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The Dragon Tamer Part Five

Part Five

 

That night, Orma laid in bed next to her husband, both struggling to find sleep.

‘They will come for her.’ The man said, decisively.

‘I know’ Orma’s voice followed. Her eyes were staring into the darkness of the room but were seeing the future. A future where Miko was going away forever, away from them and their life together.

‘We have to tell her.’ 

‘I know.’ Orma repeated.

‘Orma, we must. She’ll be turning eighteen soon, we knew this was going to happen.’

Orma felt her husband’s eyes burn through her, even in the dark. A tear escaped the corner of her eye.

‘I know, Ghadi. I know!’ she sighed heavily.

Silence fell between them. Both knew that sleep was not in the books for them tonight. Ghadi found Orma’s fingers behind the sheets and covered them with the warmth of his palm.

‘Do you ever wonder if taking her mother in…’

Orma shut her eyes, more tears rolling down her cheeks now. She quickly wiped them with the sleeves of her garment.

‘Not in a million years, Ghadi. Her mother was dying. We could not have denied shelter to someone in her condition, and you know it. Ezekhari or not, she was wounded and going into labour. I…’, her words tripped on her emotions for a moment. ‘Turning a mother in need away from my door is not a sin that the desert will ever judge me for.’

Ghadi touched his wife’s belly, softly. He could hear Orma’s laboured breathing and he knew she was trying to stifle breaking down into crying.

Shortly before Miko’s birth mother brought her to life inside Orma and Ghadi’s home, Orma had lost a child of her own.

The baby girl had only lived for four weeks, but enough for Orma and her husband to learn to love her with all their being. When she died, part of them went with her as well, carried by the cold winds of the desert. When Miko was given them with dying breath, they knew they had a chance at being whole again, even if only for a few years.

‘You are kind to me and have my blessings for it. But make no mistake’ Miko’s mother told Orma, as she was laying down her head one last time ‘your child will never be yours only. She is an Ezekhari and hers is the blood of dragons. In eighteen years’ time, she will hear their calling. The Ezekhari will come for her, and we always find our people.’

‘Why is your daughter so important for your tribe?’ Orma asked, making the woman comfortable, plumping up the pillows under her head.

Wheezing, she Ezekhari woman replied:

‘She will unite them all. All will bow under her, and she will lead with dragons. So speaks the Prophecy of Old, and it was revealed to me in a dragon tooth.’ She breathed one last breath, and then she fell into a sleep from which she never woke up.

Orma and Ghadi took her words then, stored them away for when that day was going to come, secretly hoping that the foretelling of a woman whose dealings with the world of the living were finished, were nothing but a long-forgotten myth. They treated the child as if it were theirs and returned her mother to the desert.

They buried the Ezekhari woman in the sand, like they had done with their own flesh and blood, far from their home, so that her soul may be carried by the wind-swept sand wherever her feet might have roamed whilst she was alive.

‘It will be like losing a baby all over again, Ghadi. My sweet child…’ Orma turned in bed now and buried her face in her husband’s chest, whilst sorrow shook her shoulders.

Ghadi combed her hair back and away from her face. He kissed her forehead and let go of his own tears.

‘But she will be with her people, my love. She will come into her own and there is nothing more that we can wish for her. She is destined for greatness, and we are not to stand in the way of that.’

They fell asleep in each other’s warm embrace, close to the sunrise, dreaming of the days when Miko was a small girl running around, being carried in her brother’s arms or on his shoulders, laughing and eating much loved pomegranates.

Days melted into weeks and those then melted into months. As time flew, life carried on for Miko and her family. Although there were nights when she dreamed of the sand dragon calling her, Miko did not dare speak about it out of fear a terrible curse would be unleashed on those she loved. Soon she discovered that if one chose to, one could bury things so deeply in one’s subconscious, that one didn’t even remember about it when one woke up in the morning.

Miko’s eighteenth birthday was around the corner when one day, the dancing heat waves of the desert brought with them three women, afoot.  

Orma was sawing Miko a new shawl when the women stopped outside her yurt, long past midday.

‘By the desert…’ a gutted whisper left her lips, as she looked up and saw them there, tall, dressed in dark green and amber, their gazes piercing.

Each of them had green eyes, like all the Ezekhari, but they were in no way the same. One set was the colour a plant has when it first sprouts, another reminded Orma of the emeralds they extracted from the mines in the north, and the last one’s…the last one’s were like Miko’s: light green combining blue.

The Ezekhari were there, the day had finally arrived.

‘Ah, goodness, I am starving! I would kill for some grilled cheese and vegetables’ Miko’s voice resonated, full of joy to be home after a day’s work.

Her father walked in from behind her, carrying his bag on his shoulder.

‘We have visitors?’ Miko asked, with curiosity.

Ghadi dropped his bag instantly and gave Orma a frightened look. Miko missed that, but her interest had been captured by the green and amber robes and scarves covering the guests’ heads and faces.

One of them looked at her, and Miko felt transfigured, like a bond had awakened inside her.

When the woman revealed her face, the girl recognised her from many years ago, when Miko was a child and they met in the market in Abdia.

‘I see your feet are well wrapped now’ the woman smiled, gentleness painting the lines on her forehead and between her eyebrows.

Miko had changed, but the woman had not.

With her eyes, Miko traced the tattoo lines on the woman’s face. It was most peculiar how it made her think of letters, the ones she’d learned as a child, but at the same time, she could not understand the words they presumably created. A slight sense of frustration grew inside Miko as she struggled to understand how something so apparently familiar to her, the symbols on the woman’s face, were in fact impossible for her to decipher.

‘Would you like some water or any food?’ Orma asked finally, forcing herself to firstly act like a decent host, and be a scared and concerned mother somewhat later. Maybe by playing cool, she could avoid what she and Ghadi feared most. Maybe they weren’t going to take Miko away from them if they showed hospitality.

The woman who had revealed her face spoke again:

‘No, thank you. We are in need of nothing, but your offerings are much appreciated. We are grateful.’

‘What is your business here?’ Ghadi asked next, less inclined towards good manners.

Orma gave him an almost terrified look. Miko turned around and eyed her father suspiciously, she found his words cold and unwelcoming.

The woman with the face tattoo spoke again, seemingly untroubled by Ghadi’s hostility.

‘We are the Ezekhari’ she started. ‘We are here to claim one of ours.’

Orma said nothing. Miko kept looking suspicious.

‘We know nothing of what you mean.’ Was Ghadi’s reply. ‘I thought you did not dare venture in these parts, because of the dragon hunters.’

The Ezekhari woman looked offended, but she did not let it come through in her words.

‘It is true that we wish no connection, no involvement with your keen. Men are bringing our dragons down over the Red Sea and have done it for centuries, hunting us, enslaving us, and making good money off our dragons’ backs. But there is one who is meant to put an end to all that and help both your people and mine live in peace and harmony. That is who we are looking for; we are here for her. ‘ 

Miko shuddered as the woman’s gaze rested upon her, hopeful, inviting.

Ghadi opened his mouth, ready to argue, as his fists clenched, but Orma put her hand on his arm and pulled him back towards her.

‘You have heard it, haven’t you?’ the Ezekhari woman continued, stepping towards Miko. ‘The Sand Dragon?’



 

From that moment forth, Miko stopped being the humble daughter of Orma and Ghadi, the clumsy girl who didn’t wrap her feet properly before walking through the scorching desert, a child waiting for

The Ezekhari shared with her the history of their tribe and people, her origins, the story of the Sand Dragon, and the generosity of Orma and Ghadi who took her in and raised her as their own. And then they left with the promise that they would return in a week’s time.

‘We do not wish to force you away from your parents, and you are free to come see them whenever you desire. But’, the Ezekhari woman spoke as the last remnants of daylight were being carried away by the murmur of the evening wind ‘they cannot accompany you, for this is your destiny, your path and yours alone.’

‘What if you’re wrong? About me, about…well, everything.’ Miko asked, breaking invisible loads with the intensity of her look.

‘You are scared.’ The woman recognised. She cupped Miko’s right cheek and rubbed her thumb against the girl’s skin. ‘Don’t be. There is no shame in failing. There is shame in never trying in the first place and always wondering ‘what if’.’

As the night fully took over, Miko watched the three Ezekhari head back into the desert. She caught no wink of sleep that night, and only when the sky started losing stars did she manage to get some rest.

Days rolled one after another and soon the week was over. By the time the Ezekhari returned, Orma thought, Miko seemed to have lost her childish glow. There was something there now, in the lines around her mouth, the folds around her eyes, that made her think Miko had grown. She looked resolute.

‘Can I ask you your name?’ Miko spoke first.

They were all sat around the table, having tea. The Ezekhari woman who had been the only one of the group to speak to Miko and her family from the beginning answered:

‘My name is Sarife. These are Yato and Awa. They are my advisers.’

‘It’s very nice to meet you both.’ Miko replied, bowing her head. The two women reciprocated in gestures but kept their words to themselves. ‘Well, Sarife, I have thought about your offer and request. I have, indeed, given it much thought. I love my Mamma and Papa very much. For me, they are my real parents, there is no doubt about it. This yurt is my home, this patch of dry and arid land is where I played with my brother and my sweet, sweet Tabahir. I would die a thousand deaths before I see any harm done to them in any way.’

Sarife made no comment, but her advisers exchanged quick looks.

Orma took a deep breath in. She and Ghadi had not asked Miko any questions nor had they tried to influence her decision. Did they believe in this Prophecy of Old? They did not know. They were no dragon hunters and had no dealings with such people. They did not understand the extent of the evil of men’s world, and what costs the Ezekhari had to pay for having a gift that men desired so much. But they had heard the tellings of others. They did not flatter any of those involved. Men were greedy and cruel, the Ezekhari were vengeful and merciless. Blood begot blood. But, despite fearing for Miko, they wished her to follow her heart. Trying to keep her from it meant causing her pain. There was a voice inside of her that drew conclusions and it knew what it wanted and nobody could stand in its way.

Ghadi took Orma’s hand and lowered his head in submission, patient.

‘I have, however,’ Miko continued, ‘wished to see the world of late, understand how I fit in it. There seems to be a voice inside me, a voice calling me somewhere else, somewhere I belong. I see the Sand Dragon almost every night. It wants me to find it, to help it.’

‘That is Channeh.’ Sarife explained, emptying her glass teacup. ‘The Prophecy of Old says that she will be the Chosen One will be able to see Channeh with her mind’s eye and when she tames him, her destiny will have been fulfilled and peace will be achieved.’

Miko nodded. A shimmer touched the green of her eyes and it seemed to Orma that they were burning.

‘I will come with you. But, if in a year’s time I have not found this Channeh, I will return home to Orma and Ghadi. You will have to find another who can fulfil your prophecy.’


THE END

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