Meldrick's Tales, Chapter 20, Bloodstones
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Meldrick the Elder
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Knight of Zantarni
Zantarni NPC
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Thu Aug 26, 2010 4:36 pm
Chapter 20 Bloodstones


Meldrick was taking a break from his self-appointed duty of greeting newcomers to Edingtol. He had walked to his favorite elm tree in the nearby park, and in spite of the cold, he sat underneath its naked branches and broke out a few apples, as he always did, as he inevitably drew a crowd to him.


The youngsters that had joined him had been talking about ‘bloodstones’, that magical gem that was said to have properties that would enhance any natural talent that one would have; whether healer, diviner or humble story teller. Most knew they were real, but had never seen them or had not recognized them on others.


“Meldrick, is it true the bloodstones are made from the blood of dragons?” One girl asked.


Meldrick smiled, “Yes, little one, the bloodstones come from the blood of Dragons. . .and the stones vary in color from clear to blood red, depending upon the soil that they form in. Most are the soft color of an opal with flecks of red in them. I have even heard of them changing colors when in the presence of another bloodstone.”


“But how does the dragon’s blood turn into a bloodstone?” another child asked.


Meldrick smiled as he recognized the voice of Tommy, “Well, Tommy, the blood of the dragon seeps into the ground and under the right conditions, it mixes with the sand or the soil and after a century or so, the bloodstone is formed. The Moon Elves were the first to discover them and the power that they hold.” He paused a moment, remembering his favorite Moon Elf. “If the stone is exceptional, they have been known to split them and to give them to their true love and to pass them from generation to generation. . .as Lady Nema and Lord Scarz share a beautiful bloodstone.”


He smiled a moment, “Have any of you ever held a bloodstone?”


The children shook their heads and said they hadn’t. “Lord Scarz tells of a storyteller that he met in his youth, that allowed everyone to hold the small bloodstone that the storyteller had. Lord Scarz said that to most it was cold but when he and a friend held it, it was warm to them.” Meldrick chuckled a little, “Seems that even then, Scarz and his friend were destined to own one.”


“Meldrick, did you ever hold a bloodstone?”


Meldrick smiled, “Children, I actually found the largest bloodstone ever uncovered. . . .”

-----------------------------------

The Tribe had made camp outside the small village of Oak’s Crossing, in the Oakwood Valley. They were to be there for a local festival honoring a famous Dragon Battle that had taken place in the valley several hundred years before. Even though the Elders had said that the valley had been pretty well picked clean of any bloodstones, Meldrick thought that it would be nice to see if he could find one for Mother Marla.


She smiled and kissed his forehead as he prepared to leave. Meldrick gently squeezed her hand and kissed her cheek. “Take care, Mellie.” He smiled and waved, “I will, Mother Marla.” Then turned and headed off into the valley, whistling as he knew that he would find her a bloodstone. He gently rubbed the scar on his right palm, “After all, I have an edge.”


Meldrick wasn’t sure that his being blood brother to Red Claw of the Great Red Dragon Clan, would help him in his search, but he knew it wouldn’t hurt, as he always had a bit of luck on his side.


As he moved deeper into the valley he could truly feel that the battle had taken place here. If he closed his eyes he could almost hear the rush of wings, the clash of claws as the Dragon Riders of Yarkin met with the Doom Riders of Dearth in what would be the greatest and the last battle of the Dragon Wars.


Meldrick looked about for a higher vantage point so that he could get a better look at the layout of the valley. Seeing a good size hillock, Meldrick made his way towards it, all the while his right palm began to itch and burn a bit.


When he reached the rise, he realized the sky had darkened as if a storm was approaching. . .but it was no storm like he had ever seen before. Meldrick looked about for some cover and found a small cave on the far side of the hillock. Upon further inspection Meldrick found that it was more of an indentation. . or perhaps a dig site as it only went a few feet into the hillock. It seemed it would still be his best bet if the storm hit.


Meldrick sat cross-legged looking out at a smaller section of the valley. . .a section a bit away from where everyone said the battle took place. He wondered why anyone would have dug on this side, when common sense would have told them to dig on the other side. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine what that day had been like.


Lightning flashed and thunder rolled, which immediately drew Meldrick’s attention. A screech and flapping of wings as before him two dragons and riders were locked in conflict. He shook his head and tried to wake up, then realized he was somehow actually seeing the centuries-old battle taking place before his eyes.


The Dragons and riders were incredible. The Dragon Rider of Yarkin was resplendent in silver armor. His dragon was a Great Silver and as the lightning flashed Meldrick could tell that both dragon and rider had been seriously injured, for both had gaping wounds that would normally have put both out of action, yet they both fought on with a ferocity that belied their injuries.


The Doom Rider of Dearth was in black armor, reminiscent of Orc armor and his dragon was a rare breed of Ice Dragon for instead of breathing fire it was breathing a heavy frost that seemed to be thwarting the Great Silver dragon’s fire at every turn. The Doom Rider carried a banner attached to the back of his armor and there was a golden crown on the rider’s head.


Meldrick had heard tales of the ruthlessness of Draconis the Fifth, King of Dearth. . .and here before him was the infamous leader of the Doom Riders. Meldrick stepped out of the hollow to get a better look, ignoring the weather, he moved to the top of the hillock and looked behind him to get a glimpse at the rest of the battle.


He took a deep breath as he realized that the Dragon Riders of Yarkin appeared to be losing the battle. Though badly outnumbered they battled on. It was then that Meldrick realized the significance of the battle he had first seen. . .it was good versus evil and he understood why the badly injured rider and dragon fought on. . .for to lose this battle. . .to allow Draconis the Fifth the victory, would spell doom for all of Zantarni.


Turning his back on the others, Meldrick concentrated on what was in front of him, as dragons and riders were locked in mortal combat. . .Good and Evil. . .Fire and Ice. . .striking and feinting, their movement almost dance-like as each tried to get the advantage on the other. Meldrick could tell that the Silver Dragon and rider were fighting on sheer will power alone, and that the end was very near; when the Silver unexpectedly, exposed it’s belly to the Ice Dragon; its rider slipping half out of its saddle and hanging half hidden in the Silver’s wing.


Draconis spurred the Ice Dragon to action as its talons pierced the other side of the Silver, the Silver’s Rider slid from the saddle and drove his sword deep into the chest of the Ice Dragon, cracking its heartstone in half.


The Silver’s Rider and the heartstone crashed to the earth as the Silver let out one final blast of fire engulfing Draconis the Fifth.


Meldrick watched lost in the battle. . .seeing the Silver’s Rider and the Ice Dragon’s heartstone fall; watching as flames engulfed both Draconis and the Ice Dragon; as the Great Silver Dragon somehow stabilized a moment and let out a triumphant roar. Meldrick looked back to the main battlefield and was surprised to see that the Doom Riders were surrendering, it seemed the loss of their King, Draconis had taken the fight out of them.


Meldrick’s right palm burned and his hand seemed to be pulled to the ground as he heard the Great Silver’s death cry. . .the Silver crashed to the ground where the hillock had been and as the dirt and mud rose into the air, he realized that hillock had covered the remains of the Great Silver. As he started to rise, hearing the cheers of the victorious Dragon Riders, something hit him in the head and down he went. . . .


Rain was pelting down on him as he slowly rose. Gone was the battle. . .both the Dragon riders and the Doom Riders and their mounts. Meldrick looked about trying to clear the fogginess of his mind. He stumbled forward towards the hollow of the hillock and it came to him that the hollow may have been formed by the Great Silver’s wound. Making it into the hollow, Meldrick collapsed again.

As he awoke in the morning, Meldrick wondered if it had all been a dream. He could feel no bump on his head, nor were his clothes wet from the rain. He gathered himself up and walked outside into the soft morning sunlight, then turned back to look at the hillock and smiled as he could make out the faint outline of the Great silver Dragon that had died on this spot. The sun cast shadows across the hillock and Meldrick knew he had not been dreaming.


He walked back to the hollow and began to gently dig into the soft dirt with the small hand trowel that he had brought. The palm of his right hand was glowing slightly and Meldrick could feel the heat of his long-healed wound as he carefully dug into the dirt. He smiled as the trowel broke through into the hidden cavern that was under the hillock.


Bringing out a small candle, he lit and looked about, hoping that he would find a bloodstone for his Mother Marla. He looked over several promising stones but they were cool to the touch and there was no reaction from his palm.


As he moved towards where he assumed that the dragon’s chest cavity had been, his palm began glowing in earnest and the candle threw a flicker of light off of what appeared to be a red, heart-shaped stone. He moved to the stone and gently lifted it from its resting place. The stone was warm to the touch and as he carried it out towards what had been the hollow, the sun glinted off the translucent stone and as Meldrick reached the outside, he could make out another stone just below the translucent surface. His eyes opened wide when he realized what he was carrying. . .The heart stone of the Great Silver Dragon. . .within what had to be the largest bloodstone ever found!


He carefully set the stone down and went back for his pack. After laying out his blanket on the ground, he moved the heart stone/bloodstone onto it and then carefully examined it. It was flawless in its beauty and the surface was a smooth as an opal’s. The coloring was a translucent red. . .blood red and he could clearly make out the heart stone within. Meldrick had an idea of the rarity of this stone as he carefully wrapped it within his blanket. He then removed everything from his back pack and placed it within the hollow, doing his best to replace the dirt and re-seal the entrance to the chamber.


As he started to place the heart stone/bloodstone in the backpack he heard a flapping of wings, he turned to see what appeared to be a Great Silver Dragon approaching. Thinking to himself that he must be seeing things as Great Silvers were believed to have all died off around the end of the Dragon Wars; he watched in wonder as the dragon approached and landed a few feet from him.


Meldrick stood there in disbelief as he could tell the heart stone/bloodstone was glowing through the material of his blanket and backpack. The Great silver looked from the backpack to Meldrick and seemed to smile.


”Young dragon, it would appear that thou hast stumbled upon a great treasure.” Meldrick looked at the dragon and smiled as it was not the first time that he had experienced ‘mind speak’ with a dragon.


“Yes, Lord Dragon, it appears to be a bloodstone surrounding the heart stone of a long-dead Great silver, much like yourself.”


The dragon smiled again, ”That is exactly what it is, young dragon. . .it is the heart stone of the Warrior King Sserictuss. . .who was felled on this very spot, oh so long ago.” The dragon looked to the hillock and bowed its head, then turned back to Meldrick. “We have known of its existence for a long time now, but were unable to recover it because of a prophecy. . .”


Closing its eyes it continued:

”The heart of Great Sserictuss, will lie entombed. . .
Many shall seek it, yet none will find it. . .
Till one of the People, but not of the People. . .
Shall witness the Great King’s death. . .”



The Dragon reached out with his foreclaw and gently touched and turned Meldrick’s right palm and smiled once more; ”Blood brother to a Great Red. . .son of a Gypsy Elf. . .one of the People, but not of the People. . .the prophecy has come true.”


The dragon backed up and slightly bowed its head, ”I am Ssentricluss, the Guardian. . .it is has been my duty and my honor to watch over the Heart of Sserictuss and my duty also includes taking you to the Island of Dreams and the Temple of the Dragon Lords.”


Meldrick was stunned, the Island of Dreams was a place of Faerie Tales and the Dragon Lords were as mythical as Faerie Trees. He stuttered a bit as he replied, “L-L-Lord Ssentricluss? The Island of Dreams and the Dragon Lords? I thought both to be myths. . .” Meldrick shook his head trying to remember all he could of the fabled Island and its Dragon Lords.


Ssentricluss bowed his head again, ”They are not myths, though they do not have the power they once had and it has been a long time since I, myself have visited the Island of Dreams. . .for my place has been here, for lo these long years.” The Dragon looked to the mound of the King and then back to Meldrick, ”We must be off for it is a bit of a long journey.”


Meldrick looked back towards the direction of where his tribe was camped, “Will we be able to return within a day or two?”


Ssentricluss smiled as he followed Meldrick’s gaze, ” The Dragon Lord’s willing. . .your people will await your return. . .” The dragon knelt to allow Meldrick to climb into the old saddle it wore, ”If not, we will catch up to them on the road.”


Meldrick’s feet found the stirrups and his hands held the saddle horn. He could tell by the texture of the ‘leather’ that the saddle had been also made of dragon’s skin. “All right Lord Ssentricluss, I am ready.”


The dragon stood tall and flexed his wings a few times before bounding into the sky. Meldrick had been surprised at the power of Ssentricluss and how quickly they were able to gain altitude, though this was not the first time that Meldrick had ridden a dragon, this was the first time to fly so high as the ground below shrunk and the flight soon found itself within the clouds.


Meldrick had been grateful that he had worn his long cloak for he hadn’t realized it would be so cold this high up. Looking below, he could see that they had reached the end of the land and were soon over the sea. He could make out the shapes of a few ships and wondered what they must be thinking at seeing a dragon so high above them.


The journey was a long one and through the steady powerful movements of the dragon, Meldrick found himself drifting off to sleep. He did not know how long he had slept but when he had awoken, the air was warmer and Ssentricluss had dropped below the clouds. Below them was an island surrounded by sheer cliffs on all sides, on top of those cliffs was a thick forest of a type of tree that Meldrick had never seen before.


”There, too your left. . .that is the Temple of the Dragon Lords. . .” Meldrick looked where Ssentricluss had indicated and could make out the outline of a large complex of stone buildings, overgrown and in disrepair. It was a large complex and rising out of the center of it was what appeared to be a stone dragon. Upon its back was a large tree, whose roots had grown into the stone dragon’s body and the walls surrounding it.


As Ssentricluss landed, Meldrick looked about. “It appears that it has been a very long time since anyone has visited the Temple of the Dragon Lords.”


Ssentricluss sighed, ”Yes. . .it appears abandoned. . .except for the Dragon Lords. . .” The dragon pointed towards the stone dragon, an opening in its chest. Meldrick looked at the stone bridge that led to that opening.


“The Dragon Lords live within the stone dragon?”


Ssentricluss bowed his head and smiled, ”In a manner of speaking young dragon. . .in a manner of speaking.” He smiled again, “From here, you are on your own. I shall await your return.”


As Meldrick dismounted and made sure he had his pack and its valuable cargo, on securely; several small creatures in golden robes approached him. They came out of the chest of the stone dragon. Ssentricluss smiled, ”Have no fear young dragon, for they are the keepers of the Dragon Lords.”

Stepping cautiously on the partially crumbled stone bridge, he looked back at where Ssentricluss stood. The ancient sentry appeared to be made of stone himself as he looked about the ruins of the temple. It was clear that he had not returned here in a long, long time.


Meldrick sighed and turned back towards the approaching individuals. He could see that they were about half his size and mouse-like in their appearance. As they reached him, they seemed to greet him with a series of high-pitched squeaks.


Sensing that Meldrick did not understand, one of the creatures came forward and took his hand leading him towards the gaping hole in the chest of the stone dragon. They paused briefly to bow, then stepped into the partial darkness. . .partial as the cracks in the stone dragon’s back allowed some sunlight to filter in. The first part of the dragon’s chest was very much like the entry hall of a museum. It was decorated with beautiful mosaics of dragons in flight; dragons gathered at sunset; etc.. He paused to take in some of the beautiful detail.


Finally, at the urging of his guide, he turned to enter the main hall, which was the main body of the stone dragon. As he crossed the threshold of the hall, the room lit up as if ablaze with a thousand candles. Meldrick’s eyes popped open as he realized that the walls of the great hall were covered in bloodstones of all colors and shapes and sizes. At the center of the hall stood what appeared to be a stone table.


His guide took his hand and cautiously approached the table. Meldrick noted that the table was divided into 8 sections and that 7 of the sections appeared to have dragon heart bloodstones set in a heart-shaped recess in the stone table top. His guide let go of his hand and stepped back, allowing Meldrick to carefully examine each of the 7 heart-shaped bloodstone and out of curiosity he lightly caressed each heart. He was surprised that each heart was warm to the touch and each seemed to glow softly in response to his caress.


Finally, he approached the last section of the table. . .he reached out and lightly touched the recess in the stone table top, then smiled as he removed his pack. Carefully he removed his most sacred treasure. The Keepers let out a sigh of relief as they saw the Heart Stone. Meldrick gently rubbed the heart-shaped bloodstone with a soft cloth, then gently lifted it and carefully placed it in the indentation in the stone table top. He was not surprised when the heart fit perfectly in it.


Meldrick stepped back, not quite sure what affect the addition of this eighth heart would have. The Keepers also stepped back and knelt. Then smiled as each of the hearts started to glow and the air over the table began to swirl about. The air seemed charged with electricity as the inner walls of the stone temple glowed with the light of a million bloodstones.


Meldrick knelt, too and partially covered his eyes as the light was so bright; he smiled again as there above the table the heads of the eight Dragon Lords gazed out at him. One moved to the forefront and Meldrick recognized it from his vision. . .Sserictuss, the Great Silver Dragon King.


Meldrick lowered his hands as the Dragon King moved closer to him. ”The People owe thee a debt of gratitude for returning me to this place of honor.” He seemed to look about the room and smiled at the sight of the Keepers gathered round. ”It is very good to see that the Keepers are still here.”

The King paused and sighed, “It is nice to see that this fortress still stands, I can tell that the years have not been kind to it and those sworn to protect and serve this Holy Keep.” Spreading his foreclaws wide and drawing upwards, ”That which line these walls and is here on this very table are more valuable than any golden treasure man would want. . .to see that the Keepers are still here and that the ‘treasures are intact makes me feel glad that my journey back is finally over and that I am among my friends.”


Sserictuss bowed his head and reached out with his foreclaw to Meldrick, ”I know that you had come to the Valley in search of a bloodstone for your Mother Marla.” He motioned for Meldrick to stick out his hand and open it.


Meldrick did and Sserictuss opened his claw placing a near-flawless bloodstone in the elf’s hand. Meldrick smiled and closed his hand around the stone, feeling its warmth. He bowed and then placed it in a small velvet pouch, which he then placed in his tunic’s pocket.


“I thank you, Great King, I know that Mother Marla will cherish this gift from you.” He smiled and bowed.


”As we thank you, young dragon; for fulfilling the prophecy, so that the Dragon Lords have finally been re-united. Thanks to you the future looks brighter.”

- - - - - - - -

Meldrick smiled as the crowd that had gathered listened. “After exploring the Great Hall and the Fortress, I bid farewell to the Dragon Lords and Ssentricluss flew me back to my people.”


“Did Mother Marla like the bloodstone you brought to her, Lord Meldrick?” Little Tommy Anderson asked.


Meldrick nodded, “Yes, she did. . .she was surprised as she had never thought that she would be lucky enough to possess a bloodstone. . .as so few do.” He smiled again at remembering that his Mother Marla was speechless when he gave her the bloodstone.
_________________


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