Planet of Dragons

 

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-four:

Endings

 

John woke up in a large, very soft feather-type bed.  He had been dreaming of floating on hot clouds.  Very hot clouds.  Reaching down to throw off the heavy blanket that covered him, he realized that his hands were bandaged, and he looked at them in confusion, wondering what had happened.  Slowly remembrance came to him as he used his feet to push off the suffocating quilt.   Looking around, the professor saw that he was alone in one of the most ornate rooms he had ever seen.

Not alone!’ came the quick response and John turned his head to see Silverado sitting on a bed post, chirping indignantly at him.  The zanling’s wings were bandaged against his side, he noticed in alarm.   Better soon, Krishn’r said,’ came the response.   You too!’  Silverado hopped down from the bedpost and negotiated the bedding to reach his side.  John held out his hand and the little lizard hopped on his wrist and crawled up to his shoulder where he nuzzled under his ear.   

Sliding out of bed, John was amused to see that he had been dressed in a night shirt. Somehow it reminded him of Dr. Smith and he chuckled.  Then as more of his recent memories sorted themselves out, he thought of Maureen and wondered where she was.  Maureen is better,’ came Silverado’s thought. 

“Eavesdropper,” he muttered.  The zanling squeaked brightly, totally unrepentant.  And then John laughed.  Outside the sun was shining brightly.  Maureen was better and the nightmare that had begun more than two weeks ago was presumably over.  Perhaps life was going to convert to a bit of normalcy.  He walked around the room tentatively at first, his left leg a bit stiff and sore from the wound he had sustained.  Within a few minutes he had worked out the stiffness.  Then a knock at the door interrupted his reverie.  “Come in,” he answered and was surprised when he saw Dar and King Reezel enter. 

“Do you feel better, Guardian?”  the king asked. 

“Yes, I do, but I’m eager to see my beloved.  Where is she?”

“She awakened late yesterday and is much improved,” Dar told him, an amused look on his face. 

John looked down and remembered his state of dress.  “You know, if someone could help me, I would prefer to be in pants and a shirt.”  Silverado warbled happily from his shoulder. 

Another knock at the door and Maureen entered.  Although she still looked a bit wan, to John she was as beautiful as an angel.  Rushing into his arms, she hugged him tight, murmuring expressions of love.  In his happiness, he enveloped her in his arms and smothered her with kisses.  “Maureen, you are certainly a sight for sore eyes.  Don’t ever leave me,” he murmured softly.  Then he looked up and saw the two Krimlon smiling happily.  “Your Highness, I would really appreciate a little privacy...,” he said.  Silverado squeaked joyfully.  “You, too,” he added.  The lizard stared at him and then hopped onto Dar’s outstretched arm. 

When they had left, Maureen looked at John’s bandaged hands.  “Oh, John, I’m so sorry.  Do they hurt?” 

Laughing, he led her to the bed, where they sat down.  “Mo, you’re talking to the man who’s dressed like Dr. Smith.  How can you be serious?” 

She looked him over and began giggling. “I’ll get you a pair of pants and a shirt, dear,” she finally said. 

“Not right now,” he murmured and began kissing her tenderly.  “I was so afraid that I had lost you, Maureen,” he added softly.  “I was so scared.”

“Oh, John, the last thing I remembered was hearing you calling to me.  Then I felt the lizards and the children,” she said.  “I was scared, too. That device was horrible.”

Some time later, a knock interrupted their interlude.  “Guardian, I have come to check your injuries.”  John sighed and bid the doctor enter. 

A Krimlon entered, and without saying more than three words, he began unwrapping the bandages from John’s left hand.  The professor saw where the device had burned the palm of his hand, but also noticed that it appeared to be minor and had almost healed.  When the doctor touched his hand, there was no pain, only a bit of tenderness, and it was not re-bandaged.  The right hand was more deeply burned, and after applying a cooling salve, the doctor re-bandaged it.  Within a short time, the physician had finished and the couple was once again left alone.

Five minutes later another knock came on their door.  “Guardian, the King and his successor request your presence in the audience chamber.  He also requests the presence of your beloved, as well.”

John almost called out his opinion of seeing anyone else at this time, but Maureen laid her hand on his arm.  “Dear heart, I have been told that we were unconscious for almost three days.  I guess we should see what everybody wants.”  

“Yes, I suppose so,” he acquiesced humorlessly.  After John had put on a comfortably lightweight shirt, Maureen helped him button it, and then she helped him with the rest of his clothes.  Soon the pair was ready to leave and finding a servant, made their way to audience chamber.  They found it to be immense, presumably capable of holding great numbers of people when the king was holding court.

“Ahh, Guardian, thrice welcome.  And are you more comfortable?”  Reezel asked. 

John noticed that Dar was out of his soldier’s uniform and was dressed in very costly apparel.  “Yes, I am much more comfortable, and I appreciate the care we have received during the time of our convalescence, your Highness.”  Turning to Dar, he said, “Congratulations, my friend on your promotion.”

“How did you know?”  Dar said, looking surprised.  Then a look of understanding passed across his face.

“Dar, I didn’t need telepathy to tell me of your promotion, just as I didn’t need it to tell me that your beloved is a so-called deviant and that was why she was allowed to unite with a palace guard,” John explained to his surprised friend.

“Guardian, you are very astute,” King Reezel said with a chuckle. “I thought I was punishing my daughter as well as protecting her. Yes, it was noticed that Moorelitha, my only living daughter, had prophetic sight, telling of things to come in the future, but I could not bear for her to be totally exiled, much less put to death.  So when she and Arandar fell in love, I allowed it, as a token of my displeasure.  And I sent them to the provincial capital and ordered, may the One Whole forgive me, her sterilization.”  The king paused for a moment.  “I didn’t realize until the slaughter of the zanlings at the gate where that deviant trait came from.   When I so clearly heard and felt the death throes of the zanlings, I knew that I had the abomination as well.”

“Your highness, the sterilization only occurred on paper.  I would not allow the princess to be degraded in that matter and resorted to bribery and subterfuge to keep anyone from knowing.  We have been... careful,” Dar admitted. 

Reezel cried out in surprise.  “You cannot imagine what joy that has brought me.  Thank you, Prince Arandar, for your courage and foresight.”

Silverado chirped happily from his shoulder, while John absently stroked the lizard’s head.  A servant announced the arrival of a delegation from the Greel Mountains, and he was glad to see Murreena and Murwon amongst that group as well as Krishn’r.  Several small zanlings circled and danced above them in the vaulted ceiling, chirping happily.  Maggie quickly joined them, while Silverado sat on John’s shoulder and serenaded them with happy squeaks. 

The zanlings are finally home where they belong,’ Krishn’r announced happily.  That announcement caused the silver lizard to stop his joyful expressions and stare balefully at the kreeling.

“Then you are saying that the zanlings will remain on Krimlon?  What if they wish to return to Karturm?  Or with us?”  John saw the other eight lizards join the group already pirouetting in the air and felt the presence of the rest of his family nearby.

This is the homeland.  The zanlings belong here, and the future king of the zanlings must begin his training,’ Krishn’r explained. 

No, not here.  Stay with friends!’  Silverado broadcast so strongly that John almost felt overwhelmed by his friend’s emotion.  The other lizards flew down and watched them all curiously. 

“Krishn’r, why does the future king of the zanlings have to stay here to train?  Silverado has bonded, been loyal, saved my life several times, as well as saving my family and the entire human race, and he is growing and maturing.  And all of these things happened before we ever arrived here.”  John paused and gathered his thoughts for a moment.  “I believe that Silverado will know when he needs to return to fulfill his destiny.  Perhaps we should let him have a say in his training, Krishn’r, especially since there are no more ancients to oversee the training, only caretakers.”

You have surmised correctly, Guardian.  The kreeling were simply caretakers; nannies, I believe is the closest term in your language,’ Krishn’r said, a bit of melancholy in his voice.  And I seem to be the only one left.’

“And Krishn’r, why are we concentrating on zanling kings and Krimlon kings?  There are not many, but there are zanlings who are not bonded.  Whatever happened in the past, it seems quite obvious that the zanlings benefit from bonding with other life forms.  You can see that there are great differences in the development of the ‘wild’ zanlings and those with whom we have bonded. Why not let the zanlings that are left and the Krimlon bond as we have?  What better way for a reconciliation and what better way to get rid of the ingrained phobias against ‘abominations?’ ”

Yes, yes, yes!’ their lizards chorused. 

“And Krishn’r, why consider yourself just a caretaker?  You are the only one here who knows anything about the ancient ones.  You could be a teacher to the zanlings and the Krimlon, that is if King Reezel and Prince Arandar do not object,” John added, looking toward the two Krimlon. 

“I agree,” Dar stated.  “I, for one, would like to know more of the history of this planet, and not just my people’s history.”  John smiled at his friend.  If his deductions were correct, there was much about Krimlon history that would surprise Dar, especially the part about the Krimlon colonization of this planet.

Reezel looked at John in astonishment and then at Dar.  “I’m sorry Guardian, but there is no one who can convince me that you are not the Guardian of prophecy, least of all yourself.  That kind of learning and bonding would surely bring about a reconciliation and an end to the dark age of intolerance that has plagued our world.”

Maureen held his arm tightly.  Way to go, Guardian,’ she thought happily.  The flutter-dragons sent joyful thoughts, and their music echoed through the vaulted room.

“I propose that we declare a holiday of reconciliation,” King Reezel announced.  “Let it begin in four days and last four days.  Will you and your family stay for that, Guardian?”

“Of course, your Highness,” John replied brightly. 

The king nodded.  “But now I think your family wants time for a reunion.”  John looked at him gratefully.  “This audience is at an end for today.  Tonight we have a feast in honor of the reuniting of your family as well as of mine.”

John suddenly found himself overwhelmed by his children, and his heart was filled with gratitude for this joyful ending to a very bleak beginning. 

 

                                     ============================

 

Sitting in the rocking chair with his three-month-old grandson, John sighed, deeply content.  It was the evening of Christmas Day.  It had been celebrated in conjunction with the Krimlon Holiday of Reconciliation, and some of his family’s Christmas customs had been incorporated into the new holiday.  A small conifer was brightly blinking on the observation deck, which matched the large one that had been set up in the plaza in front of the palace. 

He would have preferred a quiet celebration, but bowed to the wishes of his Krimlon hosts.  Endless feasts had made him almost forget the hard days of his confinement, and he thought wryly that he would have to make an appointment with the newly restored Max.  John was still amazed at the resourcefulness of the Robot in finding the parts needed to do that job.

Looking back down at the book in his left hand, he continued reading.  Silverado was sitting on his shoulder looking at the drawings, his golden eyes glowing.  Mark’s flutter-dragon was cheeping softly from his other shoulder, alternately looking at the baby and the book. 

“ ‘Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store.

‘Maybe Christmas....perhaps....means a little bit more!’ ”  John paused and looked down at the gurgling baby.   Yes, life had been very hard these past four years, but his heart was full of gratitude nevertheless. “Yes, Mark, it does mean a little bit more.  It means love and joy,” he said softly, leaning down and kissing his grandson on the forehead.  “My grandson, no matter where you are under these marvelous stars, may you always know that love and joy.” 

  

The End

 

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