Of Dragons and Druids: Ch. 1
In the Hall of Druidham
Henjin Quilones sighed as he looked across the hall at his children. How much they have grown already, he thought wistfully. He could hardly believe that Gahlen was nearing his seventh birthday. Where had the time gone? Surely it was just last year that he and Galaria had been exiled from Hesperia by her father, the king, not even married yet and certainly no children on the way? Surely he had only returned from Bandari a few months back with a small toddler of three and a baby girl, only just turned one? Henjin shook his head wistfully. Emmalie was no baby any more; the five-year-old was the least Elf-like of his children, taking more after her Druid father than her Elf mother, and she followed him wherever he went. She was the only one of the children to study the in the Druidi Order, as Gahlen and the youngest, Lycaria, with her bright blue hair, were dedicated to the dragonriders of their mother and had already entered into a soul-bond with baby dragons. He loved his children deeply, and watching their play brightened his day.
The day was already bright, though. The sun streamed through the windows of the hall, reflecting off of the newly varnished table and the brightly polished tiles of the floor. It was new, the hall. It had only been completed a few months back, and already it had been used for important things. The leaders of Avalonia had met here to discuss the opening of Varlyrio to trade, gracing his table with their presence. That was just a few mornings ago, and already Henjin had heard rumblings of fleets being launched to seek the goods and markets of the far western Guild. Henjin would be sending no fleets, however, since he did not have a fleet, only a few small fishing boats that brought in their catch from the straights and channels between the Mystic Isles around Druidham.
"We really must finish the guest-house next, Henjin," Galaria was saying, bringing his thoughts back to the present moment. How much had he missed of what she said? "We have beds open here in the main keep, of course, but many who might visit us have higher standards than a simple bed in a shared dormitory or a small, simply furnished chamber. It's not like we can offer them a place in one of the dragon's weyrs, where the riders sleep."
Henjin nodded. "This is true, Galaria," he said, stroking his beard. He had let it grow out since returning to Avalonia. "My only concern is that it will take manpower away from delving the storerooms and cellars. And by manpower I really mean Dwarf-power, since aside from Arkuhr none of us humans are much use working with stone, and while you may be soul-bonded to an Earth dragon, Daeara is more attuned to the living things on and in the earth than to the rocks of the earth itself."
It was Galaria's turn to nod in agreement. "True, it would take some Dwarf-power from the cellars, and harvest time is nigh upon us, so perhaps we should delay that; but we could at least shift the Gnomes over to building the bridge to the outcropping where we plan to build the guest-house. It will not be cold here for a month or more, I don't think, so getting the geothermal pumps going can wait a little bit. And besides, Injini has nearly completed it anyways. He said our rock formations here are not so different from the ones beneath Bandari, so he did not have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, to get our system going like the one under the Hatchery or the Dragon Halls there."
"Very well," Henjin agreed. "We should get to work on the bridge, using the dragons to lift the slabs of stone in place according to the plan of Injini and Mvumbuzi. My Druids, especially Arkuhr, can assist with the stone shaping, at least the rough hewing, and perhaps we can convince Stenkarlek to shift his brother and wife over to the final shaping of the stones, while he and his father finish up the cellars."
Just then Lycaria gave a loud shout of pain and Gahlen came running over to his parents. "I didn't do it, Dad," he said breathlessly.
"What did you not do?" asked Henjin suspiciously. Galaria went over to Lycaria to comfort her and see if she was hurt. Emmalie was holding her hands over her sister, muttering some Druidic words of healing.
"I didn't push her head into the table when she was chasing after me after I stole her hairclip," said the boy sheepishly.
"Mm-hmm," grunted Henjin. "I need you to apologize to your sister for pushing her and stealing her clip. And you need to apologize to me for lying. And finally, I need you to go with Koeden to help Stenkarlek dig out the storerooms. He could use a small Earth dragon and even smaller boy down in the tunnels with him to help dig. And bring him this message that I am going to give you." He turned to the writing desk by the windows and began to write on a scrap of parchment.
"Yes, father," said Gahlen with downcast eyes. "I am sorry for lying."
"I forgive you," said Henjin, finishing up the message and handing it to his son. "Now go! Get your dragon and find Stenkarlek."
The first chapter of my Book III story! Not unlike @de Gothia, I have chosen to make the time between the end of Book II and the start of Book III for my story be the span of several years (about 8 in my case). Hence there are now kids involved. My inspiration for the story, at least for the dragon part of things, comes especially from Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, one of my all-time favorite reads. I will be tying things in from my previous Chronicles of Hesperia, plus the builds I did for the Safe Haven challenge. And there will be dragons. Lots of dragons. My characters will probably end up in Varlyrio's Sunken City at some point, too.
The build itself is the same as the one I used for the Prelude: An Avalonian Council, but the lighting is different this time, with the sole light source now being through the windows. I really like the way that made it look, even better than before. Plus, I adjusted the white balance to look more warm.