through him.
"It's okay Jamie, my heart leapt in my throat, and it was like that until just before you would have splattered on the ground. That's when I noticed a slight grin on Swift's face," said Kyle. "Swift, can you guys see them when they are invisible?"
"Yes we can. Not very many beings can see them other than us," Swift replied. "It would take a very powerful wizard to see through that spell, and there are only a few left."
"I can see Nilanth too. He didn't look any different to me," said Jamie.
"Dad, did you just hear what Jamie said?" said Swift raising his voice, realizing that this was important.
"No, what did he say?" Thondir asked from the deck of the house.
"One sec, we'll come to the porch," Swift replied, knowing that there were some important implications in Jamie's revelation that they needed to figure out.
"Jamie said that when Nilanth turned invisible, he could still see him," explained Swift.
"Yeah I didn't think he'd done it until I saw your expressions," Jamie replied, still giggling over the prank.
Thondir looked over to his father and brother and asked, "Is it possible?"
"There has not been a Dragon's Son in over a millennium," Brúndaer said, furrowing his brow and looking closely at Jamie.
"What's a 'Dragon's Son'?" Jamie asked, noting that all eyes were now trained on him.
Lornen looked at Brúndaer, and Brúndaer nodded his head whereupon Lornen said, "Jamie, a Dragon's Son is someone born of a dragon but not looking like a dragon. They can be Elvish, or Human, or Dryad, just to name a few. The last one was born over a millennium ago and is the father of Nilanth. As far as we know he was the last-born Dragon's Son. To our understanding the ability was lost.
"Now, don't panic," Lornen added quickly seeing Jamie's reaction. "It is a good thing, we just need to find a little more information on this, and I know whom to call. I'll have him arrive here as soon as he can; he is on a preserve in Antarctic. So it may be a little while before he can get here. It is going on winter down there."
"Jamie, can you remember, did you speak to Nilanth while flying?" Thondir asked.
"Yeah we talked the whole time," Jamie replied, looking strangely at Thondir.
"Hmmm, think about this carefully, Son. When you spoke was it with your voice, or did you use your mind and more or less think the words?" he asked him.
Jamie took on what Kyle called his 'thinker pose', cocking his head to the right, before responding, "Now that you mention it, I remember the wind was so loud that I doubt I could even hear what he was saying … I did! I was using my mind and talking with him! I was too busy smiling and laughing to say anything, the only time I did was when we did the final dive!"
Thondir looked at everyone. Speaking aloud, although mainly to himself, he said, "Faeries can see an aura around Jamie; Jamie can see through magical disguises; he can also see through distraction spells; Nilanth can speak with him in his mind …"
"Don't forget, Nilanth also said he was a wellspring of power," Eric added, uncertain what was going on, but thinking it might be important.
Thondir looked at Eric raising an eyebrow, and said, "Refresh my memory, Eric. I seem to have missed something."
Eric stood there almost shocked. He was actually being treated well, being asked inquiring questions, and giving helpful answers. He was almost to the point of completely breaking down he was so happy. A tear of joy rolled down his cheek as he said, "Back when our dragons first came here, Jamie walked right off the deck … He walked right up to his dragon and said 'You're here for me'. And he even petted Nilanth on the snout. I wasn't even sure yet whose dragon was whose, but Jamie seemed to know right away."
"Nilanth said to him … something … trying to get it right, I know this is important … He said 'Fáfnir was correct about you, Little One; you shine with energy, and I can feel it in your touch'. That's it! So that proves it: Fáfnir can see Jamie's aura too, and Jamie can pass the energy on through touch. That's probably why only Jamie can touch the orb," Eric finished.
Everyone looked at Eric, a profound respect forming at what he just said and solved all at the same time. Eric had just summarized what might have taken weeks to puzzle out, and did it in a matter of moments.
"Eric," began Brúndaer, "I am proud to call you my Grandson. You have solved an enormously complicated puzzle. While we need some more information, you seem to have given us plenty of answers to a lot of questions. You have done a fine job, Son," he finished while smiling warmly at Eric.
Eric blushed at that point, unsure of what to say, tears now flowing down his cheeks. He then suddenly ran up the porch steps and jumped in Brúndaer's lap, giving him a huge hug, saying, "Thank you, Grandpa."
"So, this means somehow I am born from a dragon? Which is why I can see everything, does that mean my parents are not my real parents then? Maybe I was adopted or something, that would explain why they hated me so much. How is a dragon son born? Was I hatched from an egg?" The questions just poured out of Jamie as he continued, "So I have all the powers like a dragon? WOW! Maybe I can breathe fire! If I can change into a dragon that would be so awesome!"
Gwinis chuckled and said, "Slow down, Son. This is news to all of us, but we do not have the answers to everything. Now don't start frowning just yet. I am going to answer a couple of your questions. First thing's first, I think with a phone call we can find out if you were adopted – that is an easy one. Your next two questions are a little more complicated, and we would have to look into this to find an answer to them. As for the powers of a dragon … what we know of dragon's sons is limited, but there is some knowledge available to us. I think Kyle might even be able to find a book in the study about it."
"A Dragon's Son is a child of power. You do have abilities, as you have been learning. We have noticed you have a very well ordered mind; you understand magic the first time you're shown, without much explanation needed. When you draw on energies to use your power you are quick and subtle. Elvish folk can feel that draw, so can other whimsical beings. Yet you are so subtle, it is hard to sense when you draw that energy; unlike the day you shot the arrow into the target on the range, we all felt that. Now however, it takes us much more to even know you are doing something. That is part of a Dragon's Son's powers. Dragons if you remember, are magic complete. Right to their bones …"
"But wait, what about before?" asked Jamie. "Why couldn't I see Kyle's dragon until we sat in the restaurant? Why is that?"
"I think I can answer that question Gwinis," a voice spoke from behind the boys, causing them all to jump and turn around; all them had their weapons drawn including Jamie with an arrow already knocked in his bow.
"Easy, sons. This is Onas Ilineiros. He is our friend," said Thondir.
The boys relaxed and put their weapons away almost as quickly as they had drawn them. Jamie looked at Onas with his head cocked to the right again, almost as if something was much different about the elf. He could see something, but was not sure exactly what he saw. It was much more, almost as if he was something other than an elf.
"Onas it is good to see you. I did not think you could be here so fast," said Lornen. "Especially since I have not even called you yet."
"I am sorry. I knocked on the front door, then I heard voices out back, so I just came around. I forget we walk silently and I should have whistled a tune as I approached," Onas apologized as he continued to speak.
"I sensed your message and knew it was urgent enough for me to come. I heard Gwinis speaking of a Dragon's Son, and looking at the boys in front of me, I see one," he said, while pointing at Jamie. "Jamie, you have nothing to fear. You truly are a Dragon's Son. I can tell by the way you are looking at me that you are trying to glean my true form. Only a Dragon's Son could see through the disguise, or even perceive it. Relax a little bit, and it will show."
Jamie relaxed and suddenly he could see that there was a dragon standing before him. He had broken through the illusion and could see a great red dragon with many horns on his head, larger than even the dragons the boys had as protectors. His scales were overlapping, like so much leaf mail, and his wings while folded looked to be taller than the house.
"Woah! You're a dragon!" Jamie exclaimed with awe.
The adults on the porch all stood up, questioning looks on their faces, and puzzled by the sudden revelation Jamie had just laid before them. Brúndaer spoke, "My friend, how long? You have never spoken of this to me before?"
"It has been too many years in this form to explain it to you my friend. I am sorry, I needed to keep it hidden until now. Little One's friend has been speaking with me as well," Onas replied while tapping the side of his head.
Swift, Kyle, and Eric stood there listening; Swift finally spoke, "Onas you're a Dragon's Son?"
"Yes Swift, I am. Your grandfather was right I was the last one born … or so I thought. To keep me safe they placed me in the care of some older elves. I can explain it now since the events foretold are coming to pass," Onas replied.
"Can we see your real form?" Eric asked, curiosity getting the best of him.
Onas smiled and the air shimmered, distorting everyone's view: suddenly in front of them stood the large red dragon that only Jamie had at first perceived. The dragon then spoke, "Ach is féidir leat a thuiscint dom Jamie labhraítear i."
"Yes I can," Jamie replied.
"What did he say?" Eric asked. "It sounded like a bunch of dolphin's squeals."
"He said, 'Only you can understand me Jamie'," replied Jamie to Eric's question.
The shimmer reappeared, and once again standing in his place was Onas. Everyone was so fascinated they were actually speechless. Onas smiled at everyone and said, "I am sorry for the surprise. I have had to live this way for a long time. Please allow me to finish before you ask questions.
"Every so often when the great entities meet they choose their champions. I was once one of them. The honour of being champion has been passed on down to Jamie now. I am here for two reasons, one: to see this finished, and two: to help train Jamie; he has much to learn …" continued Onas.
"So I'm a dragon then?" interjected Jamie smiling at the thought of it.
"Yes and no. Yes, you are a Dragon's Son, but no I do not think you can take the form of a dragon. But you have all the powers and will live a very long life. I am here to help you with those powers, since only a dragon can teach them. Your family here has taught you well, but there is more beyond their abilities that you must know. Nilanth and myself are the only ones who can teach you," Onas finished.
"Wait! If you're the last dragon's son, Nilanth said something about being the son of an older dragon. Lornen spoke of Nilanth being the son of a dragon's son … and just now you said the two of you could teach me. That means Nilanth is your son!" said Jamie excitedly again.
"Nilanth was right about you Jamie, you have a very quick mind," said Onas.
"But how can that be?" Brúndaer asked. "I thought Nilanth was a true dragon?"
"It's a long story my old friend, many years ago I mated with another dragon. I was in dragon form, and once you change there is no difference; when I am a dragon the change is complete. I met Kayerith, she was a beautiful copper dragon, and afterwards she laid three eggs, but a Roc attacked and destroyed two of them, we just had the one left and so Nilanth was born. His armour is as tough as mine; since both Kayerith and myself have different styles of armour I would say his, being the combination of the two, is even tougher yet. But that was a long time ago … Kayerith found out I was a dragon's son, but still cared about me; she is still at the preserve," finished Onas. "So my only son is a dragon, it was why I never took an Elvish wife."
"That explains why … I know you always turned the heads of the Elvish girls, they thought maybe you were just odd," said Lornen.
Onas laughed, "I am odd! I have a dragon bride, and I am a Dragon's Son!"
This brought a round of laughter from everyone, even the boys found it funny. Thondir said, "My friend, we welcome you to our home. Please join us and forgive us our shock. It is much to take in, and so suddenly."
"That also explains how you got here so quickly from the Antarctic. We had not even contacted you yet," said Lornen, a slight smile on his face. "Yes, while we have played together; grown up together; we have always been friends. Please join us," said Lornen, motioning for Onas to come and sit with them.
The boys all followed and sat on the steps as the adults sat on the chairs on the porch. Jamie's thoughts were running a mile a minute as he tried to digest all this new information, including the ramifications of how much he had just learnt in such a short period of time. He wondered what it all meant, how long would his life be? Would Kyle no longer want to be with him? This last thought suddenly overwhelmed him and brought tears to his eyes. He got up and ran into the house; his crying could be heard as he ran through the kitchen.
Gwinis started to stand, when Kyle spoke, "No Mom, let me go. I think I know what's bothering him. He needs me now … more than ever." Kyle then stood up and headed into the house.
"Kyle is right. They are in love with each other and I could sense that Jamie's thoughts were of a fear of loss. Only Kyle can help him now," Onas said. "Before you ask, I can pretty much read everybody's mind. I do not do it normally, I just happened to notice a subtle change in Jamie and then felt the sudden flood of emotions. Kyle will help him."
"I am sorry you boys have felt so much loss and pain, it is not fair," said Onas addressing Eric. "You have all been so badly hurt, it will be nice for you to enjoy being children … forgive me … teenagers again for a while. The world will be here until the event … and hopefully for a long time after. I can feel that you are all strong and capable of handling the challenges ahead."
Kyle had run upstairs and found that Jamie had chained his door shut. He knocked and said, "Jamie it's me, Kyle. Come on Sunshine, please open the door."
"Go away," Jamie cried.
"I'm not going away Sunshine, I wanna help you. I love you. Please open the door. Let's talk, I know we can work this out. Everything will be okay, I mean that," Kyle said, his voiced choked up and tears running down his own cheeks.
After a few moments he heard footsteps and the chain sliding from the door, then he heard the sound of bedsprings. Kyle tried the door again, and this time it opened. He stepped into the room cautiously, not wanting to scare Jamie. He saw Jamie lying face down in bed, and saw he was crying and heard the muffled sobs coming from the pillow. Kyle sat down next to Jamie and began rubbing his back, letting the boy cry for a while and just comforting him. Slowly the crying subsided and Jamie rolled over and looked at Kyle. His face and eyes were red from crying; his nose stuffed-up and leaking as well. Jamie sniffed and then wiped his nose on the sleeve of his shirt. Clutched in his hand was his teddy bear; it too was damp from Jamie's tears.
"I'm sorry. I'll understand if you don't wanna be with me," Jamie managed to get out, before starting to cry again.
"Why would I not want to be with you Sunshine?" Kyle asked, not comprehending.
"Because of what I am," Jamie replied.
"What? A Dragon's Son? I think that is so wicked cool. If you think that'll stop me from loving you, it won't," said Kyle. "Look, if Swift can be with Eric, why can't I be with you? You know more about Swift than most people do."
"I guess so … I … I … I just thought … you wouldn't … wanna be with me anymore," Jamie choked out, in between sobs.
Kyle reached over and wrapped Jamie in a big hug. Then pulling back just a little bit, he did something he had never done before – not with anyone. He gave Jamie a kiss; and not just a peck on the cheek, it was a deep kiss, one that showed just how much he cared about his Sunshine.
Jamie looked up into Kyle's eyes as they separated afterwards and asked with wonder in his voice, "You really do love me?"
"With all my heart. Jamie I've said it before, I love you and I mean it. I think you thought I might just be using you, but I'm not. I really do care for you; I never want to lose you," said Kyle, totally meaning what he said, as he wiped a tear from Jamie's cheek with his finger and looked deep into the wide eyes in front of him.
Jamie finally began to smile again and said, "I'm sorry. It's just so much was said today. I guess I just freaked out for a little bit."
"Jamie, I know that was a lot, and sudden; it happens. If it becomes too much no one will hurt you if you ask 'Can you please slow down?'. I promise that. We've been here a while now, and you've seen what everyone is like. I know you're feeling safer than you have ever felt in your life, and I know you trust me. So please trust me when I say this: No one, and I mean no one, will ever hurt you here."
"I think I know that, but it's hard … I'm not sure how to put it … Okay, I know I'm safe, even if some bad stuff did happen. But I'm still scared … I don't wanna leave and I'm afraid when this is over I will have to."
"Sunshine, think back a few weeks ago. Remember what Pop said?"
"Sorta, but not all of it. So much happened that day."
"He said, 'Welcome to your new home; may it serve you as long as you need'. I don't think you understood that. What he meant by that is you don't ever have to leave … None of us do. I don't plan on leaving again; I have no place to go, and I know if you left you would wind right back up where you were before you came here. So you can stay forever, and even be with me," Kyle said, knowing that he meant every word that he had just said.
The others were sitting outside, talking and renewing old friendships. Eric sat enraptured by the conversations of fighting with different demons, battling trolls, run-ins with orcs, recapturing a wraith, along with other beings. It looked like a scene that Norman Rockwell might have painted: 'A Family Afternoon on the Porch'. Gwinis and Aunt Faervel finally stood up and excused themselves to go make some dinner.
"Do you think Kyle fixed Jamie back up?" asked Eric during a pause in the conversation. "He seemed really upset about something."
"I do not know, but I am sure they will both be smiling when dinner is ready," said Thondir. "Why don't you both go up and get ready for dinner or play a game for a while, and we will let you know when dinner is ready."
"Come on Eric, that's adult for 'This conversation is not meant for your ears'," Swift smirked while looking at his father. The two boys stood up and walked into the house, Swift with a bit of annoyance showing on his face.
"What was that all about?" Gwinis asked as the boys passed through the kitchen.
"Dad sent us inside, and I said to Eric that means 'adult talk', " Swift replied.
"He is still doing that? That old goat," Gwinis laughed, with Aunt Faervel joining in as well.
"Okay, go on boys. You have an hour before dinner will be ready," Gwinis replied, turning back to the stove to cut another carrot into the pot.
"You know Gwinis," began Aunt Faervel, "Swift is old enough now he should be in on these talks. Especially considering it is the boys who are going to be doing a lot of the work, and it appears that Little One is our champion. I think Swift, and even Kyle should be involved in all of this for everyone's sake."
Gwinis stopped cutting the carrot in her hand and said, "You know, I think you are right. I think it is about time to put a stop to this 'adult talk' nonsense." She then set the carrot and the knife down, wiped her hands on her apron, and walked out onto the porch; Aunt Faervel followed right behind.
"Thondir, we all need to talk," she said abruptly, interrupting the men as they spoke.
"Yes dear?" he replied.
"I think it is about time that Swift became involved in these conversations. I also think, along with Faervel that Kyle needs to be involved as well," said Gwinis. "Both boys are a part of the event. They should also be involved in the planning and other details as well. After all they are the ones who are ultimately going to be doing the fighting, and the hurting, and possibly much worse … Would you not agree?"
Thondir looked at the others, and said, "We have never had a human, let alone so young a human on the council before …"
"Well then it is high time for a change," Gwinis interjected. "This time the event involves children, and they need to be involved in this as much, if not more so than the adults. This 'adult talk time' stuff has gone on long enough. Now granted, Little One is too young, and Eric needs some more education before being considered, but I am sure Swift and Kyle are more than capable. And they would be far better at talking to Eric and Jamie, and explaining things to them in an easier fashion than what just happened outside here a little bit ago," she concluded, the tone in her voice leaving no room for debate.
Again Thondir looked at the other men and said, "I hate to say this, but Gwinis is right. I am sorry my love, I have been set in my ways for far too long and it is time for a change. When the boys come back down, we shall talk with them and make them members of the council. It is time, and you are right, they are going to be the keys to this, more so than any of the others."
"Make sure to find a way to do it so the feelings of Eric and Jamie are taken into consideration. Especially Jamie, his heart breaks at the drop of a pin; he is very sensitive and easily hurt. I think you will find that Swift and Kyle will be of great value in helping out on the council, and I know they can explain everything better to the younger boys," Gwinis finished, a satisfied smile on her face.
"We will figure it out. I really do agree; I think you are right; we will do this for the good of the council," Thondir replied, standing up he walked over and gave Gwinis a hug. "I keep forgetting our little boy is not so little anymore. I also need to remember we have three more children now, and each one of them, a warrior."
Gwinis smiled and chuckled, "For an old goat, you can still learn when someone points the way. I think they will do fine."
Everyone on the porch broke out laughing after that. Their mission accomplished, Gwinis and Faervel returned to the kitchen to finish preparing dinner for the evening.
"I am sure glad Thondir changed his mind, what with everything that has happened, and Little One especially. He has had it rougher than the others. When we went to check on them that night at the gatehouse, he had such deep scars on his back. He has been so badly hurt, I am very glad that Kyle and Swift found them," Gwinis said.
"I am glad that Swift and Kyle found them as well," replied Aunt Faervel. "I know Swift has really needed a special companion since the loss of Rhys. Do the boys know about Swift's brother?"
"Not yet, but I have a feeling they will find out soon. I really think Jamie's friend is nudging everyone a little, and I see it coming out. I see it in each of the boys, and the most in Kyle and Jamie; those two are destined for a long life and a lot of adventure, as well as a strong love for each other. I am beginning to see the first signs of it in Swift and Eric as well; they are drawing closer every day. As for Kyle and Jamie, those two if they have not figured it out yet, they will very soon; I have sensed that for a while now. They try to keep from showing it in front of us, but they are not doing a very good job of it," Gwinis finished, chuckling a bit and then going back to the tasks at hand in the kitchen.
Back on the porch Onas said, "I am so sorry if I overwhelmed Jamie, that was not my intention."
"He is the youngest The Light has ever chosen," Lornen added.
"Yes, he is. He is still a child, and yet he carries himself for the most part like a warrior. Yet he is still a small child; he is well spoken and we forget for a time that he is very young and treat him almost as an adult. I think the answers to the riddles just came to fast for him to absorb and comprehend. If his parents had not tortured him and scarred him so badly, I think he would have handled it much better," said Brúndaer.
"Yes it is a sad world that we live in. I am glad from what you have said that they have been having fun, and getting proper care. You have always done wonderful things for the street children you have taken in, and most have turned out exceptional. As a matter of fact, one of the young men is now running the daily tasks at the Antarctic preserve and doing a fine job. He sends his regards and thanks you again for taking him in," said Onas, always proud of the work his friends did, and mindful of the challenges they faced when they took on a child from the streets. It was not always an easy task.
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