Aden of Aden
It took some time for the fear from the dragon to pass. I had the horse continue to run as I felt to slow down would be to allow the great wyrm to catch up. Finally, I pulled on the rein allowing the animal to settle into a more relaxed gait. I sought to calm myself and the mount by letting it know that I would be safe in Davelda, so upon reaching the world of its birth I would do what I could to return it to its master. The animal managed to nod its head while continuing to move, and slowly I felt the fear of being chased by the dragon to pass.
Relaxing, I began to notice things about the animal. Its hide felt hot, and I recognized signs of fatigue. I then remembered that it had been night in the world I had gained it. Having the horse stop, I could tell that it was in need of a rest. I thus looked around for things to help take care of the animal and myself.
Finding a pond of good water, I unloaded the horse while it drank. The items in the saddlebags looked strange, but of good quality. One bag had horseshoes and tools. Taking a brush, I did what I could to care for the horse before releasing it to eat some grass.
I did not mean to go to sleep, but there was not much else I could do. The horse needed to eat and rest. I did not really find stuff I considered good to eat, so my only option was to relax. There was a blanket that I found to be of a soft material that had me feel warm, and wrapped up in it I fell asleep.
The voice of a man saying, “Hold it right there,” woke me up, but a voice I recognized had me start to rise.
“I will protect her. Please, trust me. I will protect her.”
“You’ll protect her? Look at you.”
“I’m still alive. She said that will give us things to talk about. We just need to be introduced.”
Before a campfire was a humanoid lizard. His powerful body was dressed very well in a metal covering of fine loops that moved as cloth between ornate solid pieces. The tail had a metal piece covering the top, but the appendage quickly became a lithe, thin extension and not something that would cause concern. The young man I had seen before was still in his crude outfit and dragging his makeshift weapon that had several broken cords holding its pieces together. The lizard person held out an axe with a long black blade as he stood between me and the young man.
“Where do you know this lady from?”
“She’s a Dozzrine girl. I first saw her in Thiminy, then at Nitreal.”
“A Dozzrine girl?” I saw the lizard person look to me, then he signaled for the young man to settle down before pulling something from a pocket. “If she is a Dozzrine girl then I have claim to protecting her. Sit down.”
The young man knelt, then said, “No. I will take a place as you servant. If you have a claim to protect her then you will have an ally.”
The lizard person looked to me to ask, “Do you know what this is about?”
I replied, “I do not. That young man has not bothered to properly introduce himself, then ran away when challenged. As for the dragon, I do not know about it either.”
“Well, let me speak to someone.” He did some stuff with a type of pendant, then spoke to say, “Lord Terish, a young lady that seems to be connected to you stole my horse. She was however having it take her to Davelda, so I cannot really fault her should she truly have been in trouble.”
I felt joy hearing the voice of my king. “That is good news, Dumourl. I will let Debbish and Endullae know. Let me, let me – wow, you are not in the direction I was checking. I am glad you somehow became involved Dumourl.”
“There is something going on here, Lord Terish. I want to claim a finding.”
“I’m not near you, Dumourl, but I am curious about the situation. Still, if you think yourself able I will do nothing more than shadow once I do get close. Aden, are you safe?”
I replied, “Yes, King Terish. There was a dragon. A really big dragon, and able to move between realities. The young man who appeared is also here, but he is claiming to want to protect me.”
“Well, Dumourl is a friend of the family. He is actually a friend of my oldest boy, but his father was my friend. Dumourl has also been getting along with my adventuring granddaughter. You can trust Dumourl. If things break down however, going to Davelda is a very good plan.”
“Thank you, King Terish.”
“You’re welcome, Aden. Dumourl, we can both talk about this later.”
The lizard person replied, “Your home has always been a welcoming sight, Lord Terish. Look forward to again sharing your company.”
As the pendant was put back into a pocket, the young man said, “Aden? Aden of Aden? Oh, the gods have me cursed! Why did I not recognize the plans of Belconosk?” He then worked his kneeling legs to move him forward as he said, “Please, Master, you must go to my mother?”
“My mother can introduce me. I need to be introduced. I have no hope unless introduced.”
It surprised me when the lizard person turned and knelt toward me before saying, “Aden of Aden, I am honored to meet you. I usually come to Castle Thiminy through Sauton’s cave, so have spoken to him. I have heard of you. I am honored to take on your cause.”
I tried not to whimper as I said, “I did not know I had a cause. I was just learning to handle myself in noble company hoping to win a distinguished suitor.”
“You need to meet my mother!” the young man exclaimed, although followed it with an apology. “I’m sorry for speaking, Master, but I had to.”
Dumourl stood while saying, “There you go saying ‘master’ again. By the eggs, look at you. Only your mother would be glad to see you.”
“I have good clothes, but I could not fight a dragon in them.”
“And you feel you could fight a dragon in that?”
“I did fight Belconosk in this. The armor is still good. I believe I even hurt him, although I need to find better cords to hold my weapon together.”
Dumourl looked to me with me recognizing the movement on his wide face as not wanting to laugh where the young man could see him, then turned back with a serious expression. “There’s water right there. Take a bath. I would tell you to keep watch while you tend to your armor and weapon, but I don’t trust you and I don’t believe Aden will either. You do what you can, then get some sleep.”
I asked, “How late is it?”
“Not sure, but I will allow Later to rest some more.”
“Late with Chill in Air the Seventh. I call him Later. I haven’t had him long, but he seems to be a good horse. By the way, Davelda is three days away. What about this other guy?”
I had to say, “Those of Davelda give their horses strange names.”
“I have to agree, but they know their horses. If you would have arrived at Davelda, the horse handlers would have recognized my horse and quizzed you about how you gained it.”
“I was told it was a safe place to go.”
“For you, once they learned you were a citizen of Thiminy, it would have been a very safe place to go. I would have gotten my horse back, and you would have been treated well and returned home.” Looking back, Dumourl asked, “What are we going to do about him?”
I asked, “How hard would it be to get to his mother?”
“I don’t even know who the guy is, much less his mother.” Changing his tone of voice, Dumourl asked, “What do people call you?”
“You can call me Slave, Master.”
“That’s not what I asked.”
“We need to go to my mother. I can take you.”
Again Dumourl looked to me, but shrugged before turning to ask, “How far to your mother’s?”
The young man looked hopeful as he asked, “You’ll take me?”
“I spoke to Lord Terish about claiming a finding. Returning Aden is no big deal. Honestly, I can just give her my horse. You seem to be the challenge.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you.”
I thought over everything, then voiced the only conclusion I could conceive. “I will go with you.”
The young man turned to me and worked his knees to move toward me while continuing to say, “Thank you,” but Dumourl stepped in front of him while asking, “Aden, why?”
“Because my mother did not want me to follow her path. I was however learning what she learned. I was following her path. Well, let me see about his mother.”
“Well, give me time to think this over. Go back to sleep.”
“No.” I rose to start folding the blanket as I said, “I have gotten some sleep. You’re the one that should be tired.”
Dumourl kicked some dirt at the young man, then reminded him that he was commanded to take a bath before turning to me. “I can tell you spent time with Endullae.”
Feeling it was a good conversation, I asked, “You know her? The Dozzrine girls were all gone before I was born. I am just now learning about them.”
“Oh, yes, I know them. Venicht and I were both young when we met. With my father and Lord Terish being friends, I got to spend time with Venicht rather often. He wasn’t always at Castle Thiminy, but the girls were moved about as well. I became familiar with all the children. Endullae was always the most fun, but I was most enchanted by Debbish. Chemiana was the sweet one, but she would pick on you.”
We spent some time trading information about our families. Being a reptile, I expected him to have a larger family. What he said however sounded a lot like the people I grew up around. It was actually my family with my father having two wives and me having the same name as my mother that sounded unusual. The young man came back from the pond wearing a suit that I recognized, and while he asked about some cord to repair his armor and weapon I decided to get him to provide information on how he grew up.
“I cannot say,” he replied. “I am not as I am. If I start speaking I will spoil certain promises, and have you thinking of how I am as how I was and will be. I want you to think of me with pride. Once you meet my mother and get a proper introduction of me, then you can start understanding how I was, how I am, and how I could be.”
Dumourl said, “That actually makes sense. Listen, Nick –“
I saw Dumourl look to me as he said, “Listen to him. He says ‘slave,’ ‘nekulda.’”
With me nodding, I saw the young man also move his head up and down. “Okay, Nick it is. But I am listening as well. Aden of Aden, you have someone who can properly introduce you. He might not know you, but he knows the family and land from which you come. With my mother, the two of us can be properly introduced.”
I asked, “Do you have intentions for me?”
“That is not how it works. I have to convince you to have intentions for me. Still, we cannot proceed without a formal introduction. We go to my mother.”
Dumourl said, “I have been moving through the omniverse since I was little, Aden. I should be able to make sense of where he takes us. You also heard Lord Terish say that he would shadow us. We should be safe enough.”
“Even with that dragon?” I asked with neither man answering.
And our three get to know something of each other.