Castle Roland

Tears of the Dragon Boy

by Ricky


Chapter 6

Published: 8 Apr 14

The Great Gandoo

Malageth paced. Her words of encouragement this morning were more prayers than belief. The fact Bimeny wasn’t sent home from school, she took as a good omen. Bimeny’s feet made a hollow sound on the porch, much softer than Mantu’s because of the lack of shoes. Not wanting to appear worried, she busied herself in the kitchen.

Bimeny opened the screen door, letting it slam as he grabbed an apple from the bowl on the table, and exited the other side without saying a word.


"Yeah Mom?" he said, sticking his smiling face around the corner.

"How was it?"

"She was beautiful," Bimeny said dreamily, before disappearing up the steps toward his room.

Malageth returned to task. SHE? She was beautiful! I’d better get dinner ready, so I can hear the rest. I don’t know who ‘she’ is, but I can’t wait to meet her. She has got to be one tough muffin. Those plates hurt.

Mantu rushed in. "Is he here? Did you hear?" He ran right out the other door to hunt for Bimeny.

"Uh, yes. Wait, no. What are you talking about? Did I hear what?" Malageth asked, as she quickened her step to catch up to Mantu.

"Bimeny stripped naked in front of his class and accused Raleck of attempted murder!" Mantu spit out at last. "Schoolmaster Rollenbeck’s palomino told me. She was tied up outside and heard everything." Mantu was speaking as fast as he was walking, taking the stairs two steps at a time.

Malageth was stopped dead in her tracks, awestruck with her mouth hanging open.

"BIMENY!" Malageth yelled in a tone all mothers are born with, a voice capable of stopping a bird midflight. "Come down here this minute." After saying it, she did an about face and strode back to the kitchen. She wanted him on her turf.

A mother’s voice has a mystical tone that makes you obey involuntarily. Even Reentu woke up and found his way downstairs. Bimeny and Mantu passed him on the steps as they took them three at a time.

"Hi, Pop!" Bimeny said to Reentu as they passed.

They caught up to Malageth, stirring her tea with her motherly "let’s have it" look.

"What?" Bimeny said. "What did I do?" he asked, looking at her totally clueless as to what she could possibly be angry about.

"Did you strip naked in front of your class and accuse Raleck of attempted murder?" Malageth asked.

"Uh...yes, I guess I did," he said with a little redness in his cheeks. "But you’ve got to understand, Mom, it wasn’t like it sounds."

"And you didn’t think this worth mentioning, when I asked how it went?"

Reentu came through the door. "Who’s the kid in the blue suit?" he asked.

"He’s your son, Bimeny, Reentu, and he just stood naked in front of his whole class and accused Raleck of attempted murder."

"Well, I’m not surprised!" Reentu said. "He’d have to pert’ near kill me to get me into that turtle suit too! I look horrible in blue." Reentu said forcefully as he left the room to go back to bed.

Reentu’s senility broke the tension and left them all in tears from laughter. Dinner was anything but quiet, though. Malageth wanted every detail.

"I still have one very important question."

"Sure, Mom, ask away. I’m not holding back on anything."

Malageth paused and looked at him with a jaundiced eye. "Who is she?"

Bimeny looked back at her and said, "She, who?"

Malageth’s resolve held. "How was it today, Bimeny? — She was beauuuutiful!" Malageth mocked.

Bimeny blushed bright red, "Oh, uh...that she. Umm...Reanna. I walked her home. She hung onto my arm the whole way, all of Haven Plat could see."

Malageth heard footsteps on the porch and then a knock.

"Greetings in the house!" Came a voice from the front door. Malageth opened the door and bid him come in. She could see by his golden robes, it was a council messenger with a recorded request.

"Reentu, Malageth and Bimeny. You are invited to tea with the council the next suncenter at the home of Gandoo the Elder. Will you come?" the messenger asked handing her a parchment.

"Of course we will. Please inform Elder Gandoo we would be honored. Reentu will not attend, however. He is not himself, forevermore." Malageth said with all the propriety she could muster. The messenger bowed and excused himself to return the message of acceptance. She made a gentle bow as she closed the door. As she turned around, Mantu noted a serious look of fear on her face.

"What’s wrong, Mom?"

"I don’t know," Malageth said quickly, unrolling the parchment to examine it more closely.

Then she saw it. Mantu had not been invited.

"Mom, what is it?" Bimeny asked again, now feeling some urgency to get an answer.

"We’ve been summoned to Gandoo’s home tomorrow at suncenter," Malageth said, looking at the letter.

Bimeny looked over her shoulder at the letter. "Mom, it says invited, not summoned. Those marks are different."

"Honey, when the council sends you an invitation, it’s never an invitation you can turn down. They would just send another message changing it to a summons, and then they would treat you harshly because you didn’t come the first time."

"Oh," said Bimeny "That’s really confusing."

"That’s how council business is, son."

"Have you ever been invited, I mean, summoned before?"

"No, and nobody I know has ever been happy when they were," Malageth said with concern.

"It’s me, isn’t it?" Bimeny said, understanding dawning on him.

"Nah, it can’t be," Mantu interjected.

Malageth said, "Yes, it is, but I don’t know why."

Mantu chimed in. "How do you know it’s about him? Maybe they want me to talk to the horses."

Bimeny piped up solemnly. "They asked for me by name. Your name isn’t on the record. It means I have something to do with whatever it is they want."

"I just hope it’s not Raleck and a truth challenge," Malageth said, now with deep concern appearing in her voice.

Bimeny and Mantu looked at each other for a moment and then broke into laughter so intense, it brought them to their knees. Mantu had tears in his eyes and if Bimeny could have, he would have too. Malageth just looked at them incredulously.

Mantu looked at her and asked, "So, what would your second choice be?" Mantu tried to keep a straight face as he choked off the laughter.

Malageth looked angry now. "Funny, you think? He was brave enough and mean enough to cause Bimeny to nearly lose his life at Stormtraub!" Malageth said sternly.

"But now the Storm’s blessing has rendered him into a very tall, very scared rabbit, and if he were to hit Bimeny now, he would probably lose the use of his hand for at least a season. Not to mention the fact that, if this is indeed over him, then he has given up his cover of stealth and this by itself would be a first. Now put all this with what he has to know I would do to him afterwards, and you will see there is just no way this is about Raleck." Mantu said flatly.

Malageth knew they were right. "Then what?" Malageth asked.

"I guess we’ll find out tomorrow," Bimeny said.

"I don’t like going in without some idea," Malageth said.

"Well, I’m looking forward to it, personally." Bimeny said with a smile on his face.

Malageth flushed, "What? Why on earth would you look forward to it?" Malageth frantically put forth the question.

"Gandoo is probably the most important of the elders. I have a bunch of questions to ask him. He’s the wisest of the wise. If anyone can help me to figure out what the storm had in mind, then it will be him. This is the chance of a lifetime and I have questions only he can answer. Finally, we may be able to stop guessing."

Bimeny finished with a huge smile on his face as he bounded up the steps to bed. Malageth just looked helpless.

Mantu looked at Malageth. "I’ll go out and talk to the horse network. They gossip more than a quilter’s party. They’ll know what it’s all about," Mantu reassured her. "I’ll be back in the morning before you leave."

"Mantu," Malageth called back. "See you do. I’ll need you here to watch over Reentu and we’ll need a ride into town from a couple of your friends."

"No problem," Mantu said, and he made for the door.

"And Mantu?"

"Yes, Mother."

"Thank you. I am so very proud of you and I know Reentu is too. I love you very much," and she gave him a kiss on the cheek and hugged him. Malageth strode off to bed and Mantu was out the door.

Sleep came in fits for both Bimeny and Malageth, but not for the same reasons. He, because Gandoo was an idol of his and more so, could explain what all this meant, and she, out of fear of the unknown. Restless dreams kept waking Malageth up. Although still clueless as to what they could possibly want with Bimeny, the one thing she knew for sure, it would not be good. She dreaded the morning and it came all too soon.

Bimeny woke early. The sun’s up! Have I missed it? Oh, it’s only just peeked over Haven Plat. Whew! I thought I slept right through it. I get to meet Gandoo today. A private audience. He asked to see ME! This is going to be a day I will tell my children’s children about. Wait until Reanna hears about it.

Malageth came down the steps and headed for the tea cabinet. "Here," Bimeny said as he handed her a steaming hot cup already made. "Good sunrise to you mother," he said with all the joy he could muster.

She took the cup and gratefully sat at the table and sipped it. "Have you seen your brother yet?" Malageth asked Bimeny.

"No, not yet."

Bimeny had tried showers and baths for cleaning his scales but nothing seemed to work very well. So he took a piece of wool and fashioned a polishing cloth out of it.

Bimeny began rubbing his scales, and to his surprise, they gained a bright luster he had never before achieved. He rubbed the scales on his arms until they reflected so well, you could almost groom yourself in the reflection. Then he started on his chest plates. He puffed out his chest in pride over the glow they gave off. He started on his waist and hips and thighs.

Malageth, sipping her tea across from him, watched him intently. "My, how he has grown and matured," she marveled to herself.

He happened to glance up at her watching him polish himself. He froze mid-polish.

He blushed, "Mooooom." He said, drawing the word out.

She came into reality again and realized she had been staring and grinning in her own little world. Recognizing his position she also recognized why he put on the blush. Now she blushed too. She hadn’t really been watching Bimeny, she lived yet in her morning stupor, the one usually cured over their morning cup.

"Come here," she said as she smiled and motioned for him to come to her. "I’ll get your back."

He complied and she commenced a rigorous polishing. Bimeny felt sure he’d never had anything done before that could compare with the relaxing feeling he experienced right then. If he were a cat, he would surely have been purring. One of the things Bimeny missed since the transformation was the feeling of the wind on his skin, something he now only felt on his face and an occasional breeze when he had to squat. But this he thought was wonderful. He leaned over a chair to make himself easier to polish, and so he could relax completely and enjoy it.

Malageth polished the ridge following Bimeny’s spine to where it dissipated at the waist. She polished what used to be his butt, remembering how it used to be and missing the original just a bit, as only a mother could. She moved down and polished the backs of his legs where he did a hit and miss attempt to reach what he could.

"All done!" she said, setting the polishing tool down beside him. He didn’t move. He just lay there smiling, sound asleep. Malageth poured herself another cup of tea and wondered when her other son would return and what news he would have when he did.

As she watched him happily sleeping, she wondered what was in store for her little boy. The only thing she knew for sure, things would never be the same as they were right then. Malageth moved closer to Bimeny’s head and started to polish the bridge protecting his head. She periodically paused to stroke his hair. If she were a cat, she too would have been purring. It helped pass the time while she waited for Mantu to return. The time crept by. Malageth was having trouble staying awake. The stress and the lack of sleep were already taking their toll.

I hope Mantu shows up soon. It’s nearly time to go. Better get Bimeny going. "Bimeny, wake up, son. You have to get ready."

Mantu showed up, looking totally frustrated. "Good sunrise Mother. I’m sorry, no one could tell me anything. All they could say for certain was some talk of Bimeny when he came down from the Mountain, but even that wasn’t clear. In a way, I guess this is good news, though. If it were really bad, then there would certainly be more talk and the horses would know something for certain, but because they know nothing, it can’t be bad. Right?"

This wasn’t the news she wanted to hear and she resigned herself to the fact she would have to wait until the meeting to find out any more.

"I hope you’re right," she said, handing Bimeny a cheese sandwich.

‘I can remember when this really tasted good,’ Bimeny thought. ‘Now, it’s pretty tasteless. Maybe Gandoo can tell me how to make it good again. Nothing tastes good anymore. Nothing except meat; steak would really make this sandwich taste good. A nice, rare piece.’

His mouth was watering, but it wasn’t because of the cheese sandwich he now forced himself to eat. He finally gave up on it and set the remainder on his plate.

"You going to finish that?" Mantu asked.

"No, go ahead. I’m done."

He missed the subtle tastes too, as Malageth knew well how to cook. With the passing of Grandma and her passapear pie, he knew those special flavors were all too fleeting and he wished he could get it back before it disappeared for good.

"Come on, Bimeny, we’re going to be late if you don’t get a move on it. Go and put on your best tunic and shorts," Malageth directed.

"But Mom, those haven’t been fixed yet. They’ll be hard to get on."

"I’ll help you get them on. You’d better squat before we leave too, so we don’t have to deal with it after we get there." Malageth said.

"Alright, I’ll go outside now and then get my clothes. Be right back!"

He got up and marveled at the depth his scales took in the sunlight. He knew they shined but he had only seen them in the predawn light.

‘I look gooood,’ he thought looking at his reflection in the glass on the door.

Malageth waited until she thought he should be back and then called for him. He came running, clothes in hand. She fought to get them on him, but in the end, she clearly lost the battle. He had grown and there was no way those clothes were going on. Finally in total resignation, Malageth gave up.

"Well, they want to see your scales, so we might as well give ’em what they want. Let’s go."

Mantu seemed to be in intense conversation with the horses he had hooked to the cart. He appeared to have come to some understanding and helped Malageth into the cart. But when Bimeny got close, they jumped and reared.

"What is going on, you two?" Mantu demanded. "You gave me your word."

"We gave you our word we would carry your mother and brother to and from Elder Gandoo’s home. You said nothing about carrying the dragon boy. If you had told us he is the passenger, we would not have agreed," the first horse said to Mantu.

"He is not a dragon. He is human and he is my brother. You have nothing to fear from him."

"We don’t believe you. Dragons eat our kind. Would you carry one who would eat you while you serve him?" The other horse said.

"Would you believe it if he said it himself?"

"Maybe. We would need to hear his words to say for sure."

"Bimeny, could you come around front of the horses for a moment?" Mantu asked. Bimeny climbed down from the wagon and walked slowly around front of the horses. He instinctively put his hand on the nose of the first horse and started rubbing. He looked at Mantu. Mantu leaned over so Malageth couldn’t hear and said, "Tell them you give them your word you won’t harm them or try to eat them."


Mantu repeated himself.

Bimeny replied with a smile, "You’re kidding, right?"

"No." Mantu replied. "They insist you smell like a dragon and they are afraid to carry you. Now give them your word, unless you want to walk and miss your meeting."

"Will they understand me?" Bimeny asked.

"I think so," Mantu said.

Bimeny looked at the horses and smiled. "Hi, I’m Bimeny." He started to say. The second horse shied and pulled away, making noises which were obviously horse language. Mantu made some noises and the horses reciprocated. Mantu got a really odd look on his face and placed his hand on Bimeny’s shoulder and closed his eyes.

Keeping his eyes closed, he said to Bimeny, "Start again."

Bimeny started over.

"Hello," he said, "I’m Bimeny, Mantu’s little brother. The storm changed me. I have been told I smell like a dragon. Well, I am not a dragon. I am a boy and you have nothing to fear from me. I will never harm you. Do you understand me?" Bimeny asked.

"Yes, we do. Mantu had told us, but we wanted to hear it from your mouth. We do not know you, but we find trust in your words and trust in your brother."

"We will carry you, dragon boy, but know this. If you move suspiciously, we will do what we must to escape and we will never carry you again," said the second horse.

"Thank you," said Bimeny. "May I ask you a question please?"

"We will hear it," said the first horse.

"I have been told by another horse, I smell like a dragon. How can you tell? No one has seen a dragon for many seasons. How can you know what one smells like? Do you know where any exist?" Bimeny asked.

"When you hear the growl of the lion, you need not see it to know to be afraid," said the second horse. "It is in our blood to know. Even if we have never seen one, our blood remembers the smell."

"Thank you," Bimeny replied. "You will carry us then?" Bimeny asked.

"Yes," was the reply.

"This is too cool," Mantu said, "I didn’t know I could do that!"

Malageth cut him off, "We need to go or we’ll be late."

Bimeny climbed back into the wagon, and Malageth started to reach for the reins and couldn’t find them. She looked to see if they fell, and then realized there weren’t any at all. All of a sudden, the wagon took off. Malageth panicked. She turned around to see Mantu standing there looking at his hands in amazement of his new found abilities.

"It’s okay, Mom," Bimeny said. "He told them where to go."

"Well, I’m not thrilled to ride with no control, but we appear to have no choice. Remind me to have a talk with Mantu about it when we get back."

It didn’t take too long and the horses behaved the entire trip. Malageth and Bimeny stepped down from the wagon, which pulled away as soon as they were clear of it.

"Wait!" Bimeny said, but too late. The horses were out of sight.

"How are we supposed to get back?" Bimeny said to Malageth.

"I’ll be happy to walk. Don’t tell your brother, but I think I’d be happier if he had a grower’s blessing. These horses...."

As they stepped up to the door, it opened and a nicely dressed woman with motherly eyes said, "Welcome, Malageth and Bimeny, you are expected. Won’t you please come in?"

"Yes, thank you," said Malageth and she and Bimeny stepped in through the door.

Bimeny stared in awe. He had never seen a home so beautiful. Everywhere he looked, there were record binders of every color, size and shape. There were golden stands holding great, thick records. Bimeny envied Reanna and her love of records.

There were chairs with brightly colored pillows and golden tassels on the corner, that looked like they were spun from pure gold, and the floor...felt furry! At home, Bimeny had wooden floors with rag rugs, but the floor here seemed soft everywhere and the soft had pictures. Bimeny immediately dropped to his knees to see if it was soft to his hands as well, but his hands were covered with the tough, bluish dragon skin. It wasn’t as sensitive as his hands used to be. Only his face was original skin, so he knelt and rubbed his face on the floor.

It is! It’s softer than my blanket!

"Bimeny!" Malageth whispered harshly.

She walked over and quietly put her hand on his shoulder and guided him to the room where they were to wait. He sat down and then stood quickly again. There was just too much to look at to be seated. Malageth watched him closely. They were still a few minutes early. The horses were eager to be rid of their cargo, especially the cargo they figured wanted to eat them.

After a few minutes, which seemed like hours to Malageth, the door opened and a tall man with a bald head came in. Although he was middle aged, he looked quite handsome. He had adorned, shiny golden-colored robes. Bimeny had never seen shiny clothing before, except for his own scales, of course. The robes were beautiful. Bimeny had not known so much beauty could be in one place.

‘If this is Gandoo’s home, then it is by far the coolest place I’ve ever seen,’ Bimeny thought to himself.

The man approached Malageth. "Hello, thank you so much for coming. My apologies for keeping you waiting. You are, of course, Malageth. I am Gandoo." The man said, "I am very sorry to hear of Reentu’s state. I have always liked Reentu. He always traded fairly and we never had a single complaint towards him. Well, except for the ones regarding fencing and cattle breaking through, but even then, he always took care of it quickly and satisfactorily."

"Thank you," Malageth said. She remained silent, watching the man. He turned to Bimeny, "And this fine young man must be Bimeny. I’ve heard so much about you, Bimeny. I am Gandoo. I’ve been excited over the prospect of meeting you," he said.

"Over meeting me?" Bimeny said. "It is me who is excited to meet you!" Bimeny went on to say. "I’m just a kid. You are the wisest of the wise. You can’t possibly be excited to meet me!" Bimeny said, blushing.

"Oh, but I am! Bimeny, why don’t you and your mother step in here and we’ll have some tea and cakes. We’ll get to talk then, and get to know each other," Gandoo said, as he pointed with his open hand to a door into another room. Malageth followed, still cautious. She gave Gandoo the look that clearly said, "Why are we here?"

He led them into a large room with large open windows on three sides. It was very bright. At one end of the room was a table with three soft chairs. He motioned for Malageth to take one side and then showed Bimeny to the other. Gandoo then sat down in the remaining chair.

"I can see your mother is anxious, so let me get right to it, then. Word has reached us the storm has changed you two storms early, and possibly by accident. Unfortunately, I can see this is true already," Gandoo said with a serious look on his face.

"What do you mean, unfortunately?" Malageth cut in quickly.

"Every once in a while, the storm throws us these little random changelings. We think of it as a hiccup in the storm. Well, we believe you to be one of those random changelings. Since there is no true blessing to be given, and in fact there isn’t even any of the species left, then we feel your exposure to the community may cause needless panic and then others will refuse to go to Stormtraub altogether. The communities depend on those blessed for their very survival, so we are not talking about a single community here, we are talking about a world! So, you can see, we really have no choice here, can’t you?" Gandoo said with finality.

"Choice about what? What are you saying?" Malageth asked.

"Well, nothing horrible, I assure you, Malageth. I think, and the rest of the council agrees, it would be best for all concerned if Bimeny were to relocate to a colony in the mountains for those like him who have received these random fluke blessings. He would be well treated, I assure you," Gandoo said, as if he were inviting them to a weekend resort.

"Where is this colony? I would see it before we go there," Malageth said with concern.

"Oh well, you could not go there, Malageth, its location is secret. I’m sure you can understand." Gandoo said.

"Thank you," Malageth said, "but we must decline. Bimeny is not old enough to be on his own. If the council wants, we will keep him at home and away from school and Haven Plat," Malageth conceded.

"Malageth," Gandoo said, "you weren’t given an option here. We’re taking Bimeny. Guards! Take Bimeny into custody at once."

"Bimeny! Run!" Malageth screamed. Bimeny ran to the window, his heart was beating like it was coming out of his chest. There were no steps down. We are three levels up, too far to jump. Suddenly he felt hands grabbing him by the arms. He tried to pull loose, but it was no use. They had him. They had him until he turned his head and bit the hand of one of his captors.

"Ouch!" the guard screamed and turned loose of him, grabbing his bleeding hand and falling to his knees. Bimeny turned to the other set of hands and he looked the guard in the eyes. Whatever the guard saw in Bimeny’s eyes made him turn him loose and back away in total fear.

Bimeny ran from window to window, looking for a way out. None! He looked at the entrance to the house where they entered. Four large guards blocked it.

Gandoo spoke. "There’s no way out, Bimeny, give up. You won’t be harmed." Bimeny glanced out the window and just on the crest of the hill, he could see two men digging a hole. A very big hole.

"Is that the new entrance to the colony you plan to send me to?" Gandoo glanced out the window. "Bimeny, I truly am sorry. It must be this way. There is no other way. Think of this sacrifice as your duty."

"My duty to die for no reason? I’ve done nothing wrong!" And he felt this sudden urge to vomit and he did, but what came out was fire! A lot of it! Directly at Gandoo, who dove out of the way as the table burst into flames. "Stand still, Gandoo, consider it your duty!" Bimeny said. Then Bimeny did something totally unexpected. He ran as fast as he could from one end of the room to the other, and he jumped out of the window, and as he started to fall, he suddenly realized he wasn’t falling. He turned his head to see who or what had him, and he saw wings.

‘Hey, where did those come from?’ he thought.

No time to wonder now. He looked back at the window to see a burning building and people running. There! He saw her. Malageth was alright and running back into the building. He leaned forward and his wings flapped and navigated him forward, and he moved around so he could see the door. The door opened and three servants ran out, then two cooks, then Malageth. He soared down and landed beside her. She hugged him.

"Where did you get those?" she asked. "And how long have you been able to breathe fire?" Malageth asked hurriedly.

He smiled and said, "Just since tea, pretty cool huh?"

Just then, Gandoo came through the door with four guards right behind him. Bimeny pushed Malageth behind him and he stepped around her, opened his mouth and belched a stream of fire from left to right in front of them, blocking their way.

Gandoo screamed, "Sound the alarm! Archers!" Bimeny gave another blast and forced them back into the burning building.

Malageth said, "Bimeny, GO! I’ll be alright. GO!"

He kissed her on the cheek and said, "I love you," then he took flight.

As he gained altitude, he saw Mantu riding like the wind towards Malageth. He flew around to the right and approached the wagon from the back, so he didn’t spook the horses, and landed in the bed of the wagon. Bimeny staggered and grabbed the back of the seat next to Mantu.

"Mantu, when you enter the yard, Mother is off to the right. Watch for the archers. I’ll distract them." Mantu jumped, startled by Bimeny’s presence.

"Where’d you...? How’d you...?" Mantu stammered, but Bimeny cut him off.

"There’s no time. We’ll talk later. Just get Mother and get out. Don’t wait for me," and then he vanished. Mantu turned around and looked left, then spun right. He had just disappeared.

Just then, an arrow hit the seat next to Mantu. He directed the horses right. He looked up and saw they weren’t firing at him. They were shooting at something overhead. It looked like a dragon...and the realization hit him, they were shooting at his little brother. He saw Bimeny dive towards them, and what he saw next scared him.

He could just about swear he saw his brother breathe fire on the parapet, just before it burst into flames. Or at least that’s what Mantu thought he did. But it couldn’t have been. That’s absurd. The sun was behind him, so it wasn’t clear. But now Mantu was in the thick of it. He didn’t have time to watch for his brother, he had to find his Mother amidst the smoke and flames.

Another shower of arrows flew at Bimeny. He covered his face with his arms. The arrows ricocheted off Bimeny’s hard plating as he dove for the other parapet and engulfed it in flames as well. Amidst the screams of burning archers, Mantu entered the yard and spotted Malageth. He ordered the horses to stop. He reached for his mother’s hand as Gandoo jumped out of a window and down to the ground. He had a bow with him, and was sizing up a shot at Mantu as he reached for an arrow. Bimeny streamlined his wings close to his body and dove directly at Gandoo. He landed feet first on Gandoo’s chest, just as he knocked up an arrow. The bow flew out of his hands as Gandoo went back against the wall.

"You can’t get away!" Gandoo scolded.

"Maybe, but you won’t see me captured," Bimeny replied as he covered Gandoo and his fine golden robes in flames. Gandoo screamed in pain and ran from Bimeny, straight toward the wall of guards blocking the courtyard.

Mantu now had Malageth onboard. Bimeny grabbed Gandoo’s bow and quiver and tossed them to Mantu. In a flash, Mantu knocked up an arrow and loosed it at the wall of guards. They scattered, not knowing which was worse, catching fire from the fire-crazed Gandoo running at them, or the archer who could knock and launch faster than they had ever seen. The answer came quickly enough. Both!

Bimeny strafed them from above and they gave way and scattered. Mantu’s horses seized the opportunity and bolted forward and through the arched gate. As soon as they cleared the gate, Bimeny turned and waited. As the guards started to follow, Bimeny filled the arch with flames and took flight. As he looked on from above, he could see the entire compound in flames. He watched a few people climb out from windows and hidden passages in the wall, leading to the outside.

‘Gandoo started this. There’s been enough killing. I need distance to let the situation settle. Maybe with Gandoo gone, they won’t follow,’ he thought to himself as he flew towards home.

He soared above his brother so as not to spook the horses, always watching carefully to make sure they were not going to have visitors any time soon.

He knew it wasn’t over. In fact, it had just begun.

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