Skull and Shackles
Feruzi 10 Rova
Mother snuck in and woke me early this morning so I could go along to the crater with her and Ukele. It took me a while to figure out how to get up without waking Merrill who is not exactly a heavy sleeper but I managed somehow and we set off.
The crater is not really something anyone in the village talks about very much although all the women go there a few times a year to pay their respects to the Sacred Women and Zuneraali if he’s awake and in a mood for visitors. I have not seen him myself as he’s been tetchy for the past decade or so due to an unfortunate geyser incident that Mother refuses to discuss apart from saying that blue dragons don’t like it much when half of their scales turn bright orange and fall out leaving the most absurd-looking bald patches all over them. I wouldn’t even know about this development but Mother told us not to mention it which we couldn’t have done even if we wanted to before she told us about it but there’s not much use in pointing out this lapse of logic to Mother so if we see the dragon we will just have to remember not to comment on his appearance in any way whatsoever.
Some people would think living this close to an evil dragon would be dangerous, but Raali is a surprisingly good neighbor and doesn’t even bother our livestock as long as he has some women around to keep him entertained. That’s what the Sacred Women do, study sorcery and keep Raali occupied so that he doesn’t eat anything important or blow us or himself up. There’s not really anything sacred about them, I suppose, but some ancestor must have thought it sounded better than “dragon-sitter” and Raali likes the idea that we worship him so it stuck.
The crater isn’t much to look at, just a big sandy pit where a star fell a few centuries ago. You can’t even see it until you almost fall into it but you had better not because it’s quite deep and if you fell in nobody would ever find you because the trees grow right up to the edge and make it so you can’t see or hear anything until it’s too late. The crater has probably claimed more lives (or at least, incautious goats) than the dragon over the years.
We didn’t even get to go meet with the priestesses because Raali was out sunning himself and came thundering over the minute he spotted us which, if you’ve ever met a dragon, you know was before we ever spotted him. We were just walking along the path when all of a sudden WHOOM there’s a big blue dragon looming over us. Ukele screamed. To be fair, I almost did too but nobody heard me squeaking over the dragon and Ukele. I suppose I should be grateful if Ukele makes me look tougher than I actually am. Raali was delighted by this greeting and found Ukele utterly fascinating, what a surprise. I was surprised, myself, because he was smaller than I thought he’d be but I suppose dragons don’t really need to be big in order to be dangerous although they are more impressive when they are of course. I thought that was going to be the end of our trip but Mother had to tell Raali that I was studying sorcery too (although I’m not very good and it shows) so he had to look me over and make me cast a few spells (and I only KNOW a few spells) and then he just spontaneously decided that if Ukele was staying I might as well stay too and learn some proper magic.
Have you ever tried to argue a dragon out of something? No, of course you haven’t. They have you over a barrel and they know it so there’s almost never any use to arguing but I wasn’t going to be taken off by some overgrown patchy self-exploding lizard and I told him so and he put his claw on the top of my head and mashed me into the ground just to show that he could. I remember thinking, Merrill is NOT going to be happy about this when Raali spotted my bow and said “oooooooooh is that an Azlanti bow?” and I thought gods, now he’s going to want that too when he suddenly let me up and ran off. I just had time to ask Mother what the hell was going on and for her to say she had no idea when he comes thundering back with two of the Sacred Women on his back and this burned and broken staff thing in his mouth. Which he then has to tell us all about. For THREE HOURS. Apparently it also was some kind of Azlanti artifact and when he attempted to study it to find out how it was made that ended in the “unfortunate geyser incident” we weren’t supposed to talk about. Lovely. Ukele was fascinated. Or, at least, she pretended to be fascinated and kept urging Raali to explain more and more and more until he finally lost interest in me and Ukele signaled Mother and me to leave and we snuck off. What a relief. Ukele seems to be pretty good at her new job. Merrill was horrified when I told him where we’d been all day and we’re leaving first thing tomorrow morning. I told him it wasn’t anything serious because Raali is probably the laziest dragon in the world but I don’t think he believed me. Still, it’s pleasant to be fussed over as long as he doesn’t take it too far.