Monday, February 22, 2016

The Family Curse II


I am sending you this letter because I do not trust any other means to get to you safely. I have troubling news.

Papi, it is very distressing news. I don't know what to do with it.

I tracked the beast to the northern Canadians rockies. That makes sense that it would want to be in a place where there are few people and fewer quick ways in and out if the beast is seen: I have found scorch marks and burned out jeeps. After finding the first, I traded the jeep for a horse. Don't worry: I still have all my supplies.

The beast has a cave in a deep canyon with little cover: the trees do not grow close to the mouth and it has a very difficult hike to get there. There can be not ambushes at the cave. It leaves, hunts and seems to return with caribou daily.

Despite the weather, despite the very long days, I found a sheltered and quiet camp site. It is a home, actually. The first I had made for myself. It is a strange feeling to realize that. My first home of my own is a camp for dragon slaying. It is simple, yet relatively safe. Camouflaged and even semi permanent. There is much to be said for building your own home by your own hands.

I spent my days casing the Dragon, learning its habits, but on some days I must stay away. You described Fernando's Curse as being about rage, but for me, it was not rage, but rather it sings to me. Almost mesmerizing. On those days when it resonates with me that strongly, I stay away, hidden and safe. I do not trust my judgment then.

The troubling information came to light a month ago. The first consequences of that news happened just past the solstice. It all started when a young woman appeared in my camp.

I was surprised and not overly happy. She was friendly and gave her name as Dracen Kaida. She talked and wanted to bring food and spend time together. I politely declined at first, but the loneliness up here is oppressive and eventually I caved.

We became friends, or so it seemed to me. We talked on days when the sword sang to me too strongly to leave my camp and when I did not stay, I would return to find stews and breads and meats left for me. I was very appreciative, but I was still cautious. I would always make sure she tasted the food first and if she was not there, the wolf pack or bears that would come by would get a taste before I ate.

It seems the caution, at least for the food, was not warranted. Even so, a careful dragon slayer, is a living dragon slayer: its not paranoia when a dragon wants to eat you.

Or so it seems to me.

One day, though, alarms bells went off. I came back from stalking the dragon to find her in my camp. I had the Barrett with me and had been too bone tired to properly conceal it. She saw it, noted it, even offered to help me get it off of St George, my horse.

She was familiar with fire arms: she lived alone in the Canadian wilderness. So having a gun is not a huge surprise, but! This is a M82 .50 calibre sniper rifle! There is no logical reason for someone to have a military grade hardware. Period. Yet, she didn't seem to care.

AND! She is Canadian. She knows I am American, Papi! And Americans with guns on Canadian soil is a very touchy subject at the best of times and best of company. So I grew wildly suspicious.

I waited a day or two and then began to stalk her. I found her cabin. It was a nice place and I took my time casing it. Making sure she was gone and she was not returning soon. Then I went in. What I found was beyond troubling: it shook me to my core.

There were photographs. Some of them were with tio Arturo, Danny and Tristan. She looked the same age! Made worse was the photographs of her and Pipo Tomas! She and Pipo Tomas were rather closer than friends, Papi! And she looked the same age now as she did then!

Finding this shook me to my core. I nearly panicked. I nearly confronted her directly, but Mami's teachings to be careful and yours to plan what you do when you can took hold. I carefully covered my tracks and left. I did not touch nor disturb a thing.

I stayed away from my camp that night, as I did some times, and when I didn't return for a few days, I sat myself up in a perch to watch the dragon's cave. I had a hunch and I was going to be careful and try to observe if it was true.

It was.

I am sure she knew I had been to her cabin no matter how careful I was. She had to. There was no way her eternal youth and beauty in this harsh environment was natural, a world with magic enough for curses or not.

She approached the dragon's cave and raised her arms. She seemed to be singing, but I was too far to hear. The beast emerged and she lowered her arms. If I didn't know any better, I would say they were conversing. That confirmed it.

I stayed in my perch long after she left and the dragon retreated into its lair again. I retreated under the cover of night and returned to my camp in the darkest the night this far north could offer. That night, I prepared.

I placed the sniper rifle on the table, pointed off center at a camp fire that was out in the open. I had a caribou of my own I was carving up. It gave me an excuse as to why I had a knife in my hands. My hope was to capture her and find out what was going on. If not, then kill her.

The thought of her disgusted me for some reason, now that I knew, not I didn't know why.

She arrived at the camp and saw the differences. There was no hiding something was up and my quixotic hope she'd see the caribou as the reason faded immediately as young foolishness.

Without words, it was obvious the gig was up. I feinted for the sniper rifle and she got between me and it. She ordered me to drop the knife and seemed to start glowing. I dropped it at my feet and stepped to the side a little bit.

She started to glow brighter and brighter. She said she was sorry. That she didn't want to, but we dragonslayers were never going to give up and she could not...

And at that, I triggered the M82: I had put a remote trigger on the rifle and modern technology trumps arcane magic, bitch. Sorry, Papi. I am still worked up.

She was definitely dead. She had stood in line with the rifle, just as I had planned if things went bad, and the result was less than pretty. .50 calibre does devastating damage to both watermelons and people, Papi.

I ran over and grabbed the rifle and bolted to where I'd St George tied up. I threw on the rations I'd saved and rode as hard as the terrain would allow away from the camp. As I did so, I heard a roar, a deep and terrible roar from where the dragon's cave was...and I was long gone when I heard the flapping crash of winds as the beast went to my camp. I was a good mile away when I saw the flames of what had been my first home of my own.

I rode on and on. stopping the first two days only to rest St George. I rode until I got to the nearest town and just outside, I hid the M82 and other weapons. I took a night at a hotel and slept like the dead.

I am taking the time to write this. Someone must know of what I found in case I do not return. Someone must find the truth of Dracen. You need to confront Pipo Tomas. There is something more to our Curse, to our story than what we have been told. Find it, Papi. Tell it. It might be the difference for future generations if I do not return.

Tomorrow, after I mail this letter, I am riding up to kill the beast. I will have been gone for more than two weeks. It is time to go in and kill the beast.

Don't worry, I'll do it as cautiously as I can, but I must go into its lair and I do not know what lies within. Don't worry too much: I have my own bag of tricks, Papi.

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