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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Six, Part Ten

~~~~~~~~~~

Jonathan took an inventory of their provision bag, grateful that both he and Sammy had survived the encounter with the dragon.  He was emotionally and physically spent at this point, having had little sleep or sustenance since leaving Myullar Wood to pursue the quest against the beast.  The question of what to do next loomed large in his mind, but before he could address that issue, they needed to sit, eat and drink for a while.  It was only at that point, while watching the sunrise over the Sea of Tollvar, that Jonathan realized they had spent all night evading the creature in the underground labyrinth of Skulvarr Fell – no wonder they were exhausted!

Sammy was no worse for wear as he drank from the water bag and devoured one of the granola-like cakes from Myllanthar.  After enjoying a break while eating his granola cake and drinking from the water bag, Jonathan wanted to rest, but feared sleeping in the open as there was no way of knowing if it was safe to do so.  Sammy had already drifted off to sleep after the meal, so Jonathan felt it best to take the first watch while his adventure companion got in some well needed shuteye.  Sammy could do the same for him on the second watch, otherwise he wouldn’t have the energy to keep going.

It was an unbelievable sight to see the Sea of Tollvar flooding into Skulvarr Fell and draining into the giant opening of the underground passageway like the drain of a bathtub.  Jonathan surmised that the fortress’ interior had eroded into the cave over the ages to the point where the land itself was below sea level, which allowed the sea to continue pouring into the underground passageways.  The air was filled with the sound of rushing water, like that of a cascading waterfall, and a mist had formed over the cavern like a dense fog from the turbulent waters.

It was at this point, that Jonathan realized the danger of being so close to the surging seawater, and understood the northern seawall fortification could rip apart at any moment, sending them into the torrent underground with it!  He woke Sammy with a start, feeling bad to interrupt the pup’s sound sleep, but knowing time was again of the essence.  They quickly made their way along the ramparts of the seawall towards the north and west, putting as much distance between them and the flooding seas as they could, while looking for a way to exit and climb down from the seawall onto firm land to the north.

His decision came none too soon, as in the distance behind them, the angry waters of the Sea of Tollvar claimed more and more of the seawall as it crumbled into the surging waters.  They were now well clear of the edge of the surging water, but kept going while looking for a way to exit the fortress.  Once they reached the point where the ramparts transitioned from seawall to fortress over the coastline, they felt more secure from the raging waters behind them, while following the battlements to the northwest.  They finally reached a section of the ramparts that had once suffered a shattering attack ages ago, and managed to pick a way down through the rubble onto terra firma on the northern side of Skulvarr Fell.  As quickly as they could, Jonathan and Sammy followed a deer path into the dense woodlands to the north.

They paralleled the coastline of the Sea of Tollvar within the wood, until Jonathan couldn’t take another step, collapsing into a depression of land at the base of an ancient oak tree.  He slept through the entire day and next night, waking up only as dawn broke the following day.  Sammy kept watch on and off while Jonathan slept, finding that he was able to take short naps himself when feeling there was no danger about.  Jonathan wasn’t aware of much of anything at all, as he woke from deep and unsettling dreams – least of all, the fact they they were now in the ancient, northern Kingdom of Talgar…

(End of Chapter Six) 

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Six, Part Nine

~~~~~~~~~~

The dragon’s tongue hit the edge of the partially opened door, barely missing Jonathan by inches as the beast lunged forward.  Jonathan made it into the stairwell and never looked back, running up the stairs and easily opening the upper door, where he and Sammy ran outside on top of the ramparts.  Jonathan heard a sharp crack behind him as he arrived at the top of the stairs, followed by a deafening roar that continued on for minutes, but they never slowed down to look and just kept running along the top level of the seawall’s fortifications as if their lives depended on it – and they did!

The beast had miscalculated in its arrogance, allowing overconfidence to stoke its pride right up to the last second.  When Jonathan bolted behind the door, the dragon reacted just a millisecond too late, which normally would have been a recoverable mistake had the depth of the water in the room not slowed down the creature’s reactions.  As the beast began its lunge forward to grab Jonathan with its outstretched tongue, its forefeet lost a fraction of traction in the pooled water below it – and when calculating the span of the lunge, the creature never accounted for the slippery landing awaiting it.  Not only did its tongue miss the mark, but the lunge slid too far forward, knocking out two nearby pillars holding up the stone ceiling!

The stone ceiling began cracking from the tumbling pillars below just as Jonathan reached the upper doorway and escaped the staircase, for the stairway collapsed with the ceiling a second behind him!  As the vaulted ceiling collapsed onto the creature, it pulled the connected seawall with it, ripping open both the seawall and its foundation – letting in the Sea of Tollvar to finish off the destruction.  As the sea ripped open the seawall with the force of the entire ocean behind it, an enormous amount of water stormed into the fortifications, destroying everything in its path.  Only by running as fast as possible, were Jonathan and Sammy able to outpace the devastation that was occurring right behind them.

The Sea of Tollvar went on to destroy most of the southern half of the seawall’s fortifications, and then went through what was left of the inner fortifications as well, flooding the area between then like a moat.  Jonathan and Sammy were only able to witness the event from the northern stretch of the seawall’s ramparts once they stopped running, and looking back, saw the sea pouring through the now devastated outer and inner defensive walls, to flood the inner grounds of the Skulvarr Fell Fortress as well.

From what they were able to see, the majority of the seawater was flooding into the great opening into the underground passageways below Myllanthar, guarantying that over the next months enough water would continue filling the underground chambers until they were filled to capacity, with the seas around Myllanthar equalized at a lower level.  Not only had this stopped the dragon’s cruel reign of terror across Myllanthar, but it appeared to have eliminated all darkness underground in an all-consuming flood of Myllanthar’s underground passageways!

The dragon was nowhere to be seen, but Jonathan knew it hadn’t escaped from its watery grave.  Tons of stone had rained down atop the creature trapping it in place and pinning it down, while the flood through the destroyed seawall had left the entire area under at least fifteen feet of water, giving it no way to breathe.  Jonathan felt badly about anything having to drown in the midst of such destruction, but also realized there was no place in a civilized world for anything as evil as the dragon had been.  Jonathan never once thought of the prophecy at this point, because he was only interested in accounting for their safety and determining what to do next.

He and Sammy were both fine, and he had had the presence of mind to grab the provision bag on his dash up the staircase – but what was to come now?  There was no sign of life around them, and they were temporarily stranded atop the ramparts of the remaining northern portion of seawall, surrounded by the devastation of an unrelenting flood of the Sea of Tollvar into the underground passageways.  Where were they to go now, and what were they to do?

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Six, Part Eight

~~~~~~~~~~

The growing light around them was now noticeable to Jonathan, as they continued moving forward through increasingly deep water, so much so, that he had to pick Sammy up and carry him.  It was a difficult balancing act of holding Sammy and the bag of provisions with one hand, and his Light Sword in the other, but regardless, everything was critical to the success of this outcome.  The water was now past Jonathan’s knees, but his vision within the passageway had improved to the point where he could just make out the area around them – making it easier going, despite having to wade through deeper water.  It was the sound of the water that was the most unsettling, as it seemed to echo around as if bouncing off every wall and ceiling at the same time.

There was no hope of understanding where they were now, as this area seemed to be a sequence of chambers of varying sizes.  While the ceilings remained ten to fifteen feet high throughout this maze of chambers and passageways, with more dividing walls at this point than in the central corridor earlier.  Hesitating to acknowledge his own thoughts at first, Jonathan finally had to admit to himself that a dragon could still find his way into these chambers easily enough, although he had hoped that wouldn’t be possible as he moved deeper into the structure.  The eerie silence behind them continued, and the longer it lasted the surer Jonathan felt that it was now only a matter of time before the creature found them…

It was after turning a corner and entering through a wide corridor into yet another vaulted room, that Jonathan finally saw the source of the flowing water.  No more than twenty feet in front of them across the chamber stood the full foundation of the outer seawall, meaning that where Jonathan was standing was essentially at the same level as the depth of the seabed outside the seawall.  A split in the rock wall ran vertically from the very bottom of the seawall’s foundation clear through to the top of the foundation about fifteen feet high, where the chamber’s ceiling joined up against the wall.  It was at this point, that the upper wall of the seawall began, as Jonathan could see the construction methods used in building each different type of wall.  The foundation and upper wall portions of the seawall were each about fifteen feet in height, giving the seawall a total of some thirty feet in height from the seabed itself to the top of the seawall.

This was also the reason Skulvarr Fell had two outer perimeter walls, as the seawall was more protection from the Sea of Tollvar, while the second perimeter wall on land was the fortress’ principle line of defense from attack from enemies without – but its downfall was ultimately determined by its enemies from within…

The vertical crack in the wall was itself only inches wide, but it allowed a cascading waterfall of seawater to enter the chamber, pressed through the narrow split by the pressure of the Sea of Tollvar behind it.  Jonathan at once worried about it giving way, which would certainly mean their doom, and quickly looked for an option to get away.  He saw they were in a large rectangular chamber running along the seawall, with a number of central pillars supporting the vaulted stone ceiling overhead.  There was what looked like an enclosed stone staircase running up to the next level of the fortification, with a solid oak door at the base to access the stairs.  Recognizing it as their only option for escape, Jonathan pushed through the increasingly deep water to reach the door.

The door’s handle seemed stuck at first, probably rusted tight from ages of disuse and the humidity from the flood of seawater.  He was eventually able to turn the handle though, but the door wouldn’t budge, as it opened into the room of now waist-deep water.  Jonathan tried to shift the Light Sword into his left hand already holding both Sammy and the provision bag, in order to try tugging harder on the door with his right hand, but without success.  He only managed to open the door about an inch against the deepening water, and couldn’t budge it anymore.  The water pouring into the stairwell behind the door finally equalized the water pressure in front of and behind the door, but the opening process was painstakingly slow, moving only about an inch at a time.

It was during his struggle with the door, that Jonathan first heard the low hiss of dragon breath behind them!  The creature was being very patient and cunning, knowing it had trapped its prey like rats at the dead end of a maze.  It wasn’t concerned about Jonathan struggling with the heavy door, because it knew it could destroy the entire staircase with a simple blow of its terrible claws, and instead enjoyed waiting to see the fear in Jonathan’s eyes as he realized he was completely vulnerable to the beast’s next move.  Having pried the door wider since first hearing the dragon’s hissing breath behind him, he pushed both Sammy and the bag of provisions into the opening and returned his Light Sword to his right hand.  The sword, which had been underwater, now burned with a flame of light like a torch in full blaze, as the gloating creature’s head pushed into the chamber just across the room!

The dragon’s tongue flicked in and out of the chamber like that of a snake’s tongue, reaching halfway across the room from a mouthful of terrible teeth the size of swords, in a cunning cat-and-mouse display by Jonathan’s foe.  Jonathan held the flaming Light Sword in front of him where the creature’s tongue flicked its way towards him, and realized they had reached an impasse of sorts.  The dragon couldn’t enter farther into the chamber without destroying it because of the placement of the pillars holding up the roof, and couldn’t reach Jonathan from where it stood – and with that realization – Jonathan turned and bolted into the staircase, just as the dragon lunged forward to grab him with its tongue like a fly on the wall…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Six, Part Seven

~~~~~~~~~~

The dragon’s cry paralyzed Jonathan for a moment, realizing the beast had finally managed to claw its way into the corridor within the seawall.  Knowing the danger they would soon be in, he tried to determine what to do, but with the limited visibility within the passageway he couldn’t decide where to go or what to do.  After a few precious moments, he decided to head towards where the seawater was entering in through the seawall’s foundation, for no other reason than it was one of many possible options to choose.  How this would help them escape from the creature wasn’t a consideration at this point, as there was no indication it would turn out to be anything other than a dead end.

Wading into the flow of the water as it streamed across the stone blocks they were walking on, they sloshed forward in the darkness, having no idea where they were heading.  The only thing Jonathan understood, was they must be in a lower level below the foundation of the seawall after having descended the long stone staircase earlier.  He figured they must be close to the outer edge of the seawall, as the corridor they first entered wasn’t far removed from the outer shell of the seawall.  Jonathan hoped they weren’t heading into a dead end that would work to the dragon’s advantage, but couldn’t be concerned with that at the moment, as he had made the decision to slosh towards where the seawater was seeping into the fortress.

The only sources of light available to Jonathan and Sammy, were the glistening flame of light from the Light Sword that had diminished somewhat due to the lack of an immediate threat at the moment, and the Talspin pendant that emitted an icy-blue glow into the darkness around them.  The flow of water was growing louder and echoing around them as they pushed into the flow of seawater, but a growing sense of unease bothered Jonathan as the silence behind them was deafening.  If the dragon truly was within the passageway, then it was keeping a low profile after its hideous scream of arrival, and was probably stalking them even now…

The nature of adventure was that once immersed within one, the adventurer couldn’t just raise their hand and request a time out to quit the adventure – or simply snap their fingers to wake up from a dream – it wasn’t that easy or even possible.  No, once an adventurer was within the adventure, there were few options to end it depending on the type of adventure it was.  In this case, exiting the adventure wasn’t even an option, and Jonathan had to find a way to successfully reach a conclusion to hopefully return to the Spencer Family Farm again with Sammy.  In order to do that, they had to find a way to deal with this dragon once and for all.

There was a gradual sense of a growing light ahead of them, but it took some time for Jonathan to realize it, as his Light Sword continued to dim without an immediate threat in their presence to illuminate it, offsetting the additional light now entering the passageway’s lower level.  Once he became aware of the dim light around them, Jonathan realized they must be nearer to the source of the in-flowing seawater, as the sound of water became distinctly louder.  He worried that the beast had been much too quiet in the corridor behind them, and hoped the flowing water had diffused their scents in another direction to confuse the creature’s sense of smell – but he knew the truth, and there was precious little time to lose before the dragon would find them in this watery dungeon…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Six, Part Six

~~~~~~~~~~

The sounds of the dragon’s relentless attack on the seawall continued in the distance behind them, as Jonathan did his best to calm his nerves and assess the situation they now found themselves in.  The beast was beyond furious in its ripping away stone blocks at the fissure that provided an escape route for he and Sammy to get away just moments earlier.  Now, Jonathan saw movement across the ceiling of the vault they were in within the fortress’ seawall, and red eyes staring back at them from above – a frightfully paralyzing position to be in!

As he lifted his Light Sword towards the ceiling to shed some light above them and get a better view of whatever it was that clung to the ceiling, Jonathan recoiled in angst from what he saw – nothing like anything he’d ever seen before!  Hanging from the ceiling were literally hundreds of large, black and hairy spider-like creatures with red eyes, each one with a body the size of a dinner plate or larger!  Although their bodies were like giant spiders, their legs were tentacles like those of an octopus, allowing them to slither across the ceiling’s stone blocks while hanging upside down!

Jonathan had to catch his breath at the sight of these hideous creatures moving across the vaulted ceiling about ten feet above them, and fortunately, they hadn’t attacked the two of them – yet.  In fact, these nasty and vile creeping things didn’t seem to pay Jonathan and Sammy any attention except to look down at them, almost as if they had a larger danger to worry about.  After slowly picking up the provision bag and venturing farther into the vaulted room, Jonathan kept moving forward while ensuring Sammy stayed right beside him, never taking his eyes off the creatures around them.  The floor and walls of the chamber were clear of these creeping beasts, and it seemed to Jonathan that the ceiling seemed to represent some sort of safety to them – as if other things might be lurking on the floor in dark corners…

Knowing they couldn’t remain where they were, and that the dragon was still ripping away at the seawall, Jonathan knew they had to keep moving, but there wasn’t a clear direction out of this chamber with its limited visibility.   They slowly walked straight ahead, while never taking his eyes off the slithering things covering the ceiling, until Jonathan could make out an exit corridor leading from the chamber.  They seemed to be in a central passageway running within the outer seawall of Skulvarr Fell, without any other options to choose from left, right, up or down.  Jonathan was surprised to find that the corridor was larger than he had first guessed, with a ceiling perhaps ten feet high, and a width of at least fifteen feet – large enough for armies to march within it – and that they seemed to have left the spider-like creatures back in the vault behind them.

As Jonathan and Sammy continued moving ahead, they reached a long, descending stone staircase and followed it down to the next level, as they had no other options to follow.  At the bottom of the staircase they stepped into a pool of dark water about six inches deep, and Jonathan could feel a steady current running from right to left against his ankles.  Investigating further, he could feel where seawater was pouring into the lower level of the corridor within the seawall, and realized there must be a significant crack in the seawall’s foundation that was allowing seawater to penetrate inside it.  The pool of water seemed minor to Jonathan, compared to the creatures they had only just encountered, and kept slowly moving forward, while making sure their footing was secure under the water.

It was then that Jonathan noticed a significant difference in the atmosphere around them, and they both stood still trying to figure out what it was – absolute quiet!  The distant sounds of the dragon attacking the seawall had stopped, followed by complete silence – until a bone-chilling shriek and cry stopped their hearts between beats – the dragon had entered the corridor!

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Six, Part Five

~~~~~~~~~~

Jonathan didn’t have time to think as he automatically plunged deeper into the inky darkness of the corridor running through the seawall, needing to put as much distance as possible between himself and the dragon.  The light flames running up and down his blade reminded him of the close proximity of evil that surrounded them, and he was greatly relieved to see Sammy ahead of him in the dim light going the same direction he was.  The beast was still attacking the fissure in the seawall that had provided them with an escape route at the last possible second, as it continued ripping out individual stone blocks from the seawall with its claws – claws that had only earlier been within a foot of his face!  The very idea of what had happened only moments before, caused a cold shiver to run through Jonathan’s bones as he ran farther into the darkness…

Only after placing a good amount of distance between the crack in the seawall and the beast ripping into it, did he have a chance to slow down and try to regroup with Sammy.  Jonathan had had enough presence of mind to initially push their bag of provisions deeper into the opening of the seawall when he became stuck, and again to grab it once he managed to make it through the crack to begin running – but he didn’t remember ever consciously thinking about his actions during the encounter – including stabbing at the creature’s tongue as it wrapped around his ankle, and began pulling him towards its hideous mouth.  Those were details Jonathan didn’t want to recall, but the flashbacks kept bursting in his mind’s eye as if remembering the worst possible nightmare.

Only after pausing to sit down against the corridor’s stone wall with Sammy in the passageway, did Jonathan begin consciously thinking about what to do next.  After all the excitement, he removed two granola-type cakes and a water pouch for them from their bag of provisions, and began pondering their next move.  This was a life-and-death game of chess Jonathan never in his wildest dreams imagined they’d be playing, and recalled the fact that adventures often take on a life of their own – one where adventurers are along for the ride.  This was simply the basic nature of adventures once underway.  He was determined though, to direct the outcome of this chess game, and not allow the dragon to play to its strengths.  Jonathan had to find a way to gain the upper hand somehow, and play this match to his strong suite – which was being small, and easily able to hide in narrow places where his opponent couldn’t follow.

It occurred to Jonathan as he shared some water with Sammy, that they had accomplished exactly what Gramps had hoped they would, to make the beast as angry as possible – for they had surely done that, by the sounds of the creature’s fury in the distance still attacking the seawall.  Gramps’ reasoning was, while in a fit of rage, the creature couldn’t possibly think through its fury to make good decisions, relying instead on its primitive dinosaur-like brain to react based on instinct alone.  Or was it a lizard-like brain?  Jonathan realized semantics didn’t matter here.  What did matter, though, was the dragon was now furious and fit-to-be-tied, making it more dangerous to encounter again!  Once the dragon calmed down though, Jonathan realized it would resort to the higher nature of its craftiness and skill, and return to being a cunning hunter and stalker again…

Jonathan’s Light Sword continued to cast its light into the pitch darkness around them, as its light flames continued to flicker and run along the gleaming blade.  Remembering Gramps’ warning about worse things than dragons dwelling in the dank and foul environment underground, he decided not to sheath his blade, and pulled out the Talspin pendant from under his shirt on its fine chain around his neck.  The Talspin’s icy-blue glow was a welcome addition to the illumination of his Light Sword, and he was finally able to begin making out the details of the stone passageway they were in.

With his eyes adjusting to the slightly increased levels of light casting away the darkness around them, Jonathan realized they were no longer in either a passageway or a corridor, but instead, they were now in a larger chamber within the seawall.  He could vaguely see the outline of a vaulted ceiling of stone blocks above them, along with the clearer images of stone blocks making up the floor of the chamber, but no walls other than the one they were now resting against were visible to him.  It was in this setting and moment, that he realized there was movement on the ceiling above them, as dark outlines of images appeared to be continually changing positions against the stationary backdrop of the few stone ceiling blocks he could just make out.

Staring intently to try to understand what the movements across the ceiling could possibly be, Jonathan saw a single pair of small red eyes looking down at them, and jumped to his feet in fright, pulling Sammy close beside him – realizing now, that they were not alone…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Six, Part Four

~~~~~~~~~~

The sound of the dragon’s hideous and bloodcurdling screech sent Jonathan and Sammy moving along the seawall’s outer narrow ledge as quickly as they could go, but it was like a slow-motion dream, while the creature’s speed was set in fast-forward.  Jonathan couldn’t believe it was coming down to this!  They were too vulnerable to react to the beast’s aggressive dash towards them, and there was little hope for their escape, but he remembered Dijia’s advice that ‘there’s always hope,’ and wished there was a reason to believe in it now…

Sammy didn’t need any encouragement once he heard the dragon’s cry, and was able to run along the narrow ledge as it was perfectly sized for him.  Jonathan was lagging behind, but noticed Sammy had literally disappeared a short ways ahead, and hoped he hadn’t fallen off the ledge into the sea.  Hurrying along as best as he could, Jonathan didn’t even bother looking behind him at the approaching beast, as there wasn’t anything he could do to avoid this pending disaster of being eaten by a dragon!  He heard a great splash as the creature flung itself into the water around the fortress’ seawall, and knew it was only seconds before it reached him.

The seawall gave way where Jonathan’s hand had been steadying himself against it to maintain his balance without falling into the sea, and next he fell into an opening in the wall!  It was actually a deep fracture in the wall a couple of feet wide, wide enough for Jonathan to move into it as deeply as he could wriggle into it.  Sammy was ahead of him in the opening, and had reached a point that looked like it was part of an interior corridor – but Jonathan couldn’t reach it – as the crack narrowed at one point and he couldn’t get his shoulders through!  All he could think of in the moment, was to draw out his Light Sword and make his last defense wedged about five feet into the narrow opening.

In that moment the entire seawall shook from what felt like a runaway train engine running into it, as the dragon threw itself against the wall with its full force!  The fissure Jonathan was wedged into began crumbling, as rocks and stone blocks dislodged and fell away with the force of the blow against the wall.  The dragon couldn’t get closer than a foot from Jonathan’s face with its claws, but its long tongue easily reached him, wrapping itself around his ankle and started to pull him out of the crack towards those terrible teeth!  All Jonathan could do in the tight space was to jab at the creature’s tongue with the flaming metal of his Light Sword as if on fire.

The beast let out a bloodcurdling howl, suddenly recoiling it’s tongue away from the sword and Jonathan’s ankle, causing Jonathan to slip lower into the opening of the seawall – closer yet to the monster seeking to do away with him!  Narrowly avoiding the dragon’s claws and scrambling back as best he could tighter into the crack, Jonathan was able to move deeper than before into the fissure because of additional rocks breaking free and crumbling away.  He reached the inner passageway and climbed down into the corridor as the dragon raged against the seawall, literally ripping away blocks of stone and rocks in an attempt to destroy the wall and get to the two intruders – but Sammy and Jonathan had escaped – for now…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Six, Part Three

~~~~~~~~~~

With the bag of provisions tucked under his arm, Jonathan ran down the beach in the hard packed sand at the water’s edge towards the abandoned fortress of Skulvarr Fell, with Sammy easily leading the way.  He realized he had wasted too much time sleeping on the beach, and now wanted to make it the fortress as quickly as possible to secure a safe place for them within the outer seawall.  If they tarried any further, they might meet the dragon sooner than they’d like – and it would be on the creature’s terms, not theirs.  For this reason Jonathan ran as fast as he could, and once he grew too tired slowed to a brisk walk, while Sammy continued running ahead in a playful game of chasing and avoiding the flows of crashing waves onto the beach.

What had once been a mere shadow projecting into the Sea of Tollvar in the fog, the Fortress of Skulvarr Fell loomed larger than life directly ahead of them.  Half of the fortress jutted out into the sea, with the other half grounded on the narrow spit of land between the abrupt ending of the Tregarron Mountains and the sea.  They were only a few minutes away from the fortress at this point, and the closer they got, the more ruined and destroyed it looked.  The main gates were indeed demolished at the far western point of the fortress, near where it met the mountains, and portions of the two outer walls were clearly smashed to bits, with piles of stone and rocks scattered in every direction around the area.  Something terrible had to have once happened to destroy this fortress, thought Jonathan, as it wasn’t at all what he had imagined it to be.  He was questioning his own plans now of ever finding safety among the piles of rubble.

As they approached the outer seawall, Jonathan could see that it had survived in better shape than the rest of the fortress – although there were significant portions of the wall that were either cracked straight through, or broken in half like a truck had driven through it.  They arrived at the base of the seawall where it met the Sea of Tollvar, and found there was a narrow ledge at the base of the wall just above the waterline, where the foundation met the upper wall portion which had a slight inward slope towards the top of the wall.  Jonathan figured the sloping outer walls were made to help deflect crashing sea waves during severe storms, and saw they had largely held up against nature’s fury, and were more intact than the rest of the fortress which was for the most part leveled.

He made a snap decision to follow the narrow ledge along the outer portion of the seawall, as there was no way he wanted to venture into the piles of rubble and demolition that had once resembled a fortress on land.  With the great amount of cracking and crumbling he could see along the outer seawall to base his decision on, Jonathan thought they were sure to find an alternative way into the seawall’s inner corridors.  If not, they’d be left clinging to this rock wall on a narrow ledge towards the open ocean, against a rising tide – one that was already visibly climbing in height.

They only had a few inches remaining between the waves breaking against the seawall’s foundation and the ledge they were now standing on.  If they didn’t quickly find an opening into the seawall, they’d soon be washed off the ledge by the waves, but Jonathan figured it was the only way to avoid a direct encounter with the dragon, and still find a way to safety inside the seawall.  It never crossed Jonathan’s mind that other hideous things may lurk in the dark, choppy waters around Skulvarr Fell, and that the dragon might be the least of their concerns now that they’d arrived at this cursed place.

As the sun began setting behind the Tregarron Mountains to the west, millions of black bats upwards of three feet across, swarmed into the sky at dusk from the great tunnel opening among the fortress ruins, streaming in all directions away from the fortress.  Jonathan clung as tightly to the outer wall of the seawall as he could, and looked down to make sure Sammy was still in good shape beside him.  Turning his head slightly to look back down the beach from where they’d just come, Jonathan saw a great shape moving quickly across the land to where they had rested in the boulders and rocks on the beach – it was the dragon!

The beast attacked the boulders as if they were a child’s wooden blocks, knocking them asunder and digging a deep pit where they had rested, before rising to a great height on its hind legs and sniffing the air with its hideous horned nose.  Slowly, and with great calculation and cunning in its movements, the creature turned its head towards the two of them – holding that pose high in the air for a threatening moment while raising its dorsal spiked-fin and flaring its neck folds to make itself look as large as it could possibly be – and then hissed the loudest screaming screech anything could possibly make, before bolting towards them as fast as lightning…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Six, Part Two

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As they ate their lunch in the privacy of the sandy area within the boulders and an outcropping of rocks, Jonathan felt like he was back in the ‘good old days’ again, when he and Trooper, and later on with Sammy, enjoyed adventures together on the back forty of his family’s farm – The Spencer Family Farm – in Southern Ohio.  Everything at that moment on the beach was so ideal, that he allowed himself a moment to lie back in the sand, close his eyes and relax into the pleasant memories of distant times and adventures.  The onshore sea breeze only made the feelings better, and Jonathan smiled as he recalled his first ‘official’ adventure on the farm with Trooper.  It was sad that Trooper was now retired from the adventuring business, but it was a well-deserved honor for his loyal friend at the same time.

It was Sammy’s nuzzling and licks to Jonathan’s cheek, that woke him from his slumber in the sand – startling him with the realization he had fallen asleep there on the beach!  Once he became aware of the situation, and realized how dangerous it had been to have been so careless, Jonathan began to remember what had happened.  He recalled the sun being halfway between straight-up and setting on the horizon when they first sat down to enjoy lunch, and since then, the sun had moved three quarters towards the horizon from a noontime position.  That meant, he must have been sleeping for at least an hour in the sand, or maybe longer!

There was no time to lose now, for he had wasted precious time there on the beach, and they remained far away from the perceived safety of the interior corridors of Skulvarr Fell’s outer seawall.  He never noticed the crows circling high overhead, for they had long departed their watchful position above and were nowhere to be seen now.  Sammy had seen them though, and it was at that point he licked Jonathan’s cheek to wake him up – but the crows had gained too much valuable information during that period of time, information which would be very dangerous indeed in the wrong hands, or claws…

Jonathan set about to depart at once, gathering the bag of provisions and peering out from their beachfront hiding place.  He couldn’t admit to himself how sleep deprived he had been, and was startled to see that the fog was now long gone, and the visibility was as far as the eye could see!  They were now sitting ducks for the dragon if it was aware of their position, and this last part of the journey towards the now clearly visible fortress would be in plain sight – a very dangerous undertaking out in the open.  The dense fog and the enchantment of the raft cloaking their scents were both gone now, and all they had to rely on at this point was hope.  In fact, the onshore breeze had been carrying their scents inland for some time now, making it easy for the monster to alert to their presence.

Fortunately for Jonathan and Sammy at the moment, the dragon had since retreated underground into the great tunnel opening of Skulvarr Fell, and had neither received the crows’ message of their beachfront encampment, nor picked up the scent of the traveler’s presence – yet.  However, that wouldn’t remain the case for long, because after drinking from the dark and stagnant pools deep underground, the beast was on the move again towards the surface – with the intention of hunting down the intruders…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Six, Part One – Encounters

~~~~~~~~~~

“Encounters are always unpredictable, because their outcomes hang in the balance based on the talents we possess, the discipline we’ve nurtured, the depth of our preparation, the insights we’ve gained, and the focus we’ve developed.  No matter the quality of our own preparation, we’re only half of the equation, for encounters by definition have at least two participants.  To know yourself is not enough, though, for you must study and understand your opponent to a point where you can anticipate its next move, even before it has committed to making it…” – Mark D. Jones

~~~~~~~~~~

The scent of the ocean, the sound of crashing waves, and the cries of seagulls overhead gave Jonathan a welcoming feeling of having finally reached the Sea of Tollvar.  Sammy ran ahead in the hard packed sand at the water’s edge, weaving in and out of the waves as they washed up on the beach.  They reached the mouth of the River Myuthall, and now turned north following the shoreline, hoping to reach the Fortress of Skulvarr Fell before dusk.  The blanket of fog thinned out over the water, but remained just thick enough along the beach to give Jonathan a sense of cover for protection from prying eyes, at least when looking towards the sea from farther inland.

Jonathan hoped there would be a way into the fortress without having to enter through the demolished front gates of the outer walls, because that’s exactly what the dragon would expect them to do – plus, they wouldn’t have anywhere to hide, he figured.  He was open to ideas once he was able to see the fortress, but for now, he had no idea if another way into the fortress even existed.  Entering the fortress wasn’t as important as first reaching Skulvarr Fell, though, and Jonathan reminded himself to accomplish each task of their quest prior to focusing too much on the next portion of their agenda.  He knew from experience how plans once made, can change in a second, and kept an open mind as to their options, as this cat-and-mouse game with the dragon played out.

The beach continued in front of them uninterrupted for miles it seemed, and Jonathan knew the fortress couldn’t be that far away now, as it was supposed to be just north of the mouth of the River Myuthall, at the base of the Tregarron Mountains where they met the Sea of Tollvar.  All he could see in the thinning fog was a dark gray shadow extending into the sea, and the silhouette of the mountains running towards the sea from the west.  There was a small outcropping of rocks ahead on the beach, and it looked like an inviting place to pause their journey for a few moments to eat something from their sack of provisions.  Jonathan guessed it was mid-afternoon by now, and as they must have started this leg of their adventure around midnight, they were both getting plenty tired.

Sammy ran up to the rock outcropping,  which consisted of a number of large boulders and a rock ledge of sorts, with an interior space of sand that remained open to the sea.  This is a good place to rest for a while, thought Jonathan, as it concealed them from view from any direction inland, while the fresh sea breeze blowing onshore that had only just started up would provide some relief from the afternoon heat.  As he pulled out two portions of granola-like squares that Miylla had given them as provisions, Jonathan and Sammy enjoyed a late lunch there on the beach.  He realized they couldn’t stay where they were for too long though, as it would be easy enough to doze off in this sandy spot, and sleep through the night into the next morning.

While Jonathan and Sammy leisurely enjoyed their first meal of the day, and drank a little water from their wine skins, there was another matter they hadn’t taken into consideration.  The onshore breeze that felt so good in the sunshine, was also blowing away the fog they had relied on for cover, leaving them exposed to anything happening to look their way.  At the same time, the two crows had returned from wherever they’d been earlier, and were now circling high above the beach – well aware of the boy and his dog resting among the rocks on the seashore.  It was only a matter of time, before other prying eyes would know exactly where the two travelers were, and what they were up to…