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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Eight, Part Ten

~~~~~~~~~~

As the company neared the City of Talgarth, the crowds grew ever larger, no doubt due to the news of the dragon’s confirmed defeat that spread like wildfire throughout Talgarth Wood.  The people of Talgar wanted to believe in the future, their future, and this was their first sense of hope in almost a lifetime within the kingdom.  It was a pent up release of the tension and fear that had been imposed on them for 37 long years under the despotic rule of Vyanthal.  The feeling was like a strong, fresh breeze blowing through the Wood, carrying an infusion of joy throughout a people who had almost forgotten what joy was.

Jonathan still rode in the lead position, acknowledging the crowds of well wishers who called out to him as they lined the road, shouting, “The dragon is dead, long live Jonathan!”  He understood their need for release and celebration at the spreading news of the dragon’s vanquish, and felt a deep sense of responsibility to the people to do all he could to make their lives and future better.  Thomar called out to Jonathan that they were now approaching the city, and that it was down in a valley beside the Inland Sea of Talgar just over the next ridge.  So far they had seen little destruction, just the occasional broken and pushed over trees, and minor damage to a few cottages along the road, but it appeared the dragon had spent little time along the road.

Sammy and Tiyall continued their play exploring everything alongside the road, and received many happy hugs and pats from the crowd gathered around the company.  There was a small stream running parallel to the road that the dogs like to splash in, sniffing out anything they could surprise in the dense woodlands around them.  It appeared the road was now winding through the foothills of the Tregarrons, as this area was growing ever more difficult to traverse.  The road wound a circuitous route around rock outcroppings, small cliff faces, ever larger hilltops, and steep gullies.  The ridge was clearly visible ahead in the distance, but it would still take some time to climb it with the serpentine undulations the road had to make to get there.  Even so, the crowds continued to grow and follow the company.

Jyulia and Thomar were amazed at the crowds following them, recognizing this moment as a truly pivotal time in the history of the Kingdom of Talgar.  It was as if this day or two had been the beginning of a new age within Talgar, one they had been hoping for their entire lives.  This boy from Southern Ohio and his dog Sammy were a catalyst of hope where only desperation had been known by the people before.  It was true that many events had led up to this occurrence, including the Light Bearers having turned back the tide of darkness and fear that had grown over the Land of Myllanthar, leading to the defeat of the axis of darkness between Vyanthal, King Tucar, and King Cyulthar.  The dragon’s emergence from the dark tunnels and caverns deep underground Myllanthar was yet another unbearable blow to the people of the Kingdoms of Talgar and Pengarth, that seemed to reverse recent gains and plunge the land into a terrible darkness again.

It was Jonathan who had been instrumental as a Light Bearer in both the victory over the axis of darkness and the terror of the dragon’s terrible reign of destruction, yet this boy from the Spencer Family Farm just outside of Hampton, Ohio, refused to see himself as the hero he was – especially to the people of Myllanthar.  He was more concerned for his new friends in Myllanthar and for his dog Sammy, than he had been for himself, and refused to believe that all was lost when others had given up hope.  Even now, as he rode in the lead position before Alydar pulling the cart and leading the prisoners, flanked by Thomar and Jyulia on their horses leading the two spares, an old man in robes stood in the middle of the road in the distance.  Was this a new challenge for the company to overcome, or would the man be yet another well wisher who hoped to join the gathering throngs following the company?

The answer was only moments away…

(End of Chapter Eight)

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Eight, Part Nine

~~~~~~~~~~

Shortly after the encounter, the company stopped for the day and camped alongside the road by a small pond.  The forest had grown denser again in this part of Talgarth Wood and was becoming more rugged now, compared to the earlier level ground near the coast of the Sea of Tollvar.  It appeared this terrain was an extension of the foothills leading from the Tregarron Mountains, and would only grow more difficult as they made their way towards the City of Talgarth.  The city was located just east of the Inland Sea of Talgar, nestled between the Tregarron Mountains and the Talgar Range running towards the north, and it’s anyone’s guess if people had returned to it again the the wake of Vyanthal’s downfall.

There were few issues to deal with while camping beside the road overnight, as Thomar, Jyulia and Jonathan each took turns keeping watch to make sure the prisoners weren’t trying to escape.  They had settled down ever since the point was made that they’d do better by cooperating, than by causing trouble along the road towards Talgarth.  It was another full day of travel at Alydar’s pace towards the city, and they hoped to arrive there by tomorrow evening to see what condition the city and area were in.  It was said that the dragon had emerged from an underground tunnel somewhere between the Tregarron Mountains and the City of Talgarth, and had caused substantial damage to the area.  As the city was declared forbidden and abandoned by Vyanthal, it could be that the dragon had little interest in terrorizing the city itself and focused its destruction instead on outlying areas, but no one really knew.

The next day started out with small crowds of curious folks gathering around their encampment, who had heard the news about Jonathan and the now vanquished dragon.  As they broke camp to get started for the day, a number of people ventured to ask questions and wanted to shake Jonathan’s hand.  There was an issue of keeping the crowd away from the prisoners, but otherwise Jonathan was happy to make himself available to them to answer their questions.  Once they got underway on horseback again, the people took to lining the road and following behind them during their journey through Talgarth Wood.

Jonathan continued to acknowledge the crowds from atop his mount by nodding and waving, all the while holding his Light Sword across the pommel of his saddle – as did Thomar and Jyulia with their swords.  It was still important to deter any potential attack by outlaws or villains, who might be attempting to free the prisoners, although that was looking more and more remote as the crowds continued to grow and follow them throughout the day.  At one point, the people began chanting ‘Jonathan defeated the dragon,’ repeating it on and off for the rest of the day as the crowds grew and followed the company.

It felt to Thomar and Jyulia that the kingdom’s once beaten-down people had found new life and energy within them, and through Jonathan, their future looked promising – because he defeated the dragon – at least according to them.  While Jonathan would never claim to have vanquished the dragon by himself, he had to agree that it sure looked that way to anyone else as only he and Sammy were there as the dragon lunged towards him, causing the beast’s own demise.  Jyulia harbored the thought within her as the news spread about Jonathan’s bravery, that little stood in his way towards becoming the King of Talgar based on his growing popularity.  That scenario running through her mind pleased her, for she completely supported his ancient claim to the throne as superseding her own, and was overjoyed for what it meant for the Kingdom of Talgar – opportunity and prosperity for everyone…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Eight, Part Eight

~~~~~~~~~~

The next day was a very challenging ride, as the prisoners did everything they could to be uncooperative along the way.  Thomar and Jyulia took up new positions on their horses at the rear of the company, with the spare horses tethered behind them.  They each needed be close at hand to the captives, in order to prompt them to behave along the way.  The prisoners did their best to resist and disrupt the journey, but in the end they resigned themselves to cooperate, as they were told it would be better for them in the end if they did as they were told.  Jonathan took up the lead position at the front of the company, making sure everything was under control as they made their way down the lane towards Talgarth.  The lane was busier this day than the day before had been, because of their proximity now to the only proper road running through Talgarth Wood.

As the lane merged into a larger east-west road within the Wood, they found it was a good ten feet or more across, and also made of dirt and gravel.  The forest was thinner here than it had been along the lane, and they began seeing cottages and cabins periodically alongside the road.  At one point, the road transitioned from simple dirt and gravel to the occasional stretch lined with cobblestones, but the improvement was limited to short stretches only, probably constructed by those who had cottages in the area.  More travelers were journeying along the road now, although few were traveling in a westerly direction.

There weren’t any more dire warnings along the road about heading west, as fellow travelers were completely taken aback at seeing Jonathan leading the company with his Light Sword atop his horse.  Once they saw that Alydar pulled the cart leading the five rogue rider prisoners – who had been terrorizing the area for ages – they were quite pleased at this sign of progress.  Thomar and Jyulia with their gleaming swords and shields on horseback were quite a sight as well with their spare horses tethered behind them, guarding the captives.  The horses’ value alone was more wealth than any of the travelers had who saw them, let alone the sight of the gleaming swords and shields.   In those days, horses were still a rare commodity, as most all of them had been confiscated by Vyanthal and his goons for their own dubious services, leaving farmers with a single donkey at most to assist in the fields.  The entire economy of Talgar had totally collapsed during those 37 years of Vyanthal’s dishonest rule, and there was no assistance in these current times to help anyone recover.

Jonathan met fellow travelers along the road with a crisp nod of his head to them, while resting his Light Sword across the saddle’s pommel from right to left.  Those who passed by the company did so very cautiously, having never seen such a sight in recent times, yet Jonathan’s deference to them through his nods gave them a reassuring confidence that their own personal safety was not at risk.  Beyond Jonathan, they saw Thomar and Jyulia riding with their bright swords and shields as well, along with the tied captives walking between them behind the cart – it was the first sign of justice being dealt out in the kingdom in almost a lifetime.

Towards the end of the day, after a number of rest stops and lunch during the day’s journey, a traveler returning from the west stopped beside Jonathan on the road and asked, “Are you the lad who defeated the dragon?  We’ve heard rumors that such a thing happened, and you look like one who might have done it.”

“Yes, the dragon has been vanquished, and I was there to see it.  You have no need now to fear the beast or the terror it spewed across the kingdom,” replied Jonathan, “In fact, we will make the Kingdom of Talgar new again, so that you will have nothing to fear in the future.  The people of Talgar will have no reason to fear ever again!”

At that the traveler, a fellow peasant as well, bowed low before Jonathan, saying, “I never thought I’d see the day, kind Sir, and I pledge my service to you forevermore – but first, I must run to spread the news, as many are eager to hear what you say!”  At that, the man turned and ran down the road towards the west where he had been traveling from, for he could not contain the good news within him, telling everyone who could hear…”

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Eight, Part Seven

~~~~~~~~~~

As the riders stared in disbelief at their arrows being consumed in midflight by the light flames from Jonathan’s Light Sword, the two dogs, Sammy and Tiyall, ran out from the Wood onto the lane barking underneath the horses.  Their disruption caused panic within the five horses, who reared and whinnied uncontrollably with the look of terror in their eyes within the narrow confines of the lane, throwing their riders off into the dirt.  Within moments, Thomar, Jyulia and Jonathan disarmed the riders and held them at sword point where they sprawled in the dirt, giving them no opportunity to respond in kind.

Some time later, the five riders’ hands were bound behind their backs, tied together in line as a group to the back of the donkey cart.  The riders’ horses were then rounded up and calmed down from their earlier fright, and organized for the journey ahead to the City of Talgarth.  Thomar and Jyulia each mounted one of the horses, with a spare horse tethered behind each of them.  Jonathan mounted his own horse and took up a position with his Light Sword behind the prisoners tethered to the cart.  Thomar and Jyulia took the lead positions side-by-side in front of Alydar and the cart, with their swords and shields in full display, while Sammy and Tiyall ran freely wherever they desired, always maintaining a cautious eye on the prisoners.

The company set out again down the lane with the bound riders walking behind the cart at the pace set by Alydar.  Jonathan couldn’t believe how events had turned, so that as he rode behind the prisoners with Thomar and Jyulia riding in front of Alydar, he saw the Swords and Shields of Talgar and Talgarth shining in the sunlight before him.  How their fates had changed in a very short span of time!  For the first time, he really thought it might be possible that a successful outcome of the turmoil within the Kingdom of Talgar could actually turn out in a positive way.

It was clear now, that they’d have little trouble on their way to Talgarth from this point on, with the ancient swords worn by Thomar and Jyulia leading the company, and his Light Sword protecting the rear.  The question that remained, was what would they find upon their arrival in Talgarth, as it was anyone’s guess at to the condition of the city.  Was it still the desolate city that had been ordered abandoned and forbidden by Vyanthal, or had the citizens of Talgar already begun repopulating it?  Was there major destruction of the city caused by the dragon, or was it spared the terror the beast caused in other areas?  Their arrival in Talgarth should answer those questions and more.

The company had the lane to themselves for the rest of the day, as they didn’t come across any other travelers before stopping for the evening.  They camped overnight in a clearing beside a stream, keeping watch over their captives and taking care of Alydar, the horses, and Sammy and Tiyall after a full day of traveling.  Perhaps their luck was improving, as what could have been a devastating encounter earlier in the day, turned out to be a small victory for the Kingdom of Talgar – but was it enough?   Thomar, Jyulia and Jonathan were now visible for all to see, as far as their individual claims and intentions for Talgar, but whether the people would support them or not, only time would tell…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Eight, Part Six

~~~~~~~~~~

“You insult me by holding such a phony blade up against five horsemen in battle dress, all ready to slay you for your arrogance alone in attempting to joust with me with mere words.  You deceive yourself with your pompous self-importance and grandiose imaginations derived from an unbalanced brain, while the remaining seconds of your life count down to zero.  Tell me what you know about such a lad, or say goodbye to your life – you decide which choice to make,” bellowed the lead rider, clearly running out of patience.

“I have seen no dragon, nor witnessed its demise, if that’s what you’re asking for,” replied Thomar.  “In the meantime, you may now beg the forgiveness of my wife for your uncouth manners of omitting a proper greeting towards her that she’s entitled to receive, as per the basic rule of courtesies and honors as decreed by the Kingdom of Talgar.  To omit your respect is to be banished from the kingdom with all due haste henceforth and forever more.  Choose wisely, as punishment is clearly called for in this circumstance, and as an emissary of the kingdom, I’m honor bound to impose it upon you.”

The lead rider began laughing in a deep, dark and sarcastic manner, implying he was neither impressed nor frightened by Thomar’s remarks.  “You humor me in the moments before your death, and a hearty chuckle out of me is the only so-called greeting you’ll ever receive from me.  As for your wife, the peasant wench will serve us well in your absence of living any longer, as I now put an end to this theater of the absurd!”

It was in that moment that Jyulia moved quickly to the cart and threw off the blanket, tossing a shield to Thomar, and picking up a gleaming sword and shield for herself, saying, “This so-called peasant wench as you dare address me, is descended from the Queens of Talgar!  I stand before you wielding the ancient Sword of Talgar in defense of my family and the Kingdom of Talgar we so dearly love!  Do not be deceived by your haughty notions of superiority, as I’ve had a lifetime of swordsmanship training in the pursuit of wielding this blade for this very moment in time.  You will throw your weapons down immediately, dismount and lie prostrate in the lane – or else the wrath of Talgar will come down upon your heads!”

The rider’s horses pranced nervously, boxed into the confined space created by the narrow lane.  The horsemen had difficulty controlling their mounts, skittish from the gleaming blades and confrontational talk back and forth.  It was then the leader gave the directive to draw their bows, so as to put an end to this farcical standoff, and get on with their search.  As the bowmen braced their arrows, Jonathan suddenly emerged from the thicket drawing his Light Sword and holding it high above him.  His sword shone like the sun aflame along it’s gleaming blade in the presence of such evil men, as tongues of flaming light leapt off its length.

Three bowmen took their aim at Thomar, Jyulia and Jonathan, and their bows released their arrows in unison toward their marks, as if in slow motion.  At the same time, the Light Sword shot out three bolts of flaming light, consuming the arrows in mid-flight – reducing their shafts to mere ash blown away in the breeze, long before they reached their intended targets…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Eight, Part Five

~~~~~~~~~~

It was only moments before five horsemen rounded the bend ahead of them at a full gallop, before coming to a thunderous sliding stop directly in front of Alydar and the cart.  Thomar and Jyulia had taken their children in hand and quickly left the lane to one side, while Jonathan and the dogs exited the lane to the other side in the heat of the moment.  As it turned out, Jonathan had stumbled into a thicket lined ditch and fell onto his side, while the dogs ran deeper into the forest to avoid the charging horses.  As it was, the horsemen didn’t see Jonathan or the dogs as they entered the Wood, because it was the side of the lane towards the bend ahead, and they were masked from view for longer than the far side of the lane was where Thomar and Jyulia exited with the children.

It was Thomar and Jyulia the horsemen saw in the moment they reigned in their steeds, coming to a halt in a cloud of dust, dirt and flying gravel just in front of Alydar.  As the dust settled, the horses were left quite nervous, panicky, and heavily winded in the lane, bunched together and lathered to excess in total bewilderment.  The riders themselves looked dirty, rough and unkempt, with each wearing a varied combination of dark green and gray coarse cloths, brown leather and heavy boots, with swords hanging at their sides, and bows and quivers strung across their backs.

Jonathan maintained his concealment deep within the ditch behind a thick bed of ferns, foliage and small trees, while peering out unnoticed at the riders who looked very much like the familiar rogue riders of Nierron.  The fact was, these unprincipled men were former mercenaries who had decided to act on their own behalf in the wake of Vyanthal’s defeat, taking on the guise of being from the Kingdom of Talgar themselves, yet having nothing but their own dark self-interests in mind.  It took a number of moments for them to control their mounts after such an abrupt halt from their excessive pace down a lane used mostly by foot and cart traffic, while at the same time, sizing up Thomar and his family.  Finally, the leader of this devious group addressed Thomar saying, “Who are you and to where are you traveling?  Do not attempt to conceal your intentions, as we have ways of learning all we want to know from the likes of you!”

Thomar paused while maintaining eye contact with the lead horseman, replying, “And who are you who addresses complete strangers with such a tone in rudeness, who are simply traveling within the kingdom?  Have you no respect, or the common decency and good manners, to greet a lady with the courtesy she both deserves and expects, or are you simply uncouth hooligans and common thieves, wallowing in pigsties your whole lives, without the benefit of having learned proper manners?”  Having said his peace, Thomar didn’t so much as flinch at the immediate reaction of the riders to draw their swords and mutter threats and insults at him.

“You may think you’re of some royal blood and lineage, and too good for the likes of us, yet you’re just a filthy peasant that we’d just as soon trample as waste our time dealing with.  We should slay you where you stand and take your wife as payment for your insults, and sell your children to the highest bidder!  You waste our time here, as we are in haste to find the one who defeated the dragon – some say it was but a lad.  Tell me quickly what you know about such a boy, before I follow through with my stated intentions.  We have no use for the likes of you, but your wife will more than make up for your errors in judgment for ever crossing us.  Quickly now, what do you know?”

Thomar’s reply was without words, as he turned to remove a gleaming sword that had lain hidden in the cart underneath a blanket.  He motioned Jyulia to move behind him with the children, while holding the ancient Sword of Talgarth in front of him, causing even the rider’s eyes to wonder at what he held up before them.  “The Kingdom of Talgar and the City of Talgarth shall be made new again, in the image of its former glory, and the likes of you are not welcome in this kingdom – now, or in the future!”

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Eight, Part Four

~~~~~~~~~~

Their break in the grass alongside the path was a welcome reprieve from the morning’s march, having started before dawn and taken half a day before resting.  Jyulia served lunch to everyone and they all shared a waterskin to quench their thirst.  Alydar appreciated being unhooked from the cart, and spent his time munching on the fresh green grass beside the path and drank from the pathside stream they had been following now for some time.  Jonathan thought this had been a wonderful excursion so far, as he loved traveling through a dense forest, but also realized this journey could take a turn for the worse at any time.  Still, he was of the same mindset as Sammy and Tiyall, who enjoyed their treats and bones during the break, along with their drinks from the stream, but they would just as soon continue exploring the Wood once everyone was underway again.

Once they got started again following their lunch break, it wasn’t long before they joined up with the slightly wider lane running east-west.  They turned west in the direction towards the City of Talgarth and followed the deserted lane as it ran through the Wood.  The lane allowed them plenty of space to walk beside the cart as needed, as it was half as wide again as the path had been and more worn, without overgrown grasses and shrubs tangling the cart’s wheels along the way.  Here the lane was mostly dirt and gravel with tall grasses alongside it, and the trees were not nearly as dense as they had been earlier, despite continuing the tunnel effect by overgrowing the lane above it.  Sunlight easily filtered down through the thinner canopy, as it only had to shine straight down from its noontime position high above them.

It was still a little while before they met the first few travelers on foot approaching them from the west, but they carried little news with them as they headed in the direction of the Sea of Tollvar to the east.  Most of them simply kept to themselves when passing, or uttered a polite greeting without much feeling behind it to maintain some semblance of being cordial to fellow travelers on the go.  Jyulia especially was uneasy about this general distrust of strangers shown by the other travelers they had encountered along the lane, so much so, she began to consider the lane unsafe to travel for her family.  At one point she asked Thomar if there wasn’t another way to journey towards Talgarth, as she wasn’t feeling good about this choice, but he replied this was the only way for them to go.

At last they came upon an elderly man of similar peasant status approaching them from the west, with a wide-eyed look that spoke a warning to them without words.  As they came together in the lane he paused and in a hushed voice – despite their being quite alone in the Wood – said, “Even the trees have ears in these parts.  It is not wise to travel west in these days, for I have seen too much, that I’ll never be able to unsee.  Turn around while you can, and escape to the sea – it’s your only chance…”  With that, he was off down the path, moving as quickly as his old bones would take him towards the Sea of Tollvar.

Thomar turned to Jyulia, and then to Jonathan saying, “We have no choice in the matter, for the Kingdom of Talgar is at stake, and we alone can save it…”  No sooner had he said those words, than they heard loud horse hoofs pounding the lane ahead approaching from the west.  They looked around to see if they could get off the path and hide among the trees, but it was clear that the horses would overtake them before they could even begin to hide.  The pounding hoof beats on the dirt lane were ever closer now, just around the next bend in the trees, and their biggest concern at this point was to not be trampled unexpectedly from whoever was riding at a full gallop through the Wood…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Eight, Part Three

~~~~~~~~~~

They set out the next morning before dawn, traveling northwest away from the cabin in the pre-dawn glow that was only just noticeable within the Wood.  The path was barely wide enough for the donkey cart to travel unhindered through the dense vegetation, with occasional pauses necessary to clear the path of a fallen branch, or small tree that had fallen across it.  While Miylia and Danyar rode in the primitive cart being pulled by Alydar, Jyulia and Thomar walked on either side of their trusted donkey, while Jonathan and the two dogs, Sammy and Tiyall, walked directly behind the cart when the dogs weren’t exploring the Wood alongside their path.

The Wood was lush and dense along the route, and completely overhung the path creating a tunnel effect of greenery which they traveled through.  The sunrise was barely noticeable over the Sea of Tollvar, as little sunlight was able to penetrate the foliage.  It would be hours before daylight actually filtered down through the dense canopy overhead, once the sun had climbed higher into the sky, but the effect of the dim light within the forest created a real sense of enchantment for Jonathan – who had always loved trees and forests.  In fact, he probably spent more time walking in the woods with Sammy back home around the Spencer Family Farm in Southern Ohio, than most anything else at all.  It was what fueled his sense of adventure in the first place, and it was through adventure, that he and Sammy had returned to the Land of Myllanthar for the second time now.

While Jonathan was lost in his daydreams of wonder at the beauty of the Wood around them, Thomar was on edge – despite knowing this first leg of their journey was down this seldom-traveled cart path at the end of the kingdom that led to the cursed Fortress of Skulvarr Fell beyond their cabin.  He didn’t anticipate meeting anyone along this pathway, but if people had heard of Jonathan’s encounter with the dragon, it was a possibility that they may come looking for the boy – and not to reward him.  Jonathan posed a threat to the ambitions of those who sought power for themselves, because the prophecy clearly gave him the right and duty to take up and wear the Crown of Talgar.  Others might think differently, and choose instead to quietly do away with his claim to the throne, and his ability to wear its crown.  If there was no boy to claim the crown – despite rumors of having slain the dragon – this obstacle to their devious and underhanded plans and intentions to seize it for themselves, wouldn’t exist.

Meanwhile, Jyulia attended to the needs of their children in the cart, and wondered how this pilgrimage to the City of Talgarth would turn out, knowing that everything was at stake in the coming days.  It was her hope that the Kingdom of Talgar would blossom into what could be said to be the early days of an unnamed New Age – but at the same time, the recent terror of the now defeated dragon would be nothing, compared to a new rise to power by someone choosing to control the kingdom for their own dark interests.  There was no way of knowing which outcome would prevail, and it seemed there was little they could do to direct a positive outcome in this situation, for either themselves, or for the kingdom.

By midday they were approaching a larger lane within Talgarth Wood, and Thomar decided to first stop alongside the narrower path for a break, prior to reaching the lane.  It would be more private to pause beside the path, as their chances of encountering others grew with the size of the lane or road they would travel along.  It had taken them half a day’s travels to just reach a proper lane, and because of that, their cabin at the end of this path behind them had been a refuge that kept them isolated and alone for so many years, just for such a time to come along.  It was their self-imposed seclusion during the 37 years of Vyanthal’s usurpation, that had preserved this chance for Talgar to return to greatness once again – if nothing went wrong – and knowing the state of affairs within the kingdom these days, anything was liable to happen…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Eight, Part Two

~~~~~~~~~~

The donkey cart was packed with the needed supplies to make the journey to the City of Talgarth, and Alydar the donkey was in good form, ready to begin the journey.  There was food as well for Alydar packed onto the cart, as supplemental feed to the grass and water they expected to find along the way.  Thomar was worried about the conditions they’d find along the wooded lanes of Talgarth Wood, and concerned about the safety and protection of his newly extended family in the tumultuous atmosphere of the kingdom these days.  He thought it might turn out to be either be an uneventful pilgrimage to Talgarth, or a fight for their lives within the vast emptiness of the Wood, for there was no protection or enforced rule of law these days along the wooded lanes – anything could happen – and it was his responsibility to keep everyone safe.

Jyulia had similar concerns about the safety of their extended family, which now included Jonathan and Sammy, along with their two children, Miylia and Danyar, and their dog, Tiyall – but in addition, she worried how her secondary claim to the Throne of Talgar affected Jonathan, and the choices he’d make in the future.  She didn’t want him to see her as competition to the throne because of her being descended from Queen Anallyita, and didn’t worry that he currently felt that way now.  It was clear from his mannerisms that he didn’t take offence at her secondary claim to the throne, but worried his future choices and actions may defer to her, rather than fulfill the true intent of the prophecy.  It was, after all, her highest responsibility to ensure the future of the kingdom, and in her mind, Jonathan was the key to Talgar’s future rebirth.

The full scope of the responsibilities Jonathan had taken on during this adventure to Myllanthar wasn’t lost on him, and with each day and hour he realized the gravity of what lay ahead.  He missed Gramps, and wished that he now had access to his wisdom and advice, but hoped the path ahead was being cleared and straightened by his dear friend.  Regardless of whether he would meet up with Gramps again or not, Jonathan knew he was in good hands with Thomar and Jyulia, and trusted their advice and guidance implicitly.

At the end of the day, Jonathan wanted to do his best to make the best decisions he could going forward, but at the same time, he knew he and Sammy needed to return home once his main duties and contributions in Talgar were finished.  He knew there was no extricating himself quickly from his deepening involvement in the Kingdom of Talgar, but he accepted his responsibilities without question.  It was once those responsibilities were discharged though, that he considered returning home to the Spencer Family Farm – but once again, there was no known path home.

It was now clear that the link between the Land of Myllanthar and Southern Ohio, to the Hampton area and the Spencer Family Farm, was through Seerlyth Cullyan via the portal of dreams.  As far as his one day future return to Hampton, or not, Jonathan knew he wasn’t in control of the process, and may never return to see his family again – but would never give up on the hope of someday returning home.  In the meantime, though, he was committed to staying the course on the way ahead, and fulfill both his future duties to the best of his abilities, but the prophecy as well…

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

Jonathan’s Return (An Adventure Novel)

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

Book Two, Chapter Eight, Part One – Journeys

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“Journeys and adventures take on a life of their own once begun, for no one can ever predict or direct their outcome with any certainty.  So it is with our own personal adventures in living life, as we must each travel a unique path that is ours alone to walk – and the lessons learned along the way, our classroom…” – Mark D. Jones

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Thomar and Jyulia began preparing Jonathan as thoroughly as possible over a short period of time, in order to instruct him for not only his future role as King of the Kingdom of Talgar should he fulfill the prophecy, but also concerning the tenuous situation within the kingdom and the Talgarth Wood.  It was agreed that the journey to the City of Talgarth – once the jewel of Talgar and then the forbidden and abandoned city under the despot, Vyanthal – would begin as soon as their preparations were complete.  A sense of urgency overshadowed their actions, knowing that with every hour they delayed, the turmoil within the kingdom would only grow.

Jonathan understood his responsibilities to both the Kingdom of Talgar and to its people.  He also felt a duty to all of Myllanthar’s people, including his friends, to create an environment of safety and security in the wake of the defeated dragon, and the previous rebellion and instigation caused by Vyanthal, Tucar and Cyulthar.  It was this disruption of peace and stability within the Land of Myllanthar, and the Kingdom of Talgar, that created the conditions for the current turmoil that now prevailed in many regions across the land – especially within Talgar in the wake of Vyanthal’s fall.  The seriousness of this situation within Myllanthar was not lost on Jonathan, who quickly grasped the importance of this journey to Talgarth, and what the prophecy meant to his future role in helping people everywhere.

Their plan was to travel through Talgarth Wood alongside a donkey cart to carry their provisions, setting out the next morning at dawn for the City of Talgarth.  Thomar collected the necessary items they would need for the journey, including what they might require to defend themselves, carefully hidden in the cart.  Jyulia prepared the appropriate attire for Jonathan, including a woolen tunic, cloak and robe to help him against the cooling autumn temperatures and inclement weather, as well as, to better pass as their son, along with their other two children, Miylia and Danyar.

Traveling incognito as a simple, peasant family was the easiest way to make the journey to Talgarth without unnecessary inquiries as to who they were or to what their purpose was.  Thomar would answer for the family in any discussions on the open road, and take on an unassuming and humble attitude to persuade others they were of no interest to anyone, especially because of their poverty.  If pressed by bandits, they would plead poverty, and say they were traveling to visit mourning relatives who had recently experienced a death in the family.  Only if Thomar’s ability to dissuade interest in their travels failed, and if they were personally threatened or attacked, would they defend themselves against thieves and outlaws along the road.

Meanwhile, Jyulia fitted Jonathan’s tunic, robe and cloak, modifying them to not only disguise his wearing of his sheathed Light Sword and scabbard, but also to allow him quick access to it through a false pocket hidden within the layers of the heavy fabric.  Although their intention was to undertake a peaceful pilgrimage to Talgarth, one never knew what they might encounter along the wooded lanes…