Going Home

Home is beckoning

I long to run my fingers

down my cat’s back

hear his plaintive meow

when he’s hungry

I miss the loud calls

of my birds as they speak

to one another across the room

 

I miss my home

Not just the curtains or the furniture

But the my-ness of home

all the things that make it

uniquely mine

 

memories of my kids that linger

in the air like a fine mist

I can hardly wait to open the

door and step into the world that

my husband and I have created

 

Kraznir Complications: The Dragon

Eventually we made it across which was good, for now we were only a few miles from Slinsil.  The bad news was that a small blue dragon greeted us as we disembarked.

“I eats dwarfs.”  Smoke streamed from the dragon’s nostrils.  Its long, spiked tail wagged back and forth like a cat’s.  “Gives me the dwarf as toll.”

Athor stepped forward.  He put on a display of some rather fancy swordplay that usually made grown men cower in fear.  “No dwarf, no toll.”

A jet of fire erupted from the dragon’s mouth.  Waves of heat washed over me, causing me to break into a goodly sized sweat.

“Gives me the dwarf or you don’t passes.”

Athor flexed his muscled arms.  “It’s me you want, right, Dragon?”

“Yeses,” he hissed.  “Do I knows you?”  The dragon’s eyes narrowed and its head lowered even with Athor’s.

“Yes, Pineki,” Athor said as he pounded his chest with his closed fist and then splayed his fingers in a salute.  “When I saw you last, you were running into the forest with scales missing from your belly.”

“You were the ones.” Pineki hissed, creating a fog around her head.  “You will die, dwarf.  This time Pineki wins.”

Athor charged, sword pointed at Pineki’s belly.  Little John and Doughty ran alongside, leaving me in charge of four nervous horses.

The fight was intense even though it was remarkably slow. Athor missed the dragon’s belly when she sidestepped to the right. Little John aimed for her talons and caught the nail on one, causing blood to drip.  This angered Pineki so she blew fire at Doughty as he moved toward her neck, confusing him enough that he missed.

For a little thing, Pineki had amazing skills. She leapt at just the right time, spun and danced like a King’s maiden, and spat balls of fire at each of the fighters. She was full of energy while we were weary from our travels and it soon became obvious that the dragon would win.

Just as Athor ran in for one last swipe at the dragon’s belly, Pineki bent her head and blew a stream of orange fire.  The dwarf’s body became entrenched and the stench of burning flesh caused me to lose what little lunch I had eaten.

Doughty and Little John watched helplessly as Pineki grabbed the charred Athor in her talons and flew off.  “I’ve gots me a dwarf, so you can passes,” she called.

Saddened to lose another friend, we didn’t feel like moving on so we built a primitive shelter out of branches gathered along a line of trees, tied our horses amongst tasty grasses, and sheltered for the night. I employed my invisibility spell, but Doughty, not trusting its effectiveness, refused to build a fire which meant we had to eat the crocodile raw.

It was disgusting and chewy, but I ate anyway. I needed nourishment and that was all we had. Afterward I wrote in my journal until it got too dark.  Little John gathered leaves for bedding, and Doughty stood guard for the first watch. I closed my eyes and tried to fall asleep, but my mind would not let go of the image of a charred Athor being carried off.

 

Because Slinsil was not far away and Kraznir’s invasion plans had to be made known, after a breakfast more raw croc we moved into the forest with heads drooped.  Two friends lost. How many more might we lose?

We rode as quickly as possible into Slinsil, fortunately without further excitement.  I had never thought the city to be beautiful, but that morning, with the sun glinting off the metal roofs offering a degree of safely and comfort, it seemed like the most beautiful city in the known world.

As we rode past shops and houses townsfolk greeted us with a cheer as they would any returning soldiers.  It felt good to be what had been my home since I was enlisted into the army, but my heart still ached for our dead companions.

We rode up to the gates of the palace, where, once announced, King Taden’s emissary invited us in for a bath and an audience with the king himself.  After a good soaking in the private bath offered me, a servant presented me with a clean gown of sapphire-colored silk. It fit perfectly, almost as if it was made for me.

I met my remaining companions, equally cleaned up and outfitted in bright white tunics, black leggings and leather belts. We were ushered into the King’s throne room. Taden stood when we entered, complicating things a bit.

According to protocol, if the King stands, we must also but our heads cannot be higher than his. For Little John this was no problem since he’s short of stature, but for Doughty and I, well, we had to stoop our shoulders and shrink into ourselves in order to keep our eyes below Taden’s chin.

Kraznir Complications: Almost Home

We rose before dawn, hoping to cross the river before any enemies passing nearby could see us. I’d like to say that we battled man-eating monsters, but that would be a lie.  In actuality, nothing interesting happened.  The water never rose above my mount’s knees.  Never once did my horse falter and no one fell into the water.

Just as the sun’s rays broke over the tops of the tall trees to our east, we entered the forests of Hagg.  The trees were so tall that it hurt the neck to look at the tops, and they were so wide that it would take ten men holding hands to encircle just one trunk.

We passed areas where entire sections of trees had been cut down.  I was sad to see that, for these trees were hundreds of years old.  Not in my lifetime would another tree grow as tall or as wide. On the other hand, it meant we were close to civilization and nearly out of the realm of orcs and wargs.

Around noon, after an easy ride in the shade we came to the River Siln.  To take advantage of clean water and to rest ourselves and our horses, Little John demanded we rest.  He wasn’t just thinking of the horses, but as we all knew, himself, for he hated horses, like all hobbits.  One time he explained that it felt as if he was riding on the back of a relative.  I understood what he meant for hobbits were covered in a dense fur much like a horse’s, and their course hair on their heads was like the swishy tail of my stallion.

Athor gathered tinder and got a small fire going, while Doughty captured two hares by lying in wait amongst a likely looking group of bushes. Without the benefit of snares, he enticed them with tempting bits of grasses he had plucked. The hares approached without fear. After all, when Athor lay on the ground, his eyes were level with those of a hare. When the first was within reach, he grabbed it, twisted its neck and stuffed it in his bag. He did the same when a second, obviously not knowing what had happened to the first, hopped up for a snack of fresh grass.

Using my wizard skills I lit the fire and before long we had a tasty meal.

After eating I walked into the river in order to finally rid myself of the filth that coated my body, but when the water was shin-high, Doughty hollered, “Get out of there!”

Like a petulant child I stood there, determined to have that bath.  Until I felt something brush against the back of my leg.  I bent to see what it was, fortunately, for at that exact moment, an arrow swished past, narrowly missing my right arm.

“Got him,” Little John said.  “I got me a croc.  Always wanted one of them.”

When I looked behind down there was a tiny dead crocodile, lying half out of the water with an arrow piercing its left eye.  While my heart ached for the dead reptile, my head was very glad that it hadn’t taken a bite of me.

Athor pulled out his arrow and slung the crocodile over his back.  He got a cloth out of a saddlebag, stretched it out on the beach and rolled the crocodile until it was tightly wrapped.  He threw it over the back of his saddle and tied it down.

“Thanks for saving my life,” I said.  “So, how do we cross if there are crocs?”

“Open your eyes, dope,” grumbled Little John.  He pointed a ways downstream where stood a large raft, held in place by two long ropes that ran from one side of the river to the other.

“Oh.”

We led our horses onto the bobbing raft, which was not easy as they were terrified of the up and down movement.  Doughty’s bucked and snorted, upsetting Little John’s.  When Athor’s horse heard the screams of Little John’s, she backed into mine, knocking us both off the raft and onto the beach.  Only when Doughty got his stallion calmed down, did Athor’s stop thrashing about and Little John’s stood as calmly as a tub of lukewarm water.  I finally got my horse on the raft, the last one to board.

We took turns pulling on the ropes and holding the horses.  The ropes burned our hands and sizzled our arm muscles.  My chest felt like it was going to pop open.

Holding the horses wasn’t easy, either.  You had to keep the reins for one in your left hand and for another in your right.  The horses stayed jittery the entire journey.