Wow, it’s been a long time.  Hello there!  This was a crazy year, but I officially have a teaching credential!  :)  And now I’m back, and determined to finally finish Noemi’s Dragon.

I’m not sure if any of you who used to read this blog are still hanging around (I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve given up hope that I’d ever come back).  If you are, or if you’re just now coming upon it, you’ll probably want a refresher on what has previously happened in this story.  All former chapters of Noemi’s Dragon can be found here.

Without further ado, I give you Chapter Nineteen:

It was strange being back on a hunt again, but not as strange as Ancel had expected after a good decade of retirement.  He could almost hear Leala’s exasperated, “That’s because you refused to really retire.  Honestly, who settles down in the wilderlands?”  Almost, but actually hearing her would be impossible.  Not only would the wax in his ears prevent it, but he’d left her behind at the smoldering remains of their cottage two days ago with Trace and her injured friend Verrell.

Being out and about without the ability to hear made him edgy.  Humans had so few advantages over the creatures of the wilderlands as it was that being without one of his senses made him feel vulnerable.

Ancel didn’t like feeling vulnerable.

He climbed over a fallen tree, grimacing at his creaking joints.  Two nights on the ground didn’t agree with his body.  Blast these youngsters, barging into his live and upsetting everything.

Ancel looked back at Sir Lamar, who was just climbing over the tree himself.  When the young knight made a similar grimace, it made Ancel feel better.  So he wasn’t just getting old—though the fading puncture wounds on the young man’s neck suggested another cause for his frailty.

Then he saw what they’d been looking for: Footprints, and recent.  He knelt—and bumped heads with Sir Lamar.  Fine, so they were both good trackers.  Ancel rubbed his forehead.

It felt like the air was snatched from his lungs, then it rushed back.  Ancel leapt to his feet.  He glanced at Lamar, who glanced at him, and then they were both sprinting in the direction of the tracks.

When they burst into a craggy clearing, Ancel just made out the silhouette of a retreating dragon.  Sir Lamar plunged on ahead, toward two figures on the ground.  His heart sank.  Not the Princess and her bodyguard.

It was them, though.  That impetuous young Garrin clutched the Princess’s prostrate body, shaking her.  His lips formed what must have been pleas, judging by the look on his face.

Ancel dropped to a knee, feeling tears sting his eyes.  All their efforts hadn’t been enough.  He pulled off his hat and clutched it to his chest.

Sir Lamar picked something off the ground, frowned at it, and held it up for Ancel to see.  Wax.  It must have fallen out of her ear.

The young knight laid a hand on the bodyguard’s shoulder.  Garrin seemed to just now register their presence.  His face crumbled.  He buried it in the Princess’s shoulder, rocking back and forth.  His grief moved Ancel.

She must not have found her true love, after all.  What a shame for that kind girl to live her whole life with such a fearful prophesy over her head, then to die young when it could have been prevented.

Ancel moved closer to Garrin and scrawled on the dirt, I’m so sorry.  Wish we’d found her color match.  Then he patted the boy on the back.

His red eyes followed Ancel’s finger to the message in the dirt.  The look on his face was stricken when he read it.  Garrin adjusted his hold on the Princess so he could write in the dirt, too.

Ancel couldn’t see the message until Garrin leaned away.  He tilted his head and read, Her eyes are a mixture of tree leaves and bark.

Yes, she had green and brown—hazel—eyes.  Had the boy lost his mind?  What did that matter?  Why be all poetic about it?

Wait, Garrin was colorblind.  How could he know that?


Thanks for reading!!  Happy celebration of United States Independence, and I hope you have a delightful week!

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