Chapter 15 : The Svalbardian Silverback
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The Svalbardian Silverback
Awesomely beautiful new image by mixer @ tda
On the day that Godric got a reminder of his homeland, Rachel was reunited with an old friend. “You really have to learn to control yourself!” panted Rachel as she slumped against the creaking willow tree behind her. She stared at Godric with blazing eyes and Salazar could see him almost flinching at her ferocious gaze. They sat in silence for a moment; so out of breath due to all that running. It was all Godric’s fault for flirting with the Lord of the Manor’s daughter and doing it all so blatantly in front of her very angry fiancé.
“Let’s get going,” laughed Salazar, trying to break the tension as he lifted himself to his feet. The other two followed his example and got to their tired feet, with Rachel saying angrily; “look, we don’t even know where we are, and I don’t know about you two but I am starving!” Both men spotted the terrifying look on Rachel’s face that indicated she was very annoyed and they had come to dread in the last few months, but Salazar couldn’t help but smile. Despite all the danger, all the hungry nights and all running, Salazar was having the best time of his life.
“Come on Rachel,” smiled Godric, pulling her into a very heavy handed hug, “it must only be another mile to the next town. We can stop at the tavern and you will hungry no more!” Rachel sighed heavily at this promise and for a moment rested her dark head on Godric’s shoulder. After that brief moment she turned round looping her thin arms round Godric’s and Salazar’s burly forearms.
“Come on then boys!” she said cheekily, her mood suddenly brighter, “let’s get a move on!” The three of them happily marched towards the town as Godric let out a hearty laugh. “Rachel, I must say it’s not all my fault! If you hadn’t...” As Salazar expected, Rachel replied flirtily, “oh Godric, we know we have to blame everything on you and your appetite for women.”
Salazar did not say anything but let out a silent smirk. He knew Rachel and Godric’s flirting meant nothing to either of them. You only had to look at them to see they didn’t love each other, and they had no more feeling for each other than a trusted friendship. It was just they were two very lonely romantic people that needed some semblance of an affectionate relationship. Rachel was clearly still waiting for someone to capture her attention. As she had said to Salazar, she though Godric was far too grand for her, she wanted someone more homely.
She wanted a man who could ride a horse, knew how to be an archer and was a country man. A man with fine words and a past was not the type of man that Rachel wanted to get involved in. She wanted a simple man, able to love her wholeheartedly without any baggage. Neither Salazar nor Godric could give her that, and she had no pretensions that either of them could either.
There was something about Godric that made Salazar believe he did not love Rachel as he would be expected to. Salazar recognised the expression Godric wore on his handsome face; it was of a defeated man. He had lost his love just like Salazar himself had, and there was no way he would ever forget the pain or the anguish of it. Godric never revealed anything about his past, and Salazar knew nothing more about him than the information Godric had given him about the life on the road that he had been living previously to meeting Salazar.
It was not long until they arrived at the next town or city should he say. This was the legendary Winchester he had heard of from his parents. Here was the Muggle capital, the seat of all power in the kingdom of Wessex. Their King, Ethelred was here in the city, most likely planning the defeat of the Scandinavian raiders in the north. However, three wizards like Salazar, Godric and Rachel did not need to get involved in the intricacies of Muggle politics, and so when they spotted a tavern on the outskirts of Winchester, the three of them piled in.
After Godric ordered some food and drinks they sat in a little alcove, consuming their food ravenously. It had been a while since they had had such a hearty meal and they were not distracted as they gulped it down. They did not talk until Godric had finished, draining his flagon with one gulp before saying, “what do we do now? Shall we just walk onto the next town? It could be dangerous for our kind around here.” Rachel seemed to be swayed by Godric’s argument and gave an agreeing nod, but Salazar silenced what she was going to say with a quick movement of one hand.
“We are in Winchester, do we really want to squander our opportunity to make some money here that could keep us fed for months in perfectly safely. There must be some of our kind around here to pay us for some work or another.” At this point Rachel snorted loudly, saying, “as long as I don’t have to clean out a pig sty again!” Salazar was suddenly taken back to the one time he had allowed Godric to make the plans, and they had all been covered in animal muck and stinking for days.
It was at this moment, opportunity knocked. A gruff looking man with a thin straggly beard and a crooked nose appeared at the entrance to the tavern, casting a shadow across the dusty floorboards. He made his way over to the landlord, a man twice his size, with a bald head and rosy cheeks who was busy cleaning some metal flagons. “Cuthbert,” said the landlord with a jovial grin, “what can I do for you today?”
“Oh,” Cuthbert sighed almost angrily, as he crossed his arms tightly across his chest, “It’s that wretched self professed monster slayer I hired a week ago to try and discover what that awful creature was that killed little Lucy Tanner.” The landlord gave Cuthbert a quizzical look before he continued in the same annoyed tone, “he has been missing for six days now. I think he’s gone and got himself killed and I have wasted forty pounds on him!”
“He could be still alive,” said the landlord hopefully, giving him a look of reason, “I mean he could just be formulating a plan in the woods.” Cuthbert gave a dramatic sigh. This whole conversation had not failed to pique Salazar’s attention, and he turned to his two friends who were discussing the condition of Godric’s sword. Noticing their disinterest, Salazar leapt up and approached the exhausted looking Cuthbert.
“Excuse me sir,” he said hopefully, running his fingers through the small goatee he had developed on his chin, “I could not help but overhear your conversation and I sympathise enormously with you! Forty pounds is a lot to lose for no result.” Cuthbert let out a low chuckle before saying, “I’d pay four hundred pounds to see the back of that demon that terrorises us all so well.” That was just the answer Salazar wanted to hear.
“If you pay me fifteen pounds, tomorrow morning I my two friends and I will go and find this monster slayer of yours and reunite you.” Cuthbert looked particularly happy about this offer so Salazar continued, “but I must know what this monster looked like so I may prepare myself in case of attack.”
“Oh,” said Cuthbert, his eyes widening in ill disguised fear, “It’s the most terrible looking beast I ever saw. It’s huge and scaly, like a snake, and its back is like polished silver, you can see your face in its scales. It also breathes fire.” Salazar instantly recognized this monster as a dragon, a Svalbardian Silverback to be exact. He shook hands with Cuthbert animatedly as he turned round to tell the news to Godric and Rachel.
The next morning, Godric found himself walking along yet another woodland path with Rachel and Salazar. Salazar had explained the news about the dragon. “The plan is not to fight the dragon if we don’t have to,” Salazar had said calmly, “once we have saved this so called monster slayer we get ten pounds each from him as reward for our services.” Godric nodded, he trusted Salazar’s judgement and he had a gift for forward planning. Godric instead relied solely on spontaneity and instinct to keep him alive in these situations.
Rachel looked white as a sheet. In the six months that Godric had known her he had never seen her scared, but he knew that a dragon was a whole other story. Godric took her hand and she turned to him, giving him a friendly smile. Godric appreciated Rachel, at the moment she was the only constant female influence he had and he needed it to keep him grounded. He turned away and looked back at Salazar. Godric always left Salazar in control; he just knew what to do in these situations.
“Okay,” said Salazar quickly, “the cave is just up here. The man we are looking for is fairly tall with brown hair and eyes and was last seen wearing chainmail armour.” Godric sighed in despair. With all this at stake, Salazar hadn’t even got a description of what the man they were looking for looked like. “That could be anyone!” said Godric, with a tone of despair. Salazar rolled his eyes at Godric before saying, “he may be trapped, he may be dead, we just have to find him and get back forty pounds at any cost. If he is dead, we take the money and run.” Godric seemed shocked at Salazar’s ability to use underhand tactics to meet his own ends, but he obeyed.
Soon the cave appeared before them, its inside was shadowy, and Godric could just make out the sleeping form of a dragon in the mouth of the cave. “Can you see anyone,” asked Rachel nervously, hovering just behind Godric. “No,” said Salazar, peering across the little glade. It was at this moment that they heard a voice.
“Hello?” the voice said in a projected whispered, “hello? Is anyone there?” Rachel span round, “it’s coming from the cave!” she said loudly pointing into the inky depths of the dark cave. It was a big mistake. The dragon opened one of its blue eyes at the sound of Rachel’s voice and noticing his three guests, he ran out towards them snarling. Rachel let out a heart stopping scream as she ran backwards away from it, rummaging for her wand in her belt.
“Do you have a plan for this?” shouted Godric to Salazar, his voice slightly shaking. The answer, “no” was not the one Godric wanted and so he ran to the right, leaving Salazar and Rachel to run in completely opposite directions. It was absolute chaos. Unfortunately for Salazar, the dragon chose him as his target, swinging its massive tail to the side as he went. The outcome of this was for the fleeing Rachel to be struck straight in the abdomen by the heavy silver tail. She flew through the air, and Godric could not help but hear a horrible crack as she landed on a pile of rocks, her limbs splayed out at odd angles.
Godric ran towards her, his heart beating frantically for her. Pressing his fingers into her neck he could feel a slow heart beat – she was alive at least. At that moment, Salazar came running towards him, an authorative look on his face. “Go find the man we’ve got to locate. He may be able to help us!” Godric obeyed instantly as he ran into the cave, the centre of the dragon’s world, his heart pattering heavily with sheer exertion and fear.
It was dark inside, and he could not see anything but odd patches of grey dotted around the cave. But he could hear the reassuring sounds of spells being shot by Salazar at the dragon. At least he was still keeping up the fight. Godric walked slowly into the cave, hoping to find the source of the voice. “Hello?” he called, its sound reverberating off the hard stone, “is anyone there?” There was a pause before someone answered from the bowels of the cave, “I’m down here!” Godric followed the voice cautiously along the narrow path until he reached a man, trapped behind a rock. He looked deathly pale and he had a scar across his cheek which was still bleeding profusely.
“Thank God your here!” he said panting heavily as a smile cracked across his face. Godric analysed him for a moment. He fitted Salazar’s description. He was fairly tall with chestnut brown hair. He looked about five years older than either Godric or Salazar, he had the well built stature of a man in his early twenties. Godric took it for granted that this was the man they were looking for, and using some magic he pushed the rock away without the man realising what he was doing.
“So,” said the man calmly, looking at Godric’s hand, the one he had just used to propel the rock away, “you’re a wizard.” Godric nearly cursed himself for being so obvious as usual, “yes,” he said almost peevishly, eyeing the man in front of him with great suspicion, “and you?” The man nodded slowly, and was about to say something when there was an almighty explosion from outside the cave that rocked the walls, causing a couple of fragments of stone to fall from the ceiling.
“That’s my friend Salazar,” said Godric, gesturing over his shoulder towards the sound of the explosion, “I think we better go help him fight the dragon.” The man followed Godric outside the cave to find Salazar shielding Rachel’s unconscious form with his body from the dragon and shooting beams of ice at the dragon’s mouth. The dragon however was still succeeding in breathing fire, shown by the smouldering hem of Salazar’s robe. The unnamed man leapt forward, withdrawing his wand and casting jinxes at the dragon, which were rebounding off its scales at wild angles. The dragon swung round and Salazar ran across to help the man, leaving Rachel vulnerable.
Godric ran towards her and when he reached her, he picked her up and swung her up onto his shoulder, running off into the trees. The trees were dense, but he ran for close to a minute until he found a suitable copse in which to lay her. “I will be back Rachel,” he said hurriedly, kissing her pale forehead that was slightly moist with her terrified sweat before dashing back through the forest to Salazar’s side to combat the dragon.
Salazar and the slayer were having no success; Salazar had dropped back for a moment, panting with sheer exertion. The other man was weaving past the dragon’s ferocious attacks. The dragon, however, still had resources of pent up fury that he could easily launch at them to kill them. The dragon seemed indestructible, a monster who could not be defeated. Then Godric remembered something. It was an old fairytale from Svalbard that his mother had taught him when he was a little boy. He remembered her words exactly.
You always have to be polite to a dragon...
Darting in front of the unknown man, Godric looked up at the dragon before shouting, “excuse me Mr Dragon.” It only registered how stupid it sounded after he had said it. “I was just wondering if you wouldn’t mind to return to Svalbard. It’s only that there is a nice breeding colony there, up in the hills. I’m sure it would make you a lot happier.”
The dragon paused for a moment, looking down on Godric with an expression that clearly showed he was considering it. Godric knew that dragons were clever, they understood human speech and could comprehend what he was saying. Godric was pretty sure the dragon would do the right thing and fly home. The man standing behind Godric looked dumbfounded as at that moment, the dragon began to flap his wings as it turned away from the three of them and disappeared into the sky.
They had remained in absolute silence until Godric had apparated back to the town with Rachel in his arms and Salazar had taken the unknown man by Apparition back to the tavern. Salazar had hurriedly paid for a room and they ran to up the creaking stairs to the chamber they had been allocated. It was a fairly plain room, but it would suit their purpose, looking after Rachel, perfectly. Godric laid the unconscious Rachel on the cheap straw stuffed bed as the three of them encircled her, gazing down at her concernedly. She did not stir.
“What do we do Salazar?” asked Godric concerned. That was one thing that Salazar had noticed about Godric, in times of difficulty he was not so keen to make the decisions, and left everything to Salazar. He sighed, gazing at the unconscious Rachel, he was clueless. “I don’t know,” replied Salazar honestly, “I know nothing about healing magic. I can barely heal a small cut.”
However, the unnamed man had leapt into action. He turned Rachel on to her side to view the back of her cranium. Her dark hair was matted with blood, but the man did not mind this. He drew his wand from his belt and pointed it at the back of her head, “come on Rachel,” he mumbled gently before a glowing beam of light left his wand and seemed to encircle Rachel’s head.
The blood seemed to disappear leaving her hair as clean and shiny as it had been before. Gently, he turned her over and dusted her hair out of her face and gazed and her worriedly, “She will need to sleep,” said the man softly, “we may as well go down to the tavern. Leave her in peace.” Godric was about to follow the man out of the door but Salazar stopped him with one hand. Godric stared at him, a confused look on his face. He was not entirely sure of what move Salazar was going to make.
“Wait,” said Salazar slowly, fixing his bright green eyes on the man. They had just met him, and Salazar was not completely trusting of this man. “You know her name. I have not told you her name, and I presume Godric hasn’t as we have had so little time to get acquainted.” Godric seemed surprised that Salazar had picked that small detail up and gave the man the same suspicious look as Salazar was.
“She used to be a neighbour of mine,” he said with his gentle voice, “we lived in the same coven, Dewsbury. I haven’t seen her for four years, not since I left.” The subject seemed to cause him some pain as his voice was croaking. He looked away from them and back down at Rachel to continue his story. “The magic was going you see, as our true leader had had to flee. I was an enemy of the woman who wished to usurp her place. I couldn’t stay. Rachel did.”
Salazar was slightly taken aback by this show of honesty. Godric did not seem to be fazed; he was one of those people who understood sudden outbursts of emotion. Salazar wasn’t that way inclined. He did not like other people knowing how he felt; it made him vulnerable. People like Godric always wore their heart on their sleeve, but this seemed foolish. People could always manipulate you if you did that.
“What’s your name?” asked Godric, giving the man a friendly smile. Salazar scanned the man briefly. He looked scarred, like he had been fighting a long time, but he seemed to wear his scars with pride. Salazar assumed he would have been handsome once with his light hair and eyes, and his smile seemed friendly and warm. For some reason, Salazar instantly felt like he could trust him. “Adrian,” he said cheerfully, “Adrian Hufflepuff. And you?”
Godric extended his arm to Adrian to shake his hand, “Godric Gryffindor and this is Salazar Slytherin.” Adrian nodded at Salazar to acknowledge him, and Salazar returned the gesture slowly. Godric already seemed to be friendly with the man, and so did not seemed bemused when Adrian asked his next probing question. “What do you do as a profession.” This seemed rather an odd question, but Adrian continued, regardless of Salazar’s distrusting gaze, “I mean, it’s just I run a business that could use two employees like you.”
Godric seemed to perk up slightly at this offer, money and adventure always attracted the spontaneous Godric, “a business?” he asked, raising one of his eyebrows. “Yes,” continued Adrian giving Godric an encouraging smile, “I offer my services dealing with magical problems. I need some help, as you could clearly see with the way I dealt with the dragon. I would only be too happy to offer you a cut of the profits and an adventure of a lifetime. You both are just so talented.”
Godric did not take a moment to answer. He never really gave anything the deep thought that was often needed. He just threw himself into something like a new love affair, with passion and zeal, ready to give it his all. The problem was he never considered the consequence of his actions. Godric did not understand the concept of guilt. To Salazar, it seemed that Godric had no regrets, and part of Salazar wished he could be like that. But Salazar could never be like that. Every day he saw Bess’ lifeless figure and her glassy eyes. He remembered the pain of being ripped in two. He regretted her death, and his parents. Every moment he wanted them to be alive again. He remembered his spontaneity when marrying Bess. It was that spontaneity that had cost Bess her life, and for that reason, Salazar was now cautious and calculating in everything he did. There was no way that he would make the same mistake again.
Godric walked over to Adrian as almost to say let’s get going right now, but Salazar stopped him in his tracks by asking a simple question, “what about Rachel?” Both of them gazed at Rachel. She looked like a sleeping beauty, her dark hair splayed out behind her and usually animated face was peaceful. Salazar suddenly felt a surge of sadness. There was no way they could disappear and leave loyal, kind Rachel asleep, not knowing where her friends had gone.
Adrian smiled affectionately at Rachel, the way childhood friends could only smile at each other, as if they had some secret. He walked over to her and held one of her pale hands. “I’d only be too happy to take her too.” This seemed to settle Salazar’s worries. Godric seemed happy with this settlement too, and he walked back over to Salazar giving him a smile that clearly said he wanted to take this offer. Salazar looked back at Adrian, he was young and strong, and seemed to have a calming influence, something that could be useful in reigning in some of Godric’s wild and dangerous whims. One more person added to their little troupe would make things much easier, they would have more hands to work, another brain to think and another person to socialise with. Adrian appeared an honest person, he had been incredibly helpful in terms of Rachel and another man would be perfect for her flirtatious nature.
“Okay,” said Salazar giving a small smile, to both Godric and Adrian, “You have yourself a deal.” Godric clapped Salazar on the back and stared between Adrian and Godric. “This is going to be wonderful!” chirped Godric, “Rachel will love it too! With four of us there is absolutely nothing in this world that will stop us! We will be indestructible!”
Thanks everybody for reading! So sorry its been ages! The next chapter will be a lot quicker...Promise! Next time...Four years have passed and Adrian gets a message that will change the lives of Godric and Salazar forever...
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