The ship’s horn blasts in the morning fog, waking bleary eyed passengers. The fog is dense, nearly impossible to traverse.
A crackling comes across the loudspeaker just before Tasha begins. “ Good morning folks. Sorry about the horns. We are within ten miles of our next stop Alba, in medieval times. There may be a bit of jarring during passage through the time portal, we ask that everyone stay inside their cabins until we have made port. The stewards will be making rounds this morning. Breakfast will be delivered to you; no meal will be served in our dining hall. It is imperative that you remain within your quarters until further notice. Thank you.”
Tasha hung up the intercom, and turned to her navigator. “Will we manage the portal in this soup?”
“Aye, we should be seeing the lighthouse at Gryphon’s Point soon.” Dalton stood at the ship’s wheel eyes straining through the thick fog. “According to the charts, this bay is a fjord, so we don’t have to worry about bottoming out on rocks. If I’ve got the right bay.” A strained frown creased his forehead, as he referenced his charts against the GPS readout.
Tasha turned, only slightly worried. They’d only taken the ship through the time portal a few times, and managed without incidence so far. This time was different though, setting a target for medieval Scotland. She examined the charts Dalton had laid out and watched the GPS display. They had to get this just right.
“Engines on half, slow to 4 knots. Starboard 6 degrees.”
Dalton carefully throttled back, turning the wheel precisely. The reverse of the engines caused the huge ship to lurch forward.
Tasha had hoped it would be smoother, she supposed an announcement was in order. She cleared her throat, taking the intercom. “We are nearing our port now, everyone remain calm and in your cabins. There may be some jarring motions as we ease into the bay. Bo’som report to navigation room.”
Dalton’s furrowed brow seemed deeper. He watched the coordinate readout, adjusting and reversing throttle until he was precisely on the exact coordinates, down to one thousandth of a degree. He glanced at Tasha. She nodded. He flipped the protective plexi-glass cover over the warp button. With a sharp intake of breath Dalton pressed it.
A ripple of compressed air seemed to pass over the ship accompanied by a wave of nausea. Tasha grabbed the edge of the table, steadying herself. Davis, the bo’som rounded the corner and lurched for the trash can vomiting.
Instantly the fog was cleared, the early morning dawn was hazy but the waters were calm. Dalton exhaled as he spotted the torches on the end of the pier dead ahead. “Aye, we’ve made it Cap’n.”
Slowly they glided over the calm waters right up the long pier that jutted out from what at a distance appeared to be a cliff face with a castle atop it. As they approached it was evident though that an entrance into the cave, and in fact parts of the castle were built into the cliff face leading up to the top level. It encompassed nearly 500 feet of vertical space to the top of the cliffs.
“Feel free to move about the ship. Our tour will begin in one hour.”
Tasha sighed, and patted Dalton’s arm. “That one had me a worried. I only hope the trip back is as uneventful.” As she left for her quarters with Davis, she handed him the itinerary and instructed him to make all arrangements.
“Yes ma’am.” Davis nodded in a half bow then hurried to the deck to make connections with the dragon lord. His biggest fear was dragons. When he accepted this job, he hadn’t planned on facing dragons. Ever since the last tour stop, he’d been ill just thinking of it. Were they real dragons? Were they just called dragon lords because of some accomplishment in martial arts or something? The gnawing at the pit of his stomach had only increased in the past twelve hours. He lowered the gang planks to the dock, where three enormous men, nearly giants to his 5’ 7” stature, waited with their arms crossed.
|Burg Hohenwerfen, Salzburg by Harikrishnan Tulsidas|
He bowed his head nodding, laid his hand on Merryk’s shoulder and spoke in dragon before turning and striding off through the cave entrance. “Make our guests feel welcomed.”
Davis worked with the two large men that towered over him in reviewing the itinerary, and making last minute changes. Sooner than he counted on the horn from the ship sounded, signaling departure for the tour to begin.
The group made their way down the pier to the landing at the base of the cliff just before the cave entrance. When everyone had been accounted for, Tasha made the announcements, introducing her tour guides. “Welcome to Alba, home of the green dragon sept, 1648.”
Gasps and murmur spread through the group. They’d seen so many startling things on this cruise of a lifetime, now to have traveled back in time. After everything else, it didn’t seem so fantastical!
“You’ve been to this land before, just not this particular spot or time. We are in what in modern times is known as Scotland. Farther north than Glasgow, closer to Iona. Our tour guides today are Merryk , the captain of the guard and Bran Fallon, brother to the Laird of the green Dragon sept.”
She handed off the loudspeaker to Bran. He looked at the strange thing then cleared his voice. By adding layering to his voice in dragon he was able to speak louder than if he’d used the megaphone. “Welcome to our land. Our first stop will be the castle proper. We can manage about twenty five humans, or two dragons on the lift at a time. Are there any dragons amongst you?”
Everyone turned looking at each other laughing, when a couple stepped forward. “We are of the blue sept.”
“Aye, welcome. What form do you wish to take? “ Bran looked between the two. “Ye’re always welcome to fly up and avoid the lift. I hate it myself.”
The woman looked about sheepishly. “I don’t like the caves, or small spaces, but where can we shift?”
Bran motioned to a large flat area that was used for landing. It was around the bend of stone. “There’s a little nook just on the other side, you may step there for privacy to change.”
The couple nodded and walked quickly around the corner. A sudden whoosh sounded as the woman’s wings unfurled along with a sigh of relief. Her mate wasn’t far behind her. In an instant they shot upward, circling over the group to the top of the cliff and landed. Meanwhile groups of twenty rode the lift, which was pulled up by two green dragon adolescents in dragon form. Just like in the bird kingdom, the males were magnificently colored. Once at the top it was a short distance to the doors that led out into the lists. It took ten trips to get everyone loaded and off loaded.
“Alright. You see the castle proper to my left. When we return here, you will be taken on a tour of the castle in smaller groups before convening in the great hall for our feast.”
The large group of about 150 people moved to the first stop, the lists where the men trained with swords. They skirted the edge of the field to the main gate at the front . As they approached a man within the tower raised the portico bars to allow them passage. Once through, the bars came down quickly.
They covered the lands, the nearby village, they traveled by wagons over the dusty roads to a grove and standing stones where they stopped. “This is where the entrance to the caves where the elder dragons go. Dragons who have lost their mates, and dragons who have passed are carried to the caves. It is forbidden for humans to enter, but the elders have agreed to sing the song of enchantment for our group. Merryk blew a long ram’s horn in several short bursts and one long low wailing sound that sent shivers up their spines. Within seconds the sound rose from below, an eerie trumpeting, combined with chanting. Five dragons rose, just over the edge of the cliff and circled out over the sea. AS they circled they sang their song.
It was the song of making, the song of creation, and the song of death and loss. It was eerie yet stimulating. The sound carried through the air, many of the tourists brought to tears even though they didn’t understand why. It only lasted a couple of minutes before their song ended and the dragons returned to the cave below.
“We’ve recently lost our elder dragon Ximon, we are still mourning his loss. You may have noted the extra sentiment in their song.”
The crowd loaded back onto the wagons in near silence.
The tour of the land covered the entire regions, to the edge of the cliffs, to the highlands dotted with sheep. The wagons wove their trail back to the castle where small groups were given tours within, and refreshments were served.
“If you’ll excuse me, I will leave you in Merryk’s hands. Shortly we will go to the fields for dragon training.”
Behind the castle, a large field extended for miles. The group was herded to the edge just behind the castle. The dragons were doing aerial maneuvers. A large red dragon barked out orders as smaller blue, green, and red dragons carried out her orders. She was larger than the rest. Soon a large green dragon was beside her.
Merryk cleared his throat, then spoke to the two larger dragons in their native language. “I’ve instructed them to demonstrate our latest maneuvers that were taught by Bran’s mate there, Chiang Lu, empress of the red dragons. Those two green dragons to the right” he pointed to the far end of the field “will stand in for black dragons, followers of Sir Eric, enemy to dragon kind.”
The dragons dove through the field grabbing straw dummies in their hands rolling with them, tucking them close to their chest as the green troops flew, surrounding them on all sides. Chiang Lu motioned, making a high pitched trumpeting sound, as two red dragons descended from a higher place above the clouds to force them down to the ground.
They demonstrated barrel rolls, sharp turns, reversing in mid air, sharp dives, and Chiang Lu and Bran even demonstrated a dragon kiss for them to which the crowd oohed and awed.
“The most vulnerable time for a dragon is the moment of change upon landing. We will not be demonstrating that today however in respect for the children amongst you. We must shed our human clothes before transforming and when changing back, we revert to human forms, nude. Now as that is not a problem for dragons, as most are pretty proud of their forms, it may be a bit embarrassing for you.”
The group retired to the great hall for the feast. Laird Zane was there to officiate the festivities. After the feast there was dancing and much drinking until the alarm sounded. Instant panic ensued. “Aye, I was afraid of that. Tasha, you must get your people on board your vessel . Eric’s troops have been spotted. These are dangerous times we live in here. The servant’s will assist you on the lift.”
Dragon’s rushed out the back of the hall shedding clothes as they fled, dropping them in a heap at the back entrance. Many launching themselves into midair and changing instantly.
The young couple that were blue dragons approached Laird Zane. “Please sir, it would be our greatest honor to serve with the great Lord Zanathrose.” They bowed to him. He glanced back and forth between them seeing their earnest desires.
“I’ve no time to babysit. Aye, ye can but at your own risk.”
They eagerly followed the other dragons into the air. Listening to Bran’s orders for instructions.
Davis stood on the stairs shaking, terrified of the dragons that filled the sky. A small black dragon swooped down grabbing Davis in his talons, bringing him close to his body, tucking under like a bird of prey. Davis’ screams could be heard to the bottom of the cliffs where the passengers loaded hurriedly.
Tasha encouraged them not to panic, reminding them that the medieval times were a dangerous times for humans and dragons. Soon everyone was on board, safely within their cabins except Davis.
Shrieks, blasts of fire, and trumpeting wails filled the skies. Black smoke rose in the background as different buildings burned.
Zane and Bran landed and rushed to the ship. “My apologies to you Ms. Tasha but you must get far from here. Your servant Davis is taken captive by Eric’s men. We will work to get him back and one of our mages will bring him to the future portal. But now you must leave. Hurry, before they follow you through the portal.”
Tasha instructed Dalton, and they were quickly away from the docks to the portal coordinates, pushing the button as a ripple shuddered through the ship causing it to creak and sway. Dalton turned to her.
“That was a little too close. We can’t risk our passengers like this again.”
Tasha sat, pondering what would become of Davis. “Agreed. They were magnificent, but agreed.” She turned the pin on her jacket, remembering her first meeting of Sir Collin, steward of the Fallon estates in modern times. “Agreed.” It came out as barely a whisper.
Who is Ellie Mack?
Ellie Mack lives in a small town near St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a BS in geography/cartography. She has worked for Department of Defense, county government, as a substitute teacher, and various other jobs. Her hobbies include reading, bicycling, playing Tombraider, and Dance games such as Dance Dance Revolution, and Zumba. Between being a mother to two teenage girls, a wife, homemaker, and a mortgage loan officer, Ellie writes paranormal romances.
Ellie’s erotica appears on http://storytimetrysts.blogspot.com/
Ellie’s blog can be found at: http://quotidiandose.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/passion-2/