Shadowed Moon Chapter 16

Fiction By Kay J Fields // 12/15/2010

Yes, this chapter has been a long time in coming, but for a while I lost interest, not to mention that I just got Nano done. That, along with my other current projects have made this story fall behind on the to-do list.

 

Chapter 16
 
The odd trio of dragons were forced to fly slowly because of their strange predicament and the rest of us were able to keep up on foot, though every once in a while we would come across a cliff or ravine and would have to detour around it. Catalee talked nonstop the whole way with Faylin only uttering a brief growl every ten minutes and me wearily trying to keep up with the vixen’s chatter. After two hours of travel on foot Faylin’s patience finally snapped.
     “Catalee!” he barked. “I think we have all had enough of your talk for one day.” That was Faylin, never sugar-coating the truth. Catalee tucked her tail for exactly five seconds before going back to being chipper—I counted. If our wolf companion could have placed a paw over his face in frustration he would have. As it was, he only sighed and looked ready for murder.
    “Almost there!” Ditri called down to us and I looked eagerly ahead.
     The Yalee Mountains rose up on all sides to meet the milky blue sky, but in the east there were the smaller cliffs that surrounded the valley we had traveled through. Directly in our path there loomed a huge mountain with a sharp peak and snow spotting its ledges and crevices. The hardy bushed that grew in the rock here were becoming even more scarce and I longed for the tall trees of Ditri’s home in the forest, or even the grassy plains around my home. It was hard to believe that we had only entered the mountain range at midday and had already been crowded in by the walls of the labyrinth.
      A trio of exhausted dragons landed beside us and Phyletus pointed a talon up above our heads. “The entrance is there,” he said. “We dragons and the bird can easily reach it by flying, but I’m afraid you three may have to go around. About a hundred feet to the left of you, there is a sort of natural stairway leading upwards. Follow that until you come to a broad ledge, and then follow that ledge to the mouth of the cave. We will be waiting for you there.” And with that, the brisk dragon leaped back into the sky with Ditri and Grinl.
     I looked at Faylin who appeared to be brooding, then at Catalee who was already exploring the mountain wall. I went behind her and we soon found the particular rocks Phyletus was talking about. After climbing these with no difficulty and finding the ledge, we crawled across to the cave mouth and found that Narris had just landed. She glanced at us, then went into the cave.
     The interior of the cave was pitch-black no more than a hundred feet inward and I strained to make out the half glowing figure of Phyletus who was the only one I could see.
      Another few minutes and we reached a place that was lit brightly by natural holes in the ceiling of the cave, some tilted in ways so that water could not flow down and others covered with glass. The glass was all around us and in many different colors, causing the chamber to light up like a rainbow with twice as many hues. In the very center of the room was a large bonfire and behind that was a large dark hole. From this hole came the sound of a large creature breathing.
       I stopped dead in my tracks and felt the four-footed animals stop as well. Ditri?” I called back, just as he and Phyletus managed to haul Grinl up.
       Ditri walked closer into the cave and peered in, his cat-like eyes adjusting quickly to the darker interior from the light outside. “Veilara?” he called.
        Something large and heavy rustled in the hole and then two yellowish white things appeared. At first, I didn’t know what they were but quickly made them out to be the whites of a dragon’s eyes. Veilara was a large dragon, similar to her brother and her scales were mottled with black and crimson. Her eyes were solid black, explaining why only the whites had shown. She didn’t look particularly happy to see us but marched straight over to Grinl. She quickly checked him over and then glared at him.
     “Just what do you think you’re doing, taking off like that when you very well know what a bother that child is to me. He’s no relation by blood and I am not responsible. You should have taken him with you; he probably would have kept you from getting into whatever trouble you’ve just come from. Thank you Phyletus, for watching out for him.”
Phyletus grinned.
      “Well?” Veilara barked. “Where were you, what did you get into and Ditri, for heavens sake, why did you bring a human along?” she didn’t pause long enough for any of us to answer and continued with her irritated tirade. “Grinl, your lab experiment went through the roof, literally. You should have been done with it like I asked you to be, but no, of course not. You never listen because you’re too caught up in your little work play.”
     “Veilara, darling, I—“
     “Don’t. Not now. We have company to see to. I want a full explanation from all of you, but only after everyone has sat down and had a drink. Grinl, you especially. Sit.” The small blue dragon obediently curled up to one side of the cave while Ditri went to the other and poised his cat-like position of sitting upright with his clubbed tail wrapped around his body. Phyletus followed them and stretched out luxuriously. Faylin and Catalee positioned themselves on Ditri’s right while Narris and I went to his left. Once everyone was situated as such, Veilara relaxed and went to her husband’s side, examining his wounds and muttering at him. “You were in that rock slide, weren’t you?”
    “Just a small one darling.” Grinl replied weakly.
     Veilara drew back and drilled him once again with her black stare and seemed about to star lecturing him once again, but she hesitated and tilted her head to the side, listening for something. “The little—“ She never got to finish this statement whoever as something as big as a pony and bristling and white tumbled, head over heels into the cavern from the same hole which Veilara had exited just moments before.
      A burbling, bubbling giggle left the creatures mouth, high and playful. It stopped its tumble and sat up, unkempt and as messy as ever a dragon could be. Wide orange eyes, striking against pure ivory scales looked around and it laughed again.
     “Azteric.” Veilara reprimanded, but the fire had gone from her voice. Still, the small creature ducked its head and looked mournfully in her direction.
      “I’m awful sorry, Aunt Veilara.” it said in the voice of a young boy. “I just wanted to slide down the tunnel.” He perked up and stood on his hind legs, too large wings scrambling to maintain balance. “And it was wonderful, so very fun! You should try it some time Aunt Veilara, really!”
     ‘Aunt Veilara’ shook her head. “He’s your brother.” she said and whether it was directed at Grinl or Ditri, the latter reacted. “Azteric!” Ditri called and Azteric turned immediately to his much older brother.
       “Ditri, Ditri, Ditri!” he shouted and scrambled across the stone to throw himself into Ditri’s lap. “I misses you.”
      Ditri laughed. “I missed you too, what have you been up to?”
      Veilara turned her attention to the oddest member of the group: me. “Ditri, why did you bring her along?”
      Ditri reluctantly sent his little brother off to play elsewhere. “A rather long story if you’ve the time.”
     “I’m waiting.” his sister-in-law replied. She and Faylin had a lot in common.
      Ditri introduced me to the rest of them and then proceeded to tell what had taken place in the last few weeks. When he was finished Veilara looked at me with somewhat of a different opinion. “A pleasure to meet you Lara.” she said. “You are welcome to rescue me husband from the dangers he leaps into at any time.”
     “Thank you for your permission,” I said, casting a smirk in Grinl’s direction, who shrugged sheepishly back.
     The dragoness studied our group and then Grinl. “Alright, so what is our plan?” she asked.
     “For one,” Ditri said. “Lara needs to know more about what’s going on. Knowing that I couldn’t fully explain things, I decided to leave most of that to you Grinl.”
     Grinl frowned. “Just what haven’t you told her?”
     “Everything,” I supplied.
     Shaking his round blue head, Grinl sighed. “Fine then, while I’m healing from this whole incident, I can explain what my brother-in-law so unconventionally left out.”
     Veilara stood and stretched out; her long lithe form uncurling like a snake. “Speaking of which, Grinl, I will need to patch you up. Just look at what you’ve managed to do to your wings; torn and shredded.” She continued to grumble and fuss as she pulled him further into the cave.
     “How long will we be staying here?” Faylin asked with more than just a hint of impatience in his voice.
     “Not long.” Ditri answered. “Maybe a week at the most. I’ll need to find a way to cross the Beln Sea while we’re here though. I may need to go ahead to the coast and have the rest of you catch up.”
      The wolf snorted, his scarred face wrinkling in disgust. “I am most certainly not staying here that long Ditri. If it were up to me we would already be across the sea with an army at our backs ready to take down Kellen and his entire foul following.” He stopped speaking when Ditri held up a claw.
     “You’ll need to stay here with the others and if Kellen sends another unexpected gift here, you will be of much more aid than you would be if you were getting seasick on some tiny boat. Besides, I have a feeling that we will get our army. And when we do, I’ll give you some kind of position of authority so you can do what you feel is best.”
     Faylin glared sourly. “I hate it when you are diplomatic and logical.” he snarled.
                                                                     * ~ * ~ * ~ *
 
 
I sat with Faylin, Catalee, Narris and Grinl in his cave and watched with interest as Veilara checked the wounds beneath his bandages. “Your wings are still delicate and cannot be used for flying yet, but they’re healing quickly.” she informed. “Don’t tell me that you’ve been putting any of your experiments on them when I’ve not been looking.”
            Grinl pursed his lips. “Ah, actually—“
            “I said don’t tell me dear, and I meant don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.” She flopped ungracefully over a rock and dug her talons into the stone and grit. “Now, tell Lara all she needs to know.”
            Grinl looked at me expectantly. “What do you need to know?” Out of the corner of my vision, I saw Veilara rub her face in exasperation.
            I decided to start with the basics and simply hurry through them. I would tell them what I already knew and allow them to fill in the blanks. “Ditri told me the story of Aaron and Ivy and about Rourke and the sword Macarann and how he had been given the sword until Kellen came along, attacked them with it and ran off. Since then, the evil accompanying the sword, along with the evil Kellen has already…chosen, for lack of a better word, have been growing and making each other stronger. Actually, that I just pieced together myself. It seemed logical.”
            “She has been spending time with Ditri.” Veilara commented wryly.
            Faylin spoke up. “Ditri also told her about Kellen’s first attack with that sword.”
            I nodded. “And he thinks that Kellen sent the driffods somehow when they attacked us. That got me to wondering about how powerful he is and what all he can do. Can he see us, is he somewhere nearby? And then the rockslide happened, and since then I’ve been asking myself if it could have been Kellen who did that as well.”
            “It could have been, it’s not impossible,” Veilara said. “But these are mountains and rockslides such as this are not uncommon. We had one just last year in this area. The mountain shale is fragile and constantly shifting. But the driffods, swarming out against you like Ditri said is highly unusual.”
            “And the prophesy,” I added quickly. “He told me about it and how they thought Kellen was the one but now he thinks that I’m the one. Isn’t it possible that he’s wrong again? I mean, I want to help but what if there’s someone else out there who the prophesy was really written for?”
            Grinl stretched his wings carefully, examining the bandages. “My dear, if you were the wrong person, as Kellen was, I think the Creator would have already made it clear who you were as He did with Kellen.”
            “Something else about the prophesy—well, everything about the prophesy confused me—but that part about a shadowed moon. What is that all about? I figured it was some sort of an eclipse.”
            Grinl’s jaw had fallen open and now he snapped it shut with a roll of his eyes. “Incompetent dragon.” he muttered.
            “Grinl,” Veilara growled. “He is my brother you know.”
            Grinl ignored her. “The term ‘shadowed moon’ Lara, is referring to an eclipse. But this isn’t a normal eclipse and it only happens once about every five hundred years. So it makes perfect sense that you have never heard of it. Ditri though, should remember.” He cleared his throat. “Alright then. I believe it is time for a crash course in basic astronomy.”
            “I know some astronomy,” I interjected, feeling like a complete fool. “I had tutors who taught me about the constellations and the planets and all.”
            “Ah, but you are a girl so that kind of study could not have been taken far.” Grin replied. “Besides, this is astronomy dragon-style; which, I must say, is completely and utterly different.”
            “And better no doubt.” Faylin said.
            “A shadowed moon is an eclipse that happens when Ulrashious moves from her normal position in the heavens to be on somewhat of a crash course with Beinar. This will happen when Felmath and Sagriate are also aligned together so that you have a direct lineup of planets where the joined moons move into Felmath’s shadow for but moments before the sun shifts, Felmath shifts and the two moons ‘break apart’.”
            I stared at him. “Okay, maybe you should start simply.”
            “I thought so. Come with me, if you will.” He got up with surprising agility for his stubby frame and injured wings and led us back out of the cave. He pointed a foreclaw up at the sun. “That my dear is Sagriate, our sun star. And though you cannot see her, a very small planet—classified as a moon but very arguably so—is sitting there along with the sun. This is the closest known planet to the sun. It was once said that this moon, called Beinar, orbited Felmath but now it seems she orbits Sagriate. That is a long and confusing topic that you don’t really need to hear to understand the shadowed moon. Anyway, the name Beinar means ‘little twin’ and she is also called the day moon because she can only be seen by day, and only with a special tool that minimizes the sun’s strength so that you can look in that direction.”
            “Alright, that much I get.”
            “Good. Then there is our moon, the normal white glowing orb you see in the nighttime. The moon’s formal name is Ulrashious, meaning ‘mirror’ because it reflects the light from Sagriate.”
            “What does Sagriate mean?”
            “Depends on who you ask.” Veilara answered. “Most people believe it means ‘flaming one’ but there is a lot of debate over it because the name is so old, as is the language used to name it.”
            “Now, you know what a lunar eclipse is, no doubt.” Grinl said.
            “The moon passing through Felmath’s shadow. Yes, I know that.”
            “And we don’t need to know about a solar eclipse because a shadowed moon occurs at night and has very little to do with the sun.” Grinl moved his claw to point at the barely visible moon in the opposite direction from the sun. “That is of course, Ulrashious.”
            Faylin, by now had gotten the basic idea of things. “So when this eclipse happens, sometimes after sunset, Beinar has edged closer and closer to Ulrashious until they cross paths.” he paused. “I’m guessing that Beinar goes behind Ulrashious, correct?”
            Grinl, delighted that one of his pupils was catching on, beamed. “Correct.”
            Faylin nodded and looked at me. “At that point, Beinar has disappeared from view while at the same time; Ulrashious falls behind the shadow of Felmath. How long would it be like this Grinl?”
            Grinl hesitated. “I’d say less than an hour, but I can’t remember the last shadowed moon occurrence so I can’t say for sure. I know it is not much more or less because of their movements, but it would be better to have been an accountable eyewitness. Astrological history repeats itself.”
            “So why call it shadowed moon when every lunar eclipse is a shadowed moon?” I asked.
            Faylin grinned. “Probably because they had used up all of their creative juices naming the planets.”
            Grinl sat back and studied our odd little group. “Anything else Lara?”
            “Not unless you can answer my question of just how in the world we’re going to defeat Kellen.” I said halfheartedly.
            “No, but I do know how we can begin preparations for whenever Ditri comes calling.” Veilara said, a grim expression sliding across her grim features.
            Faylin’s yellow eyes sparked. “Tell on.”
            “We’ll need weapons and provisions. Things like food and blankets and tents. And water.” the dragoness began. “But firstly, we will be needing recruits.”
 

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A note..sorta to myself

Just for anyone reading this story, I'm taking a break from it to work on some other projects and cannot promise when I'll start writing SM again.

Kay J Fields | Sat, 01/15/2011

Visit my writing/book review blog at http://transcribingthesedreams.blogspot.com/

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