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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Four, Part Ten

~~~~~~~~~~

As they made their way towards the River Myuthall, Jonathan had a good view in the Wood’s dim light of the raft made of lashed together logs with a bag placed in the middle of the raft, a long thin pole leaning against it, and his silver Light Sword balanced upon the bag.  He had often thought of his Light Sword while back on the Spencer Family Farm, regretting the fact he hadn’t originally returned to Ohio with it, but now he was glad he hadn’t.  Once they arrived on the riverbank, Sammy immediately went exploring along the water’s edge, wanting to take in all the smells and see if there were any rabbits to chase.  Jonathan quickly called him back over to the raft as this was important business for both of them now, and there wouldn’t be any time or occasions for playing until their quest of fooling and slaying the dragon was over and behind them.

Miylla began by saying, “This is a special raft, Jonathan, as it’s made of young trees from Myullar Wood and has it’s own special properties or enchantments that go with them.  This raft will not sink, and while you and Sammy remain on it your scents will not be carried to the nostrils of the beast, which is critical if you are to remain veiled to the creature.  When you are finished with this raft, the logs will then vanish and reconstitute themselves back in the Wood.  Do not be tempted to use them as firewood, as they will neither burn nor remain in your care, for they are as alive as you and I are.”

Continuing on she explained, “The bag of provisions are portioned out to sustain you and Sammy for up to ten days, for they are a special biscuit that you both may eat.  Don’t worry if the bag gets wet, as the biscuits won’t take on water until they’re eaten.  There are also four water bags from the River Myuthall to help sustain you on your journey.  Be sure to refill them before you leave the river, as there are no drinkable water sources in the fortress that you can trust.  The river water will give you strength for your journey as it flows from this enchanted Wood that is of ancient days, with qualities you don’t find outside either Myullar Wood or Sylthar Wood, for it carries our spirit with it to the sea.”

Arrydor then added, “The distance from the main gate of Skulvarr Fell to the river is about a ten minute walk away, and when you need to refill your water bags it’s your only source from which to obtain it – and the time of your highest risk to be attacked by the dragon – for it knows you can’t survive on air alone.  The dragon won’t drink from the river as it is not compatible with what it is inside, for evil will not tolerate what is good, righteous or springs from a place of Light and Love, which Myullar Wood is.  The beast will only drink from the dark, stagnant pools of the caverns underground.”

“Thank you for providing me with my Light Sword, Miylla and Gramps, as I have missed it since our first adventure to Myllanthar,” replied Jonathan, “I realize it may not bring down the creature, but it may be the difference that buys us time when there is none to be found.  With that, Jonathan strapped on the Light Sword and placed Sammy upon the raft, said good bye to Miylla and Gramps, and with the long pole in his hands softly nudged the raft into the River Myuthall before hopping on to float the river.”

“Godspeed, young Jonathan,” called Arrydor as the raft left the riverbank, “Remember, there is always hope – trust in the prophecy that it is true.”

Miylla then added, “Look for your opportunity in the darkest moments, Jonathan, for that is when necessity will find a way…”

With that, Jonathan, Sammy and the raft vanished into the darkness of the river at night, as all the lights of the Wood dimmed and faded away.  Only the slight sheen and glimmer of the handle of Jonathan’s Light Sword was visible for a brief instant, and then it, too, went dim and wasn’t visible anymore.  With that the next leg of their quest began – one to track, hunt, fool and slay the dragon…

(End of Book Two, Chapter Four)

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Four, Part Nine

~~~~~~~~~~

“I like that plan, Gramps, because it gives Sammy and I a place to stay in the quarters within the seawall until we’re ready to face the dragon.  The narrow passageways allow us to move around and watch the beast while being unnoticed by it, giving me a chance to look for an opportunity to gain the upper hand.  Even if I find one, though, I still don’t know what I can do against such a creature…”

“Some things can’t be planned ahead of time, Jonathan,” replied Miylla, “Necessity creates its own opportunities.”

“That’s right, Lad,” added Arrydor, “You can only gain success based on what’s presented to you, for the situation will guide you in your choices.  Don’t underestimate the dragon though, as it is cunning and crafty like a fox – it may entice you to follow it or to show yourself – but do not be easily fooled.  You must bide your time until the circumstances are in your favor, and not a minute earlier.  Miylla will provide enough provisions for both of you to last for days, but you must first reach your safe zone in the seawall to give yourself a fighting chance.”

Jonathan finished his meal and noticed that Sammy had as well, so it was time they got started on the quest to fool and slay the dragon.  If only he didn’t have the nagging doubts inside that this was in fact a fool’s errand, and instead of fooling the beast, he was really only fooling himself.  “I’m ready to go, Gramps.  Thank you for providing the supplies for us, Miylla – can we take a look at the raft now?”

“Sure, Jonathan, let’s move to the riverbank and go over the provisions I’ve arranged for you and Sammy on your journey.  Our enchantments aren’t powerful enough to bring down the dragon, but we have used them to aid you in your quest.  I’ll explain everything to you over there by the raft beside the River Myuthall.”

Jonathan knelt down to give Sammy a big hug and a good rub down his neck and back.  He was concerned that something might happen to his best friend on this challenging task, but there was no other way, for they were both at great risk.  He also thought of his mother and father back on the Spencer Family Farm in Hampton, Ohio, knowing he might never see them again and wished they were home again.  It was then that he saw an image of his Myllanthar friends in his mind, and realized this quest was the only way to save them from the beast, and knew he had to do whatever it took to succeed against the dragon.  Standing up once again, Jonathan replied, “I’m ready Miylla and Gramps, let’s get started…”

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Four, Part Eight

~~~~~~~~~~

Jonathan pondered Gramps’ words for a while, trying to decide whether he was making the right decision in deciding to hide underground in the passageways and tunnels of Skulvarr Fell.  His plan was to stall for time until he considered a way to fool and slay the beast, however, even he knew it was a very dangerous choice to make voluntarily.  Looking at Gramps he asked, “Are there less dangerous ways to confront the dragon, Gramps?  Ones that would ensure my success?  My fear is encountering it out in the open giving me nowhere to run and hide, for I still have no way of knowing how to complete my quest…”

Arrydor took his time responding, considering both the gravity of Jonathan’s quest and the undertaking he would begin this evening.  Having formulated his reply, Arrydor began by saying, “There is no better way, young Jonathan, for all paths leading from Myullar Wood are equally dangerous, and none ensures success.  I know of no way for you to slay the beast either, so your approach to bide your time until a way appears seems as sound as any other option.  Certainly, being caught out in the open by the dragon gives you few alternatives and even less time to act, so hiding in the tunnels of Skulvarr Fell while stalling for time is a logical approach.  However, my intention is for you to understand where you’re heading to, and what you may find there, for this is no time for overconfidence…”

“I realize I have few choices, Gramps, but Skulvarr Fell gives me the best options, as I don’t want to confront the dragon out in the open.  I do have one question though, could you stay nearby in case I need help?  The prophecy doesn’t say anything about others helping me, so it must be okay, shouldn’t it?”

“I understand your concerns, Jonathan, and rest assured I will always be watching over you during your travels.  But as I’ve already said, this is your quest alone, for I have no ability to fool and slay the beast either, yet the prophecy indicates you’re the one to accomplish this task.  I won’t be able to help or save you in your moment of encounter with the creature, but I will always be nearby to assist when and where I’m able.”

“Thanks, Gramps, I appreciate it.  One more thing before Sammy and I begin floating the River Myuthall tonight.  Is there anything else about the Fortress of Skulvarr Fell that might help me in my quest?  Are there weapons or anything that I could use if needed?”

“There is an armory that may be of assistance, Jonathan, just inside the entrance into the caverns on the right.  It has a gate of iron bars that could slow the beast if it is chasing you, but it will only slow the dragon for a moment – but a moment may be all you need.  The inside of the armory is empty, however a single, narrow passageway leads to the top of the outer seawall, which was designed for troops to man the battlements above, as well as narrow corridors, stairways and passages within the seawall leading to their quarters below.  My advice to you is to choose this route in order to increase your options, as you can come and go as you please in tight places where the dragon can’t follow…”

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Four, Part Seven

~~~~~~~~~~

“Tell me about Skulvarr Fell, Gramps,” inquired Jonathan as they ate the evening meal, “I’d like to know what’s there, so I can figure out how to deal with the dragon.”

Arrydor reflected for a moment before speaking, thinking about all the implications Jonathan’s request had stirred up.  Ages ago Arrydor had spent time in the underground passageways and tunnels of Myllanthar, and his experience spoke volumes to him about how important it was to dissuade the Lad from his intentions – knowing it would be useless in the end as Jonathan seemed to have made up his mind already.  “My counsel is that you not enter the ancient abandoned fortress of Skulvarr Fell, young Jonathan, as it is connected back to the Wastelands of Fell Ignar or Kriegareth.  The fortress contains the second most important opening into the underworld below Myllanthar, and is a place to avoid at all costs – even one as difficult as encountering the beast.  It is this location the dragon was known to have emerged from, and after that it began terrorizing the Kingdom of Talgar to the north, before turning its attention south to the Kingdom of Pengarth and Castle Penmaryll.”

“I understand, Gramps, that it’s dangerous to go there, but it’s also dangerous to encounter the dragon,” explained Jonathan with all the courage he could muster, “We will go there to hide in the tunnels until I can figure out how to approach and surprise the beast before it realizes I’m there.  I still don’t know how to slay it, but I’ll have to figure that out later on, as tonight we float the River Myuthall.”

Knowing the situation didn’t make Arrydor’s task any easier, as he wanted to both shield the Lad from the reality of the underground world, and at the same time give him the information he’d need to accomplish his quest.  “The ancient fortress of Skulvarr Fell lies to the north of the River Myuthall at the base of the Tregarrons alongside the Sea of Tollvar.  It was built to defend the narrow coastline as the southern defense of the Kingdom of Talgar back in the First Age, as well as to control the coastal waters off the shores of Eastern Myllanthar.  The fortress consists of two circular perimeter walls, each with main gates long ago ruined and lying in shattered pieces.  In the central area within the perimeter, lies the great entrance into the underground caverns, passageways, tunnels and crevasses beneath Myllanthar, all leading back to Kriegareth.”

Arrydor continued slowly filling in the details Jonathan needed, “The beast emerged from the central corridor below ground, which has numerous side passages and stairways carved out of the rock connecting tunnels at all levels.  You have surmised correctly in thinking there are places where you can hide that are too narrow for this particular beast to follow, but do not be over confident in your assessment – for all scents, sounds and movements, even breathing, while underground invite scrutiny – and there are worse things than dragons living underground that never see the light of day.  For these shadows of darkness come in all hideous shapes and sizes, and each one is as deadly to face as the dragon is alone.  I speak the truth, Jonathan, for I’ve traveled in dark places underground from Skulvarr Fell to Kriegareth – but I will not speak of it further – for it was a mission born of necessity into poisonous and evil places…”

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Four, Part Six

~~~~~~~~~~

As Jonathan followed Sammy out of the tent for a final meal in Myullar Wood before setting out on their odyssey to slay the dragon, he was surprised to see Gramps and Miylla standing at the end of the banquet table waiting for them to emerge! “Gramps, Miylla, I didn’t think I’d see you again – I’m so glad you’re here!” exclaimed Jonathan as he rose to his feet and saw Sammy already greeting the two enthusiastically and receiving hugs in return.  “I thought everyone was either gone or invisible…”

“We’re so glad to see you again as well, Master Jonathan,” said Arrydor without his cloak of invisibility for once as they both embraced the boy, “You are the answer to our urgent hopes for your return – ours and all of Myllanthar’s as well.”

Miylla added, “We Myull have remained cloaked in the Wood watching and observing all without being seen, Jonathan, which has been traumatic for our people to see the damage done to the forest and surrounding lands by the beast.  Although we have the ability to use our gifts of enchantment as needed, nothing we have devised can hold up against the dragon, for it is too powerful, and is protected by dark enchantments from the deep.  Ours are no match for the evil spirits that defend this creature, for it is seemingly invincible.  Our only hope is that the prophecy is true, and you can find a way to put an end to this dark force pitted against all that is right, true, noble and decent as we know it to be.”

“Sammy and I will do what we can, Miylla, but beyond that I don’t have a clue,” replied Jonathan, “Although, I do have a plan to stall for time until I can come up with something that will work.  You can count on me to try my best, but I don’t know if it will be good enough to fool and slay the dragon…”

“Your best is our only hope, Lad,” stated Arrydor matter-of-factly, “After all, it’s all we can ask for.  Let us partake in the evening meal together and renew our bonds of friendship tonight to give you strength for the days when you will be severely tested. Our hope, is that in those times you will look back to tonight with fondness, and in that moment restore your courage to keep going.  This is not a quest for the faint hearted, young Jonathan, but in taking action you will find bravery and courage when least expected to enable you to do your duty.  There can be no other way…”

The three of them took their seats at the table, with Sammy beside them in the grass, as they all partook in the evening meal.  It hadn’t escaped Jonathan’s notice that he could now see the River Myuthall from his seat, and resting on the riverbank was a small raft with a bag of provisions and a long pole beside it, and upon the bag of provisions balanced Jonathan’s Light Sword from his first adventure to Myllanthar – he was, after all, a Knight of Pengarth and a Light Bearer – and his calling and duty was to now save all of Myllanthar from the scourge of this beast…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Four, Part Five

~~~~~~~~~~

Lost in his dreams, Jonathan searched for the dragon’s weak spot or any vulnerability he could exploit, but couldn’t find one.  Over and over the two of them tumbled as if falling from a cliff into a never ending darkness while locked in battle.  Sammy was nowhere in sight, as Jonathan was caught in the beast’s grasp between terrible claws, struggling with all his might to get free.  It was in this moment, as he came face to face with the creature and stared into its hooded reptilian eyes, that Jonathan awoke in a cold sweat – no closer to completing his quest and slaying his foe.

Jonathan blinked a few times to bring himself back to reality and distance himself from his unsettling dreams.  It was his subconscious that had stirred his dreams, bringing to light the uncertainty and fear he held inside as to this quest he was about to undertake.  He stilled his racing heart with the knowledge that he was still in the tent in Myullar Wood, and that Sammy was sleeping beside him at his feet, but this didn’t alter the fact that tonight they would begin the process of tracking, hunting, fooling and slaying the dragon – if it was even possible.

The last rays of daylight were slowly fading away in the surrounding Wood, and Jonathan was content to lie there on his back, relishing the last moments of calm before the storm.  His was a task that seemed undoable, yet at the same time, the future of his friends and of all Myllanthar hung in the balance of its outcome.  It was this challenge of liberating the land of this terrible beast that had become Jonathan’s calling, and in the end, the only thing he could do was to follow it, for better, or for worse.

How is it that an eight and a half year old boy was placed in this situation? he thought to himself.  If only someone else had been chosen…besides, he wasn’t even qualified to undertake the role of a dragon slayer.  Anyone else would have been a better choice than himself.  But even Jonathan knew that wasn’t possible, because the prophecy identified him as the one to accomplish this quest, and no other could take his place.  Despite his fears, he must now rise to the occasion and slay the beast, for everyone was counting on him…

Sammy stirred at Jonathan’s feet, and they both peered out through the opening of the tent in time to watch as evening arrived in the Wood.  The banquet table was set under the illumination of a number of lanterns, and Jonathan realized it was time to begin the next leg of their adventure.  Turning to his best friend he said, “It’s now or never, Sammy…let’s get this over with!”

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Four, Part Four

~~~~~~~~~~

“I understand, my dear Watson, but it is my task to fool and slay a dragon, and it seems to me the only way forward – we can’t discuss it forever.  My main concern is what to do with the dragon once I surprise it, for I know of no way to slay it.  The answer must come to me in the moment, or it won’t come at all, I’ll wager.”

“There is no known way to accomplish your quest, Sherlock, and I have no answers to give you.  It is the dragon slayer that must find a way to earn his title, and that’s best left to you if you would choose to survive the encounter.  I can, however, arrange for provisions for your journey.  The Myull will provide you with all you need for the next leg of this adventure this evening, for you and Sammy must delay no longer, otherwise the dragon may first find you, before you even get a chance to start out…”

“Perhaps I should rest for a time before heading out this evening, Watson, but first I have a question to ask,” said Jonathan in a searching sort of way.  “If we should fail to return from the encounter with the beast, will you find a way to let everyone know that I at least tried to save Myllanthar?”

“I shall, Master Jonathan, I shall.  However, I place my trust in the fact that the prophecy is true, and if that is the case, everyone will be notified of your success, rest assured,” replied Arrydor as earnestly as he could, for even he was uncertain that Jonathan could accomplish the task.

All this time Sammy had been enjoying his breakfast in the grass beside the banquet table, and as Jonathan moved back into the tent to rest before the evening’s journey, Sammy did the same.  There was a brief gust of wind outside the tent before all went still, and the light within the Wood dimmed so Jonathan and Sammy could rest in comfort.  At the same time, the banquet table was cleared, the lanterns were extinguished, and the Wood was filled with the quiet sounds of a forest at night.

Jonathan rested well, despite his anxiety about the journey ahead of him, but at this point he was resigned to his fate.  One way or another, he would encounter the beast, and in that moment he would need to rely on everything he knew to outwit and outmaneuver a dragon over 100 feet long.  It didn’t seem possible, but as Jonathan drifted off into a deep sleep of turbulent dreams, he was at peace with himself – for he was an adventurer after all, and adventurers had to make the tough decisions – and he had made his…”

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Four, Part Three

~~~~~~~~~~

“I can’t worry about Kriegareth when faced with a dragon I have to slay, Dr. Watson – if I did, what kind of dragon hunter would I be?  First things first, I must slay the dragon, and then worry about everything else,” replied Jonathan with all the courage he could muster in response to Arrydor’s remark.  “After all, I can only worry about one danger at a time – I’m only a boy after all, and not even nine years old yet…”

“Yes, I understand that, Sherlock, but never lose sight of the fact of what lingers in the shadows underground.  It’s a dark and dangerous place to travel in Myllanthar’s underground passageways, crevasses and caverns.  Always watch your back, for even worse things than dragons live below ground…”

Jonathan was speechless for a moment, but realized his plan of going underground was the only way to possibly gain the upper hand on the beast, even if it meant there were greater risks involved.  “Regardless of the danger, Dr. Watson, are there any tunnels along the River Myuthall that would work for us to hide from the dragon?”

“There is the ancient abandoned Fortress of Skulvarr Fell that lies at the base of the Tregarron Mountain Range where it reaches the Sea of Tollvar beside the River Myuthall.  This fortress contains the entrance into a large tunnel system within its walls, but I urge you not to go there…”

“Why is that, Gramps?  If this fortress is beside the River Myuthall it would be the perfect location to evade the dragon until I can gain the upper hand and surprise it.  What’s the matter with that plan, Dr. Watson?”

“The Fortress of Skulvarr Fell was the greatest of fortresses in Eastern Myllanthar in its day, Master Jonathan, for it is built around a major entrance into the tunnels below Myllanthar, and was devised in such a way that the underground passageways would aid in its defenses.  However, these dark tunnels were its undoing, because the fortress was defeated from within, not without, as terrible beasts and fell creatures from below ground emerged and consumed the castle’s inhabitants.  It is a cursed place, Sherlock, and I can’t wisely recommend it as an option…”

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Four, Part Two

~~~~~~~~~~

“We know many things my dear Watson: the prophecy, the dragon, my quest, where we are, and the need to outsmart the beast.  What we don’t know, though, is where, when and how to encounter it – that’s why we need a plan,” replied Jonathan confidently to Gramps, trying his best to play the role of Sherlock Holmes.  “Sammy and I need to choose the time and place for this dragon encounter, not the other way around.”

“Where do you think this encounter should take place, Sherlock, what are your requirements?” asked Arrydor, taking a supporting role in this discussion.  “How do you see it unfolding?”

“Well, Dr. Watson, it must be a place where I have options to hide and move around.  It can’t be out in the open, which plays to the dragon’s advantage.  We’re smaller than the dragon, so the place needs to have lots of tight spaces that we can hide in where the dragon can’t follow – like tunnels and dark places.  I have the Talspin pendant after all, so there’s no need to be afraid of the dark, especially when confronting a dragon.”

“I say, you may be on to something here, Holmes, have you such a place in mind?”

“The dragon is known to be in the area of Castle Penmaryll, and likes to perch upon its towers, does it not?”

“At least lately, those are the reports.”

“The beast is liable to find us sooner than we are to find it, is it not?”

“The dragon is known to sense the vibration of footsteps from long distances away, so I would agree with you on that.”

“I suggest that floating the River Myuthall at night is the best way of evading the beast in the beginning.  To where does it flow, Dr. Watson,” questioned Jonathan.

“The River Myuthall is known to flow to the northeast around the end of the Tregarron Mountains where it empties into the Sea of Tollvar, marking the border with the neighboring Kingdom of Talgar to the north.”

“Excellent, my dear Watson.  Are there any tunnels in this area that we could take shelter in?  My goal is for us to go underground and let the dragon find us – sort of like playing hide and seek in the dark.  I believe it is our best option, for we can enter tight spaces where the dragon can’t follow.”

“Your idea holds merit, Sherlock, but I must point out one problem that I see right away. All underground tunnels in Myllanthar lead to The Wastelands of Fell Ignar – Kriegareth…”

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Four, Part One

~~~~~~~~~~

“Personal challenges are like icebergs, we only see the small portions visible above the sea, when the truth of the matter is they extend deep under water.  Success in such endeavors requires us to understand the unseen portions of our challenges, in order to gain new insights and creative approaches in the quest to defeat our dragons…”  – Mark D. Jones

~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning was as nice a morning as Jonathan could remember, as he and Sammy left the tent in Myullar Wood to enjoy a banquet of breakfast selections laid out on the table before them.  Once he served Sammy and himself something to eat and drink under the dense canopy of trees in The King’s Preserve, he delighted in watching the first rays of dawn filtering through the trees.

It wasn’t long though before Jonathan began pondering their situation of eventually having to deal with the dragon.  He’d rather remain in the idyllic setting of the Wood, than head off on a fool’s errand of tracking, hunting, fooling and slaying a dragon – a future encounter he both feared and dreaded.  If only it didn’t have to be, and they could enjoy themselves in the Land of Myllanthar with all their friends…

“The day will come when you’ll see your friends and enjoy Myllanthar again, young Jonathan, but there is much work to do first,” replied Gramps’ familiar invisible voice spoken to him from seemingly all directions at once.  “Your quest is indeed daunting, yet it need not be without a sense of optimism.  For that you must gather clues in order to create an approach to defeat the beast, for without deeper insight into the task ahead, you are no better off than one who walks willingly into a trap.”

“It seems straightforward enough to me, Gramps,” answered Jonathan while seated at the breakfast table outside their tent, “Sammy and I go out to search for this dragon – and it’ll be the end of us – how can it turn out any differently?”

“We gain insight by examining your task more closely, looking deeper into everything we know and don’t know, attempting to explore every possibility before having to encounter the beast itself.  You spoke yesterday of turning dragon hunting into a game so as to change your perspective and approach – just think of this preparation as hunting for clues – clues that will gain you the upper hand and advantage over your foe…”

“I’ve always liked hunting for clues, sort of like Sherlock Holmes, Gramps,” replied Jonathan with newfound enthusiasm, “An excellent approach, Dr. Watson, precisely what I’ve been looking for!”

“I’m not familiar with this Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson,” said Arrydor with a smile in his voice, “But if it allows you to apply logic to the art of dragon hunting, I believe it to be exactly what we need, Master Jonathan, exactly what we need!”

“Yes, I agree my good man, I concur with your assessment of the situation.  My mother loves to read books just like me, and we’ve always enjoyed playing Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson games whenever we had to crack open a case.  She called me ‘Sherlock’ whenever I lost or misplaced something, and I called her ‘Dr. Watson’ as I tried to recall where I lost or misplaced things around the house and farm – except now, we’ve simply lost a dragon,” bubbled over Jonathan, “It’s elementary my dear Watson…elementary indeed!”

“I will defer then to your excellent powers of deduction, my Lad, for you are the one leading this adventure.  What questions and insights have you gleaned so far, my dear Sherlock, and how shall we proceed?”