I know that I said in my introduction in Dragonheart that it would be my final story in the heart saga. I was wrong. So sue me. As I was typing, I fell asleep and the final story came to me in a dream. Here it is. Note: Although everyone apart from Sami, Kate, and Chance refer to Jake as Ja’c Kranen, I will call him Jake. This is to avoid insanity on my part. Also, paws are now known as wings. Extra note: Excerpt from the Dragon-English dictionary, page three thousand, five hundred and thirty four:
Kraeth’- The main time usage in the dragon realm, also known as an hour. Extra, extra note: Excerpt from the Dragon-English dictionary, page fifty two thousand, seven hundred and eighty nine:
Dun’ Zetho’rath: A prayer used to ask pity from the gods. Its true purpose is unknown. Requires a sacrifice to be used.
‘Strength is born in the deep silence of long suffering hearts; not amid joy.‘ – Felicia Hemans
Jake’s eyes opened. He was in some sort of cave. Reaching out to rub his eyes, he noticed that his paw felt scaly, and only had three fingers. Realization hit him like a wrecking ball. He was a dragon.
Sami was in utter disbelief. The ECG had registered zero a short while ago. He was dead. He knew that Jake had felt the same for her when she died. They had been reunited, and now he was gone. A sudden movement caught her eye.
Outside the cave, Jake was in a realm he’d never thought possible. The sky was a dark red. Dragons were everywhere. Some where playing, obviously children, while others were having conversations in the street. He was in a city, with buildings, roads and what seemed to be a palace in the distance.
‘Welcome to your new world, Ja’c Kranen.’ He turned and saw Drakor. Well, not exactly him, but his spirit. ‘It’s about time.’
‘Whatever for?’ Jake was getting impatient. ‘You promised to give me instructions on how to return to my own realm.’
‘In due time.’
Jake reached out to grab him in anger, but his wings went right through.
‘Patience, my boy, patience.’
Jake growled, but it didn’t sound much of a growl, considering he was a dragon. ‘I lost my family twice, I’m stuck in this stupid realm, and you expect me to be patient?’
‘Trust me, you’ll enjoy it here.’
Drakor was beginning to get on his nerves.
‘Just how do you expect me to enjoy it here without my family?’Jake said through gritted teeth.
He roared, loud and clear, drawing the attention of all the dragons there. They quickly stopped what they were doing and assembled in front of the cave. Within ten minutes, about ten thousand dragons were neatly assembled before Jake and Drakor.
Jake was seriously impressed. ‘Why all the authority?’
He turned to Jake and smiled. ‘Wait and see.’ He turned to face the crowd. ‘This is my successor, Ja’c Kranen. He is your leader now.,,he announced to the crowd.
Jake raised an eyebrow, though dragons didn’t have any. The words sank in. Leader? Of all these dragons? He was going to have a ton of responsibility on his shoulders.
‘Come. We will go to the palace.’ Drakor spread his wings and took off. He noticed that Jake wasn’t following him. ‘Come on.’
Jake looked embarrassed. ‘I don’t know how to fly.’
Drakor was seriously amused.
‘Temper merely shows lack of control and places you temporarily in the ranks of lunatics and fools’-William Nickerson.
After the flying lessons, Jake managed to fly (glide, actually) to the palace until he lost the wind and fell flat on his face.
Drakor laughed and landed neatly beside him. ‘You had better work on the landings.’
Drakor walked into the palace, obviously knowing what he was looking for. A young female greeted him as he entered what seemed to be a giant hall.
‘Ja’c Kranen, Krealea Drakor.’ He turned to face the female. ‘Kreala Drakor, Ja’c Kranen.’
Drakor tuned to face Jake again.
‘She is my daughter, Ja’c. Do you mind if I call you Ja’c?’
‘No, not at all.’
‘She is my daughter. To return to your world, you must do two things. One. Kreala here must bear you two children, a male and a female.’
Jake balled up his fists and tried very much not to show his temper. ‘Kreala?’, he said through gritted teeth.
‘Yes?’, her voice somewhat like Sami’s.
‘Would you mind, leaving the room? I’d like to speak with your father here in private.’ Jake said it as politely as possible.
After Kreala had shut the door, he turned to Zai’tun and would have given him a left hook if he wasn’t a spirit.
‘Do you realize,’ Jake was trying very, very, VERY hard not to scream, ‘That I have a wife, in another world?’
‘She is in another world.’
Jake took a swing at him but his fist collided with air.
‘You expect me to go flirting around with a dragon who’s, what, two thousand years old?’
‘Three thousand, actually.’
‘Three thousand. Whatever. The point is that no matter how much I appreciate your attempt at introducing me to your daughter,..’
‘You realize this is not just any romance I have set you up with. Do you want to return to your world?’
Jake looked at him as if he had asked whether water is wet or if fire burns. ‘Isn’t that a stupid question?’
‘Then this is the only way. The gods have punished you for abusing the power of dragons blood.’
Jake nearly choked. ‘Excuse me but did you say, ‘abuse?’ Did you actually tell me that I ‘abused’ the power of dragon’s blood?’
‘Yes I did.’
‘Hah, that’s excellent. Who’s fault is it, tell me?’ He turned. “You, handed me that sword and asked me to kill you. You, asked me to take four vials of your blood. You, insisted that I drink it. You, are responsible for all this. Then tell me now, why do you say that I, abused the powers of the dragon’s blood?’
‘Are you done?’, he said with irritating calmness.
That was the final straw. Jake completely lost it. He swung at him again and again, missing him each time.
‘Come on, fight me, come and get me!’
Drakor solidified and his feet touched the floor ‘Are you sure this is what you want?’
‘Of course I’m sure. Come and get me!’
‘All right.’ He swung a right hook, catching Jake by surprise.
Jake tried for an uppercut, but Drakor neatly dodged to the side. Drakor spun around and gave Jake a full-blown roundhouse in the face.
Jake fell to the floor, stunned.
‘Let us end this.’
‘It’s not over till it’s over, dragon!’
Jake hit him with a right hook but before he could react, Drakor blocked his next blow and countered by giving Jake a left. Jake received another left, and another. He saw Drakor extend his left arm and prepared to block when he felt a fist collide with the right side of his head. He went crumbling to the marble floor again. He looked up and saw a wing outstretched to aid him up. Accepting the fact that he had been defeated, he reached out and grabbed the wing.
‘You fought well.’
‘You weren’t so bad yourself considering that you are ten thousand years old.’
‘I consider that as a compliment.’ He looked up. ‘Kreala!’
She entered almost instantly. ‘Yes father?’
‘Ja’c here has decided to be your mate during the next mating season, which begins tomorrow.’
Kreala looked at Jake. ‘Yes father.’ She bowed and left.
Jake looked at him. ‘Tomorrow?’
‘What must I do?’
‘First you must mate with Kreala. Then hopefully she will be fertilized. If she is, you can sigh for relief. Then you must pray that they will be two of them, a son and a daughter. If there is, phase one complete. Should any of these steps fail, then you’ll have to wait around until the next mating season.’
‘And when will that be?’
‘In about a hundred DRAGON years.’, He pronounced the ‘dragon’ with emphasis.
‘How long is a dragon year?’ He didn’t even hope.
‘Fifty of your years.’
Jake was horrified. ‘Then what is phase two?’
‘When your daughter is five years old, you must take her to the temple. Lay her on the altar and drive a sword through her heart. Then recite the Dun’ Zetho’rath prayer. This must be done when she turns five EXACTLY. One second too late or too early will simply cost you a daughter.’
‘You mean I’m supposed to recite the prayer and drive the sword through her heart in one second?’
‘The sword must enter in that one second.’ He seemed to recall something. ‘This must be done between midday and three Kraeth’s past noon.’
‘But I thought you said that it must be conducted when the dragon turns five exactly.’
‘It must be both.’
‘So I’m gonna have to wait for five thousand years to get a second chance if any of these steps go wrong.’
‘Sorta’ like a no-win scenario, isn’t it?’
‘Won’t I be something like, 250 years old when I return to my world?’
‘If you wish to return, you may return at anytime.’
That night Jake had a formal introduction to Kreala by Drakor’s BORING Introductions Inc. He tried very hard, both for his and his composure’s sake, to stay awake for the entire speech. Drakor pointed out her good and her bad sides, her hobbies, etc. etc. etc. It went on and on into the night. Jake fervently prayed for the time when it would end.
The dragon doctor was extremely friendly and helpful. The ultrasonic sound test, although painful (A dragon’s range of frequencies is much larger than kats.) proved that not only had Kreala been fertilized, they were twins. It was too early to know their gender but dragon twins are normally one of each.
Jake had left the hospital to go to the library. Drakor had told him about some great books that they had, especially on the Dun’ Zetho’rath and it’s rituals. Jake, however wasn’t interested in that particular subject yet.
The library was open twenty-four kreath’s a day. Librarians worked in shifts, two shifts a day. As he walked up to the desk, he was wondering whether the dragon’s had any books on the topic that he wanted at all.
The librarian looked up.
‘Can I help you?’
‘I’m looking for a book on paternal and maternal guidance.’
The librarian looked at him. ‘Excuse me?’
Jake rolled his eyes. ‘I’m having kids soon and I want to know how to deal with them!’
‘Oh.’, finally understanding
‘Do you happen to have anything on that particular topic?’
‘Where is it?’
The librarian pointed to a shelf near the desk.
Jake nodded and went over to it. He was surprised at the enormous selection and variety of books that they had on this subject alone. Grabbing three or four books, he walked over to a nearby table and set them down. Finding no chair, he simply stood up and read.
After a couple of hours, he had everything he needed to know. Putting the books back, he thanked the librarian and left.
Below is a table of just a few of the important facts that Jake learnt:
1. Dragons were pregnant for twenty-four months. (each dragon year consisted of six hundred months) 2. Dragons mature at the age of 1,800 months.( three years) 3. Dragons are born with teeth, meaning they can eat meat when born. 4. Until they reach the age of 600 months, the infants are at their most vulnerable, extremely sensitive to temperature, humidity, and dirt. They require lots of attention and care. 5. The parents are encouraged to play with the infants often, stimulating psychical and mental activity.
With this information in mind, Jake went back to the hospital.
Are’al and Jac’ke Kranen were beautiful. Jake was happy, forgetting all his troubles for the time being. As he watched his children sleep peacefully inside the incubator, he remembered the purpose of him having them in the first place. He sighed heavily. Leaving Kreala to take care of the children, he went back to his reading room to re-read the books on Dun’ Zetho’rath.
‘The road to hell is plastered with good intentions’-German proverb
Jake returned from the library quite late, mainly because he had run into Drakor on the way. As he entered the palace, he heard one of his servants approach him cautiously.
‘Master Ja’c, your wife wishes to see you.’ He nodded and headed for the main chamber. As he entered, he could see Kreala standing near his book table. His children were sleeping in their cot.
‘What do you want?’
‘You can start by explaining the meaning of this.’ She tossed a book at him. It fell open at a page that he knew well. The page on the Dun’ Zetho’rath. There were pieces of paper with it, the notes he had taken down from the book and Drakor.
‘I will not let you take Are’al away from me.’
‘You don’t understand how much my family means to me.’
‘Do they mean enough for you to kill your own daughter?’
That question caught Jake off guard. ‘I…’
‘I know what you’ll say and I don’t want to hear it. You are nothing but a selfish, self-centered, egotistical, ingrate!’
‘ENOUGH, KREALA!’, Drakor ordered his daughter.
She looked at her father.
‘I wanted Ja’c to be happy. He has gone though much suffering and pain.’
‘Does that mean he can kill Are’al?’
‘Do not oppose me, Kreala.’
‘I’m asking you a question, father! Does his family in anther realm mean that he can kill my daughter?’
‘Your daughter?’, Jake stepped up. ‘Excuse me? YOUR daughter? She is as much my daughter as yours.’
‘You don’t deserve her, seeing that all you want from her is her life!’
‘Why do you think I got all these books?’, he pointed at the mountain of books on childcare on his desk.
‘Simply to throw me off from your true purpose!’, she spat at him. ‘You probably just took them from the library and left them there just for the sake of them being there!’ Jake tried very hard to refrain from throttling her right there and then.
‘Do you realize how much trouble it took me to get all these books?’
‘Then what about this one?’, she picked it off the floor and showed it to him.
‘Kreala,’ her father suddenly said. ‘Ja’c did not borrow that book. I did.’
Kreala looked at her father. ‘YOU?’
‘Yes Kreala. Me.’
Jake left the room. He couldn’t bear to think about Are’al and his family.
Are’al was now four. By now, she spent most of her time either playing with her brother, reading or listening to her father’s stories and explanations of why they could see, or the reason the sky was red, and so on and so forth. She was curious, inquisitive and playful.
Jake found it hard to think of even giving her a light smack, let alone kill her. He loved his daughter more than his son, although this did not bother Jac’ke much.
Jac’ke was a dreamer, often lost in a world of his own, literally. Playful at times, he also had a habit of being extremely hot tempered at times, especially when he was thinking. Plato, Socrates and Thales, eat your hearts out. Jac’ke Kranen is about to wipe your names off the philosopher’s hall of fame.
Jake still missed Sami terribly. He was torn between Are’al and Chance, Sami, Kate and his mother. He no longer had the vigor and spirit that was Jake Clawson. He spent most of his time mulling around the palace, thinking, making decisions and then scrapping them. He looked at his daughter who was reading a book.
‘Yes, father?’, she turned.
‘Do you want anything?’
‘Anything that I can do for you, just say it.’
Are’al put her wings around her father. She whispered into his ear, ‘All I want is for you to be happy, father.’
Jake was not surprised at the reply. He smiled.
Are’al’s telekinetic powers were growing stronger by the day. She didn’t have to get what she wanted, she simply willed it to her.
Ja’c was especially proud of his daughter’s special talent. He could be the happiest dragon alive and then suddenly, a dark cloud came over him. He then became moody, angry and bitter. Anything and anyone who got is his way would receive the brunt of his anger.
Except Are’al. He would never hurt Are’al. She always tried to calm him down during his fits of anger. Her efforts were the only ones that could calm him. She had a kind of power to balance, a controller for his rage. She was extremely gifted. He couldn’t bear to kill her.
‘The strongest evidence of love is sacrifice.‘- Caroline Fry
The day came. The first two steps had been met. Now for step three. Jake had refused, but Drakor, Are’al and Jac’ke urged, no, BEGGED him to proceed with the ritual. Are’al was extraordinarily calm for a dragon who knew she was going to die.
The temple was on the edge of the Dragon City. Jake had to be dragged to the altar. He simply refused to go through with this. Are’al finally gave up and said to him, ‘Father. You once asked that whether you could do anything for me. I replied that the only thing I wanted was for you to be happy. And I know, Father, that this is the only thing you can do which will fulfill that wish.’
‘I am happy with you, Are’al.’
‘You have a family, father. I want you to go back to that family.’
‘I have a family here as well Are’al.’
‘Father’, she looked him determinedly in the eye. ‘This is what I truly want you to do. You have a family, waiting for you.’
Seeing that he wasn’t going to win anyhow, he decided to hold it off for as long as possible.
The temple was a dark and foreboding place. It had a courtyard inside and in the middle was an altar. After some rituals, Are’al was placed on the altar. Jake was handed the sword. Walking up to Are’al he felt his knees turn to jelly. His wings trembled as he felt the time growing near. Suddenly, his wings stopped moving and he brought he sword over his head, preparing for the final stroke. The only problem was that he wasn’t doing it. Not voluntarily, at least. He looked at Are’al. Her eyes were set in a concentrated look at the sky above Jake. She had that look again.
‘No, Are’al, put it down.’
She didn’t answer him, concentrating as much energy as she could into pulling her father’s sword down at the right time. Seeking better solitude she closed her eyes and continued to ready herself. In her mind, she had a mental countdown. Counting away the seconds until the right time. Five. Four. Three. Two. One…..
Her eyes sprang open, just as Jake felt a very large force pulling his wings downward. He screamed, but to no avail. Finally remembering where he was, Jake kneeled and recited the prayer. A prayer that he knew completely by heart. The Dun’ Zetho’rath.
He opened his eyes to find Sami looking at him.
‘Sami!’ He sat up and hugged her. ‘You don’t know how long it’s been.’
She looked at him. ‘Jake, You’ve only been unconscious for a day. What do you mean, its been a long time? Jesus Jake, you really had me scared there for a while. Your ECG stopped and then came back to life about two seconds later.’
‘It felt like 252 years to me.’
Seven months later..
Jake entered the hospital room, holding a bunch of flowers in one paw and a teddy bear in the other. Sami looked up at him and smiled.
‘She’s beautiful Jake.’ Jake set down his presents on the table and looked at the kitten in Sami’s arms. She was curled up and asleep.
‘How old is she?’
‘Twenty-eight hours, exactly.’
‘Got a name for her yet?’
‘Actually, I was waiting for you to come and help me decide.’
A sudden meow caused Jake to lean forward to look at his child. She opened her green eyes and looked at Jake. She purred and meowed. Recognition sparked between the both of them. Jake stood there looking at her as she looked back up at him.
‘Excuse me, but what is going on here?’
Jake was jarred from his thoughts. ‘Ya’ know Sami, Ariel Kranen Clawson does sound like a good name, doesn’t it?’
‘Its perfect. Where do you come up with names like that?’
‘Lets just say that a little dragon told me…’ Jake trailed off to look at his kitten again.
Life was good.
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