|In a small cottage, deep in the forest, lived a young Healer named Jenna. She was slightly built girl but she had strong faith in the Goddess and strong faith in herself.|
Jenna was sitting before the fireplace, staring deep into the fire. She had a worried look to her face and kept rubbing her hands together. The rubbing caused bits of magic to spit and pop from the tips of Jenna's fingers. She was worried because tomorrow was her 18th Blessing Day. That meant it was Time.
Time for Jenna to become a Royal Healer, as had her Grandmam and her Great-Grandmam before her. It was ostensibly an Honour to become a Royal Healer but Jenna knew what lie before her.
She would be stuck healing Nobles of headaches from over indulgence, scrapes of Royal children's knees and the occasional cold. The Ardish were a hearty race and really, since war was a thing of the past, had no need for Healers.
Jenna longed for a good gory war where she could show the world just how strong of a Healer she was. Or maybe she could heal a handsome Knight and he would declare his undying love to her and steal her away.
A knock at the door startled Jenna and broke her out of her reverie. She brushed back her hair and straightened her wrap.
"I'm coming!" she sang out in her clear alto voice. She opened the door and was surprised to see that there wasn't anyone standing there.
"Oooh, those darn brats are playing tricks on me again! Why can't they let me alone..today of all days, at the least."
Jenna slammed the door shut and stomped back to her chair and resumed her daydreaming.
Just as the handsome Prince was about to press his lips to hers, a knock sounded at the door once again.
"Blast!! If I catch those sneaky kids, I'll....oooh, I don't know what I'll do."
Once again she opened the door only to scream with fright! Jenna collasped in a faint.
There at the door was a Great Dragon! None had been seen in a century or more. Not since the Shatter War had Dragons flown freely in the realm of the Ardish. Once the Binding had been broken the Dragons had flown to the West as quickly as their wings would allow. They had not wanted to be brought back under the rule of the Noble's of Ardish.
When Jenna awoke she had a bad taste in her mouth. It was blood from hitting her face on the floor. The taste made her recall what had occurred and she looked around in fright.
She was no longer in her cozy cottage, instead she was in a huge cave. It was quiet except for a rhythmic sound that Jenna couldn't place. There was glow moss that helped illuminate the rough edges of the room. The moss didn't glow bright enough to show Jenna the way out but it was light.
The noise that had almost become part of the room was the snores of the Great Dragon.
A gasp of fright almost escaped from Jenna's mouth but she quickly pressed her fist to it. Curiousity was over coming fright as she peered through the gloom at the sleeping behemouth.
The dragon was a thing of beauty to behold. Its body and wings were a luminescent silver. Its size was easily compared to Jenna's cottage.
Suddenly one eye opened! The dragon blinked, yawned and stretched its wings.
Jenna jumped back and pressed against the cave wall. The chill she felt had nothing to do with the where she stood but rather with the emotions coursing through her.
"Here now, I'll not hurt you," spoke the dragon. "You are Jenna Rhion,the Healer of the Forest, are you not?"
Jenna worked her mouth but couldn't speak. Her knees were weak and she felt faint again. She prayed to the Goddess to give her strength. Golden heat surged through her body. She straightened her spine and looked cooly at the dragon.
" Aye, my name is Jenna,"she replied," What will you have of me, Great Dragon?"
"I am in need of a healer and you were the nearest to the border of Ardish."
Jenna glanced appraisingly at the dragon and spoke again. " I sense no hurt about you. Why have you brought me here so falsly?"
The dragon shifted its great bulk and replied," I have no bodily injuries yet I have been injured nigh onto mortally. But first, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Silvena. I am a free dragon from the Zaron Wilderness."
Jenna started to relax a little as it became apparent that this dragon wasn't going to molest her. Once again she stared at the dragon and wondered why it had brought her to this cave. She put her thoughts to words and the dragon answered.
" My people fled this country one hundred years ago, just a trifling amount of time for dragon. We were free to do as we pleased and it pleased us to be free. But the Wilderness is not a kind place to live. We have lost many a dragon to battle with the Ogres and the Manticoras that inhabit the Zaron Wilderness. Our numbers have never been great and we reproduce but once. "
Here Silvena stopped and heaved a great sigh. A tear trickled down her nose." I laid my one and only egg just last harvest. I had patiently turned and warmed it for almost a year. In three days my egg would have hatched and there would have been great rejoicing in my famiy. "
Once again the dragon stopped speaking and a far away look came into her eyes. With a shudder she began to speak again. " I went out hunting two days ago, leaving my egg unattended in my home cave. When I returned it was gone."
Silvena stopped speaking and started crying. The tears flowed and dripped off her dainty muzzle as her shoulders shook.
" I immediately started a search as did my family. We smelled an Ogre and followed his trail. From the sky and on the ground we surrounded him and demanded he return my precious egg. "
The poor dragon became wracked with sobs and the tears flowed even harder.
"That scum knew it was going to die! He bellowed a challenge at us all, planted his feet firmly and....."
The sobbing resumed.
Jenna, not the most patient of people, scuffed her feet and looked everywhere but at the dragon. This was an interesting story but she didn't see what it had to do with her.
With one last great sigh and a sniffle, Silvena continued with her story. " The monster threw my egg as far as he could! I ran to it and cradled my precious baby. My family tore the Ogre limb from limb. Meanwhile, I flew for home as fast as I could while carrying my egg."
Jenna could no longer hold back," So why have you brought me here? What do you think I can do for you?"
"Why, I expect you to heal my baby," said Silvena. " The egg was cracked but not broken apart. Here, take a look"
Silvena sucked in and then blew out great gout of flame. The whole cave was lt up for just a moment. In that flash of light Jenna spied the egg. The dragon had built a small nest in the farthest corner of the cave.
The little egg was no larger than a pumpkin at Harvest but it was sad looking to behold. Cracks went hither and yon on the part that Jenna could see. She walked closer to see better.
What she saw nearly broke her heart. Gaping holes where chips of shell had fallen away let her see inside the shell.
Jenna walked up and lay her hands on the dragon egg. She let her magic flow from herself to it. Streams of magic wrapped the egg, swirling colors that soothed the eye.
Long moments passed as she concentrated on healing the cracks and the infant within. Sweat beaded on her forehead and her back began to ache. She had never worked so hard before.
Jenna gasped and leaned back against the wall. Slowly the healing magic subsided and disappeared.
She turned and spoke to Silvena. "I have did as much as I could. The egg will be fine and hatch when ready but....I know not whether the little one will be healthy or right minded." The words left a tight throat because Jenna didn't know how the dragon would take this message.
Silvena regarded Jenna with tears sparkling in her eyes. "I thank you, Healer. There are no guarantees in life except for death. I'm prepared to see my baby through whatever is necessary."
Then she turned her head and flashed flame again. In the opposite corner a small chest gleamed in the light.
"Take yon treasure as payment.. though there's not enough gold in the world to re-pay you."
Jenna weakly smiled and gathered the chest up. She was tired and no longer eager for adventure.
The ride back to her cottage was exhilarating to the point of giddiness. Jenna saw her world from a whole new perspective.
After settling down in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, Jenna reflected on her day. She had dug deep into herself and used more power than ever before. She had found strength and comfort from her Goddess. And she was more than ready to accept her postion as Royal Healer.
But who knows what tomorrow may bring.
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