VIII. The DragonMaster University
Jona looked at the lady, she had beautiful eyes, her ears were elegant with a slight point to them, elf for sure! Jona had never met an elf, but he was sure this was one. She was not nearly as old as his parents.
“Professor, this is our son, Jona, he has been chosen by the dragons, one follows him still.” Mother Samhain said softly. “Jona, this is Professor Melian Jewell, she is one of the senior teachers here in the university. She teaches dragon language, the only person I know that speaks all the known dialects of dragons, including the dead languages that no one speaks even now.
“She, I mean, you ma’am speak all dragon languages?” Jona followed his mothers finger as she pointed to the professor, to who he was to address the question.
“I was around when the dragons first encountered men, I helped set up the school, many winters ago.” Melian stated with an air of simple fact. Jona was getting the ongoing feeling that his school back home might be over, learning how many bushels would fit in a cart to today of dragons, elves, snow. His education was about to start. All that he had learned before was to practice for what was going to come now.
Professor Jewell looked up and down at Jona and nodded, “You have a dragon upon your person now, he is sleeping in the fold of your cloak. You may name him if you like because his real name would take you years to learn how to say it correctly.”
The professor was correct, the little dragon had found a loose fold in his sweater and was no longer moving, instead, it had warmed up and gone to sleep against the skin of Jona’s arm. If Jona did not know any better, it felt like the little dragon was purring.
The professor nodded curtly and excused herself as the Samhain family walked to the office, men and women walked by in many kinds of armor, many were gold, some were obviously a gray metal of iron. Dozens of beings, of humans and species that Jona had never dreamed of that existed passed him wearing laminated leather and metal decorations passed by every minute.
Jona began to notice that there was a subtle meaning to all the different types of decorations all over the leather that in many cases was a heavy weave of strips held in place by the metal rivets engraved into various flower shapes, then gilded with different colors.
He assumed that each color and shape meant something. Flowers, hands, what looked like ropes, crossed knives and either feathers or leaves, Jona could not tell which, embellished the shoulders and chests of humans, elves and— someone who looked like human, but was not.
Jona walked behind his parents looking about when a larger youth with raven-black hair collided with him, knocking Jona sideways and making Jona stumble and bump into another student who was gazing at the sky.
“You be careful! I am a DragonMaster.” The youth shoved back and growled at Jona.
The color of the jerkin was thin and worn, well used or poorly made, Jona could not decide. The aggressive stand of the student, however, flamed anger in Jona.
“Stop killing people for once, do not pull out your gutting knife just now. Let him live and come with me, please.” Aed turned and called to Jona. Shocking the other youth with the deadly reputation that the older generation recognized.
The other boy stood wide-eyed and looked on as Jona walked to his father, smiling to himself and in a way that no one else, but his father could see.
A wink the elder gave his son as the boy caught up and they walked off together.
“Thanks, Da'” Jona whewed quietly, “He’s bigger than I am. I did not want to have a fight so soon after getting here.”
“A father’s skill, I got you out of a fight without needing to raise my voice or get involved directly. But, be warned, it may just have put off what you will need to do later. He’ll want to test you.” Aed told him. “I recognize the forged flower on the leather vest he has on. A good family that has fallen on hard times. His own father suffered an attack by a dire wolf and nearly died. That boy’s father is now touched. Sometimes I find him in my shop wondering over common items. They live on the coast and are good people.”
‟Does the pirate king know him?”
‟Oh yes. Keegan O’Danu has gone out of his way to take care of the family. That is why the boy is here. The O’Danu scholarship, designed just for him. No one else can qualify, all Kacra had to do was apply”
‟That’s the boy I warned you not to kill.”
‟Oh.” Jona thought about Kacra’s father wandering around the countryside.
From the coast to the shop would be at least a full days ride, two days to walk. How would Jona’s father get him home?
“Wagon mostly, and using an apprentice. Sometimes, I have given him a ride home on the dragon.” Aed leaned in whispering “I think that is why he keeps coming back.”
“So he takes it out on me?” Jona asked “I will have to avoid him or beat him.”
His mother shook her head at the her men talking.
“You will teach him how to teach dragons. By teaching you will learn, by learning from each other, you will teach.” She said.
”I do not want you to be fighting, I will be sorely upset if you get in trouble and I have to come by way of dragon— and I will come by fast dragon— to get you out of trouble from the school.” Her eyes flashed, “Then you will be in trouble with ME!”
Jona shuddered, somehow trouble with his mother, against the trouble in school? He feared his mother far more than anything the school might throw at him, including dragons.
Walking by a large door, several staff were moving bucket of fish in front of a large door to one of the dragon’s rooms. Barely they had time to get the door open when a tongue snaked out and wrapped itself around the leg of one of the faculty. Screaming for help, several of the bucket movers fought with the tongue until it let loose and returned inside the room— but only for a moment.
Out snaked the tongue again, finding the bucket, it dragged the container inside the room where a sound of sloshing could be heard.
Then the heavy bucket was airborn out and bounced off the door with a loud BONG. Jona could make out the shape of an armored dog, more than twice his height, possibly bigger than even the dragon that had brought them here.
Jona shook down to his bones when the bucket, big as ten men standing shoulder to shoulder, bounced as if it was the ball that Jona had seen the red-headed merchant had thrown for his son, Dana.
Jona looked up, it seemed like spires of a castle towered overhead on the inside of the old volcano, the heat and smoke that came from the bottom of the hole warmed the buildings, the fires were great stones that were heated by fire-breathing dragons that were being taught how to use their powers without burning things down. Jona was not sure who were teachers or who were students.
It seemed as if there were dragons that were professors as they ambled by with great medallions around their neck and others would bow to the dragons.
“The Dragons teach?” Jona could not stop his mouth from echoing his thoughts.
Aed chuckled and nodded, “Yes, you don’t find many students that daydream in those classes.”
Jona gaped at a red dragon that sat before an old lady professor. Her hair was blood-red, salted with white hair. Around the neck of the graceful, scaled neck of the dragon hung a medallion, battered and scarred, was a medallion engraved with runes around its edge, dwarfed by the size of the dragon, it seemed to be meant for someone of a different size. The dragon bowed it’s great head, as the professor kissed the scaled head and hugged (as much as she could wrap her arms around the huge head) the dragon.
Dearbhail looked at her son as he looked at the odd couple while they walked.
“Careful you will bump into a column.” She laughed quietly, “Those are the two most senior professors here. She is a witch, half-elf and her husband is a powerful wizard that gave up his human form to save her life, once upon a time during a battle with invading barbarians. But he did it in a way that no one can ever turn him back to his old shape. Someone has to say the proper spell, the proper ways with the proper words. No one knows how he did it and he cannot say how it was. He speaks rough human language, but not enough to undo the spell he made.”
Jona thought about this as they walked on, looking around. “Is this a castle?”
He looked around. “It is so large!”
“No, this is a village,” Aed laughed. ‟Really, a collection of schools that have banded together to make a more protected place to teach. This old volcano is long stopped being a danger, the only heat comes from deep underground or the dragons themselves.”
“We lived here a long time before you were born.” His mother added.
“Hatched, is better said. We found you under a rock.” his dad laughed as they walked. “Watch it!”
Jona nearly walked into a tree trunk sized leg as he was looking around, the dragon looked down and sounded like it snorted angrily at him while it moved past.
“She apologized,” Dearbhail translated for him. “This school was built inside the this old volcano, it can storm outside with a blizzard and all you will get in here is a soft rain.”
“Unless he has a class in the outside area” Aed added. “You will need to learn how to ride on dragons as well. It takes practice and a bit of luck— and a lot of understanding on how a dragon moves, thinks and lives.”
“This way,” his mother said as they turned into a beautiful building. A column of dragon images, each with a name under it.
“Puff?” Jona read, “What kind of name is that for a dragon? That seem silly.”
“Heh,” His dad laughed softly. ‟He was a legendary dragon that made one of the first contacts with humans that did not end in one or the other being killed.” Aed nodded, “It was the beginning of understanding between dragons and other creatures of the world.”
“Where do we go from here?” Jona asked
“Inside, come.” His parents escorted him in and he met the second smallest dragon he had seen so far.
Jona watched her as she moved around, she had a short tail, and she was in a same moment, color shifting from sky blue to forest green, performing complex paperwork quickly as she concentrated. She was so pretty that the young man nearly forgot to breathe.
Jona’s mom smacked him in back of the head and brought him out of his own little world of fantasy as the girl sized dragon smiled and looked down at her work.
“Happens all the time with new students.” She said with a musical voice. “It happens with dragons, elves and humans all the same.” She sighed and went back to a folder and opened it, pulling out several documents.
‟Clan Samhain, one child, Jona” She looked up at the gape-mouthed teenager “That must be you.”
Aed chuckled as his mom hid her face in the palm of her hand as she tried to stifle a laugh. Jona continued to stare, compared to the other dragons he had seen in the school, there was nothing like her.
“My name is Kolo and you can stop staring now, I am here to help you get through your first years, I will be your mentor and teacher of language arts of the first order. I also teach sports, I am a swimming dragon, but I also can fly. Do you swim?” Kolo looked at Jona with a soft smile and a wink.
Jona only made a momentary sound and then Kolo tapped him on the forehead.
“Are you okay? Did you eat a sleep berry?” Kolo giggled, “Here, just give these to you folks and then come back when you have your brain in your head instead of my shirt.”
Walking away Kolo looked over her shoulder at Jona who was being led out of the room by his father as they went to the desks to fill out the proper paperwork.