Justin’s fondest memories:
The place that he called home,
The people he called family,
The fields in which he’d roam.
He was a Dragon Rider,
Even though he wasn’t born,
He ate and drank their customs --
Their allegiance he was sworn.
The night that Justin came to them
Lightning filled the sky.
The rain was whipping sideways,
You could feel the thunder’s cry.
The man rode at a gallop,
Deep imprints in the mud.
The horse’s nostrils flaring,
Heaving chest and frothing blood.
He stopped outside the tavern,
There was commotion from inside.
He checked the bundle strapped to him,
Loosening the knots that held it tied.
He wore a hooded riding cloak,
Soaked through and black as night.
A short sword hung from his left side,
A long sword from his right.
Checking to make sure his hood
Was covering his face,
He lifted up the door latch,
Then he stepped into the place.
His eyes adjusted quickly
To the bright lights in the room,
Trained to notice everything
And never to assume.
He counted fifteen riders
Spread about the inn.
Fifteen pairs of rugged eyes
As they all looked at him.
No one saw his smile
From underneath his hood,
But even if they knew his thoughts,
Wouldn’t have done them any good.
The stranger walked up to the bar,
Rain dripping from his cloak.
He turned to face the riders --
In a commanding voice he spoke.
“My name is Garrett Tanner.
I’d like to make this quick.
I’m looking for a rider,
A man whose name is Nick.”
The riders started chattering,
The tension you could feel.
One of them approached the man,
Stopped dead, with blur of steel.
“I wouldn’t!” said the stranger,
Both swords drawn from his coat.
One pointed at the young man
Within inches of his throat.
“I did not come to fight you,
But if I must I will.
Though, losing fifteen riders --
Shoes really to hard to fill.”
The rider slowly backed away,
Stopped the others with a wave,
“Stranger, we’ll get Nick for you,
Then we’ll mark this spot your grave.”
Again the stranger smiled
As he re-sheathed both his blades,
“Just tell him Tanner’s here for him
And his humor slowly fades.”
The rider sent a messenger,
Then said, “This warning I will give:
The rider that you ask for
Is the best that’s ever lived.”
“Maybe you’re just crazy,
Or never heard of him,
But he’s a legend among riders
With his dragon, Tamarin.”
Garrett said, “I’ve heard of him,
Both legends man and beast,
I also know the dragon’s gone --
It’s been two years at least.”
Just then the door burst open
And, through it, stepped a man
With gigantic muscled shoulders,
Battle scars and weathered tan.
There was a smirk upon his lips
As he looked the strangers way,
“Someone roused me from my sleep,
Now this man will have to pay.”
“Sleep won’t help your beauty much,”
Was Garrett’s cool reply.
“I’d rather kiss my horse’s rump
Than look you in the eye.”
The tavern filled with laughter,
But then, was quickly stopped,
As Nick looked at the riders --
The smiles quickly dropped.
Then a smile split Nick’s face,
“Why Tanner, dare you speak?
I always knew it’d be a horse
Would make your knees go weak.”
Garrett threw his hood back
And everyone could see,
Admiration that these men had,
With respect and dignity.
Nick looked close at Garrett,
“What is it brought you here?
I know you did not come this far
Just to share a beer.”
“And what, if I may ask you,
Is that thing strapped to your chest?
I swore that I did see it move,
But surely, my eyes jest.”
“The powder that I’d given him
So he could survive the ride,
Is starting now to lose its hold --
I can feel him move inside.”
Garrett took the bundle off,
Unwrapped the leather skin,
A little boy of one or two
Was safely tucked within.
“I need to leave him here with you
Until I can return.
I wouldn’t ask you such a thing
If it wasn’t of great concern.”
“Both his parents murdered,
But he’s the one they seek.
I need to find who did this,
I’ll be back within a week.”
Nick looked at his friend and said,
“The boy is safe with us.
If you say this needs to be,
In your word, I’ll put my trust.”
Garrett spoke, “There’s one more thing --
I need the rider’s oath,
That tonight did never happen,
For the protection of us both.”
“My men and I will take this night
To our very grave.”
And all around the dim lit room,
The rider’s oath was gave.
Garrett reached to hug his friend,
“Well, you know, I’d love to stay,
But time will wait for no man.
So, I must be on my way.”
That was twenty years ago:
So Justin found a home,
People he called family,
And a destiny, all his own.
So our past is neatly tucked away
And tomorrow may never come.
So, the choices that we make today,
Will dictate where we’re from…