The Skadivers' Tale

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A Wedding and a Half

A Wedding and a Half

On the other side, a guard had been posted. She snapped to and welcomed them back. Then she blew a horn to alert the Hold that the Lord had returned.

“That’s new,” Sam said, smiling. Then he saw the staircase that had been put in during his most recent time away. “Those are new too. Perfect timing.”

They carried all of their stuff down the new staircase, and the guard, one of the best female archers, offered to help her Lord to carry things. Sam handed her the crossbow, as it was the most awkward thing for him. She looked at it closely, and her eyes got huge.

“This is a wonder, my Lord,” she said amazedly.

“Yeah, pretty cool,” he answered, trying to get her moving while she stared at the thing. Up the passageway, Genie was just coming into view through the door to their chamber.

“You made it,” she said to Terri. “Welcome to New Sky Hold. Nice beard, Eric.” She kissed Sam. “Mmm, pizza,” she whispered. “I think you all need to get cleaned up. You have a wedding to get ready for.”

“Hann make it?” Sam asked.

“Lord Hannegelt of Gilden Hold and the Lady Diedra, of Enverra Hold, have only just arrived. They flew in from North Passway after a long day of travel yesterday. They are currently enjoying our hot springs.”

“Oh, okay, I guess I can clean up in here, and I could use a nap too,” Sam said.

“Fine. Let me show Terri to her room,” Genie said.

“Actually, I’ll be staying with Eric,” she said, “if that’s okay.”

“Of course.” At that moment, Terry came flying in and perched on Genie’s outstretched arm. “Terri, meet Terry, and no, we didn’t name him after you, sorry. Short for Pterodactyl.”

“He’s so cute! Oh, my God! A little dragon! You guys weren’t fooling,” she exclaimed, “Can I pet him?”

“Sure.”

After a minute or two of fawning over the little dragon, Eric and Terri departed to his room, and left Sam and Genie alone.

“Do you want to tell what happened down there?” Genie said. “There is no way you just waited around until they got there. And what do you smell like?”

“It was fine,” Sam started, “until it wasn’t. See my new crossbow? Isn’t this cool?”

“It is cool. What happened?”

“Well, it looks like those people who were looking for us…found us. Turns out they are the descendants of that Nassar guy.”

“From the Ingebriggt story? What do they want?”

“They want the lamp. I think they want the jinni really.”

“Jaeder? He’s dead.”

“They don’t know that, and they think the jinn belongs to their family. They sent two guys after us.”

“And what? You just convinced them to forget about it?”

“Not exactly. Did I mention the crossbow?” Sam asked. Genie looked at him with astonishment. Yes, they had killed people here on Hordann, but that seemed different. Like war or whatever, but to kill people on Earth…is serious. Sam pulled the Glock out. “Self-defense. They came after me with these.”

Her eyes got big. “What do we do?”

“First, I get cleaned up, I get a nap, and then we get married.” Sam smiled. “The rest we’ll have to figure out.”

“I’ll leave you to it,” Genie said. She pointed to the wooden valet next to the bed. “Those are your wedding clothes. Meet me at the Dragon Field at dusk.” She kissed him and left.

***

When Sam woke up, he was surrounded by all of the living Company members.

Hannegelt was looking closely at the crossbow. “So, Son of Sky Hold, have you finally found a bow that you can hit something with?”

“Good to see you all,” Sam said sincerely. Dextmann was holding the Glock and examining it. “No, no, Captain.” Sam carefully took the weapon from him. “I will have to teach you about this one. The weapons of Sky Hold are dangerous.”

“I see you have a Wizard now,” Kemann said. “That makes us very happy, Lord Samuel.”

“And I have brought your friends to help you get ready,” Gensonn said. “The time draws near.”

They pulled him up from his bed and began to horse around a little while getting each garment situated on him correctly.

“It’s a good thing you all can fight, because you would have made terrible squires,” Sam joked.

At last he was decked out in the newly repaired and polished armor with all new outer garments created to befit the Lord of New Sky Hold. He objected. “Armor? Do you suppose I am in danger from the Lady Genevieve?”

“Most definitely!” they all agreed in an assortment of rowdy commentary.

After they emptied a flagon of wine, it was off to the ceremony. Hannegelt went ahead, as he had been given his assignment.

The Dragon Field had been set up with a large canopy and torches. The entire Flight of Dragons from the Unknown Isle lined the way from the gate to the pavilion, looking like they were made of solemn stone. Inside the tent, Genie had arranged for there to be a raised platform. On its sides were Vyrna and Hazgorn like majestic statues. They had oiled their skin, and it gleamed, in the light of the torches, iridescently.

Hannegelt was already on the platform, next to Hazgorn, and Diedra was standing next to Vyrna, opposite. With them stood Eric and Terri, who held Terry. Sam approached the front, followed by the others, who took up the lower level in a semicircle.

Sam took his place and Hannegelt smiled at him. “You’re next, Pal,” Sam whispered. At that, he turned to see the entire population of New Sky Hold, having come in behind him and fill the pavilion and the outer perimeter in the field. The dragons had also taken new positions, surrounding the entire field. This was a unique and special event to them, since Sam and Genie had bonded with two of Dragonkind; it was almost like two of their own were joining.

At that moment, Lady Genevieve entered the back of the pavilion and began to make her way down the aisle through the Holdfolk. She held a single candle, which illuminated the veil of her wedding hat. He thought of Moriah, the little milliner, who had started this whole wedding process by simply offering the hat to Genie. He smiled. The gown was form-fitting, made of silvery gossamer lined with navy accents. The effect was stunning, and Sam found himself actually swooning a little. Hannegelt discreetly caught him by the elbow, “Find your strength, Skadiver,” he whispered.

Hazgorn bolstered him through Ringspeak, noting the sudden loss of blood to Sam’s brain. Sam glanced to him and winked.

The walk up the aisle seemed an eternity, but Genie did eventually arrive to take Sam’s hand. Sam looked a little puzzled at having no Priest, but then he felt the familiar sense as Gensonn blinked in to his position before them. The Holdfolk all whispered their approval at not only the theatrics, but the whole scene.

The traditional vows of Hordann were given, and finally, Sam raised the veil and kissed his beloved Genie. The Company raised swords and shouted, “All for one, and one for all!” There was a lengthy cheer from all, dragons let loose with flame into the night sky, and Terry sang in joyous tones. And just like that, they were married. The Bride and Groom didn’t know if their parents were looking down at them with their blessings, but it felt that way.

Before anything else could happen, Kemann took the stage, and everything became quiet as he began to speak. He gave a brief history of the Lord and Wizard connection. With Genie standing behind him, Sam had turned to face Gensonn.

Kemann said some ancient words and motioned with his hands as some magic was being weaved. There were strands of light stretching out from Gensonn to Sam. They touched on Sam’s head and heart, and it was as if Sam had forgotten how to breath. The light reached its peak, and the Lord and his Wizard took breath simultaneously as the light ceased. It was as if they were drawing breath for the first time.

The Holdfolk of New Sky Hold, the Company, and Dragonkind were truly witnessing something that had never happened in the history of Hordann. Bonds had been made between humans, the blood of the Jaederon and dragons. Actually, historically, something similar had happened before with Ingebriggt, but this was the first time that it was all of free will, of friendship, of love.

Ordinarily, after such an event (had it been ordinary), the guests would have eaten and drunk too much, they would awaken sometime in the next couple of days and made their way homeward. In this instance, the eating and drinking were as expected, but the departures were not. The dragons had requested an extended visit, and that left many of the honored guests without convenient means of travel. It was a trade-off; if they had made the journey on foot, as in days of old (actually not that old, considering) they would have spent weeks in travel. Staying another week at New Sky Hold was fine with all of the guests. It allowed the dragons to have a reunion and talk about the new Flight they were establishing in the south. More than discussion and visiting, a large number of dragons could excavate their new Hold caves quickly. The local shark was a nice incentive as well. It had been many years since the dragons ventured south at all; once Styric came into power, they felt that isolation was the best way to stay safe. Now that threat was gone, and Hordann was opened to them again.

Hazgorn and Vyrna had also met with Derrick and got the local masons to help with designing their new private quarters, just off Dragon Field, in the out-building that connected to the passageway to the Lord’s chambers. Since it would technically be part of New Sky Hold, it would be a little fancier than the comfortable caves being fashioned to the east for the others.

With all of the guests and so much work going on, New Sky Hold was buzzing with activity. The Company members took some interest in the on-going training of the new guard at the Hold and joined in as they could.

After a couple of days of alone time, Sam and Genie emerged from their chambers and joined in the fellowship. Sam spent time with Hannegelt to try to understand Hold leadership, while Kemann and Gensonn spent a lot of time talking about Wizardry, as the actual practice was still very new to Gensonn. True, he had ‘inherited’ a good deal of knowledge along with the power, but there were many other things that had not been transferable.

Dextmann had asked about the Sky Hold weapon, and Sam thought it best to bring all of the Company up to speed on the technology. It had, after all, come knocking at Hordann’s door very recently, and now, Sam had actually brought it in.

Sam decided to do a little seminar about the whole thing. Gunpowder, bullets, mechanisms, and demonstrations. They took it outside, and Sam plinked a couple of old clay pots, and they were amazed at the destructive power, but also of the noise. He told the group that these weapons were strong enough to kill dragons at great distance, and there was an uneasy acceptance of that knowledge. Out of the wall, they dug out a couple of the spent bullets to examine. At the end, Kemann and Gensonn requested to keep the bullets, and Sam didn’t care one way or the other. Out of curiosity, Sam shot a sample of the Hordann armor. It didn’t stop the bullet, but the impact had taken almost all of the force out of it. “Not bad,” Sam thought.

The Wizards had taken the bullets and had begun to experiment on them in their own way. Sam and Hannegelt walked in on them at one point while the bullets were ‘dancing’ in midair to the tune of magic manipulation. Something about the elemental makeup of the bullets was very susceptible to the influence of the Wizards. It didn’t take Sam long to put it together that more testing was necessary, so, back outside they went.

Sam had the Wizards next to him as he shot and bade them sway the bullets’ paths. It took a few shots for them to understand the timing, but they started doing it. Hannegelt teased that Sam was better with a bow than the handgun, seeing him miss the mark repeatedly due to the employ of magic.

“You can tease me all you want, Hann,” Sam said, “but this is just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen anyone be able to do. Good job, Wizards.”

The first inspection of Hazgorn’s cave was fun. Sam and Genie went for a visit and found their Holdfolk working right alongside the dragons. In several days, they had managed to carve out the space, leaving the passageway entrance to the right, while the majority of the cavern worked out better with the mountain toward the left.

A great stone archway for the main entrance had been begun. The masons were happy at the progress, because of the strength and size of the dragons helping, the archway was about halfway done. It would have taken weeks with scaffolds and pulleys, but with dragons, it was more like children’s building blocks. The dragons were impressed by the humans carving the stones; they had never worried about such details and to see such craftsmanship was refreshing to them. There was a plan for carving the arch with a long frieze, depicting the history of New Sky Hold, starting from Ingebriggt to present. Naturally the stones were chosen and prepped with the finished product in mind.

Sam asked Derrick about the security plan for the passageway door. It had been a large stone thing that pushed out from the wall, but now was just an open doorway. There would have to be guards posted. He was reminded of the guard posted at the Rent chamber; security had already been considered and was in place. Hazgorn and Vyrna were now staying in their new cavern by night, and during the day, it was being worked on, so the security from that direction was a given; nobody was getting by two dragons.

The next morning, Terri sought out Sam and Genie to ask about going back to Earth. At first, they thought she was not liking Hordann for some reason, but that wasn’t quite it. There were just a few loose ends she needed to tie up there before making a long commitment. These past few days had been a trial basis, but she had decided that she wanted to stay.

Sam thought it was a fine idea, and there were some things he wanted to check on as well. The main thing was to get Genie to a doctor and find out about being pregnant (or not). He also wanted to check in with Mack to see if he was doing okay after their last episode. Naturally, he also needed to see if these Nassar people were still coming. He knew they were.

After much thought, Sam called a lengthy meeting in Hazgorn’s cavern. Genie, Hannegelt, Kemann and Gensonn, and Derrick were there. It felt a lot like the first meeting that Sam and Genie had been brought in on back at Gilden Hold, when Lord Gildenhanna and Dorsea were laying out the strategy for taking Styric down.

Sam explained the legend of the jinni and the lamp. During his time on Hordann, they all had a hand in the discovery of the truth behind the legend. At the moment, that was their main advantage. The Nassar family wanted the jinni back, and Sam was going to grant their wish, but they would have to come to Hordann to get it.

Sam discussed the threat of what might come, and Hannegelt seemed to understand after having seen the demonstration with the gun. Hazgorn had remained quiet during the discussions.

“Samuel,” he said in Ringspeak, “what do you require of me?”

“To be part of the defense, as necessary, my friend,” Sam answered, “but I cannot have you in the line of fire from these weapons; they can kill you.”

“You have led the way in the reclaiming of Hordann, but this might be the battle for Hordann,” the wise dragon began, “This threat is the family of the tyrant who set wings to wind in the fall of Hordann into its first darkness under Ingebriggt. You were integral in Hordann rising from its second darkness under Styric. From what you have seen already, you know these people are coming for you because they believe you have taken the power they desire. They will kill you and discover the truth about that power. Then, they will cast Hordann into its third darkness, and you will no longer be here to help.”

“I know you are right.”

“Dragonkind will not glide by and do nothing.”

“We have been in several battles together, you and I, and it rarely goes to plan,” Sam said, “In Sky Hold, we have an expression that could apply here—we’ll just have to wing it.”

***

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