Feathers and Stones

© By The Story Lover

A Story Set in The Dragon Earl Universe

Preface and dedication: This is a new story in The Dragon Earl Universe that may or may not interact with the other existing stories. This story is a Fantasy it will have Dragons and Elves and sundry other Fantasy Races. It is also being written as a tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey two of my favorite Fantasy Authors. This story is dedicated to August Christopher as a continuation of his legacy.

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Author's Note: This story continues the adventures of Jarli and Duugie that began in Dragon Earl Chapters Ten and Eleven.

Chapter One

From Chapter Eleven of Dragon Earl:

"What are the Falconeid, and how many of them are there?" a curious Jarli responded, in between bites of the fruit that Duugie had given him.

Duugie spent the next several hours explaining all about himself and his people, while at the same time feeding Jarli. While Jarli was eating some of the fruit, Duugie softened some of the trail bread he had brought in water and spread some of the sleeping draught on it.

"Jarli, you need to eat this, and then get some more sleep. When you wake up, we can talk more about how we are going to get you healed and home."

Jarli took the bread and dutifully began chewing it. As the piece was small, he finished it quickly. He then began to ask Duugie a question, but only got as far as opening his mouth before sleep began to overtake him. Duugie quickly caught him and slowly lowered him down on the bed.

Now on with the story:

 Duugie kept a close eye on Jarli for a few minutes, making sure that he was sleeping easily. Once he was sure that his new friend and patient was deep asleep, Duugie carefully removed the bandage that was wrapped around Jarli's head wound. Of course it would have been a lot easier if Jarli had been sitting up, but Duugie wasn't sure how Jarli would react to a Birdman taking care of his wounds. When he saw that the bleeding had stopped and that the wound hadn't festered or worse Duugie let out the breath he had been unconsciously holding in. Carefully laying his patients head back down, Duugie then poured some water into a bowl and added some of the special wound cleaning medicine to it. Dipping a clean soft cloth into the resulting liquid, he carefully lifted Jarli's head with his other hand. Once that was accomplished, he then began cleaning the wound in preparation for it being re-bandaged.

Once he had finished bandaging his patient's head, Duugie fixed something for himself to eat and drink. He then sat down and tried to figure out what to do next, 'I need to get back home very soon before I get thrown out of the Falconeid Royal Messengers. Also my friends and family will begin to worry about me.'

His thoughts were interrupted by a slight noise from his patient. He got up and walked over to check on Jarli. When he got to the bed everything looked fine, he did notice that his patient had rolled over on his side. 'That would account for the sigh', he thought.

He headed back over to his chair to begin planning his next actions. 'I guess the first thing I need to do is ask Jarli where his village is. Once I find that out I guess we can then figure out which is closer, his village or mine. Of course, the Royal Falconeid Emergency Cache was close which might mean Duugie's village would be the better choice. But first things first, I am hungry'. Duugie then set about taking care of that minor problem.

Duugie sliced a small loaf of the trail bread into two and then he spread it with some of the fruit and nut conserves he had brought with him. Once he had accomplished that he placed the slices on the window ledge to allow the heat of the sun to soften the bread slightly. While he was waiting for his bread, there was cheese to slice and nuts and fruits to eat.

When he had finished his meal Duugie realized that he needed more water and that he needed to empty and clean the 'Honey Pot,' once he had finished those chores he sat sown and started making up a list of supplies to replenish his home away from home.

He had just finalized his list when Jarli began to stir. He got up and headed over to his patient just as Jarli's eyes began to open.

"Byrð.....nö Ðuugye"

"Actually Jarli you are right on both accounts; which I am sure you will remember, once you are fully awake." Duugie responded to his slightly disoriented patient.

Duugie then gave Jarli a few sips of the spring water that he had just brought in.

"Thank you, Duugie, that helped a lot and yes you are right my village would call you a Birdman!"

"How are you feeling, Jarli, does your head hurt?" A caring Duugie asked.

"I was just getting ready to ask you what you did to my head, as I only have a very dull ache there. Also there are no more spots in my eyes and I am not seeing multiples of you. So, altogether, I guess you could say I feel pretty good; all thanks to you." Jarli responded to Duugie with as big a smile as his injuries would permit.

"I am glad to hear that you are feeling better and especially that your head isn't hurting as much. That means that you didn't hit your head as hard as I was afraid you did. It also means that you will heal much faster, which is a good and bad thing." Duugie paused for a second to gather his thoughts.

"Why would my healing faster be a bad thing?" A perplexed Jarli asked.

"Well uhhhhhhh.........uhh." Duugie mumbled until he took another drink of the spring water while he tried to corral his wandering thoughts.

"It's sorta like this, the sooner you are better the sooner you will want to go home and I would really like to get to know you better. You are different to talk to than my other friends. You don't mind me calling you my friend, do you?" The words tumbled so rapidly out of Duugie's mouth that it was a miracle Jarli understood any of what Duugie was trying to say.

"You honour me by calling me friend, but what do you mean I will want to go home? You don't understand why I was out wandering around the mountains, do you? Of course you don't; I haven't had time to tell you that yet..." Anything else Jarli was going to say was wiped out by the huge yawn that overtook him; followed by the closing eyes and sagging head.

Duugie was just able to catch him in time and slowly placed his new friend carefully back down on the bed to sleep. He then began pacing back and forth in his small quarters, trying to figure out what to do next. His R&R was almost over and the next week he was supposed to be attached to the King at the Royal Castle.

While Duugie was busy trying to figure out what to do, Jarli was dreaming. He was dreaming of the big bird he had seen flying around the peak from his hamlet of R¡cola. Suddenly all the synapses in his slightly battered brain fired off at once. All of the pieces of the puzzle came together in front of his mind's eye. As he put the pieces together he began smiling in his sleep. 'It wasn't a big bird he saw circling the peak, it had to be his new friend, Duugie. Suddenly all of the warnings that he had pushed to the back of his mind made sense now; for if what he had seen really was a bird, it would have been huge and probably dangerous to approach.' Once he had finally put those worries to rest, Jarli gave a sigh of relief in his sleep.

Hearing a slight noise from his patient, Duugie stopped his pacing and looked over toward his new friend. He was confused by the smile and the look of absolute peace and contentment that had appeared on his new friend's face.

Jarli was no longer dreaming; his mind was still active as he was now trying to plan or at least figure out his future. All he knew for certain was that his life from now on was going to revolve around his new friend, Duugie, and that was that. How that was going to be accomplished would be left for the future to resolve.

If Duugie had known the reason for the smile and look of contentment he would have been shocked. For although he might have similar thoughts of his own, he also was far more aware of the realities of the situation. His life for the foreseeable future was tied to the Royal Falconeid Messengers and wasn't his own. That wasn't to say that he didn't have time for himself, he did, but not a lot and he could never plan far ahead. It wasn't only that the King had been using him as his messenger of choice lately, it was also the fact that the King had found out he knew several languages; besides he could read and write them as well as speak them. Unbeknownst to Duugie, the King in consultation with some of his most trusted advisers had decided to bring Duugie to the castle to make better use of his knowledge.

'Sitting around on his rear end and twiddling his thumbs wasn't going to get the cake baked.' Thought Duugie, so he decided to get busy.

Quickly grabbing some parchment and a quill pen and ink pot he began making plans and adding to the list of supplies that he needed for this cave and his home cave. Of course then he realized he just might have to double the supplies for home. That brought up another problem, what can and does Jarli eat? Deciding that would just have to wait until he and Jarli could have a good long conversation. Of course, that conversation would depend on just how good a command of ™lde F”lche Jarli really had.

"Oh well, back to planning." Duugie muttered softly; if he had been paying attention to Jarli he would have seen a bigger smile cross his face at the sound of Duugie's voice.

'Now, how do I get Jarli all the way home to my village and how do I explain him to the guards? Well, I guess I all can do is tell them exactly what happened and then rely on my Royal Messenger status. I know, I will tell them I am taking Jarli to the King.' After those thoughts, he was back to writing out his plans.

Several hours later a slight groan from his friend/patient woke Duugie up from an unplanned nap. 'Is he my patient or is he my friend, maybe he is both.' That thought brought a smile to his face as he got up from the table and headed toward the bed.

He quickly reached the bed and then stood there in a quandary, for Jarli was still sound asleep and not moving. However, there was a slight grimace on his face and upon seeing that, he reached over to gently touch Jarli's forehead. Feeling no temperature Duugie then gingerly placed both hands on the sides of his patient's head. Suddenly a burst of thoughts and languages overwhelmed Duugie and nearly caused unconsciousness. Quickly removing his hands he staggered back to the table and sat down in the chair. Well, actually, he fell into the chair and had to grab on to the table to steady himself.

Taking several deep calming breaths and slowly sipping water from the pitcher; Duugie gradually began to regain his sanity.

'What just happened? Did I really read his thoughts and learn his language and others? I guess so, as I can see everything that has happened to him for the last couple of days and his thoughts make sense to me. But how? How and why did this happen? Did it work both ways? I guess I won't find out till he wakes up.' Duugie's mind was in turmoil over what he had just experienced. However, his messenger training took over and his mind regained its normal calm and analytical nature.

A few moments later a rustling sound and a quiet sigh got Duugie's attention. Looking over to the bed he saw that his patient was beginning to stir; still slightly asleep Jarli mumbled in his language.

"Got to go bad now!"

Without a thought Duugie replied in the same tongue.

"I will show you where to go and then we can eat some more, and hopefully talk."

His only answer was a sleepy "mumpf" as Jarli got out of bed and followed Duugie to the alcove where the 'Honey Pot' was situated.

"I will be outside to give you some privacy, let me know when you are finished." Duugie replied to his now blushing friend.

Once Jarli had completed his business he headed toward where he had last seen Duugie heading. Surprisingly he was able to walk without any dizziness or vertigo and his head felt much, much better. Once he had reached the doorway he froze at the wondrous scene he saw before him.

Waterfall

 Duugie caught some motion out of the corner of his eye and he saw his new friend staring out the wonderful view that caused him to choose this place for his private R&R place.

"It is beautiful, isn't it? Now you know why I come here as often as I can." Duugie said to Jarli in Jarli's own language without thinking.

Without batting an eye Jarli replied in the same, as if he and Duugie had been speaking to each other for many, many years.

"Yes it is, and if I lived here I would never want to leave." Jarli's gaze never wavered, even when Duugie walked over and stood next to him.

"I agree with you, which is why I come here as often as I can. We should go inside and talk about where we go from here and why I can suddenly speak your language."

Duugie's words just about gave Jarli a heart attack; as he had just realized that Duugie was speaking Ricolan to him and very fluent Ricolan, at that.

"Ahh yeah that sounds like a good idea," Jarli barely squeaked out in shock.

The next several hours and most of the next day were spent getting to know each other better. They also found out that the language transfer did go both ways as Jarli could now speak fairly fluent Falconeid. He did have a few problems as Falconeid vocal cords were a bit different. He couldn't quite reach all of the high notes required to speak High or Court Falconeid correctly. He did quite well with the common variation. They found it fairly funny that the Falconeids didn't speak mind to mind very often, although that was how they spoke to the War Eagles at court.

They spent a wonderful night cuddled together in Duugie's surprisingly large bed. Neither of them bothered to change into any night clothing, especially since Jarli didn't have any. They both slept as Draconis had birthed them, and for some strange reason it didn't bother either one of them.

After spending the morning learning more about each other, Duugie explained how they were going to get to his home. After some discussion about flying and thermals and strong winds, it was decided to wait a few hours for the strongest thermals.

"Duugie, I want to thank you for giving me the choice of either looking out and around or facing your chest. For some reason I trust you implicitly, and besides, I really want to see the same view that you do. Or at least as much as my eyes will let me. Besides I can help you keep a lookout and landing will be much easier if I can see where to put my feet." Jarli, told his new friend in Duugie's own language, as they had decided that he needed practice before they arrived at Duugie's village.

Once Duugie had explained to Jarli how they were going to travel to his home; they were both very glad to find out that Jarli had no fear of heights. Hopefully it wouldn't take too long to get there. They were hoping for only three or four hops unless they could catch a very strong and very tall thermal. A good strong tailwind wouldn't hurt either.

"Let's get busy and get everything cleaned up and packed away, as it is getting close to the time you wanted to leave." Giving his new friend a hug he then proceeded to do just that.

The two of them made short work of the chores and then they started getting into the flying harnesses. It was far less work with a cooperative and awake passenger for Duugie this time. In just a few minutes, they were ready to begin their great new adventure.

Draconis was surely smiling down upon the two friends as the first thermal they caught allowed them to fly directly to the Royal Falconeid Messengers Emergency Cache, with very little effort from Duugie. After a quick snack and a small drink of water our intrepid fliers were off again. They had planned to make the rest of the way in a minimum of two hops as Duugie didn't want to chance it in just one. However, Draconis had other ideas and they glided from one thermal to another and then another. The final thermal was so strong and took them up so high that they actually had to spiral down to Duugie's village.

Jarli was having the time of his life; flying with his new friend, Duugie, was an exhilarating experience. He kept giving thanks to Draconis for his propitious fall through the hole in the cave wall. Although he wouldn't wish his injuries on anyone or go through them again himself. The outcome of that accident was well worth any minor injuries. He was seeing and experiencing things that no one from his hamlet of Ricola had ever experienced or probably even dreamed of.

He did have to admit that the new perspective of looking down from great heights instead of looking up at them did take a bit of getting used to. However, once he had adjusted, everything after that was wonderful. The only thing missing was a way to communicate his joy to his friend. They would have to fix that and fix that soon; as he never wanted to give up flying!

As they neared the village, Guards, actually on the ball for a change, took off and tried to challenge the two. However, they had planned for just that occurrence and Jarli just held out Duugie's Royal Falconeid Messenger Medallion. Seeing that, the four guards decided to play escort until they landed. The landing was flawless and would have made anyone proud.

The guards landed shortly thereafter in a bit of a tumble. They immediately advanced toward Duugie and Jarli as they were unfastening their harnesses. The guards were yelling and screaming as they ran. Something about "outsiders" and "You finally did it".

Unfortunately for the idiotic guards, a Royal Messenger who had been waiting for Duugie arrived and began speaking.

"Messenger Duugie, his majesty the King requests your presence at the castle forthwith. He commands that you make all speed obeying his command. I, as well as a wing of the Royal Guard, will be escorting you. Now change into your uniform and get moving!"

It wasn't until he had finished speaking that he even noticed Jarli.

"Who's this?" The Messenger bellowed.

As planned, Jarli replied in his best High Falconeid, "I am the King's new interpreter!"

"Fine, then bring him, too and make it snappy!"

The four stooges went away muttering to themselves as they headed back to their posts.

They had barely made it back to their posts, or so it seemed, when Duugie and his new entourage took off to see the King.

'What does the King want with me?'

'What does the King want with Duugie?'

TBC

Author's Notes:

 Well, we now have another slice of Duugie and Jarli's life and it looks like it is going to be interesting. Now that is a dangerous phrase ;)

Now that that is completed for now, I am going to go back and try and work on Dragon Earl Twelve and see if I can get past the giant Brick Wall in my head.

Til we fly again,

TSL

Comments greatly appreciated at story@storylover.us


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