Chapter 12 – The Quest
Lady Silvermoon and the unicorn had not quite reached the castle when the rain ceased as suddenly as it had started. Dawnstorm slowed to a trot.
- Are you all right, My Lady?
- Fine, my prince. That was the most exhilarating ride I’ve ever had!
Lady Silvermoon sat upright and pushed the wet hair back from her face.
- Then we shall do it again, whenever you wish. But preferably not in the pouring rain, the unicorn added.
Grooms and stable lads were waiting for them inside the gate and as they brought a set of wooden steps to help Lady Silvermoon to dismount, Lord Henry Ignatious Xavier Silvermoon came out of the stable block. The look on his face spoke volumes, and he was not pleased.
“You were riding the unicorn, My Lady?”
“I was, My Lord. I might have drowned in that downpour were it not for his swiftness.”
Her response made whatever he was going to say sound churlish even to him, and he turned away. The grooms took the unicorn into the stables and Lord Silvermoon followed them. Lady Silvermoon stood for a moment alone in the courtyard, then turned and walked towards her own quarters.
- My Lady! Look out!
The shouted warning inside her head make her glance back and then up. The dragon was sweeping down on the castle, fire streaming from his mouth. Lady Silvermoon gathered up her wet skirts and sprinted like a boy for the nearest doorway. She was pushing the heavy oak door closed when fire splashed against it and round the edges, scorching her fingers. She screamed.
The unicorn broke free from the stable lads and raced out into the courtyard, looking for her.
- My Lady?
- I’m all right! I’m all right.
She opened the door and peered out but the dragon had passed over and was nowhere to be seen. The unicorn saw her and was satisfied. He allowed the stable lads to lead him back into his stall where he was dried off, fed and watered.
Up in the Mountains of Morn, the Warlock slept in the chair. Galien, only marginally less weary, sat on the floor at his feet and leaned against his long legs. The heat from the fire was bringing some colour back into his pale face and he drank a little of the restorative potion. Imi wondered if she dared to reveal her presence to him but was afraid of the Warlock’s response if he saw her. She waited until he began to snore, then, soft as a dandelion clock, she floated down in front of the elf. At first his eyes were on the flames from the log fire, unfocused, half-hooded, but as she passed into his visual field he casually put out his left hand to catch her. Even then he didn’t react until he saw the little face smiling out of the puff ball. He sat upright and blinked at her.
“Hello…Galien,” she said shyly.
“Do you know me?”
Imi was disappointed. “You don’t remember me?”
“I can’t recall having a conversation with a ball of fluff before….”
“Oh sorry!” Imi shed the fluff coat and stood on his hand in the dress he had first seen her wearing. She took the opportunity to stretch out her rainbow wings, which she believed were her best feature.
“Oh, the faerie who wanted to rescue me! Would you be so kind as to tell me your name so I can thank you properly?”
“Thank you for your kindness, Imi.”
“Why don’t you run away?”
Galien looked puzzled. “From what?”
Imi glanced up at the sleeping Warlock. “From him!”
“He’s my master.”
“He’s a cruel master.”
“He tied you to a tree!”
“Yes, but he did warn me to put my mind to my studies. He is the most powerful warlock in the west and I want to learn all I can from him.”
“Even if he beats you?”
Galien gave his slow smile. “Even then.” He rested his hand on his knee. “Would you like to sit down?”
Imi crossed her legs and sat down on his hand. She grew a couple of inches so that her voice was not so squeaky.
“May I offer you some refreshment while you tell me what you are doing here? Nectar? Honey? Dew?”
Imi looked around. “Do you have honey up here?”
“For you, yes.” The elf moved the index finger of his right hand in a tiny circle and a minute thimble full of honeydrink appeared beside her. “Please,” he invited.
Imi drank the honey as she told him how she came to be there. “What magic did you and – “ she glanced up at the Warlock – “he… do out there?”
“We made it rain on the west woods. Heavily.”
“To be honest,” the elf said slowly, “I’m not entirely sure why myself.”
Had he been in the west woods at that moment, Galien might have understood why. The underbrush, composed of dry pine needles and dead bracken deep under the trees, was burning fiercely. The fire was spreading rapidly along the ground under the wet top layer and licking at the exposed roots of the trees, but the rain water still dripping down from above was keeping the trunks wet and dribbling into puddles among the roots. The dragon had not managed to set any living wood alight. He continued to circle the castle, the woods and the village, directing blasts of flame against all three, but everything only smouldered wetly or steamed. His fury was doubled and he expended more energy than he needed to, curling himself up to blast out his fiery breath until all that was left was a wisp of yellow smoke. Exhausted, he turned back to his barrow.
The entrance was blocked by humans, men and women with arrows already nocked on the strings of their bows, waiting. Arrows were stuck in the ground, point up, just at the place he would have to land, and out in front was that worst of all possible enemies, a Knight on a Quest. He also had a bow, and appeared to know how to use it.
Copyright Hilary Robinson 31.3.2010
Sir Robin gets a chance to do what he always wanted to do – face a dragon.
This Tale is a collaboration between myself and two other Redbubblers, Laura Redmond and Dawn Davies. Afer I’d written this chapter, I found an image by Laura which is perfect for the conversation between Imi and Galien. See what you think.
The Faerie Tale is copyright and protected and is not in the Public Domain