I started this blog series with my dragons, Aderyntan and Cythraul, who play a significant role in this book. You can find that post in the September 2019 archives.
Book Six in the Dragon’s Fire Series is the first of five companion novels. It launches a new set of characters on an exciting, interconnected adventure. Set in 779, it is the first in the series chronologically. However, the books should be read in numeric order to avoid spoilers.
Teifi an Gren Leigh
“They’re after the fish!”
Age at the time of this story: 17/18
Physical Characteristics: 5’7”; 130 lbs; wavy blond hair; blue eyes
Teifi lives with her older brother, Patrick. She enjoys making up songs and attending dances, and she loves dragons.
As a child, Teifi spent a lot of time outdoors. Well-schooled in avoiding Cythraul, she admired Aderyntan and played in the fields and woods around Empelfirth. Teifi has always wanted to learn to read, a skill denied to women of her class. When her brother aspires to join the Mystic Order, Teifi is fascinated by the books he brings home. She tries to decipher words based on the illustrations within.
Life as her brother’s housekeeper is lonely and dull, and Teifi is not a fan of housework. With Patrick gone all day, and her married friends busy with their homes and families, Teifi craves excitement and fun. Something new. But ships don’t sail to Caledon, for fear of the dragons. “New” seldom happens.
She knows that her brother would like to get her married off. However, most men consider her too old and irresponsible to make a good wife.
“Most people don't like dragons, but I do. Generally, I like dragons better than people. They've got more even temperaments. You always know where you stand with a dragon. It loves you, or it doesn't, and if it doesn't, it will either eat you or set you on fire. People are a lot less predictable.
Folks think I'm odd because I'd rather sit on the cliffs and watch dragons than marry and rear some man's brats. I'm a washed-up spinster at 17, you know. Most of my friends married three or four years ago, and people pity me—or despise me—for being alone.
I live with my older brother because my Da died in the plague a few years back, and I had nowhere else to go. Patrick would like to see me wed; he lost his wife in the same pestilence that took Da, and he says he'll never find another so long as she has to share her hearth with me. He can't seem to make any woman understand that I'll happily relinquish the home fires. I don't want them. Maybe they object to my presence at all. We do only have one room...
I make up songs, and I love listening to stories—‘twould be better could I read them, but few people in Empelfirth can read. Patrick can, but he refuses to teach me—says the Archmystic wouldn't like it, and I'm better off minding the house, anyway.
I don't fit in here.
Ships never come to Caledon, at least, none have in recent years. Foreigners fear our dragons. Sometimes I wonder whether I might find someone more like me if only I could sail away from here and discover new places.
But nothing changes.
I'm stuck. Dodging house chores by day, and running off to the harbor dances in the evenings. No one ever asks me to dance, but I can hear the music and the stories. It's far livelier than staying home where Patrick pores over his books and scolds me if I make the slightest noise. I'll stay out as late as possible tonight.
And maybe come home the long way…”
Empelfirth means “large harbor.” The Caledonian pronunciation is (EM pel fairth). The original settlers gave the area its name when they landed on Caledon’s shores in 358. Over time, the pronunciation was Anglicized to Ampleforth, and the city, Caledon’s capital, grew from a rough village to a thriving, modern metropolis.
Empelfirth lies in a valley at the edge of a vast harbor, with cliffs rising on either side. The castle is situated south of the town, and the Mystics and the Sacred Cliffs to the north. A series of streams from the cliffs connect and form a small river feeding the harbor, which is deep enough for ocean traffic. The beach at Ampleforth is long and sandy/pebbly, allowing for shipyards and space for recreation. From Caledon’s inception, the harbor has been the site of markets and entertainments; storytelling, music, dancing, and social interaction. The larger the settlement grew around it, the safer the beach became for such activities, as the dragons, naturally wary of humans, do not tend to venture into settled areas.
Patrick an Gren Leigh
“Aderyntans are everywhere. What is one less?”
Age at the time of this story: 27
Physical Characteristics: 5’10”; 162 lbs; wavy blond hair; blue eyes
Patrick is Teifi’s older brother. He was saddled with his sister’s care when the plague hit Empelfirth in 774, killing their father and Patrick’s wife of four years, Tara.
Patrick is studying to earn a place in the Mystic Order, aspiring to higher things than fieldwork. His position with the Mystics is precarious. As he has no Mystic blood or background, he must study hard, learn his lessons well, and behave acceptably.
Teifi's eccentricities, careless mannerisms, and incessant desire to learn to read could ruin him. If Patrick gets kicked out of the Order, he will have to return to the fields.
Patrick’s position within the Order grants him a modestly comfortable life. Rent and food are covered, and a Mystic rank guarantees a degree of respect and fear from the townspeople. Patrick wants to find another wife, but no one is eager to share a home with his sister.
"‘An Gren Leigh’ means ‘of Green Meadow.’ It's a surname carried by many of the serfs who labor year-round on Lord Galwell's estate. My da and granda worked there, as did every man in my family line for as far back as I know.
It's backbreaking work. Rain or shine. Six days a week. I wanted better. After I married Tara, I went against my da's advice, left Galwell's employ, and sought to train as a Mystic.
They say, "Once a serf, always a serf," but the Mystics must have seen promise in me, for they let me join them. Learning letters and understanding their spells and potions was as exhausting as fieldwork but in a different way. I always knew how precarious my position was since they had taken me on as a favor. I have no Mystic bloodlines. I work hard to please them.
Everything was going well. Tara and I were ready to move to the Mystic village so I could immerse myself in the practice when the plague hit Empelfirth. My beautiful Tara died in agony, and nothing I knew could help her. My da died, as well, leaving my sister, Teifi, to my care. She had no one else.
She was thirteen, then. She should have been married, but Da had spoiled her. She looked like my ma, you see, and Ma died birthing her. Teifi was his pet, and he let her run wild over the hills, indulging her passion for dragons, of all things, instead of making her learn skills that would make someone a good wife.
So I'm stuck with her. She's seventeen now, and still, no one will have her. Worse, no woman will have me, for no one wants to live with my eccentric little sister! Worst of all, the Mystics don't approve of her behavior, and she's liable to get me thrown out of the Order.
I love my sister, but if she destroys everything I've worked for, the gods help me, I won't be responsible for my actions.”
Once again, my post has gotten too long, so we’ll meet two more characters from Guardians of Caledon next month!
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