I skirt between the wooden vendors carts and stalls of fruit and jewelry. Today is market day in Sernash. Everyone is here to show what goods they have to trade or sell. My family is no exception. We live on a ranch in East Sernash. We raise our horses to work hard or, in some cases, to pull the carriages of a nobleman. Our cattle is for beef, and it tastes really good.
My father and brother are in the corral and barn section of the manor we live near. They are selling cattle and our good, healthy horses. I have to get there in three minutes or they will wander off and spend the extra copper and silver all on their own.
“Father, I’m here!” I plunge through the barn entrance and see him standing in the middle of the stables. He’s conversing with my older brother, Gillean. They sound excited. I run up to them and they see me.
“Aleena, we sold the silver Buckindosh! He got us ten gold and thirty silver! We’re rich!” My father yells. He picks me up and spins around, trying to imitate a dance. Gillean chuckles at us.
“Father, she isn’t as light as you remember, even at eleven thaws. Try not to hurt yourself.” My aging parent listens to my brother and sets my feet on the straw.
“Since we are so rich,” I start to say, “can I buy something from the market that I want?” Usually, we just get the necessities; food, water, ice, salt blocks, some simple clothes, and thread.
“What do you want, my dear daughter? A nice dress? Perhaps a pearl lined cap?” My father asks, still in a jolly mood.
I smile, knowing I wouldn’t want those even if they would protect me from Cephalon and his army, “I want to get..” I pause for dramatic effect, seeing the expectant look on both their faces, “a dragon’s egg.” My father and brother just stand there, shocked. They must not believe me. “I saw one. It even moved! Father, please, it is probably defect anyway. Why would someone sell a dragon’s egg, defect or not? It’s beautiful..!” I ramble, only to stop when my father’s face changed to annoyance.
“How much is it?” Gillean inquires. My father is still speechless from my persistence.
“Um, fifty silver..” I reply shyly. My father frowns.
“That is a lot, even for a dragon’s egg. Show me.” I bring back my smile and take his hand. Gillean follows closely behind us as we weave back through the crowded cobble street.
“Peaches! Get peaches here! Fresher than the King’s I tell you!”
“Hot buns! Hot biscuits! Rolls of fruit flavors!”
“Would the young lady like a piece of jewelry? Perhaps a string of-”
“No thank you,” I say as we pass.
My father yanks me back and scolds me, “Aleena, that was impolite of you. Sir,” he says, turning to the merchant, “I apologize for my daughter. She is looking for something else. But I believe my mother would love that hat behind you. How much is it?”
“Thirteen copper sir.” My father calmly takes out fifteen copper and lays it on the table. The man swipes it all away and hands over the hat. “Pleasure doing business.” As soon as my father has the hat, I pull him away to the stall I wanted to go to.
“Father, why did you give him more than what it was priced at?” Gillean asks.
“Because Aleena was so rude. And besides, I’m sure it wouldn’t have hurt. He didn’t seem like he was getting much service.”
Throughout the next course of their conversation, I was only thinking one thing, ‘Please be there, please be there.’ And as we swerve around the last cart, I let out a sigh, “It’s there.” I walk briskly over to it, tugging my father the whole way. “See Father? I told you!”
He looks the grayish egg over and sees the mysterious etchings in the shell. “Ma’am?” He says, looking up at the well rounded lady that explained the egg to me, “What is this?”
“That is a dragon’s egg sir. I’d bet my life on it,” she says, “See those markings?” My father looks again and nods, “Those are the markings of the mother dragon’s claws. It carried the egg off to who knows where and must have dropped it.” I gasp again and look at the poor egg. “Don’t know how it survived, but it’s still moving. But the shell is acting up. It was a dull brown yesterday.”
“Hmm.. where did you find it?” Father asks.
“In the Southeastern forest. My boy did, came toten’ home with an egg in his sack.” My father continues his examination of the egg.
“It looks small, for a dragon’s egg,” he comments.
“It’s just young. Eggs grow with the creature inside don’t you know,” the woman says, smiling like she was talking pies with a neighbor.
“Hmm, fifty silver?”
“Seventy,” she corrects him. Father looks at me. I give him a nervous smile.
“Right, seventy. May I?” He asks. She nods, allowing him to pick up the egg. I hold my breath, hoping it doesn’t shatter into a million fragments. But it doesn’t. Father looks all over its shell, knocking on it a little.
“It was moving. I know it was,” I say.
“Of course it did dear. Sir? What do you think?”
“Well, I don’t-”
“You don’t want to go breakin’ the poor girl’s heart do you? I mean look at that face,” both adults turn to me. I put on the best pleading expression I can muster. “She wants a dragon. Sir,” she puts her hand on his forearm, “I’m telling you. If a little girl wants something, you’d be blind not to give it to her.”
“I understand for petty coats and ponies. But this,” he says, showing her the egg, “what would we do with it? And if it does hatch-” She silences his tongue with a knowing look. Father sighs and hands back the egg. I open my mouth to protest, but he reaches into his pocket. “Seventy?”“Eighty, actually,” she says. Father takes out seventy and hands it to her. “Right, seventy. Here’s your egg. Have a good day little one,” she says to me. I take the egg and carry it as gently as I can. We find a smoother trail around the throng of people.