The Curse of the Orthana by Nick Tamboia

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As the Dwarf hid, he watched as the two of them, who were now something else other than men, walked out across the ice to The Endermen, where they attacked the crew and turned most of those they had not outright killed, into whatever they were. After this was done, Iron Boot stated that he saw The Endermen set sail out into the Night Ocean, ending his story by saying, “enemies for some other world for they crossed over to it. The dead told me. They whispered it to me. Piter and his crew left our world behind to conquer another.”

Jadis had been tense for a moment when she had heard what had become of Piter, but that last part made her relax. One thing she did not want was to deal with another rival for power in Narnia. Aslan and that blubbery gobbling in the west were enough. She didn’t want to deal with Piter, whatever he now was, and his crew of “others,” in her fight to become Queen of Narnia. “You are certain they left?”

Iron Boot nodded his head. “Crossed over to the next world beside our own somehow.”

“And the dragon?” Jadis wanted to know.

“She is no dragon,” Iron Boot said in a shivering voice. “She is Leviathan. The guardian of the gate to the Underworld.”

Jadis made no remark to that. Just stood there looking down at Iron Boot, wondering about all he had said. Another shiver took the Dwarf, and this time as he shook, a small leather pouch slid from beneath the tattered rags of his coat and fell on the floor before him.

Jadis used the end of her wand to move the pouch toward her and then knelt down, carefully opening it. Within she found what looked like a slice of thick, dull black shoe leather, shaped somewhat like a crescent moon, only slightly smaller than the palm of her own hand.

She was about to reach for it and pick it up, when Iron Boot shouted, “NO!” and shoved her hand away.

Angered by that, Jadis jumped up and was about to strike the Dwarf with her wand, when Iron Boot looked up at her, saying, “it is a chip from one of her scales. I accidently brushed it with my pinky.” He finished that by holding up his withered, blackened left hand for her to see. “Just brushed it ever so slightly,” he told her as he turned his bony hand around allowing her to see it fully.

Jadis relaxed, realizing that he might have saved her, or at least her hand, but wasn’t about to let anyone else realize that. Instead she asked, “how did you come by it?”

“In the tunnels leading into the pit where the Dragon of Darkness sleeps,” Iron Boot remarked. “I had resigned myself to death, but grew tired of hiding and waiting to freeze or starve to death so I went out in the open, hoping one of those creatures would find and end me. Instead I stumbled into a tunnel that led down into the pit where the Leviathan was. One of those things attacked me there, not the Frozen Dead or the Others, but a living creature of some type, only when I shoved it aside it fell and landed on that,” he explained as he nodded at the chip of scale where it laid atop the leather it had been wrapped in. “The creature burst into soot and ash as soon as it landed on the scale. Nothing living can touch it and survive. Realizing what it was, I carefully wrapped it in that leather and made my way back here to you, My Queen.”

Although Iron Boot never explained how he had escaped the frozen north and made his way back to Jadis, I assume he must have used one of those rowboats they had found lying in the snowdrifts around that abandoned ship he had earlier come across to do that.

Jadis stood there looking down at the Dwarf and the chip of the scale from the Dragon of Darkness and back again. Finally she called to one of her servants, and told it to bring her a pair of blacksmith tongs which she used to pick up the shard of dragon scale. The metal ends of the tongs frosted over as she held it up, examining it.

“Interesting,” she remarked and then without warning to all those present, she whipped around and jabbed the pointed end of the scale into Iron Boot’s chest.

The small Dwarf had just enough time to gasp aloud over what had happened, before his body exploded into a cloud of black and gray soot. When the air cleared of that, what was left was a smear of black-gray ash on the floor that streaked from the spot where Iron Boot had knelt, back toward the entrance to the Throne Room.

Jadis smiled at that as she looked from the ash on the floor to the shard of the scale she held in the metal tongs and back again. “So ends my former servant, the Black Bearded Dwarf, Iron Boot.” She then looked over at her advisers, saying, “I need to see how this works on a tree. A very large, round tree.”

Such a tree stood on the far end of the field, just opposite the main gate to Jadis’s fortress and she, along with several of her followers went directly there. This tree was an ancient pine, hundreds of years old, massive and tall, the base of the trunk as round as a full grown centaur male is from front to back.