Just For The Record
Bimeny and Reanna made their way Sun Path around Raven Plat and on towards Haven Plat. They had been flying for quite a while and were ready for a break. They thought they could fly into Bimeny's old homestead and check on it, then maybe visit Halgreth's father, Hamu and spend the night at home before going into town to search for the record.
They thought that Halgreth may have news so they thought to visit him first. Perhaps the Guard had laid traps in Bimeny's house or came by at regular intervals, Hamu would know. As they landed near the house, Bimeny slipped out of the sling that he made for Reanna and motioned for her to wait there. It was entirely possible that they had taken Hamu too or that they lay in wait for them. Bimeny walked up on the porch and up to the door and knocked.
Hamu opened the door and smiled broadly and put his hands on Bimeny's shoulders. "Bimeny," he said, "you've come home. Is everyone alright? Is Halgreth alright?" he blurted out quickly looking around and not seeing anyone else.
"Yes, she is fine."
Then Hamu asked, "What brings you home? Is it over? Please say yes. I miss you all. It is so lonely with your house empty."
"Soon we hope. We have come back to look at the records that were not burned in Gandoo's home."
"We?" Hamu asked. "Who is with you?"
Reanna came out from around the corner. "We also came back to make the promise," Bimeny said, placing his arm around her.
"Well! This calls for a drink!" Hamu conjolled and he started to steer them inside.
"Wait, tell us of the Guard. How many are in town? Have they been here? Have you seen them anywhere around the farm?"
"Well, to be honest, I haven't been to town for some time so I can't speak of strength. They came by after you left, but we haven't seen them come back at all. It's been quiet. Now let's go have a glass. Promised! I am so surprised. It is wonderful that with so much going on you could still have time to find love. These are indeed crazy days," Hamu continued as they all went inside.
They had enjoyed seeing Hamu again and hated to leave the comfort of his kindness, but they had already stayed too long. They said their goodbyes and invited him to the ceremony or the funeral, they just weren't sure which it was to be yet, and they left.
They flew high over the area first, looking for movement. Having seen none, they landed near the barn. Bimeny slipped out of the sling that he made to carry Reanna and looked around. There were no horses in the barn. "Wait here," he whispered to Reanna. "Let me check out the house. Last time I came here like this it was a trap. I could see them through the walls by their heat signature, but it was dark then. It is too light out now so I'll have to go in a search. Give me a while, I'll come back and get you when I know it is clear."
She stepped forward and grabbed him and kissed him deeply. "Be careful," she whispered as she released their embrace.
"If that kiss was for luck, then I should be arrow proof now," Bimeny said smiling as he started to pull away.
"No," she said grabbing him and pulling him back again and applying a lip lock the likes of which were unseen before by Bimeny. "That was for luck," she said. Bimeny staggered back and then started to go back for more when she placed her hand on his chest and stopped him. "Make sure we’re alone first and don't keep me waiting," Reanna said with her impish grin.
Bimeny backed away from her, taking double takes over his shoulder as he went running toward the house yelling at the top of his lungs, "Hello Guard are you here? Where are you?" He repeated the query after kicking open every door of every room. Finding no Guard present, he sprinted back down to the barn only to find Reanna curled up asleep in the corner. She had wrapped herself in her sling for warmth. Bimeny slipped his head through the sling and lifted her up and gently flew her up to the house and into his room where he slipped her under the covers and joined her as he fell fast asleep beside her. He had never been more comfortable. He was in his own bed, with his head on his own pillow, under his favorite covers, and to top it off, he was with the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. What could be better?
The night passed without any outside interference and the morning was blissful. They ate a small breakfast and Bimeny looked at Reanna. "What's first, the record search or the dangerous part?" he asked.
Reanna laughed, "Let's go talk to father first. It will be one less person chasing after us with their bow knocked."
"I'd rather face the entire garrison while I was gagged with my hands tied behind my back," Bimeny said with fear in his eyes.
"Don't be silly, it will be painless, I promise... Well, almost anyway," she said while warming up to him.
"Almost?" Bimeny repeated.
"Well, if he sees us coming then I can't guarantee anything, you know," Reanna said shyly. "But don't worry. Daddy's a terrible shot and you're completely armored anyways," she said, slipping her hand down his waistline.
He gave a slight shiver. "Let's wait until dark. We are less of a target."
"Come on," she said as she took his hand and headed for the door. She wanted to fly but Bimeny wanted to stretch out the time so he feigned fatigue. They walked hand in hand until they got to the outskirts of town.
"Well, we're here," Reanna said, holding tightly to Bimeny's arm.
"I think I need to find a tree before we get there." Bimeny said, looking around.
"Too late for that. Look, there's daddy tending his garden," she said, waving to her father.
Bimeny was trying to read him at a distance. He didn't know whether to bolt and run or stand and face him. Reanna ran up ahead to her father. She took his arm like she usually did to Bimeny and was speaking quickly to him. He had a tired, sour look on his face. Suddenly Bimeny felt his feet become heavy, like they were coated with lead. Now her father was coming towards him with Reanna on his arm still chattering a mile a minute. He was almost there, just a few more steps.
"Good day," Bimeny said as they arrived. He had his hand extended with two fingers extended indicating his desire for the handshake of peace.
Her father took his hand and shook it vigorously while looking Bimeny in the eye. "You can't bring her back. She's yours fair and square. Come on, let's go have a drink. Call me Malakuck," he said, putting his arm around Bimeny's shoulder.
Bimeny was dumbstruck. "You remember me, don't you sir, Bimeny? I went to school with your daughter," he managed to get out. "Look, about the note she left you. I, uh, well...." he said, glancing over his shoulder. But her father was in too great of a rush to get into the house to respond. Reanna was laughing. Bimeny was feeling a bit less frightened, but he had serious questions about her father's opening statement.
"Come in and meet Reanna's mother," Malakuck said. Then he paused for a moment and looked at Bimeny. "Remember to duck," he said and then continued to lead him towards the house. They went up the steps and into the house. Malakuck still had Bimeny in tow with his hand under Bimeny's arm.
"Hello love," Malakuck said. "Look who's here to see ya," giving Bimeny a quick shove through the kitchen door ahead of him.
There stood Reanna's mother. She looked like an older looking Reanna. Bimeny smiled, "Hi, I'm Bimeny," he said with a slight bow.
"SO! You're the lay about who kidnapped my baby and raped her in the eve of her life!" she said, grabbing a tea cup and lobbing it at him. The cup bounced off of Bimeny's arm as he deflected it. She grabbed another cup and lobbed it at him again, aiming for his head. "Well, I'm glad to see you're at least man enough, or dragon enough, to assume your role as the father! That IS why you are here isn't it?" she said without taking a breath.
Bimeny was taken aback. He was looking for the door, but she sensed his desire to leave and stepped between him and freedom.
Just then Reanna came in, "Mom!" she said. "Mom, it's not true. I am not with child. But we're working on it now," she said, smiling. "I lied in my letter. I'm sorry. I knew it was the only way to go after him without being stopped. I love him and he does love me. We came back to ask for father's blessing."
Reanna then became quiet. She was waiting for a response. Her mother eyed her, then Bimeny stuck his head up over the edge of the table he had taken cover under. Malakuck was right next to him. They looked back to Reanna again.
"Well honey, have you thought about children? Will they look like you or, or like him? Will they be human or... or dragon?" her mother asked.
"I am human. The storm made me what I am," Bimeny said with a slight irritation in his voice.
"Well, I mean can you even... do you even still have, all the pieces necessary for procreation?" she said, looking at his armor below the waist.
Bimeny inhaled getting ready to verbally unload on her when Reanna cut in. "Mother," she said again moving in and putting her arm around his waist. "He has all the required equipment for the job. In fact, he seems to be all dragon there too. You just have to know how to get to it all," Reanna said, now blushing almost as much as Bimeny was.
"We have already been together, so your blessing is a formality. But we care enough to ask," Reanna said.
At that Malakuck came out from under the table and put his hand on Bimeny's shoulder, "Consider yourself blessed," he said. "But remember what I said before!" he finished up placing his finger to his temple and getting a great smile on his face. "Now, about that drink."
"Oh, sure!" Reanna's mother said, yelling again. "Just give your blessing to the first person who shows up. What do you know about him? What has he to offer our daughter?" Reanna's mother went on.
Malakuck ran for it. "For storm's sake woman! His name is Bimeny. She loves him, he loves her, he's willing to take her even after meeting you! You are still willing to take her, am I right?" he said under his breath turning to Bimeny.
"Uh... Yes sir, I am." Bimeny replied, not really knowing if it was rhetorical or not. "Look, I have known you both for a long time. You knew my mother and father. I went to school with Reanna. We've been fond of each other for a long time. As far as what I have to offer her, I have half of the farm and my love. As soon as we get the Elders to stop trying to kill me we will have a great life and lots of children. I expect they will look like your daughter and maybe a little like I used to look."
Bimeny took another breath. "I love Reanna and we want to be together. I know that family is important to her and it's important to me as well. You don't have to agree to like me, just agree to not shut the door on your daughters love. She loves you dearly. In time you may learn to like me a little as well... Ah-choo!" And with that sneeze Bimeny set fire to their kitchen.
"Oh, damn!" Bimeny said. "I'm sorry about that. I haven't ever sneezed as a dragon before. I guess covering my mouth will be important," he said, stamping out the flames.
With the flames out, the house filled with smoke, Reanna's parents covered in black soot, Bimeny turned to Reanna. "Maybe now would be a good time for us to go and let your parents consider our words. We can come back tomorrow and talk about it some more."
"NO!" her parents both said together. "Really, you have our blessings, no need to come back tomorrow. Let's just meet in the square tomorrow morning and say the promise!" her Mother said, taking his arm and walking him to the door. "And welcome to the family," she said, pushing him through the door and closing it behind him.
He was awestruck. There he stood alone, in silence, outside the front door. He sat down on the steps. It was a few minutes before Reanna came out with her backpack in hand.
She was smiling. "Well! That went nicely didn't it?" she said, still smiling.
"Which part?" Bimeny asked. "The part where she was yelling that they knew nothing about me and pitching cups at me? Or the part where she screamed that I raped her daughter in the eve of her life, or was it the smoldering tablecloth and curtains part? I'm confused," Bimeny asked.
"Well, they did give us their blessings, didn't they?" Reanna said, cajolingly.
"Yeah, but only because they didn't know what would happen if I started crying. Will my nose go supernova and destroy the world? Of course they granted it." Bimeny said, staring at the ground and speaking in a pouting-like tone.
"Does it?" Reanna asked.
"Does what?" Bimeny shot back.
"Your nose?" Reanna asked, now looking at his nose.
"No, it's my ears. They become explosive balls of fire."
"Oh, I'm glad they don't know about that!" she said with a straight face. "Besides, you only singed the house a little, in the kitchen area anyway, and next week she'll be thanking you. Mom has wanted to remodel that kitchen for ages but Daddy wouldn't hear of it."
"Be serious a moment, will ya? What if she's right?" Bimeny said. "What if there isn't enough of me left human to make a family. What if we're not compatible?"
"Well, I guess you'll just have to leave me for the first dragon girl that comes along," Reanna replied, taking him in her arms from behind as she placed her cheek against his shoulder plate.
"Can't you be serious for even a moment?" Bimeny shot back.
"What do you want me to say? I loved you before you were a dragon boy and I've loved you since. If we can't have children then we can't have children. That's all there is to that. Either way, I am in love with you through good and through bad." Reanna said, turning him slowly around to look him in the eyes.
"Come on," he said, leading her down the path towards home. "We'll meet them in the morning, say the promise and then we'll look for the records. I don't want to tip anyone to our presence before we say the promise." Bimeny led her down the path towards home.
They returned to Bimeny's home and spent the afternoon staring deeply into each other's eyes. Bimeny was ever vigilant towards the windows however. He did not want to be caught unaware now that they had been to town. It was too risky and his memory of the last fight that he had there when he lost both his mother and father in the same night was still fresh in his mind. Every once in a while he would take off and fly low over the trees checking the roads and the woods for a sneak attack. Waiting was not his long suit, so he used the flight time for reflection and self examination. It was great for sorting things out.
The night passed without incident and also without much in the way of rest. Bimeny couldn't get the images out of his head. He kept seeing his mother sprawled across his father as if she were shielding him from the murderous Guard who held them. Every time he thought about it, his eyes would scrunch up, but no tears were to be had. It was one of the few things he really missed from his life before his transformation. There was no emotional release there for him. No room for sorrow. The only means he had for emotional release was through anger and he was getting far too good at it. He was starting to like it, and that worried him too.
He didn't know why tonight was different than the previous night. Perhaps it was because he couldn't picture himself promised. It was new. He couldn't picture himself in tomorrow's day or the day after that. He didn't know what the future held for him so it felt like something was going to happen to prevent it from happening. It wasn't fear, it was caution. Then there were those other questions he had.
Was he losing his humanity? Killing was nothing to him. He could snuff a life without a second thought and with absolutely no remorse when all was said and done. And what about that frenzy after the last battle, what was that all about, he wondered to himself. He had not had a lot of time to reflect on that incident since it happened. He had lost himself in complete abandonment of self when he smelled the horse blood and he started to feed ravenously upon the horses. There was no stopping him. He couldn't have stopped if he tried. He was not even aware how long he had feasted upon them. He only remembered coming back to his senses and seeing the tremendous amount of destruction before him. That thought scared him.
What if Reanna or Mantu got in his way during a frenzy? Especially Mantu, who was blessed with a horse blessing. What if he tasted like horse? Bimeny couldn't bare the possibility any longer. "That's it!" he said to himself. "I can't predict it or control it so I have to warn them." But telling them would be tantamount to confession of the atrocities committed against the horses. How would Mantu take it? And what if Reanna no longer wanted to take his promise? He had to know. He had to tell her before the promise. She had seen him covered in blood and he spoke to her briefly about it, but he didn't tell her he checked out mentally and that part was pretty important. She had a right to know and now was the time.
He woke his lovely bride to be. "Hello, honey," he whispered in her ear.
She rolled over and looked him in the eyes and began to smile. She saw he wasn't smiling back and said, "What's happened? What's wrong?"
"Nothing," he responded. "We just need to talk before we go to town. There are some things you need to know," he said to her, kissing her gently. "Come on, get dressed, I'll start the fire for some eggs."Hhe got up and left the room, looking back from the door briefly and then leaving without another word.
Reanna was concerned. She had never seen this look on him before. She could also see that he would not be rushed into speaking before he was ready. She had no clues about what it was that he wanted to say to her, but she was sure it was quite a bombshell whatever it was.
She quietly made eggs and cooked some kind of sausage that her mother had made. Her mother made it with her own special seasonings that Reanna missed while she was gone, so she made a point of asking for some when she went home.
She liked the quiet times she had with Bimeny and so far there had not been many of them. But this was way to quiet. It was stifling. Reanna placed the plate of eggs and sausage in front of Bimeny and turned to get the tea.
"What's this?" Bimeny said, looking down at the sausage.
"Meat," came her reply.
"What kind of meat?" he asked, knowing that they had not been to market.
"It's cooked meat!" Reanna shot back. Bimeny just looked at her and they both started laughing hysterically. They were laughing so hard that they were barely able to eat. Every time either one went to take a bite of sausage the other would bust out again. Finally they emerged with full stomachs and great smiles. Bimeny started to clear the table as Reanna started water for the dishes.
"So what is it that we need to discuss or do you want to wait until after the ceremony?" Reanna asked.
"I guess now is the time," Bimeny said. "Bring your tea. Let's go sit on the porch."
"Honey, remember when I came back to camp all bloody after the battle?" Bimeny asked her holding her hand as she sat on the steps.
"Yes, I do, why?" Reanna answered.
"Well, you need to know what really happened that afternoon," Bimeny said, now looking down at the ground.
"But you told me. You went into a wild feeding frenzy or something on a horse when you smelled its blood, right?" Reanna said, looking to see where this was going.
"Well, yes, but there is more to it than that," Bimeny began. "You see, I don't remember any of it. And it wasn't just a horse. It was every living thing that still existed in that clearing. Even the Guard were unrecognizable when I came to. All except Harragan. He hid. I am just so afraid that if it were to happen again that you may be near, or Mantu, and... I just couldn't live with myself," Bimeny said in resignation.
"So what is it that you're saying?" Reanna asked. "You no longer love me and want to take my promise?" her voice now raising.
"No, that's not it at all!" Bimeny said, raising his voice a little above hers. "I just think you need to know the truth before you accept mine. Honey, promise me that you will run and hide if you see me go crazed. Don't count on me even knowing who you are," Bimeny said, looking down again.
"I promise," Reanna said. "You just keep telling yourself Cooked Meat, Cooked Meat and we'll be fine."
At that, they both busted up again and laughed until they realized they had better hurry or her parents would be standing in the center of town alone.
Bimeny thought to put on a cloak so that they would not see who he was and maybe avoid a mishap. He put on a Burgundy balaclava. It was one of Mantu's. Bimeny had one but it was too small for him now, and he really wanted a loose fitting garment just in case he had to shed it quickly.
Reanna called him, "Bimeny what's taking you so long?"
Bimeny ran through the house pulling off the balaclava as he went. He folded it quickly and handed it to Reanna. As she took it, he scooped her up in his arms, leaned forward, and pushed off. His wings sprouted immediately and they flew to a small grove right outside of town. He flew low over the trees so as not to be seen. It would draw a bit more attention than he really wanted right now. They landed and she helped him put his balaclava back on.
"Oooh! That burgundy really goes nicely with your blue scales," Reanna said with a smirk.
"Down girl! Down!" Bimeny chided.
They walked into town now well ahead of schedule because they had flown. They walked slowly to her parent's house watching closely what was stirring around town as they went. There didn't seem to be many of the Guard around. "Odd." Bimeny thought to himself, "Surely they would have replaced them by now."
They reached the steps of her parent's house and started up the stairs when her parents came out to meet them.
"Well! Here is the happy couple now." Reanna's mother said, walking down the steps and stepping in between Bimeny and Reanna. She took both of them by the arm and led them away from the house towards the square. "We had better have the reception out at your farm since our kitchen is, well, you know, a little messy still, don't you think? Let's not keep them waiting," she continued as she escorted them to the square with Malakuck bringing up the rear.
When they got to the Plinth of Promise, Reanna's mother stopped and turned to Reanna and looked at her, then at Bimeny for a moment, and then back to Reanna. "You're sure about this?" she asked.
"Yes mom, I'm very sure about this." Reanna kissed her mother on the cheek and took Bimeny's arm and marched up the steps and into the center of the platform.
Malakuck already had moved to his place by the bell and had hold of the rope. He smiled at Bimeny who had a look of sudden terror on his face. "You are also sure?" Malakuck said to Bimeny.
"Yes," he said quietly.
"Good," Malakuck said, "because it's too late. I told you, you can't return her," he finished laughing. Malakuck began to ring the bell with a fury and as expected, people started showing up. No Guard could yet be seen. That worried Bimeny. He edged his way over to where Malakuck was standing and whispered, "Where are all the Guard? Haven't they been replaced yet?"
"It seems that no one is too anxious for the job. We only have 3 and they stay so busy you would have to go get one and lead him out by the hand if something happened. We sorta like the break," Malakuck said with a wide smile.
"You mean there aren't any here?" Bimeny said, a big smile growing on his face.
"That's exactly what I mean. Why, do you need one? You said you wanted to promise with her. We're not forcing you!" Malakuck said, laughing and continuing to ring the bell.
Bimeny knew that question needed no answer. As the bell rang, the crowd gathered around just as they had weeks earlier for Mantu and Halgreth. The recorder appeared with his book and set up in his place. Malakuck stopped ringing the bell and the crowd quickly grew silent.
Malakuck stepped forward to the center of the plinth and spoke. "I am Malakuck and we are here to hear the promise of these two young people. I have been asked and have given my blessing." Malakuck stepped to the side and turn to the two and said, "Speak your promises in front of these witnesses."
Bimeny stepped forward with Reanna in hand and turned to face her. "Reanna my sweet, I promise to love you and keep you safe from harm and to have no other than you. And finally I promise never to let the sun set on our anger."
Then Reanna spoke, "Bimeny my love, I promise to keep you and love you and to have no other. I promise to love you fully and completely with every bit of my being. And I also promise never to let the sun set on our anger. I accept your promise and take you as mine."
Then Bimeny spoke again, "And I accept your promise and take you as my own." And with that they kissed, for a very long time.
Malakuck spoke, "Friends, you have all heard the promises exchanged here today. We have had a little, uh... mishap in our kitchen so the festivities will be at Reentu's old place where the happy couple plans to live. You are all invited out." Malakuck turned to see that the couple was still embracing. He cleared his throat, then he cleared his throat a little louder.
The two separated and Bimeny reached down and scooped his bride up, leaned forward and pushed off. The two of them tumbled off the plinth and onto the ground. To Bimeny's embarrassment, he forgot that he had put on the balaclava which prevented his wings from opening. They laughed as did most of the people who were left.
The recorder stood up and closed his book. "Is he on wine?" he asked.
Reanna responded quickly as she got to her feet and was helping Bimeny to get back up. "No, he's just not used to wearing clothes." The crowd flinched as she reached down and grabbed the balaclava at the hem and quickly flipped it up and over Bimeny's head. The recorder was taken aback. Reanna folded the garment over her arm as Bimeny smiled and leaned down to once again scoop up his bride, lean forward and gently push off. This time, his beautiful wings came out and they rose into the air. The crowd went wild. Some because of the shock of seeing someone fly away (a first for Haven Plat), some screamed in fear and ran because they recognized him as the Dragon Boy who had recently destroyed Elder Gandoo's compound and killed many Guard, some of which lived with their families there in Haven Plat.
"Oops!" Bimeny whispered to Reanna. "I guess I should have thought that one out a little more."
"Well, I guess the dragon's out of the balaclava now, isn't he?" Reanna said, laughing. "I don't care," she said and she kissed him. As she did Bimeny shot skyward and continued until she quit kissing him. She noticed that it was considerably cooler and looked down and screamed!
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" She grabbed hold of his neck so hard he thought it was going to break.
He looked down and saw that he was much higher than he had ever flown before. He could almost see the curve of the planet on the horizon. There were wisps of clouds far below them and Haven Plat appeared to be nothing more than a small square patch of tan that was smaller in size than a small shirt button in the middle of a large patch of green. He continued to hover, admiring where they were when he suddenly felt Reanna's grasp go limp. He glanced down at her and saw that her eyes were closed and she was shivering. He dove, suddenly realizing that they were too high for her to breathe. Apparently he was changed enough by the storm to withstand the change as well as the cold.
He dove as steeply and as fast as he could. When he was going as fast as he figured he could he rolled on his back and wrapped his wings around Reanna like a blanket and as he kissed her he blew air into her mouth. Her lungs filled and then emptied again. He breathed for her again and her eyes opened and she smiled. Bimeny glanced over his shoulder and saw the ground coming up fast so he rolled again and leveled off and headed for the house. Reanna was wide awake now and other than being quite cold and having a headache was fine. Bimeny made mental note never to do that again.
He carried his bride to their room and placed her in bed and covered her up, and then he lay down next to her and spooned with her for a few minutes just so he could admire his lovely bride. Then he whispered, "I'm gonna go make us some tea. The others will be arriving soon," and he left the room.
Reanna snuggled in and relished in the warmth of the blankets. The feeling that she was now a promised woman was starting to sink in. Bimeny returned with the tea and set her cup on the nightstand. He climbed in beside her and snuggled in. She smiled and took his arm and pulled it around in front of her and tucked his hand under her chin and pulled his arm against her breast. There they lay for a while until they heard movement from downstairs. Bimeny was on his feet in a second and down the steps in the next. His memory had not allowed him to forget the picture of his mother lying dead across his father in the very same room in which they now lay.
Reanna was on her feet soon after and listened at the door to see if the noise was friendly or foe. It remained quiet. Reanna started down the stairs when Bimeny stuck his head around the corner, "It's alright. It's your Mom and Dad. They brought food."
Suddenly Reanna felt like she hadn't eaten in a month. She was starving. She bounded down the steps and met the eyes of her mother.
"Quite an exit you two made, he must be some kisser!" she said, smiling at Reanna's mussed up hair and her apparent appetite as she started munching on everything in sight.
Reanna just smiled and continued to shovel food in her mouth. She paused a moment and turned to her mother, "Let's just say his kissing is out of this world. I'm so happy!" and she threw her arms around her mother and hugged her.
At that moment they heard a voice at the front door. "Hello in the house! I am Falour of the Guard. I would speak to Bimeny, the Dragon Boy." Fear fell upon Reanna and her mother.
Bimeny appeared in the kitchen with Malakuck on his heels. "Everyone wait here, I will tend to him." He left the kitchen. He looked out the front door and saw that the Guard had no shield or weapon.
He held his hands out to the side to show he was not armed. "I am here only to speak, not to fight. I have no means to defend or attack."
Bimeny stepped out onto the porch looking cautiously to the left and right. He was expecting an ambush. "Where are the others?" Bimeny asked.
"I have come alone," Falour replied. "The other Guard remain at the gate."
"Why are you here?" Bimeny asked. "It's pretty brave to march up here and knock on the door," he finished.
"I'm hoping it's brave and not stupid," the Guard replied. "I'm here to ask you the same question, why are you here?"
"Why should I tell you," Bimeny shot back?
"Well, you certainly don't have anything to fear in telling me do you? No one has been able to stop you from getting what you want up till now, have they. All I want is to live through it, and for my men to live through it. So if you tell me what you want here then maybe we can avoid any mess."
Bimeny was taken aback. Was he asking what I want so he can give it to me? Bimeny thought to himself. "I'm here to say the promise, which I have done, and now to celebrate with family and friends," Bimeny said to him.
"Congratulations. Then you will be leaving tomorrow?" Falour asked, a smile appearing on his face. "Ah, no not quite, we have some records to look at before we leave," Bimeny said.
"Records?" Falour asked.
"Yes, records," Bimeny said. "At Gandoo's compound, tomorrow morning."
Falour's face lost the smile. "There's not much left in the way of records at Gandoo's compound," the Guard said.
"Yeah, I know," Bimeny said. "I'm pretty thorough. But we'll see what is left without interference from you or your men. At least if you're serious about not having any bloodshed."
"Of course," Falour said. "Only... well, could I ask you a favor?"
"You can ask," Bimeny said but thinking, here is the real reason he is here.
"Could you possibly consider letting me have Gandoo's bow and quiver? It will probably end the Elder's search for you and then you and your lovely woman can probably live in peace." Falour said quietly, his eyes slowly moving up to meet Bimeny's. "Morgreth is determined to have it."
"Why does she want it? What power does it have?" Bimeny asked, his look getting serious.
"I honestly don't know," Falour said. "She says the welfare of all of the villages is at stake."
"I'll consider it," Bimeny said, opting to keep him on the string. "Are we done then?" Bimeny asked.
"Uh, yeah, I guess we are," Falour said, realizing that this was all the answer he was going to get. He turned and started to walk away.
"Hey, Falour!" Bimeny shouted. Falour froze in his tracks. "Why don't you and your men stay and join us for dinner. You can celebrate with us. What'll you say?"
"Uh, sure," Falour said. "Let me go get the rest of my men. We'll be right back."
"Great, I'm sure they won't mind leaving their weapons at the gate, right? They would just dampen the spirits of the party," Bimeny said authoritatively.
"Of course," Falour said. But it was clear he wasn't keen to be there armed let alone unarmed.
"What are you doing?" Reanna asked. "Are you crazy inviting the garrison to our celebration!"
"Listen," Bimeny said. "If they are right in front of us and they have no weapons then we don't have to keep watch for them, we know where they are."
Reanna just looked at him for a moment, and then she smiled and wrapped her arms around him. "That was incredibly brilliant. Are you sure you've only seen 15 storms?"
Bimeny's chest swelled a little bit. "She just called me brilliant," he thought to himself, smiling. "I just hope that she's right about it," was his second thought.
Reanna went back to helping her mother prepare the food for the guests that were starting to trickle in. Traditionally, most of the town turns out, even if they barely know the couple. It was a way of meeting them. And of course many of the women would come early to help out and meet the newest woman to join their ranks. It was quite the social event with most people bringing a dish to share and their own eating utensils.
Word of a couple promising and then flying from the Plinth of Promise was an event that spread faster than sunshine, so many used it as an excuse for many to come and see and meet the dragon boy. The additional possibility that he may do something like breathe fire, or better yet fly, was just too irresistible to pass up. It was one of those events you knew you would tell your grandchildren about someday, so naturally the entire town turned out.
Most everyone knew Bimeny and most everyone also knew that someone they only referred to as "Dragon Boy" did great damage to Gandoo's compound and killed almost all of the Guard there. Not as many knew that they were one in the same person. They never put the images together because Bimeny was a good kid. He was a little glib maybe, but all in all he was regarded as being a non-violent person that everybody knew and pretty much liked. He could never do the horrible things they were told the Dragon Boy had done.
And nobody in town really had the truth because the reports were exaggerated by the few survivors in the Guard who didn't want to be seen as frightened and the house staff that Bimeny had spared. Of course many didn't even know they had been seen let alone spared. They thought they managed to sneak away through a side gate. Bimeny had seen them, but they just weren't seen as a threat. They had nothing to do with the trap. It was all Gandoo's doing and it was Gandoo's own undoing as well.
But whatever the reasons were, it looked like the entire town was coming down the road, led by the three remaining Guard. They had their hands in the air waving to signal their coming. More than that, they were coming unarmed and they wanted no misunderstanding about that. It seemed that the three remaining saw the opportunity of a lifetime when they tried to replace all the Guard who were killed. They could ask for just about anything because no one was willing to face the Dragon Boy. These three never figured he would come back. I mean, what for? There was nothing left! So they saw it as a means to make a lot of money for very little risk.
They weren't professional soldiers. They were retired, middle-aged guys who couldn't do hard labor anymore and saw this as a job paying well for doing nothing. But now they were having second thoughts. There was certainly nothing left in the compound that was worth their lives. They thought this was an opportunity to make that known to the Dragon Boy. They would figure out what to tell their superiors later when they found out.
Reanna and her mother were looking out the window and saw the mass moving their way. "Mother look! It must be every person in town."
"Quickly," Reanna's mother said. "Make sure your father has the fire going in the pit. He needs to put on a big kettle for eared corn. This group is going to be hungry."
It seemed the men were coming with the women early. Nobody wanted to miss a thing. This was the most incredible thing to ever happen in most of their lives except of course their own storm transformations.
Reanna ran out to her father who was with Bimeny, eyeing the crowd. "Father," Reanna said. "Mother said to start a fire, we’re going to need the grill and put on a big kettle of water for corn." Malakuck gave her a nod and started over to the fire pit. The crowd was arriving and would be greeting them within a minute or two.
Bimeny looked at Malakuck and said, "Here, let me do that for you." He walked over to the fire pit and spit in it. Flames burst into the air. The entire crowd froze at the sight of the flames. Bimeny turned and smiled at the sight. He walked over to the Guard. Nobody moved.
Reanna saw him going toward the crowd. She ran out the door and sprinted up to his side. She slipped her arm around his waist and he wrapped his arm around her. The crowd seemed to relax a bit. They came to the edge of the crowd.
Falour walked up to him. "We saw the flames. We were a little concerned that you changed your mind," he said.
Bimeny smiled broadly, "We saw the crowd, knew we were going to need more than my kitchen stove!" Bimeny said, extending his hand in the peace gesture. "Everyone! Thank you for coming. Please be welcome." He turned and extended his open hand toward a large sitting area. There were picnic tables scattered about and every chair in the house was brought out. There were a couple of wagons and bales of straw.
The crowd cheered and the celebration was on. The old men and old ladies got the seats. Younger women filed into the house and attacked the kitchen in mass. It was as if each one knew exactly what their role was without any direction. Almost every younger couple brought food that they had prepared at home. There were hams and all manner of beasts. Men took much of the meat over by the raging fire pit. They had to wait for a bit for the flames to subside. It seemed that Bimeny spit had stamina. Eventually Bimeny had to walk into the fire and kick the wood out around the edges of the fire pit so that the flames would die down enough to allow them to get close enough to start cooking the meat.
His entry into the fire pit drew quite a crowd as he leaned forward and gently pushed off. His wings sprouted and he effortlessly floated over the wall of the fire pit and landed in the middle of the flames. His wings tucked away instantly. The whole maneuver took only seconds, but everyone watched as he scattered the wood. He was uninjured by the fire. He wasn't even rushed. He stood and eyed the fire for a moment to make sure it was evenly spread out. He turned and executed the same maneuver to get out of the pit, but this time landing was a little tough as everyone stood now around the pit watching. Bimeny hovered for a moment, his wings flapping the fire back into flames again. He turned around looking for an unoccupied place to land. Seeing none, he pushed off and flew over the crowd and landed behind them. The crowd stayed quiet. Apparently his hovering over the fire pit for that moment caused the flames to momentarily flare up, giving him an orange-red glow. He looked like a winged monster flying from his fiery pit. The image was positively evil looking.
Malakuck took the cue and said loudly, "Thanks Bimeny, that should do nicely. Now we can get the meat on the grill. Good thing the storm gave you those tough shoes. We may not have been ready to cook until daybreak." He turned to one of the men, "Why don't you start the burgers over there. Kantoo, why don't you take that side over there and start your steaks." The men all started their tasks and people started to party again.
A little girl came up and knocked on Bimeny's armored butt. She was so small that his butt was all she could reach. Bimeny turned around and looked at her. She spoke in a voice that was so small he had to kneel to hear her. "Hi, I'm Matril, I've seen four storms. Are you good or bad?" she asked plainly.
Bimeny was taken with her immediately and knelt on both knees. "Well, I try to be good always. But sometimes I don't make it. How about you?" Bimeny asked back.
"Me too," Matril replied. "It seems easier to be bad than good sometimes. You can be bad without really trying, but you have to work hard to be good," Matril replied.
All of a sudden a girl about fourteen showed up and snatched little Matril up off the ground. Bimeny stood up as she picked Matril up. "I'm sorry she bothered you," she said, then turning her attention now to Matril. "Matril, don't run off like that, you could get lost or hurt or something."
"No I couldn't," Matril said. "He's not bad, he's good! I know, I asked him." Matril said, establishing fact in her mind.
"Matril!" the young girl said. "You didn't! Oh, sir, I am so sorry. She's just a little girl, she doesn't know any better."
"No," Bimeny said. "It's alright. I prefer my questions straight up. She's a cutie and everything is fine. She was no trouble at all." Then he turned to Matril, "But she's right, you shouldn't disappear like that. You should always let someone know where you are."
"But I was here with you! You knew where I was and you wouldn't let anyone hurt me ‘cause your good. Right?" Matril said with soulful eyes.
"Of course not," Bimeny said, now smiling at her. "Well, you can't fault her logic!" Bimeny said to the older girl.
"Matril, you need to let me or Mom know," the girl said reproachfully. As Matril looked over the girl's shoulder towards Bimeny as they started to leave she said, "See, that was easy."
Lots of people watched and listened to the conversation Bimeny had with Matril. A lot of the adults chuckled at how cute she was as she made her case. It seemed that a sort of makeshift line was forming around him. No invitation to do so was made but it just sort of happened. A young boy came up next. "What's it like to fly? Can I see your wings? How can I get some wings? What kind of stones did you have?"
Bimeny was getting overwhelmed. He needed to set some order or it was going to get ugly.
He put his hands up. They went silent. "I know you have a lot of questions and I'll gladly answer them. But I need a drink and a moment or two. So if you have questions, let's meet over by the fire pit. You get comfortable and I'll be right there." He turned and went into the house.
Reanna was working feverously with her Mom. They were both in their element. He snuck up behind her and slipped his hands around her waist. Startled, she spun on him and lambasted him right on the head with a ladle. "Oh, sorry honey, I didn't know it was you."
Bimeny laughed as her ladle was ineffective against his dragon armor, but he was amused at her moxie.
"Well, I won't have to worry about you now, will I?"
Her mother and a few other women in the kitchen laughed when they heard the ping of the metal ladle against Bimeny's armor.
"Look honey, it looks like it's turning into a question and answer session. I didn't know if you wanted to be there for it," Bimeny said, smiling and holding her close against him and looking into her eyes.
"No, go have your fun, just don't commit us to anything," Reanna said, smiling and looking up into his eyes. He kissed her and turned to go back outside.
"Wait!" the other ladies all said together. "We don't want to miss anything either!" A few of them offered and they set down whatever they were doing and headed out the door to go find a seat.
Reanna looked at her Mom in despair. "There went all the help," she said. Reanna turned to Bimeny. "Look, don't take too long or the food will never get finished."
"I'll be brief," Bimeny said and he was out the door.
Bimeny saw that virtually every person who came was seated in a semi circle facing the wagon. "It seems they have even established a stage," Bimeny thought to himself. "Well, I guess this would be a great time to make an entrance," he said out loud to himself, and as he had done so many times before, leaned forward and gently pushed off. He had completely forgotten what it was like when he was learning how to make it all happen. He gracefully and silently landed on the back of the wagon to a round of applause and whistles.
"Well, it's apparent that there are more than a few questions, so I figured that instead of repeating the answers so many times that it would be best to have everyone ask and listen at the same time. So be patient and I promise to try and answer all your questions. So relax, your question will get answered. So let's get started."
Immediately a man shouted out, "Tell us the truth about your attack on Gandoo's compound!" Bimeny looked around and saw that there were a lot of kids there and he knew the answers were going to get graphic real fast.
"I will be glad to answer that in any detail you want but a lot of the explanations are pretty intense and there are a lot of young kids here right now, so I think the way to proceed would be for me to answer the kid's questions first and then they can go play and not miss anything. So where are those two boys that started this whole thing?"
Two boys put their hands up and moved to the center of the clearing. The first asked, "Can we see your wings? Can I feel them?"
"Sure," Bimeny said, and he jumped down off the wagon and went over to the boys. He leaned forward on his toes and sprang slightly on his toes as he would to take off and his wings appeared from their hiding place under his armor.
The first boy stepped forward and extended his hand and felt the fabric-like skin of Bimeny's wings. It was rough like dragon's hide. He made a face of disgust and shivered as if touching the skin of the wing was like squeaking of chalk on the slate at school.
The second kid wasted no time in asking his question, "What's it like to fly?"
Bimeny thought for a moment. "It's a little hard to describe. It is a little like falling but you're not afraid. Here, let me show you." In an instant he leaned forward and pushed off while simultaneously snatching the young boy up and they soared into the air. Everyone (except the boy's parents) cheered.
Bimeny took him up until the farm was just a patch. The boy had a death hold on him around the neck. Bimeny hovered there in mid air. "Don't worry son, I won't let anything happen to you." The boys grip loosened.
"Okay, now we're going to dive. When you feel you want to you can let go and spread your arms like a bird. I will get you before we are anywhere close to the ground, I promise. If you don't trust me, then you are free to hold on too. Are you ready?" The boy looked down and took a breath.
Much to Bimeny's surprise he let go and pushed off of Bimeny. He dropped like a stone. Bimeny dove after him and got in position slightly in front of him and stuck his arm out so the boy could grab it with his left hand. He grabbed it and Bimeny accelerated forward and that decreased the downward trend and corrected it more to a forward momentum.
The boy was thrilled with his flight. They approached the ground much too fast as far as the boy was concerned. Bimeny slipped suddenly over top of him and grabbed him around the waist and came in for a landing in front of the wagon to cheers and hoots. The boy's parents were on him in a flash, examining him closely, his mother still clutching her chest in fear for the boy.
Bimeny saw her concern. "Don't worry he's fine, I would never let anything happen to him." He smiled at her and took her arm gently. She relaxed a little bit then.
"Well," Bimeny said loudly, "describe it for us. What's it like to fly?"
The boy looked away from his father's eyes and fixed his gaze on Bimeny as he prepared to answer the question. The boy stepped forward towards Bimeny and spoke. "It was the best thing I have ever felt in my life. I was like a bird gliding across the sky. It was beautiful."
"Was it scary?" Bimeny asked.
"Well, it was at first because it was a real surprise. But when you stopped in the air to talk to me and we didn't fall, I knew you controlled it and I was safe, as you said I was. Then it was cool. I flew on my own, too." At that Bimeny saw his mother's eyes get larger and she clutched her chest again. "That was way too cool. Thank you," the boy said to Bimeny as he finished.
The rest of the questions were your average, "Why don't you burn when you walk in the fire?" kind of questions. Which Bimeny explained as best he could. When all the kids had finished their questions, Bimeny had promised to take others for rides if their parents agreed later after he finished answering the adult's questions. Bimeny told the kids that the rest was going to be adult talk and that playing would be much more fun so he set them off. Most all the kids went. A few older ones stayed with their parents.
"Alright, thanks for waiting. Life can be tough enough. Little ones don't need to hear the horrors of battle. Now, for the harder questions. I'll start with the one asked earlier. Tell you about the 'attack' on Gandoo's compound. Now I know my brother explained some of this to you at his promise celebration. I'll tell you from my perspective what occurred from beginning to end. Falour, I would begin by apologizing to you in advance. What you will hear will make you angry but it will be the truth. So if you cannot control your anger and your men and their anger then I will give you the option of leaving now if you choose. What say you?"
Falour stood and looked at his men. They each gave him a nod and remained seated. He looked at Bimeny and said, "I cannot control my men's anger but their actions will be controlled. They, like me, have chosen to stay. I thank you for the apology and the warning. Whether or not I can accept your apology will depend on the story you tell," and he sat back down.
Bimeny began with a brief description of how he became a dragon boy. It was relevant he thought because going to school and exposing Bunny Boy Raleck as his assailant was what brought his existence to the elder's attention. It was what Bimeny thought made Gandoo feel he had to get rid of him.
He explained how they had received the invitation to go and they did. In peace. How he saw the Guard digging graves as they drove in and how Gandoo expected him to blindly fulfill what he, Gandoo, perceived as his duty. How instinct made him discover his flying abilities. How they had to fight to get out and how they intended to kill his mother that morning just to keep it quiet. How the graves were filled over the edge of Stormtraub. How they had been killing the children who came away from the storm with any condition that the elder's could not control, and the blame placed on the storm.
A voice yelled out a question. "If that is true then why weren't you killed when you were weak before you came off the field?" He explained how he had been stuck on the cliff and how he had climbed to the top and the Guard were all gone. "What say YOU Falour?" A voice called out from the crowd.
Falour stood and faced the crowd. "I have never worked the storm so I cannot say. But in truth this is not the first time that I have heard such a story. I just find it hard to believe a Guard could be so callous. I honestly do not know." And he sat back down.
Bimeny continued. He told about their narrow escape and then he got to the worst part, the death of his parents. He told them in detail how they had killed a senile old man and how his mother was stretched across him trying to protect him from the brutality that was being inflicted upon them. Then he walked closer to the crowd and closer to Falour. He looked at Falour and described in detail how he punished and then killed the Guard who were responsible for the atrocities. Falour and his men looked down at the ground. When he finished, Falour stood and faced the crowd.
"Of this I can speak for I have knowledge of the event. The Guard used in this operation were extremely capable of doing what Bimeny has said. They are a special group we seldom speak of and almost never use. They were Raven Court Guard. I know they were from this group because at that time I was a courier for the Guard." This he said looking down at the ground and back in Bimeny's direction. "I am sorry to say that I was the courier they sent to summon them, and for that Bimeny, I ask your pardon. I did know what they were, but I was told it was to take care of a monster that destroyed the Garrison and killed the Elder Gandoo. I only did my job and I thought it was the right thing to do. Especially with the amount of damage left in your wake. Now after hearing your story, I am ashamed of my part. But if it were not me then it would have been someone else." Here he looked directly into Bimeny's eyes. "I sincerely wish it had been someone else."
Bimeny looked and saw the hurt in Falour's eyes. He extended his hand in the peace gesture. Falour grabbed his wrist in the traditional two fingers extended peace gesture and pulled him into an embrace. Falour's eyes were filled with tears when they separated. Bimeny knew he had convinced the crowd. "I wish I could cry with you but that is the one thing the storm robbed me of. I still get the hurt and the anger but no way to release it so I use it to fuel my anger when I need to survive.
"Does anybody have any other questions to ask?" Bimeny said, looking around. Many were in tears, some hanging their heads in shame for their previous thoughts. But no questions remained. "Really, I'll answer any questions you ask." An elderly lady, who had to have seen the original storm judging by the looks of her, raised her hand. Bimeny went back to her and knelt down next to her. He leaned forward and asked with deliberate gentleness, "What can I tell you, grandmother?"
She said, "Do you promise to tell me?"
"Yes grandmother," he said, showing her the respect that her age dictated. "Ask your question."
She looked left and then looked right and leaned forward, "What would it feel like to have you fly me home?" she said, snickering.
Bimeny got a big smile on his face. "I will be right back with your answer, Grandmother," and he turned towards the house and gently pushed off. He landed on the porch and turned to look at the old woman. She was craning her neck to see where he had gone. Bimeny smiled and went in the house. He emerged moments later with one of his mother's quilts under his arm. He launched in the air again and landed next to the woman.
"Can you stand, grandmother?" he asked, opening the quilt.
She had a bewildered look on her face and said, "Yes," and she stood up.
He wrapped the quilt around her, "It will be cold on the way home grandmother. Who are you here with so we can tell them you are leaving?"
She tilted her head down and whispered, "Bunny Boy."
Bimeny smiled and said, "I'll tell them when I get back. You'll have servants when we get there to take care of your needs, won't you grandmother?"
"Oh, yes, but we don't need to hurry," she said, smiling.
Bimeny said, "Right you are Grandmother, home by the scenic route," and he scooped her up in his arms. She was as light as a feather. As he pushed off, he turned his head and told the people around him, "I'll be back soon, I am taking grandmother home," and he was off into the warm, sunny afternoon. He didn't take her too high, just above tree height where she could see everything. "Higher," she said. Bimeny smiled and rose into the air, "Tell me when it's high enough for you Grandmother."
She waited until the farms looked like patches on quilt and then said, "This is good." She was smiling, "Now, let me fly like the boy."
"Grandmother, are you sure?" he asked.
"I have never been surer of anything in my life," she responded.
"But will your heart take the excitement Grandmother?" Bimeny asked with some concern.
"Listen boy, I stopped worrying about that many seasons back. If I were to die seconds after you dropped me, then I would have died doing something no other person besides you and the boy has ever done. I flew! After that, I'm ready to die. So you gonna do it or disappoint me?" she asked with firm eyebrows.
He smiled. "Are you ready to fly grandmother?"
"You bet," she fired back.
"Okay, here we go," and he threw her forwards out of his arms quilt and all. She held the corners of the quilt and extended her arms until the quilt acted like a cape flapping in the breeze. Bimeny dove and flew under her and caught her under the arms and propelled them both forward towards her home. The look on her face was one of absolute glee, not fear as he expected. She was enrapt in the flight. Bimeny was sure that she would have been happy to ride it all the way to the ground.
"Grandmother, are you alright?" he asked.
"I have never been happier," she said. With that, Bimeny turned her around with her back to the wind, which caused the quilt to wrap around her again and he scooped her up and together they raised high into the sky again. "You know Grandmother, I think we have enough time to do that one more time before we reach your house. If you would like to, that is."
With that, she reached up and grabbed his face and kissed him on the cheek. She looked at him adoringly in the eyes. "You did this for me, knowing that I am Bunny Boy's grandmother? Why, when he made you into what you are?" she asked.
Bimeny brought his knees up to form a kind of chair under her and hovered there for a few moments. "Grandmother, you like to fly, could you be mad at someone who tried to do something to you that turned out this good? And besides, we're even."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Well, when he attacked my brother, he dropped his stone bag and it fell open. When I scooped up the stones and put them back in the bag, I think there may have been some rabbit droppings in there with his stones." Bimeny said, smiling. "So I figure he is Bunny Boy because of me. That's how we are even."
"They never told me that part," she said, laughing. "You're alright, boy."
"Well," Bimeny said to her, "I never really told anyone else. You deserve the truth Grandmother. So what do you think, want to try it again? We are quite a bit higher this time so it will be a bit colder. Are you alright with that?" Bimeny asked.
"You bet," she said and with that he threw her forward. This time however, the quilt was in front of her so she spread her arms still holding the corners and spread her feet a little. This made her glide a little instead of dropping straight down. Bimeny stayed right with her, watching her and smiling. He didn't snatch hold of her until the very last minute. She had tears in her eyes.
Bimeny asked, "Are you alright? You're crying," he said.
"Wind tears," she said. "They are good tears."
"Oh, maybe that's why the storm took the tears from me." He said, looking at her.
"What? You can't cry?" she asked.
"Nope. Not since it happened. I saw my mother and father dead. The sadness welled up inside of me and it had no way out. I carry it still. It's the only part of this blessing that I see as a curse," he said.
She looked horrified at him, "You poor, tormented boy. All this happiness and you can't set your sorrows aside long enough to enjoy the good times. You better find a way, boy, or it will eat you up inside."
They were quiet the rest of the way to her house. Bimeny knew where to take her because she was Raleck's grandmother, and he and Mantu had avoided that house as long as he could remember. When they arrived at the woman's house, he landed right on the front porch and knocked on the door, standing grandmother up and helping her catch her footing. The old woman folded his quilt and handed it back to him. She was smiling and staring out in the front yard. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply and held it. Then she let it all out.
"Are you alright grandmother?" Bimeny asked.
"I have never been better in my whole life," she said, smiling. "I'm just making the memory stick. I want to remember the smell of the sunlight," she said. Bimeny looked at her like he may have taken her a little too high.
A man came to the door and opened it. He came out and looked at the old woman and then looked at Bimeny, "Is everything alright?" he asked. "Yes," she replied.
The old woman looked at Bimeny, "You have done me a wonderful service today, and you certainly have no obligation to grant me a last wish before you go but I would ask it anyways. And if I ask you must swear to do what I am about to ask of you. Will you do it?" she asked.
"What you ask of me is difficult, Grandmother. To swear to do something before you know what it is would be foolish. If you tell me then I can decide if it is right and possible," he said to her.
"You are wise beyond your seasons and you are right. I am just an old woman. Sometimes I don't think exactly right these days. But I'll ask you now and you can decide. But this is important to me. If ever I call for you or send for you then you must come with all haste. No matter what you are doing, you must come. Promise me," she said.
"Grandmother, I will come when I can if flying is what you want to do but what if I am doing something important? What would people say if I left my work to take an old woman flying whenever she wants regardless of previous tasks set before me? That would not be responsible, would it?" Bimeny said to her.
"Right again," she said. "Except that when you get the call it will be because I am dying. I will not call you before. Now, will you promise me this, Dragon Boy?" she said, now showing signs of extreme fatigue. Bimeny caught her as she started to collapse. "Grandmother! I promise!" he said as he carried her into the house. "Tell me where her bed is?" Bimeny said to the servant, and he followed him up the stairs and into the room at the top of the landing. He opened the door to reveal a beautiful room dressed out in little blue flowers and lace everywhere. He took her over to the bed where the servant had pulled the covers back for her and he placed her in bed and covered her up.
"Rest now, Grandmother. You have had a very eventful day today. When you call I will come. I promise." He kissed her on the cheek before leaving.
She smiled and said, "Take care boy, my time is not long."
Bimeny thanked the servant and said, "She has had an exciting day. She will probably sleep for quite a while. She went flying today like a bird." The servant looked at Bimeny like he was a mad man until Bimeny opened the door and stepped outside onto the porch.
Bimeny picked up the quilt that he dropped when he caught the old woman The servant said, "Thank you for bringing her home."
Bimeny smiled and said, "No problem, it was my pleasure." He leaned forward and gently pushed off. He stepped off the porch and turned around to look at the servant while hovering a few feet off the ground. The servant stood there slack jawed staring at Bimeny. "Make sure you take care of her. She's become pretty special to me," and he pushed off and flew home.
Bimeny had been gone quite a while and he was concerned about the length of time he had been gone. He had a bajillion kids to take flying yet and the sun was starting to get low in the sky. He returned home to find the party operating at full speed. As Bimeny approached the farm he noticed that from the sky it looked like a fair had come to town.
Bimeny felt like he was starving, he had been so busy and had done so much that his stomach thought his throat had been slit. He landed on the porch and headed for the kitchen. He could smell the steak and his mouth was watering. He headed for the food.
"Where have you been?" Reanna asked. "Everyone was looking for you. What did you do with that old woman?" she prattled on.
"Took her home," he said, looking longingly at the plate of steaks.
She took his face and turned it towards her and said, "Good, I've missed you." And she kissed him deeply.
He heard a herd of kids coming through and thought if he looked up they would recognize him and want their flights before he got a chance to eat, so he continued kissing his sweet Reanna until he didn't hear them anymore.
He broke his kiss and said, "I really love you." Then he turned around and grabbed a plate and fork and stabbed an empty plate where the steaks used to be. They weren't looking for him, they were foraging for food and they apparently found it. "Locusts!" he said.
Reanna smiled and put her arms around his waist from behind and hugged him. "How much do you love me?" she said in her 'You better have the right answer' tone of voice.
"More than life itself," he blurted out, thinking that was pretty good for a spur of the moment answer.
She let go of his waist and walked over to the oven and opened it. There on the plate was the biggest, juiciest steak he had ever seen. She looked at him and held the plate up to her nose and inhaled deeply and said casually, "How much did you say?"
He was stuck, what could be better than loving her more than life itself? He went blank. In his mind he kept saying, more than your own life, more than your own life. Come on, your running out of time, think fast, more than your own life. He looked at her and said, "Who do you want killed? Do you have a preference which part of their body I bring back as proof?"
"Oooh, good answer, you get the prize" and she handed him a fork. He didn't take it. Instead, he dove on the steak like it was still running.
It was glorious and it even tasted better because he had won it. The juices trickled down his throat. This could be the single, most important, best steak he had ever eaten. And then it was gone. He stood there looking at the plate. Where had it gone? It was so sweet, so good. He should have eaten it slower, savored it more. It was perfect and now it was just gone. He licked the juices off the plate. When he got to the top of the plate his eyes peeked over the top. They met hers. She had that look like "Oh My God."
"I guess you were really hungry," Reanna said. "I'll rustle you up some more while you give those rides, you're running out of time."
"Right," he said and headed for the door.
"Wait," she said and she grabbed a towel and started wiping the grease and juices off of his armor. "It wouldn't be good to come back and say, 'Oh sorry about little Salmac, he just slipped. You can make another can't you?'" Reanna chided.
"Thanks honey. I would be lost without you, too," he said.
"Too?" she said. "I never said I would be lost without you, honey.
"No, Two!" he said. "Steaks. Try and get me two more steaks."
"Oh, right," as she rolled her eyes. "Second fiddle to his stomach!" she said to her mother.
"Oh, didn't we have that talk? OH! That's right, you ran out before we had the chance. Look, get used to it because that is a constant. Men are pigs," her mother said plainly.
"Well, not mine!" Reanna snapped. "He's dragon, a lean, hard, dragon," she said dreamily. Then she caught the slack jawed look on her mother's face. "Uh, his armor, you know, he has hard armor," Reanna said, back peddling as fast as she could. "Oh look, Bimeny's starting to give the kids rides," Reanna said, changing the subject. "I've got to go find some food for Bimeny. I'll be back in a little bit." And she ran out the door.
The night progressed quickly after that, and people were departing as soon as Bimeny returned with their child. Everyone was great and wished them well. Bimeny thought it could not have gone better and by the time the last person left, the food was all put away and the dishes were done. About the only thing left to do the next day was to put the furniture back in the house and to pick up and burn the trash.
They were alone. Completely alone, and in his own bed with the woman he loves and just promised with. This was their promise night when magic moments were to be recorded in their hearts for life. Reanna had a beautiful lacy outfit to sleep in. Bimeny looked at her. She was absolutely beautiful.
He took her by the hand and led her seductively to bed. They spooned for a few minutes and then they kissed, deeply, and then some more and Bimeny looked her in the eyes and saw that she was changing before his eyes. She was growing plates like he had. But hers were red, not blue like his. She kissed him again and he looked her in the eyes and he could see that they had become slits like his and he saw flames in them, and she had wings and OUCH! His eye hurt bad. He wasn't kissing her anymore, OR in his bed! He was on the floor.
"What happened?" he said, realizing that his true love was the cause of his pain. "Oh," he said. "I get it. I guess I fell asleep. Honey, I'm sorry. It was just such a high stress high energy day. You're beautiful and... and... and (yaaaawn) I really love you. It's just... I must have flown each person in the entire town today. And the old lady! She had me take her up almost to Stormtraub height and drop her. Twice! I'm just trashed honey, it's not you. I'm sorry. And on our promise night too. I guess your mother is right. I'm just a pig."
Reanna realized that she was a little overly sensitive towards the matter. I mean, how many husbands can double as a carnival ride. She knew how much he loved her. She decided to forgive him.
Reanna moved forward and helped him up and then to sit on the edge of the bed. "I'm sorry sweet heart, I over reacted. I'm sorry," and she began to kiss his wounded eye. She moved to his cheek, then his chin and then to his lips. They kissed deeply.
Morning came way too early for both Bimeny and Reanna. They decided to sleep in and resume where they had left off the night before. It was obviously a morning for cuddling. All of a sudden they heard noise downstairs. Bimeny went on alert instantly. He had been here before. He moved boldly down the stairs towards the noise. He heard more movement in the kitchen. He crept slowly down the hall until he came to the kitchen door. There was a crack that allowed him to peek through. What he saw surprised him. Falour, sitting at the kitchen table with his back to Bimeny.
"Why don't you come in and sit down. I took the liberty of making some tea. I hope you don't mind," Falour said without turning around.
Bimeny entered the room. "How did you know I was there?" he asked.
"Well, it wasn't difficult, although it did take a long time before you woke up enough to hear the racket I was making, and you didn't exactly fly down here. It sounded more like you were herding a yak down the stairs. I was going to let you sleep, but I knew you wanted the records today. Would you like to take a cup of tea up to Reanna?" Falour asked.
"Uh yeah, that would be nice. What are you doing here?" Bimeny asked.
"Well, they sent another platoon of Guard to the garrison yesterday while we were here," Falour said while buttering a slice of bread.
Bimeny thought for a moment. "You came here to tell me that? Thank you. Don't go back unless it's to get your men and leave. I have to go anyways, you know that." Bimeny said quietly.
"No you don't," Falour said, "I stole all the remaining Record books and brought them to you. The one you want I think is this one." He lifted a towel off of a Record Book on the chair next to him.
It was beautiful. Bimeny picked it up and looked at it. It was gilded in gold with solid gold corner caps. It had leather binding with a dragon's face carved in relief in the leather on the cover. Above the dragons head was a cloud erupting with lightning bolts. It had a latch holding it closed and was older than anything Bimeny had ever seen in his entire life. He gasped, it was simply beautiful.
"You brought this out here for us?" Bimeny said quietly. "You took quite a chance in doing that."
"More than that," Falour said. "I had to break into Gandoo's house to get it. It won't be long before they figure out what I did and then where I went. The Guard isn't familiar with the area. That'll work for us I think. But they'll figure it out eventually. I figure they will establish what I did and where I went before nightfall. They won't come at night, they'll have too much of a disadvantage under the cover of nightfall. They will probably wait until morning when things are more in their favor." He looked at Bimeny, smiling, "At least that's what they'll think." He returned to his buttered bread. "I've arranged a little diversion for them their second night in Haven Plat. Let's just say they won't be at the top of their game tomorrow morning. They'll be filling their canteens for the trip with water tainted with Smokey willow root. They'll get about two hours into their morning and there won't be enough trees or toilet paper to satisfy their needs." Falour was laughing to tears.
Bimeny started laughing. "You did this to the Guard? But you are on their side aren't you?" Falour's face sort of stopped for a moment. His smile faded and he examined the dregs of his tea in his cup, "Well, I was for a time. I had to find some way of making things right between us. I know this doesn't wash the slate, but it's what I could do. I'm so sorry for the misery I brought upon you. I...." Falour couldn't talk. It was as if something blocked the words from coming out.
Bimeny placed his hand on the soldier's shoulder, "Look, you didn't know. You had to go by what they told you. Anyone else in your position would have done the same and had been proud to have done so. I would have done it myself if I were you. You were doing what any good person would do, helping to stop an enemy of your neighbors. There's no slate to wash. In fact we're in your debt now." Bimeny said, squeezing his shoulder. Bimeny noticed Falour turn his head away and he began quietly sobbing, but trying not to be seen. Bimeny took the moment to give him some privacy to compose himself.
"Uhm, I'm going to take some tea up to Reanna. We'll be down in a little while. Make yourself at home." He set the Record on the table and grabbed a cup and filled it with tea, being careful to keep his back to Falour so as not to let him know he had been seen in what he would have considered as a weakened state. Crying and being a soldier are at odds with each other, Bimeny thought, and he was sure Falour would think the same way. Bimeny went upstairs to where he left Reanna.
Reanna was concerned. She was already dressed and was quietly waiting. She had Bimeny's bow that he had taken from Gandoo. She had an arrow knocked up and ready to launch when she heard steps coming up the stairs. Bimeny opened the door and came through in one movement. She launched the arrow. Her aim was good. Luckily his armor was better. The arrow was deflected off to his right side and stuck in the wall next to the door.
Reanna realized who it was and what she had done even before the arrow was fully clear the bow. She dropped the bow on the floor and rushed over and put her arms around him. "Oh, Bimeny I was so scared," she said, hugging him harder.
"Oh, good. I thought you didn't like my tea!" he said, kissing her on the forehead. "It's alright. You're trembling!" Bimeny said, looking down at her. He set the tea down on the stand next to the door and put his hands around her face and pushed her face back so he could see her eyes. "I'm fine. It's alright. Here, I brought you some tea and I have a surprise for you. Here, sit." He helped her to the chair next to the stand where he put the tea. He knelt down on one knee.
"The noise I heard was Falour, he's downstairs. He brought news that the Garrison has a new platoon. They'll be coming most likely in the morning. He stole all the remaining records and brought them to us. There's one you have to see. I think it's the one we want."
Reanna came out of her distress quickly at the news.
"Falour! Why would he do that? Surely he knows they'll kill him when he goes back," Reanna said, thinking quickly. She was in her analyze mode looking for the hidden meaning in what was happening.
"Honey he can't go back. He also poisoned their well with Smokey willow to slow them up," Bimeny said.
Reanna laughed, "Well that will slow them up in some ways and make 'em faster in others, won't it!" she roared. Reanna picked up her tea and drank it down quickly. It was no longer hot. In fact, it was barely tepid. She took Bimeny by the hand and said, "Show me this record."
Together they went down the steps, Bimeny making lots of noise so that he was sure that Falour would have plenty of warning as to their approach. He thought that he had quite enough surprises for the morning. They entered the kitchen and Reanna dropped Bimeny's hand and went over to Falour who was quietly sitting, staring down into his tea. Reanna kissed him gently on his cheek. He looked up at her with a slight tear in his eyes.
"Thank you," she said to him. "We know what you have sacrificed for us. We won't forget it. You have a place with us now."
Falour's eyes widened and he grew a smile. "I had no future, no place to go. You would really give me that? I will fight by your side to the death if it comes to it."
"Well, let's hope it doesn't come down to that. I would rather that everyone lives. The goal right now is to see why Gandoo's bow is so important to them. It may be in this record," Bimeny said, laying his hand on the record.
Reanna reacted at once. "Look at the workmanship! It is the most beautiful record I have ever seen." She ran her hand over the inlay and the corners. She examined every inch of the cover before unlocking the catch and opening it. She began to read. Without looking up she said, "Bimeny, this is going to take a while, why don't you make us some food and more tea. I'll continue on in the front room where I can get more comfortable." She didn't wait for an answer, she just got up and without looking away from the record walked out of the room.
Bimeny walked over to the stove and felt it. It had gone cold from the tea that Falour made earlier. Bimeny lifted one of the covers, leaned over and lightly spit in the wood burning box. Flames shot up immediately.
"Nice talent you have there," Falour said. "Still makes me a bit nervous though when you do that."
Bimeny laughed, "Yeah, you don't want to be around when I get a cold." They both laughed. Bimeny went into the story of asking Malakuck for his daughters hand as he set the kettle of water on the stove. They both laughed hysterically when he got to the part about him sneezing and catching the kitchen on fire.
"Falour," Bimeny said, sitting down at the table. "Nothing they have done has been effective on me so far, why would they think that adding men would defeat me?"
"I don't think they were sent here initially for you. They had to re-staff the garrison to maintain law and order. Right now it isn't bad, but it was getting worse day by day. Three men could not maintain order if it got bad. They would have staffed the Garrison long ago but there seems to be a problem with the animals since this all started. No, I don't think they came here to find you. After all, no one knows where you have been or where you are now, according to my sources. I think it all changed when they got here and got word that you were here, too. I know that the men are none too anxious to tangle with you for that very reason. They all like living and want to stay that way. I know I would not want to be the commander right now. He has to decide between following the directives of the elders and staying alive. It will not be an easy decision," Falour said.
Bimeny thought for a moment and said, "You know, you're right. Maybe now would be a good time to pay him a visit and give him a little bit more to think about. Maybe tonight, night affords a man time to think."
Falour said, "You would do that? You would walk right in there?"
"Sure, why not," Bimeny said. "They are not a danger to me. What do I have to lose?"
"But they captured you once before, didn't they?" Falour said.
"No, I surrendered to them. That's different. They had my brother and would have killed him if I didn't surrender. They don't have that leverage on me now and with you here they are not likely to get it either," Bimeny said, smiling at Falour.
Falour's chest swelled like a bird showing off his plumage. "And you can bet that it won't happen on MY watch," he said, smiling.
"No, I'm sure not. I am glad to have you here and on our side," he said, bolstering Falour's ego. He knew he needed to make a place for him as he sacrificed so much to do what he learned was the right thing to do.
He thought for a moment, "Falour," he said, pausing for a moment. "Would you consider being Reanna's personal bodyguard? I would worry a lot less with you watching out for her. Now, don't get me wrong, the girl can defend herself, but if they come after us it will be with a force, not a couple of men."
Falour's jaw dropped. "I would be most honored that you would choose me. Yes, of course. I will defend her with my life."
"Again with the life thing," Bimeny said. "Let's not look forward to that part so much, Okay?" Bimeny went on, "In fact, I order you not to die at all. Let's make the other guys do all the dying."
"Agreed!" Falour said, laughing. "We'll make them do all the dying."
The water was boiling. Bimeny poured three cups and added the tea. He set one on the table and took one in the front room to Reanna. While he was there he thought to get Gandoo's bow. He knew Falour would be thrilled to see it, so he scooted up the steps and retrieved it and the quiver and returned to the kitchen. He walked in and laid the bow in front of Falour on the table and set the quiver next to it. Falour's eyes grew large at the site of it. Falour said, "Gandoo's bow. May I hold it for a moment?"
"Certainly," Bimeny said, smiling. "You're family now, after all."
Falour picked up the bow and examined it from top to bottom. There were picture words on it done in gold inlay. A picture of the same dragon was just below the grip. Above the grip was a picture of the cliff shaped like a dragon’s head. The cave made the mouth of the dragon. He looked closer. There was a tiny hole in the bow right where the eye would be in the cliff.
"Look at this! The dragon from the record cover! What do you think this means?" he said, pointing to the cliff drawing above the grip. Bimeny took the bow from Falour's hands and rushed outside to examine it better in the sunlight. Bimeny had looked at the bow in detail many times but never gave any of it meaning. He saw it only as a beautifully decorated piece. He never thought of it as a message.
He turned the bow so the sunlight was shining on it. There was something familiar about the cliff but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. He had seen it before, but where was it. He had only been one place that he could think of with caves and such and that was Stormtraub. This bow had to be tied to the storm! They said they had to have it back before the next Stormtraub or the villages would be doomed. Could it be that if the bow is not used to start the process that the storm would not come? Bimeny's thoughts raced through his mind at light speed.
Reanna came out of the door. "Bimeny! I have it! They need the bow to order the specific blessings for the villages. Come in, I have lots to tell you."
Bimeny and Falour went up the steps and into the kitchen again. Bimeny set the bow on a shelf and set a pan on the fire and started to cook some ham and eggs for everyone. It was now nearly midday but there was so much going on that they never did eat their morning meal, so everyone felt like they were starving. He hurried to finish cooking as Reanna set the table. She would set a few things out and then sort of freeze in place with her hand on a glass in the cupboard or with plates in her hands just staring off into nothing. Then without warning she would continue with her task as if nothing had happened. Bimeny had seen it before. It was when she was puzzling something out. He knew better than to interrupt her. She was doing her best work right now.
Bimeny set the ham and eggs on the table. He also set out a bowl of fruit. He poured tea for everyone and motioned for Falour to sit as well. He did so watching in wonder. It was very quiet as they allowed her the time and space to sort things out.
She realized that they were all sitting waiting to eat and snapped back to reality. Everyone loaded their plates and ate until they were full. Then she sat back and began.
"It was a long time ago, back when dragons ruled the lands. Then man came along and they fought for the land. The dragons and the people both lived in terror day to day. The dragons worried about their eggs mostly. The problem of killing the dragons was solved by Gandoo's bow. It was enchanted by a tricked dragon into imbuing it to penetrate the skin and scales of the dragon. Because it had the strength of the dragon scales it also made it indestructible. The dragons themselves were pretty hard to kill but their eggs were easily broken. The dragons faced extermination, simply by attrition. With no new eggs surviving they were facing their slow destruction. Finally they got down to the last two dragon they were very old and very powerful. They made an agreement with the elders. They would imbue their people at Stormtraub once a season if they could live in the caves on the back side of the mountain undisturbed. A deal had been struck. The two last dragons lived in the caves and kept their families there as well. Generations have been born, lived and died in the caves on the back side of Stormtraub Mountain.
"Well, the problem that they had was that the dragons had agreed to stay in the caves but there was no way of getting food without leaving. So the dragons would go out to feed and they were accused of reneging on their deal. Dragons value honor above all else. So another deal was struck. They were granted hunting rights at night to the lands of the north if they would in turn imbue some per request so that the villages could have their specific needs met. It was then agreed and a list was attached to an arrow and shot into the eye of the Stormtraub dragon's head. The list had to be written in a special language of pictures that the dragons understood. Gandoo's bow was used to launch the arrow and is the only bow capable of launching an arrow that will penetrate the protective barrier inside the eye. It is part of the imbuing that was granted to the bow. That way the dragons knew that man still had the ability to kill them if they left the caves other than to hunt to the north.
"Bimeny, that bow can kill you!" Reanna finished.
"Well, not so far. You just bounced one off of me and it stuck in the wall," Bimeny said.
"If I had said the proper words then I have no doubt that you wouldn't be standing there now. The words said before the launch would imbue the arrow and you would be dead." Reanna said.
"Well, don't say those words." Bimeny said. "Now, how can we make this work for us?" Bimeny said. "Obviously, requesting a specific talent would be the answer. But what specific talent?" Bimeny made a face like he was straining to solve the puzzle. But he drew a blank.
"Bimeny," Reanna said, "do you know what this means?"
"Yes," he replied, "we've got the power to end this if we can figure out how."
"No Bimeny," Reanna said taking his arm, "this means there are still dragons!"
"Oh!" Bimeny said, "But they're not dangerous because they have to stay in the caves, right?"
"Oh Bimeny, you're hopeless. The only reason they are still in the caves is that bow. Launching the list every storm reassures the dragons that Man still has the power to defeat them. It is the leverage used to keep them in the caves. If they don't get the arrow, then they may think that they are safe to leave the caves again. I think the dragons have been trying to imbue people that could communicate with them and the elders have been killing them before they were strong enough to make a new deal," Reanna said, trying to make him understand.
"Bimeny you are more than they could hope for. You're part dragon and you have Gandoo's bow. You have to go talk to the dragons and find out how they are. If we don't make sure the dragons remain safe then the destiny of all of the villages is at stake. The Elders have been riding this deal for centuries without caring for the dragons. We need to make sure they are alright. You are the only one who can do it. You can fly."
"But... but, dragons! Didn't they, like, eat people? You want me to go talk to dragons! Oh no, no, no, no, not today no, no, no way. Uh, uh, nope, not me, no way," Bimeny was clearly not happy with Reanna's analysis of the situation.
"Bimeny you are part dragon! They can't hurt you!" Reanna said reassuringly.
"But what if they decide to eat the human part?!" Bimeny said, squirming a lot in his seat.
"Bimeny," Reanna said, showing him reason in her argument. "Their teeth can't hurt your armor and the fire can't touch you. You have to. Look, they are obviously civilized. They entered into a legally binding agreement and they have lived by it for generations. They have to be intelligent. The whole reason people have been killed at Stormtraub is because they have been trying to create something to communicate with them. The Elders have been killing them to keep from having to renegotiate the contract. Nobody else can do it and you have been blessed with a dragon blessing. It is time to use it." Reanna sat down quietly and shut up. She knew that she had gone as far as she dare. Bimeny needed to sort it out from here on his own.
Bimeny knew by the last line of her argument that she was right. He had been blessed with a dragon blessing. There were no others. He was the one and only. He had often asked himself why a dragon blessing. Now that he had the answer he wasn't sure he liked knowing it. He was a lot happier before.