chapter 17

Five months past and Janna was getting nervous. Not a flake of snow was in sight, and even though it was October, the winter months wouldn’t bring any snow, just heavy rains. Carkos was seventeen feet long, with a wingspan of nearly twice that. He was napping beside her at the moment, with a few other dragons scattered through the new city. Only overgrown ruins remained of the glass cities, since the people no longer needed such protection. Janna was nervous all the same, because she kept expecting the Golden Knights to jump on them. Carkos cracked one eye open to look at Janna, then he sat up, fanned his wings, and said, “Want to come? I’m going to the rocks.” Janna slid over his smooth scales. They felt good on her bare legs. She no longer wore the heavy winter attire. Instead, Janna wore light shorts and shirt that felt like buckskin. Janna had given up on shoes entirely. With a mighty leap, Carkos was flying over a very green landscape. To their left was the Glass River, twenty-five feet across and flowing fast. Carkos dived low over the river and it jumped up to splash Janna’s feet, almost as if it were greeting her. Janna thought she saw a glimmer of yellow in the river’s depths, but she couldn’t be sure. Carkos dipped his nose in the water, then swooped up into the sky. Janna clung to his spines and tried not to look down. When Carkos leveled out, Janna could see the rocks. The rocks were actually huge boulders that made up an area where maybe half the dragons could fit into. There were lots of caves and small game, too. Carkos landed and began stalking an animal that looked like a cross between a deer and a mountain goat that was the size of a horse. Janna sat on a rock and caught a lizard. The lizard was very unusual. It looked like a dragon. It was a very large lizard, dull red in color. In fact, it looked so much like a dragon, that… With a gasp, Janna realized what she was holding. The dragon twisted around and tried to bite her. Janna held it tighter and ran to Carkos. “Knucker,” he informed her. “Watch out, there is probably and adult nearby.” Janna spun around and saw another Knucker emerging from a hole. It was long and had very small wings. The Knucker hatchling wriggled Janna’s hand’s, so she let go. Both dragons disappeared down the hole. “Well, that was interesting,” Janna commented. Carkos nodded in agreement. “Ready to go?” Carkos questioned. “Yeah,” Janna said, and climbed up on his back. As they flew, Janna had an idea. On returning to the village, Janna didn’t waste time. She ran to Gelden and told him her plan. Gelden agreed enthusiastically. So then Janna dashed all the way to the Glass River and told the river the plan, since the river seemed to understand. And all that running made Janna very tired, so she trudged back to the village and went to bed early. The next day, Janna woke up with the birds and started running farther than she had ever run, all the way to the Golden Knight Castle. The Castle was made of stones a foot long and six inches high. It didn’t take long for Janna to find a loose, cracked stone, which was easy to pull out. There was now a six-by-six gap in the wall. Hopefully, the Golden Knights wouldn’t notice the leak until it was too late to plug it. Janna could see the river coming in the distance, so she retreated fast. Gelden seemed to have told everybody about Janna’s plan, because there was a large crowd of villagers and dragons gathered nearby. Janna took her place beside Carkos and watched as the river race to the Castle and… with a tremendous splash, it hit the wall of the Castle. It soon found the hole and began puring inside. The water rose until it started spouting out of the windows, but the river didn’t stop there. The guard on the tower had left the trapdoor open, and that was the key. The river whooshed out of the trapdoor as hard as it could, but the opening was small. Plus, the river was full of golden people, and they blocked the opening. So the watchtower crumbled and the Castle started spraying like a fountain, bringing with it hundreds of Golden Knights. It was like dumping water on an anthill. It all looked so ridiculous that Janna couldn’t help laughing with everyone else. Over at the Castle, no one was laughing. The river changed its course again to flow around the Castle, but the Knights hardly noticed. Semmerspar turned to Kragnar, who was looking with horror at the exuberant Carkos. “Get my army ready. We have to get him,” was all Semmerspar told him. “But before you do that, I need to speak with you privately.” The two of them retreated behind the soggy Castle, and Semmerspar said,” I have Celeskor.” When Kragnar seemed not to comprehend, Semmerspar’s temper snapped. “Hello! Celeskor! Gelden’s son! He bit my hand off!” Semmerspar waved his arm in Kragnar’s face. There once had been a hand there. Kragnar blinked. “Oh,” he muttered. “Yes!” Semmerspar shouted. “And it seems that my hand was magic in more ways than one. He’s huge! So much larger than the biggest dragon! Eighty feet long! Twice as long as the Frost Dragons we used to own!” (Of course, the Frost Dragons had to leave during the thaw.) Kragnar was suddenly excited. “And he’s with us?” he asked softly. “Of course!” Semmerspar snorted. “All part of the magic. Those stupid dragons! They thought he was dead all this time! Now, get the army ready. I simply can’t wait to kill all those dragons, and Carkos especially!”

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