Time of the Dragon Slayers (part 4)
Colton winced as Natlie touched his face again with the warm cloth and pushed her hand away. “I’m sure it’s fine.”
She gave him a hard look. “It still looks bad.”
He glanced at the small mirror she brought out and shrugged. “That’s just how it’s going to be for a few weeks I think. Until it heals.” He stood and glanced towards the door. “I suppose I need to do the chores now.”
“I can do them if you want.”
He shook his head. “No, thanks. I’ll be fine.” He shuffled out of the house.
Natlie glances at Justin. “He isn’t acting right.”
“Most men don’t when they just had to fight for something that should that they always thought to be as consistent as the sun rising,” Justin said from in front of the fire.
She sighed and pulled out her knitting. “Still… I don’t like it.”
“We don’t ever like it when someone we care about is feeling down. That’s just a fact. And I suspect,” He leaned forward, “that you are more effected by others emotion than most people.”
She gave a wane smile. “Sometimes, I think, yes.”
Colton’s shout interrupted their conversation. Natlie flew out the door and up the hill to where he stood. Justin followed, although not as quickly. Colton pointed to the small points of fire amid the darkness. “Look.”
Natlie looked but only saw small specks of flame in the distance. Nothing to cause as great of alarm as she heard in Colton’s voice.
“It’s the crossbows,” Colton whispered.
Natlie gasped and blinked again. Although she could not see the details, she knew that he had to be right based on location and size. “Why?”
He shook his head slightly.
“So they do not have another riot again when the dragons return,” Justin said quietly.
Natlie glanced at him and swallowed. Colton muttered the whole way home about how the town seemed pretty much divided on the issue when it came down to the realization they needed to protect their own homes. Half of the men fought against the other half, one wanting to protect the dragon, the other wanting to protect their home. No one really knew what they wanted anymore.
Colton turned away. “Natlie, I don’t want you going into town again.”
He looked at her, his eyes filled with such determination she could even see it in the darkness. “If we go to town, we go to Alsworth.”
“Alsworth is ten miles away!”
Colton nodded slightly.
“You cannot logically expect us to travel ten miles away to get everything we need.”
“My decision will not be changed, Natlie. We will not go back to that town. It is no longer safe there.”
Natlie bit her lip and looked away. “You are being unreasonable and irrational.”
“Hardly. It is to protect us–protect you. You may finish whatever business you started there but do not start anything new.”
“How is this protecting me?”
“You can no longer defend yourself, even on the edges of town. What am I to do besides this?”
Natlie glanced at him.
He nodded slightly towards Justin. “Justin told me about you and Jorn. If that man does anything like that to you again, I–I am not quite sure what I will do to him, but it will not be pleasant.”
“It was nothing, Colton. Please don’t overreact.”
“No man shoves my sister to the ground like that.” He clenched his jaw abruptly and turned again. “I have chores.” He walked away, his head bent wearily.
Natlie wrapped her arms around herself and wearily sank to the ground. Birch, their dog, muzzled her for affection which she gave absently. Barely two miles away, the fires burned and she could do nothing about it. After having the crossbows as a sentinel and guardian of their land for her whole life, they would vanish in a few hours.
Justin lowered himself next to her but said nothing.
“I sometimes wonder if Colton wishes we could just move.”
Natlie looked at him and sighed. “We’ve lived here our whole lives and yet–it’s always a struggle. It’s been a struggle since before our parents died until now. He’s the oldest and he’s always been trying to protect us–protect me. But there’s only so much he can do when need to have some independence. We’re just so different.”
She smiled faintly. “How so? I… I like to do things myself. I like to run around in the woods. I like people. I like–I like so many things.” She paused. “And I hate housework.”
“You would have surprised me.”
“I only do it because the faster I get it done, the quicker I can do things that I want to do.”
He nodded slightly. “That makes logical sense.”
The farther fire flickered slightly, like it neared its end. “I–I survived my family because I lied, you know. My mother wanted me to help her bake the bread. I wanted to play in the woods. I lied and told her I needed to go out back. As soon as I knew she would stop watching, I took off running.” The first fire went out. “Colton was the one leading the herd, so when the fire caught up with everyone else, he just took off running. We only survived because we were lucky.
“But someday we won’t be. I know that, just as well as he does. We just don’t talk about it. We can’t–not without losing heart.” She looked at him. Justin watched her so intently she felt like he could see right through her, see everything she ever thought and felt.
“What do you want, Natlie?”
She paused. “What I already told you. I want to live in peace. I don’t know–I don’t think I care if it is here or somewhere else. But I can never tell Colton that.”
“This land has been in our family for over a hundred and fifty years. It’s like leaving behind a family heirloom. Moreover, it’s not worth anything. No one wants to live this close to the dragons, no matter how good the land is.” She glanced towards the fires again; The other one had begun to flicker as well, while the first one she could only see. “Not with those crossbows burning.”
Natlie looked towards the crossbows again and sighed. A drop of rain fell onto her face. She almost smiled. “It always rains after the dragons attack. Something about the smoke causes it to rain. I’m not sure why.” She looked at the sky. “It makes it seem bearable to move on again, when it is bad. Cleans everything.” Another wet, cold raindrop plopped onto her cheek.
Justin rose. “Should we go inside?”
Natlie rose as well. “Probably. Colton would hate it if I stayed out here in the rain.” She glanced one more time behind her as Justin led her down the hill, to see the southern crossbow sputter and die out as well. So much for the sentinels of Basham Heights.
(Comments welcomed, both good and bad. Next post coming Monday, March 22nd.)