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from The Gilded Knights by Elizah Godswood

Copyright © 2015–2021 Elizah Godswood

Chapter 15
The Drakkonian Isles

The storm brewing on the eastern horizon gave Seida a bad feeling in her stomach as the boat slowed to a stop in the cove. The Drakkonian Isles was completely foreign to her—an uninhabited jungle island chain full of dragons and other dangerous beasts. There was no insight or edge she held in this scenario. If anything, it was Sadra, who’d found an old map dating back to the time of the old dragon riders that had once called this place home. It was definitely no one’s home any longer. 

The ship had docked along an old and crumbling stone pier. If this had truly once been a bustling dock, this was the only remnant of it left. Everything else had either crumbled to dust or been completely overgrown by vines and trees. The boys were eagerly waiting by the ramp of the steamship, ready to get their adventure underway. They had their packs slung on their backs, talking to one another in a whisper as they compared their weapons. They’d been given long knives and fine scale gloves for climbing. The new clothes they wore seemed to please Gregorim greatly. She smiled at them both. They grew closer every day, even though they had their spats.

“We’ll be meeting you back here in about four days’ time. Should you be late, we will circle back once a day at noon every day after that. Good luck, and be careful out there. There's worse things than dragons in that jungle,” The captain said to Seida as the ramp finally dropped and the crew helped bring their supplies up from below deck. 

“Thank you captain. If we get into trouble or need an early pick up, you’ll know it,” Seida said. 

“I’ve no doubt a stormcaller can make their presence known when needed. We’ll keep an eye out.”

Seida bid him farewell, following the boys down the ramp. Sadra followed close behind her, seeming almost apprehensive. They watched the ship leave the pier before turning to walk into the jungle. The map Sadra had found showed there had once been a complex throughout the Isles. As long as they stuck to the old pathways and ruins, they would hopefully avoid most of the dangerous inhabitants. Their biggest worry at the moment was the possibility of encountering wild dragons. 

Seida kept the lead, with Sadra close behind. She’d been struggling with her vision the last couple weeks. The change in depth perception had been incredibly hard on her. Despite insisting she wanted to come, Seida had the suspicion that her sister was unsure of how ready she was to be out like this. The boys brought up the rear, seeming less than eager to wander more than a few steps away from the group. They followed close behind Sadra, ready to help her if she desired the assistance. 

Traversing through the old harbor proved to be slow and arduous. The overgrowth was so severe that at times the vegetation created solid barriers. Not wanting to disturb the wildlife too much, she had the boys help her coax the vines out of the way while Sadra studied her map to guide them. Their path wound in a snakelike pattern through the ruins, following the slope uphill. This was most likely the easiest part of their journey. Once they reached the channels that flowed between this island and the rest, they would be more exposed. Should any dragon spot them on the water or climbing along the cliffs, they would be in for quite the fight. 

“Gah, damn bugs. There were never mosquitoes like this in Ist’Heom,” Gregorim grumbled as he smacked his hands on the back of his neck. He swatted the air around him, but it did nothing to shoo the pests away.

“Look on the bright side: once the storm rolls in, you’ll be more worried about being wet instead of being itchy,” Tauren said, which earned him a soft punch on the arm. 

“We only have a few hours before we need to start looking for cover for the night,” Sadra said. “Hopefully the storm won’t be on us before then.” 

“I’m sure we will be able to handle the storm.” Seida paused for a moment when she heard something up above them in the canopy. They all crouched down, looking up to see what the noise was. There were many predators in the jungles here; large spotted cats, a minor species of drake about the size of a large cat, giant snakes, and a few other nasty reptilian predators. Sadra feared it may be the drake, whispering that they lived predominantly in the upper canopy. But the sound was nothing Seida had ever heard come from any reptile or dragon species. Instead, a harmless troop of golden monkeys swung through the canopy above their heads, hooting and hollering at one another as they went. Breathing a quiet sigh of relief, they stood up and continued on their way. 

Thankfully, any predators in the area seemed quite happy to avoid them. The only creatures they saw were birds, monkeys, small lizards and snakes, and to Gregorim’s dismay, more bugs. After a few hours i...

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