Planet of Dragons
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.
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.
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
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
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
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?”
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
“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.
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.
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
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
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!’ 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
“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
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
flutter-dragon was cheeping softly from his other shoulder, alternately
looking at the baby and the book.
“ ‘Then the Grinch thought of something he
‘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.”