Una returns to Parumvir. Una demonstrates her inner warrior maiden in this chapter. Granted, Una herself is not the spunky type of heroine one expects to find in books like this. She's a princess, and she's very girly. But when the sea sprite tells her that "the dragon must die" before she can free, she sets out at once to confront the Dragon who turned her. She does have courage, for all she makes mistakes! She is ready and willing to face her foe or to die in the attempt.
For today I will burn. We also see Una facing her foe using the fire he unleashed inside her. She knows it is wrong, that it is slowly consuming her. But she does not believe there is any other hope of victory. So she decides that, rather than forsake the fire, she will accept for now and use it to fight the Dragon. She believes she needs to indulge in the fury, the jealousy, the rage inside her so that her fire will be hot enough for the task before her. She even gulps down great breaths of the Dragon's own poisonous fumes, hoping they will feed her own fire.
Hello, my child. As though he expected her all along, the Dragon welcomes Una back to her father's house and the ruin waiting there.
Meanwhile, Felix is trying to make his way through Oriana and find his imprisoned father. He has Monster's help, such as it is . . . probably more help than Felix realizes! And he sees the duke's men carrying his father's treasures up from the storeroom. He also overhears the mutterings of some of Shippening's men. They are speculating that the Dragon intends to take all the treasure, leaving the Duke of Shippening in charge an angry, penniless kingdom.
Called to the courtyard. Suddenly, the men carrying the treasures are ordered out to the courtyard, leaving Felix a clear path to the dungeons. Unaware of what is transpiring outside, Felix hurries with Monster down the dark staircase, calling tentatively for King Fidel as he goes.
But when he finds his father he realizes that he forgot a rather important detail . . . the keys to the cell! Poor Felix.
Surround her! Once Shippening's men realize Una is there, they are quickly ordered to surround her. That's quite the startling image, that quiet girl, pale, covered in scales, standing surrounded by burly soldiers, hemmed in by their weapons. But she keeps her head bowed and does not look at them.
The duke is pleased enough to see her. As he says, her looks haven't improved much, but he doesn't care. He'll marry her anyway and claim the throne.
But Una discourages all these ideas with a single look. He sees the fire inside her, and it's enough to make him scream and back away hastily!
Too Honest. The Dragon tells Una that she does not have skill of most of his children, the skill to disguise her true nature. Even now, in her human form, she looks more dragon than human, covered all over with scales as she is. She'll not be able to walk disguised in the mortal world this way.
Rebekah drew an excellent fan art picture depicting this little moment, which I wanted to share with you! Sadly, blogspot is being a bit of a bear about pictures at the moment . . . But you can go over to this page and see it down at the bottom! It's called, "You Are Too Honest."
An order. Una surprises all those present when she tells the Duke of Shippening--without breaking the Dragon's gaze--to leave her father's house at once. She is so terrifying, that the duke, trembling, turns to the dragon for support.
The Dragon, however, merely laughs. Then he tells Una that she will carry her father's treasures back to the Village of Dragons for the Hoard.
You will not enter my father's house again. Una comes now to the moment for which she has prepared herself, for which she has made her fire build. She, still wearing her frail human shape, tells the Dragon she will not permit him to touch her father's things again.
And when the Dragon yet again laughs, she drops all her human shape and, in the form of a dragon, attacks him. Her fire is so hot that the stone steps of the palace melt under her blaze. The Dragon himself is engulfed, disappearing in flames and smoke. Even the screams of the Shippening soldiers cannot be heard over the roar of Una's furnace. She is a true dragon in this moment.
Not enough. None of this is enough. The Dragon laughs and, with a sweep of his arm, waves aside the smoke, revealing himself unharmed. Then, still in human shape, his mouth drops open, and he fires a blast of flame at Una that strikes her like a mace and chain. The fire grows and grows, and soon even her dragon scales begin to melt away so that the soft flesh beneath burns.
All she can do now is try to escape . . . and find some quiet place to die.
The Dragon calls behind her: "I'll find you later and gnaw your bones, my child! I'll gnaw and burn your bones!"
My Personal Favorite Lines
1. She found herself thankful once more that she had no heart, for it would have broken in two at the sight.
2. The fire grew as she neared the ruins of her city. Many of the buildings still stood, but they were darkened with ash, standing like lost orphans amid the wreckage. (p. 326)
3. "My, but you're an ugly thing, like a lizard you are! But you'll do, little princess. Now I'll send your father to join your dead brother, and with you as my wife, no one will contest my claim to the throne!" (p. 330)
4."Give her to me, as we agreed!"
The Dragon turned his slow smile back down upon the girl. "Your last brave suitor is most ardent. At least one of them still wants you, little princess." (p.331)
5. "Foolish sister!" he roared, snarling down on her smoldering frame. "You thought to kill your king, your Father? I gave you your fire! Do you think you can use my own flame against me?" (p. 332)
Questions on the Text
1. Why do you think Una does not succeed in her battle with the Dragon? Do you think she ever had a chance? Do you respect her any more for making this attempt?
2. Favorite lines?
1. When Aethelbald is asking,where are you to Una, does he really not know where she is? -- Jennette
I think when Una here's the voice asking "Where are you?" it's not so much about her physical location. Una herself is becoming lost more and more in the fires of the dragon, losing her name, etc. So I think the voice asking "Where are you?" is asking her where she, Una, is vanishing to. It's more for her sake than for his. He obviously knew where to find her right away. Make sense?
2. Is Starflower's home the Southlands back 1600(?) years ago? -- Jennette
Yes it is! Connected to the Continenet by a thin isthmus and everything. Was merely The Land back then, or the Hidden Land. By Dragonwitch it is being called "the South Land" by northerners. And that eventually morphed into the name Southlands it has 1600 years later. Good spot! You'll see many references to Starflower and her story in Veiled Rose, which is set primarily in Southlands. Starflower has become quite a legend by then!
3. In "Starflower" the names of Etanun and Akilun do not seem to be spoken without spite and disdain. Yet here in Parumvir, hundreds of years later, they watch over the fortress.
What happened that redeemed the honor of the names of the Brothers Ashiun? Hmmm...looking forward to finding out...even if I'm crying at the end of it. -- Hannah
Yeah . . . I'm afraid you will have to wait to find out about that! :) But, like Rebekah pointed out in the comments, most of what we hear about the Brothers Ashiun in Starflower is from Eanrin's perspective. And he has a very narrow perspective on them! But don't worry, Dragonwitch is going to clear up a lot of things for you, I do believe.
4. Colds are such nuisances, aren't they? -- Meredith
YES!!!!!!! ;) But I am beginning to feel bit better, thank you, everyone! Still not tip-top shape. After I finish this write up, I'm going to take some meds and then a nice long nap while my sweet guy is out grocery shopping. So still on the mend, but definitely on an upswing, not a downswing.
5. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to do this, but I want to ask the other readers a question. I'm curious, what animal do you think Diarmid used to be? Like Eanrin's a cat. Personally, I think he's a cat too. -- Maiden G.
This is a great question, so I'm going to answer it here. And feel free to speculate as well, other readers!
I think Diarmid is a cat like Eanrin, and here is why . . . We learn later on in the series that Diarmid is Eanrin's "nephew." But we also learn that the immortal folk of Rudiobus are most of them so old and ageless that they don't remember who their parents are. Eanrin can't remember if he even has parents! So that makes it a bit difficult for him to know who is nephew is either. Except, I think the Rudiobans who take on similar animal forms probably band together in "family" circles. Thus, I think Diarmid was also a cat like Eanrin, and therefore was considered Eanrin's "nephew," not because of any specific blood-ties, but simply because that's how they would group their "families." Does that make sense?
But, I haven't actually said as much in any of the books thus far. So it's still an open question! And if someone provides me with a good argument for why Diarmid might be something other than a cat, well, I might just have to write that into the series instead . . . .