Have You Seen This Dragon?
Arbitrance Constable had been missing for over ten years—a short time as Dragons' lives go, but long enough to cause worry to his family and friends.
At first they thought he might be indulging in the male Dragon's dual desires for wandering and treasurer hunting—what Dragons rather euphemistically call "questing." But as the second decade began, Arbitrance's Companion, Murdan of Overhall, again and again called his mount to no avail. It was unlike Arbitrance to ignore his Companion's call.
The Constables began to search for him...
Donald Bruce Callander
March 23, 1930 -- July 25, 2008
Don Callander was the best-selling author of the 'Mancer series and the Dragon Companion series. Don originally worked as a travel writer/photographer and graphic designer before retiring to start his writing.
Don was born in Minneapolis, brought up in Duluth, Minnesota, and graduated from high school there before enlisting in the U. S. Navy in 1947. After serving four years on active duty (including the Korean War) he transferred to the Naval Reserve where he served as a 'weekend warrior' for twenty additional years.
He settled in Washington, D.C., where he married, raised four children, and worked on the Washington Post newspaper and in National Headquarters of the American Automobile Association (40,000,000 members!) until his retirement in 1991.
During his retirement, Don lived in Florida and at the age of 62, began writing his bestselling fantasy books until he passed away in 2008.
Magic and adventure...a delight!Piers Anthony
Charming! A fantasy quest with aspects of a fairy tale...thoroughly engaging.Craig Shaw Garner
Plenty of action and humor... Tom is an appealing character...and Retruance is a perfectly charming dragon.Kliatt
The Constables are dragons, and Arbitrance Constable, the father, has gone missing. He hasn’t been seen for ten years, which is a short time for a dragon, but still a matter of concern, especially since he isn’t responding to his companion’s call. Thus begins the search for Arbitrance.
This is the second novel in Don Callander’s Dragon series. The novel begins with a summary of the events in Dragon Companion, so readers will have no trouble starting with this novel. The characters are fully developed, human, elf, and dragon alike and they are a joy to travel with.
The plot is fast-moving with action galore. There is a royal kidnapping and an invasion from the north. The Constable brothers, Retruance and Furbetrance, are aided by Hoarling, the Ice Dragon. Tom, Retruance’s companion, and Mandy, his wife, are in the thick of things, working diligently to foil their enemies.
The world that Callander has created is rich, rewarding, and totally believable. I would love to live in the land of Carolna, if I were as lucky as Tom to be transported there to become the companion of “a fifty-foot, green-and-gold, fire-breathing gentle Dragon named Returance Constable.” Tom saves the day in a variety of ways with his very practical ideas in a land which tends to do everything by magic. Tom is an anomaly in that he is a human in a land of elves, but he is valued and honored for his wisdom and assistance.
The story is intriguing, as well as exciting and fun. It is a real page turner with excellent pacing, lots of twists and turns in the action, and a very satisfactory ending which nonetheless leaves the door open for another book in the series.
Readers of dragon fantasies are sure to enjoy Dragon Rescue. And if you want to treat yourself to exploring the world of Carolna completely, then begin with Dragon Companion, also a great read.Cyclamen -- Long and Short Reviews
His great, tapered black leathery wings stretched to their full eighty-foot span, trembling only a tiny bit at the trailing edges, curving upward at their far tips. Wicked emerald claws were held tucked close to his tummy and chest as he swung his spear-pointed tail as a rudder, guiding his course through the clouds.
He circled over the tropical shore flats and slowly soared over the deep velvet of jungle, his body lifted by the humid thermals from the blue Quietness Ocean a dozen miles to the west, then swept a thousand feet into the bright morning sky as the warm wind suddenly breasted the steep western slopes of the stark Isthmusi Mountains.
He was aware, as he turned south to glide silently along the rising slopes, of his brother Furbetrance Constable, thirty miles away to the north, sweeping an identical, ever-watchful circle over choked and teeming tropical forest.
The nearly impassable cypress jungles of the seacoast gradually thinned as they rose into the uplands. From the dark, oily green of the coastal wilderness the forest slowly turned to the lighter greens of tropical hardwoods: teak, ironwood, logwood, and mahogany.
The Dragons saw neither track nor trace of civilization below them, relying on Dragon instincts to sense what was hidden beneath the leafy canopy.
The topmost levels of the high forest were inhabited by bands of shrilly calling monkeys, frightened by the swift-gliding shadows of the two huge Dragons overhead. The little brown-and-white simians hid under dense clumps of bromeliads and orchids, huddled together, whimpering in fear.
Nothing larger than the rare Great Condors of the Isthmusi uplands even approached the Dragons’ size, wing-spread, and slow, deliberate soaring. The monkeys feared the terrible beasts above sought prey—and hoped against hope that monkeys would not appeal to a Dragon’s appetite.
In the shadowy levels just below the tops of the tallest trees almost all movement and sound was stilled. Here lived, generation after generation, the Green Sloths, looking—and feeling, if the truth were to be told—very much a part of the foliage. Only once every hour or so a sloth would reach slowly out to pluck a ripe fruit from the underside of a leafy bough and slowly, slowly slide it into its mouth.
It chewed, ever so slowly, evenly, for a tremendously long time before it swallowed. Then it was completely at rest again, not even its tiny eyes moving.
Around the sloths darted clouds of brightly metallic ruby-headed hummingbirds, poking their long, curved beaks into this or that cluster of orange, red, or yellow vine flowers, sipping the heady nectar and scattering pollen in the soft wind when they darted on to the next flower.
The hummingbirds paid no heed to the sloths, nor did the slow animals pay attention to the brilliant, flashing hummers. Neither birds nor sloths paid any heed to the monkeys or the Dragons’ fleeting shadows.
Below the flowered and fruited levels dropped long, straight brown or green tree trunks, a hundred feet or more down to the tops of younger growth struggling upward toward the sunlight. Too immature to bear flowers or fruit, they were ignored by the animals and birds in the higher tops.
The hundreds of feet of bare trunks seemed lifeless, yet they were vertical highways to a hundred billion tiny red ants flowing up and down from their nests below to the bromeliads above, which served them as water catchments.
The occasional young monkey, exploring the lower levels, might interrupt the ant’s line of march but once—enough to teach even the dullest of the monkeys’ children the folly of getting in the way of the red ant legions armed with their agonizing stings.
The sloths sometimes bestirred themselves to dine on ants. Their thick, interlocking fur and horny skins made a mere tickle of the ants’ sting. Given the chance, most Green Sloths would have preferred a diet of ants, which could be scooped up like dark red honey from the trunks and limbs, but as a general rule the ants were safe. Ants moved too fast for the sleepy sloths.
Between a lower fringe of foliage and the dimly lit, spongy forest floor thrived 137 varieties of birds: basket weavers, bee eaters, insect- and honey-hunting darters and swallows, seed-cracking macaws, and raucous parrots.
Some foraged the upper levels for leavings, while others scoured the fern-covered forest-floor litter. These last were the only species who drank from the dozens of tiny rivulets that ran between the tree roots and trickled together to form shallow rills that flowed into the meandering rivers of the coastal plain and then into the western ocean.
Retruance was aware of the stir he caused among the little, fear-filled beasties of the rain-forest tops and regretted the terror his wide-winged form caused in their hearts. But it could not be avoided. With his brother Furbetrance, he was on a mission of filial duty. It required them to fly low and peer down through the several levels of the rain forest, ignoring the lesser life all about them, looking carefully for signs of a larger kind of beast.
They searched for Arbitrance Constable, their long-lost Dragon father.
Arbitrance Constable had been missing for over ten years, a short time as Dragons’ lives go but long enough to cause worry to his family and friends.
At first they thought he might be indulging in the male Dragon’s dual desires for wandering and treasure hunting, what Dragons rather euphemistically term “questing.” But as the second decade began and Arbitrance’s Companion, Royal Historian Murdan of Overhall, again and again called his mount to no avail, the Constables began to search for him.
It wasn’t like Arbitrance to ignore his Companion’s call.
When Murdan’s tall castle had been captured by Mercenary Knights, they thought surely Arbitrance would return to assist the Historian. But he hadn’t. Retruance, carrying his recently acquired Companion, Thomas Librarian, took his father’s place and dropped in to drive the invading Knights from Overhall’s walls, halls, and soaring towers.
When the adventure was over, the Historian’s family safe and an ambitious royal uncle bested and driven into exile, still no word had been heard nor trace seen of the missing Arbitrance.
The search continued.
“We’re off for Hidden Lake,” Thomas Librarian of Overhall had said to Retruance some months before. “We need to take exact measurements for the new manor house and outbuildings, stables, and such. We want to start building next year...if that suits you.”
Tom and his Princess, Alix Amanda Trusslo, had been married for two years. They’d been so very busy they’d just now found time to begin thinking about their own Achievement. It would be built beside a long, beautifully blue lake in a deep box canyon on the southern flanks of the western range of Snow Mountains, overlooking the empty desert known as Hiding Lands.
Furbetrance, Thomas, and Manda, as the Princess preferred to be called, had discovered the canyon and its lake while searching for Retruance when the latter was trapped in a cavern under one of the Snows’ tallest peaks.
Right then and there, Tom and Manda fell in love with the secluded place. When Manda’s father, King Eduard Ten, had offered Tom an Achievement of his own, the Librarian had immediately picked this Hidden Lake Canyon site.
The wedding had taken much time, but when it was accomplished, with all due pomp and ceremony, Tom had thrown himself into his work at Overhall’s library, his first concern and duty. He and his new wife also spent a quarter of their time at the Alix Amanda Alone Palace in Lexor, the capital city, or at King Eduard’s Sweetwater Tower overlooking Brant Bay.
The years-long task of setting the Historian’s library in good order had settled at last into a routine that could be handled by Tom’s handpicked assistants, and the couple finally could turn their thoughts to building a home of their own.
“What I’m saying,” continued the Librarian to his Mount, “is that I know you’re eager...anxious?...to resume your search for your father. Furbetrance, too, now that his kits are well grown. Why don’t you do it?”
“I’d be very helpful at Hidden Lake, perhaps,” said the Dragon reluctantly. “I’ve some of my grandfather’s talent for designing castles.”
Grandfather Altruance Constable had designed and built Murdan’s Overhall Castle a generation earlier.
“Plenty of time to begin the designing,” put in Manda, looking up from her needlepoint to smile at the great beast. “Tom says there’s much to do, just to get the basic information, measurements and such.”
Tom and Manda were sitting before Great Hall’s number-two fireplace in Overhall Castle, for the late-summer evening had turned chilly. The Dragon actually was crouched outside in the main courtyard with just his huge head inside the Hall—there was little room for else, even in that huge room.
“We’ll enjoy having some time to ourselves, I assure you,” Manda went on. “Doing the measuring and the dreaming. We’ll turn the really hard work over to you, dear Retruance.”
“Well,” said the Dragon, pleased by her compliment. “Furbetrance was asking me when would be a good time to start seeking Papa once again.”
“Which direction will you take?” Tom asked, assuming it was all settled, then.
“South, into the Isthmusi Mountains and coastal jungles,” replied Retruance. He’d obviously given it considerable thought. “We searched west and north and east last time.”
“Besides,” said Murdan, looking up from his reading in an easy chair on the other side of the fire, “I’ve given the Constables a message from an old merchant friend of mine who travels south each winter to gather spices and tropical wood. He’s heard that a great Dragon has been seen there a number of times in the past few years. Terrified the poor natives! Primitives don’t know Dragons as we civilized Elves do.”
“We’ll go to the Isthmusi, then,” said Retruance, making a wry face at the Historian. He didn’t consider most Elves all that civilized himself, present company excepted. “It’s the best and the only lead we’ve had ever since Papa went lost.”
The next day he carried the young Librarian and his Princess to Ramhold, Murdan’s vast sheep station on the western short-grass plains.
Manda was no longer titled Princess Royal since the birth of her half brother Ednoll. He’d been given the honor of bearing the title of “royal.” Ednoll would be King of Carolna when he grew up, the only male heir to the throne of the Trusslos. Manda had gladly forsaken any claim she might have had to the Trusslo crown in favor of marrying Tom Librarian of Overhall and Iowa.
Wherever Iowa was.
They’d spent a few days visiting with Talber, the factor of Ramhold, an old and dear friend, before flying on to Hidden Lake Canyon.
They were greeted there by Julia, a rather conceited, imperious Jaguar who lived in the open pinewood glades around Hidden Lake. Julia was secretly pleased to have neighbors in that lonely spot, but hid it behind a veil of feline disdain.
“Just when it was getting quiet around here,” Julia said to Retruance with a sniff. “Where can a lady get some peace and solitude?”
“I know a grand quiet place not too far off,” said the Dragon, calmly. “Over that way...”
He gestured toward the towering Snow Mountains above the canyon head.
“Lake like a mirror. Plenty of fish, friendly as puppies and blind as bats. No one to disturb you, Mistress Julia.”
Retruance had been trapped in that vast cavern once, suspended over a black pool within the mountain itself. He spoke from experience.
Julia recognized good-natured teasing when she heard it, and let the remark pass. Besides, she’d already explored deep under the mountains to satisfy her cat’s curiosity. She really preferred sunlight and warm breezes, her school of golden fish in the beautiful tarn...and some decent neighbors to insult, at times.
Retruance flew on to Mantura Bay at the mouth of the mighty Cristol River on Carolina’s west coast. On a volcanic isle named Obsidia, in the great bay, he’d found his younger brother playing with his brood of Dragon kits—Dragon children are called kits—on a black sand beach of wave-polished glass pebbles.
They had been practicing fire jetting and smoke spouting.
“I keep telling you, Brazier,” Furbetrance was saying to one of his children as Retruance landed. “You have to eat more anthracite and activated charcoal to get the best and hottest flames to jet.”
“But, Papa!” protested the half-grown boy-dragon. “I just don’t like the taste of that stuff. Foo!”
Furbetrance rolled his eyes at his big brother and coughed a gout of orange flame in parental dismay.
“Kits! Imagine! A young boy-dragon gushing pink fire! What will the other Dragons say?”
“Perhaps if you sauced the charcoal with a clove or two of garlic,” suggested Retruance with all the wisdom of an unmarried uncle. “Or add a spoonful of red cayenne sauce. That usually helps the dry charcoal go down more easily.”
“I’d like that!” young Brazier cried gleefully, and flew off to tell his sisters about Uncle Retruance’s perfect understanding.
“I don’t think I want to tell Hetabelle about your pepper-sauce theory,” said Furbetrance when they were alone. “She’s so concerned that they have the right diet for good teeth and strong claws.”
“You should leave that sort of thing to your helpmate,” advised Retruance. “There’s important Dragon’s work for us males to do...”
“Work? A quest? A task? I yearn to get my teeth into a new adventure, I can tell you!”
“And a duty! No wife can deny her husband such a combination,” Retruance assured his brother.
“Duty? Ah! You mean...looking for Papa! When do we leave?”
“Soon as you tell Hetabelle about it,” his brother chuckled. “And only you can do that. I’ll wait for you over on the mainland.”
“Oh, no you won’t!” cried Furbetrance, clutching his brother’s left wing firmly in an emerald foreclaw. “You’ll stand by me when I tell her I’m leaving...won’t you? Please!”
As it turned out, Hetabelle was at once in favor of sending her husband off again to pursue her long-missing father-in-law.
“I need some time to myself, you see. Not that I don’t love you dearly, husband, and I’ve really appreciated having you near the nest these past few years. I’d been hoping to take the kits to visit my mother’s aerie for some time. Mama knows good Dragon manners and the children need to get to know her better. But be careful, beloved! And call me if I can help your search. Send word if you are gone longer than you think you should.”
Furbetrance sighed as he and Retruance launched themselves from Obsidia Isle. “I’m relieved she took it so well. And I’m pleased. But I’m also a bit...well...put out. Do you know what I mean?”
“Thank your stars for unlooked-for blessings,” his big brother advised.
Five days later the two green-and-gold Dragons were circling the upland rain forests at the feet of the sharp mountain range that ran north to south through Isthmusi, looking and feeling for signs of their missing parent.