The Book of Drakara



He opens his eyes to find himself lying on a narrow cot in a small moonlit room. Jaral could see a rough-hewn wooden table with an unlit candle stub on it, and a chair beside it. They are the only furnishings he can see in the room. As he looks at the door, he realizes the outline is growing brighter, someone is coming. His instincts warn him to run, but his body feels weak and refuses to obey him. Jaral tries to remember where he is, how he got here, but all he can remember is the ambush just outside of a town and the knowing he needed to find an inn. He looks around swiftly realizing he must have made it to the inn.

The door quietly opens, revealing a young girl. She enters carrying a small candle and a large bundle of cloth. The girl couldn't be more than ten years old. Her hair is long and blonde, falling unbraided down her back as the customs for unwed girls. The girl's green eyes mirror his own in the dim candle light, in a face that would be as beautiful as her mother's once was. A flash of anger runs through him, seeing her working as a servant. Jaral idly wonders if she has her mother's temper. She jumps with a cry of fright as she realizes his eyes on her.

"Don't be frightened girl. I won't hurt you, I am sorry I scared you." his voice cracking and has a rusty sounding edge to it. "Where am I? What happened to me, do you know?"

She had recovered enough from her alarm, to light the candle on the table, laying the bundle of cloth on the floor, and shyly approach him. "You rented a room, came upstairs and collapsed from your wounds Master." She stands straighter and smiles proudly, "This is my parents in, The Falling Star Inn, in the town of Drakara." She looks at him through her long blonde lashes. "They say a star fell out of the sky many years ago, and that Draka the Great, made a sword out of it while it was still hot. Are you here to look for the sword? They say only the blood of Draka can use it!" She looks at him, her green eyes wide with excitement, seeming to forget her earlier shyness with him.

Jaral looks at her, his eyes taking in everything about her, he smiles sadly at her. “No girl, Jessara isn't it? I am not looking for the lost sword of Draka."

The girl jumps bending and grabbing the bundle of cloth as they hear the hallway creak and a soft knock on the door of the room, quickly placing it on the chair. An older woman enters, she is clearly the mother of the child, the resemblance is clear. "Jessara, leave the man alone with such prattle. You're too young to be talking about such things. Go girl, there is much work to be done." She says it roughly her eyes hard on him, but with obvious love for the girl. She turns fully to him as they hear Jessara's footsteps fade away down the hallway. "How are you feeling Jar? You've been ill almost a month. Are you hungry or thirsty?" She bustles around the small room, Jaral almost smiles, his mother used to do the same thing when she was worried about something.

"I am both Jess, what has happened since I left? Is my father still not acknowledging Jessara, or has he finally forgiven me?" He gives her his best wry smile, his green eyes following her movements.

"He has seen Jessara a few times, enough to prove to him she is your daughter in his mind I think, but we still haven't told her. You almost died Jar, I couldn't bear to tell her and then have her watch you dying . . . She doesn't know still who she is or even who you are." She looks at him and smiles, the same smile he remembered these last nine years. Jess is still one of the most beautiful women in the world as far as his heart and eyes were concerned. "She's a lot like her father, always getting into trouble and a temper to match."

"I am here now, when will you tell her Jess? It's not all bad being the daughter of a prince. She knew me before I left, why not now? Unless you've told her something else . . . " Jaral didn't need her answer, the look in her eyes said it all.

"Who is her father now Jess? She's my firstborn; our marriage was legal even if my father annulled it. She's the heir to the throne of Drakara, and she will rule after I am gone. You accepted that when I married you. "He says with a hint of anger and something else tainting his words as he grabs her passing wrist. His fingers unconsciously digging into her arm, he pulls her closer.

"I thought you were gone for good, even dead. Your father said that you agreed with him to annul the marriage and I needed someone to help look after Jessara." Her anger giving her voice a hard edge, as she yanks her wrist back from him and turning away. "I couldn't go to your father; he said our marriage didn't exist. No one knew what happened to you, many thought you had died. Dav the owner of a small inn took us in, and after you had been gone two years he asked me to be his goodwife, I agreed. He has been good to us. Jessara now has twin older brothers who are sixteen, a seven years old brother and a five year old brother." A flash of sadness seeps into her eyes. "Dav's first wife Alayna died giving birth to Aldav and Aldaric the twins. He needed a mother for his sons, and I love him. He is my husband now Jar. “The angry glint in her stormy grey eyes returns once more. Jessara was too young to really remember her father. What do you expect after nearly 10 years? You didn't even tell me you were leaving, I thought you were dead." her last words coming out as a snarl.

"Were they that cruel to you after I left, Jess? What has made you hate me? I had to leave; I might have killed my father if I hadn't." His strong features grow harsh as he remembers that night long ago, his green eyes almost blazing. "He told me that he would never acknowledge a brat from a peasant. To hear him talk about my daughter, his granddaughter, that way . . . Well I am not sixteen, to be ruled by my father any more." Gently he reaches out grasping her wrist again, drawing her closer to the bed. A scarred and callused hand softly strokes the inside of hers. "I know it is too late for us, but may be not for Jessara. Will you tell her if my father agrees?"

"I don't want her to rule, can't you see that Jar? Why can't she have a normal life? You can have more children, let her be mine!" She clings to his hand, her face almost desperate. "If you tell her, you will destroy her trust in me, you do not know what she has become Jaral . . .”

"Jess, I want to know my daughter. Jessara was never far from my mind. At least let me have this, I don't even know what my father will say?" She always knew how to wring a promise from him before, but this time she wouldn't, it was too important. He watches her bite her lip, an old habit he remembers from their time before, he gently reaches up pulling her lip out from between her teeth with a sad smile for her. “Jess, you said I have been ill almost a month?"

"Yes, you had rented a room, but collapsed not long after entering it. The healer had us move you to this smaller room to heal. Don't you remember anything? My heart nearly stopped . . . You were very angry when you found Jessara here . . .”

"No . . . I don't remember anything but being ambushed and finding the inn. I am sorry for whatever I might have said; the fever must have already hit me by then. Does my father have any idea I am here? Or does he feel that badly about me, that I am not fit for the palace anymore." His words are bitter, a statement more than a question.

"How could we tell him? His long lost son suddenly showing up after nearly ten years at his former wife's inn? Although he never did declare a period of mourning . . . Did he know you were alive?"

"Yes, Maykar has been giving me messages over the years. You remember Maykar, the leader of the palace guard?" At her nod he continues. “Can you send someone to him to tell him? He probably already has known all along that I am here. My father is probably waiting for me to come, begging his forgiveness. I'll never do that!"

"I'll send Aldaric, he has been training with the guard and has friends among them. You should rest now; I'll tell you when we hear something." Jess removes her hand from his grasp saying as she walks to the door, "I'll send for the new healer in town, she has been tending to you since you came . . . She came a few days after you actually. Her name is Kiyra and she is one of those Valkar. I hope you don't mind, I took the money from your pouch. For healer mage, she only charged for the herbs she needed for you it seems."

"Jess, I never meant to hurt you, I only knew I had to get away. I'm sorry . . ."