Chapter 11: Dragons at Dinner
Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia traveled through the portal in a hurry.
“Eig’nia!” Cried Saulstrance. “Is there anyone behind us?”
Eig’nia looked behind herself. She breathed a sigh of relief when she discovered that no one was following behind. She informed her friends that everything was fine. There was no one behind them. They too sighed in relief.
Shortly after, the exit appeared before them. With a blinding flash of light, the three friends found themselves in a very familiar setting: they were in the same forest where they first met Cyrus. The sun was just beginning to set, small beams of light poking through the wooded area. Pretty much everywhere else in the forest was dark.
The dragons changed into their human forms and journeyed through the woods as they made their way to Cyrus’ house. As they came out of the woods, Tourajé couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened. However, although he still felt uneasy about taking Raolef’s life, there was something else now that was bothering him. It was something that Raolef said right before his passing: “I leave the rest to you…Zano and To…”
It was the last name that was bothering Tourajé. He wasn’t quite certain but he had a feeling he knew what the rest of that name was. He just hoped that for his sake, as well as Saulstrance’s and Eig’nia’s that he was wrong and that that name didn’t belong to the dragon he was thinking about.
“Hey! Tourajé” Saulstrance called to his friend.
With his concentration having been broken, Tourajé found that he was falling far behind his friends who were standing before the exit to the woods. Tourajé apologized for falling behind and rushed over to his friends.
“Are you okay, Tourajé?” Asked Eig’nia.
“I’m fine. Just a little shaken up, that’s all.” Tourajé lied, trying his best not to make his friends worry too much.
Despite Tourajé’s reassurance, both dragons knew that there was something else going on with him. Concerned for his friend, Saulstrance asked Tourajé if he was sure he was okay. Tourajé said again that he was fine and that they didn’t need to worry about him. Although they were still obviously worried, Saulstrance and Eig’nia decided not to pester Tourajé about it anymore. If he didn’t want to talk about it then they felt that it wouldn’t be right of them to try to force him to tell them.
Cyrus’ village was only a mile away from them. Once they arrived, they immediately headed for Cyrus’ house, bidding hello to the villagers they passed, including Robert who, despite his old age, was able to defeat Tourajé in a sword wielding contest. The older man asked the three dragons turned humans how they had been and asked Tourajé if he had been practicing with his sword. Tourajé shook his head and explained that he hadn’t had time as of late. Robert, disappointed to hear that, still understood and urged Tourajé to practice when he got the chance. Tourajé assured him that he would and promised him that the next time they dueled, not only would it be a great rematch but he would win. Robert laughed heartily. He truly and deeply admired the young dragon-boy’s confidence.
Bidding farewell to each other, Robert, as well as Saulstrance and his friends parted ways as the latter continued to Cyrus’ house. Once there, Eig’nia knocked at the door. After a moment, Miranda came to the door. She was more than happy to see her fellow dragon kin again.
Although she had seen Saulstrance only a few days ago, it had been a little while longer since she saw Tourajé and Eig’nia. She urged them to come in and get comfortable. She poured cups of water for the three of them and brought the cups over to the dragons who had taken their seats at her kitchen table. She sat down at the other side of the table across from them and as they proceeded to take a drink, she asked them what brought them back to her village so late in the day.
Saulstrance sighed. “We’re here because…we need to hide.”
“Hide? Who do you need to hide from?” Miranda gasped, caught off guard by what Saulstrance had told her.
“The followers of the Leader, Raolef.” Eig’nia explained.
“We, or more specifically, I…killed him.” Tourajé concluded, a tone of disappointment and regret in his voice.
Miranda didn’t understand. “Why? Why would you kill him? I mean, I didn’t live in the village that he was Leader of but from what I heard about him, he seemed like a fair and kind ruler.”
“We never really knew much about Raolef but according to our master Léruc, what you said wasn’t quite the case.” Eig’nia said, gripping her cup a little tighter.
The three dragons went on to explain what Léruc told them about Raolef: that he was planning to launch an attack against this world and that, while they weren’t sure just when the attack would commence, they couldn’t allow Raolef to go through with it. They snuck into his fortress, taking great care to avoid his guards, and attacked him. Just as they had finished what they were sent to do, they were discovered by Raolef’s guards, his Champion, and his apprentice. It was then that they fled to the human realm where they believed they would be able to hide for the time being.
Miranda was speechless. She hadn’t the slightest idea. While still confused and trying to make sense of what she was just told, she figured that if what they were telling her was true, then she should thank them for saving not just her, Cyrus, and Bill but also the entire world. In the time that she had spent in the human realm, she had truly come to love the world she called her home. It would have pained her deeply for something to happen to her friends and family.
“Oh! It looks like Cyrus and Thomas are back!” Miranda said, beaming as she saw her son and husband from out the window.
The door opened and Cyrus and his father stepped into their house. The two of them were both surprised and overjoyed to see Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia had come to pay them a visit. Cyrus eagerly greeted his friends and asked them what brought them here so late in the day. Although the three dragons felt slightly annoyed that they would have to explain everything again, they still went ahead and told Cyrus and his dad the same thing they told his mom.
After having listened to the story, Cyrus and his father were just as surprised as his mother was. And just like his mother, while they weren’t sure how to respond to this information, they were still grateful to the three dragons for saving them and their world.
Both Saulstrance and Eig’nia blushed bashfully, looking away from Cyrus and his family. Tourajé, however, didn’t feel the same excitement and admiration that his friends were feeling. He rose from his chair and proceeded towards the door.
“Tourajé, where are you going?” Asked Eig’nia.
“I just need to get some air. I’ll be back in a moment.” Tourajé replied before shutting the door behind him.
The five of them looked at each other, unsure of what was bothering Tourajé.
“Is Tourajé okay?” Cyrus asked, concerned for his friend.
Saulstrance shook his head. “I don’t think so. He was like this when we arrived and for some reason, he wouldn’t tell us what was wrong.” He explained.
“Do you think it’s because he took Raolef’s life?” Asked Miranda theoretically.
Saulstrance and Eig’nia both believed that that was only part of it. While killing Raolef bothered them as well, they weren’t nearly as shaken up as Tourajé was. They believed there was something else that was bothering him. What that something was though, they couldn’t guess.
Cyrus wondered if it might be a good idea to go find Tourajé and see if he’s okay. Saulstrance decided against it. He believed that for right now, it might be best to just let Tourajé be. Perhaps being by himself was what Tourajé needed right now as both Saulstrance and Eig’nia believed that maybe it would allow him to clear his head. Then afterwards, maybe Tourajé would come clean with them and reveal what it was that’s been bothering him.
Night soon fell upon the village. All that could be heard were the sounds of the crickets chirping and the watermill’s wheel turning. Tourajé walked through the village, drinking the peacefulness in. It helped to quell his worries for that moment as he took in a deep breath and exhaled. Feeling less worried and anxious, Tourajé made his way back to Cyrus’ house where the half-dragon boy’s parents were finishing preparing dinner.
At Cyrus’ house, Cyrus and his friends were sitting at the table as his parents brought their dinner over to the table. The dinner consisted of two fish Cyrus and his dad caught the other day cut into several portions, three loaves of bread, and several large slices of ham. To drink, they were given cups of water. Just as they were placing the last bowl on the table, the door opened and Tourajé came into the house. Sighing with relief, he took his seat next to Saulstrance where he found his dinner ready and waiting for him.
“Are you feeling any better, Tourajé?” Cyrus asked his friend.
“Yes a lot. I just needed to clear my head. Walking around your village definitely helped with that.” Said Tourajé, smiling at Cyrus, showing the half-dragon he was grateful for his concern.
“Rather peaceful, isn’t it? That’s one reason I love living here.” Said Thomas as he sat down in his chair.
“It reminds me a lot of home. Every night is always so calm and quiet. It really helps wash away your worries.” Tourajé said.
Once everyone had sat down, they began to eat. This experience came as a surprise to the three dragons. Not only were they disguised as humans but they were eating as humans too. Aside from fish, they had never even seen the food that was presented in front of them. Saulstrance reached for a piece of bread. He held it in front of him, studying it for a bit. It didn’t feel like anything he had ever felt before. He held it up to his nose and sniffed it, finding no odor. Finally, he brought it to his mouth and bit into it. It didn’t have much taste to it but it was still able to overwhelm the dragon based on the factor that it was something completely new that he was eating. Saulstrance finished his loaf of bread and grabbed two more.
“Hey now, save some for the rest of us!” Thomas laughed, grabbing a slice for himself before Saulstrance could get it.
They all continued to eat until every single morsel of food had been cleared from the plates. Although it had just been dinner, Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia found it to be a rather interesting experience. They hoped that maybe they might get to do it again sometime.
The dragons helped Cyrus and his parents clear the table. Afterwards, the four friends decided that, before bed, they’d go outside and watch the stars together.
As they lay in the grass, Cyrus put his arms behind his head and watched with his friends. Stars covered the entire sky and a big beautiful full moon shone down onto them. The four of them were transfixed on the sky, not uttering a single word as they laid there, soaking it all in.
Cyrus closed his eyes and sighed. With a smile on his face, he opened his eyes and turned and looked at his friends. He was happy to be with them. Although he loved life in his village and the human side of himself, he was glad he was getting to experience what it was like as a dragon. Before they came along, the only other dragon he knew was his own mother. He wondered if Eig’nia, Tourajé, and Saulstrance felt the same way about getting to experience being humans.
“Cyrus. Have you ever seen the rest of your world?” Saulstrance asked curiously.
“No. There’s a town a couple miles from here that my parents and I go to sometimes to buy stuff but other than that, I’ve never really seen the rest of the world.” Cyrus answered.
“Do you ever wonder what’s out there?” Eig’nia asked this time.
“Sometimes. I know there are cities that make the town I told you about look tiny and there are far, far, more people in those cities than there are here.” Explained Cyrus.
“No way!” Exclaimed Saulstrance in utter disbelief.
“It’s true!” Cyrus exclaimed as he jerked upwards and glanced down at Saulstrance.
One by one, Saulstrance, Eig’nia, and Tourajé also sat up.
“ Do you ever want to see the rest of this world, Cyrus?” Tourajé asked.
Cyrus shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe someday. But for right now, I’m happy just living here. Because this is where my friends and family are.” The young half-dragon smiled.
Cyrus yawned and rubbed his eyes. He was beginning to grow drowsy. His yawning made the three dragons yawn as well. They had gotten so caught up in star gazing and talking that they hadn’t even noticed just how tired they were. The four of them decided to call it a night. Saulstrance and his friends knew that where they would be sleeping: it was the same bedroom they stayed in during their first visit to the human realm. They bid good night to Cyrus who wished them a good night back.
Entering the room, they saw the same to beds as before, waiting there for them. Saulstrance wondered which one he should take. Since there were only two of them that meant that he would either have to sleep with Tourajé or Eig’nia. Eventually, he decided to take the right bed but just before he could take more than a step, Eig’nia made her way over to the bed that Saulstrance had planned to take. He figured that maybe he would be sleeping with Eig’nia. Saulstrance didn’t see a problem with it. Eig’nia was just as good a friend as Tourajé. It didn’t matter to him whose bed he slept in so long as he actually got some sleep.
As Eig’nia climbed into bed, she saw Saulstrance approaching the bed she had claimed.
“Uhh, Saulstrance, no offense but I think it might be best if you sleep with Tourajé tonight.” Eig’nia said, feeling uncomfortable having a dragon sleeping in the same bed as her.
“Why can’t I sleep here?” Saulstrance asked, not understanding why she didn’t want him sleeping next to her.
“Because I’m a young, innocent dragoness!” Exclaimed Eig’nia.
As she turned her back to her friends to try and get some sleep, Saulstrance and Tourajé looked at her, not understanding what that was supposed to mean. Feeling unusually awkward after Eig’nia’s comment, Saulstrance went over to Tourajé’s bed and climbed under the blanket. Shortly thereafter, the three dragons fell asleep.
The next day, Cyrus awoke three and a half hours before his friends. After having breakfast, he asked his parents to let his friends know that he was going into the woods to practice flying. As soon as Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia woke up, Cyrus’ parents informed them that he was in the woods practicing flying. Before Cyrus’ parents even got the chance to ask them if they wanted breakfast, they rushed out the door and headed after Cyrus.
In the woods, Cyrus sat on a log, panting. He had spent so long training almost nonstop that his wings were beginning to cramp. Cyrus thought about how badly he wanted to fly. He could already fly somewhat but he wanted to be better than just “somewhat”. He wanted to be good enough to fly with his friends and his mom. He wanted to be able to fly with them. Cyrus wasn’t about to give up though. He was going to keep practicing as hard as he could until he was good enough to fly like his mom, Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia.
And as he thought about them, Saulstrance and the others came up behind him. Tourajé placed a hand on Cyrus’ shoulder startling the young half-dragon and snapping him out of his thoughts.
“Geez!” Said Cyrus breathless. “Don’t do that!”
Tourajé was just as startled as Cyrus. “Whoa! I’m sorry!” He exclaimed.
Cyrus sighed. “It’s alright.”
Saulstrance and the others sat down on some logs that were next to the one Cyrus was sitting on. Eig’nia asked Cyrus why he came here to practice flying. Cyrus explained to them that he wanted to teach himself to fly as well as they and his mom could. He might have had human blood but he also had the blood of a dragon coursing through his veins so, he figured, he should learn how to fly like a dragon.
“Is that the only reason?” Asked Tourajé, believing there was more to what Cyrus was saying than he was letting on.
“Well…the thing is…I also want to learn so that we can all fly together. But also because…I’m a little envious.” Cyrus explained, feeling a little ashamed to have said that.
“Envious of what? Us?” Eig’nia asked, not understanding what Cyrus meant.
“Yes! Of you guys and my mom! I can’t even fly half as good as you four can. My wings are just…not strong enough.” Cyrus said sadly.
Hearing this made Tourajé, Saulstrance, and Eig’nia feel sorry for their friend. They had no idea Cyrus felt this way. They wished there was something they could do for him.
“Maybe I’m just not supposed to fly…” Cyrus said in an even sadder voice. He sounded like he was almost on the verge of tears.
Saulstrance went up to his friend. He sat beside him and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Cyrus…maybe you’ll fly someday…and maybe you won’t. But you shouldn’t try to fly just because we can. We’re us and you’re you. Don’t try to learn to fly for us. Learn to fly for yourself.” Saulstrance said, trying to help his friend.
“While we’re here, we’ll try to help you as much as we can, Cyrus.” Tourajé promised.
Saulstrance nodded in agreement. Eig’nia promised Cyrus that she would help too. Cyrus was deeply moved by his friends’ kindness. He smiled and thanked them from the bottom of his heart.
A week had passed since then. During each of those seven days, Saulstrance, Eig’nia, and Tourajé would journey to the woods every afternoon with Cyrus to teach him to fly and there they would stay until it had become dark. Cyrus could tell his wings were growing a little stronger each day and the more he practiced, the farther and farther he would get from the ground. Eventually, he was able to fly above the forest, and ascend past the trees. He would fly higher and higher above the trees and he would realize that his wings weren’t tiring in the slightest. Cyrus was elated at this. He couldn’t believe how far he had come thanks to his friends. It was such an incredible feeling being able to fly even higher than he ever could before and knowing that he had his friends there to help him out.
“Nice job, Cyrus! Now try to come back down!” He heard Tourajé call up to him.
Cyrus decreased his wing beats as he descended back into the forest. Being careful to avoid catching his wings on a tree branch, Cyrus eventually touched ground where he was met with praise from his friends who were almost as ecstatic as he was at the incredible amount of progress he had made in the past week.
“Very well done, Cyrus!” Tourajé said proudly. “Keep practicing and you’ll get better and better!”
“We knew you could do it!” Saulstrance said, smiling.
“You’ve really come a long way. How do you feel?” Asked Eig’nia.
“Really good actually. My wings don’t feel quite as tired as they used to get if I tried to fly that long AND I’m managing to fly over the forest!” Cyrus exclaimed, his smile growing ever wider.
The three dragons felt proud not just of Cyrus but of themselves for helping him. Just a week ago, Cyrus was deeply saddened at the prospect of never being able to fly. Now, he seemed like a completely different person. He was more confident, more happy. He seemed as though he thought he’d be able to do anything.
Just then, Tourajé’s tail began to move on its own. The four of them watched as Tourajé’s tail dug into the ground and wrote something. With the leaves covering the ground, it was a little hard to make out what it was writing but as Tourajé moved the leaves aside, the message became a bit clearer.
“TIME TO RETURN” his tail had written.
The three of them knew what this must have been: Master Léruc had somehow taken control of Tourajé’s tail to give them this message. They had been with Cyrus for so long that they were actually feeling a little disappointed that they had to leave now. And, since they had been in human form for so long, they were starting to become somewhat used to living as humans would.
“I guess we have to go.” Eig’nia said a little disappointedly.
“Oh…” Said Cyrus, equally as disappointed.
Saulstrance opened a portal that would take them back home. Just as they were about to step through, they turned back to Cyrus, who was waving goodbye to them but with a slightly saddened look on his face.
“Don’t be sad, Cyrus. We’ll be back!” Eig’nia promised.
“I know you will. I guess I wish you could have stayed a little longer. Well, the next time you see me, my wings will be so strong, they’ll be stronger than all three of you combined.” Cyrus boasted, even though he knew such a feat was more than likely impossible.
Tourajé smiled at his friend’s declaration. Cyrus was reminding Tourajé of himself with that statement. The three of them thought that maybe Tourajé was beginning to rub off on Cyrus.
Looking back one final time, the three dragons bid farewell to Cyrus who bid farewell back to them. Once Saulstrance stepped through, the portal behind them closed, leaving Cyrus in the woods by himself. He smiled, thinking of how much progress he had made on his flying and how much of it was thanks to his friends. He promised not just them but himself as well that the next time they would meet, he would be an even better flyer!