Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel) – Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Ten

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Ten

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I can’t imagine that’s the voice of a dragon welcoming us back, thought Jonathan – if it is, we’re in big trouble!  Certainly if it was a dragon, he wouldn’t have toyed with the two of us by bothering with a warm welcome before eating us for breakfast, but then again, Jonathan didn’t know anything about this particular dragon set loose in Myllanthar from the Wastelands of Fell Ignar, otherwise known simply as Kriegareth.

Jonathan took a risk, and stuck his head outside the tent, but there was nothing to be seen except for the dense Wood all around them.  After scrambling out of the tent to take a look around, Sammy and Jonathan saw nothing that hadn’t been there the previous evening – a table set with food, water, and a small orchard surrounded by dense Woodlands.  “Where did that voice come from, Sammy?” asked Jonathan without expecting an answer, as he was beginning to think he’d been hearing things.

Yet, Sammy had clearly been aware of something outside the tent as well, even before Jonathan had heard the voice.  I can’t imagine a dragon would be that polite, thought Jonathan, especially one with such long teeth!  If it was Miylla or another person from the Land of the Myull, they were sure playing hard to get.  There has to be a point to all of this, otherwise I’m simply hearing voices in my head…

As if reading his thoughts directly, the voice replied from thin air right beside Jonathan saying, “You’re not hearing voices in your head, my friend, you’ve begun the first of your many lessons in learning to become a dragon slayer.  One must slay dragons not by overpowering them – which you could never do – but by outwitting them.  Dragons are huge, ferocious, terrifying and deadly creatures, willing and able to take on and defeat the mightiest opponents.  Dragons don’t read, though, and have never heard of the legend of the boy king from the stars who becomes a dragon slayer.  You are that boy, Jonathan, the only one in all of Myllanthar who can slay dragons – but you will need the powers of enchantment to assist you in your calling, my son – which will require many lessons to master…”

(End of Book Two, Chapter Two) 

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel) – Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Nine

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Nine

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There wasn’t anything else to do in the dimming light of the setting sun, so Jonathan and Sammy put all thoughts of the dragon behind them as they prepared for a good night’s sleep in the tent that had been set up for them.  Jonathan remembered back to Miylla’s earlier hospitality here in The King’s Preserve, and knew the banquet and tent had been arranged for them, just as it had been arranged for the entire company earlier.  All things in good time, thought Jonathan, hoping of course to meet Miylla before having to confront the dragon.

Jonathan tried to go to sleep, but thoughts of facing a dragon one day, were never far from his mind.  Back home on the farm, the idea of slaying a dragon was like stepping into a fairy tale and he jumped at the chance, but now he had second thoughts.  The tooth he pulled from the cave’s wall was a constant reminder to him, that slaying a dragon wasn’t going to be a cakewalk – not with teeth the size of his thigh bone!

Something else seemed wrong about the entire area since returning to Myllanthar, thought Jonathan.  No one seemed to be about in the kingdom – the entire place felt like a ghost town!  Jonathan realized they hadn’t covered much distance so far outside of the passageway and the Wood, but there were no signs of anyone being around, except of course for the destruction inflicted by the dragon.  Thinking of the destruction, he pondered, How exactly am I supposed to slay a dragon, especially one with teeth approaching 16″ long?  I wonder what the rest of it looks like…

Eventually, Jonathan’s mind wandered far away from dragons and destruction, beyond Hampton, Ohio, and adventures, to finally getting lost in nebulous dreams that he had no memory of once he awoke the next morning.  Sammy was looking very intently at the door of the tent with his ears alert and pointing forward, noticed Jonathan, while the pup’s hairs stood up on the back of his neck and shoulders. Sammy had clearly heard something outside the tent, but what?

Jonathan shook himself awake from his dreams and rolled over, trying to focus on what was outside the tent by looking out through the sliver between folds of fabric to the Wood around them.  He heard a faint rustling sound outside the tent as if a swirling wind was distributing autumn leaves, yet otherwise, it was a windstill morning.  In a singing tone that seemed to spring out of the very wind itself, Jonathan heard the words, “Welcome back, we’ve been expecting you…”

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel) – Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Eight

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Eight

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Sammy followed Jonathan outside the cave’s entrance, and their first stop was to get a drink from the River Myuthall as they hadn’t had anything to eat or drink all morning.  After quenching their thirst, the two adventurers scaled the river bank and followed the direction Jonathan remembered would take them to the Enchanted Way – but they couldn’t find the path!  After wandering aimlessly through the Wood without any sense of direction, one thing became perfectly clear – they were lost…

“How did this happen, Sammy?” asked Jonathan out loud, while trying to figure out in his mind how they got themselves lost.  “The Enchanted Way was exactly where we headed to, I remembered the direction from our earlier visit.  What went wrong?”

At this point, they didn’t know the way back to the cave, the direction to Castle Penmaryll, or where the terrible destruction was that the dragon inflicted on the Wood.  The only thing they knew was that they were lost in an ancient forest that dated back to the earliest days of Myllanthar, an Enchanted Wood where nothing was as it seemed to be, and anything could be something other than it appeared.  A forest of contradictions and illusions, and here they were lost somewhere within it, without an invitation or excuse for being there…

“I remember a story from earlier about the Land of the Myull, Sammy,” said Jonathan as he tried to find a way to stay calm through conversation.  “King Dijia had said the locals called this an Enchanted Wood, and mentioned that no one that entered without permission ever returned again.  No one ever knew what happened to the few who did venture into the Wood on their own, and no one was brave enough to try to find them.  They said the Wood was cursed, and the name The King’s Preserve was given to mark the territory so no one else would wander into it by accident – and here we are lost in the Wood without an invitation – what is to become of us?”

Realizing they were completely lost without any sense of direction in the dark shadows of the forest as the sun began to set, Jonathan decided it was best to stay put and spend the night where they were, before they ended up hurting themselves wandering around the thick woodlands in the dark.  Jonathan sat himself down on a fallen tree trunk, and as he surveyed the scene directly in front of him, he saw a number of fruit trees laden with ripened fruit – apple, pear, orange and cherry trees, along with a number of banana plants – all with ripened fruit hanging from their branches!

There beside the small orchard, sat woven baskets of nuts and dried meat, along with a small wooden cask of water with wooden cups and bowls set out on a table, and a nearby tent furnished for sleeping!  Jonathan carefully investigated everything, amazed at this splendid banquet set before them.  He gathered some of the fresh fruit and ladled out water for them both to drink, before handing Sammy a number of pieces of dried meat and cracking a few nuts between flat stones.  “We may be lost, Sammy, but I think our luck is beginning to change!  This is an Enchanted Wood after all, and it appears someone has been expecting us…”

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel) – Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Seven

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Seven

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“Where do we go from here, Sammy?” Jonathan rhetorically asked his trusted adventure partner, knowing full-well there wasn’t a ready answer available. “Anywhere we go from here exposes us to the danger of being found out in the open by the dragon, but we can’t stay here in this cave either as the dragon may return at any moment.  Even if we go to the main gate of Castle Penmaryll at the drawbridge, they wouldn’t risk lowering it for us in case the dragon were to attack at that very moment.  What are we to do?”

What are we to do? thought Jonathan, knowing he had to come up with something as the leader of this expedition.  He was supposed to be a dragon slayer after all, which meant he had to come up with a solution to their predicament in short order.  In that moment, he realized he had to do something, anything – which would be better than doing nothing at all…

“Okay, Sammy, we’re moving out.  My best guess is for us to retreat to the safety of the Enchanted Way, and regroup deeper into the Wood.  We can’t risk traveling out in the open, and need more information before we find ourselves stumbling into the dragon by accident,” stated Jonathan matter-of-factly as he stood up and dusted himself off, while holding tightly to the dragon’s tooth he pried from the wall of the cave.

“We have to be very careful and move quickly and quietly, Sammy,” instructed Jonathan.  “We’ll head up the embankment alongside the River Myuthall to where we can find the Enchanted Way, and then take it deeper into Myullar Wood.  I know we don’t have permission to enter The King’s Preserve, but this is a special case if there ever was one.  At least if we travel deep into the Wood it gives us a place to hide, and we’ll hear the dragon approaching if it comes.”

“The first rule of dragon hunting is to not be caught unprepared, Sammy, and at this point we really don’t know what we’re doing.  We need a plan, and this cave isn’t the place to make one, so follow me and we’ll come up with a plan as we go along – there is no other way at this point…”

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel) – Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Six

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Six

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Jonathan had to catch his breath while sitting in the dirt as his heart raced uncontrollably with fear, realizing what the destruction all around them actually meant – a dragon was on the loose here, and had tried to get into Castle Penmaryll! The evidence was clear enough.  The trap door at the end of the passageway must have been blocked to keep the dragon from entering the castle through the tower’s foundation, and the dragon then destroyed the area around the cave in The King’s Preserve, either because it was so enraged that it couldn’t get into the tower, or it was too big to fit into the passageway.

Looking at the tooth he held in his hands, Jonathan guessed it was about 14-16 inches long!  Sitting there in the dirt, he realized the second reason was closer to the mark – the dragon was so huge it couldn’t possibly have fit into a passageway that was about eight feet high!  All of a sudden, Jonathan second guessed his idea of returning to Myllanthar to slay the dragon, even if Arrydor’s note said he was destined to succeed.  This wasn’t going to be an easy task, and maybe one he and Sammy wouldn’t even survive, thought Jonathan, thinking of the terrible power and size of this dragon.

In that moment, Jonathan felt exposed and vulnerable sitting on the dirt floor of a cave – a cave of rock that had recently been torn apart by a dragon as if it was made of sand at the beach.  Looking around at the flattened woods surrounding the mouth of the cave along the River Myuthall, he saw trees uprooted with trunks over a foot thick, displaying the raw power, anger and fierceness the dragon had inflicted on the Land of the Myull – but why?

Arrydor’s note had said the dragon was terrorizing the City of Talgarth in the Kingdom of Talgar, across the Tregarron Mountains to the north, unless it now means that more dragons have emerged from underground!  How in the world was an almost nine year old boy going to slay one dragon, let alone all the dragons emerging from underground Myllanthar in the depths of Kriegareth? Jonathan thought to himself.  It wasn’t possible, there was no way he was able to do any or all of what he was being asked to do – so why did he return?

At the same time, Jonathan felt a sense of responsibility to his friends and to this Land of Myllanthar – that other than the earlier conflict he was caught up in – was a place he had grown very fond of.  Jonathan’s first thoughts of being crowned king and slaying dragons fueled his sense of adventure, and was clearly the initial reason for his wanting to return to Myllanthar.  Of course he wanted to be a hero – what boy doesn’t want to be a hero, at least in his own mind?

Yet now, it was different.  Jonathan didn’t know where his friends were, or even if they were dead or alive.  He didn’t know how many dragons were on the loose in Myllanthar, what they looked like, where they were, or how he was supposed to slay them, but the situation had gone way beyond a simple desire for adventure, or for playing the part of a hero.  This was no longer a game to Jonathan, and he was worried – not so much for himself, even though he was clearly afraid – but for the safety of Sammy and his friends.

What if it was true, that only he could slay the dragon, or all the dragons?  What if the lives of his friends depended on his sense of duty?  What would happen to everyone if he chickened out and refused to help them?  He couldn’t turn his back on his friends, not now, not ever!  As he and Sammy looked at each other in shock from seeing all the destruction surrounding them, Jonathan made up his mind – he was going to figure out how to slay dragons…

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel) – Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Five

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Five

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“It’s no use, Sammy, we can’t enter the tower this way, so we’ll have to backtrack the other direction to the cave in The King’s Preserve.  I wonder why the door’s blocked? What are they afraid of?” asked Jonathan to Sammy, who looked on with knowing eyes.  Sammy’s nose was keener then Jonathan’s imagination in that moment, and the scent of something foul was still lingering in the passageway’s stagnant air, although it had been some time since it passed this way.

It didn’t take them long to reach the cave beside the River Myuthall in the Land of the Myull or Myullar Wood, as the way turned out to be uneventful.  It was a different situation they encountered in the cave itself though, as it looked like a great struggle had taken place there.  Deep patches of earth had been carved out of the cave’s floor, and rocks broken off from the cave’s ceiling, while large tracts of forest had been literally flattened throughout in the immediate area.  What happened here? thought Jonathan with a shock!

Sammy’s tail was tucked between his legs and he looked very distressed, as Jonathan looked through the area of destruction for clues – anything that would reveal what had taken place here.  A piece of branch seemed to be stuck in the rock at the side of the cave’s entrance, and Jonathan went to take a closer look.  While it looked like a branch, on closer examination it was perfectly smooth and looked more like a large, rusted iron spike, or the ivory tusk of a walrus painted in dark, ugly colors.  Reaching up to free it from the rocks, Jonathan found it was wedged tightly into a crack in the rock – and as he pried it out a section of rock the size of a basketball broke off at the same time – causing him to fall over backwards unto the dirt floor of the cave.

Shocked but unhurt, Jonathan sat up and examined the object he freed from the rock wall with such effort.  It was unlike anything he’d ever seen before, and the closer he looked the more perplexing it seemed, but slowly Jonathan began to see a few familiar clues stemming from a book he had at home about dinosaurs – it looked similar to the tooth of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and was over a foot long!  The tooth he held in his hands was the size of a dagger or short sword, with sharp, serrated edges running up both sides like a shark’s tooth, but it was much thicker and longer.  All of a sudden Jonathan’s eyes opened wide with both astonishment and fear, for the destruction he witnessed here must have been caused by the very dragon he was supposed to slay…

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel) – Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Four

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Four

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Sammy was surprised to see Jonathan climb through the small opening of the tunnel, leap directly into the darkness, and fall away from view!  A moment later Jonathan was looking into the tunnel with the biggest smile on his face saying, “We’re here, Sammy!  There was a shortcut to Castle Penmaryll after all and this was it!  The small tunnel we were in is a side tunnel, leading into the underground passageway from the cave beside the River Myuthall in The King’s Preserve, to underneath Castle Penmaryll’s southeast tower!  Sammy, we’re back!”

Jonathan reached into the smaller tunnel at eye level, picked Sammy up, and set him down in the much larger passageway while continuing on with his explanation, “I remembered seeing this side passageway the first time we were here to enter Castle Penmaryll from underneath the tower, and beyond all hope, we’re back again – this was the shortcut all along!  Now all we have to do is follow the passageway in this direction until we’re under the tower,” Jonathan pointed with his finger.  “It’s not far at all!”

Sammy looked anxiously into the dark passageway behind them, as if sensing a dragon could be stalking them even now – but in the end Jonathan was the leader of this adventure, and it was Sammy’s job to follow him.  Sammy knew a lot more than he could communicate back to Jonathan, and in his uneasiness, his nose was telling him something wasn’t quite right.  There might not be a dragon behind them in the darkness, but there was trouble in the air, and Sammy didn’t have nearly the confidence his master had.

After traveling along the passageway for a short distance, they reached the stairway made of timbers leading up to the trap door beneath the southeast tower of Castle Penmaryll.  Jonathan was eager to meet his old friends again – King Dijia, Captain Pallamar, Arrydor, Sylth, Siyth, Juyall, Siyall and Miylla – and gave a shove to the door that was designed to open up into the lowest level of the tower from beneath its foundation – but the door wouldn’t budge!  A second attempt to push up the door also failed.  It seemed as if the doorway was blocked from opening from above – as if the occupants of the castle were afraid of someone, or something, entering from below…

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel) – Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Three

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Three

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After what seemed to be a very long time crawling on his hands and knees over the smooth, stone blocks lining the tunnel, Jonathan suddenly realized that Sammy had stopped in his tracks right in front of him.  Now what, thought Jonathan, have we ended up in the dragon’s lair after all?

“What is it, Sammy?  What’s the holdup, let me take a good look around in front of you to see what the matter is,” said Jonathan, as he maneuvered in the tight surrounds of the tunnel to get shoulder-to-shoulder with his trusted adventure companion for a clear view ahead.  It was a close fit, but when Jonathan held the Talspin in front of him for a good look in the light of its illumination, he realized the tunnel stopped completely – with nothing but empty, black space in front of them!  It was like looking through a window into thin air on an overcast night, without the light of the moon or stars to illuminate anything!

“Here’s what we’re going to do, Sammy,” said Jonathan as he formulated a plan in his mind.  “You move back behind me, and I’ll maneuver to the edge of the opening to see if I can see anything at all with the Talspin’s light.  He helped maneuver Sammy behind him so he himself could move to the center of the tunnel, and then slid forward on his belly until his head was sticking out into the dark void beyond the tunnel’s edge.  Jonathan had no idea of what to expect, but for all he knew they were at the edge of an abyss a thousand feet deep…

Grasping the Talspin in his hand, and very much aware that he mustn’t drop it by accident into the darkness never to retrieve it again, Jonathan inched the pendant to the edge of the opening while making sure the chain was secured in place around his neck.  He realized that losing the Talspin by accident would be their certain doom.

Jonathan had to let his eyes adjust to the pitch darkness in front of him, and then with the Talspin’s light held just over the edge, his eyes began to slowly focus on what was ahead of him in the darkness.  At first Jonathan couldn’t believe their luck – and no, it wasn’t a dragon’s lair that lay before them – but all-in-all, he knew exactly where they were, and for once, he allowed himself a confident smile!

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel) – Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Two

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two, Chapter Two, Part Two

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“Okay, Sammy, let’s get going.  No one’s going to rescue us, so it’s up to us to find a way to get ourselves out of here.  Let’s start by moving forward slowly and carefully, so as to not get ahead of the Talspin’s light,” directed Jonathan with the determination of an old, grizzled adventurer trying to put a brave face on the situation.  Inside, he didn’t want to think of their reality without any provisions or water, for any fool knew they wouldn’t last long trapped in a tunnel – but perishing underground wasn’t anywhere on Jonathan’s agenda.

After all, there was a dragon that needed slaying, and according to Arrydor, Sylth and Miylla, only he could accomplish the task and be crowned king of the Kingdom of Talgar.  It wasn’t good form for a future king of a kingdom in Myllanthar to simply give up, now was it? Jonathan asked himself determinedly, while telling himself at the same time that, it was up to him to lead the way to safety and put a happy ending on their adventure – after all, he was the leader of this adventure…

Sammy led the way as Jonathan inched through the tunnel behind him on his hands and knees, while the Talspin’s icy blue-white light illuminated less than ten feet ahead of them in the darkness.  The stones lining the tunnel remained smooth and consistent, following the same interlocking form and pattern, as if fitted together by stonemasons building a grand castle.  The quality of the tunnel’s stonework, and seeing the Talspin illuminated, gave Jonathan the feeling that they must be in Myllanthar.  Besides, it had to have been some sort of enchantment that caused the metal plate to slam shut behind them – there was no other plausible explanation.

Once he and Sammy actually started moving along the tunnel, they continued on for what seemed to be a very long time, for what was the alternative?  Adventurers need to make decisions and then stick with them, for this was no time to be all wishy-washy and afraid to make decisions, thought Jonathan.  The decision had been made to find a way out of this tunnel, and now was the time to carry it out for better or for worse – like crawling straight into the lair of a not-so-friendly dragon…

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel) – Book Two, Chapter Two, Part One

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Book Two, Chapter Two, Part One – Illumination

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“The process of setting out to slay a dragon is one of perspective, for dragons first need to be located and identified – both in faraway places, and oftentimes, much closer to home…” – Mark D. Jones

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Jonathan had completely forgotten that he still had the Talspin pendant hanging around his neck, and at this moment – trapped in a tunnel with no known way out – its cold bluish-white light was a most welcoming sight!  The Talspin alone couldn’t solve their problems, but just being able to see in the pitch darkness of their predicament, was at least a beginning.  Sammy, too, became hopeful with the Talspin’s light illuminating the stone lined tunnel ahead, and was now willing on his own to explore the lighted portion of the passageway in front of them.

Gramps had given Jonathan the Talspin pendant with the prophetic words, “Jonathan, this pendant was a gift to me in earlier times and is called the Talspin – a blue sapphire with the power to glow when you are in need of a light in the darkness. Talspin means, Guiding Star, in the language of this land and it will show you the way to what it is you search after.  It may one day even show you the way back to your beloved Ohio.  I bestow it to you now as the heir and guardian of this precious light, that has come to you through the ages – so that in your darkest moments it will light your way.  Treat it well Jonathan and you will find it will return the favor to you many times over.”

The fact the Talspin was illuminated, must mean they were now back in Myllanthar, thought Jonathan, otherwise, why would it glow now with the icy-blue light? Jonathan smiled to himself, knowing that perhaps there was a secret passageway to Castle Penmaryll after all – or directly into a dragon’s lair – shudder to think.  Actually, he hadn’t given any thought at all as to how he would slay a dragon, but first-things-first, and at the moment they simply had to find a way out of the tunnel.

Adventures always take on a life of their own, Jonathan had learned through experience, and this one began without his even knowing or preparing for it.  It was almost as if the cellar doorway had been placed there just for this moment in time – a way to give him and Sammy a portal back to Myllanthar.  Regardless of how it occurred, or the possible use of enchantment to make the door slam shut behind them on its own accord, Jonathan would now have to make the best of their situation.

After all, Jonathan was the leader of this expedition, and he needed to focus on being strong for both of them so as not to give Sammy the notion that he was scared or frightened.  No – he must move forward with the thinking that everything was going exactly as planned, despite their lack of food, water and supplies.  His determination to put a brave face on the situation ran contrary to every emotion he felt inside, but that didn’t matter now – only that they would somehow survive it…