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The Wishing Map
Chapter Nine: The Ties That Un-bind (Continued)
Previously: Delaying her search for her brother, Gina traveled with the millboy B’frona and her newly adopted dragon whelp “Puff” to a nearby village.
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The moment they entered Rennou, they were engulfed. Farmers came in from their fields, farm wives brought them fresh-baked shrennel bread, and children lined up to pet Puff. Everyone praised his beautiful leaf-pattern markings, his iridescent bronze and scarabaeid scales, his graceful wings and lacey tail. His horn nubs and artfully drooping ears were declared “perfect.” There was a consensus that, while all Frengan dragons were beautiful, Puff was clearly the most beautiful!
“We found him together,” said Gina, patting B’frona in the same way people were patting Puff. Her revelation brought him positive notice—at least at first. Boys knocked their knees against his, the universal greeting for Frengan males, and girls labeled him “adorable,” adding under their breaths that in a few years he would be “deliús!” (a “hotty”).
But then a dour looking teenager asked, “Isn’t this the Miller’s son?”
“Yes!” the boy’s father added. “Tuéill! They think they are better than us!”
“That is because they have pixie magic,” the dour boy snided, “so they don’t need us. Do you, pixie-lover?”
“But he brought us the dragon!” an affable, round-faced teenage girl countered.
“It’s true!” several others agreed.
“No, he didn’t,” said Dour Boy. “The Miller’s son is only trying to share in the dragonmeer’s glory. Right, pixie-lover?”
B’frona glared up at Dour Boy, who was a foot and a half taller than him. “I ffffound the egg, and I was supposed to be d-d-dragonfaer—”
“But then the evil gggirl knight ttttook him away from you?” Dour Boy asked. Several other youths began to snigger.
Dour Boy’s dad said, “His father probably put him up to this!”
“No, he didn’t!” Gina intervened. “His father couldn’t put him up to anything because…”
“No!” B’frona shouted.
“…because his father’s dead!”
Finally a matronly woman stepped forward. The crowd cleared the way for her. Despite her no-nonsense demeanor there was tenderness in her voice:
“How long has your father been dead, little fellow?”
B’frona did not respond.
“Two years,” Gina answered, then, noticing the look of betrayed trust in B’frona’s eyes, added, “but he knows how to do everything himself. He ran the mill even before his father—“
“Stop helping me!” B’frona hissed.
Once the people of Rennou learned that the 12 year old millboy had been living alone for nearly two years, their attitudes changed. B’frona loathed their looks of pious pity, and loathed Gina for bringing those looks upon him. Gina, on the other hand, was so charmed at being the hero of storybookland that she had to repeatedly remind herself of her mission, to find Zack. She resented his ruining her fairytale-come-true!
Everyone (but B’frona) agreed that B’frona should stay with the widow F’lenn, the kindly matron, and her daughter Sh’renn, the round-faced teenager who’d defended him.
Gina told the townspeople how she’d found the dragon’s egg in the Sacred Circle and kept the dragon hatchling from freezing under her big blue terrycloth robe. When they learned she was called “J’nah,” the deal was sealed.
“This mighty warrior in her mysterious cape of parey gloth,” the Chief Elder proclaimed, “has come to abide with the humble people of Rennou!”
“Rauéill!” the townspeople rejoiced, “Uol has blessed us with a dragon, and with the greatest dragonmeer in all Frenga!”
“Who thinks she is a queen!” B’frona growled under his breath.
They arrived at the largest structure in Rennou, the marketplace. Its massive free-standing roof was easily eight storeys tall. Inside were dozens of stalls with all kinds of goods and wares: groats and shrennel, nectair and toogle, loupp oil, hand-made scarves from Holos, harps crafted from exquisite SurKellish rainbowwood, even tiny pixie-made earrings.
But the most prominent feature was the little jewel of a castle at the market’s center! It had huge double doors behind a stage-like porch, and everything—doors, windows, porch, overhanging gables—was covered in lavish carvings and paintings of dragons.
“What’s that?” Gina asked.
“The Dragon Manse!” the crowd replied in unison.
“So Puff will live there?”
“Yes! With you!”
“What? Wait, you actually expect me to live there? But I have to find my brother!”
As it turned out, no one had heard of a boy named Zack (they pronounced it “Zhec,” and giggled when they said it).
Soon the people began to chant, “Dragon song! Dragon song! Dragon song!” So Gina la-la’d the Oh-So-Soft toilet paper theme, and Puff began to “sing.” As his gravelly purr arose, the crowd dropped to the ground, just as the pixies had.
But unlike the pixies, the people of Rennou wept…
because the curse had finally been lifted…
because a dragon had come to Rennou…
with a dragonmeer who would stay forever!
Why she should even notice, Gina didn’t know, but at just that moment she saw a large crow circling overhead.
Of course I can’t stay, she told herself. Then she stroked her beautiful pet dragon, looked out over her sea of adoring fans, and glanced back at her own personal palace, and thought,
Well, not for too long anyway.
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Thoughts: Have you ever experienced the seductive charm of being “celebrated”? Who doesn’t, on some level, desire to be a hero?
To read The Wishing Map 37, click here!