Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-Three: Return to Rennou (Continued)
Previously: The miller’s son B’frona began to tell Gina about the changes that occurred after she left Rennou.
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Gina suddenly pushed back her three-legged stool. “B’frona, where’s Puff?”
The adolescent boy rose and walked over to the window facing the River Rennou.
“Because of you, everything is worse!” he shouted. “Worse even than before!”
“B’frona!” Sh’renn admonished.
“No, it’s t-t-true! And you have no right to chastise me. You are not my mother. You are not even my true sssister!”
Sh’renn closed her eyes in anguish.
“So you are from another w-w-world—what does that change?” He slammed his hands down on the table. “Tuéill! The widow F’lenn is still dead and the dragon is sssstill…” His eyes were red. He loathed himself for showing weakness.
Sh’renn went to him, placed her hand on his, and said, “Tell them what happened.”
He pressed his knuckles into his temples and took several deep breaths, corralling his emotions, then wiped the spittle from the corner of his mouth and began: “After you abandoned us, I attempted to honor your request, but from the start it was hopeless. Once a Frengan dragon has bonded with its dragonmeer, it can never bond with anyone else—this you should have known. Until its tenth cycle, its upbringing, its tenderness toward humans, even its appearance, are in the hands of the dragonfaer…or dragonmeer.”
“But I didn’t think—”
“No, of course you did not think! If your ‘Boof’ had experienced love, if he had been nurtured, he would have grown strong and intelligent, he would have become fiercely loyal to humans, especially the people of Rennou. He would have grown more and more beautiful, his scales would have matured into layers of vermilion, azure, and saffron, his wings and tail would have been as delicate as snowflakes, yet as strong as an irontree. But when a Frengan dragon is abandoned by its dragonmeer—”
“Why do you say, ‘If he had been nurtured’?”
“The widow F’lenn’s home was not far from the Dragon Manse,” he continued. “When I heard the dragon’s song the night you left, I ran to the Great Porch. There I found him alone and trembling.”
Gina’s breath caught in her throat.
“I tried to comfort him, but failed. I stroked his neck and rubbed his horn nubs, tried to sing the way the Dragonmeer J’nah had, but could not replicate her simpering voice. The dragon pup sang his song of mourning all the night. Others kept vigil with me until the town elders gathered to discuss the matter the next day. I showed them your note, your words of cowardice, and insisted, ‘The great girl knight J’nah will return.’
“Days passed. The dragon remained in this state, neither eating nor drinking, only standing when he warbled his dirge. The Miracle of Rennou became the Curse of Rennou. He frightened the children and disturbed the buyers; they began taking their business to Crésie, Peludien, and D’nair. My presence made no difference, so I left him alone and began to attend to the Mill again…” He shook his head as if trying to find a reason to go on. “And then,” B’frona continued,
“he began to change…”
Thoughts: The most powerful form of defense is love.
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