Griselda sent them back to the cave and told them to stay there until she could send messages to the other council members to decide what they would do next.
"What are you laughing at?" asked Griselda to her son as the rat and Dragon started back to the caves.
"Dree told me a new joke. It goes something like this... Knock... Knock... and you are supposed to say 'Who's there?'" The Dowager just shook her head and smiled thinking about how much of a kid her son still was.
"One would think that a coach or something would travel these roads a little more often," he again grumbled. After walking a little more, Aralt decided to sit down on a log near the trail by where he had first overheard the Wysps. "I wonder if those Wysps are still here?" he asked himself. "It would make it easier if I knew which cave they were talking about that had the portal in it."
As if by magic, a Wysp did appear! "Ah, stranger. Are you lost?" it asked Aralt. Before thinking, Aralt growled, "That's twice in one day someone has implied that I am lost and don't know where I am going. I will have you know that I have walked these hills long before your kind even turned blue."
"Only if you know where the portal is," Aralt told him while digging another rock out of his shoe that was rubbing his little toe raw. "Ah, that's too easy. How about a nicer cave that has a waterfall in the back of it?" answered the Wysp.
It took a minute before Aralt realized what the Wysp had just told him. It knew where the cave was! This time thinking before he answered, the Herald decided that he would trick the Wysp into taking him to the portal. "I don't think you even know what a portal is," he replied. "So, I best be going on my way alone."
Smiling, Aralt soon had the Wysp mad enough that it would show Aralt where the portal and cave were 'just to prove I know what I am talking about'. Shortly, they were entering the cave with Aralt following the glowing blue Wysp. "It's right here. See," as the Wysp hit the portal wall with a stick it had picked up off of the floor which bounced back from the invisible wall. "Nothing can get through it and we tried."
Ignoring the Wysp, Aralt started walking towards the invisible barrier. Now it was the Wysp's turn to smile as he expected the stranger to bounce off of the wall just like the Wysps did. The surprise on the Wysp's face would have made Aralt laugh if he had been watching it as the Herald walked right through the barrier and disappeared.
There were so many footprints that Aralt soon realized that he would have just about as much luck in the middle of the busiest street in the village trying to find his own footprints. "Dragonsbreathe!" he muttered disgruntled. "I don't have time to check out all of these caves." But soon it was evident that he wasn't going to be able to do this the easy way and resigned himself to start exploring each cave with every twist and turn.
After several hours of searching and just before he was ready to give up thinking that maybe he did have the wrong caves after all-- he heard it. At first he wasn't sure what the noise was, but as he approached the direction it was coming from, he realized that what he was hearing was laughter. The laughter of a Dragon! "I knew I was right," he silently congratulated himself.
As he was listening, the rat started to read the Dragon another joke... "Okay Dree. I have a good one for you. What did the left eye tell the right eye?" The Dragon shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. "I don't know, what?" he asked. Snickering Drat answered, "Something between us smells." It took Dree a few seconds before he figured out the punchline and started to laugh.
Drat and Dree both looked at each other before Dree answered. "My name is Drai'ochtluan but you may call me Dree for short. This is my friend and aid to King Dulbbe, Drat. What is a Dragon Herald might I ask?"
Aralt wasn't ready for that question. He had been the Dragon Herald for so long that all of the Dragons knew him and what he did. Why didn't this one? "Why, I announce the Dragons arrival and help to keep the understanding that has long been in place between Dragons and all of the other fae to also include the 'Outies'," answered Aralt. "How is it that you have never heard of me? Where are the other Dragons so that I may talk to them instead?" Aralt asked while thinking that this young Dragon must not be very bright.
Quickly offended Aralt replied, "I need no help finding my way rat" as he turned around and stormed from the caves. Drat followed him to make sure that as he left the caves and he was indeed headed south. As Drat watched, Dree had quietly followed. "He is going to be mad when he finds out there aren't any Dragons in the caves to the south, isn't he?" asked Dree.
"Yuppers," replied Drat. "But that should give us plenty of time to tell the others that he has seen you and what happened. We should head to the council hall."
"Great and on our way there I heard a new joke," snickered Dree as they started towards the village. "First I say... Knock, Knock... and you say 'who's there'..."
The council meeting broke up as soon as everyone learned that Aralt had managed to leave Meen behind. With him disappearing the Dowager immediately sent Meen to warn Drat that the Herald may be heading towards the caves where Drat and Dree were supposed to be hiding out.
Awena also wasted no time and went directly to her library to find the Dragon's Return prophecy to see if there might be a clue to reveal what Aralt's power over the Dragons might be. As she sorted through the many prophecy scrolls, more than once she thought that they should have some sort of index to be able to find the one she was looking for faster. "Once this is over, I will have to meet with the staff to figure something out," she told herself as she put another scroll aside in her search for the right one.
Normally Efem would almost dread having to enter the Sacred Grove to talk to the ancient trees but not this trip. Since learning they could speed talk, she hoped they would respond quickly to her requests for knowledge that only they knew from the roots of the Realm's past. "I hope that the Ol' Yew is not asleep," she thought as she approached the mighty tree. As she stood next to it and looked upon it's shiny green foliage, Efem was awed by a random thought of how much it must have seen during its life cycle. "I remember my mother bringing me here to see the Yew when I was a young sapling and the Yew was ancient even then." As she silently waited for the tree to notice her so she could ask her questions about Aralt the Herald, Efem was contently lost in her own memories of the past.
"One of the stories of the ages and I don't know where to start," thought Snoop as he sat at his desk in the Bellwether and tried to put quill to parchment. "I promised the Dowager that I would not print anything that would give Aralt a clue as to Dree, but I have to print something!"
It was his pile of the Herald newspapers that came crashing down from a shelf and just missing hitting him on the head that made him think... "Herald! That's it! I need to write about what we know about Aralt the Dragon Herald. That way I won't give away what we know about Dree. Plus I can get the word out that he has returned. This will be a terrific article!" Right away Snoop was lost in his writing and not even wondering any longer if Aralt might have found the caves where Dree was hiding.
"The council members truly do not understand what is returning and the power I hope to re-claim when "She" returns," thought Aralt to himself.
Now Aralt was familiar with the many caves in and around his own home and on the out-skirts of the Village but he wasn't aware of any caves located under the so called Baron's mansion. Maybe he shouldn't have gotten rid of that Pkysee just yet he thought as he continued walking down the path leading out of town and hopefully in the direction of where he figured the Baron's home would be. Since Aralt lived in the opposite direction and had no previous reason to explore this part of the countryside before, it made sense to him that this should be the way to go.
"It can't be much further down the road surely?" grumbled Aralt as he pulled out a small rock that had worked it's way into his shoe and was rubbing his toes the wrong way. He had been walking (which wasn't his favorite way to travel) for quite a distance and was getting hot and miserable when he spied something blue flashing ahead. "There! It flashed again!" he said to himself turning his head slightly to catch the glimpse of blue in some nearby bushes.
"We can't drop the stick while standing in some bushes to decide who has to be the leader at the next meeting," one of the Wysps was complaining. "It's got to be in a cave where it's harder to not get hit when it falls. Besides, if we are all in the bushes and the stick hits the bush which hits some of us, then who has to be leader? We should just go back to the meeting cave instead of being here!"
Aralt just could not figure out what the problem was. "I would think one of them would want to be the leader and tell the others what to do," he thought. "Wysps are so strange." It was also surprising to Aralt to see so many Wysps together at one time like this. They were usually solitary in planning their next bout of mischief. "It's unusual that they seem more concerned about what they were talking about instead of finding me as a lone walker on a path," he wondered confused. "I can't believe that things have changed that much since I have been gone. Their favorite choice of things to do has always been to prank someone out alone."
Aralt wished he could get closer to hear more as his curiosity was now tweaked but he was afraid of making them scatter and disappear. As they continued arguing, all he could hear was a few scattered words but what he heard had his attention. When they complained about a "portal" and "blinding light in their cave" it made Aralt wonder. "Were these the same caves that are under the Baron's house?" he asked himself. After all, that seems the direction they were coming from if he was heading in the right direction to get there.
Backing up slowly as to not startle the Wysps while they kept arguing the fine points of dropping a stick, Aralt found new energy and resolve to find those caves hidden below this Baron's house. Once he was far enough away from the Wysps, Aralt quickly turned around and immediately began his trek up the path and to where he hoped were the caves.
Turning around he started addressing the entire group again. "It has been a very long time since I have seen the village and met with the people," Aral said trying to gentle his voice. Looking at the Dowager, since he realized that most of the council deferred to her, he continued, "Is there someone who could show me around?" Both surprise and relief filled Griselda with this request. "This would be a perfect way to get the Herald out of the council chamber so that I can talk with the others," she thought to herself. "But who should go with him?" She would have had Fiddlefaddle as her man servant do it but he was back at the mansion and she did not want to wait for him to arrive if she summoned him. Drat was with Dree and most of the other minions were off or busy. It was Aralt who solved the problem by asking if the pyksee was available. Not having a better choice, and with Ffion’s approval, soon Aralt and Meen were walking down the streets of the village.
“We haven’t been able to play leap the frog lately because my toad friend can’t hop until his leg heals. Do you want to play?” Meen asked.
“Not at the moment but I might. I was thinking about a game I used to play as a child but it would take more than just a couple of us and we need someone taller than you or me,” answered Aralt. “As a matter of fact, they would have to be really tall. How about your friend Hungry?”
Not realizing what Aralt was doing, Meen answered maybe a little more truthfully than she should have… “You mean Dree? I don’t think he can, the council has him staying in his room in the caves under the Baron’s mansion.” Before the pyksee realized the importance of what she had said, Aralt quickly asked Meen to pick up something to drink for him at the tea shop he had visited earlier that day. As she bounded off, the Herald watched her go and smiled. “Now to get rid of her while I check out the caves,” he said to himself.
"Hhhmm, the Sleeping Sisters are also involved," Aralt realized when he recognized the bird as a magpie sitting in a tree behind the other minion. "I do wonder what this council has been up to in my absence."
As Meen caught sight of the Herald coming out of his home, she quickly jumped the last log as she tried to get back to the council chamber to alert the others of his approach. "This spying stuff is fun," Meen thought to herself. "I can actually play my favorite game of Leap without even getting into trouble." But she apparently did not need to worry too much of Aralt beating her to the council chamber. "He seems to be stopping at several of the local shops and apparently taking his own sweet time to arrive at the chamber. I wonder if he is part Pkysee like me since he seems to be playing instead of worrying about getting to the meeting," Meen pondered for a moment. Aralt even stopped by the local brewer to place an order of Dragon's Brew to be delivered to his home later today. It wasn't until he finished his tea and biscuit at the teashop that he finally started towards the chambers. "That should have given those silly council members plenty of time to arrive," he smiled, knowing that he was subtlety letting them know who will be in charge of this meeting.
"But I would have to surmise with this mix of citizens here, the Troll and the young Nyte Shade must be important as well as the older couple in the corner." As if they heard his unspoken thoughts, the older couple both turned their attention to him.
"This is Queen Ffion of the Shadows' Realm, King Dulbbe of the Trolls, Awena of the Sleeping Sisters, and Efem the Tree Mother. The others are citizens of the Realms who are here to witness this historic occasion. We also have Augustus, The Earl of Grey, who is also the editor of the local newspaper, The Bellwether, to record this news worthy event."
Aralt let the silence last a little longer when the introductions were completed. "I must show them I am in charge here," he thought as he silently walked to a corner of the room so all had to turn to see him. "I am Aralt the Herald. I speak to and for the Dragons and the Clans and will prepare the way for the return of the Dragons. Soon they will return and we must be prepared to make sure they cause no chaos nor reek havoc among the fae folk or the Outies. I will meet with their leader, the most powerful of their kind - a Wish Dragon. Upon her return I will re-establish the rules of order laid down by me in the past for their conduct. If I need your assistance, I will ask for it then. I expect you will all be available and require each of you to have a runner or setup a message system so that I may contact you when I need your assistance. If there are no questions, then we are adjourned," he finished as he started towards the chamber doors.
"But what about Hungry?" Meen uttered to Queen Ffion. "I mean Dre..." she started to add before she saw the look she was getting from all of the others. "Opps..." she muttered as she tried to find someplace to to look other than at everyone who was glaring at her.
Deciding on a new tact, he stopped just short of the doorway and turned back towards the council. "I am sorry. Being alone for so many years has made me a little brusque in my ways. I am concerned for the safety of everyone in the Realms and sometimes I do not present myself as cordial as I should. I have been gone for so long and so many things have changed, I would like to meet with all of you to see what I should know that will help me prepare for the Dragon's return," he finished as he sat down in one of the nearby chairs and awaited their response.
It was slow in coming. Actually it was none as no one wanted to be the first to speak back. "I came on too strong," Aralt realized as he waited. "I will have to start this."
"Dowager Griselda, I am honored to be met by a member of the Dragon Clan. I will rely on your assistance upon the Dragons return as you are one of the few who really understand the importance of what I need to do. We must keep the Dragons under our control if we are to maintain the peace and harmony of our way of life."
As the Dowager remembered the incident with the scroll showing her past and why the Dragon clan was formed, she knew that their decision not to tell the Herald about Dree, the Moon Dragon, had been for the best.
"Returning back here is certainly opening up the memories," he thought as he slightly shook his head from side to side. "Also who would have thought what this stone could do?"
His first memory was when he had just put the stone in a locket and was admiring how it looked when he was summoned to a Dragon Clan meeting. "Forming the clan was one of my better plans," he smiled as he congratulated himself. "Having the Dragons actually listen to the clan helped make them so much more controllable." Picking up the locket once again he decided, "Maybe I'll just wear the locket to the meeting. What's the worst that can happen?"
As he was waiting, the talking he heard earlier started again but no one was there - except for the Dragons! It was then that he remembered the voices sounded like the golden Dragon who took his friend, the Dragonet, away when he was first learning about Runes. As he continued to sip his tea, Aralt's memory was coming back to him just like it happened that day.
"They are mind talking with each other!" realized Aralt. "How can I hear them when I couldn't before? I have been with the Dragons for years now and this is first time I can hear them talking to each other with just their thoughts." Aralt thought about it for a minute and then realized the only thing different about him was the locket he carried. "I've got to find out." Taking the locket and laying it on the rock where he had been sitting, he draped his cloak over it and then walked over to stand near the Dragons. "Nothing. Not a word," he muttered to himself. "Now back to the locket and we will see." Casually he strolled back to the locket and touched it. Clearly he heard the Dragons still talking to each other. It had to be the power of the stone in the locket. The Dragon Heart stone!
It did not take long before Aralt realized the possibilities of the stone. He could hear what the Dragons were saying to each other and they didn't seem to know he could hear them... but it wasn't until he was gifted the corolla that his real power was to be reached.
The cave he was thinking about was where he had first discovered the Dragon Heart stone those many years ago. It was when the Dragons first received their magic that he had decided that he needed to make sure his home was safe and hidden from them. Just in case their magic ran amok since right after the Dragons received their magical abilities it rained chaos in the Realms.
Untrained Dragons were everywhere changing things and granting wishes willy nilly. Oh yes, he remembered the Dragons causing all sorts of problems that fae like himself had to fix. "That was my first priority was to make sure they could not do something to myself and my home," Aralt muttered to himself. "That is when I decided to move my home to the intersection of magical ley lines. That was the key solution as it was like hiding a burning match in a forest fire! One of my more brilliant moves," Aralt smiled to himself as he walked out his room to head to the cave. "With the large outputs of magical energy coming from the ley lines, no one noticed the little bit hiding my home. What I hadn't known at the time was there was something else magical where I had moved my home. Discovering the cave was genius on my part," smirking to himself.
He did not realize the treasure that he had. For imbedded in the emerald veins of the tunnel, was a large stone in the shape of a Dragon's heart. At first he thought that he would use it for an ornament since he liked it's green colors that flashed when light hit it, but then something strange happened.
As Aralt removed the stone he felt a tingle go up his arm. This made him think that the stone might be safer if it was in a locket instead of carrying it directly. Then one day he started to hear voices in his head. Now, normally when one hears voices, it is time to have the local physician check you out, but Aralt had heard this type of talk once before. It was a voice like the golden Dragon who mind talked to him the day they took away his friend, the Dragonet. It did not take him long to realize that the stone was giving him this ability whenever he carried it.
Later, Aralt discovered that when he would return to the emerald cave the Dragon Stone would start to glow a pale green. That is what he wanted to confirm again. He needed to make sure that it still had its power after all of these years of not being used.
Where was it indeed?
Not everyone else was smiling though. Especially not the town council members who had glanced at each other when Aralt had disappeared behind his doors and now started back to the council chambers. They definitely needed to talk.
Shortly all of them were sitting around the conference table thinking about what to say at the meeting. Each of the councilors had their chief minion there in case an errand or message needed to be delivered awaiting in the chairs spaced against the wall of the chamber. Even if they were longingly gazing at the buffet table that Granny Flare and Cornelia had setup for everyone to snack on, they understood the importance of the events of day.
Finally it was the Dowager who started the conversation. "Well, that went well."
Those four words were all it took to get everyone talking at the same time. "Who would have thought he would be so short and I don't just mean in stature," snapped one member. "How can he think I will let him stay on the grounds of my castle," growled Queen Ffion. "What are we going to do now?" both Awena and Dulbbe silently thought to themselves as they listened to the others talk.
Each of the council members sat quietly, thinking about the Baron's question. Indeed, what do we do now? It was a quandary. "There is one thing we probably should do," grumbled Nemmer as he watched the others staring at each other around the table. "Maybe we need to hide Dree until we know more about this Herald business."
It took a minute, as the others were heavy in thought about the situation, before they realized what Nemmer had just muttered. "Nemmer is right," smiled the Dowager. "Dree should be hidden until we know enough about Aralt before they meet. We don't want the two of them to get off on the wrong foot. But I also don't think they should meet until we find out what the Herald's plans are first."
After a short discussion, the rest of the council agreed with the Dowager, but who to send? For they needed to distract Dree and to keep him away until the council had their chance to find out Aralt's plan and that wouldn't be easy.
"I could send Meen," volunteered Queen Ffion as Meen jumped from her chair when she heard her name.
"No disrespect to you or your minion, Queen Ffion," answered Awena, " But we need someone who might be able to distract Dree as to the arrival of the Herald but not spill the beans about him. Meen would get so caught up playing and probably tell Dree everything since she is a twiddletop when it comes to keeping secrets." The conversation continued for some time, going back and forth on who would be best to inform the Dragon, but it wasn't until Dulbbe, the Troll King, made his offer before they selected the messenger.
Realizing that his boss was both correct and actually giving him a compliment, Drat blushed slightly and bowed his head. "As you command Sire," he replied as he departed on his errand.
"Well, it got me out of what looked like a long and boring meeting," thought Drat as he darted down the street to the caves under the Baron's mansion all the time working up a plan to keep the Dragon busy without letting him know he was being hidden away again for now. "I wonder if I can get him into a game of Tic Tac Toe? That could take a while if he doesn't know that secret. But I will definitely need to let him know that it doesn't require body parts or eating."
Following the stone pathway, he let the gentle winds of memories float in around him. This was part of the Realms of Shadows' before the King built his castle above. After all, Aralt had been in the Realm long before the King of Shadows' existed and when the dragons had been nothing more than overgrown lizards.
It is when his foolish cousin gave of her power to the previously non-magical dragons that the Realms changed. Aralt had taken his home and hidden it way underground before the now magical Dragons knew where it was. He could still be connected to the energy of the ley lines but not be easily found, just the way he liked it. Aralt knew there were other caves around down here with him, for after all, he knew there should be one where the Book of Dragons was held. Why the Wish Dragon clan had decided the King of Shadows' was to guard it was still a mystery to him, but figured he could check on it later.
As he opened the door to his forgotten home, all the feeling of putting on a familiar warm fuzzy coat wrapped around him. It hadn't been his intent to be gone for so long. But when the Dragons all left the Realms in revolt, Aralt thought it was better to hide out somewhere else where the council members at that time couldn't find him. Who knew it would be hundreds of years and yet... what had triggered the Dragons coming back?
With all the chaos of the call and reacting to the call to return home, Aralt finally had a moment to ponder that question. For it truly had to be something unique to bring the Dragons home, let alone willingly.
Welcome to my blog. This is where I will reveal the magic of my Fae and their stories and share with you some of the success and pitfalls through the journey of doll making, sculpting, and other crafts that all come back to my dolls in many ways.