The Book of Drakara


The Past

The door closes softly behind her, Jaral knows he needs to get up and moving again. He looks at the bundle of cloth realizing it's his clothing cleaned and repaired, he grabs his shirt. He looks down at his much thinner body, thinking that the most he can do is simple walking. Jaral struggles upright, dizziness almost overcoming him, the tingling and blackness around the edges slowly fades. He finds himself soaked in sweat and exhausted just from the simple action of getting to his feet. A creaking, warns him that someone is coming again as he struggles into his shirt. The door opens again, this time to admit a lightly built, red haired woman. She is dressed in her healer’s clothes, tunic and breaches of a deep emerald green, a golden tree over a red sun on her cloak. The healers badge is prominently displayed, in this town a person could get killed for saying the wrong thing, but no man would harm a healer willingly.

"Don't put it on for me, I like it better off. I see you're up to your usual; you have to take it slow. Someone almost got you this time. Do you have any idea who it was?" She says with her silken voice as she stretches and holding her hands over the top of his head. “Did you have to be so tall? I'll help you get going, if you need to leave in a hurry Jar."

"No, I am not leaving here. I have to go see my father; can you help me with that?" He straightens as her healing energies fill his body taking the weakness from him.

"Yah, I guess so. Why must you see him now, surely a few days of bed rest and a few good meals would make it easier? I thought you left on bad terms. Who is your father anyway Jar?" She steps back, her brown eyes curious.

"There's a lot of things you don't know about me, things I should have told you years ago . . . You know I am Drakian right?

"Yah, so what? I don't think it's a crime yet."

"Well my name isn't Jaral Duran, it's Jaral de Draka, from the house of Draka. The King is my father. Have you met Jessara?" The gleam in her eyes and her posture as she nods, tells him he is in serious trouble. Nothing made her more angry than being lied to, he knows it will take a long time for her to forgive him now, if ever.

"Look, I'm sorry, but I couldn't have gone and announced who I was to the world. I would have been dead the first week. I know, I should have told you years ago, but the time never seemed right." He felt tired, he had said sorry to both the women he had loved today. It feels like he is on the end of a losing battle and it wasn't going to get any easier. Jaral knows the worst is yet to come; he still must face his father. If what Maykar said is true, his father didn't have much longer to live and he had little time to make peace with him if he can. Jaral sighs softly to himself, if only he had been more alert, he would have seen the ambush before it was too late.

"I had to get away from my father because of Jessara. I was married to Jess for almost two years, but my father wanted to arrange a political marriage. I had to tell him, and it didn't go over well. I hit him over some words that were said and left. Swearing I'd never return until he accepted Jessara. You must have known about how children are named here, the first part is their mother's name; the second names the father . . . “He grabs her hands into his, a catch creeping into his voice. “Maykar sent me a message several months ago, my father is dying Kiyra, my brother the heir has died also. He hasn't much longer to live; I must talk to him before it's too late. I still remember the way he was before my mother died. Will you help me please? Come see him? I know it's asking a lot"

"You and I are going to have a long talk about this later Jaral de Draka." Kiyra closes her eyes briefly, pulling her hands away from his, stretching them near his bare chest.

He winces at her use of his full name and the look the dark brown eyes give him, making him wish he was in his father's dungeon rather than under her gaze, on the rack maybe . . . He shudders feeling the energy cascading into him, making him feel like he could run forever.

"Kiyra, would you like to meet my father? Maybe you can do something for him?"

"I'm sure all the best healers in the kingdom have already seen him Jar. Besides, I have this thing about people who can cut off your head on a whim; I'm rather attached to mine. You'll be alright for a couple of hours, and then it'll hit you. Make sure you're back by then, ok? "She smiles up at him, leaning her body close kissing him briefly on the lips.

"Really Kiyra when did you become such a worrywart? I'm going home, not to the dungeon. Don't worry, I am the only prince, my brother is dead. My father knows the next in line after me is Jessara, and that's the last thing he wants. Our male line is unbroken since Draka the Great, for over two centuries. My father will not seek any harm to me until I have a son."

"If you say so, I'm not the one who hit a king, even if it's my father." She shrugs one shoulder at him, pulling her body away and becoming pure healer again. "Now before you go, I want you to eat some soup at the least. You may feel great now, but in a few hours you will be as weak as a newborn calf. You lost more than twenty pounds Jar, that's not healthy; it's hard on your system." She gives him one of her speculative looks, like when she was looking over a horse to buy, that look usually made the seller nervous and him not feel any better. He pulls up his breaches, fixing a tunic over his shirt, and attaching his wide sword belt loosely over his shrunken waist.

A soft knock comes from the door and it opens to allow Jessara to enter carrying a cloth covered tray. The smells of fresh bread and beef soup filling the room. Jaral's mouth begins to water, he wonders when the last decent meal he ate was, not the hard tack of the road. Jaral watches Kiyra out of the corner of his eye as he begins to eat the bread by dipping it into the soup, she seems to be studying Jessara, then looking back at him again. The girl's face seems flushed and her green eyes clouded. He can see she had been weeping; his heart thumps painfully in his chest for his daughter.

"Jessara, is there something wrong?" Jaral asks unsure he even should. "Is there something I can do for you? I mean like . . . “He stumbles at the loss for words, feeling he's walking over an edge of an unseen cliff.

"I heard my mother and father talking about you."

A sharp glace from Kiyra alerts him, she hears the pause also before father.

"Aldaric and Aldav say they know a secret, but they all go quiet when I'm around . . . " The green eyes focus on him, making him feel like she is staring into his soul. “Who are you? Why did my mother cry when she saw you?"

Jaral stares at her, his thoughts freezing at her questions, his heart wrenching painfully again. He wants to tell her the truth, to hold her again as he had when she was a baby, and comfort her. "Uh . . . Jessara, I'm an old friend of your mother's. My name is Jaral, I used to live here a long time ago, before you mother married your father." He looks at Kiyra, hoping Jessara would leave it at that sees her shrug slightly at him.

"You're lying to me too! I know Dav isn't my father, I don't even look like him or my brothers. You know something I can feel it." Her eyes fill with tears, falling down her face unheeded.

Jaral reaches for her, pulling his hand back quickly at a cough and shake of her head from Kiyra.

"What do you mean Jessara?" Kiyra asks gently as she gives him another sharp look.

"Aldaric says I am a reader, I can tell when people are lying or hiding things from me, and he is! I want to know the truth; I'm old enough to choose what I want to do with my life. Who is my father?"

Jaral gently reaches out grasping her shoulder. "Jessara, why would you think I would know anything about your father? I haven't been here in almost 10 years . . . “He feels his stomach clench as her face crumples into more angry tears, her body shaking under his hand. What could he do? If he lied to her now, she would know it if she was a reader. She would never trust him again.

He sighs heavily; this is not the way he wanted to meet his daughter again after all these years. "Why don't you ask your mother? I'm sure if you tell her how you feel, she'll answer your questions. I can see you are old enough to be apprenticed, I remember being that age, trying to choose what I would be for the rest of my life . . . I'm sorry, but right now I have gone see someone." He winces inwardly, he never had to choose what he would be, but trying to placate her is the only thing he can do for now. "I will talk to you later, okay Jessara?"

"Why must everyone treat me like I am stupid?! Everyone has been acting weird since you came, I'm old enough to choose, and I’m old enough to know!"

He sighs covering his face with one had as she spins on her heels and leaves his room with a howl of frustration and the slamming of the door. He groans knowing her mother wouldn't be long in coming up to yell at him. Jaral quickly stomps his feet into his boots, heading to the door as swiftly as he can, grabbing his cloak.

"You handled that well Jaral" Kiyra gives him a quelling look, he brown eyes flashing as she leaves following the girl out.

"My father's dungeon isn't all that bad . . .” He mutters to himself as he pulls his cloak over his head and edging towards the back stairs, hoping to avoid her mother.

Jaral's boots make little noise as his shoulders rub against the stairs narrow walls. The stairs leading from the third floor to the inns kitchen on the ground floor are small and narrow, making it difficult for a large man such as him to move rapidly and quietly. He hunches his shoulders half cringing as he hears steps in the hall he just left above, sure that they are Jess looking to tear a strip out of his back for upsetting their daughter.


He winces taking the steps faster, wondering if breaking his neck on the stairs would spare him her wrath, realizing it would only make him an easier target if he lived.