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

Chapter 1: Need

434 0 0

In the shadowy confines of their modest home, seventeen-year-old Ellie Harper kept a vigil by her grandpa Joe's bedside. The soft murmur of the great lake just beyond their doorstep and the distant music from the springtime Iceberg Festival stood in stark relief against the oppressive hush that had enveloped the room. The only other sounds were the faint rustle of Dr. Bennett's movements as he concluded his examination, the clink of medical instruments gently laid to rest.

Dr. Bennet carefully stowed his stethoscope in a bag that bore the marks of countless house calls. He then retrieved a tiny bottle from the depths of his medical kit, its contents obscured by the dim light.

"Is that Elixiron?" Ellie's voice broke the silence as she fixed her gaze on the vial now resting on the side table.

With a weary exhale, Dr. Bennett met Ellie's anxious stare. "Elixiron is a rare commodity, Ellie. And its cost is steep, well beyond the means of Crystal Shores' residents."

The finality in his tone felt like a cold tide washing over Ellie. The injustice of it all—that wealth could dictate the value of a life—kindled a spark of defiance within her. "But if it could heal him, shouldn't we try? Grandpa's life is worth more than any price tag."

Dr. Bennett's response was gentle. "We Shorlings are simple folks, sustained by the bounty of Lake Dragontide. Despite its generosity, none of us, not I or even Mayor Wright, have the means to afford it."

"But it's not his time to die, is it? He should have many more years ahead of him." Tears glistened in Ellie's eyes as she fought to hold them back.

"You're right, Ellie. Your grandpa's time is not meant to be up yet." He paused as if weighing his words carefully. "The truth is, this illness that has gripped him is quite mysterious. I have never seen anything like it before."

Ellie's heart sank. "So there's nothing we can do to help him?"

Dr. Bennett nodded slowly. "There is one thing that could potentially help him, but it's a long shot." He reached into his bag again and pulled out a small notebook filled with scribbled notes and diagrams.

"This is my research on Elixiron." A nearby lamp cast a warm pool of light as he flipped through the worn pages. "I have been studying its effects for years, and I believe it has the power to cure your grandpa's illness."

Ellie leaned in, her curiosity piqued by the meticulous diagrams and handwritten notes.

"We can gather most of what we need—Starlight Dew, Glimmerpetal Powder, Auron Herb, Silvermist Essence, and Heartwood Bark." He tapped the page with a finger gnarled from years of practice.

A thrill of hope sparked within Ellie, bright and sudden as a shooting star. "You mean we can make the Elixiron?"

"These ingredients," he sighed, "as rare and costly as they are, we can manage. But there's one more elusive and guarded." His eyes met Ellie's. "It's the Dragonscale Moss from Thornveil Wilds. And no one dares to tread those grounds."

Ellie's heart sank at the mention of the Thornveil Wilds, a place shrouded in mystery and danger. As far as she knew, no one had ever ventured there and returned alive.

"Don't be filling her head with such notions," Ellie's mom said, wiping her hands on her apron. "We can't have her chasing fairy tales, especially in the forbidden forest."

"I apologize, Sarah." He closed the notebook and tucked it back into his bag. "I didn't mean to sow seeds of reckless hope."

"I suppose there's no way to get the Elixiron, then." Ellie's voice trailed off as she eyed the modest bottle of medicine resting innocuously beside Grandpa Joe's makeshift bed in the corner of the living room. "There's got to be something more effective than that stuff you've left for Grandpa." The word 'stuff' held an edge of disdain—not for Dr. Bennett, but for the sheer helplessness of their situation.

Dr. Bennett stood; his chair scraped lightly against the wooden floor. "There may be another way. I've heard rumors of a map that leads to Elixiron hidden somewhere in Crystal Shores. It was said to belong to an old sailor who used to live here many years ago."

Ellie fiddled with the necklace around her neck, its pendant an intricately carved dragon. It was a cherished family heirloom, passed down from her great-grandmother, linking generations with its enduring presence. "Do you know where it's at?"

"I don't know where this map could be," Dr. Bennett said. "It could be a lost treasure or just a rumor."

Grandpa Joe's weakened frame shuddered with each cough; his hand trembled as he raised it to wipe the phlegm from his mouth. With a weak voice, he managed to speak, "That old sailor is me, doctor."

The room fell into a hush. Ellie's gaze locked onto her grandfather. "Do you have the map to the Elixiron, Grandpa?"

Grandpa Joe glanced at Ellie, his eyes reflecting both love and apprehension. "Life's currents, my dear Ellie," he began, his tone grave yet tinged with nostalgia for past voyages. "They ebb and flow like our beloved Dragontide. It's not just about reaching shore but about enduring the storms that test our mettle."

Ellie tried to make sense of her grandfather's cryptic words. His wise sayings often left her more puzzled than enlightened. She leaned forward, resting her elbows on the weathered wooden table that stood between them. "What do you mean, Grandpa?"

He took a sip of his tea, the steam curling up from the chipped mug. "Ah, Ellie, the Elixiron is a legend as old as the lake itself. They say it holds the power to heal any ailment, to grant life everlasting. But the path to reach it is fraught with perils unseen, dangers lurking beneath tranquil waters."

Shaking her head, Ellie couldn't bring herself to accept such a passive stance towards the looming shadow of death. Her eyes wandered to the old chest that rested in the shadowy corner of the room, a silent guardian of Grandpa Joe's vast and vibrant history. She knew every inch of its contents, having explored it with wide-eyed wonder since she was a child. Maps that spoke of distant shores, and exotic trinkets from lands Ellie had only dreamed of. 

Ellie leaned back in her chair, the old wood creaking under her weight. She crossed her arms, a skeptical look on her face. "But Grandpa, you haven't answered my question. Do you have the map?"

Grandpa Joe's weathered face creased with worry. "Ellie, you must understand how perilous that forest is, child. Promise me, promise me now, that you won't venture into those forbidden lands."

Ellie's mother added, "Your grandpa speaks true words, Ellie. Please promise us you won't risk your life for this."

Reluctantly nodding in agreement under their watchful gazes, Ellie felt the weight of her promise settle heavily on her shoulders.

As thoughts raced through her mind searching for another solution, she remembered the upcoming Iceberg Festival competition offering a substantial prize purse. Ellie turned to her mother. "What if I were to win first prize in the festival's competition, would that be enough to buy Elixiron."

With a sad smile, Ellie's mother shared a simple saying passed down through generations: "A storm may rage, but the calm waters always return."

The words lingered in the air, carrying little comfort and hope. "Why do Shorlings speak with proverbs? I have no gift for those wise thoughts."

Ellie's mother sighed with a weariness that seemed to transcend mere fatigue. "Ellie, dear, could you help me dry the dishes? It'll keep your mind occupied."

Though her thoughts were still on Elixiron, Ellie nodded. She followed her mother into the plain kitchen, the scent of home-cooked meals mingled with the sweet smells from the festival that floated in through the window.

As Ellie took her place at the sink, her mother passed her a damp plate, the ceramic still warm from the soapy water. Ellie accepted it, running the worn towel over its surface.

In the other room, she could hear Dr. Bennett gathering his belongings, the swish of fabric and the faint clink of glass vials. His footsteps approached, signaling his impending departure.

"Thank you for your care, Doctor," Ellie's mother said. "We'll follow your instructions to the letter."

Dr. Bennett's reply was muffled, but Ellie could discern the solemn cadence of his words. A moment later the door opened, and a gust of crisp lake air swept through the house, carrying with it the distant strains of festive music.

Before the door could swing shut, another figure appeared on the threshold. "Hey, El!"

Ellie recognized the familiar voice instantly. It was Tyler Green, her best friend since childhood and partner in countless adventures along the shores of Lake Dragontide. She hastily dried the cup she was holding and placed it in the cupboard. "I'm gonna enter the competition."

Tyler's eyes lit up with excitement, a wide grin spreading across his face as he clapped Ellie on the back. "Ellie, this is brilliant! Entering the contest is a fantastic idea. But I think the entry deadline is by midnight tonight."

As Ellie dried a delicate porcelain plate that her mother had just washed, the cozy kitchen was suddenly invaded by a fierce gust of wind. The windows rattled ominously, their panes vibrating in protest against the unexpected intrusion of the outside world. It was as if nature itself was trying to convey a message, whispering secrets of an uncertain future that loomed ahead.

"Whoa." Tyler's expression shifted from joy to mild concern as he glanced at the quivering windows. "That was intense. Almost like the universe is giving us a heads-up or something."

Ellie paused for a moment, then she carefully placed the now gleaming plate back in its designated spot. "Maybe it's a sign." Her gaze drifted toward the turbulent sky visible through the window. "A sign that things are about to change."

Please Login in order to comment!