The Silence of the Dragons Part IV (End)
Ungnar and Inagar rode side by side down the now road-width track descending from the dragon monk's monastery. “So sister, help me to understand! The plan was made, and was set in motion. Or did it become apparent after all that our intelligence was false?”
Inagar turned to face her elder brother. The livid red scar across his cheek, the legacy of a Scaler's sword strike, was still clearly visible despite his dark beard growth. Jenni the pack donkey clip-clopped obediently along behind Inagar's mount on her long running-reign. Ungnar similarly led Viklas' now redundant mare, Noma.
“The intelligence was correct, brother. The Scavian youth is likely indeed to be their next chosen dragon caller, aye.”
She saw Ungnar's eyes flash darkly. “So why then change the plan? I was waiting upon the Dragon Bridge as we'd arranged. The ambush was all set, and the other two servants with you would have served as the witnesses, just as we and the Raven Order had planned. And yet you shot an arrow over my head, aye! And then you turned about! I did not know what I should do next.”
Inagar met her brother's gaze. “I had my reasons.”
“Your reasons? Your reasons, aye? He is with the damned dragon monks now! There was another Scavian youth you had 'your reasons' over once before, wasn't there, aye!” Ungnar's teeth flashed momentarily against the black of his beard. “It seems you show something of a weakness for blond hair, sister!”
Inagar reigned Joris in at once. “Are you questioning my judgement, brother?” She held his eyes fixedly with her own. “Are you, aye? And hasn't there been enough killing? Even for you, brother? The Scalers are no more. Angnar's death is avenged. Let it stop now!”
Ungnar looked away first. “Aye, sister, aye. But it was agreed, and for the very reasons which you are now expounding! If belief in the dragon cult is once again resurrected ...”
“Brother, you and I are both true blood Ravengard. Whether the Scavian youth has powers or nay is not of our concern. What powers he may be believed to have, aye, now that is of concern. But trust me! He will be sent home from yon dragon monk's sanctuary within a half-season at most.”
Ungnar looked up sharply. “And how could you possibly know that?”
“Believe me, I do know.” Inagar reflected for a moment. “I have … contaminated his thoughts.”
“Contaminated? You surely don't mean ...? And that public kiss of farewell?”
“Of course not! He is but of sixteen full-seasons. And besides, his heart beats fast for another.”
Ungnar's tone betrayed grave doubt. “Then what? Can you be certain of what you claim? That his supposed calling power is forever now fatally flawed?”
“Quite certain. I have sown the seed. His thoughts will now be focused elsewhere. Focused upon she for whom his heart beats. And so, in a half-season at most, he will be sent home in disgrace.”
Ungnar considered a moment. “And those filthy flying obscenities will be forever silent? But what of the youth himself, aye? It will surely go very badly for him? And if he realises with maturity of the gift you have robbed him of, he will curse you into eternity! Better still, perhaps, to have had him die in the staged ambush at the Dragon Bridge as we had planned?”
Inagar shrugged. She touched her heels into Joris' flank and he began walking forwards again. On the end of the long running reign Jenni trotted on too. Ungnar rode alongside. “Maybe,” Inagar responded. “But he has all his days still. And maybe too things will not go so badly for him. He is but of sixteen full-seasons remember. His father no doubt convinced the Lord of Glandor of these supposed powers. When the lad is returned it will be the father who is held responsible for debacle. I think perhaps sooner rather than later young Viklas might inherit his father's position as Kitchen Steward. And thereby wed a certain cook-maid of his fancy. Perhaps then, with maturity, he would not curse me quite so greatly, aye.”
A short distance ahead the road forked. Inagar once more reigned in.
“Take this now, brother.” She passed across the scrolled receipt given to her by the dragon monk. “You may have the full five hundred in gold to be paid. In return, I charge you to return the Scavian father's mare into his hand. I shall keep for myself yon pack animal only, aye.”
Ungnar regarded his sister searchingly. “You are not returning with me?”
“Nay. Our ways part here. Forever, brother.” She glanced up into the clear, cold sky for a moment. “My destiny is all fulfilled now. As too is that of the Raven Order itself.”
Ungnar glanced down then up. He nodded in acknowledged agreement. “You will not reconsider? Twelve full-seasons have passed, sister.”
Inagar shook her head just once. “Farewell Ungnar of the Ravens, brother.”
Ungnar inclined his head in a formal Ravengard bow. “Farewell Inagar of the Ravens, sister.”
The end of day sun lit the icy mountain tops a rosy salmon pink hue as Inagar rode along. Against her breast she detected the familiar comforting warmth emanating from the tiny caged soul stone.
“Patience just a short while longer, Corwin my love,” she whispered. “I have fulfilled my destiny as you revealed it unto me. I have undertaken the final task, and the dragons shall fly no more. I have one last promise to keep concerning that little pack donkey back there, and then we shall be reunited for all eternity!”
A last, near horizontal ray of sunlight shot out from between two of the peaks, almost as if it were rushing to greet her. She smiled in realisation. As the sun-flash struck them the opposite mountain tops sparkled briefly in their Frostfall raiment once more. And then the glowing orb set.
Copyright Terence Hugh Hazelton, 2011
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