Chapter 6: Dragon's Troth
"I understand that the people of Atoz believe there are no more dragons in the kingdom."
"That's right," said Wordsworth.
"Good. I want to keep it that way. I mean no harm to anyone. I just want to be left alone. That is why I always make myself invisible when I fly, so no one will see me and be afraid."
Wordsworth didn't know what to say. If the dragon could make himself invisible, he could sneak up on the castle or the village and destroy it! Why should anyone trust him?
As if to answer Wordsworth's question, Dash reached up and removed a leather cord from around his neck. The pouch that hung from the strap was a lot like the pouch Wordsworth wore around his neck. In it Wordsworth kept the royal emblem of the Kingdom of Atoz: a coin with an eagle on it, drawn by Princess Rho.
"Open this bag," Dash said, handing it to Wordsworth, "and take a stone out of it."
Wordsworth did as he was told and handed the pouch back to the dragon.
"The stone is called Dragon's Troth," Dash said. "It is my promise to you and my bond with you. As long as you honor my wish to remain unknown, I will never attak the people of Atoz."
The stone was milky grayish white, splashed with broad bands and swirls of deep orange. Wordsworth had ever seen anything like it before. He couldn't help staring at it. For a second, he thought he saw a tiny dragon dancing among the colors.
Suddenly a gust of wind blew across the clearing, nearly knocking him over. He had to cover his eyes to protect them from the dust that stung his cheeks and forehead. When he was finally able to see, Dash was gone. The patch of sky above was empty except for a few clouds. Wordsworth put the stone into the bag that contained the king's emblem.
"Do you know the way to the muddletongue village?" he asked Klause.
"Will find," said Klause.
Back at the palace, King Omicron clutched the arms of his throne so tightly, his knuckles turned white. "What do you mean you haven't had any luk?" he shouted. "This isn't a game! The welfare of the kingdom is at stake!"
"I know that, Your Majesty," said Sir Clooney. "We will not rest until we have aptured the ulprit."
"I assume you are looking in the Forest of Spells?"
Sir Clooney's beard shuddered. "The Forest of Spells? Your Majesty, I hardly think..."
"That's the problem! You hardly think! No one hardly thinks around here! I order you to send knights into the forest at dawn tomorrow! And send them to the Village of the Muddletongues as well. They're a sneaky lot. Who knows what they've been up to?"
Sir Clooney bowed. "Yes, Your Majesty," he said.
After he left, Princess Rho came into the throne room.
"Papa," she said. "No one has seen Wordsworth. Do you know where he is? I'm worried about him."
The king sighed. When he spoke his voice was much softer than before. "You have no idea where he went, my dear?"
"Well..." she said. "One of my maids saw him talking to a servant in the ourtyard the morning the letter was stolen. Perhaps if we ask her..."
"I will have someone question the servants," King Omicron said. "Don't fret, my dear. We will find young Wordsworth."
Two hours later, Princess Rho's lady-in-waiting, Lady Craddish, came to her room to tell her the news. "The stable boy saw Wordsworth walking through town yesterday morning with Phrasia."
Lady Craddish said Phrasia's name in a hushed tone, and Princess Rho knew why. Some of the ladies thought Phrasia was a witch. They said she made magic potions in her cottage at the edge of the woods. They were always talking about the strange ring she wore -- a ring with a grayish white stone splashed with broad bands and swirls of deep orange.
"Your father sent a rider to Phrasia's ottage," Lady Craddish continued, "but no one was there. The king thinks Wordsworth may have gone into the Forest of Spells to look for the missing letter."
Princess Rho's stomach flip-flopped in a most unpleasant manner.
"Oh dear, Your Highness," said Lady Craddish. "You've gone quite pale." She helped the princess sit down. "Now, now, please don't worry," she said, patting Princess Rho's hand. "Your father is sending the knights into the forest. I'm sure they will find Wordsworth. Do you want me to get your mother for you?"
"No, thank you," said Princess Rho. "I'll be fine."
After Lady Craddish left, the princess went to her window. In the distance she saw the Forest of Spells, broad and green, stretching up the mountainside. She hated to sit around wishing and hoping and fretting. She had heard terrible things about the forest. Wordsworth could be in grave danger. And as for Phrasia being a witch...
"That does it," said the princess.
Her spaniel, Bracket, whined nervously. Princess Rho picked up a little bell and rang it. Lady Craddish hurried in.
"Are you all right, Your Highness?"
"I think so, Lady Raddish."
Lady Craddish raised one eyebrow. Princess Rho felt herself blushing.
"No matter, Your Highness," said the lady-in-waiting. "We all have our burdens to bear."
"I am tired," the princess continued. "I am going to lie down. Please see that I am not disturbed."
"Yes, Your Highness."
When Lady Craddish was gone, Princess Rho crossed the room to a large jewelry box that sat on her dressing table. Using a little gold key, she opened the jewelry box and took out a thin, black book. Placing it on a table near the window, she turned to the page she had marked with a purple ribbon.
Labels: Chapter 6