Elric hopped from the carriage to the dusty ground and looked up toward the palace. It was a mix of dark and light stones with high pillars surrounded by tall, daunting walls and guards wondering and standing about with armour and staffs of pointed metals and wrapped in red and yellow ribbons matching the banners flying in the walls and towers.
Elric’s bag was set beside him by the carriage footman who smiled and tipped his hat at him and the man standing beside him. The tall fellow smiled down on Elric and waved his hand forward toward the palace court entry way, bidding him forward on the well kept stone covered walkway. Elric swallowed a lump in his throat and nodded as he followed his father. Elric wandered behind his father and stared up to all the guards as they passed, each giving a respectful greeting to them as they walked.
Augustin talked to a man who met them at the gate. He chuckled heartily and nodded to the man.
“Augustin, would you like to meet Sabina?” The man asked.
“Is that it’s name?”
“Yes, the Queen is quite fond of this one.” The man nodded.
“Sure Carter, I would enjoy very much to meet her.”
Carter turned left and led Elric and his father around the walls of the palace. The huge courtyard walls made Elric feel small in comparison. But his feeling changed when they stepped into a giant stable toward the back of the yard. The stable had a large 2 door opening with doors that appeared too large for any normal animal to use. On the side was a smaller door meant for a normal sized human to use.
Elric trailed behind his father and the man who had met them, and watched people move around the palace grounds, ignoring them as they went to the barn. Carter held his finger to his lips and shushed them quietly before he pushed through the side door. Opened shuttered windows above them allowed for gloomy sunlight to pour in over the room, causing a greyish glow to engulf them as they stepped into the large building.
Curled in a humongous heap of hay and bundles of cloth was a towering red scaled beast with long arms tipped with slate grey talons on 4 scaled fingers. Wings folded to her sides and tucked into her body. She had horns protruding from the top of her head facing back and armoured scales raised in irritation as she saw them. Her long, thick tail swished gently against the floor, kicking up bits of dust.
That was when Elric truly felt small, in the presence of such a monsterous, living beast. She snarled angrily at them as she watched them approach, her silvery eyes flicking between the men and him.
“Don’t mind her… she’s quite protective right now.”
“Understandable…” Augustin nodded expectantly. Augustin watched her carefully as they approached. Elric felt fear as they neared her and inched behind his father the closer they came. Augustin placed his hand behind his son and pushed him forward to face the beast, whose eyes immediately lightened as she sniffed the air around him and his father. She stretched her long, thick neck out to him and her heavy snout sniffed around his body for a moment before lowering back to its place on the bed of hay.
“Go on…” his father urged. Elric shook his head, messy and long dark hair ruffling around his head as his terrified blue eyes looked on. He dug his heels into the dirt below him, trying to stop the push. Soon he was flung to step forward toward the beast. Her massive head alone outweighed his body, but now instead of snarling she ignored him as she shifted her head comfortably into her hay. “Don’t be scared.”
“Sabina is fairly docile.” Carter said. “She’s just protective of her egg…”
“W… what if she tried to eat me.” Elric quivered.
“Then you’d best run.” Carter and Augustin laughed at him but Elric shivered.
The beast peeked her eye up at him and moved her head up, leveling her shining eyes up to him. He felt a strange tug in him to approach her. He pushed his hand out to her and she watched him tentatively then she suddenly pushed her huge snout into his hand and chirred quietly. He pressed his fingers into the scaly skin and a wash of confidence and excitement overwhelmed him.
Sabina raised to her feet slowly and stretched her wings downward, protecting an area beside where she laid. Then she sat back on her haunches, towering over top of them. Her head nearly reached the rafters. She slowly raised her webbed wing and below her sat a perfect looking egg, the size of a large pumpkin and slightly yellowed in colour.
“Just one egg?” Augustin asked.
Carter nodded sadly, “The only egg to survive, Sabina is very protective of it, she has not let anyone besides the Queen come near it in days.”
“It’s getting close then?” Augustin asked.
“We predict another 3 or 4 days…”
“We made perfect time then.” Augustin scratched his bearded chin thoughtfully.
“It would seem so…” Carter mentioned.
“Do we know what type the Sire is?” Augustin asked as he surveyed Sabinas towering figure.
Carter shrugged, “We don’t.” He said almost disappointedly, “She went missing for a few days, when she came back she laid this clutch of eggs, however only one was healthy, the rest rotted.”
Elric stood still infront of Sabina, she watched him carefully but growled to warn Elric to keep a distance from her egg. He went back and forth from staring at her to staring at the egg beneath her. It was smaller than what he had remembered from seeing eggs in the past, and the colour was slightly different too.
“Have you got the preparations for Elric?” Augustin asked.
Carter nodded, “They have the bed being readied up top.”
“Much better than my last Tarragon, I slept in the stable with her when she was born. And I’m not sure if you’ve ever been woken up by the smell of tarragon droppings but it’s not easy to sleep…” Augustin and Carter laughed.
Elric looked above them, a long ladder led up to the tall ceiling, the small boardwalk above moved into a large square space sat on a pillar opposite of thr stable doors, where Elric could see people moving around.
“I’ll sleep up there…?” Elric asked softly, turning back to his father.
“Yes.” Augustin said with a nod. Elric gave a terrified look up. Augustin knelt, seeing his son's fear grow in him. “Elric… you said you wanted to be a keeper…”
“To begin as a keeper, this is the strongest start you could ever get, not many keepers get to begin life with their tarragon from birth…”
“You will have a closer bond with your tarragon if you are there when they hatch.” Carter added.
“What if the dragon does not like me?” Elric asked.
“That will be up to it to decide.” Augustin reminded Elric. “My first connected with me immediately. My second took time. My third however was my hardest…”
Elric looked up to his father. They had come here because his last tarragon had passed. It’s said that the dragons connect so deeply with certain people that they can die of broken hearts when their humans pass. Augustin has cared for his previous dragon for 12 years, and though Voius adored Augustin, when his elderly owner Baroness Margaret of Holman passed, Voius was so forlorn and miserable that he refused to eat, until he wilted away from starvation and passed. They buried him beside Margaret as her final wish to be buried with her beloved dragon, and surely his final wish as well.
Augustin refused any other jobs to care for tarragon, there was no one in their country that could offer to pay him enough to take on another dragon, until the Queen of Canaille herself wrote and requested him. She also requested a new keeper, that keeper, being Augustins 14 year old son.
Sabinas keeper had passed from illness, he had been with her for 23 years. The Queen requested Augustin, the last practicing and most renowned dragon keeper in the Canaille Kingdom to look after her beloved tarragon. But when Augustin learned Sabina was also sitting on only one, mysterious egg he decided it would be his sons best chance to finally become a keeper.
A dragon best grew up if they knew their keeper from birth, older dragons were harder to connect with and control, especially if the dragon had already imprinted on a human. However keepers were meant to train, feed, bath, protect, and care for the tarragon as a stable boy would a horse. Rich and noble families kept tarragon around for centuries however with the dwindling population of dragons… so too dwindled the population and need for the already slim amount of keepers.
Augustin was now the last known practicing Keeper within a 10 days journey. He had already been highly sought after before the death of the queen's last keeper. He had raised his young son in the ways of a keeper so that he could carry on the noble position if the chance ever arose for him.
Now, Elric finally had the opportunity, and with Sabinas keeper passing, Augustin too was able to take on a new dragon and support their family which had been moved to the village nearby.
Since Sabina was fully grown, Augustin would remain in the palace and come to care for her during the day. However as the day grew near for the new tarragon to hatch, Elric would be made to bed in the loft above the dragon stable so that he could work with it from the moment it arose from its egg. A Keeper would only be recognized after spending their first 10 years with their own tarragon, and the rules were strict on the requirements needed to qualify them for the title.
Augustin had trained Elric with Voius, he learned roping, feeding, cleaning, commands, everything he would need to become a keeper, and now was his chance to become a keeper of his own for the new tarragon. Elric shivered at the idea. Voius was defiant and mischievous, he also had an air of anger about him that caused people to shrink in fear of him, including Elric. Augustin however easily controlled the juvenile tarragon and taught Elric every trick in the book to control the animal.
Sabina was more foreboding and quiet, per the nature of her type, Rose dragons were typically docile, calm and cunning. They were also graceful and gentle, whereas dragons like Voius, an Iris, were hard headed and emotional, they were however powerful and witty, oftentimes incredibly mischievous and were notorious for causing trouble.
Elric was afraid of rose dragons notorious escape skills and manipulation. He was afraid his tarragon would be equally as difficult to train and he would be to blame should it’s training go wrong.
Augustin patted Elric hard on the back, breaking him from his gaze over Sabina.
“Let’s go eat son.” Augustin said happily, “Then we will dive into your training with the Tarragon.”
Elric nodded and took a look back at Sabina as they left. She cocked her head sideways and watched them, as they left he watched her lay back down, spreading her wing protectively over the egg beneath her again.
Need help With easy pronunciation? Lost on who is who? Wondering what a word is meant to mean? (Many words and names from the story are French, Gaelic, and otherwise European, Translations are often rough and generalized per the use of the word/name in the story.)
Tarragon- Terra Gone- Honorific and Endearment term interchangeable with “Dragon” More often used for infants and Juveniles but typically is used to refer to any dragon raised by and around humans.
Canaille- Can Eye- Meaning Sneaky, or Scoundrel, The name of the Kingdom in which our story is mainly told
Augustin- Au Gus Teen- The last anointed Keeper for the Canaille Kingdom
Sabina- Suh Bean Uh- The beloved Rose Tarragon for the Queen of Canaille
Elric- El Rick- The young keeper trainee, son of Augustin, the last anointed Keeper of the Canaille kingdom
Voius- Voy Us- Augustins last tarragon, he was with him for 12 years. An Iris Tarragon to the late Baroness Margaret of Holman.
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