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

Chapter 8: The Relic's Lure

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The words lanced through Ellie like a physical blow. She couldn’t bear the thought of Tyler leaving, let alone to face the terrifying Dragonkin Marauders. Her fingers instinctively found the Seafarer’s Sigil in her pocket, but the ancient relic offered no reassurance.

The warm spring breeze carried the sweet fragrance of wildflowers across the secluded meadow. Ellie and Tyler were alone, the tall grass swaying lazily around them. Puffy white clouds drifted across the sky, casting shadows that danced over the dell.

Ellie pulled the compass from her jacket and held it out to Tyler. “Here, take this. It will guide you back to me.”

“I don’t know how to read those strange symbols. You should keep it, El.”

He reached into his own pocket, retrieving something small. “But I do have something for you.”

Ellie watched as Tyler opened his hand, revealing a simple silver ring. She blinked, momentarily at a loss for words as she looked at the piece of jewelry and Tyler’s face.

“It’s for you,” he said softly. “I want you to wear it . . . as a promise that I’ll come back to you.”

Ellie felt a surge of emotions. She extended her hand. Tyler slipped the ring onto her finger, his touch lingering for a heartbeat.

The cool metal seemed to anchor her, a tangible reminder of the bond they shared. Ellie studied the simple band, blinking back the tears that threatened to spill over.

“I’ll keep it safe,” Ellie said as the two of them embraced. “And you’d better come back in one piece, or I’ll have to use this compass to hunt you down myself.”

Tyler laughed softly. “I’m sure you will.”

Before she could respond, he leaned in and planted a tender kiss on her lips. It wasn’t like their usual quick pecks. This kiss lingered, soft and unhurried, sending a shiver of warmth through her body. When they parted, a rosy hue tinged Ellie’s cheeks while her heart danced a rapid beat within her.

“Ellie . . .” Tyler took her hands in his. “I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”

The words felt right. “I want that too,” Ellie said. “To always be by your side. For the rest of our lives.”

Tyler gazed deeply into Ellie’s eyes. “Ellie, I love you. With all my heart.”

“I love you too, Tyler. So much.”

He squeezed her hands gently. “Then let’s spend the whole day together. Just you and me, before I have to leave in the morning.”

Part of Ellie wanted nothing more. To savor every precious moment with Tyler before their world was upended. But the matter with the Moon Flower still needed settled.

“I need to see the mayor first,” Ellie said. “I have to tell her I returned the Moon Flower to the forest, so the town won’t be flooded.”

“You’re right, we should take care of that right away. The sooner it’s dealt with, the sooner we can have our day together.”

As Ellie and Tyler made their way toward the heart of Crystal Shores, the air was filled with the raucous calls of seagulls overhead, mingling with the gentle lapping of the lake’s waves against the shore. The lake’s breeze carried with it the occasional shout of a fishmonger hawking his fresh catch in the distance. Market vendors setting up their stalls added a backdrop of clinks and clatters, while children’s laughter echoed from the nearby lanes as they played hopscotch on the cobblestones.

“So what is this . . . Dragonspine war called anyway?” Ellie asked, breaking the comfortable silence between them.

Tyler gave a small chuckle. “You mean the conflict with the Dragonkin Marauders? I’m not sure there’s an official name for it yet.”

“Dragonspine War sounds good to me,” Ellie said. “Has a nice ominous ring to it.”

“Leave it to you to come up with something so foreboding. But I like it. The Dragonspine War it is.”

As they walked, Ellie filled the quiet stretches with idle chatter about the peculiar relic they’d found in the iceberg and her concerns for her grandfather’s health. Tyler responded with thoughtful nods and reassuring words, his arm brushing against hers from time to time.

Before long, the imposing facade of the town hall came into view, its clock tower stretching toward the sky.

The doors parted with a creak, and they stepped into the cool interior of the building. A middle-aged woman stood sorting through papers at the counter.

“Good morning, Ellie,” the receptionist said with a polite smile. “How can I help you?”

“Nice to see you, Mrs. Thorne,” Ellie said. “I need to speak with Mayor Wright; it’s urgent.”

“You’re in luck, dear. Mayor Wright is still in her office, but you’ll need to hurry. We close in just a few minutes . . . being the weekend and all.”

She leaned forward conspiratorially. “The mayor is meeting with Mr. Brooks at the moment, but I’m sure she won’t mind being interrupted for something urgent.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Thorne,” Ellie said with an appreciative nod before turning to Tyler.

They made their way down the dimly lit corridor, their footsteps muffled by the crimson carpet. The hallway was lined with framed photographs and plaques commemorating the town’s history—one sepia-toned image captured a crew of grizzled fishermen hauling in their nets on the docks. Another plaque displayed a faded map of the coastline, tracing the perilous shoals and hidden reefs that had claimed many an unwary vessel over the centuries.

All too soon, they reached the end of the hall. A gilded plaque proclaimed “Mayor Helen Wright” in an elegant script. The door hung slightly ajar, and muffled voices filtered through the opening—the mayor’s authoritative tone mingling with the deeper timbre of a man’s voice.

Ellie paused, her hand poised to knock. A burst of laughter rang out from within the office. She exchanged a glance with Tyler, taking a steadying breath before rapping her knuckles against the door.

The mayor’s voice rang out, “Come in!”

Ellie pushed open the door, Tyler following close behind. Mayor Wright sat behind an ornate desk. A man dressed in a suit and tie occupied one of the chairs facing her.

“Ah, Eloise Harper and Tyler Green,” the mayor greeted them. “And what brings you two to my office today?”

Ellie cleared her throat. “If you have a minute, I’d like to explain something to you.”

The mayor looked over at the man sitting in the chair. “This is Gavin Brooks. A local entrepreneur interested in some of our town’s . . . artifacts. You can speak freely in front of him.”

Gavin Brooks gave them a curt nod but remained silent.

“So what is this thing that you need to explain?” the mayor prompted.

Ellie took a deep breath. “Mayor Wright, I wanted to let you know about what happened with the Moon Flower at the art competition.”

The mayor’s expression hardened slightly. “Yes, I heard there was some . . . irregularity with your submission.”

“I took a real Moon Flower from the Thornveil Wilds,” Ellie said. “But I returned it yesterday and put it back exactly where I found it.”

Tyler spoke up. “I was with her. We made sure the Moon Flower was safely replanted in the forest.”

Mayor Wright considered this for a moment, tapping her pen against the desk. “I see. Well, I appreciate you taking responsibility and ensuring no harm came to the town, Eloise.”

Gavin suddenly leaned forward, squinting at Ellie. “What’s that glowing in your jacket?”

Ellie’s hand went to her pocket, feeling the artifact through the fabric. After a moment’s hesitation, she pulled out the Seafarer’s Sigil, its bulb of liquid pulsing with that otherworldly light.

Gavin’s eyes went wide. “What is that remarkable object?”

“It’s . . . an artifact we found,” Ellie said cautiously, unsure of how much to reveal. “We’re still trying to understand what it is exactly.”

“May I take a look?” Gavin asked, his voice tinged with eagerness as he extended his hand.

Ellie handed it to Gavin. The artifact seemed to lose its energy as it left her grasp, its warm glow faded.

Gavin took the relic reverently, cradling it in his palms as he leaned forward to study it.

“Extraordinary,” he said, turning the piece to examine it from every angle. “Simply extraordinary. Where did you find this?”

Ellie glanced at Tyler, considering how much to divulge. “Down by the shoreline, near the icebergs.”

“And you have no idea what it is?”

Ellie shook her head. “Not really. Just that it seems to be some kind of . . . compass, maybe?”

She bit her tongue to avoid mentioning what her grandfather had told her about the Seafarer’s Sigil. Somehow, she sensed it was wiser to keep that knowledge to herself for now.

Gavin let out a low whistle. “If this is what I think it might be, it could be worth a small fortune.” He looked up at Ellie. “Maybe five hundred silver pieces or more.”

A thrill of possibility electrified Ellie’s every nerve. Five hundred silver pieces should be more than enough to purchase the rare Elixiron cure for her grandpa. After all her efforts, the solution might have quite literally fallen into her hands.

“Would you . . .” Gavin began. “Would you consider allowing me to take possession of this for a short time? Just temporarily, you understand. To study it further and determine its full value?”

Ellie’s euphoria deflated slightly as uncertainty crept in. Parting with the Sigil, even briefly, filled her with a strange sense of trepidation. Yet the promise of securing her grandfather’s cure was an enticing prospect.

All eyes turned to her, awaiting her response. The mayor’s polite mask concealed any hint of her thoughts on the matter. Tyler gave an imperceptible shake of his head, not wanting her to give it up.

Ellie sensed the eagerness radiating from Gavin, his gaze fixed intently on her as he cradled the relic in his palm. She desperately weighed the pros and cons. The allure of securing enough funds to purchase her grandfather’s cure sang a sweet siren song in her mind.

Mayor Helen Wright
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