Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 171

and on, for some generations.” ed in years. Where? Does your father know?” Sir Gwydion rubbed his hand through his hair again. “But dragons are dangerous, violent beasts. Why else have they been hunted for ages now… ” “Yes, he knows. The dragon was in the sky. It gave me a message. I told you,” she said in response to the alarmed knight’s questioning look, “I am the keeper of the Dragon Tome, and thus the only human who knows how to read and interpret the dragon tongue. Look.” She opened the large book to a page with elaborate markings on it, pointing. “These are the runes that make up the dragon language. They do not speak in as simple or as many words as we do, for their throats are clogged with embers. So each rune has many meanings, and can be interpreted in many ways, often depending on the other runes that they are with. These three runes,” she touched the pages gently, “were the dragon’s message. The first one is the rune for beginnings. It can mean the start of an event, or it can mean ‘listen,’ or, if it is at the beginning of a story, it means ‘once upon a time.’ The second rune, here, means journey or quest or a test. And the third,” she looked sideways at him, “means trouthe.” “Dangerous?” Rhiannon scoffed. “Of course they are dangerous. They are huge, flying creatures who breathe fire and whose scales are ten times stronger than plate mail.” She gestured towards his discarded armor. “That is the reason they have been hunted, for their scales to be made into armor and shields, and for the magical properties of their blood, not for any harm that they have done to humans,” she answered loftily. During her speech Gwydion watched her intently with a spark growing in his gaze. “So you are telling me that dragons do not actually burn villages for sport?” His lips twitched and he leaned the corner of his mouth on his fist. “Burnt villages!” Rhiannon exclaimed, and the knight jumped but she didn’t notice. “That’s exactly the type of lies told to get knights cheering ‘Tantivvy’ and running off on quests to slay the dragon. Just because they are fearsome does not make them evil… ” She trailed off when she caught Gwydion’s expression. “Are you teasing me?” she asked indignantly. “No, absolutely not,” he said, and then burst out laughing. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he said quickly, as she clamped her jaw and looked away towards the horses who were flicking their tails placidly. Gwydion sobered himself and slid the scarf from her inert fingers, opening it and touching the image of the dragon. The knight said, “It’s just that I can see your strong will is as fiery, and your heart is as golden, as your hair.” Startled, Rhiannon glanced back at him. “I admire that,” he finished, and his gaze to her turned more intent, almost reflective. Rhiannon blushed under the scrutiny but did not look away this time. “I… ” she hesitated, then took a deep breath, “I saw a dragon yesterday.” “What?” The knight’s concern was so great that he got up and sat closer to her. “A dragon has not been sight- PAGE 170 He looked at her sharply. “From the code of knighthood?” Rhiannon nodded. Gwydion sat back a little and exhaled sharply. “So the message was… a warning? Of the beginning of a quest involving… integrity?” “One could interpret it that way,” she murmured. Full Novelette Available on Kindle and Nook http://www.onceuponafans. com/