In The Leftovers Daily Post, we are challenged to write about something that we have not opened or looked at for a long time. In keeping with the world of Lorata, I am writing today about a little something that Zarrek keeps around.
Loracaz knew about the box that his father kept at the bottom of the old trunk. The king never talked to his son about the box, but its presence had not gone unnoticed. When Loracaz was young, he had spent a great deal of his day with his mother in the chambers that she shared with King Zarrek, and the little prince had been allowed to look through their things, as curious children do. Underneath an old quilt and even older clothes– those that he never saw his father wear– there was a box made of mahogany so old that the boy had pondered whether it was older than even his father. The grain was rich and dark, and he brushed his fingers across it as he knelt over the trunk. The thin layer of lacquer protected the wood but did not obscure the feel of it.
His mother had not been looking when he found the box. It was probably the harp that day; she liked to play music for her child, though he showed little interest in playing himself. Loracaz lifted the box out of the trunk, an old cloak sliding back down as he did so, and admired it. The wood had no knots in it, and the seams were very subtle; fine workmanship indeed. There was a small keyhole in the front of the box, but he found out– much to his surprise– that it had not been locked. He pulled too strongly at the lid, not realizing that it would give in to him so easily, and in his surprise toppled over the box.
His mother swooped in as soon as she heard the entirety of its contents clatter to the stone floor. She was surprised, he found, not angry that he had gotten into it. He looked over the items as she wrapped her arms around him, still curious as to what the vessel had held.
“Now, now, little Lor, you mustn’t be so naughty,” she told him, her voice soothing, not in the least upset.
“What is that?” the boy asked back.
Starshine turned and glanced over the things that had fallen across the floor. There were a few rings, some of them darkened silver, one malachite, another with an opposing ruby and sapphire set in it, one gold that would have shone if it had not been so long since its last polishing. There was a clasp from a cloak that looked much like the clutch of a dragon’s claws, and a silver chain with the pendant of a shadowy crescent moon. Loracaz had seen the crescent moon on his father’s dagger before, so that much was familiar.
“These were your grandfather’s things,” she soothed absent-mindely and she reached over to grab a pair of daggers that had tumbled from the box. Though they were sheathed, she did not want to take a chance on her son hurting himself with them. Their handles reminded him of dragon scales, their curvature like a dragon’s spine as it arched its back in battle. They were both graceful and powerful, and the young prince wondered whether they had ever seen battle.
“Did he give them to my father?”
Pausing to smile at her son, Starshine gave a faint smile, one shadowed by a sad memory of some kind. “In a manner of speaking, yes. Your father knew that he would be the only one to take care of these things.”
She gathered up several more of the trinkets, Loracaz helping her in his own small way. He looked carefully over the things he found, though his mother seemed hurried to put them away.
One of the items was curious indeed. “What is this?” he asked, holding up a black curvature, a thing that came to a point and look ready to rend the flesh of an opponent. “It looks like a dragon’s claw. Is it real, mother?”
Starshine grabbed the thing from his hand more quickly than she liked to, and shut it away in the mahogany box. “You mustn’t worry about that, my son. Your father would not want you to touch it without him here.”
“But what is it?”
Sighing, his mother finished gathering up the items, among them a small key. She shut the lid of the box quietly, and slid the key into its locked. It turned with a soft click, after which she place dthe key in her pocket.
“These things are very special to your father,” she told her son as she pulled the blankets and clothes out of the old trunk. “They are all that he has left of his own father, and he wants to protect them… much like he protects you.”
Starshine carefully lowered the box back to the bottom of the trunk, and then went about refolding the clothes that had covered it.
“What happened to him?” Loracaz wanted to know.
She paused for a moment to give her son a saddened look, and then laid a folded cloak on top of the box. “Enough questions, my sweet boy. “Your father would not want you to worry about something that happened so long ago.”
She finished folding and putting the items away, closed the lid of the trunk, and stood up. “Come, my son, and we can walk to the library.” She offered her son her hand, which he took, though he wished that he could look through the box more. “I shall read to you an old legend.”
And together they walked from the room, mother and son, the age-old items once again safe and locked away. Loracaz never knew whether his father looked through that box now and then. He had meant to ask, but usually forgot to. The times that he remembered, his father was busy, or he himself was. Now and then he wondered about the dragon’s claw that he had seen, and wished when he was older that he could look at it again, to decide when he was wiser whether it was the remnants of a dragon from an age long past, or merely a finely-crafted replica. If it was from a once-living dragon, why did his father covet it so?