The Gods of Dragons (Vol 1)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


Ghost of Days Gone By - Alter Bridge, 2011

Chapter 2 (v.1) - Ghost of Days Gone By

Submitted: May 11, 2018

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Charir 30, 1096

"Sir Rasnih?" Rasnih looked up from her papers as a young paladin poked his head around her office door. He looked nervous, and she arched one severe steely eyebrow at him. "You have a visitor. He claims he's an old friend…" the young man's voice trailed off as the door was swung further open by the visitor in question.

Rasnih smiled and set her papers down, getting to her feet. "Veon-Zih. What are you doing here? I wasn't expecting you until the Fall equinox."

The paladin guard sighed with relief and stepped back to his assigned position on the other side of the door. Rasnih and Veon-Zih ignored him, clasping wrists in the middle of the large office. "Something came up." the monk said taking his hand back for his customary bow, "I've taken a student. One of the children under Father Branston's care over at the church."

Rasnih motioned for her friend to take one of the seats by the large window adding "Oh? Not an apprentice, bound for the monastery?" she took the chair opposite Veon-Zih, the chains on her uniform chiming against each other as she moved.

"Sadly no. The boy is still a few years off from maturity, and bound to you at that point." he nodded at the Paladin whos eyes widened slightly.

"Oh?" she said again, "what was his name again… Shon was it? What do you think of him?" she sat in her chair like a queen, back straight and head high, for her, it looked downright relaxed.

Veon-Zih crossed his arms and stroked his chin, a familiar gesture, "well I met him last season and left him with some drills. one-hundred punches and kicks every day."

The monk continued to stroke his chin and Rasnih rolled her eyes before insisting he continue, "Yes. And did he do them as assigned?"

"In a manner of speaking…" Master Veon-Zih dropped his hand as he explained, "you see I left the instructions rather vague didn't I? Did I want him to do one-hundred total punches? So twenty of each of the five I gave him? Or one-hundred of each punch? Fifty of each hand?" he leaned forward keeping his eyes on Rasnih. He knew she could appreciate disciplined practice as much as any monk, "it seems young Shon didn't know exactly what I wanted either, So he decided on one-hundred punches on each hand for each punch. Same for the kicks. He did two-thousand total punches and kicks every day since I left two and a half months ago."

The Paladin was taken aback, and her eyebrows shot up into her dark gray hair, "you said he was still a few years from maturity? So eleven or twelve?"

"Ten," Veon-Zih answered leaning back into his chair again. "Thought not like any ten-year-old I've met before."

Sir Rasnih, head of the Paladin Order of the Sword and Temple of Heironeous in Smilnda, took a moment to look pensive out of her window. The young Paladins, only recently oath sworn and transferred from the Hammerfoss training facility were doing their drills in the courtyard. "He was left with the Temple a few years before I was transferred here, and I honestly don't remember the details…" still facing the window her eyes glanced back at her old monk companion, "but my predecessor seemed to think it was important that he come back to us at maturity." She exhaled softly and turned back to Master Veon-Zih, "I wouldn't say no to changing that plan if you think it better that he train at your monastery."

But Veon-Zih was already shaking his head, "That's what I told him, but he believes that the plan has always been he would come here and that he needs to follow through with it." the old monk shrugged, and with a sigh added "perhaps he will change his mind between now and then, but I get the feeling he won't."

The old adventurer smiled and leaned forward again, "but as fascinating as Shon is, I'm here to see you! How has retirement from the road been treating you?"

Sir Rasnih rolled her eyes again, picking up her hands and dropping them back on her lap again in exasperation, "Some retirement. I'm working harder now than I ever did on assignment. Branston too. Don't let that belly fool you, running an entire temple, or church in his case, is difficult and constant. The paperwork! The paperwork never stops!"

Veon-Zih laughed out loud, throwing his head back and slapping his thigh, "There! That is why I will never retire to the monastery!"

Rasnih scowled, "you won't retire to the monastery because the monastery isn't fool enough to ask you too. If they wanted you to, you wouldn't disobey a direct command."

The master monk continued to chuckle, "true, true. But as you say, they aren't fool enough."

The paladin shook her head and glanced back to the papers on her desk. "Speaking of adventures and the road," she said rising to her feet and heading back to her desk, "do you remember that smuggling operation we stopped in Halakon?"

Veon-Zih also got to his feet, "Halakon? The one with the supposed dragon artifacts and that lunatic that was ranting about the elements being out of balance?"

"That's the one," Rasnih picked up one of the papers on her desk, looked it over then put it back down to pick up another.

"That was over thirty-five years ago Ras. That was the same mission where we met Velona." he started moving towards the desk, and Rasnih looked over her shoulder at him, a rather sly look in her eye.

"I knew you would remember. How is Master Velona anyway?" she went back to looking at her papers as Veon-Zih stopped moving and blushed.

He took a moment to clear his throat, "She is well. She took a position as a trainer at her monastery." it was clear he didn't want to continue the talk of Velona.

Rasnih took the hint and moved on. "Well it seems as though we may not have stopped the operation." she placed one more paper down and picked up the last one, turning to face the monk with it in her hand, "I've received reports from some of the southern temples. It seems someone is stealing family heirlooms their owners claim are made of dragon scale." she held the paper out to Veon-Zih who took it and scanned it quickly.

"Dragon scale is a restricted magical substance and very valuable. It can't be that unusual for someone to want to steal it…" but he trailed off as he reached the bottom of the report. "They gave one back?"

"With a note," she gestured at the paper, and he continued reading. "It just said 'Fake,' and the idem was pretty heavily damaged."

Veon-Zih furrowed his brow and handed the report back to Rasnih, "you think there are more dragon fanatics like the one we caught then?"

The paladin shrugged, placing the paper back on her desk. "Perhaps, I thought since you had some experience from last time you might be interested in investigating. Maybe Hallowwolf will go with you."

Veon-Zih shook his head and rubbed his chin again, "Kolral never leaves her forest these days, plenty to do there she says. Though maybe she will come out for this. Assuming she didn't 'retire' like the rest of you old folks." he couldn't help but grin at his former companion from behind his hand.

Kolral Hallowwolf, a ranger of the southern woods, and Sir Rasnih, paladin of Heironeous were always at odds. Rasnih thought Kolral lacked discipline and focus and Kolral seemed to think Rasnih stored a spare sword in her nether regions. The boys of their group never tired of pitting the two ladies against each other, at least until the two joined forces to gang up on one of them…

Rasnih looked away with a snort; she wouldn't dare call the monk undisciplined, "Either way. My southern counterparts are sending some young paladins to investigate, and I'm sure they could use someone with a bit more experience if you find your way down there."

"I think I may," Veon-Zih said, dropping his hands, "I was planning on leaving in a week or so anyway. Might as well stop and see Kolral on my way." The two old companions moved toward the office door, Rasnih reaching out to open it.

The young paladin on the other side of the door snapped to attention as the monk exited. "Would you care to join Father Branston and I for supper tonight?"

Sir Rasnih smiled warmly, "I would love to, I don't get out of the temple often enough I feel."

***

Orn 20, 1099

Veon-Zih tapped on the door to the boy's dorm sharply before pushing it open without waiting for an answer. All but one of the boys were in their morning lessons, and the one left wouldn't mind someone just walking in, after all, it wasn't really his room anymore. He stood by the bed nearest the door as he carefully packed all of his belongings into a canvas traveling pack given to him by the church when he had reached maturity.

Shon's back was to the door, but he glanced over his shoulder at the knock and after placing the last item in the bag turned fully to face the master monk. "Master Veon-Zih," he said in a flat voice, "I didn't think you were going to be here this season."

The master monk tilted his head with a smile and stepped further into the room, "I didn't want to get your hopes up if I hadn't managed to make it." Shon smiled very slightly at that, "but I rushed to make it, and just in time it seems." he tilted his chin at the full pack.

Shon looked over his shoulder at the pack as well and sighed, "I didn't think I would be bothered by leaving… but I feel... heavy, for some reason."

"Well this was your home for the last thirteen years," Veon-Zih crossed his arms stroking his chin in a familiar gesture, "it would be more strange not to feel something." he shrugged, "so long as you don't forget everything you learned and experienced here it won't be a loss, only a change." Like the boy had said, he had not only known he was leaving but exactly where he would be going for many years now.

Shon's eyes widened, and he said quickly and earnestly "I won't forget anything. Look," he twisted back to his pack and snatched out what looked like a well-worn book bound in soft leather. As Shon opened it to a page near the back Veon-Zih could see that the journal was nearly full. Glancing over the boys head as he flipped through the last few pages to find the one he was looking for, the monk saw at least two other similar journals in the pack, all well used and probably full.

"Here!" Shon presented the journal to Veon-Zih who quickly looked back.

"Oh, wow." his eyes widened, and he reached out to take the book and get a closer look.

Shon let him have it but turned his eyes down, his voice soft with embarrassment, "I know it's not perfect, but they are only to remind me, not to teach from scratch…" his voice trailed off, but the old monk had barely registered the sentence anyway.

The book contained a series of sketches, a figure performing each move of the first fighting form, kata, Veon-Zih had taught Shon. It had curved arrows showing the directions the hands and feet were supposed to move and little labels underneath with the name of the strikes or stances in small neat handwriting.

There were notes in the margins and scribbled between the pictures; some had been crossed out and rewritten with more accuracy, others circled for emphasis. Veon-Zih turned the page and saw similar sketches and notes of a different kata he had taught Shon. He flipped a few pages back towards the middle of the book and saw an entry labeled with the date from the previous week.

He didn't read the entry, partially out of respect for Shon's privacy and partially because the pictures amongst and around the writing distracted him. He vaguely remembered Father Branston telling him the boy was a talented artist but he had never seen any of the work before.

Veon-Zih glanced up at Shon, but the boy's eyes were glued to the floor.

He flipped the book to the beginning and flipped through a few more pages, "these are very good Shon. Though I didn't just mean my training…" after all the church hadn't only taken him in, they had taught him to read and write, and he was given an education and opportunities many young children would never have.

Veon-Zih looked up for a moment to see Shon nod at the floor in acknowledgment. When the monk looked back to the journal he stopped with a little gasp and a chuckle.

"I remember this… I wouldn't have believed that you would want to though…" Shon's eyes shot up, and he reached out to tilt the book down and look upside down at the page in question.

One side was the dated entry for the event, opposite it was a set of pictures. The first depicted a slightly younger Shon attempting to mimic a very high kick that Veon-Zih was doing beside him. The next showed how Shon's head had struck the tree roots behind them his legs sprawled above him. The last had Shon sitting on the ground as Veon-Zih cleaned the large gash on the left side of his head. The old monk looked closer and chuckled a little again. The small depiction of himself seemed to be smiling in the last picture, and he remembered the event clearly. He HAD laughed, but he had also tried to reassure the young and very embarrassed boy that he had done similar when he had tried to stretch higher than his flexibility and balance would allow in training.

"It's probably not exactly right. I was trying to draw how I thought it might look from the outside…" Shon let his hand slide off the book, and Veon-Zih flipped through a few more pages. It seemed like Shon liked to draw the things and people he could see, there were very few, if any, other drawings of himself.

"It's very well done, Shon." he lowered the book to hand it back to the boy, who still looked incredibly embarrassed, as he focused on a spot in one of the far corners of the room rather than look directly at the monk. "Perhaps I will commission a drawing to remember you by." Shon finally looked up to meet his eyes, and Veon-Zih smiled at him.

Shon took his book back, and flipping to the day of that embarrassing accident proceeded to very carefully remove the page with just the pictures on it. He took a moment to flip it over and check the back, more sketches, these of some of the elderly priests of the church feeding a litter of young kittens outside the kitchen door, before handing the page to Veon-Zih. "So you don't forget."

Master Veon-Zih took the page in silence swallowing the lump that had risen in his throat, "Shon," he rested his free hand on the boy's shoulder. Shon didn't flinch, something he had only stopped doing in the past year or so. "I will never forget you. And not only because I will still be seeing you." Shon's face lit up with what seemed like both hope and confusion at the same time, and the monk smiled again, "You will be going to the Temple of Heironeous, only a block away, for your first year before going to finish your training as a paladin squire in the northern fortress of Hammerfoss. I have been known to visit both in my travels." he bent slightly to bring himself closer to eye level with Shon, "Assuming you wouldn't find my visits to distracting?"

Shon shook his head vigorously, "never!" he tilted his head to the side and said slowly, "would… would you spar with me when you visit? I don't want to lose any of the training you've given me…"

Veon-Zih through his head back and let out a full belly laugh. "oh yes. You can count on it. How else am I supposed to keep my skill up to par with the next generation?" that earned him one of Shon's small slight smiles, as the boy nodded sharply before turning back to his bag.

He packed the journal, the last of his possessions from the church of Pelor, and slung it over his shoulder. He nodded again to Master Veon-Zih, who solemnly held the door open for the boy to step through to the next chapter of his life. 


© Copyright 2019 Shawn Cameron. All rights reserved.

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