Christopher sits facing another slight youth with shoulder-length hair of ruddy gold, dressed in a black velvet vest over a white tunic, black breeches, and dusty boots.
Christopher: The black velvet looks better on you than it does on me.
Rhodry: Thank you. This is what I’m wearing when I go to see the Lord of Caerac Keep in Trouble at Caerac Keep.
Christopher: Speaking of Trouble at Caerac Keep, I hear it’s gotten some activity.
Rhodry: Now here’s a surprise. You’re envious of me for getting the scribbler’s attention. It’s usually the other way around.
Christopher: True. She was working on Stealing Myself From Shadows when she decided to turn her attention to At Her Service.
Rhodry: Our scribbler is still working on At Her Service, but she’s also transcribing. Some story fragments she typed up turned her attention back to Trouble at Caerac Keep.
Christopher: Tell me about it.
Rhodry: In the beginning I’m living in a tower right outside Caerac Keep with Daeric.
Rhodry: The sorcerer who raised and educated me. Daeric Nevalyn. Actually he’s a distant relative, although I’m not sure how. We’re both Serpent-Born so we kept to ourselves.
Rhodry: (squirming, looking uncomfortable) Serpent-Born look somewhat human, but we have little body hair. What hair we possess is on the top of our heads. It’s always some shade of gold. Our eyes are also golden or they can shift to gold. (Rhodry’s own blue eyes turn golden.)
Christopher: We have something in common…sort of. (Colors drift across his iris; purple, gold, silver.)
Rhodry: Only you’ve not Serpent-Born.
Christopher: No, I’m a shadow. These are the colors I’ve devoured, dreams, memories, lost thoughts. They manifest in my eyes.
Rhodry: I suppose you have that in common with the Serpent. She devoured all sorts of things, not all of them tangible.
Christopher: This Serpent, is she your mother or ancestor? Is that why you’re Serpent-Born?
Christopher: Is she an actual serpent?
Rhodry: At times She was a great golden serpent, according to legend. At others She was a tall, golden-haired, golden-eyed woman of surpassing beauty and strength. She favored black as does her brood.
Christopher: Are you part of her brood?
Rhodry: No! Well, yes, by blood I am. She was a threat to all her descendents, threatening to consume and possess us, yet She’s also our ancestor. I suppose Daeric and I both feared and worshipped Her. I never know Her the way Daeric did. She’s something of a romantic figure as well as a sinister legend. It was She who summoned forth the monsters…I mean the non-humans from the icy wastes down into Rowenda and the southern lands, devouring any humans in their paths. Or perhaps they didn’t devour humans. Humanity was frightened enough to pull themselves together from a series of scattered kingdoms and queendoms to become a single empire, following the Imperatrix Serena Jasior and the Order of the Dragon. They fought Nevalyn and the monsters, err, nonhumans, driving the Serpent into the Abyss. Only She survived through Her brood, Her children.
Christopher: How did she survive?
Rhodry: She whispered to the hearts and minds of Her descendents, taking one over as Her vessel. Only that vessel betrayed her. Some say it was my ancestor Kyra Nevalyn. Some say it was Prince Stephen Jasior. I’m hoping Kyra will tell me, although she’s still getting used to the Keep, the fact that there isn’t an empire or an Order of the Dragon. From what she’s told me, they turned into something quite sinister during her time.
Christopher: You talk to your ancestor?
Rhodry: Yes, I find her in the tower, a tiny golden dragon after Daeric disappears. Kyra has her own story which our scribbler is working upon, A Suitor’s Challenge.
Christopher: Back to your story. You said Daeric disappears?
Rhodry: It’s all part of the trouble at Caerac Keep. People are disappearing or getting sick. Those sickening become pale, listless, and have two tiny red wounds upon them, like bite marks. Many people think it’s the Vampire Corwyth rising to suck the blood of the living.
Christopher: Only you don’t think so.
Rhodry: No, I don’t. It’s what I’m trying to find out along with my companions in Trouble at Caerac Keep. We’re all close to someone who’s disappeared. We’re trying to find our loved ones and uncover the mystery of what is happening. For something is happening. We’re just not sure what. All of us are having disturbing dreams, dreams that someone is sending us. Someone who is close.
Christopher: You don’t know who it is, though.
Rhodry: That’s something else we’re trying to discover.
(To be continued on Sunday; March 22, 2021)