“They don’t. I do.” he sighed, got up slowly wandering to the flagon where Eric kept his fermented milk. “We’re inbreds father, you yourself know that, and talked to mother about it when I was little and you thought we’re asleep.” Eric remained silent watching his son carefully. “I want to bring people here.” he turned sipping milk from a goblet he had found next to the flagon.

“Whom?” Eric too sipped milk, pondering whether Erica would sleep better if, he dismissed the idea right away. “The weak humans? We’re not degenerated enough to mix our peoples blood with that of man. They are too weak, too young and impulsive.” he put the goblet back on the table. “How about those of the wood-walkers north-west of here? The ancestral tales tell them to be stronger than the humans.” Leif sat back down, goblet in hand. Again taking a few sips Eric shook his head, careful as to not spill any of the milk. “Even those are weaker than our blood.” Eric dismissed, shocked as Leif put down the goblet violently banging the table. “You are too proud father! Our people are facing extinction! It won’t be now, but my sister might as well be the last girl ever born to our kind! If we do not infuse our inbred society with fresh blood we might as well hand the world over to the dragons!” Leif took a few deep breaths. “Forgive my outburst, but we must act while we can.”

Slowly relaxing his tightly clenched jaws Eric raised an eyebrow. “How so?”

“There were twenty-three days of sun here in the last year. Twenty-three! That is twenty more than usual.” one of his riddles answered Eric wrinkled his forehead nonetheless, ponderous he stared at the goblet. Yngrid dead and Erica demanding food every two hours was wearing him out enough, Leif’s talk of ships and fresh blood was giving him a headache. “Father, our ancestors were two and a half meters tall on average. The tallest man alive today is ot even two meters. We’re degenerating in strength, height, our magic powers have declined and we produce almost only boys. We need the other races. Badly. The others will see it too, once they have been presented the evidence.” Leif got back up again pacing up and down the length of the room. “Our magical powers have all but vanished.” Eric raised his eyes to his pacing son. The cloak hanging from the shoulders of his son was still dripping wet, leaving behind a trail where Leif walked or stood, or sat. “Together with the increase in sunshine and decrease of storms around the poles a sure way sign that the dragons will soon reenter this world, demanding our attention. In the midst of all this chaos we’d forget about our dwindling strength and once the war is over, we the guardians will face extinction, and all our forefathers and foremothers hardship, work and birthing was for naught. I must act now, or never at all.”


Again there was knock on the door, this time Eric heard. Leif quickly threw the hood over his head and face, retreating to the small bedroom his father and mother had slept in, now gone over to Thorsten and his wife, as well as Erica.

Thorsten opened the door revealing yet another knight in his grey hood and cloak with the slain dragon on his chest. “Good evening.” he bid the knight to enter. “Good evening.” the knight also wore the sign of the scholars.

“What brings you to us at this hour?” Eric squinted his eyes trying to read the name, but over time the brandished letters had faded away, only readable from up close. “My name is Theobald, I come to you concerning your son.”

Eric picked up the goblet again, suddenly realizing that Leif’s goblet still was on the table. “Which one?” “Leif.” Theobald looked at the puddles of water at the table and across the length of the room, also noticing the goblet. Slowly he sat down. “He interpreted all the signs correctly, soon there will be dragons swarming out of that mountain.” Theobald slowly turned the goblet before him. “I must congratulate you.” he looked at Eric, “The birth of your daughter?” he added after Eric looked rather bewildered.

“In any case, Leif has voiced some rather,” he curved his lips looking for the correct words, “controversial theories. If he were to spread those amongst the villages, it could make people uncomfortable, if not to say outraged. Should he come to see you,”

“It is forbidden, isn’t it?” Eric interrupted, causing the old knight to smile. “It is, and your Leif is no Oath breaker, is it that which you want to say?” Thorsten clenched fists under the table, his little broher was a loyal man, the.concerns he had were radical of thought, but nonetheless his solution was noble.

“Am I to take it you are forbidding him to pursue his ideas, what ever those might be?” Eric had to be cautious. Theobald very well knew that Leif wa sin the house, but couldn’t prove it, he did not see him either. The.old.knight also.knew that Eric was fully aware of Leif’s theories and solutions. Yet he also couldn’t prove that.

On th eoher hand Eric could try and gain a little information on them from the order.

“I am saying that he is to be cautious, best not let anyone know what is going on.” he looked Eric up and down. A strong man, hard working farmer, the thin soil on the pole was unforgiving, and gard to work with, animals were hard to feed as well. “I came to ponder, now that you are a widower, will you remarry, or will you step aside for your son?” he nodded towards Thorsten who could very well lead the farm on his own. “You want me to join the order?” Eric had no intent to speak in riddles when it came to the subject matter of his own future.

“The order could use a strong man like yourself, capable hands, muscles. Take the vows, all of them, be taught how to fight and you’ll be a noble knight.” a side glance to Thorsten made him clear his throat, “Your son, whise wife is pregnant as I’m given to understand, can take care of your daughter.”

Giving the old knight a broad grin Eric shook his head softly. “I’m a farmer, I’ll die a farmer.” Well aware that his words had been falling on deaf ears all along Theobald rose from the table. “Well, I had to try, since dusk is approaching.” he drew up the hood over his head. “If by all means plans for a certain type of ship should emerge in the libraries of the order, plans of a young knight might get approved.” he winked at Eric before leaving.