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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 81: Beam 21
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A winter passed, and then another, and the white-haired man wasn’t quite certain in his own mind whether it had been two or three springs, but everything had been quiet.
It was late in the spring that a traveler entered the inn, seeking food and lodging, and bringing with him a interesting story. Beam feigned disinterest, and when Bron tried to engage him he waved him off, but he listened closely as his customers regaled the stranger with questions, and gathered all the details. Then, once the traveler retired to his room upstairs, the white-haired man retreated to the kitchen with his team.
Bron asked, “So, what are we going to do?”
“Do?” Beam responded. “I’m working on think at this point. My first question is, are dragons real?”
“What do you mean, are they real?”
“In the world I’m from, it’s generally agreed that dragons never existed, but were mythical beasts created, probably to scare children, or to explain why nobody ever wandered outside the civilized lands and those who did usually didn’t return. But this isn’t my world, so the question is, do we think dragons exist?”
“Well, we get them every decade or so. They come in from the wilds apparently looking for easy food, cattle, stray peasants, the occasional knight.”
“So what do you do?”
“Well, there’s the problem. Usually the King deals with it, sending armies or heroes or someone to discourage the dragon. Most of the time the dragon retreats, once it realizes that this isn’t going to be the easy meals it hoped. Once in a while someone kills one, but not all that often.”
“And the problem?”
“Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but you’ve pretty much banished the King from our province, and it wouldn’t be too practical to go ask him to deal with our dragon problem. I mean, that’s one of the reasons people pay taxes, and we haven’t been. So this being the unprotected area, there’s a good chance the dragon is going to come our direction and start eating our animals and our people. I’m not sure what we do about it.”
The white head bobbed up and down slowly. “I see. Let me think.” He thought. Then he remembered something from a game.
“Bron, I want you to make me a ring.”
“A ring? Really? What’s the point of that?”
“I want you to make a ring that controls dragons. I think it should be made of gold, alloyed with a bit of silver to strengthen it, with a ruby mounted on it, maybe a few ruby chips embedded. Then magic it, so that whoever wears it can control dragons. What do you need?”
“Wait a minute. You’re asking me to create a magic ring. That’s--that’s way beyond anything I’ve ever even thought of attempting.”
“I have confidence in you. You haven’t failed me yet. So, what do you need?”
Beam waited, lighting a cigarette impatiently, and in a moment Bron answered.
“I would need something from a dragon--blood would be best, or a bit of brain or something, but it could be done with a tooth or a scale or just about anything, even a bit of eggshell from a dragon egg.”
“Where do we buy something like that?”
Bron laughed. “Buy? You find someone willing to go where the dragon is and come back with something, maybe a scavenged bit of skin, and hope that he’s honest and not selling you something from a lizard.” Beam nodded; that made sense. “I’ll probably also need to hire a goldsmith or jeweler to help; I don’t make jewelry, and I don’t work with gold and silver--although I have a bit, a few leaves that I grabbed from those trees on the way into the forest, which I thought maybe I might want if we left in a hurry.”
“All right, I guess I’ve got a trip to make to see about getting something from a dragon. I’ll take Dawn and Bob, and leave you to work on the rest of the problem. Bob can’t actually tell me anything, but I think he can say ‘duck’ well enough, so I’ve got a decent chance of coming back alive.”
“Dugh,” Bob said, and Beam smiled.
“Good enough. Let’s get ready.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #300: Versers Challenged. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: