Chapter 5. The Ride
“This insulated armor is for harsh environments, you better be getting yours on, too. You will stick out like a wart if you don’t wear the proper garments.” chuckled Aed.
Watching closely as his father picked up the over sized knife, his father looked him in the eye and then hit the side of his leg with the cruel cutting edge of the sword. Not so much as a dent in the material was left by the cutting edge. Smiling at his son at the strength of the armor that he had kept quiet for lo’ the many years that the son had come to join them. He helped Jona dress in his student armor.
Jona dressed, the leather smelled newly tanned, the touch of it made him feel like a warrior of his own, slightly taller than his auburn haired mother, his jerkin fit him perfectly, as if it was known that he would be wearing it.
“Come, son! Time to get going!” Dearbhail said. Her strong will reasserting itself once again. The family hiked out into a meadow outside of the village, past the Crannog used since as long as anyone could remember, should the wild men of the sea invade.
In the middle of the field, dimly lit by the two torches carried by the adults, Jona had the dubious task of carrying the heavy gold griddle, stood a large wicker basket, enough to carry perhaps as many as ten people and all their food, bedding and still have room left over for any animals they might want to bring.
The wicker was tightly woven, enclosed but for shuttered holes that served as windows to the outside. Aed opened the stout, side door and Jona could see the reclining seats inside. Just sitting there, Jona looked around for the cart or wagon that had brought it. Not quite understanding, he looked for a place to put down the bag that carried the heavy, gold cookware.
“What is this?” Jona asked, learning not to make comments, because the truth of the last few days made his wildest imagination pale in comparison.
“This, Jona, is our way to get to the school, we ride in it.” Aed said as he and Dearbhail climbed in. “Get comfortable, you will find your first lesson in dragons.”
Opening the top of the basket with a lever that telescoped the apex of the basket back to the sides so they could see out, his dad made a sound like he did when he was snoring, Aed seemed to make a whole sentence from the snorting and snoring sound.
Jona began to laugh at his dad, when there was the sound wind coming from the sky, no clouds, but as Jona looked up, the something blotted out the stars. It… He could not believe it… It was the biggest flying thing that Jona had ever put his eyes on.
Jona squealed like a cat with its tail stepped on and he fell over backwards when he craned his neck to look up, great orange eyes looked down on them from the sky and wings that went from edge to edge of his vision he had to turn his head to see all the wingspan of the huge dragon that hovered over them as it sat down on the grass as lightly at a bird.
His face and eyes twitching as the lips of his mouth formed a big “O” without a sound when great orange eyes looked down on them from the sky and wings that went from edge to edge of his vision, he had to turn his head to see all the wingspan of the huge dragon that hovered over them as it sat down on the grass as lightly at a bird.
His face and eyes twitching as the lips of his mouth formed a big “O” without a sound.
After a few minutes, the only sound he heard was the rush of blood in his ears and a small funny sounding squeak like a squirrel made when caught in the claws of a hawk, only to come and realize that the squeak was coming from his own mouth, echoing laughter from far away was his own mother and father.
Aed stood over his spasm-riddled son and looked down with laughter as his wife roared with laughter, all the first time students that had seen their first full-sized dragon had same reactions— normally they passed out or ran away in panic.
“Jona, you did better than most kids! You at least stood your ground the first time you met the transport, even if you did a very good apoplexy dance before you fell, were you frozen or did you find it curious?” Aed laughed as he spoke to his son.
“Wahh-wahh-wahh-wahh-wahh…” Jona repeated for several minutes, until finally he complained that the weight of the gold platter was holding him down.
“Let go, son, let the bag go.” Dearbhail said, “It is not holding you down, you are holding yourself back from standing up.”
Jona suddenly realized he had a death grip on the bag that held the heavy gold platter to his shoulder, releasing it, he stood up with his eyes still fixed on the winged beast that sat quietly in front of him, A thought that struck Jona in his mind and he turned to his father with eyes as big as dinner plates.
“Y-y-y-y-” his voice faded away and he cleared his throat.
“Spit it out!” smiled Aed, “What are you trying to say, son?”
Jona looked around, the sun was breaking over the horizon, coloring the clouds crimson putting the dark, shimmering dragon that looked down at him with a bemused expression, its orange eyes still glowed in the early light.
“You speak dragon!?” Jona finally got out.
Aed chuckled as his mother rocked back and forth on the edge of the giant wicker basket.
“Of course we do. Yes! Both of us speak dragon, all two – hundred dialects. Your grandpa spoke more, but many dragons have disappeared out of the world.” Aed said.
The great dragon overhead nodded slowly and sadly. Seemingly to understand human speech.
“IT understands our language?” Jona choked out. His eyes looking at the shimmering creature.
“She does, as most dragons do. It takes years for us to learn their language, but they know ours easily. I will explain as we go, now IN the basket with you, we are losing our cover.” his father said with a smile. ‟The reclining seats. Keep the fur blankets close at hand.”
“Jona, get this jacket on, you will catch your death of cold otherwise.” His mother reverted back to her concern about her only son. “Hat on, too.”
A small cap that seemed familiar, but could not recall just where, he pulled it on. It was the same kind as the hat both his mother and father wore, with the exception that theirs had feathers in it. His mother’s was a white feather, his father’s was shimmering green.
“What are we going to do in this basket?” as they sat on snug, tightly woven reclining seats with odd metal hook and eye fastened straps that wrapped around their waist. “What are these for?”
“My own addition, we have had a few people fall out of the chairs over the years, this is my answer and seems to have been a good one.” his father answered.
“How do they fall out? What are weeeeeeee……” Jona never finished his question as he instead screamed while the great drago took flight and latched its massive claws on the crossbar of the great wicker basket and took flight lifting them off the ground rapidly, going up into the sky.
The elder Samhain’s laughed and their eyes shined with excitement as they gained altitude, the dragon lifted them up into the air and into the clouds. Their hair flying behind them as they held hands and enjoyed the ride.
“If you are going to regurgitate your breakfast, son, please lean out the window. ” Aed said with a laugh.
“I did not bring any change of under clothes for you, so you better keep control of your bodily functions!” Dearbhail yelled as she slapped her husband as she pointed down over the edge of the open window.
Below the sun shown on the harbor, the black ship of the day before was still at dock– high tide was not due for several hours, the crew of the ship was seemingly gathered on the breakwater with many of the locals standing around them as they seemed to entertain the people in the early morning light.
“That Master O’Danu has his crew out again.” Aed said. “I always like listening to them when I have time.”
“W-what?” Jona asked as he peeked over the side at the group of men on the ground far below.
“The sailors on the ship are also poets and artists. Often the sing at dockside a cappella at the end and beginning of the day. Sailors work hard during the day, morning and night in the slack tides they have time to show their stuff. Here, this morning they are singing on the docks.
‟Is he a Dragon Master?” Jona asked as he looked over the edge. His knuckles white as he gripped the wicker rail tightly.
‟Captain O’Danu? Yes. He was a few years behind us. That son of his will have a great surprise on his own, like you.” Dad said. ‟They spend a great deal of time on the water, Captain O’Danu trains water-dragons, water horses, sea nymphs and mer-folk. He keeps all the pirates in the area away from our harbor and makes sure we are left alone.”
‟He keeps pirates away?” Jona shook his head in disbelief. ‟How?”
‟Son, you noticed they had the ship painted differently?”
‟Yes, it was all black with some white.”
‟Yes, that is the ship Orca. Captain O’Danu is the Pirate King on our side of the world.”
‟On our side of the world?” Jona blinked. He had seen the red-headed captain several times as he had grown up. Never thinking that the ship that he was on was a pirate ship, or the crew who sang and brought smiles to merchants were all pirates.
‟Well, not a pirate in the typical sense. The Empire that has hunted him and his crew for years has labeled him that. He took the title after his ship defeated a pirate fleet in a three-on-one disadvantaged battle, pirates in the area called him King. He takes tribute from all of them, a few gold pieces each, but there are many of those that ply their trade on seas. A good man to have on your side.”
‟What about his son, is… I think his name is odd. Dana I think.
‟Oh yes, his boy Dana is too young yet, I would say. Unless he understands how to train puppies and has an open mind. Some children and adults cannot wrap their minds around a school with dragons.” Mom said. ‟It’s an old story on both sides. Those with limited education are given to hate more. It is what we try to change as a Dragon Masters.”
‟Why are you called Dragon Master if you are teacher?” Jona asked as the big wings of the orange dragon as it took a now-rare flap of leathery wings. The blast of wind was shocking, but bearable.
‟We have mastered the subjects to teach the two worlds how to live together.”
Quaint? Did he ever think of his mom and dad as quaint?
They flew in a covered basket carried by a huge dragon without blinking an eye. This was…
Jona decided he had a lot to learn.
By a large margin.
This was nothing like school was over the last few years.