Love in the Land of Dragons

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 9 (v.1)

Submitted: April 09, 2015

Reads: 308

Comments: 15

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Submitted: April 09, 2015

A A A

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Chapter Nine

?

For the next few minutes, Elizabeth Ander and Carlton Chambers rode in silence. The occasional backfire of the Roadster as it putted along, were the only sounds to be heard. The wagon and foot traffic encountered earlier had thinned out as they drove deeper into the remote countryside.

Chambers still seemed lost in thought, as Elizabeth attempted to sort out her emotions after having just learned he was married. However, he soon snapped out of his meditative state, shifted the Roadster into low gear, applied the brakes, and turned off the grimy road; slowly driving up a grassy knoll before coming to a gentle stop at the foot of a flower covered hill.

“Your destination awaits, Milady,” Chambers joyfully announced, as he immediately shut off the engine and hopped out to come around to open the passenger side door. Elizabeth subtly smiled, as she delicately took a hold of Chamber’s outstretched hand as he helped her out of the automobile.

“Where exactly are we?” she asked, glancing around at the field of beautiful yellow dandelions that stretched out about before them.

“Far away from the maddening crowd,” Chambers lightly replied, “so please come with me, Miss Chambers. I want to show you something.”

With that said, Chambers led Elizabeth by the hand up the gentle slope of the hill until they reached the plateau. She was immediately taken in by the mesmerizing scenery that spread out before her far below.

It was as if an oil painting had sprang to life. The lush green forests extended for what seemed like hundreds of miles, tenderly touching the distant horizon. And cutting through this vibrant scene was a sparkling river that snaked lazily amongst a patch work of rice fields, while puffy white clouds dotted the crystal blue sky. One such cloud obscured the sun momentarily, as rays of light streaked to the ground like some silk web woven by angels from the heavens.

“It’s all so very beautiful,” Elizabeth heard herself say.

“I knew you’d love it,” Chambers added, “now please stay here. I’ll be right back.”

He quickly strolled back down the hill to the Roadster. Elizabeth watched, then turned back to admire the view. She realized that he was right. Up here, above it all, the problems of the world seemed so far removed. For just a second she thought of her late fiancé, Seth and wished he were standing here beside her, so they could enjoy the glorious view together. That thought quickly vanished however, as Chambers came clamoring back up the hill with blanket and basket in hand.

“Help me spread out the blanket, would you?”

“Of course,” Elizabeth replied, as Chambers set the basket down and they both unfolded the blanket and placed it across a patch of grass. As they sat down upon the plaid checkered blanket, Chambers opened the basket for a look see.

“Seems Pia supplied us with a hearty meal this afternoon,” Chambers smiled, as he began to take out each item, “let’s see, we have fried chicken, cole slaw, butter dipped biscuits, and a jug of green tea.”

“Sounds scrumptious,” Elizabeth noted, wondering if that was the same chicken that Pia had decapitated while they conversed back in the Sanctuary’s kitchen.

“Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m famished,” Chambers added, while using some utensils to place the feast on porcelain plates that Pia had also included, just before handing Elizabeth her plate. At first they ate in silence, both admiring the view and most notably each other. In next to no time, they had finished their meal.

“Delicious,” Elizabeth noted, “Pia is such a great cook.”

“That he is,” Chambers agreed, “but we’re not done.”

“Oh?” Elizabeth frowned, not sure exactly what he had meant.

“I’ll be right back,” Chambers playfully said, as he jumped up and scurried once more down the hill.

Not knowing what he was up to, Elizabeth watched him reach back into the Roadster’s rumble seat, seemingly in search of something she knew not what. Suddenly, she heard a strange noise directly behind. A sort of low hissing sound, but not like one would hear from a snake but more of an eerie grunting.

She slowly turned and almost jumped off the blanket when, standing no more than twenty feet away just outside a line of foliage, she saw the most frightening creature she had ever laid eyes upon.

It was lizard like and about eight feet in length. It stood upon four sturdy legs with claws that deeply dug into the ground. Its skin could best be described as a scaly, brownish-gray. A long tail swished menacingly, while it sporadically poked its long, yellow forked tongue out of its blunt snout. It glared at Elizabeth with eyes as black as coal.

Chambers had come trotting back up the hill, but immediately came to a stop when he also spotted the creature.

“Stay very still, Miss Ander,” he strongly urged her.

“I… I don’t think I could move if I wanted too,” Elizabeth tautly replied, too frightened to even think of making any sort of motion. Chambers had slowly made his way around to stand beside her. She glanced up to see he had a gleaming silver pistol in his hand aimed directly at the hideous creature.

“What is it?” Elizabeth nervously asked.

“It’s a Komodo Dragon,” Chambers quietly replied, “so don’t make any sudden moves. Luckily for us it has poor visual discrimination of stationary objects.”

“And what exactly does that mean?”

“It means it can’t really see us very clearly. Unless we attempt to move. It’s using its tongue to smell the air. More than likely it detected the scent from our chicken dinner.”

“What do we do?”

“Well, I’m going to shoot it,” Chambers answered matter of fact, as he thumbed the hammer back on the pistol.

Despite its appearance and her adjunct fear, Elizabeth noted there was still a magnificence about this creature; a kind of bestial nobility.

“Please don’t kill it,” Elizabeth requested.

“Then what would you like me to do with it?” Chambers frowned.

Elizabeth noticed a medium sized rock just within reach. She cautiously picked it up, as the Komodo continued to stand its ground.

Suddenly, Elizabeth shouted, “Shoo!! Go away!!”

Then she hurled the rock towards the dragon, hitting it squarely on its snout.

The Komodo titled its head, appearing as if it was totally surprised by what had just happened. Then while Chambers held the pistol steady and Elizabeth held her breath, the Komodo seemingly realized it was not at all welcome at this outing and abruptly turned around and scurried back into the underbrush.

Elizabeth let out a sigh, while Chambers lowered the pistol.

“Seems you have just gained a new title, Miss Ander,” Chambers finally said, with an astonished look upon his handsome face.

“And what might that be?” Elizabeth replied, still nervously staring at the underbrush where the dragon had vanished.

“I now dub thee, Lady Elizabeth of Ander. Fighter of Dragons.”

Elizabeth laughed in relief, as did Chambers, who placed the gun back into a shoulder holster he wore under his jacket.

“Now, where was I?” Chambers remarked, as he reached down and picked up a long necked bottle he had brought back from the back of the Roadster, along with two champagne glasses.

“Oh yes. Would madam like some wine?”

At first, Elizabeth was prepared to decline but quickly decided after what she had just experienced, a little wine might not be such a bad idea.

“Yes, please. I’d love to.”

So Chambers sat back down beside her on the blanket, produced a corkscrew from his jacket pocket and popped the cork. The wine momentarily gushed over the bottle’s neck, as Chambers quickly handed Elizabeth a glass and poured the bubbly liquid until her glass was half full. Then did the same for himself.

“Let us toast,” Chambers smiled, raising his glass as Elizabeth followed, “to a beautiful day. A beautiful meal. And a most beautiful tamer of Dragons.”

Elizabeth giggled as they clinked glasses and each took a sip of wine.

“Uh, is there a chance that dragon might come back?” she apprehensively asked.

“Yes, I suppose there is always a chance,” Chambers teased, “but I really don’t think so. I suspect that mighty dragon’s pride has been hurt. I’m sure it’s going to go back to wherever it came from to nurse its bruised ego.”

Elizabeth laughed at the scenario, “Are there many of those creatures walking about?”

“No, they’re actually very rare,” Chambers explained, “they’re not native to the mainland. They originate from the Komodo Islands in Indonesia.”

“How did they get all the way here from there?”

“Smugglers, hired by royalty to import Komodo eggs. The eggs are considered a delicacy around these parts. Some incubate the eggs and actually let the dragons hatch. Since Chinese mythology is filled with images and tales involving dragons, it's kind of an exquisite thing to own an actual living dragon. Some think they bring luck. For most it’s a sign of machismo. But the government has banned their import and will arrest anyone found possessing such a creature, so many were just dumped out in the countryside. Most of those unfortunate creatures couldn’t fend in this environment and died, but a few hardy ones have somehow managed to live on. As I remarked, it’s very rare to come across one.”

“Actually, it looked like it came across us,” Elizabeth corrected.

Chambers smiled, “true, but luckily this dragon had the good sense not to further challenge a school teacher from Nebraska.”

Elizabeth laughed once again but realized this was a golden opportunity to learn a little more about Carlton Chambers.

“Where are you from, Mr. Chambers?”

Chambers started to look through the pockets of his coat.

“What are you looking for?"

“I thought I had a notebook and pen somewhere on me,” he smirked, “I wanted to keep a tally of the million questions you said you had for me.”

“Well, you did promise me you would answer each and everyone,” Elizabeth teasingly scolded.

“Yes, I did," Chambers teased back, "but only a million. And not one question more.”

“Agreed. So tell me all about yourself, starting with where you were born.”

Chambers took another sip of wine before beginning, “I’m from Albany in upstate New York. My father was in the oil business and as a result we were quite well off.”

“Clearly,” Elizabeth remarked, taking another sip of her wine.

“I attended the finest schools and my father planned for me to join him in the family business as soon as I graduated college.”

“And obviously you did.”

“No, not at first. By the time I had finished business school, I was bored out of my mind. I was restless and wanted to do something different with my life.”

“So what did you do?”

“The war had broken out, so I did exactly what my father didn’t want me to do.”

“And what was that?”

“Against my father’s wishes, I joined the Army and was shipped overseas to Europe. Since I was a college graduate and had scored high marks on the Army entrance exams, the Army decided to place me in the Air Corp. There they trained me to fly planes.”

“That sounded pretty adventurous.”

“It was. I ended up being assigned to the 94th Aero squadron, affectionately nicknamed “The Hat in the Ring Squadron” because America ended up throwing our hat into the ring to fight the Germans. There I learned to fly Spad bi-planes alongside Eddie Rickenbacker.”

“Eddie Rickenbacker, the air ace?” Elizabeth was quite impressed.

“The same,” Chambers confirmed, “the first American to obtain 22 kills, but I might add he took credit for one of mine. Oh well, America needed a hero at that time and ol’ Eddie filled that roll perfectly. But the war made me realize how isolated I’d been from the rest of the real world while growing up in a well to do family. You quickly acquire a whole different perspective on life when you watch men die. Seeing your own colleagues go down in flames, or watching a German pilot jump from a flaming plane you’ve just shot up, preferring to fall to his death than burn.”

Chambers was silent for a few seconds, again lost in thought of those horrid memories. Elizabeth remained quiet herself.

“After the war,” Chambers continued, “I was still restless. As part of the Lost Generation as we were called, I ended up in Paris, France. In order to try and find myself.”

“Did you…find yourself?” Elizabeth gently asked.

“What I did find was love.”

“Oh?”

“Her name was Marie. A beautiful French girl. Very intelligent and adventurous herself. Her father fought in the trenches with the French army, but died shortly after the war from lung disease caused by being exposed to mustard gas. Anyway, Marie and I fell in love and we got married under the Eiffel Tower.”

“That’s so romantic,” Elizabeth said, with an honesty, along with a touch of jealousy she felt embarrassed to admit.

“Marie gave me a new purpose to life at the time and encouraged me to pursue what I loved.”

“What did you love?” Elizabeth was so curious to learn.

“Besides obviously Marie, I loved flying. So I brought her back to America and, using some of my trust funds, purchased a surplus Spad bi-plane and we began to barnstorm across America performing in air shows. I was billed as the Ace of Stunts and she was Magnificent Marie: Wing Walker Extraordinaire.

“She was a wing walker?” Elizabeth asked in astonishment.

“Yes.” Chambers answered abruptly, then went silent once again.

“That sounded pretty dangerous,” Elizabeth asked, breaking that silence.

“Yes. It turned out to be.” Again. Silence.

“What happened?” Elizabeth cautiously inquired.

“We were doing a show in Ohio. We had a finale whereupon I would invert the plane and buzz the ground with Marie now standing upside down on the top of the wing. She would wave at the crowd as we flew by. It was always a crowd pleaser and we had performed the stunt several dozen times before.

Except this time, as we were no more than ten feet off the ground, a sudden downdraft of wind dropped the plane. I struggled with the joystick to keep from plowing into the field, but when the plane dipped, Marie’s head struck the ground and she was killed instantly.”

“Oh my God!!” Elizabeth inadvertently blurted out.

“I immediately righted the plane and fought to see through the tears that had formed in my eyes long enough to safely land, but in a way those tears were a blessing.”

“How do you mean?” Elizabeth felt her own tears begin to form in her eyes, as she reacted to his heartbreaking testimony.

“Those tears prevented me from clearly seeing my wife’s headless body still strapped onto the wing.”

With that being said, Chambers gulped down the rest of his wine and held his head down in his hands.

Maybe it was the wine she had drank, maybe it was the emotion of the moment; more than likely it was the feelings she had long repressed that were finally coming to the surface that made Elizabeth Ander want to reach out and comfort this sweet and  handsome man.

So she lovingly leaned over and gently took him into her arms. And as she tenderly drew his head to her bosom, she softly whispered in his ear, “It’s alright, Carlton. I’m here now.”


© Copyright 2019 Nikki Evans. All rights reserved.

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