IV. Dragon Master
His father, a Dragon Master, laughing as he took a seat on the mandrel that he used to bend large metal objects to shape that he had wanted, suddenly became serious.
“You will be going to a school in the fall, after you learn a few more things on how to teach that new puppy to behave.”
“Why the puppy?” Jona asked
“Puppy dogs and baby dragons are similar in attitudes, but dragons are much more intelligent as they grow. Kind of like human babies. We all start out as drooling little lumps, but we get a bit older and then we pass the puppies on what we can think of. Dragons are the same way.”
Jona gaped at his father, his dad kept it quiet all these years. He never knew that his dad would be such a quiet legend.
Aed laughed again, “You know, ’tis where I met your ma.” he chuckled with glee at his son’s gape and shock. For a father, he had a great deal of good humor when it came to making his son learn.
“M-ma? You met ma at this school where you became a DRAGON MASTER AT?” Jona’s voice was getting louder as he spoke. “Does she know what you where there for?”
“Shhh…. our society is a quiet one. Not all of humanity is willing to accept that there are Dragon Master’s that teach dragons how to keep a low profile– and YES, your mother is also a Dragon Master. She’s licensed to teach baby and adult Dragons, just like me.” Aed smiled and cleared his throat proudly “And soon, you will too!”
“Now close your mouth before you catch a moth and get packed.” Aed said to Jona who stood there with his mouth hanging open.
“Heh, Jona my son, tomorrow we take you to the new school to find out your class schedule. With the fact you already have a dragon looking up to you, you will probably get into the training cycle first, rather than starting with the classroom teachings. I hope you get Melian Jewell, she taught me long ago. Very good with hands on– if you can keep your fingers attached.”
Aed stood up, Jona’s mouth once again was hanging open like he had something that had numbed his brain.
“Oh.” Was all the noise the teen could make at his father. “Oh.”
Aed was out of earshot by the time that the mouth was catching up with his brain as he staggered back to the wagon and climbed up. While he sat in the seat holding the reins, Jona tried to think for a minute, the information that his father had just told him was making him dizzy still.
“Jona, go home, your mother will know what to do, just tell her what we just talked about. Get a move on son! You have a lot to do!” Aed laughed, “You have time to act like a turnip later!”
Jona rode down the street when the dumb ox snorted out both ends again. the smell of flatulence brought him out of his reverie as he drove the wagon back to the house. His mom met him out in the yard, and she was smiling. “I have heard your father had spoken to you?”
Jona boggled, not for the first time in the recent past.
“How, who..where?” At least now his mouth was functioning with his brain, even if only in single words.
“You will need some good boots, lucky we had some on order for you from the cobbler. That you are of age and out of basic life school, now you learn how to truly learn how to live in the world. To keep the animals in it, not to do as some have in the past, exterminated simply by the rage of man and weapons.” Dearbhail said.
She shocked Jona with the tone and style his mother used. She was reciting all of history of barbaric treatment of the earth. She was a teacher and Dragon Master.
‟Mom, you are a dragon mistress?” Jona was able to get his first coherent sentence out since his father talked to him.
‟Dragon Master. There was some question, years ago, that mistress seemed to subordinate what we are. The female teachers outrank the males, regardless of how the word sounds. Dragons cannot be subjugated, but you will learn these things, women are the leaders in the dragon world. So it is with humans in their eyes.”
Aed came home, a sumptuous meal, grilled over the fires outside, filled the house with mouth-watering smells. Aed poured Mead for everyone. Father toasted son as Jona’s mother, though not sad at her son moving out, showed signs of being a mom for a change. The hard spirit of the Queen Boudica that lived on in his mom had softened at the thought of her son now going to her old Alma Mater.
“I never knew you were a Dragon Master, ma, you have never taught any dragons, have you?” Jona asked between mouthfuls of potato, boiled and then roasted with sea salt. “You have never spoke of it.”
“Well, we never would, would we?” She laughed, rolling up her sleeve. Her a tattoo graced her upper arm where a torque normally resided, often she wore the copper band, so Jona had thought over the years it was the green that had rubbed off into her skin, now as she had pulled off the copper torc, the tattoo moved and glistened as if made from real dragon scales. It looked as if it were several dragons holding each other by the tail in a complex, never-ending knot that was so intricate that Jona could swear it was alive.
“Only the alumnus of the university wear such tattoo’s.” Aed said in admiration, while Jona was looking closely at his mother’s body-art, his father pulled out his arm and presented the son with a view of his own tattoo. The count and the kinds of dragons were different, and somewhat darker.
“Your mother earned better grades than I did, but I was in a more challenged class of dragons. We had the dragons that would be considered difficult to teach, males normally, fire breathers.”
Jona laughed for a moment, then paused as he though of a question.
“Is that how you took to being a metal worker?”
Aed nodded. “Your mother came up with that idea, it makes a good cover story for the burns I get now and again when I have to teach a short-tempered dragon how to keep in hiding and not burn a house down that annoys him for one reason or another.”
Jona’s mouth dropped open again. Many times his dad came home with singed hair and had blisters on his hands, complaining that he had to get new gloves for the shop. Little did he realize that it might even been due to a fire-breathing dragon that the patriarch of the family had to teach.
Looking at his mother. “Why did you wear copper then? I mean, with all that you were doing, you should wear a gold torc.”
The smiling auburn haired mother sat down and looked first at Jona, then at Aed then back to Jona.
“Our goal was never to bring that much attention to ourselves.” She said with a soft smile. ”Yes, I could wear gold, but it would never explain the tattoo underneath. This way the copper would cover the tattoo, I could take it off as I wished and when teaching, like now.”
Jona suddenly realized that his parents were more than the quaint old folks from another generation who had no idea how the youth of today thought. Young people had greater challenges, he thought, it was they who would take the world next and make it a better place. But his parents— His, the mind reeled with the thought of what kind of changes they have done in the world.
His ma and dad had changed the world, saving the dragons from dragon slayer’s and their weapons.
Jona went to bed that night with a numb mind, school was starting in a few months and the old folks were just going to sign him up.
In the morning, the sun had not even illuminated the sky in the east when his dad woke him in the dark.
“Up! We have a lot of traveling to do. Get your breakfast in, yer ma has eggs cooked with shredded ‘taters. Up boy. Time is wasting!”
Staggering up, he pulled on some clothes, his mother had a great breakfast of three eggs and a potato fried on a griddle he had never seen in the house before. Barely stained, the yellow pan looked like brass.
“Gold, Jona, this is the traditional breakfast for first time visitors to the university, gold is the dragon’s vanity and gift. One reason they have had such a time just trying to exist, for people covet the yellow metal as much as dragons do.” Mama Samhain said gently. “Our guide brought the griddle to us just this morning. You get one more after this, after that, you are back on iron cooking.” his mother laughed quietly. “They draw you in by making you feel special, then beat your brains until you learn the lessons for that time when you serve both man and dragon and save both from obliterating each other.”
“Ob…oob ..What?” Jona could not get the word out of his mouth.
“Obliterate. Just think of if your uncle Rón when he sat on you when you were but ten-years-old.” Aed said with a crooked grin.
“Ach! No! I understand now. That is the last thing I want.” Jona gasped.
The breakfast continued with animated discussions on different dragons, dangerous kinds, water dragons, air dragons, fire dragons. Jona was beginning to have a headache. Care and feeding of each dragon was far different from the next.
Finally they finished breakfast, Aed washed the griddle while Dearbhail washed the other plates separately. The discussion between them was rapid and animated, the pride in their son was obvious.
Jona, stunned at the clothing that his máthair put out for him. Leather jerkin with iron studs, heavy leather gauntlets with oddly shaped finger coverings, boots that came up to his knees with chaps that fitted on his legs and clipped to the top of the boots. There were other rings on the jerkin and boots he wanted to ask about, but his mother and father disappeared up the ladder to the loft to change clothes. The sound of a slap and a mild threat was more information than Jona wanted to know about what his dad might have done.
Climbing down, the two elder Samhain clan were clad in leather and metal armor, his mother’s was decorated in gold and green rivets, his fathers was in silver, yellow and red-gold engraved metal flowers over the tunic, with iron and leather scabbards that held two short swords that crossed on his back. His mothers weapons, shorter and slimmer, much more pointed to the touch, had handles made of some creature’s tusks, as they were bone-white.
Pulling one of her swords, the light reflected over the mirrored surface of the blade. The metal rippled like water in the light and the edge was wavy, like the edge of a leaf.
His father drew a sword and set it on the table next to his mothers’ blade. Longer, more massive in construction, a blade for smashing through heavy objects, while his mother’s was one that might cut through the smallest weakness of opposing armor.
“These are the tools of Dragon Masters. Sometimes one must have the skills to fight either man or dragon and earn the respect. These weapons have different designs, each has a specific use and need when called upon. Where your father’s are for one kind of warrior, mine is for another. But each is not perfect, the two blades cover each other’s shortcomings of design.”
Jona stood slack-jawed as he watched the two most mundane, boring, simple folk that he’d ever known. He could even call them “quaint” by the past years he knew them. Now, the arms of his father, from years of swinging a hammer, the sinuous arms of his mother stuck out of the leather and steel armor– he had no other thought but that one moment he had come to realize most about his “mundane, quaint” old folks were members of a group that Jona never dreamed they could belong.
Unbeatable in the normal sense, mysterious— he never, ever knew of their second life.
His father was pulling on leggings that shimmered like water in a stream, on closer inspection they were fine scales, interlocked like fingers of two hands.
Mom and dad— they were awesome!
They were warriors.
They were Dragon Masters.