Welcome to Three Word Thursday #48. Please join us in our weekly romp as we try to rescue lost and forgotten words from the dusty halls of antiquity. If you enjoy reading my story, leave a comment then click on the names of the other players and go see how they used these bygone words. You’ll be entertained (and possibly educated) all at once.
- cromack n. a staff, stave or walking stick.
- accidie n. sloth, tupor
- fissiparous adj. tending to break up into parts
A Matter of Pride
Realizing that he was the mouse in a cat’s game, Vernal tried to clear his mind and relax. If the dragon found him no fun to bait, perhaps he would set him free. He closed his eyes, bowed his head, and tried to concentrate only on the dark behind his eyelids. He felt a nudge on his shoulder as the dragon snuffled his head. “Your father tried that, too,” the laughing voice echoed inside him.
Vernal’s eyes popped open and he looked up at the dragon. “You knew my da?”
Fencil lifted the tip of the knife to his tender thigh and pressed. He shuddered in pain. His teeth sunk into the soft fibers of the driftwood stick he’d jammed in his mouth. He whimpered as he made a small incision just below the Canterberry Thorn. Once the incision was made he pressed on his flesh just above the thorn, fully expecting the barbs to pop free, instead the thorn broke to pieces. Had he known it was fissiparous, Fencil would have automatically carved it from his flesh. Now he would have to make certain every little piece was removed. He tore a strip of material from his tunic and reached for his canteen.
Once he’d scrubbed and bandaged his thigh, Fencil took a long drink from his thermos, piled the rest of the kindling on the fire, propped himself up against the cave wall, and wondered why Vernal hadn’t returned yet.
It was well after dark when Evaard and Chevall returned to the willow camp. The fire had burned to embers and Fencil was fast asleep. Chevall knelt by his young page and touched the boy on the shoulder. Fencil opened his eyes and blinked blurry-eyed at the knight. “Why two of you?” He asked, then his head dipped to the side as unconsciousness claimed him.
“He is suffering accidie,” Chevall said. “Get firewood.” It was both command and request. Evaard understood. He nodded and left the enclosure. As well as firewood, they would need woodwort tubers to draw the poison from the boy’s wound. Luckily the tree they’d camped under would supply willow bark to ease the child’s pain, finding woodwort in the dark would be a challenge.
Evaard focused first on gathering firewood. He quickly filled his arms with fallen limbs and branches then returned to camp and ducked through the willow branches. As he’d expected, Chevall had already peeled a strip of bark from the tree and was peeling away the soft red fibers beneath to make a pain relieving tea.
Evaard rekindled the fire as Chevall retrieved the cooking pot from the haversack beside the horse and filled it with water. “I’ll make tea for the boy first and our food after, ” Chevall said.
Evaard nodded his agreement. “The sky is clear and the moon should be bright tonight. I will look for woodwort.” He did not add that he would look for Vernal, but it was understood.
“Like you, like many others, your father came here looking for treasure,” the dragon thought-spoke. “Some are allowed to leave, and some are not.” The dragon belched and flames flickered from his snout. As Vernal contemplated the cause of the dragon’s upset stomach, it continued speaking. “My name is Threfel. I am three hundred sixty-nine years old. I met your father here and his sire, and his sire’s sire. Of the three, two walked away and one remained.”
Vernal recalled his father saying that his own da had left home one day and never returned. Was it because he’d encountered this dragon — Threfel? And what was it that was required to leave alive? Vernal waited for the answer, but the silence stretched.
Twilight had faded to night. The air was chill, as was the ground beneath his back. Vernal wasn’t certain how much of his shivering was shock, how much was fear, and how much was cold. He knew moving wasn’t an option, not with those razor sharp talons surrounding him.
“If I let you go, will you run?” Threfel asked.
Vernal remembered the speed and ease with which the dragon captured him in the first place. “I will not run,” he stated.
“That is the truth,” Threfel said. He lifted his fore arm and set Vernal free. Vernal stood slowly. He stomped his feet and rubbed his arms briskly. His teeth chattered and he quickly bit his tongue to silence them.
“Prideful,” Threfel’s voice came ruefully. “That is never a good sign.”
“What is wrong with pride?” Vernal asked.
“There is nothing wrong with pride itself,” Threfel answered. “But many people hold it for the wrong reasons.”
That made no sense to Vernal so he didn’t answer.
The dragon seemed to sigh. “Tell me son of Elun, have you the pride of your father, or your grandfather?”
Vernal answered, “I don’t know, but I fear I will never be the man my father was.”
Threfel stepped backward. His great, golden body disappeared into the foliage until only his head remained in the clearing with Vernal. “You are free to go, but first, see that plant there by your left foot? Grab it as close to the ground as you can and pull it up.”
Vernal did as he was bid without question. The plant stalk was fibrous, rough and as big around as his little finger. A good section of soil and a large root cluster lifted with the plant.
“That is woodwort,” Threfel said. “Pull one of the tubers and tuck it into your satchel, then tamp the plant back into the ground.
Again Vernal did exactly as he was bid, wondering if this was a test.
“It is no test,” Threfel answered his thoughts. “You are free to go. The path is wide and the moon is high so you should have no trouble finding your way. Even so, keep your eyes open for a cromack for you will have need of it tomorrow.” Then, in the blink of an eye, the great dragon was gone.
The 3WT #49 words will be:
Got it? Good! In that case: Your story is due on: April 1st, 2010