The Stone Dragon Series – Book 2, Chapter 2
Read by Chatull Aventari
Chapter Two. Where Are You?
Creeping carefully through the starlit dark, I could finally make out the little brown and green elven cottage isolated out by itself in the woods. The door sounded solid when I knocked upon it. Its wood was decorated with small sigils all around it, but I couldn’t make them out in the starlight. Zyrina didn’t answer her door but she also didn’t lock it. It was open. She was obviously expecting me to go right in, right? Well, I hoped so anyway, because that’s exactly what I did. The first thing I saw was her sofa, and since it was exactly the right softness, I decided to rest my eyes for a minute and promptly fell asleep waiting for her to return.
Not enough hours later, upon waking with the dawn, I winced at the crick in my neck from sleeping crumpled up on this sofa. Where the heck was I? When I rubbed my still-tired eyes, I remembered the mad dash to get here and the emptiness on my arrival. …and now felt the emptiness of my stomach, too. I became aware of gnawing hunger and rumbling bits. In her kitchen, I found some bread and cheese and a little jug of ale left on the table. I also found a note from Zyrina. Munching thoughtfully on the still-soft bread and the sharp cheddar, I picked up the note in my free hand and started reading.
Yes, I know I’m not there. I meant to be there. Really, I did. I have not lured you away from your library on a whim and I’m sorry I’ve gone. I left food and drink and left the lights on for you too. The bed has fresh bedding if you arrive needing to sleep.
I would be there except Lucy Featherbright sent me an urgent message. She has been looking after Torgin’s lynx while he and I left to find Phlebus to find out more about that artifact. Anyway, Kitty is missing. …or Kitty left to find Torgin, Lucy was quite unclear on that point. There was honey on her letter and some of the writing was a bit smeared, too. What I know is Lucy needs to hear what Torgin’s been up to too, so that’s why I’m heading to Jade Mountains to find Lucy. There’s no telling where she will wander looking for Kitty and we both know she will get lost the minute she hits the edge of Jade Mountains. She’s worse with directions than you are. I’m pretty sure that she lives up the mountain overlooking the Hamlet of Jade Mountains. I know it’s a lot to ask you to follow me there, but I promise you will want to hear what I’ve learned. Then you can help Lucy and me look for Kitty. Torgin will not be happy if Kitty is actually missing.
Lily, that little leatherbound artifact book it’s… well, it’s just not something we can ignore. Please come soon,
P.S. Remember there is a balloon by the stone bridge; it will take you to Jade Mountains faster than travelling by foot. However, if you insist on travelling by foot (yes, I remember your aversion to all things taller than two stories, but speed is important) you need to make your way to the far western Island of the Mistrendur and when you land at the port go straight to the top of the nearest mountain range to find Jade Mountains. When you arrive in the hamlet, stand in front of the Oracle Confirmatory facing away from its door. From that spot, Lucy’s place is up the mountain exactly at the southeast mark on your compass. If you really can’t find it then go to the Central location of Jade Mountains to talk to the Town Crier; they will direct you too.
Boy, I wish I had read that part about the bed before falling asleep on the sofa. I rubbed my neck again and shrugged my shoulders trying to loosen the aching muscles there. Sigh.
Well, I could go back home and wait to hear what they have learned the next time Lucy or Zyrina make their way through Jade Valley, or I could go on to Jade Mountains and find out firsthand. Of course, this really wasn’t a choice, I knew I was going to Jade Mountains. My bag was still by the door.
I took another chunk of cheese off the wheel and wrapped it in a small piece of cloth I took from Rina’s scrap bag, before tucking the rest back in the cool of its urn and setting the urn in the cool corner of Rina’s kitchen. Then I tucked the rest of the bread carefully in my favorite clean handkerchief before sliding it into the top of my backpack with the cheese set carefully in beside it. Provisions secured, I tidied up before securing the door.
Since I had just arrived by balloon, I knew exactly where it left Jade Gardens, sort of. I felt determined to get to Jade Mountains before anything else happened. Hopefully, I would arrive there alive. Hopefully, I wouldn’t scream so very often during flight this time. These contraptions were not for the faint-hearted!
Kitty disappearing was disturbing. Torgin was bound to that lynx and would not accept her loss lightly. So, I was absolutely willing to offer effort and time to help my friend, of course keeping in mind to only offer help that does no damage to my own life because that kind of thing isn’t helpful and creates even more trouble ahead and I’m not a martyr. Even so, I still had a crush on Torgin and could feel my heart swell a little and my face flush just thinking of him. Of course, I was going to help.
That little artifact book was more and more becoming the carrot at the end of a string that I didn’t know I was seeking, and I was beginning to believe it was far more important than we even guessed when I first came across it years ago. I took one last look around Zyrina’s place after tidying up. Lucy’s letter to Zyrina was still on the writing desk upstairs and of course I snooped… I wasn’t ashamed of it either.
I know we all just got back home, but I need your help Rina, ‘cause Kitty’s gone missing and Torgin will KILL me if he finds out I’ve lost him.
Please come as soon as you can,
That settled it, I was heading to Jade Mountains. I picked up my pack from beside the door and walked decisively out, pulling it shut behind me.