XXVI.

the wonder filling
them could not be imagined
by any reciting.

the watching dragons
breathing soft so not to harm
smaller beasts nearby

The rabbits and fox
watch without fear, lending their
still quiet natures.

Mindful of the tale
Ailfrid steps forward, hand out
to the pulsing gem.

In his head or ear
a voice spoke then, plain and soft
he looked up and down.

‘Ailfrid I took this,
the Night Star, your grand-dad found
here, many years past.

She brought joy to him
and those who treasured her most,
this bright earthbound star.

Of late, she faded
with the mean, the long darkness
I heard her weeping.

I beckoned to her.
She was guided by dragons
and lit up the sky.

She wished to bring light
and hope to all your people
as you do, yourself.

XXVII.

So I brought you here
because it shines in you too
that kindness and hope.

I heard the old tales
as you often re-tell them
just to remember.

As you walked tonight
grand-dad’s tale was with you
and gave you its strength

None possess Night Star
Not king nor queen nor kingdom
Not even Ailfrid

But to you, Ailfrid,
I give the task to protect
and to share Night Star.

take it up in hand
to guide and prosper your folk
all the gnomish clans

Not to rule, your task.
Your quest to enlighten them
to lighten their days.

Do you accept? it asked
Do you accept this lifetime
of love and service?

The bird flew down then
and stood beside the Night Star
looking with shiny eye.

Not hearing the voice
Ailfrid thought, ‘yes I accept.’
There stood a fairy.

XXVIII.

All there were startled
The faery was silvery
and most sparkling.

You were the wee bird?
Ailfrid thought as he knelt down
before the faery.

She took the Night Star
putting it into his hands.
He stood and showed them.

The smallest rabbits
the foxes and bears and deer
turned toward the road back.

Small to large and great
they filed toward the road homeward
but stopped just in view.

The dragons still kept
the perimeter leafy
watching the two left.

We will follow you
back to the castle, Ailfrid
laughed the fairy,

that should give them all
a tale to tell their children
and their grandchildren.

Her voice was like bells
and her eyes were so merry,
Ailfrid was smiling.

He turned to join the file
as his grand-dad had before
the faery came next.

XXIX.

Then the dragons joined
one at a time just behind
walking to his home.

They walked that day long
to the village of Ailfrid
where the folk joined in

And all proceeded
back to the castle and keep.
King and Queen waited.

Town folk lined the road
they cheered when first they saw them
louder for Ailfrid!

They bowed and curtsied
as the faery, silvery
passed by waving

Then the town folk all
grew silent to see dragons
bringing up the rear.

But they cheered again:
The dragons strode proudly by
without harming them.

The long line stopped soon
and the animals parted
to let Ailfrid pass.

The Faery and dragons
followed through the now two lines
up to the royals.

The whole parade met
and circled around the gem
held by Ailfrid’s hands.

XXX.

The King and Queen stood
and saw them all and Night Star
there in the center.

The light of Night Star
shone even by day so clear
in every face

The faery flew up
as the queen held out her hand
expecting Night Star.

“No Queen, nor any,
shall possess Night Star’s fair light
it shines out for all

Seeing it recall:
the first warm day of April
and your love’s first touch.

Your babe’s smile sleeping.
The warmth of fire in winter.
Rain on your home’s roof.

Know all the good things
each day brings and hold it dear
remember it all.

Ailfrid and his heirs
shall keep the gem and daily
bring remembering.

Hope, once ground away
by flowing time and sorrows,
now reclaims the land.

You, King and Queen here!
Give love and kindness to all
The gnomish folk you see.

Remember magic
dwells in every heart, in song,
in telling the tale

Of Ailfrid, brave gnome
who remembered legend old
and lived up to it.

XXXI

Ailfrid, not alone,
stood with mother and father
and his dearest love.

The folks of his town
rayed out from him and Night Star.
Somewhere a song rose.

It rose small and soft
Then spiraled up and around
ringing clear and strong.

Folks hugged each other
and gave forgiveness and thanks
and pledged their kindness.

Night star throbbed and glowed
when each heart added to its joy
making all a whole.

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