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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 87: Beam 23
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When they reached The Bucket, Beam delivered the scale fibers to Bron, who was not enthusiastic but once he understood just how the white-haired man had obtained these fragments said they would probably do. Then he drank some number of bottles off the top shelf and slept for most of three days. He awoke to learn that Bron was still working, sleeping very little, taking his meals on his feet, and had produced a very nice looking ring on which he was still working. It would be another five days before the ring was completed, but Beam decided there was no point trying to hurry the man.
Meanwhile, the dragon did not arrive, possibly discouraged by the gunfire, which undoubtedly looked, sounded, smelled, and felt entirely outside its experience. Beam had no illusions, though, that he had driven the beast away permanently. Dragons were said to be cunning, and this one was probably using caution in its approach.
The ring was ready.
“I’m giving no guarantees,” Bron said. “I told you I never did this before, and it’s way beyond anything I’ve ever even tried. From everything I know, when you put that ring on your finger it should let you link your mind with that of the nearest dragon, so that you can control it by your thoughts. But obviously there’s no way I can test it without there being a nearby dragon, so we don’t know until we know.”
“I trust you, Bron,” the white-haired man replied. “You haven’t failed me yet.”
“Well, let’s hope. It could be pretty bad if this was the first time.”
He gave the exhausted blacksmith a couple days to rest, then gathered his gang and headed for the last known location of the dragon.
This time it took only three days to reach the first burnt field, but the dragon was not in view and whatever meat had been here had been removed entirely before they arrived. Peasants herding flocks had jammed the road, impeding their travel, and Beam realized this reduced the number of targets ahead and meant that the dragon would have to come farther into the civilized lands to find a meal. If things were empty enough out there, his team was probably going to become the best buffet in the neighborhood. They would have to be wary.
“We camp here,” he said, “and wait. It’s probably going to come this direction when it looks for its next meal, and if it sees us it might think we’re it.”
It was two days before that happened, but Bob apparently heard it coming, or whatever you would call what he did with his mind, and everyone was ready, Bron in the invisibility cloak and flying shoes standing by to help if something went wrong, Beam holding the ring, Dawn equipped with both pistols.
The dragon spotted them, and perhaps didn’t recognize them because it began a rapid dive in their direction. Beam didn’t really think about how to wear a ring; he’d worn one for a few years not that long ago, and so this one went on that finger quite naturally.
It brought a tremendous euphoria, as of some invincibility flooding his mind and body, a high unlike anything any chemical had ever produced for him. Then it overwhelmed him, and he felt himself succumbing to unconsciousness. It would be up to the others to get them out of this, he thought; the ring apparently didn’t work.
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 #306: Versers Refocused. 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: