Part 2 of chapter 3. 3520 word count.
Mother shushed her sister. “Are you a Loligath? Do you understand the dragon tongue?” Lila was silent. “That is not what that phrase means.” She turned back to me, “That is what I told the Black King Dragon after she told me I was pregnant. I was trying to ease into that fact.” My mother was obviously upset.
I finally realized what Mother had said…I was only seventeen, and this was a little over twenty-one years ago! I had a sibling!
“You mean to say that you had a child before me?” I asked, incredulously. This meant that I wasn’t a big failure. I wasn’t the Chosen One. I felt like a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders. The feeling was fleeting as the other aspects of what was being said started to sink in. “Why didn’t you tell me I had a brother or sister?”
“A brother…” She said as the tears started to flow again.
Mother sobbed for a long time. I was glad for the time to let it all sink in.
“Who was the father?” Out of all of the questions in my head, I have no idea how that one escape
Her tears stopped, and her voice turned very much into the voice of my mother as she answered, admonishingly, “Your father was the father. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him in the training grounds as a young boy. He was trying to wrestle with a green drake.” She seemed to be taking a fond trip down her own memory lane. “I made excuses to go down to the stables, and the training ground, to watch him. After time he took notice of me, as well. We grew to be best friends. Father hated that I was spending so much time by the dragons. About the time I realized that I was truly in love with your father, and not under the spell of some silly childhood infatuation, my father forbade me from going to the training grounds and stables anymore.
“Of course we still met in secret. Young love is careless and passionate…” She brought herself out of her thoughts. “I was sixteen. I didn’t even know that I was pregnant until the Black King Dragon told me.”
I was a little embarrassed to hear her and Father’s intimate details, so I interrupted her, “You never did answer my question. What does ‘Peruto que osa lactale monosu mean’?”
My mother started crying again and said, “It means, ‘How can I bring the end to my own kingdom?’.” I knew that was the answer before she told me. I didn’t know how, but I knew.
I could hear rustling, and then my aunt said, “Here, use my handkerchief.”
I heard Mother dry her face then continued with her story. “That night, when your father fell from the sky, I thought my life was over. The thought of losing him was too much for me to bear. I was sent to the tower with my mother when the attack started. When I heard that he had gone out to fight, I abandoned my mother in the tower and watched from the stables. When the tower came down I couldn’t help but feel it was my fault that mother died.”
She gave in to sobs, again. Lila used the pause to console her. “Don’t be silly, Diselle, if you were there you would have died right alongside her.”
After a while my mother regained her composure enough to continue. “I started to run towards the rubble of the fallen tower when I heard a loud whelp. I turned just in time to see Slatherous blowing one last fireball at the Black King Dragon before hitting the earth. I changed directions, and my feet carried me across that field faster than I think I even had strength to run. Before I knew it, I was standing in front of that enormous dark beast. I was frightened beyond imagination. The Black King Dragon was about five times bigger than any dragon I have ever seen. I thought she was going to devour me and my love so I shouted at her to leave us alone. I always knew I was a Lolagath, but I hid the gift from everyone but your father.” She turned to Lila, “I didn’t want to have to go to anymore boring lessons.” Both my mother and Aunt Lila laughed. Then I remembered our ongoing little joke and joined them. It was nice to hear Mother laughing instead of crying. When she cried, my heart hurt.
“Anyway…” My mother continued, “She spoke to me, but instead of being a frightful beast, she was actually kind. She said, ‘Fear not Diselle daughter of Lord Olipherous, King of Gogaloth. It is not I who wishes death upon thy people, but my master, the Dark Lord. I am bound to him by the covenant of the ancient ones, and must do his bidding. I have betrayed him tonight. Young Slatherous has done something that neither man nor beast has done in twenty millennia; He has wounded me, a Head of an Order of Dragons. There, in his claws is one of the scales from my side. In respect of his deed, and with my blood, I sanctify the union of thee with thy love.’ The Black King Dragon touched the wound on her side with her enormous claws then put a drop of her blood on my head, a drop on Illarsian’s head, and finally one on Slatherous’s head. Your father and Slatherous were dead, but when the blood touched them, their lives were returned to them.” Once again my mother began to cry. This time I reached up to touch her. My hand was met by her worn, tired hands, and she sobbed for a few more moments.
I wanted to stop her from crying so I asked, “You keep saying her, and The King said, ‘him’. Is The Black King Dragon a boy or a girl?”
The distraction worked. Mother laughed. “It’s a common mistake. People hear the title Black King Dragon, and assume she’s a male. The word ‘king’ should actually be ‘ruler’ if you were to translate it directly from dragon-tongue. It doesn’t have a masculine or feminine connotation.”
She put a hand on my shoulder. “The Black King dragon then told me that I carried a son in my womb that would fulfill the prophecy, but that he would destroy my kingdom. That son was your brother, Cal.” She squeezed my shoulder slightly.
“That is when your grandfather arrived, and I said, ‘Peruto que osa lactale monosu’. The Dark Lord had risen from the spot that The Black King Dragon had thrown him, and was about to slay us all when The Black King Dragon grasped him in his talons and flew away. Father didn’t care about Illarsian or Slatherous, but I wouldn’t leave until he saved my love. After your father was well enough, we ran away together. He left Slatherous to mend on his own because he was afraid of what might happen to me if my father found out that I was pregnant. We would have been found if we stayed in Gogaloth. If we went to our neighbors in Bilothoria, someone would have recognized us. We dared not go south to The Black Clan because whether they recognized us or not, they would have killed us. So we had no choice but to flee north to Emersory. The northland barbarians took us in and accepted us as part of their own clan.
“We stayed with a kind family until Illarsian was able to build us a house. About the same time that Illarsian finished our little cottage, word of a king ravaging the lands looking for his daughter reached our little village. The village elders told us that we had to leave. When we explained the situation to the family that took us in, they agreed to take my son, and raise him as one of their own.” Once again my mother started to sob uncontrollably. “I gave up your brother to save him. If my father ever knew that I had a son he would have killed him.”
I couldn’t help but interrupt. “But you had me… He didn’t kill me. Why didn’t you return and get my brother after you saw how he acted when you had me?” None of it made sense to me. “Grandfather says that he has nothing to fear if a descendant of his is The Chosen One because that would only mean that his family would rule all the lands.”
My mother stopped me. “Cal, I know that is what he told you, but it’s simply not true. The prophecy says there will be no kings, no rulers. Dragons and men shall return to how they were in ancient times; dragons shall rule the land.”
I had never heard that part of the prophecy before. I just heard that The Chosen One would overthrow all of the kingdoms, and peace would reign.
“The prophecy is written in dragon-tongue, and even the best Lolagaths have difficulty reading it.” Mother explained. “People interpret what they want from the prophecy, but the fact of the matter is; dragons are better than us. They do not seek to wage war. They live now in a fallen state. There are few leaders left in the dragon clans and that is why they act like the savages you now know. Also, men have corrupted the dragons. Somehow, our ancient ancestors convinced, or forced, the dragons to fight for us. Over time, the hatred men hold in their hearts was passed to the dragons. Their race of intellectual beings became like us; selfish, petty, foolish. Eventually, they stopped talking to each other. That is why dragons are the way they are today. If you took a human baby and left it in the woods to be raised by animals, it would act like an animal. So it was with the dragons.”
The new information my mother was telling me was almost unbelievable. At the same time, however, it made perfect sense. I could not understand how the savage brainless beasts I worked with everyday were the same ones described in legends as wise and intellectual beings. If there was no education, any intelligent being would seem unintelligent.
My mother touched my shoulder again and asked, “Are you ok? Is all this too much for you?”
I quickly replied, “Oh no, please, please go on. What happened to my brother?”
My mother took a deep breath and let out a sigh. “I don’t know what happened to your brother. When we returned home we were afraid to tell father that I had had a child. He wanted to have Illarsian put to death, but I told him that we had been married. My father knew that there was no way he could offer me as a bride to any of the princes from the other kingdoms because I was deflowered. He told me that our union was forbidden. To save the kingdom from invasion, he had to strip me of my title. We have been living these long years in exile so that father could claim Lila as his heir, and offer her to marry the prince of Bilothoria to unite our kingdoms.
“Lila married Salous about the same time that you were born. Sadly, she is unable to provide an heir.” I heard Lila’s breath catch. My mother removed her hand from my shoulder, I assumed to comfort Lila. Then she continued, “Your father and I were told that if we had a son, he would be offered as a sacrifice to stop any wars with our neighboring kingdoms. I was already pregnant with you, Cal. I couldn’t bear to lose you, too, so I agreed to a terrible thing.” My mother started to cry harder than she had ever cried before. Between sobs she managed to say, “I… let… my father… blind you at birth…” She succumbed to her sobs, and then quickly added, “to save your life.”
The words made me sick. I felt betrayed. I couldn’t be mad at my mother because she was trying to save me. When I thought of my grandfather, my blood boiled. Then I thought of his duty to his kingdom; if my grandfather didn’t kill me, every other kingdom would have assaulted ours until they succeeded in doing what he failed to do. By blinding me, he would be able to tell the other kingdoms that I wasn’t The Chosen One, and he wouldn’t have to sacrifice his own flesh and blood. I wanted to be mad at someone, but I couldn’t. They had actually saved my life by blinding me.
There was a long pause. Neither of us could speak. It was as if time stood still, but our minds were still moving. Finally, Lila said, “You see Cal, she had no choice. It was your sight or your life, sweetie. Diselle is the best mother anyone could ever ask for. She has made so many sacrifices for her children… Sacrifices a mother should not have to make. I don’t know what I would do if I were put in the same situation. She is a stronger woman than I will ever be.” She was babbling. “I can’t have children, so I can appreciate how hard of a sacrifice it would be to have to give one up. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how hard it would be to then have the other blinded.”
I knew Lila was trying to help but her words were no console to me. I didn’t want to add to the ladies’ suffering so I forced a smile. My smile was not convincing, and I could feel the tears running down my cheeks. The salt from the tears burned the cuts on my face as they passed through each one. My mother fell to the floor in front of me and threw her arms around me. We both let our emotions run their course.
As we sat there in that cold damp little room sobbing, I felt as though my mind wandered out of my body. I wanted more than anything to be able to escape the moment, so I let my mind go. I was pulled out of my body. I saw flashes of images that my mind could not comprehend. Then, all at once, I was no longer in the room. I was seeing images that were difficult for my mind to interpret because I had never before seen anything at all. Slowly the images took shape, and I just knew what they were. I had no idea how I could, but I just recognized the strange shapes and colors I was seeing.
Such vibrant color! It was the tops of a snow covered mountain. There were beautiful green trees spotting the white snowy landscape. An occasional rock could be seen protruding out of the snow.
A few moments later, and I was over a large field of grass, and then a meadow, and then a grove of tall beautiful trees with lush large green leafs. I was flying! I was flying in circles around the open field. All of the sudden, I turned and rushed at the ground. Then I saw the horse…
“Cal…Cal…Calitharious!” It was my mother’s voice. I was shot back into my own existence in that little dirt room with my aunt and mother. I was in shock. What had just happened? “Cal, are you ok son?”
It took me a while to get my bearings and remember what was going on. “Yes mother.” I managed. “Sorry my mind is just racing.” I don’t know why I didn’t tell her what happened. I guess it’s because I didn’t really know, myself. It was strange, I have no memory of any sight yet I seemed to know what I was seeing. How?
“Mother, how old was I when I was blinded?” The question must have panged my mother in a way that I couldn’t understand. She started crying uncontrollably. “I’m not mad. I just want to know.” I added, pathetically.
After several minutes of sobbing my mother was able to speak again. “My father wasted no time. You were born and blinded before I was even able to hold you. Father had one of his guards drop hot pitch from a torch into your eyes. My nursemaid tried to stop them at the cost of her life. When she tried to take you, one of the guards ran her through with his sword.” Mother’s sobs became too strong for her to talk anymore.
I guess I should have been thinking about the horrific tale that my mother was relating, but I could not get the vision I had had out of my head. What was I seeing? If I was blinded as I came out of the womb, it couldn’t have been a memory. Maybe my sight wasn’t completely lost. How did I know what the images were? I had never seen color before. It was so beautiful. I had so many questions, but there was no one to ask. There was no way my aunt and mother could understand. My aunt and mother… The thought brought me out of my brooding.
I was still in the little room and my mother was crying uncontrollably. I had to say something. “I don’t blame you mother. You had no choice. The King would have killed us both if you interfered.” It wasn’t working, “Don’t cry mother, please. It wasn’t your fault.” My mouth was moving, but I wasn’t thinking about what I was saying. I couldn’t get those images out of my head.
“I think both of you have had enough for one day.” Lila said with finality. “Cal, sweetie, this place is too damp and cold for you to sit in. You’ll never heal if you don’t get some rest. And Diselle, your heart has endured this pain for far too long. There was nothing you could do. Cal has forgiven you; now let’s get him back into bed to rest. There will be plenty of time to deal with this later.”
I felt Lila’s soft, warm hand reach around my side and help me to my feet. My body ached in ways I had never before felt. I was once again feeling dizzy. Aunt Lila strained to carry my weight as I leaned on her to stop from falling to the floor. Luckily, my mother took my other arm, and helped support my weight.
I knew we were walking again, but my head was spinning, and I couldn’t tell that I was moving at all. We made our way out of the little room and up the first flight of stairs. The men’s voices started once again as we entered the room that The King converted into a dungeon. The noise was more than my head could take at the time. I felt my strength give, and even with the two women to help me, I fell to the floor.
“Cal!” Once again my aunt and mother were in harmony when they said my name, but the blurring pain in my head seemed to dampen the humor of it this time.
“I’m ok… I think… I just got up too fast. Help me up, I need to get out of this room. All this noise is killing my head.” The women groaned as they hoisted me to my feet.
“Shut your mouths! All of you or I will call for the guards to shut them for you!” Lila’s tone was so commanding, and powerful that I was even afraid to speak. The room instantly became silent. We made our way across the dirty floor to the next staircase.
As we started up the stairs my mother burst into laughter. I was in so much pain I must have missed the joke because I found nothing humorous with the situation. Aunt Lila soon chimed in, and the two women became so weak from laughing so hard that they almost dropped me down the stairs. We paused as they laughed even harder at the fact that we were stumbling up the stairs like a group of friends after a late night ball that had too much to drink. Through the blinding pain I was able to crack a smile, but the pain was too intense for me to try to laugh.
After standing there for what seemed like forever my mother was finally able to speak. “My little sister…Commander and chief over all the thieves of Gogaloth.” The two once again started laughing hysterically. It wasn’t that funny to me, but to hear the two women laughing and giggling like teenage girls made me let out a little laugh that set a shock of pain through my face and to the back of my head. Once again I felt the world spin, and the laughter slowly faded as I fell unconscious.