Chapter 3: Change in Plans
Alexander waits for me the next morning, a small pack on his back. He crouches on top of a large branch, with an impish smile.
"What did you do this time, Alexander?" I ask in a mild tone.
He tilts his head to one side. "Nothing. At least, not yet that is." He grins faintly, and I can already feel it coming.
"Don't you DARE." I growl.
He grins wide enough for me to see the canine teeth of his jaws, and they look wicked sharp. I remind myself not to make a dragonling look angry, because a bite from a crocodile would not hurt as much as those.
"Say, Danica. I was poking around in your head for a little bit, and I found something I thought was hilarious."
My eyes narrow in suspicion. "And what did you just so happen to find while rummaging through my thoughts without permission?"
"It had something to do with a cousin and a tomato, I believe."
I pale. Oh no he didn't seriously find that one did he?! That can't be good!
I ready myself, already fearing the worst.
"Apples!" Several apples fly forward, aiming for my face, which I jump back from, already losing concern.
And that's when something red, wet, and sticky splats into my hair. For magic using fairies such as myself, there's something about tomato juice that makes it damn impossible to get that color out of your hair. Needless to say…
"…Alexander, I swear by Alamadia's name I am going to kill you right here and now."
I lunge at him, and he gracefully dodges me as I throw punches, kick furiously, and even try to hit him where it hurts to every man. To my greatest fury, he continually dodges my blows with a toothy grin, finding the most annoying delight in taunting me.
I finally throw a rock at his head, and he simply side steps, and starts laughing. For a moment, he keeps standing there, laughing his head off. That is, of course, until the dwarf comes up from behind him and smacks him over the head with the rock I threw. The rock crumbles to dust on impact, and Alexander stops laughing.
I take a closer look at the dwarf, and realize that it is Grimmhorn. He sighs with frustration at Alexander, and then coughs.
"Well, I finally caught up to you. I'm glad I came here soon enough. You have a lovely home, Danica Crown."
I smile sheepishly. "Well I guess you can say that. My family palace is more impressive though."
Grimmhorn smiles a little bit. "Aye, indeed it is impressive, for a palace for surface dwellers that is." He turns to Alexander, eying him with some disapproval. "When there's someone behind you, and someone starts throwing rocks, don't let the person get hit in the head, hollow-skull! Take the blow for them!"
Alexander blinks. "I'm sorry, I wasn't aware you were there, or I wouldn't have let it hit your head, dwarf king."
The dwarf sighs irritably. "Oh sure, we're small and not as noticeable, there we go. For a dragonling, you ought to pay more attention! Ah well, that's not why I'm here. I'm here to talk about what happened with King Yashin of the humans."
I frown a little at the mention of Yashin.
"Why? I don't really care that much about it, I wasn't really offended anyway. Doesn't make it right what he said, but…"
Grimmhorn finds a decent sized rock to sit down on. "Sit, let's just talk for a bit. I know you're going somewhere, but I think it can wait, don't you?"
Alexander and I look at one another and reluctantly sit down on the grass.
Grimmhorn coughs, and strokes his beard. "As a decent aged dwarf, I've seen kings of man come and go, through assassination to rebellion. Rarely have I seen a human with such a great passion to succeed in his role. He is unconcerned with glory, honor, or wealth. No, what that man wants is something special. He wants to be known for at least mending together a race who hates themselves more than they love.
"He strives hard, you could almost say he's almost sacrificing himself for his cause. Yashin is a complex man to understand, yet I've come to know him as a man not to be despised, you have to learn what makes him tick. As a young boy, he was certainly not what you would think would become king of the humans. He was a mere farm boy, a child content with his place in the world.
"Yet here he is today, bitter and hateful, especially towards the beings of magic. He actively persecutes them in his realm, keeping only a select few allowed with such a talent. That young farm boy would never have learned the sword, were it not for what happened to his beloved father."
I look at the dwarf, almost afraid I know what he is about to say next.
He continues in a low voice, "One day while he was out harvesting the family crops, a great cry came from his farmhouse. He rushed quickly to his father's aid, only to see a massacre, the workers were disemboweled, the animals burned alive, and his father… his father was splattered on the floor, red tainted the whole of the family home. Standing in the bloody wreckage was a man in black. This vile villain was covered in blood, his eyes were bloodshot and insane. The man carried with him the knowledge of words, his magic too strong for any normal man."
The dwarf shudders in the horror of the tale, then calms himself. "Yet Yashin took up a sword from the mantelpiece, and swore bloody vengeance, against the man and his kin, magi. Bemused by the boy's desire for revenge, the mage let him live." Grimmhorn chuckles darkly.
"Oh what a mistake that was. Yashin soon became a general, and later took the throne of his native country. He then went on a feverish rampage against all magi, until he found the man in black. He did not hesitate, not even for a moment. He unleashed a rage so terrible I would think your friend here would turn in fear from it." Alexander scoffs.
"Afterwards, Yashin continued his hatred against magi, and hasn't let up, except for those he deems responsible enough to serve unquestionably. My point in this tale is Danica, if you want Yashin to see eye to eye with you, don't fight him with words. You will never gain his respect with those. Actions speak far greater to him than dry, shallow breaths will. Challenge him in a test of mortal strength. Only then may he heed your words, and see your intentions true."
I ponder his words, while Alexander stands in silence.
"You know, Grimmhorn, we planned on going past Dragonfang, into the lands of West." Alexander says quietly.
Grimmhorn gives us a look of disbelief.
"I have met many fools who would do such a thing, but I would never assume you would even think of something that dangerous, that risky, Danica Crown! We know nothing of the land beyond the mountains, even we dwarves cannot stand against the fury of Dragons, we know too well their might! That truly is an impossible task. Danica… I wish you luck, but I hope you consider trying to approach Yashin in a different manner. Perhaps you will get through to him."
With that, the dwarf king makes his leave, his footsteps gradually growing quieter through the passing moments.
Alexander looks at me. "Well, what's your plan? Risk the dragons or speak to a magi-hating king?"
I think for a moment. We should try to get the dragons to side with us, they'll be helpful in the fight against these Dialadect… but should I try to bridge the gap with Yashin? If I could make him see on my level, perhaps the other races will jump on board as well.
I look up at Alexander, who is studying me as I stand up.
"I'll go to Yashin. I'll travel to Calador."
He blinks. "You said I, not we."
I smile. "You probably would like to help, I know. However, I feel that Yashin wouldn't respect me if I came with others. I'll see you later. Try not to get in any trouble while I'm gone, ok?"
Alexander smirks. "No promises."
I roll my eyes, and then return to my house and gather last minute supplies. I then leave a note for my family and friends, explaining my departure. I head out the door, and begin my travel towards Calador, the kingdom of Humanity.