Fantasy Fiction posted April 14, 2018 Chapters:  ...9 10 -11- 12... 


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Joshua meets his match

A chapter in the book GULBRANDR- God's Sword

Lyse

by Roxanna Andrews




Background
A child is born to a Dark One, one thought to be cursed, but he will become a champion for his people.
Joshua recognized Augdon's youngest daughter, Lyse.

Augdon had five children, three sons and a two daughters. The youngest, Lyse, tended the dragons and it was some months since Joshua had last seen her.

"What are you doing here alone? Your father would not like it."

Lyse lowered her eyes. "I am practicing my sword play. I am not so good as Fay," she referred to her older sister. "She seems born to it, I am not a natural warrior, but I want my father to be proud." She gave him a crooked smile. "You must think me foolish."

"No. I thought myself a great swordsman when I came here, but I learned quickly that I was but a babe when it came to that. I too practiced much on my own. It has taken me these many weeks to finally feel I am worthy to be called a warrior. I thought I never would be and your father quite wrong about me," he smiled to put her at ease. "Your father tells me you are masterful with the dragons. He is very proud of you."

He sat on a large stone on the edge of the path and Lyse moved into the sunlight. He could see how beautiful she was, her hair dark brown and wavy was pulled back from her face and fell to her waist. Her skin lightly tanned had a sprinkle of freckles across her nose and her eyes so blue he felt he could lose himself in them. He wondered at her appearance, being so dark compared to her parents and siblings.

Lyse saw him looking. "Your mother was a Dark One also, was she not?" She asked

"Also?"

"I am a Dark One. There are many Dark Ones here."

Joshua felt his heart turnover with a thump. He stared at her, but had no words.

"Lyse." Both started at the sound of her name. Augdon stepped out of the woods. "Go home daughter," he said.

Lyse gave a startled look Joshua's way, then turned and ran back up the trail.

"Lyse is not my natural child. It is true she is a Dark One, like your mother, cast out of Wahaland by Hamish as your mother was by his father, Olden. Do not think I meant to keep this from you. I would have told you this soon enough. Let us walk while I speak."

It was late spring and warm enough for the surrounding woods to be in full bloom, the leaves a bright green and a variety of wild flowers displayed their finery but it was wasted on the men who took no notice.

Augdon spoke, telling a tale that both horrified and amazed Joshua.

"There was a man among the people who went with Valdig named, Kidrick. He was Hamish's grandfather and a thorn in Valdig's side. He craved power and was constantly stirring up the people against Valdig. He thought himself also a seer of visions and when the fortress was ready for the people to occupy, he convinced many not to leave the valley. He had 'seen' great things to come for them if they stayed. He was an evil man and wanted out from under Valdig's rule so he could control the people. One of the men, Valdig's brother, Hidel, was greatly influenced by Kidrick. He filled his head with the notion he would be leader if he stayed, but if he went with Valdig, he would forever be under his rule."

"The clan split with Hidel choosing to stay in Wahaland. He became head of the council, but Kidrick had much say in the governing of the clan. After some years a dark haired child was born, he declared that the child was cursed and being an evil, cunning man, he convinced the council and the people that it was so." Augdon shook his head in obvious disgust. "After that, babes born with dark hair were placed outside the village to die."

"Valdig had left men to watch the Wahaland valley for he feared the influence of Kidrick. He was right to do so. When his men reported what was happening, Valdig was enraged. He rode to Wahaland with a regiment of fifty men, ready to do battle. He demanded to see his brother and Kidrick and told them what madness it was to leave a new babe to die."

"He told his brother he was no better than the horde if he cared so little for his people. He and Hibel came to blows, but Hibel was no warrior and Valdig won easily. Valdig threatened to lock he and Kidrick away in a tower in the fortress, so they agreed to never leave the a child to die again."

"But they still put the Dark Ones out of the Clan," Joshua protested.

"Yes, but they choose a caregivers to look after them, ones chosen by lot. Valdig could not convince them the children were not cursed. Kidrick had such power over them. He then ordained that the caregiver should not be let back in the clan once they went with the Dark Ones, for they were now cursed as well. I'm of a mind that he feared the caregivers would tell the people the children were like any other and not cursed. He feared being found a liar and losing his hold on the people."

"The caregivers were forever separated from their families. Most of these children were abandoned and brought to the fortress to live. Lyse was such a child. My wife has a soft heart and could not fathom a child without a home. We took her to raise as our own and called her Lyse, which means 'light'. We feel no different towards her than the rest of our children. She is our child and she is a light in our lives. She is a wonder with the dragons. If they love, they love Lyse. I feared for her, but there was no need. They have never harmed her."

"She is beautiful as well," said Joshua causing Augdon to lift an eyebrow. Joshua change to the subject quickly.

"But what of my mother?"

"We knew she had been born. She was well cared for, so we did not bring her to the fortress. Her caregiver was kind and your uncles made sure she was well looked after."

"Do you still keep guard over Wahaland?"

"Always. We were there when your father died. I am heartily sorry my men reach him too late." He placed a hand on Joshua's shoulder. "They tried to kill the beast that had attacked him, but they could not get close. It spat fire and fled. That is how Fay's husband, Brock was burned. He too is a Dark One and was found wandering in the woods by my men. He had been abandoned by his caregiver and was maybe six years. He was with the men when they came upon the beast and was burned when it spat fire."

Joshua shook his head, his eyes downcast. "I could not blame your men for my father's death. How could anyone know such a beast was about."

"We were troubled to know one of the black dragons had come this far north. We had seen none of the horde, so we do not know way it made it's way here. We tired to get to it, but it lived in a cliff side cave. The men could find no way up. After a few weeks, she flew to the south and took her brood with her. I am sorry we could not kill the beast."

Joshua thought of what it might have been like to have his father still. He also was sorry they had not killed it.

"So you have been watching me my whole life?"

"We heard talk of a baby born with violet eyes. After that we kept watch, yes, and over your mother as well. We discovered she is a fearsome warrior." Augdon smiled at Joshua.

"I have heard this of her."

"We watched over you when Hamish took you from her. Hamish is much like his grandfather and is also power mad. He wanted to raise you but the council gave you to your uncles. We would have taken you had they given you over to Hamish."

"How is it that you know all these things about my people?" Joshua asked.

"Spies," he said. "The traders Hamish took as his servants reported all to us. He thinks them of low intelligent and tells them everything out of frustration and, I think maybe loneliness. He believes they do not understand his words. As I have said, he is an idiot. They report all to my men, who report to me. We pay them well."

"How could we not know your men were always watching? How did we not see them?"

"We are most skilled at staying hidden. You did not know I was in the woods watching my daughter."

Joshua shook his head. Augdon raised his hand and two warriors stepped onto the path. "You did not know they follow you every time you leave the fortress."

"I've never seen nor heard them once."

Augdon smiled, "We will teach you this skill as well. Now It is almost time for noon meal. Let us go home. Also," Augdon put his hand on the back of Joshua's neck. "Lyse, she is for you if you choose her, but she is just seventeen years. Wait until she is grown."

Joshua agreed, he had not thought of Lyse much in the past, he had been to preoccupied to take notice of her. He had thought of her as a child though she was just a year younger than he. Seeing her today he realized he had been wrong and perhaps foolish.


Joshua and Lyse were together much once he started working with Dyster. She helped with the training of the riders so they saw each other most days. Joshua found her beauty distracting and was often tongue tied in her presents. He was awed by her skill with the dragons. She had no fear of them, they obeyed her without resistance.

The dragons were fitted with saddles. The ridges down its back made it impossible for the rider to sit centered, so a saddle was fashioned that rode above the ridges. Cinch straps went under the belly, much as a horses saddle. There were stirrups for the riders feet and saddle bags that would hold a bow, sword, and shield.

The rider controlled the direction of the dragon with his feet, applying pressure to one side or the other. A hand command was used to make it bow low so the rider could mount, and the word command, 'up' meant fly, 'down' was used to make it fly low and 'land' meant just that. It did not take long to train the dragons, especially if they were young. They were intelligent animals.

Lyse showed all this to Joshua, often going up with him and showing how to control the dragon. He enjoyed this time because she often had to put her arms around his waste to keep her balance.

She tended to the dragons needs as well, keeping them warm and fed. A huge barn like building had been built to house the dragons. They were cold blooded creatures and did not tolerate the winter snows well. They were often restless in the cold and unable to sleep. A fire was kept going at all times and straw blankets were often placed over the beasts as they slept to keep warmth in.

Lyse delegated the task of making the blankets to the smaller children. They would gather the fibrous plants that grew in abundance around the mountains forests. When dried it resembled straw and was then woven together. It was a skill all children learned at a very young age.

Feeding the dragons was another huge task as they were mainly herbivores and many plants had to be grown to keep them satisfied. Some grew naturally, but when so many were stripped from the forest, leaving it too barren, it was decided crops must be grown. The dragons diet was supplemented with fresh meat, mainly deer and cattle.

A full grown dragon could reach forty stones from tail tip to shoulder and twenty stone from claw to head. Most of the height being in their long necks. So feeding such a creature was a monumental task.

Lyse was said to have a magic touch with the dragons. If dragons wagged their tails they would have done so upon seeing Lyse come to them in the mornings. They would gather around her bending low to receive the pats on the neck and head rubs she gave and their breakfast.

Joshua often helped her with her early morning tasks. The dragons would fight to be the first and this could bring about a perilous situation as they push one another out of the way. Lyse was once knocked down and if not for the quick rescue by Joshua, may have been crushed by the vying dragons.

When it was decided the cats would ride the dragons, a cage was fasten to the saddles to hold them until they were to jump, either to another dragon or to the ground. Lyse helped in the training. Joshua was worried for her, but he needn't have been as the cats, as with the dragons obeyed her commands without resentment.

It took many weeks of training to get them to the point they would jump from one dragon to the other. They were not so keen on jumping into mid-air. Two cats were killed in falls, much to Lyse horror and she cried over each one.

The plan was almost abandoned because the cats were too precious to lose after the years of training that went into them. But the agile cats soon learned and no more lives were lost. At times they landed on a rider causing deep scratches, so they began wearing chain maille for protection.

Joshua and Lyse became closer and it was accepted that they were for each other. Joshua asked Augdon if they might wed when she came of age and he gave his blessing, but there was a bit of reluctance. Joshua wondered at it, but felt it was because Lyse was his last child.

Whatever the reason, he hoped to prove he would be a worthy husband.



Lyse- Name means 'Light' youngest daughter of Augdon and a Dark One.
Kidrick-Self proclaimed spiritual leader and Hamish's grandfather.
Valdig-Augdon's grandfather and leader to the people
Hidel-Valdig's brother
Brock-Augdon's son-in-law, a Dark One
Dyster-the blue dragon
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© Copyright 2018. Roxanna Andrews All rights reserved.
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