He that hath knowledge spareth his words
Inanna used the tip of one lethal toenail to very gently turn the fallen woman on her back. The woman lay face down in the rocky soil on top of the bluff overlooking the cave complex below. She moaned and then coughed and pushed herself up slowly. Inanna snuffled the air above her, making sure of her identity.
“What I truly want to know is just where it is you wish to go?” The dragon’s voice vibrated in her ears. “You must know what I, too, know; your wound will make your travel slow.”
Andrea sighed and looked up into the green eye of the beast, too tired to make an immediate response.
“The troops stand ready, the lines are drawn. The battle commences ere the dawn. And you are far from your brave Knight who hurries forth into the fight to look for his love, I have no doubt, the one he will not live without.”
“Lucio?” Andrea frowned. “Lucio is out of bed?” She looked about the rocky terrain as if expecting to see him there.
“The Golden Eagle has taken flight and ridden off into the night.” The dragon drew her head up. “His love he seeks upon the field. The silver sword, can barely wield. His love for you is very great. For you to come, he could not wait. You should not have left him all alone to come and fall here on this stone. For he is weak and the enemy strong, the battle will be hard and long. Come with me, I’ll take you there. You would not be hard to bear. With your burdens take my aid in return for the bargain made. What foolish hope have you for love when the Eagle flies home above? He will surely see the light and thrust you far from his sight. The hearts of men run fickle and fey and your heart he’ll trample along the way. My heart beats long and loud and strong and yet, I feel it breaking. Let us go together now, the enemy is for the taking.”
Andrea got slowly to her feet, hesitantly feeling for the wound on her back. It was extremely sore and swollen. Her hand came away covered with a sickly black liquid that had soaked through the bandages, her undershirt, the chain mail and her surcoat as well. The stars spun lazily in the sky when she looked up.
“Even in a stronger state, the magick needed is very great. No success in this endeavor and you will lose your love forever. Let me take you from this place so you may look upon his face. My offer to you still holds true, I would accomplish now this thing for you. The payment is not so very great and time is surely growing late. Remember whose child this is and even though it, too, is his, the mother of the babe will come and your deceit will be undone. By and by her son, the Queen will find and to her dark world she will bind this child of darkness and perdition. From her wrathful, vengeful mind, she will give him no remission.”
“Your words are hard and full of truth, Inanna, but I cannot give you the child no more than I can give him to his evil mother.” Andrea checked her sword and found it still in the scabbard. “As long as I can breathe, I will not allow it.”
“You grow very weak, my love. Come watch this battle from above. See what perilous circumstance your lover faces with no lance. No helmet for his pretty head and no shield to guard his heart against the ones who wish him dead, see him as he takes your part. What fate is it that destiny gives? Come, see him while yet he lives.”
“Leave me!” Andrea waved one hand at the dragon and then clutched her side as pain shot through from the back to the front. “Where is my horse?”
The dragon rumbled and rose up menacingly above her, clearly offended by her rejection. “I ate the stallion for a snack. No longer can you call him back.”
Andrea spun around and drew the sword from the scabbard with a great cry of pain and anger. She held up the sword in front of her and swayed back and forth. The tip of the great blade dipped and bobbed in front of her eyes as she struggled to hold it up with trembling hands.
“You would threaten me with a pin? To kill this creation would be a sin! I did not eat your mighty steed, but would that I had, than watch you bleed! I see that you can barely stand, what fair army could you command?”
Andrea lowered the sword and put two fingers in her mouth. She could not muster enough breath to whistle for the horse.
“Once more I offer my aid in reference to the bargain made.” The dragon lowered her head again. “Would you not accept my help in return for the unholy whelp?”
“No! No! And No!” Andrea shook her head. “That is why I came here seeking you. To tell you… to tell you not to bother. I will take care of it myself.” She went down on one knee as the pain became too intense to stand. The golden sword clinked on the sand and rock beside her.
“Anger would serve you well and send you and your lover straight to hell. As you wish, I will leave you. But when there is no more to grieve you and your love lies dead upon his bower, I will come again within the hour and away with me you will flee as per the agreement you made with me or I will take his precious soul into the deepest, darkest hole. In Great Amenti’s halls you’ll mourn him and wonder where my wrath has borne him. The seven Lords before the throne will not be enough to call him home. Ahhh, yes I know of Great Amenti, home to Thoth, Hermes Thrice Great, Adar the Mighty Hunter, Ninnib, Lord of Saturn, Great and Powerful, Dark Lord of the Seventh Gate, aahhhh, this is a sorry fate for one so traveled from oh so far, left behind his shining star, Archangel of the Fiery Realm, Atlantean at the sea’s dark helm, King of Faeries, King of Men, Great Sage, Great Teacher, Alchemist, how is it that he’s come to this? Where is the Chevalier du Morte? My beloved, my precious, my brave consort?”
Inanna snorted and blasted the air with a short gout of green flame. She rose up, preparing to depart. Andrea grimaced and lowered her head as the wind from the dragon’s wings beat the sand and grit into her face. At least she had accomplished this thing. Inanna would not help them, but Lucio’s son would be safe from this fate. She smiled ruefully as she thought of the Golden Eagle and wondered if he would truly appreciate what she had gone through to ensure that the dragon would not be coming after the boy.
Now one last thing remained. The long trip to the meadow. To make sure the red serpent came as she had promised. There was no sign of the inevitable sunrise. If the night would hold out a bit longer, she could make it. She had to make it. If what Inanna said was true, then Lucio would be heading for the same destination. With any luck and by the grace of God, he would not make it so far. He had been more severely affected by the poison than her. She could not imagine that he could get up and ride from the keep to the plain of Ahaseurus.
The plain of Ahaseurus. She had heard this before. What had it been? Something in the Holy Scriptures. Ahaseurus. The King. Her mind was foggy and scripture had never been one of her fortes. The Plains of Ahaseurus. No. The day of Ahaseurus. Ahaseurus, King of Persia! Queen Esther’s King. The one that had allowed the Jews to rise up against their enemies and smite them on the 13th Day of Adar. The 13th Day of Adar! Andrea’s mind reeled. Adar! Of course! The plain of Ahaseurus was where this battle would be taking place. But Adar was a month in the Jewish calendar and she had no idea when it might be. She tried the whistle this time and her renewed strength of purpose gave her enough breath to get out a small chirp for the horse. The pale stallion trotted from the rocks and stopped beside her. She coughed and spit more of the nasty foam and then climbed laboriously into the saddle.