Caleb’s Story continued

Chapter 4 – Episode 3

Calebth thought about how much he missed his parents and swallowed a huge lump that formed in his throat.  “Mowg is in danger. We need to find a way to take him home to his family. He’ll be safe there.”

Misa sighed. “We all feel the same way, Calebth.”  But what can we do? We need a boat to take us to Dragon Island. And it takes money to rent a boat. Something we don’t have.”

He hung his head with shame. If not for him, they’d still have the gold from the mine.

Owen pinched his chin between his fingers. “We’re not far from Broadwin. We’ll go there and see if they are offering any bounties. That’s how we can get the coin to pay our way to Dragon Island.

 “This is Olog territory. There’s bound to be more troublemakers like the one I just took out.” Floren puffed out his chest. “We’ll have a pocketful of gold in no time.”

Misa burst out laughing. “You mean the ogre who grabbed you and threw you to the ground? I think the fall addled your brain. It was Owen who took care of him, not you.”

“At least I wasn’t standing there, waving my wand around and shrieking ‘Look out.’”

“I saved your hide, you ungrateful wretch.”

Owen stood with his hand on his hips, glaring at both of them. “Enough of this. Why can’t the two of you get along? You argue over everything.” He turned to Calebth. “Get everything packed and ready to go. We’ll leave first thing in the morning.”

* * * *

Broadwin was a fishing village with a busy harbor perched on the rocky coastline. Owen started at one end and went from first one boat to another, asking about passage to the Island. It wasn’t far. Calebth could see it clearly from the harbor. But one by one, the fishermen turned them down, claiming they were too busy. Or it was too far. Or they were afraid of the dragons.

They almost passed the last boat without stopping. It had seen better days. So did the man who owned it. “Captain Bounty is me name, and this here is my boat. At yer service. For a price, that is.”

Missing one eye, wearing a bandana and a gold hoop, the man reminded Calebth of the stories old-timers told about pirates. The man winked and gave them a grin big enough for his gold tooth to sparkle in the sunlight. “Sixty coins.”

Floren’s mouth fell open. “That’s highway robbery!”

“Is there something we could do to earn money?” Owen asked.

Captain guffawed. “Not unless you want to get rid of the Olog gang. They’ve been causing trouble. Their leader is Uruk. He’s bad enough. But the others even meaner and twice as big. They’ve been terrorizing the village for weeks.”

 Misa sighed. “We’ve dealt with him before.”

They thanked the captain for the information and went to the tavern to see if they could come up with a plan. They scraped together enough money to buy a pitcher of ale and took a table in the corner.  

They hadn’t been there for more than a few minutes when the gang of ologs burst into the tavern led by Olog-hai and demanded to be served. He glanced over at them and laughed out loud. “Look boys. It’s my little friends from the forest. The ones who couldn’t fight.”

Floren sprang to his feet, clutching his ax. “Okay, fellas. It’s payback time. Let’s get ‘em.” He runs up to one of them, breaks a jug of ale over his head, and knocks him out. Misa joined him, waving her wand and flinging spells right and left.

“What do you want me to do?” Calebth asked Owen.

“Protect Mowg. Make sure he doesn’t get hurt.” The ranger unsheathed his sword and followed the other two across the room.

Owen made quick work disabling one of the ogres, and Misa turned another one into a toad, while Floren cornered Olog-hai. But the ogre grabbed him and threw him into the kitchen. The cook ran screaming from the tavern.

One of them comes after Mowg after he steps on the dragon and he burps fire, singing the ogre’s hide. Calebth grabbed him, pushed him under the table, throwing dishes and furniture. . Owen saw what was happening, knocks him into Olog-hai, knocking them off their feet. Quick as a wink, Misa put them all to sleep with a spell.

“Good job, kid,” Owen said after the fight was. Surprised and pleased with the compliment, Calebth thinks maybe he’ll make a ranger after all.

After the dust settled, the mayor and some of the townspeople showed up and carried the ologs off to jail. The villagers cheered and the tavern owner served drinks all around. 

“They’ve been plaguing our little town for weeks,” the mayor said. “You get the reward we offered.”

“Did you hear that?” Calebth grinned at the little dragon. “You’re going home.”

Floren threw his hands in the air. “Let’s celebrate. Another round of ale.”

Misa rolled her eyes. “Don’t be too free with the reward. We need it to pay the captain.”

Calebth was too young for spirits, the tavernkeeper brought him a mug of apple cider.

“Too much ale makes people do silly things.” Owen pointed at Floren. Sure enough, he drank so much he got tipsy. He climbed on the table to sing, got dizzy halfway through the chorus and collapsed into a heap.  

“Cider’s good enough for me,” Calebth said. But Mowg licks ale the ale that Floren spills off the floor and burps fire. Calebth grabbed him before it can happen again.

When they got to the ship the next day, Floren came aboard holding his head. “Worse headache I’ve ever had.”

 Misa laughed. “You mean hangover, don’t you?”

He glared at her. “You’re no fun at all.”

Before Owen could tell the two of them to knock it off, Captain Bounty came by. “Keep that baby dragon down below. They’re unlucky on a ship. One wrong move and my crew could revolt.”

Caleb’s Story continued


Chapter 4 Episode 2

A small, ugly troll stood in the shadows at the edge of camp, his grayish skin glowing in the dark.

Owen jumped to his feet. “Who are you? What do you want?”

“I am Olog-hai the Uruk,” he said with a proper British accent. “I’ve come to kill you.”

“Izzat so?” Floren gave a belly laugh. “Why don’t you run along while you still can? I’ve squashed bugs with my thumb that are bigger than you, little worm.”

“Blimey. Is that supposed to scare me?”

“It should. Especially if I lose my temper.”

Olog shook his head. “You’re just an overweight dwarf with anger issues.”

“You’re no beauty queen yourself.”

Their insults continued, and they began to circle one another while Owen, Misa, and Calebth watched. Olog pulled up a small tree by the roots and knocked Floren down. He grabbed the dwarf by the head and was about to punch him when Owen drew his sword and started slashing away. Mowg ran over and started chewing on the troll’s ankle. But Misa was the smart one. She put a spell on him. He stumbled around the camp. “Blimey, I can’t see a thing!”

Calebth helped Floren to his feet. “Are you all right?”

“Of course.” The dwarf wheezed. “I’m indestructible.”

They heard a splash when Olog fell into the river.  “I’ll get you for this and your little dragon too.”

Floren spat into the water. “Take that, you ugly little troll!”

Later, when they were all sitting around the fire, Calebth turned to Owen. “Do you think I’ll ever learn to be as good with the sword as you?”

*  * * *

Between chores, and cooking and training with Owen twice a day, Calebth’s next few days were busy ones. One afternoon Floren and Misa watched him practice.

“I think Calebth is improving, don’t you?” Misa said.

Floren snorted a laugh. “He’s got a long way to go. I saw him lop the head off a wildflower the other day. And probably only because it was rooted to the spot.”

Misa narrowed her eyes at him. “Give the boy some credit.”

Later, they were sitting around the campfire after a stew of roast rabbit and wild onions.

Owen finished his and reached for more. “What was in the stew?”

Calebth ducked his head. “Aww, it was just one of Granny’s recipes I happened to remember.”

Floren smacked his lips. “I have to admit it was right tasty.”

Misa agreed.

The compliments made Calebth warm all over.

After supper, they lounged around the fire. Mowg was snuggled up in Floren’s lap, chewing on his beard. “Are we going to talk about the elephant in the room?”

Owen frowned. “What do you mean?

“First, we have no gold, second we have no boat to take us to Dragon Island, and third, we have a baby dragon gnawing on me like I’m his supper.”

Floren shook his head. “I guess we should have collected the bounty on the dragon.”

“That would have been cruel,” Misa said. “We couldn’t have done that to Mowg’s mother.”

“You got any better ideas?”

“Mowg is in danger. We have to find a way to take him home to his family. He’ll be safe there.” Calebth thought about his own father and how much he missed him.

Caleb’s Story continued


Chapter 4 – Episode 1   

     Floren rolled around on the ground clutching his shaking belly and laughing like a hysterical hyena.

    Owen glared at him. “What’s so funny?”

     The dwarf pointed at him, hiccupping uncontrollably. “I can’t help it. The very idea. Owen, a ranger with the reputation of being the greatest swordsman ever playing mommy to an orphan baby dragon. Think about what that’s going to do to your reputation.” He covered his mouth in an attempt to hide snorts of laughter.

     Misa threw up her arms. “I think it’s sweet. Don’t you Calebth?”

     The elf had a point. It was kind of endearing. And the little dragon was so dang cute, and he started to say so, but when he saw the ranger’s angry expression, he shrugged his shoulders and shut his mouth in a hurry.

* * * *

     They managed to salvage their supper. Calebth scraped the burned spots off the fish, and Misa shoed him how to sauté the mushrooms until they were plump and juicy. After supper, when stomachs were full, everyone was in a better mood.

     Misa handed Calebth a bucket. “Take this down to the river and fetch some water.”

    Floren snorted. “Sure that’s a good idea? I’m willing to wager the boy can’t do that without making a mess of things. Anybody game?”

     Calebth drew himself up to his full height and frowned at the dwarf. “Of course, I can. That’s simple enough for a child to handle.”

    Misa patted the boy on his arm. “Don’t pay any attention to Floren. He likes to think he’s funny.”

    Calebth walked away from camp and down to the river’s edge, dragging the pail behind him and feeling sorry for himself.

     I’ve got to stop making mistakes. Misa feels sorry for me. Floren thinks I’m a joke. And as far as Owen is concerned, I’m useless. He’s never going to teach me to use the sword if I don’t show him I’m not a complete failure.

     He was so busy trying to think up ways to prove his worth, he didn’t notice the splashing in the water. Or if he did, he thought it was a fish. He didn’t see the sleek green head with scales poked up out of the water. Another one joined it. And then another. Pretty soon there were six pairs of eyes following the boy.

     He got down on his knees to fill the pail, and when he did, arms grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him in the water. He held his breath as long as he could before swallowing mouth full of water, thinking I’m going to drown. One of the creatures blew a bubble that covered his face, and suddenly he could breathe again.

     When Calebth didn’t come back to camp Owen, Misa and Floren went down to the river to look for him.

     Misa plucked and iridescent scale out of the mud at the edge of the water. “Are there sprites in these waters?”

     “Aye.” Floren shook his head. “They probably took him.”

     Owen drew his sword and called out. “Give us back the boy. He’s worth nothing to you.”

    “One of the sprites popped his head up out of the water. “Of course we will, ranger. For a price. Give us your shiny gold coins. All of them. We can use them to light up our home under the water.”

     After a  moment’s hesitation, Owen reached for the moneybag he wore around his waist.

     Floren grabbed his arm and hissed. “You can’t do that.”

     “We have no other choice,” Misa said.

     The ranger held the bag in the air. “Release the boy unharmed, and it’s yours.”

     Owen, Misa, Floren took Calebth went back to camp. The boy sat next to the fire, shivering while Misa piled on more wood. Four miserable faces stared into the flames.

     “What are we going to do now?” Calebth sniffed and wiped his nose on his sleeve. Cold, sopping wet and depressed. He couldn’t have been more miserable if he tried.

     “You tell me.” The dwarf muttered. “Thanks to you we have no money for a boat to take us to Dragon Island. And we can’t go back to the mine because it’ll be overrun with bats. We’re back to square one.”

     “Quit blaming the boy.” Misa waved a branch at the dwarf.   

     Owen spoke up. “We’re all to blame. Especially me.”

     Everyone stared at him like he’d lost his mind.         

    “Misa, either you or Floren should have gone with him to get water. And none of this would have happened if I’d been training the boy like he asked.” The ranger was right. And they all knew it.

     When they camped the next night, Owen gave Calebth his first lesson. Once they finished, the ranger showed him how to clean his sword while they listened to Misa and Floren, arguing over choice of weapons and whose was better. Mowg curled into a ball at their feet.

     The elf waved her wand in the air. “Mine is light and can be used at long range.”

     Floren snorted sarcastically. “Someone could snap it into without even trying. An axe weighs more and can do more damage.”

     “I can do spells from a 100 yards away. You have to be up close to inflict injury.”

     In the middle of their argument, Mowg jumped to his feet and growled, glaring out into the darkness.

Caleb’s Story (continued)

     An unearthly screeching came from out of the dark. Far back into the depths of the mine. It echoed in the air, growing louder and coming closer.

     “Hold him.” Owen handed the baby dragon to Caleth and drew his sword. Chills raced over the boy’s shoulders and down his arms. He couldn’t decide whether to run or hide, so he stood still, clutching Mowg to his chest with shaking hands.

     Floren raised his axe and Misa raised her wand. They stood in a circle. That way they’d have each other’s back. The elf grabbed him by the arm and shoved him in between them. He crouched down and made himself as small as he could. Mowg buried his head in the boy’s chest and shivered like a leaf.

     The first wave of man bats came at them, circling so fast they were only a blur. Somehow Misa managed to zap them with her wand. And as soon as they hit the ground, Owen or Floren lopped their heads off.

     For a while, it seemed like creatures would never stop coming. Calebth wondered how many there could be, but he didn’t dare look to see. And then everything went quiet. A few moments later, Owen grabbed his arm and pulled him to his feet.

     Floren aimed a kick at one of the carcasses. “That should be the last of them. Might be a straggler or two, but they won’t hang around. They’re cowards unless there’s a swarm.”

     A terrible odor rose up. Misa pinched her nose. “Oh, my stars. That’s awful. Why do they smell so bad?”

     Floren shrugged. “Beats me. Too late to ask now.”

     “Where is this gold you were telling us about?” Owen said as he wiped his blade clean. “We need to retrieve it and leave this place before anything else happens.”

     “This way.” The dwarf led them farther into the cave. Calebth noticed rocks glittering in the torch light. Floren bent down, plucked one off the ground and held it up for them to see. “I told you so. Didn’t I?”    

     They dropped to their knees and gathered up enough nuggets to fill a small bag within minutes. Owen got to his feet. “That’s more than enough. No need to be greedy. Let’s get out of here now.”

     Floren took them another way out so they wouldn’t run into the goblin brothers who were probably still lurking at the main entrance. They traveled until sunset, stopped at an old abandoned mill and made camp for the night. Misa went down to the river and caught three or four fat salmon. She brought them back to Calebth. “You can grill these for our dinner.”

     His heart sank. The boy knew how to start a fire, but that’s about as far as it went. He didn’t know the first thing about grilling fish. He chewed on his bottom lip and pondered. How hard could it be? A little wild onion, salt, and pepper. Spear them with a sharpened stick and put it over the fire to cook. That’s what Granny always did.  

     He crouched at the edge of the coals to keep an eye on things. It was nice and warm. Made him yawn. He must have dozed off because the next thing he knew Floren had grabbed the stick and was waving it around, trying to extinguish the flames.

    “You’ve ruined our supper!”

      Calebth blinked at him.

     “What’s wrong with you?”

     “I’m sorry. I-I guess I fell asleep.”

       Misa scraped off a spot and winked at Calebth. “It’s just blackened a little on the outside. Makes for a smoky taste.” She scraped off a spot and took a bite. “It’s fine.”

       While they were arguing over whether or not it could be eaten, Owen sat on a rock a few feet away, alone except for Mowg. The little dragon wouldn’t let the ranger get out of his sight. He followed him everywhere, tipping his head from side to side like a puppy and squeaking like he was trying to talk.

     Owen frowned. “What is he trying to say? Can any of you speak dragon?”

     Misa laughed. “Pretty sure he thinks you’re his mommy.”

     “How can that be?”

     “Makes sense,” Calebth said. “You were the first thing he saw when he hatched.”

      Floren snorted and fell over, laughing.

Caleb’s Story (continued)

Man-size vampire bat

Chapter 2 Episode 3

     Owen, Floren, Misa, and Calebth stood at the mouth of the cave, staring down at the baby dragon. What were they going to do? None of them knew the first thing about how to take care of him. What did he eat? What did he drink?

     Floren scratched behind his ear. “Can’t he fend for himself? He is a dragon, after all.”

     “Mowg’s only a baby. He’d starve.” Tears welled up in Calebth’s eyes, and he swallowed hard, hoping no one noticed. “Either that or those wretched goblins will come back for him.”

     “The boy is right,” said Misa. “I overheard one of those idiots say something about Morogon wanting them to bring Mowg back to him. They may have run off, but they haven’t given up. They’re not about to go back to the mage empty-handed.”

     Calebth’s heart lifted. He knew his opinion didn’t carry any weight, but maybe Misa could have some influence on the other two.

     Floren growled. “I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to play nursemaid to a baby dragon, orphan or not.”

     She gave him an indignant sniff. “First you want to eat the poor thing, and then you suggest leaving him to Morogon’s mercy. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

     “I don’t see you volunteering to take care of him.”

     Calebth swiveled his head back and forth between the two, listening to them swap insults. He was about to step between them and offer to take care of Mowg himself when Owen spoke up. “We’ll take him to Dragon Island.”   

    “Only one problem with that,” Misa said. “We need to hire a boat to take us there. How are we going to do that? We have no money.”

     Floren grinned. “I have an idea.” He pointed north. “See that mountain ridge over yonder?”

     “What about it?”

     “It’s the Mountain of Mines. I used to work there. It’s been abandoned for a long time, but I’m sure there’s more than enough gold left to get us passage on a small boat on its way to the island.”

     “B-but isn’t that place haunted?” Calebth can hardly get the words to come out of his mouth. “That’s what the old dwarves who used to work there always say, anyway.”

      Floren glared at him. “Have you got any better ideas?”

     Nobody did, so the travelers headed toward the mines. They rode the rest of the day and part of the night before they reached their destination. Everyone wanted to stop and make camp. Continue in the morning, but Owen insisted they keep going. “We’re being followed.”

     Calebth rode behind jim, his arms around Mowg, who was sound asleep. He’d been fighting it himself for the last hour, but when he heard those words, his heart lurched, and his eyes snapped open.

     Floren sniffed the air. “I smell goblin.”

     Misa eyed him. “The idiots from the cave, no doubt. I told you we hadn’t seen the last of them.

     “How much farther?” Owen asked.

     “We’re almost to the Tunnel of Darkness,” Floren said. “Don’t dismount. Ride inside, and I’ll stay behind to close the gate so they can’t follow.”

     They urged their tired mounts to move a little faster until they reached the entrance a short time later. It was pitch black inside. Mira struck a match and lit some torches she found left in a niche on the wall. Calebth felt a little better once he could see. Until he glimpsed the sign.

     Misa held her light up high and read aloud. “Beware.” Beneath that, there was a crude drawing of a skull and crossbones. “Man-sized vampire bats ahead. Proceed at your own risk.”

    She groaned.  “This wasn’t such a good idea, after all.”

    All out of breath, Floren trotted up to them. “Don’t be such a chicken.”

    “I’m not.” Misa rolled her eyes. “I just don’t want to die in this wretched cave.”

     Calebth swallowed hard. He didn’t either. And he fancied he heard the sound of wings flapping in the distance.

     Floren puffed out his chest. “If I have to die, at least I’ll be laid to rest in my home place with all my kin. My father, my grandfather, and his father before him.”

     As the noise grew closer, Owen drew his sword. “Enough talk.”

Caleb’s Story (continued)

Chapter 2 – Episode 2

 “Tomorrow, you will be given provisions. You and your brothers will leave at daybreak and travel to the hills above Raintown. My sources have brought me word there is a dragon sheltering in one of the caves there. She is guarding an egg that is about to hatch. Slay the mother and bring the offspring to me. Unharmed.”

     Ollie blinked with confusion. “But–whatever for? Baby dragons are helpless. And it won’t survive without its mother’s care.”     

     “And if by some miracle it did, it would be useless,” Lleroy added.

      Lleon nodded, his jowls shaking. “What he said. It would end up being far more trouble than it was worth.” 

      Morogon bellowed at them so loud the force almost parted the brother’s hair. “Are you questioning my orders, you insignificant creatures?”

     They huddled together, shaking so hard their swords rattled. Ollie cleared his throat. “No, my lord. Of course not. We will leave on the morrow.”

      Morogon the mage had big plans for the fledging. He wasn’t about to share his plans with these three nincompoops, but he’d recently discovered that if he could take possession of a dragon young enough, it could be trained to do his bidding. It would give him great power.

* * * *

      Even though skeptical, Ollie, Lleroy, and Lleon left the next day at first light, muttering all the way

     “I still don’t understand what Morogon wants with a helpless dragon.”

     “Makes no sense to me, either.”

      “Doesn’t matter what we think. We’ve got our orders.”

      And so they made the long trip over the mountains to Raintown, checking every nook and cranny. With no luck. They were about to give up hope when they came upon a small cave. Strange noises were coming from inside. 

     “What’s that noise?” Lleroy asked.

     Lleon shrugged, but Ollie cocked his head to one side. “Sounds like snoring.”  

     They climbed down off the goat they were riding, crept up to the entrance and peered inside. Sure enough, the mama dragon was inside, her dark blue and green scales barely visible in the dark cave. She slept with her wings curled around her egg, her claws extended, protecting it.

     They stood staring, their eyes as big as saucers. Lleroy gulped and whispered. “Sure is a big thing, ain’t she?”

     Ollie eyed him. “Well, what did you expect? She is a dragon.”

     Lleon hissed. “What’s the plan?”

     Ollie pinched his chin between his fingers and thought for a long time. “Here’s what we’re going to do. We’ll be real quiet and sneak inside without waking her up. That way we can steal the egg and get away before she knows what happened.”

     While the brothers were busy discussing their plans, Owen, Misa, Floren, and Calebth came up the trail. They’d been following the brothers’ tracks for miles. When Ollie, Lleon, and Lleroy went back inside, they hid beside the entrance, waited and watched.

     The egg was almost within reach. Things were going great until one of them stepped on the dragon’s tail. She blinked opened eyes that burned with light against her scales. The brothers froze in a pose.

     She let out an angry roar that started an avalanche. Scared out of their wits, the brothers came at her screaming like maniacs. When the dust settled, they discovered the rocks had fallen on her head, crushing her.

     Ollie elbowed Lleroy. “Go make sure she’s dead.”

     “Why me? What about you?”

     “Cause I said so.”

      Leon whined. “What makes you the boss?

     “I’m the oldest.”

     “That doesn’t mean you should be in charge.”

     “Okay. Then do it because I told you so.”

     While they were arguing, Owen, Misa, and Floren entered the cave with their weapons drawn and stared at them.

     “Do you hear the three of them?” Misa laughed, and Floren rolled his eyes. “You guys are morons.”

     “Drop your swords,” Owen demanded.

     “Says who?” demanded Ollie.  

      Floren snorted and pointed to Owen. “Don’t you recognize him?”

      “Wait a minute. I know who you are.” Lleon turned to his older brother. “Morogon never said anything about fighting a ranger, especially not the best in all the land.”

     “But what are we going to tell him when we come back without the dragon’s egg?”

     “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” They backed out of the cave, turned and ran.

      “Is this what they were talking about?” Caleb had followed them inside the cave. He held out a large egg shaped object with a jagged crack across it. When it began to glow, he fumbled and dropped it. A few minutes later, a baby dragon poked its head out of the shell, blinking up at Owen who had squatted down for a closer look.

     Misa shook her head. “What are we going to do him?”

     “Can’t we eat it?” Floren asks.

   “There you go again. Always thinking about your stomach.”

     The dwarf threw his arms up in the air. “It was just a thought.”

      “Honestly.” She turned to Owen. “Do something with him before I do.”

     “We’re not eating any baby dragon. That would make us no better than better than a mage.”

     “Poor thing.” Misa smiled down at the little creature. “He doesn’t even have a name.”

     “We can call him Mowg.” Calebth reached out and stroked the hatchling’s bright red, yellow, and blue head while he made a purring sound.

      Floren snorted. “That’s a dumb name.”

      “I think it’s cute,” she said. “And it fits.”

      Owen turned to them. “Cute names aside. What are we going to do with a helpless, baby dragon?”  

Caleb’s Story (continued)

Morogon – The Evil Mage


Chapter 1 Episode 3

     Calebth was beside himself with joy. At sunup tomorrow, he’d be leaving Raintown, the only home he’d ever known, in the company of the greatest Ranger of all times. He couldn’t believe his luck.

     Never mind that Owen had only consented to let him accompany them after he blurted out that he knew a shortcut to the dragon’s lair that would let them get there before any of the other bounty hunters arrived.

     “You can go with us that far and no farther.”


     “No buts. Take it or leave it.” And that was the end of that.

     But Calebth had a plan. He’d make himself so useful that Owen would see he couldn’t get along without him. And once that happened, he’d figure out a way to talk Owen into training him to use the sword.

     When he went to bed that night, he couldn’t sleep a wink. And no wonder! Every time he thought about what tomorrow would bring, his heart began to pound, and his stomach quivered with anticipation.

     “No, Ma’am.”

     “You’d better not. They’ll be leaving first thing in the morning and good riddance. Things can get back to normal.”

     “Yes, Grannie.” He didn’t want to get into an argument with her. Especially since this would be their last evening together for who knows how long.

     He jumped out of bed and ran to the window. His heart sank when he saw Owen and his companions leaving without him! How could he do such a thing? He’d promised that Calebth could go with them as far as the cave. And rangers never lied.

     When Calebth didn’t put in an appearance, Owen must have thought he’d changed his mind. He dressed in a hurry, slinging his knapsack over his shoulder and pulling his grandfather’s sword from under the mattress. He crept downstairs, grabbed a couple loaves of day-old bread, fruit, and sausage, and left a note on the table to Grannie, telling her that he loved her and not to worry about him before running out the door and down the road.

     Never mind that Owen had only consented to let him accompany them after he blurted out that he knew a shortcut to the dragon’s lair that would let them get there before any of the other bounty hunters arrived.

     “You can go with us that far and no farther.”


     “No buts. Take it or leave it.” And that was the end of that.

     But Calebth had a plan. He’d make himself so useful that Owen would see he couldn’t get along without him. And once that happened, he’d figure out a way to talk Owen into training him to use the sword.

     When he went to bed that night, he couldn’t sleep a wink. And no wonder! Every time he thought about what tomorrow would bring, his heart began to pound, and his stomach quivered with anticipation.

     At supper, his Grannie had noticed. “What’s wrong with you? You’re as jumpy as a hog during butchering season. You haven’t let those rangers fill your head with nonsense, have you?”

     “No, Ma’am.”

     “You’d better not. They’ll be leaving first thing in the morning and good riddance. Things can get back to normal.”

     “Yes, Grannie.” He didn’t want to get into an argument with her. Especially since this would be their last evening together for who knows how long.

    Calebth finally fell into a deep sleep just before dawn, waking with a start at the sound of a goat bleating.

     He jumped out of bed and ran to the window. His heart sank when he saw Owen and his companions leaving without him! How could he do such a thing? He’d promised that Calebth could go with them as far as the cave. And rangers never lied.

     When Calebth didn’t put in an appearance, Owen must have thought he’d changed his mind. He dressed in a hurry, slinging his knapsack over his shoulder and pulling his grandfather’s sword from under the mattress. He crept downstairs, grabbed a couple loaves of day-old bread, fruit, and sausage, and left a note on the table to Grannie, telling her that he loved her and not to worry about him before running out the door and down the road.

Chapter 2 – Episode 1


    Miles away in his lava castle on top of a volcano, the evil mage, Morogon, sat on his throne in his chamber brooding.  He had sent for the goblin brothers and was waiting for them to appear.

     After a loud bang and the sound of something falling, the massive double doors opened, and three goblins stumbled inside, shaking in their boots. They were sure they were in some kind of trouble. They’d been arguing over which of them was to blame all the way to the mage’s chambers.

      Ollie, the oldest of the three, puffed up his chest with false bravado. “Whatever it is, Lord Morogon, we are innocent. We had nothing to do with it.”

     Lleroy, the goblin in the middle, pointed to his brother. “He spoke the truth, my lord.”

     The youngest, Lleon, nodded rapidly. “Aye that he did, that he did.”

     The mage sighed and pressed his fingers to his forehead, wondering if this was such a good idea after all. “My sources tell me you’ve been spending a lot of time down at the tavern, bragging to anyone who will listen that you are dragon trackers. Is that true?”

     “Umm—something like that, Lord Morogon. Hard to recall my exact words.” Ollie swallowed and hung his head. “We’ve been drinking a lot of ale since we lost our jobs at the quarry.”

     “Did you or did you not claim to be the best when it came to finding and killing the beasts?”

     “Oh. Well. Umm—I may have said something like that.”

     Lleroy jabbed Lleon with his elbow and muttered out of the side of his mouth.  “What he meant was we’re the only dragon trackers around.”

    “Aye that we are. That we are.”

     Lord Morogon held up his hand, and the brothers fell silent. “Be that as it may, I have a job for the three of you.”

     Ollie gulped. “At your service, my lord.”

Caleb’s Story (continued)

Owen The Ranger              Floren the Dwarf            Misa the Elf

Chapter 1 – The Journey Begins (part 2) This episode picks up where the last one left off. I’m sure you can see a LOTR influence as well as “How To Train Your Dragon.” Writing this story has been a fun adventure.

     “You might know.” The trio probably wanted to order a meal. Calebth sighed and got to his feet, making his way over, all ready to rattle off an explanation as to why they’d get nothing but ale this time of day. Halfway there, he stopped dead in his tracks.

     A dwarf with a scar that ran down one side of his face, barely missing an eye, barreled over to a table by the door and sat down so hard it’s a wonder the bench didn’t splinter into kindling. “I don’t care what ye say. I’m starving. Ma belly thinks my throat’s been cut.”

    One of his companions, a tall, slender elf with braids in her hair, rolled her eyes and joined him. “How could you be so hungry? You ate three rabbits for breakfast and washed them down with a gallon of goat’s milk.”

     He patted his rotund belly and grinned. “It takes a lot to keep this physique. Besides, folks have been talking about this place. It’s got a four-star rating.

     They continued their debate while the third member of their party, a tall man dark-haired man, took a seat with his back to the wall and glanced around the room. Something about him caught Calebth’s attention. Not his appearance so much. More the way he carried himself. Quiet. Watchful. Piercing eyes. Tension coiled through the man’s body like a spring as though he was ready for trouble at any minute.

     No farmer or merchant. Not even a soldier. Something else. Calebth gasped and swallowed when he realized he was standing face to face with Owen, the greatest Ranger of all times. What were the chances?

     His stomach twisted when the ranger spoke to him, but his heart was thudding so loud he didn’t hear a word.

    The dwarf waved a hand in front of Calebth’s face. “Are ye deaf,? Did ye not hear what Owen said?”

     The elf frowned. “Don’t be so hard on the boy, Floren.”

    Calebth stuttered. “I’m sorry, sire. What did you say?”

     “Ale all around.”

     The boy backed away and ran into the kitchen where Granny was stirring something in a kettle over the fire.

     “You’ll never believe who just came in.”

     “Some Johnny come lately, looking for food? What does he think this is? An all-day buffet?

     No—well, yes.” He sighed in frustration.  “It’s Owen. The Ranger! Can you believe it?”

     “Oh, him.” She wasn’t impressed. “He must be here to deal with the dragon.”

     “What dragon?”

     “The one Cedric told me about when he delivered vegetables this morning. It’s been holed up in an abandoned Goblin’s cave for the past week or two. Stealing livestock and wreaking havoc in general. So the farmers got together and posted a reward.”


     She nodded. “Twenty gold coins to whoever gets rid of it.”

     Calebth rubbed his hands together. He had an idea. As soon as word got out, there’d be bounty hunters swarming the hills, looking for the cave. And he knew a shortcut. He could lead Owen and his friends there. Surely they’d be so grateful they’d led him squire for them. Nothing like good fortune to make people agreeable.

     With that in mind, he talked Granny into letting him serve them a fresh loaf of bread and bowls of stew along with the ale he poured.

     “I don’t know why. It’s not like those rascals deserve it. They do what they do because they think it’s fun, not because they’re trying to be noble.”

     “What if it was Pops? I’d like to think someone took pity on him from time to time when he was traveling and gave him a home cooked meal.” Long ago, Calebth’s grandfather had been a ranger.

     She didn’t say another word, but he noticed she also added butter and honey to the tray. When Calebth brought the food to the table, he told the three of them about the dragon. “And, I know a shortcut to the cave. I’d be glad to take you there. On one condition. Let me join you on your journey.”

     The dwarf swallowed and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “You’d only be another mouth to feed.”

     The elf glared at him. “Don’t be so hard on the boy, Floren. He could be a big help.”

     “That’s a thought, Misa.” He scrubbed the side of his face. “Can you cook?”

      Calebth prayed his Granny wasn’t listening from the kitchen. “Of course I can. I made the mutton stew you’re eating. And baked the bread.”

     Floren smacked his lips and rubbed his stomach. “How are you at preparing dragon meat?”

     “Is food all you think about?” Misa tossed her braid over her shoulder.

     “What d’ye mean by that?”

     “It’s all you ever talk about.”

     “No, it isn’t.”

     Own slammed his mug down on the table and shut them both up. He poured himself another drink and eyed Calebth. “Thanks for the offer, kid. But it wouldn’t work out. You’re a little young. And besides, I don’t have the time to teach you.”

     “Please, Sire. There are other things I’m good at besides food.” The boy wracked his brain, desperately trying to come up with something. “I-I can tend to your animals. Do your laundry. Polish your boots. Anything it takes as long as you to teach me how to be a ranger. It’s what I want to be more than anything. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since I heard about your adventures.”

     Owen raised his voice. “You don’t understand, boy. What we do isn’t just fun. It’s dangerous.”

Caleb’s Story

Written and illustrated by my twelve-year-old grandson with a little help from me. This is a learning experience for both of us. He’s learning what it takes to write a book, and I’m learning how to point him in the right direction without stifling his imagination. We plan to post it in episodes as the story progresses. Let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.

Chapter 1 – The Journey Begins

     Calebth smothered a yawn as he lugged the wooden bucket full of scraps left over from the midday meal out to the pen full of pigs behind the tavern. Since his Granny took over Meats and Grains customers had been coming from far and wide. Word had spread that the new owner of the tavern in Raintown could cook up a mighty tasty meal.  

     He couldn’t complain. Business had been brisk. There hadn’t been a dull moment in the day. If he wasn’t clearing the tables or washing dishes or scrubbing pots and pans, he was hauling bath water emptying slop jars or changing sheets in the rooms to rent upstairs.

     The busier it was, the more coins filled the bag Granny behind the loose bricks of the hearth in the kitchen. Granny counted them by candlelight late at night after locking up. The less they had to pinch pennies. Or worry about paying the bills

     Granny could afford to pay for other things they needed. Like the clothes and shoes he had the pesky habit of outgrowing. The visit to the dentist when he developed a persistent toothache. Or the herbs from the apothecary to ease her painful joints. She even gave him spending money on fun things like an occasional visit to the fair for spun sugar candy or a front seat ticket to see the juggling act.

     Still, he sighed. Not that he didn’t appreciate their good fortune. He remembered how it was when they had to scrape by. But lately, life had been less and less fun and more and more work.

     He’d complain to Granny, only it wouldn’t do any good. She worked harder than he did. Got up earlier and went to bed later. But he didn’t understand. What good did it do to be making so much money if they couldn’t enjoy any of it? Even just a little.

     Lately, the boy had spent a lot of time daydreaming. While he slaved away, working from sun up to sun down, doing chores that never seemed to end, he had an inspiration.

     If things kept going like they were, he’d be making more than just spending money. He’d started his own stash. So far he didn’t have enough coins to rub together, but he had plans When he’d saved enough, he’d leave the tavern behind and do what he’d always wanted to do. Go on an adventure.  

      By the time he finished feeding the animals and got back inside, the tavern was deserted. Lunch hour and come and gone, leaving a short lull before customers started trickling back in for supper. He’d done everything Granny asked. For the moment his time was his own.

      Calebth hurried over to the nook beside the hearth, in the hopes of catching a little shuteye. It was warm and cozy. The one place Granny couldn’t see when she poked her head into the room looking for him so she could give him another task.

      He crossed his arms, leaned back into the corner and closed his eyes, letting visions of his future filled his head. He wanted to be a ranger just like his grandfather had been. He even had his sword. He kept it under his mattress, wrapped in a soft cloth. It was a beautiful thing. Never mind that he had no idea how to use it. He had that all worked out.

     Why not learn from the best? He’d heard stories all his life about Owen, a ranger with the reputation of being the best fighter ever. A brilliant swordsman. Afraid of nothing.

     If there was only some way to track the ranger down and pledge himself to him. He could teach him how to use the sword. Never mind that he had no idea how to find Owen much less convince the man that his services as a squire would be invaluable. He’d cross that bridge when he came to it.

     Just as Calebth dropped off to sleep a loud noise made him jump. His eyes snapped open. Three figures stood in the open doorway silhouetted in the winter sunlight.