Dragon stood slack jawed, staring at the Great Wyrm, her eyes growing wider and wider with alarm. “What do you mean, you can not call upon your power?” Her voice began to crescendo with unaccustomed panic.
The Great Wyrm shook her head, as if trying to clear it. “Exactly what I said. I have been trying to summon the conduit, but I seem unable to center myself and call upon my power.” She was frowning, but her voice was calm.
Dragon’s thoughts went in all different directions. Oh, no! How could this happen? Why did we not foresee this possibility? What could be causing this? If the Great Wyrm can not summon the conduit, how will we find it? If she can not call upon her power, how will she reweave the enchantment? If she can not alter the conduit . . .
The Great Wyrm reached out and placed a hand on Dragon’s shoulder. Her gentle laughter sounded like the melodious tinkling of crystal wind chimes. “Do not panic so, little one!”
Dragon jumped. She had forgotten that her companion could hear her thoughts, that she and others of her species often communicated telepathically. She blushed, both at her forgetfulness and at being called little one. She scowled, and dark smoke drifted from her nostrils. She muttered, crossly, just loud enough for the Great Wyrm to hear. “I am not a little one!”
Her companion laughed again. “As I told you before, to me you are but a wyrmling.”
Dragon growled. Her eyes narrowed and the smoke spewing from her snout grew darker. “Fine. I am a wyrmling. A stupid, inept, inexperienced wyrmling. So, tell me, oh Wise and Ancient One, since this wyrmling is incapable of summoning the conduit or reweaving its enchantment, how do you propose we deal with your sudden lack of power?”
“First, you will compose yourself.” The Great Wyrm folded her arms over her chest as she addressed her companion in a stern voice. “I am going to assume your outburst is related to the situation we are attempting to resolve – that you are being adversely affected by the same thing that is causing the tension and violence among Mistress Writer’s other characters.”
Dragon blushed deeply, and hung her head. “I am sorry. I did not realize I was becoming so cross. Yes, whatever is causing the problem with the others is affecting me also. I felt it before – that is why I left this world, to prevent unintentionally harming Mistress Writer and Master Miles while I searched for a solution. I did not feel the tension while I was away, but shortly after our arrival here, I could feel my temper rising again. I will try harder to control myself.”
The Great Wyrm’s features softened and she nodded. “Good. As for the question of what to do now that I appear powerless, I suggest we put your power to work.”
“But I just admitted I am incapable . . .”
“Of summoning the conduit, yes.” The Great Wyrm nodded. “But you do have the requisite knowledge and power to construct a container for the objects we believe are causing the problem, a container enchanted to prevent the magic from those objects from having any effect on anyone or anything outside of the container. Then, if your colleagues in magic are freed from the hex, they can help us summon the conduit so I can return to my world.”
Dragon’s jaw dropped. “That is so simple! Why did I not think of it? And if simply placing the items in a protective container is sufficient to determine if the items are, indeed, the cause of the conflict and violence among us characters, why did we not consider that solution? It would have presented less risk than having you transport to this world to assist in a much more complex solution.”
The Great Wyrm smiled slyly. “I did consider it, but I could not turn down the opportunity to visit this world, to see all my friends again, to see Mistress Writer again.”
Dragon smiled and nodded. “I understand.” She turned away and was about to start constructing the container when she abruptly stopped and turned back to face the other beast. “Wait! Even if this works, and my friends are able to help us locate the conduit, you still can not use it to return to your world. Without your power, you can not reweave the spell.”
The sly smile on the Great Wyrm’s face grew. “No, I can not. But you and your colleagues can.”
“No, we can not!” Dragon furrowed her brow. “Can we?”
“Among you, you have enough power. I have the knowledge, which I will share with you. You will see. It will work.”
Dragon considered this for many minutes. “If you teach us how to reweave the spell, how can we be certain that none of my colleagues will use this knowledge for their own benefit?”
“Do you not trust your friends?” The Great Wyrm cocked her head and lifted an eyebrow.
“I do. Under normal circumstances, I would trust them with my life. However, recent events have shown me that even my friends can act in an untrustworthy manner, if outside forces are at work.”
The Great Wyrm nodded. “Of course. Your logical mind does seem to examine every possibility.” She gave Dragon a look of approval. Then she steepled her fingers and rested them under her chin. After a long while, the beast nodded. “I believe I can teach you a few spells that you can cast before I share my knowledge with your friends. The spells will not harm your friends. In fact, the spells will not be cast on them. Rather, they will be a precursor to the spell I will teach you and your friends, the one that will reweave the existing spell on the conduit. The spells you will cast will cause the spell I will teach you and your friends to be forgotten by all of you once it has been successfully cast.”
Dragon’s jaw almost hit the floor. “There are such spells? Spells that are not cast on a person or thing, but on another spell?”
“Yes, little wyrmling, there are such spells.” The great beast smiled and looked at Dragon with affection.
It took Dragon several hours to construct and enchant a container for the four items. As she placed the talisman, the horseshoe, the ruby ring and the Royal Seal inside the container, she paused. She looked at the Great Wyrm, who had been sitting quietly on the opposite side of the conference table while Dragon worked. She hoped the great beast could not see the worry in her expression as she closed the lid on the container. “What happens if these items are not the cause of the friction and violence among us characters? Then how do we proceed, so that you might return to your own world?”
When she received no reply, Dragon walked around the table and placed her hand on her companion’s shoulder. She repeated her question, a little louder.
The Great Wyrm stirred, returning slowly from the depths of her own thoughts. “I do not know. I suggest we face that problem if and when it becomes necessary.” She yawned, her maw stretching wide. “We will know nothing until the others awaken in the morning. I suggest we attempt to get some sleep before then. The coming day has the potential to be very busy and very demanding.”
Without waiting for Dragon to reply, the Great Wyrm rose, found a comfy spot on the thickly carpeted floor, and curled up to sleep. After a moment, Dragon followed suit.
What happens when Mistress Writer’s characters awaken in the morning? Will they be free of the hex? Will they be able to help the Great Wyrm return to her own world? Be sure to return next week and see what happens next in this adventure. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.