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Chapter 25: Reunion

I shoveled another spoon full of rich fish stew into my mouth, chewed and swallowed it, and then dove back into the bowl for more. Wolfing one’s food was bad for digestion, and inevitably, I would have a belly ache later, but at the moment, I didn’t care. The Abbot sat on the opposite side of the camp fire watching me scarf down my third bowl of stew. Not even his disproving scowl could dissuade my appetite.

“Gluttony is a sin you know,” he scolded as I scarfed down my last spoon full and reached for the ladle to fill my bowl for a fourth time.

Uriel’s voice entered my mind, “The Abbot is correct. Perhaps it would be best it you saved some for latter.” At that I drew my hand back.

“I realize that mages are famished when they return from the island,” the Abbot continued, “but you’ve gone six days without food, far longer than usual. If you overindulge, you’ll make yourself sick.”

“I know, but I feel like I could eat an entire glacier bear; hide, bones and all.”

The Abbot chuckled at my remarks and Uriel’s amusement thrummed inside my head, but neither of them chided me further about my appetite. After a brief silence I decided to change the subject.

“I thought there were only nine dragons left on Everlast,” I insisted before finishing off my mug of mint tea.

“We sometimes forget about our cousin,” the cat-dragon purred as he began contentedly grooming his fur.

“And it isn’t as though I could have made the journey and joined the others at the gathering,” Leviathan add from somewhere under the cold waters of the lake.

“Are you a prisoner in this place?” the idea of the water dragon being held captive in some way made my skin crawl.

“I am bound to the lake, but I am no prisoner.”

“Isn’t that the same thing; being bound and being a prisoner?”

“Is a whale a prisoner of the ocean because it is bound to the depths and may not venture onto land,” the Abbot asked, “or is a tree the prisoner of the earth from which it grows as it is bound to the spot where it’s roots take hold and it cannot wander hither and yon as it wills? We are all bound by things Kerri; do not mistake this for a lack of liberty.”

The campfire had long since died down to embers, and yet I lay awake starring up into the star studded sky. Abbot Sextus slumbered blissfully in his bedroll, snoring loudly as he wondered the world of dreams. Argo shifted as he dozed nearby. Uriel had long since drifted off into the night to hunt. I knew he would return before dawn.

The events of the past several day danced through my head, stealing sleep from me. Seeking some means by which to make sense of it all, I quietly left the comfort of my blankets and wandered out onto the dock. “Leviathan,” I whispered his name. I knew he would hear me, but would he reply?

“Companion of Uriel,” the thundering waterfall of his voice answered, “You should be sleeping.”

″I can’t, my thoughts tumble like leaves on the wind.”

“You still worry that I am a prisoner of the lake?” amusement danced like raindrops through the thundering waters of his voice.

“No, the Abbots words have set that concern to rest.”

“Then what troubles you?” His amusement was gone, replaced by the undercurrent of ancient wisdom. I was helpless to fight it’s pull, and I soon found myself unburdening my troubled mind.

“I don’t understand any of this,” I began. At the same moment I felt a soothing vibration purring from inner pocket of the borrowed robes that I still wore. I retrieved my fledgling staff and held it as one might hold a cherished pet. My thoughts turned to the words that Aahna spoke to me after we worked on the seed from the Mother Tree, "unlike other mage’s staffs that are dead ... the corpses of the Mother Tree’s offspring ... your staff will live as you live. You will be a part of it and it will be a part of you.”

“Aahna’s words confound you,” the water dragon observed, “You should have spoken to Uriel about it.”

“You know my thoughts?”

I heard him sigh, and it was like the hiss of ocean spray, “You are a Dragon Companion, this makes you one with the Circle of Dragon Kin. Just as one dragon knows the thoughts of all his brethren, so the thoughts if those named as Companions are known to the Circle as well. However, out of respect, we do not eavesdrop.” He paused briefly before adding, “Uriel has done little to educate you regarding the significance of your station.”

Hearing him speak of Uriel as if he were a neglectful parent made me uncomfortable. I pushed the feeling down and returned to his original statement about Aahna’s words.

“The purpose of seeking a staff was to help me harmonize the duality of my magic,” I began. “Uriel said that I must work light magic through the lens of dragon magic. I scry by focusing my light magic through a polished dragon scale, and I can make mage fire in the same way through one of Uriel’s memories of breathing fire.” I paused and looked lovingly down at the slender thrumming object in my hands; contentedness emanated from the small new life. “It has nothing to do with dragons, and while I feel a strong attachment to it, how will it help me?”

There was only silence in response. Fear tightened my gut into a knot, had I offended the mighty denizen of Lake Sapphira? As if in answer the surface of the water near the dock began to swirl and moments later, Leviathan slowly rose from below the depths.

“I am not offended,” he answered in a voice that was as gentle as the gurgle of a lazy brook. “I was considering how best to address your concerns. Do you know the story of how Dragon Kin came to be?”

I allowed my thought to be filled with the story Aahna told me on the way to the Grove of the Mother Tree. “Unity’s children,” I muttered as I looked up at Leviathan.

“Yes, Companion of Uriel, we Dragon Kin share Unity’s blood. This valley, Summer Glen, is the remnant of Unity’s fingerprint left behind from a time when Everlast was but a wet ball of primordial clay.”

I remembered Uriel telling me that very thing as he explained the shimmering vale that guarded the valley from those unworthy to enter it.

“Indeed, but he did not finish the explanation. If he had, you would have no doubts about the living staff you now hold in your hands.”

“The island,” Uriel’s voice suddenly filled my mind and I turned in time to watch the cat-dragon bounding up the dock towards me,“Is the place where Unity’s blood mingled with the still wet clay of Everlast. It is the place where Dragon’s were born from Unity's divine blood and His created work.”

"The island, the Mother Tree, and the Dragon Kin share the same crucible of life" Leviathan took up, "we have the same life essence."

"So your staff," it was Uriel's turn now, "born from a living seed of the Mother Tree, has the same magical resonance as a dragon."

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