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

Chapter 25: The Bog Dwellers' Bargain

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Crouched behind the fallen log, Ellie watched as Pipwhistle rummaged through his cloak, muttering to himself. “Now where did I put that blasted thing?”

“What are you looking for?” Ellie watched nervously as fiery projectiles continued to rain down around them.

“Aha!” Pipwhistle exclaimed, triumphantly pulling a white cloth from a pocket. “Found it! We need to show them we mean no harm.”

With a flourish, he waved the cloth above the log, its pale surface stark against the darkness. “Truce!” he called out in a surprisingly loud voice. “We come in peace, good folk of the Bog!”

Slowly, the barrage of arrows ceased, and an eerie silence settled over the clearing. Pipwhistle stood up first, hands raised in a gesture of peace. “Stay close, Ellie.”

Pipwhistle stepped out from behind the log. “Greetings, friends!” His voice echoed through the clearing. “We mean you no harm.”

Ellie followed Pipwhistle as they cautiously approached the villagers, who eyed them with suspicion. The light from the torches held by the dwellers cast long shadows.

“Pipwhistle?” one of the figures said. “Is that you?”

“The one and only, kind Fenwick!” Pipwhistle replied with a theatrical bow. “And this is my companion, Ellie. We’re just passing through on a most important quest.”

“What mischief have you brought to our home this time?”

Pip offered an easy smile, spreading his hands in a placating gesture. “Mischief? Why, perish the thought, my dear Fenwick! I've simply brought a weary traveler in need of your hospitality.”

“But what brings you here at this hour, and in such a . . . disheveled state?” Fenwick´s eyes narrowed as they settled on Ellie. “And what business does this outsider have in the Bog of Shadows?”

Pip placed a hand on Ellie's back. “Ah, but you see, my friend, this 'outsider' is no mere traveler. She seeks the Dragonscale Moss, a rare and precious ingredient found only in the heart of these accursed Wilds.”

“The Dragonscale Moss? You know we dare not trespass in that forbidden place.” Fenwick spat on the ground. “The dragon's wrath is not to be provoked.”

Pipwhistle gestured towards Ellie’s mud-caked legs and bare feet. “We had a bit of a mishap in the bog, as you can see. My dear Ellie here lost her boots to the swamp trolls, and we were hoping you might have a spare pair lying around.”

The villagers murmured among themselves, clearly distrustful of strangers, as they took in Ellie’s mud-caked appearance. An elder woman, carrying an air of authority, emerged from the group. She examined Ellie, her eyes lingering on the dragon pendant around Ellie’s neck.

“We don’t give our resources to outsiders lightly,” the elder woman said. “What can you offer us in return?”

“I . . . I don’t have much,” Ellie stammered, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment. “But I can pay you for the boots.”

Ellie reached for the remaining Thornveil piece she had in her pocket, but her fingers grasped at nothing. “I had some money, but it’s missing.”

The bog dwellers laughed “We don’t want your coin, child,” the elder woman said. “We want the dragon’s tear.”

Ellie’s hand instinctively flew to her pendant. “My necklace? This isn´t a dragon´s tear.”

The villagers whispered amongst themselves in their strange language, their voices filled with an eager anticipation.

 “I can’t give this up. It´s been in my family a long time.” Ellie´s voice trembled with emotion.

Pip gave a dismissive wave of his hand. “Ah, but you forget, my friends—only one with the draconic bloodline can wield its power.” He flashed Ellie a conspiratorial wink. “And this young lady here has Drakken’s own blood in her veins. The sigil has chosen her.”

“The Drakken's blood, you say?” Fenwick looked at the elder woman, then turned to the other villagers, muttering something in a language Ellie didn't understand.

After a tense moment, Fenwick faced them once more. “We will allow you to rest in our village for the night. But the girl must surrender her dragon's tear.”

Ellie did not want to give up her necklace. Yet, without boots, she would be forced to turn back, abandoning her quest to find the moss and the chance to save her ailing grandpa. Ellie glanced at Pip, silently pleading for his guidance, her earlier trust in him now tinged with uncertainty.

Pip regarded her with a reassuring smile. “Do not fret—the sigil's power runs deep within you. The necklace is merely a container for the essence, not its source.”

Ellie knew she had to make a decision, and quickly. The fate of her quest, and perhaps even her grandfather’s life, hung in the balance.

Just as she was about to reluctantly agree, Pipwhistle let out a dramatic gasp, clutching his chest as if struck by a sudden revelation. “Wait!” he cried, his voice ringing with urgency. “I have an idea!”

He reached into his cloak and, with a flourish, produced the very silver coin Ellie had been searching for. “Look what I found!” he exclaimed, holding it up to the torchlight. “A shiny silver piece! Surely this is worth more than a mere trinket, wouldn't you say?”

“Where did you find that?” Ellie asked, suspicion creeping into her voice.

“A Quibnocket never reveals his secrets, my dear. But let's just say this little treasure fell into my lap at the most opportune moment.”

He turned to the bog dwellers, his voice taking on a persuasive tone. “This coin,” he said, “is not just any ordinary currency. It's a symbol of immediate value, something you can use right here and now. The dragon's tear, on the other hand, requires a special bloodline to unlock its true potential. It may be powerful, but its power is dormant without the right touch.”

Fenwick studied the coin, then glanced at the necklace. After a moment, he said, “Very well. The coin will do. We have some boots that might fit the girl. Follow me.”

“Very well,” the elder woman said. But be warned, we do not tolerate any mischief or trickery.”

Pipwhistle gave a theatrical bow. “You have my word, good lady. We are but humble travelers seeking shelter and a bit of respite.”

The bog dwellers parted, allowing Ellie and Pipwhistle to pass. As they entered the village, Ellie couldn't help but feel a sense of unease. The huts were made of wood and thatch, with smoke curling from their chimneys.

Fenwick gestured toward one of the huts. “This way. But remember, be gone by sunrise.”

A female emerged from one of the huts, carrying a pair of worn leather boots. “These belonged to my son,” she said. “He outgrew them, but they should fit you.”

Ellie gratefully accepted the boots, slipping them onto her sore feet. They were a bit too big, but they were infinitely better than walking barefoot.

“Thank you,” Ellie said, her voice thick with gratitude.

Ellie and Pipwhistle entered the hut. A fire crackled in the hearth, casting a warm glow over the simple furnishings. Two straw mats lay on the floor, covered with a rough woolen blanket.

Ellie sank onto the mattress with a sigh, her exhaustion finally catching up with her. “Thank you, Pip. I don't know what I would have done without you.”

Pipwhistle perched on a stool beside the fire. “Think nothing of it, my dear. A Quibnocket always looks out for his fellow travelers.”

Once they were alone, Ellie turned to Pipwhistle. “Did you take that coin from me?”

Pipwhistle’s eyes twinkled with mischief. “I might have borrowed it, but it was for a good cause, don’t you think?” He paused, then added, “But do try to avoid losing your boots to swamp trolls in the future. It's not a good look for a budding adventurer.”

Ellie chuckled softly, the tension draining from her body. She pulled the blanket around her, the warmth of the fire lulling her into a state of drowsy contentment.

“Pipwhistle?” she said, her eyelids growing heavy.

“Yes, my dear?”

“Do you think . . . do you think I'll be able to find the Dragonscale Moss?”

“I believe you will, Ellie. You have a strong heart and a determined spirit. And besides,” he added, “you have the Seafarer's Sigil to guide you.”

Ellie nodded, her eyes closing as sleep finally claimed her. The last thing she heard was the soft jingle of Pipwhistle's bells as he settled down beside the fire, his watchful gaze fixed on the flames.

Bog Dwellers
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