The Journey of the Slave Dragon
Charlotte, the Protector of Children, was a fierce warrior. Her people lived in the cold, stony mountain. They were a hard people that knew the bitter taste of long winter and brute survival. When you met her, you might be struck with an impression of a hardened girl. You might think her angry. But what you were encountering was the demeanor of a woman whose life was utterly devoted to caring for the helpless.
She lived with a mission. She never forgot the mission. She laughed little, and when she did it was a merry, musical sound like a rare bird that comes and goes as quickly as it arrived. She had soft blond hair, round cheeks and almost a pout that was always on her face. It was like a sweetness that betrayed the fixed look in her eyes.
Charlotte would see things and stop things. Charlotte rescued. She was from the cold but knew how to live safely in a world where the danger of weather could mean a sudden encounter with peril. Winds that trapped one outside. But she was swift and could preserve her own strength while finding a lost lamb wandering on the side of a mountain. She was small, nimble and full of power. Her strength was disproportionate to her size. It somehow was rooted in her spirit.
When she risked her life to protect the young – to pull a baby from the grips of danger – she seemed fearless, dauntless, driven.
I gathered Hannah and her three children on my back to ride to Charlotte. Hannah wanted to see Sophia, to be with her sister and grieve. How could she go on with her village lost? What had her people done to deserve this judgment? What was the cause of this chaos?
Did the Fishman not care for the families that were now destroyed? Was there so much murder in his halfman soul? Hannah was afraid and felt alone. She said she needed her sister. She needed the strength from the girl who’d been next to her so much of her life. She begged me to fly her quickly to the shipyard so they could find a way to cross the ocean. Once she mentioned the Fishman, I knew it was too dangerous. And I knew we needed a warrior. Weeping collapsed on my back and let me fly her far from this broken, beaten land.
We arrived near Charlotte’s stronghold. I could not go in because Charlotte had guards around her village. I quickly left Hannah before she could try and stop me. The guards came out to talk to the children. Three men ran and knelt before the children. A short gaurd scooped up the 2 year old boy and comfort his tears. The men ignored the quiet, tear stained lump that was Hannah. She had so much she wanted to say about the attack – but this was not the way in Charlotte’s mountains. Children were trusted and the elders were feared. So Hannah’s 7-year old spoke of what happened.
“Where are we? Who are you?” Jillian asked.
The guard bowed. “We serve Charlotte the warrior, Protector of Children. Tell us, child, do you need shelter? Has your father fallen.”
Jillian laughed. Jillian looked at the man showing the glee she had in knowing she was of the special kind. “Sir, we are Children of Oysters. Our mother was honored by the Eelwife and given a threefold blessing.” She smiled, then looked at her tearful mother and her thoughts changed. “Do you have food? All the food at our house is gone.”
The guards had never met any of the Children of Oysters. They all thought that those fatherless infants were a part of the same lore that included dragons and dreams.
The tall guard spoke. “Great child, come quickly and eat at our table. Charlotte will hear of how your house lost its food.”
Timothy spoke. “My friends, I want to see my friends. Can they get better after lightning strikes?”
There was much to discuss.
Jillian scolded him. “Timmy, everyone at home is too sick for us. Mother will they wake up?”
Hannah answered her. “No, Jillian, this is a sleep that is death. There is no goodbyes. There is nothing that we can do — “ Hannah’s words became sobs and she had nothing she could say.
The tall guard put the children on rocks so they would be of equal height. The toddler cried but the guard held him there.
The guard said “Children, we’d like to quickly get within the safety of Charlotte’s home. Do you agree to go with us? Can you tell us that your mother will not harm us?”
Timothy screamed. “Mooooooooother is good. Mother, I’m hungry!”
Jillian calmed him. “Yes, Soldiers, we will come with you.”
The troup walked in and through the mountains to get to the outside rooms, where there would be food and shelter. Charlotte had watched all from one of her many perches. When the family was in her house she marched up to them. Hannah knew Charlotte moved to embrace her. Charlotte only grabbed her shoulder and gave her a hard look. Then she lightly pushed her to the side and rested on a knee beside the children.
“Why are you running? Who did this? Are your friends safe?”
The littlest looked at her and said “Fish! Fish!”
Then Timothy ran and hugged Charlotte. “The lightning made them sleep. Can you wake up my friends?”
Charlotte did not answer. She did not cry. She looked at the ground for one moment then stood. As she stood she was like a statue -hard rock and unmoving. Her eyes were fixed on the toddler’s face. She stared then closed her eyes and stayed like that.
The guards hurried everyone out of the room, as if the place had suddenly become dangerous. Or sacred. Or both.