The Dark Times; Part 13
Aituár woke up as someone knocked on her door, shouting something
'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
'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
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
Oh no! What is this?
Is there danger afoot?
Does the unicorn have telepathic contact with Déomarr?