Seated on the mountain top, is Marcal and his student Euse. Marcal towers over the youth and has a beard that touches the ground. He lets it dangle over the cliff like a white waterfall. Euse is a little chap. White hair and beady white eyes, the common feature among the Frezen Royalty. They watch the city below them coming to life. Early morning in Frea welcomes the ascension of the cities back into the sky. By night they sink into the oceans to keep away from the dragons. By day they fly into the sky to collect food from the upper-earth. Euse can’t remember a rise, or a sinking for that matter. It’s been thirteen years in seclusion with his master. He had to learn the ways of the world before he can return. When he returns he will be the new King of Frea.
Marcal giggled loudly at the sight of another raising then he looked at the youth seriously. “Do you think it was possible to move the whole of Frea to the sky?”
Euse knew this was a test. There had been so many like this, all designed to improve his level of intelligence. “If it is happening then it is possible.”
Marcal smiled. “Then tell me this. Where was our original home? The sky or the sea?”
“We live in the bottom of the sea to keep away from the dragons and we move up into the clouds to find food. So…we lived in the sky.”
“That is true. The original Freans were sky dwellers. In the skies we used to…”
“You told me this story some time ago. You just forgot.”
Marcal laughed. “I may have. I may have.”
Euse looked at the ascending city with new longing. Maybe today was the day he could finally go back. Marcal should be able to sense that he was ready. “You have taught me everything I need to know. It’s time I took my place as King.” He said with a rumble in his voice. Marcal looked at the youth for a while and sighed. “You know am ready,” Euse continued, “I haven’t missed a step in all your training. In the other countries of the world, I haven’t lost a fight. I have been tactful and gentle when I need to be. I have been cruel and precise when necessary. You have taught me everything I need to know.”
Marcal cleared his throat and looked at the youth again. “To be a guardian and a master means that only I can decide when you are ready. If you ask for it yourself then you are not ready.”
Euse stood up in anger and walked away furiously. He found a place where the snow was nice and soft and buried his face in it. The cold always calmed him down somewhat. He walked back to seat just as the last sight of Frea disappeared into the upper clouds. “My father was ready when he was ten years old. My grandfather was ready when he was sixteen.” He looked at Marcal with pleading eyes now. “Am eighteen. Everyone expects me to be back by now. Ever since I left, when I was just five, all of Frea expects me to be back.”
“Your father was gifted. You cannot compare yourself to him.” A troubled look crossed his face for a moment. “There is a ritual that always occurs when the only heir returns.”
“I know.” Euse burst in with a large smile, “I have to prove myself to the people before I take my place on the throne.”
“It is not that easy…You also have to fight. You have to fight your father to reclaim the throne.”
“And you don’t think I can fight my father because he is who he is and I am…”
“I think you can. But I don’t think there is violence in your heart.” Euse dropped his head and Marcal smiled at how familiar that reaction was in the last few days. He was ready, there was just one more test left. “Do you know Deon?”
His head shot up. “Deon?” Euse thought and remembered the lesson in the abandoned castle. He sighed just thinking about it. “I know him. He wasn’t ready to return as king until he was sixty years old and…”
“There was no other greater King than Deon.” Marcal joined in.
“But he did it for love. He was in love with his guardian. The woman…I forgot her name.”
“Mardi, Yes she was in love.”
“Well they couldn’t be together once he returned. It was a forbidden love. She was far older. As you are. But I am not in love. I can return. I only love Frea.”
“I told you the story in a different way. A way that is far from the truth.” Marcal started and Euse turned to look at him in disbelief. “I lied to you for a purpose.” He reached in the depths of his grey fur coat for a pocket that was near his heart. He felt around the other sacred objects for a special one that was always warm. Euse was curious. The only other time Marcal reached into that pocket was when they had to fight the Black pirates who could summon dragons to do their bidding. Now that was an epic fight. Euse smiled and looked more expectant. Marcal pulled out a small clear stone. Euse stared at the tiny thing like it was highly insignificant except for the glittering at its core.
“Deon was a woman, not a man. And there was no one called Mardi. It was a name I came up with to hide the fact that we were lovers.”
“What?” Euse nearly jumped to his feet, but restrained himself enough to only show it in his face. “That’s over five hundred years ago.”
Marcal smiled at the obvious reaction to his age. Other people would have missed that part and been more amazed that Deon was a woman. The stone shined in their midst. “Whatever wish you place on this rock, it will come true.”
Euse sniggered at first then turned to it seriously. “So this is my last test.” He smiled. “Do I believe in a stone that can grant you anything you wish or do I believe that my great great grandfather was a woman and you were her lover.”
“Whatever you choose to believe, know that the stone is real. It was with this stone,” He brought it back to his own face and it shined even brighter, “that Deon and I changed the world. I will tell you the story of it and afterwards you can tell me what you think. And what you would do with a stone that has all power. If your answer pleases me, I will let you return as the new King of Frea.”
Euse’s smile was second only to hers. Marcal thought. He could remember her well. Deon. He could see her in Euse but he couldn’t keep him from his destiny because of it. But he was grateful for the last thirteen years that allowed him to look at her spitting image. Euse was special, ever since he was born. An heir who looks exactly like her. Was it coincidence?
“It was the age of dragons and we, the sky dwellers were always at war with them. The young princess wanted to find a solution for our people. During her years of training she forced me to take her on a quest to seek out other sky dwellers. She thought that one of them must have a solution to dealing with the dragons. I couldn’t refuse her. Though it was wrong of me to go against her scheduled training. I was just a novice master at the time and the beautiful princess knew she could make me do whatever she wanted.”
“But no one becomes a master until they are sixty years old and knowledgeable in all the powers of the world.”
“I was old yes. But I had never been a master charged with the training of an only heir. It was an honour in so many ways. Only one heir is ever born, in every generation; mine was a great responsibility. When she was given to me, she was just a child. She was only five years old as all heirs are when they begin their training. When she turned ten she set us on the path towards the end of the dragon age.”
“I heard that the age ended during Deon’s lifetime.”
“Yes it did, but not in the way you would expect. Our journey to the other worlds was frightening. We met with many strange people, strange cultures, powers and ways of life. I had to protect her but even I wasn’t always there. Many times she was captured and I had to retrieve her. They knew she was of rare royalty. The white eyes and white hair of your royal line are very telling. It was a hard time and it took us ten years to find other sky dwellers. She was twenty then and we were inseparable. She was beautiful. As beautiful as you are. You look exactly like Deon.” Euse snorted but looked on eagerly for the story to continue.
“Can anyone blame me for falling in love with her?” Marcal turned the stone in his hand some more, like it was a lock of her hair. “Finally we found them.”
“Other sky dwellers?”
“Only one. The dragons made sure of that. Long ago there were over fifteen races of sky dwellers but now there’s only one.”
“Two. The Frea are sky dwellers.”
“No. We live in the depths of the seas at night. But these people have always been in the sky and are there still.” Marcal looked up at the clouds like he could see the strange lands once again. “Getting up to them was a lot harder than we thought. Even for us. The only way up is using the powers of their own people. So,” he looked at Euse with a mischievous smile, “We had to hunt one down and capture him. And that part wasn’t too hard. The people of those lands called the sky dwellers…Birds.”
“The birds had a certain look about them that you could always recognize.”
“They looked like birds!”
“Not at all!” Marcal laughed, “That is what we expected as well. But no. I can’t explain them. You will have to see them for yourself one day. Maybe once you are King you can pass a decree and travel at will. You will see the rare birds for the first time like we did. They are just as unique as our royal line. When we managed to capture one, he pushed us into the sky to learn one thing.”
“What?” Euse couldn’t contain himself, even though he knew how valuable patience was. A lesson Marcal taught him by abandoni…leaving him at a remote village for one whole year when he was twelve.
“There is no way to defeat the dragons. They are clever creatures. All you can do is persuade them. I told Deon that there was nothing else left in our quest now that we knew this. That we should simply go back and resume her training. But she refused. ‘Persuade them we will!’ she kept shouting and in her anger she pointed to the one place no one should ever go. The home of the Everlasting Dragon. An ancient being that has lived as long as the world.”
“What did he…she want to do with it?”
“To persuade the dragons, she was willing to do anything. She was even willing to capture it.”
“But that’s impossible. Not even the immortals can capture the Everlasting Dragon by themselves.” Euse smiled. “Now I know your story is a lie.”
“You have been to the forbidden castle.” Marcal didn’t even look at Euse, he looked at the mountains like they were moving.
“I showed them to you from a distance when you were young.”
“What did they look like?
Euse pulled the white hair off his face and tried to think. He was around six years then. It was the first journey the two had ever been on. When they were yet a long way off, Marcal showed him what to look for and when he saw them he said… ‘It looked like the largest living dragon.”
“But it can’t be a dragon. The castle was all rock and marble and wood. We walked around in it. It had rooms and halls and libraries.”
“It changed. To hide its presence in the world. But you saw it, didn’t you.” Marcal smiled at the youth, “Even from a far way off, your power allowed you to see it.”
“Yes…” Euse stammered, “It glowed like it was…alive.” He looked at Marcal hard in the eye. “Is it?”
“It is Everlasting.”
“How did you capture it?”
“We reached the top of its dwelling and waited there for months in complete silence. We knew it was inside. The whole forest rumbled when it breathed. But we couldn’t just rush in and fight it, that would be very foolish. We had to set up a trap. So we waited for four months until the day we heard its massive wings start beating as it emerged and flew up into the sky. It was to be gone for one month. It would only return after eating its fill. We found a way in and walked around the most beautiful, the most gigantic castle you ever saw. In the largest room, it looked like the ceiling was the sky. The dragon must have used its magic to make it look that way.”
Euse giggled and his mind went off trying to imagine the sight of a sky ceiling. “We found where it slept and started to set up a trap. It would take the whole month to make sure it was powerful enough to kill the dragon.”
“Well if you want to capture a powerful creature, you may have to attack it with the intention of killing it. Otherwise it won’t even work. While we set up the trap, I saw a strange light in the mud. I dug through the area and came across this.” He lifted up the stone. “A clear stone except for the low beating of its heart.”
“A dragon egg.”
Euse leaned in in disbelief. “That is a dragon’s egg.” He reached to hold it and was surprised at how warm it felt. He was more surprised at the little crackles that appeared where he held it the tightest.
“It’s very delicate.” Marcal took it back gently and Euse watched as the cracks seemed to heal themselves. “One hard squeeze and it’s dead.”
Euse looked at it again, wondering afresh if the stories were true or it was just one of Marcal’s powers that made it seem so. “Is it the next Everlasting dragon?”
“Yes it is. Every second millennium the dragon is reborn in this egg and begins its life anew. It was never actually everlasting. Just, reborn over and over again. And only when the previous dragon dies can this one be born.”
“So you used this to make a deal with the dragons.”
“No. On our journeys we came a cross an ancient book that spoke of a great power to make all your wishes come true. When we discovered we were holding that great power, we hated each other for the first time.” He looked at Euse calmly, “This is something your history books will never share and I must compel you to never speak of it again.” Euse nodded and Marcal raised a finger to touch his forehead. A blue light sparked at the end of it and Euse could feel himself lose the ability of ever speaking about what would be said. “Neon wanted to wish that the very presence of dragons on the world would disappear. But I couldn’t let her. The very stone we were wishing on was dragon made. On dragon’s bones were some of the most ancient and powerful cities built. Dragon’s fought in wars against us, just as much for us. To wish them all out of existence could change our world greatly. So…I put a spell on her that returned her mind back to when she was nine years old.” Euse couldn’t hide the look of utter shock. “Only problem was that the spell had to be powerful enough to counter her own power. It was so powerful that I accidentally turned her whole being back to when she was nine years old.”
“Nine years old?”
“The year before the one she decided to be rid of all dragons. The year when she had no hate in her heart for dragons and no thought about them either.”
“Afterwards, It was you who wished on the stone!”
“No. She did. She was very clever as a child and she made a perfect wish. Besides, I couldn’t make a wish on the stone…at least I thought that then. Only royalty had that ability. So, her tiny self, with her hands, held the stone just as the mighty dragon was flying back. She saw the dragon and wished that it would serve her and all her descendants.”
Euse’s face sparkled with new understanding. “It worked!”
“Yes. As soon as the dragon saw her, It was instantly compelled to serve her.”
“So that was it!” Euse said, “You made the everlasting dragon force all the others to live only in the night and leave the daylight to us.”
“Yes! A simple ending compared to the journey we took to get there. But I discovered there was a loophole to the stones magic.”
“It only works if the object or being that has been wished on is in constant touch or sight of the one who cast the wish. Deon could never leave the dragon. Even after we had fought every single dragon line in the world and kept them clear of the day light. It took twenty years to accomplish that, from that very year I turned her nine. I welcomed the years because it meant she was growing. I really couldn’t bring back a nine year old to Frea in the place of the twenty two year old they expected. Could I?”
“No you couldn’t.” Euse giggled just imagining how the Freans would react. “But she returned when she was sixty years old. What about the rest of the years?”
“Well, when I turned her she was actually twenty two. But as a nine year old, I could begin my training anew. So I welcomed it for that reason as well. For the twenty years that we traveled with the dragon, she learned everything there was to learn until her twenty eighth birthday. Actually, she was forty two by then. And at that time I wanted to return to Frea. And she was ready. But everything was still new to her. She wanted to travel first before she had to lead. And the one constant about her was that she grew to love me again. This time a lot slower than before. But by the time she was twenty eight, she loved me again. And once again I failed her and went with what she wanted. So for the next twenty two years until she was fifty, we spent it together.”
“I decided to tell her that she was actually in her sixties and not her fifties. A decision I also regret. I told her about the magic I used and why I had to use it. It wore off at that moment and she visibly aged before us. She was so furious, and wanted nothing to do with me. She wanted to return to Frea. But not before she tried to make a second wish.” Marcal looked at the clear stone.
“That there would be a war that destroys all the dragons. A war that will begin in her lifetime. A war that will be started by the everlasting dragon.”
“Did it work.”
“The stone glowed. It did. But I had to intervene. There is always a loophole in all wishes. She spoke of her lifetime. Hers!”
“What did you do now?” Euse asked with a smile. He knew how Marcal thought.
“If she wasn’t a woman anymore but a man, it won’t work. The wish was spoken by a woman about a woman, not a man. I changed her on the last night we ever spent together.”
“I don’t want to hear about that.” Euse made a disgusted face.
Marcal smiled. “The wish on the stone vanished except for the previous one. But it also meant that the spell on the dragon was wearing off. It could no longer see her and it flew away, enraged, burning everything in sight. I had no choice. I made a single wish to the stone.” Marcal looked at it and it seemed to shine brighter. “I wished that the love I had for Deon, leave me and enter the dragon. I thought that that way, it would never harm another person. Because at the bottom of it all, that was Deon’s wish. That no person would ever be hurt or killed by the dragons.”
“Did it work.”
“The stone glowed. It worked. But the dragon fell to the ground instantly lifeless. There was no more Deon, only a man who remembered nothing about me. It all left her, now that I had wished that love away. Without her in sight, the dragon was forced to become lifeless until the moment a true heir appears holding the stone. Until then, the wish was left uncompleted. The dragon turned itself into a castle to remain hidden. Deon returned to Frea and was a great ruler for over sixty years more. He even had an heir and his…her lifeline lived on until you. I hid the stone, fearful of what it could do.” He twirled the stone in his hand. “But I suppose you are an heir of Deon.” He looked at Euse now. “So, I will only give you this stone if you believe it has the magic I say it has.”
There, that’s the test. Euse thought bitterly. He had no idea if it was true or not. A stone that could make any wish come true. A stone that was actually the egg of one of the most powerful dragons in existence. Deon was once a woman! That part was hard to believe with all the statues he remembered with the face of the manly Deon who could fight beasts with his bare hands. Finally, that he, Euse looked at Marcal, must be over five hundred years old. Euse had to be clever and think like how his family would think. His royal line was revered as one of the most powerful. But maybe that wasn’t enough either. He had to think like how a clever ruler would. How Deon would think. “I have a wish.”
“Yes.” Euse looked at Marcal with calm intent. “Let me make it and then I will give you my answer if I believe or I don’t.” Marcal smiled and placed the stone on Euse’s open palm. Euse stared at it in awe. There was a low rumble on his palm like it was alive. It was warm too, an unnatural warmth. Euse could feel it getting warmer and warmer the longer it was on his palm. Probably the effect of his own power acting against that of the stone. He looked at Marcal with a smile. “Are you going to turn me into a woman if I make the wrong wish?”
“Probably.” Marcal smiled back.
Euse looked at the old man, watching for hints of fear that would tell him if it was all real or it wasn’t. But there was none. “I wish…”
“Wait.” Marcal said suddenly and they both giggled. “Give me a hint.”
“What else do I want in this world?”
“To be the King of Frea.”
Euse had to think now, maybe this was the test. Marcal wanted to know what he would wish for if he had all the power to make anything come true. His wish would determine if he becomes King soon enough or he would have to wait. He can’t wait. Euse wanted to go home. Desperately. But he also wanted to prove himself. “I wish…that in my lifetime! That will give you a loophole to work with.” Marcal smiled. “In my lifetime…the world…no the universe will be like Frea to me. Because I love Frea so much.”
“Hmmm! Interesting wish.” Marcal murmured but Euse’s eyes didn’t even move. He stared intently at the stone waiting for it to glow. If it glowed then it was real. If it didn’t, then he may still have to prove himself some other way. They waited. After fifteen minutes, Marcal’s smile started growing larger and larger.
“I knew it.” Euse gave the stone back. “It’s not real.”
“What is not real. The stone or the story?”
“It’s not real that my wish can come true. But I can’t say anything about yours or your love for that matter. I can only listen and make a wise decision about it.”
“Wonderful, you just earned the gift of an open mind. When you deal with the people of Frea, always have an open mind and heart. One that is willing to listen to everyone no matter how strange they are or how strange their story is.”
Euse almost didn’t hear it but his eyes went bright. “So…am going back?”
“Yes!” Euse jumped to his feet before the word was fully out of Marcal’s mouth. “You will have to go through trials to prove yourself. One of them includes fighting your father and I promise you it will not be easy with the power that man has. It may take years.”
“I will prepare for it! Don’t worry.” Euse ran around the slope picking up things here and there and throwing them in one pile. He turned to Marcal, still seated at the edge. “What are you waiting for…we have to go. Back to FREAAAAA!” He shouted happily and kept running around collecting everything he could.
Marcal stood and smiled at the youth. The years had gone by so fast, he thought and remembered the scared child he was given when it all started. The wish was a clever one too. Making the universe like Frea to him!? He just wished himself King of the whole universe. Does he know that? Marcal looked at the stone again. It won’t glow. Not until the previous wish is completed. Not until an heir of Deon wakes the Everlasting Dragon. I can keep that from happening or…I can let it happen, Marcal thought. Either way, Frea, and possibly the universe, has a new king. And he is, at his eighteenth year, throwing the food into the same pile as his dirty garments.
I hope you enjoyed the Story. Tell me what you think. (All rights reserved)