The Dark Times

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The Dark Times; Part 13

Aituár woke up as someone knocked on her door, shouting something

about 'Supper!'
'I am coming - just give me a minute!' she responded, while

struggling to get out of bed, a bit stiff from the nights spent

sleeping on the ground. Hastily she splashed some water into her

face to wake up properly. A quick look showed her that the dragonling

was still asleep. After hesitating for a moment, Aituár decided to

leave him in the room, and hid the leather pouch in her bed,

behind the pillow propped up against the wall.

When she opened the door she found Mathias and the children

already waiting for her.

'We will be getting hot food - real food!' said little

Jonathan eagerly, his eyes shining with anticipation, and on

hearing him Aituár suddenly realized how hungry she was, and that

she was very much looking forward to a hot meal herself.

The guest hall turned out to be more crowded than Aituár had

expected, but there was still plenty of food and a place to sit

for everyone. While queueing for a plate of steaming hot fried

vegetables and beef she listened to the conversations around her.

It seemed that several villages had been attacked and families

shattered. There were wild speculations on what could have

happened to those who had been captured. Someone thought that they had

been executed after having been taken away, to avoid witnesses. A

young man suggested that they would be used as slave labour in the

iron mines, while an old man with a white beard kept repeating his

theory that they would become dragon food. At this Aituár

shuddered. Could someone be so evil as to raise a dragon on human


She excused herself as soon as she had finished eating, announcing

that she would be going to bed early. She hurried back to her

room, closed the door behind her, and removed the pillow. An

agitated 'Skraaawk!' was heard from the leather pouch, and

Aituár hastily opened it to let Déomarr out. The dragonling glared

at her, clearly annoyed at having been left alone for so long. He

seemed to get over it soon enough when Aituár offered him a

cork of honey. Watching him eat she wondered, not for the first

time, what she had taken on, and whether she would be capable of

raising the dragonling in a proper way, so that he would not

become a danger to others.

After a quick wash they went to bed and Déomarr contentedly

curled up on the pillow between her neck and shoulder, falling asleep almost immediately. Aituár lay awake for a while, her

head full of worrying thoughts, but the long journey had been

tiring, and soon she fell asleep too.

After breakfast next morning, Aituár amused herself by strolling

around looking at the merchandise and the people, enjoying the

warm and sunny day. In one of the stalls she spotted what looked

like a small ornamented metal case with air holes. When she asked

about it, she was told it was a snake catcher's case.

'It will be perfect to keep Déomarr in, much better and roomier

than the leather pouch'
thought Aituár, and purchased it on

the spot without even haggling over the price.

When she returned to the guest house, she found Mathias waiting

for her.

'My brother in law lives in this village, and he has agreed to

take me and the children in, provided I help with the farming - I

just wanted to let you know that we will be alright, and Wotan

told me he has been trying to get you a job here at the


'A job? For me? Here?' said Aituár, bewildered.

'Yes - I believe that monk is looking for you.' Mathias

turned around and pointed at a short and sturdy monk approaching


'Thank you for everything, goodbye - and good luck!'

'Wotan tells me that you know how to write, and that you can write well

- is that correct? You see, I need help copying some texts to

provide reading material for the younger students of our school -

all we have at the moment are bible texts, and they are a little

bit too difficult for the young ones.'

The round faced monk beamed at her, and Aituár felt herself forced

to admit that yes, she did know how to write and, yes, she had

been told her writing was legible. She could not help but feel

slightly annoyed by Wotan's habit of knowing everything - she

could not recall having discussed writing with him.

'Good! Good! Very good indeed! Right this way, please!'

Abraham, for that was his name, took her hand and pulled her into

the school building, currently empty of students. He showed her a

small room next to the classroom, where she could sit and write.

After having provided a sample of her writing she was hired, and

promised free lodging, meals and a farthing for every completed

page. This sounded agreeable enough, and Aituár happily accepted

the offer.

And so the days passed. Déomarr had accepted the metal case as his

home, especially after Aituár had lined it with a piece of sheepskin. She was amused to notice that she did not need to house-train him - he was very particular about keeping his sleeping

place neat and tidy, and was always quick to let her know when he

needed to go.

They soon got into a routine; getting up early in the morning,

early enough to allow Déomarr some exercise out in the open while

most people were still sound asleep. After that some breakfast,

and then work. Aituár always kept the door to the small writing

room closed, so that she could let Déomarr out of the case. Then

an early lunch, some more work, an afternoon nap, and the evening


One day, while Aituár turned her back to get some more paper,

Déomarr saw his chance. Imitating his mistress, he climbed up on

the ink bottle, dipped the quill, and started scribbling on a

piece of paper. Turning around, Aituár could not help laughing -

he looked so funny! Leaning forward, she carefully took the quill

away from him, and picked him up.

'Tsk tsk - we will have to wash your claws now!' she said,

shaking her head in amusement. Then she saw what he had scribbled,

and dropped her jaw. There was a message on the piece of paper,

and it said:

'You must leave immediately. Repeat immediately. Will explain

later. Licorne'

Oh no! What is this?

Is there danger afoot?

Does the unicorn have telepathic contact with Déomarr?


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