Dragontide's Daughter by Strewnpapers | World Anvil Manuscripts | World Anvil

Chapter 11: An Offer Too Good to Refuse

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Ellie let out an exasperated sigh. “But I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to actually use it. How do I get it to show me where to go?”

Kendrick smiled reassuringly. “Not to worry, my dear. I would be more than happy to guide you through the process, as best I can.”

He angled the sigil so its luminous face caught the light. “You see this etching here, coiled like a dragon’s tail? This is what the Drakken Lords used as their direction-of-travel arrow. Wherever the tip points is the path the sigil wishes you to follow.”

True to his words, Ellie noticed the tip of the sinuous tail did seem to subtly shift and realign itself every few moments, as if straining toward an unseen destination.

“But that’s not all it can reveal.” Kendrick pointed along the outer ring, where a series of strange glyphs and markings encircled the compass rose. “This rotating bezel acts as a gauge of sorts, warning the wielder of potential threats or safe havens along their journey.”

He gave the bezel a delicate twist, and the symbols realigned into new configurations. “Let’s see now . . . ah yes, this jagged rune indicates danger lies ahead should you continue on the current heading. Whereas this spiral signifies a place of sanctuary nearby.”

Ellie leaned closer, marveling at the shifting patterns. The bezel seemed to have an infinite number of possible permutations.

“And this inner dial—do you notice how it appears to float, untethered?” Kendrick asked. “I suspect it acts as a celestial map, aligning itself with the movements of the heavens to better orient the wielder.”

Sure enough, as Ellie peered at the sigil’s face, she could make out faint etchings that resembled constellations and astrological markers along the dial’s circumference.

“So you see, the sigil is more than just a mere compass,” Kendrick said reverently. “It’s an all-encompassing tool of navigation, both for the realms we know and those that may lie just beyond the veil. By attuning yourself to its draconic essence, you’ll be able to interpret its multitude of signs and signals.”

Kendrick handed the compass back to Ellie, knocking over a pencil holder in the process. “With focus and an open mind, you may find it begins to speak to you through symbolic visions . . . whispering the paths you need to tread.”

The compass began glowing as Ellie’s hands cupped the intricate casing, the pulsating blue light cast a glow across her face.

“How does it work to take someone to different realms?”

Kendrick shook his head apologetically. “I’m afraid the full extent of the sigil’s capabilities remains shrouded in mystery. The Drakken Lords guarded their secrets closely.”

“But how can I use it to find the Dragonscale Moss?”

She glanced over at Tyler, who was frowning and shaking his head almost imperceptibly. His expression conveyed a clear message of caution.

“Well now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Kendrick replied. “First, we need to determine if the sigil will even respond to your bloodline’s draconic connection. Why don’t you try communing with it on a small scale first?”

He gestured for Ellie to proceed. “Focus your thoughts and speak your desire to the compass. Something simple, like having it point you toward your own home. If it heeds your command, we’ll know you possess the necessary attunement.”

Ellie nodded, cradling the compass in her palms as she closed her eyes. She took a steadying breath and whispered, “Show me the path to my home.”

At first, nothing seemed to happen. Then the sigil’s glow intensified, bathing the room in its azure radiance. Ellie opened her eyes, eagerly searching the compass face.

But instead of the expected arrow pointing toward the cottage, the direction-of-travel marker spun aimlessly before settling . . . due west. The exact opposite direction of her house.

Ellie felt a pang of disappointment as the Seafarer’s Sigil stubbornly refused to point toward her home. She continued to cradle the compass in her palms as she focused her thoughts once more. “Guide me to my house.”

But the sigil’s direction marker continued spinning aimlessly before settling in a new, equally baffling direction—this time pointing north, toward Lake Dragontide.

Ellie sighed, deflated. “I . . . I don’t understand. Why isn’t it working for me?”

Ellie’s shoulders slumped as one of the onlookers muttered that perhaps she didn’t possess the proper lineage after all.

The archaeologist offered a reassuring smile. “Now, now, don’t be too hard on yourself. Attuning one’s mind to an artifact of such ancient power surely takes practice. The Drakken Lords were said to have spent years mastering the sigil’s intricacies.”

Ellie couldn’t help but feel some doubt. What if her connection to the draconic bloodline wasn’t strong enough? What if she simply lacked the innate ability to wield the sigil’s magic?

“But how can it be used to find the Dragonscale Moss?” she asked, a tinge of desperation creeping into her voice. “I don’t even know what the moss looks like. How can I summon a vision of something I’ve never seen?”

Kendrick considered her words carefully. “Well, you raise an excellent point. In that case, perhaps you’ll need to treat the sigil more like a bloodhound following a scent trail.”

Ellie’ looked confused. “But . . . it doesn’t have a nose.”

“No, no, of course not,” Kendrick chuckled. “What I mean is, you may need to provide it with a sample—a piece of the very thing you’re searching for. Then, like a hound catching the scent, the sigil can attune itself to that essence and guide you toward its source. With that initial sample to act as a beacon, the sigil may be able to illuminate the path toward a larger cache of the precious flora.”

Ellie couldn’t help but feel a tinge of exasperation. “But if I already had some of the moss, I wouldn’t need the compass to find more of it in the first place.”

Kendrick waved a hand dismissively. “It may not require much—a single leaf or spore could be enough to provide the metaphysical trail for the sigil to lock onto. Anything with even the faintest essence of what you seek.”

Just then, the door swung open, and Gavin Brooks strode in with Mayor Helen Wright close behind. Ellie instinctively clutched the Seafarer’s Sigil tighter.

“I heard there was some discussion about a certain compass going on in here,” the mayor said, eyeing the relic in Ellie’s grasp. “Anyone care to fill me in?”

Before the archaeologist could respond, Gavin pushed his way forward, looming over Ellie. “Well now, we meet again. Have you learned how to make that thing work.?”

Ellie hesitated, suddenly self-conscious under the weight of so many watchful stares.

“She doesn’t have what it takes,” someone muttered, just loud enough for Ellie to hear. “Probably just a child’s fantasy.”

Ellie opened her mouth to respond, but Professor Angstrom spoke up first. “Dr. Kendrick is just now teaching her how to use it.”

Gavin leaned closer to Ellie. “I’d be more than happy to take that particular burden off your hands. I’ll give you five hundred gleaming silver pieces for that little bauble. Should be more than enough to purchase this rare Elixiron cure for your dear grandfather, eh?”

Ellie said nothing, her throat constricting as a heavy silence fell over the room. Five hundred Thornveil pieces was enough to ensure Grandpa Joe received the treatment he so desperately needed.

But there was something about the way Gavin’s eyes hungrily roved over the sigil that made Ellie’s skin crawl. This wasn’t just about money for him; he coveted the artifact itself in a way that felt . . . unsettling.

Sensing her hesitation, Gavin sweetened the deal. “Ten Tidecrests, then. A full thousand silver pieces. That’s more than enough for the elixir and a little something extra for your family. In fact, I’ll even track down this elusive cure myself and deliver it right to your doorstep. You have my word.”

Ellie weighed the merits of Gavin’s offer. She knew, deep down, that with enough time and practice, she could learn the sigil’s mysteries. But Grandpa Joe’s condition was worsening by the day. He didn’t have that luxury of time. By the time Ellie mastered the relic’s powers, it might already be too late for him.

For her grandpa’s sake, Ellie decided the best thing to do was to accept the offer—even if Gavin was a greasy worm.

Gavin Brooks
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