Garkhen spent hours upon hours every day reading, from the day he first learned how. There were few books in Solkh’Tolkharkha’s hoard written for children, but soon the young half-dragon learned to comprehend more mature works, and slowly, he discovered just how much there was to know in the world. His mentor seemed pleased by this development, and would sometimes spend evenings with his adopted son debating the words of a philosopher or discussing the inaccuracies of a history.
What pleased him less was Garkhen’s temper. His anger was easy to arouse, and he often expressed it explosively, demonstrating the lightning breath of his father. Solkh’Tolkharkha blamed the temper on Garkhen’s blue dragon heritage, as well, and warned his charge that it would destroy him if he did not learn to master it.
Solkh’Tolkharkha occasionally took Garkhen with him on journeys outside of his lair. Sometimes it was simply to the untouched wilderness, but more often it was to the world of men. Garkhen visited elven courts, dwarven halls, and human castles, for his mentor was acquainted with many men and women of power. In these visits, the young half-dragon stayed mostly silent, but he watched and listened, and so learned.
Despite exceeding what nearly any dwarven child his age could do, Garkhen sometimes felt that Solkh’Tolkharkha viewed him with distant disapproval. Perhaps it was simply because, despite all his talents, he could not match a young dragon, or perhaps it was simply his own perfectionist personality, but whatever the case, he put all that he had into trying to fulfill what he thought the gold dragon’s expectations were, but it seemed to him that he only succeeded in making himself angry and frustrated.
When he had almost reached the breaking point, he stumbled across a book in a corner of Solkh’Tolkharkha’s library he hadn’t perused much. His adoptive father had been rather dismissive of that portion of his collection the one time he had made reference to it, saying only that it held “Old stories of the glories men wish they had accomplished.” But Garkhen, far from finding the worthless drivel he had expected, found a tale that resonated with him.
Here was a hero who arose from demanding beginnings, who tried and failed and tried again. Almost he could not bear to continue reading after the hero was brought so low, but neither could he stop, and so Garkhen found what became of the man. After his many setbacks, after trials and tribulations which would have broken most men, this hero somehow rose above it all, not for himself, but for others. His final end was an unpleasant one, death by poison at the end of a long battle, but he died knowing his death had saved many others.
This story touched the young half-dragon deeply. His own trials and struggles seemed small compared to what this man—a simple human, even, without a drop of dragon’s blood in his veins—had suffered through. And yet, in the end, what dragon could have given more?
From that day forward, Garkhen found a new source of patience in knowing that all his struggles and failures might well end better than he knew. Still he struggled with his anger, and still hi found his life at times lonely and dull, but knowing that such struggle could end well gave him the hope he needed to persevere.
A brief glimpse into Garkhen’s early struggles in life. I think his developing character will be better displayed in coming chapters which are more of a narrative instead of a summary, though.