Shadowed Moon Chapter 19

Fiction By Kay J Fields // 4/29/2011


“You really should be more careful, human.” Faylin admonished when at last I awoke again.
            “Well,” I huffed. “You should be more considerate to someone who’s currently in a good deal of pain.”
            “Pain? You are experiencing mild discomfort.” he replied. “I can tell by your expression.”
            I opened my mouth to give a biting retort at the same time I focused on him and my eyes widened while my mouth snapped shut. “Faylin…what happened?” The nearly black wolf stared solemnly at me with his luminescent yellow eyes. There was no outward injury I could see on him but his stance, as he hovered beside me, was that of an old creature, crippled, stiff and arthritic.
            “Nothing much, which is precisely the problem.” he said, glaring.
            “What did Kellen do to you?” I pressed, suddenly feeling guilty for my own complaints.
            “I’m not sure.” Faylin said dryly. “One moment, I was staring at the Ditri-who-was-not-really-Ditri and sensing something amiss, and the next moment I was lying curled in a ball in the cave. I had enough sense to wonder about you and Ditri so I left the cave and saw Kellen standing over what appeared to me to be your dead body. He looked very proud of himself, I’ll add—the snake.” His expression turned to contempt, his old scar showing pale white against his darker skin. “I could barely stand. I still can barely stand. But I challenged him, make-believing I was stronger. He looked up at me and froze, staring with confusion in his eyes. Then he vanished. For a moment, I believed he was still here and looked for him, but he had gone.”
            “He was scared of you?” I asked, dubious. I myself knew that the wolf was imposing and unpredictable but it surprised me to think that a powerful sorcerer like Kellen was so intimidated.
            Faylin shook his head. “He never focused directly on me. He was seeing something else, though whether it was work of the Maker or illusions caused by his own demons, I don’t know. The man is possessed by that sword he carries, or more accurately, the being who twisted its magic for his own end and his own glory.”
            The wolf glared. “No, the fuzzy caterpillar named Frederick.” he said sardonically. “In any case, after I realized Kellen had gone, I returned to find that you were at least still breathing, though I wouldn’t call it being ‘alive’. Personally speaking, I’ve never much cared for human looks but at the moment you more resembled a toad as green as your skin was. I called Grinl and Veilara then and with them came all the others. I believe Kellen somehow forced us through his sorcery. They claimed not to have heard you calling, even though that is what originally woke me.”
            I rubbed my shoulders, attempting to loosen the tight aches in my body. “I’m puzzled.”
            “I’m not surprised.” Faylin smirked.
            “You are such a curmudgeon.”
            Faylin’s toothy grin broadened. “Pray continue with your high compliments.”
            I grumbled under my breath about wolves being the end of mankind’s sanity.
            “Human, you said something puzzled you.” Faylin prodded, at least marginally interested in what I had to say.
            “Yes, right. Kellen told me he had done something to you but he didn’t say what. He just said something about you being stubborn, as if he had trouble with you. He also told me that I had been much more willing. I didn’t suspect for half a second that Ditri was actually Kellen disguising himself.” I added somewhat sheepishly. “But still, Kellen acted like he knew you were no longer a threat and I was thinking, if he did put some sort of spell over you, wouldn’t he be able to sense when you broke it? And how did you break it anyway?”
            “As you have just said, I am a stubborn old curmudgeon. Maybe Kellen’s iron will met its match today.”
            “It’s still the same day?” I asked, astonished. Deep in the caverns Grinl called home, I couldn’t tell what was happening in the topside world.
            “Late evening, yes. Grinl just left moments before you woke to see about some herb or other. He’s threatening on treating us both.” The canine half-crawled to a separate corner of the room where he curled into a tight ball, his annoyance was communicated clearly through the tone of his voice. “These giant lizards will be the death of me.”
            “You can’t say that now.” I admonished. “Ditri has come to your rescue more than once, as well as mine.”
            “Yes, and Grinl nearly killed us in a rockslide.”
            “That wasn’t his fault! If you blame anyone, you should blame Kellen. As far as we know, he could be responsible for everything that’s gone wrong since we started.”
            For a moment, Faylin was silent, brooding quietly. “I do blame him.” he said at last. “Every day, I blame him. That’s the danger.”
            “Kellen is ruled by hatred and a passionate longing for higher power.” Faylin explained. “I, on the other hand, am ruled by that future time and place when Kellen will no longer be a stain on Felmath. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it, that I don’t think about when I will finally have won—even if I myself do not fight him. For some of us, our greatest danger is pride or deceit or envy; what do I have to be proud of, or to envy of others, or why should I care to lie? None of those things tempt me in the way they do others. But thoughts of justice and vengeance never leave me.” His gaze was dark with brooding as he spoke.
            I sat, deep in thought for some time, lying on the crude bed of cloth and sacks that had been made hastily for me—over the past days I had been content to sleep on the floor like the others. “You are a pain.” I said at last. I instantly regretted it and wondered why my mouth sometimes won the race against my mind.
            Faylin chuckled. “Yes.”
            “But I would likely be dead without your stubbornness.” I attempted to smile reassuringly just as the wound in my shoulder gave me a sharp pain. The smile must have turned into an awful grimace because Faylin chuckled.
            “I’m not a hero, if that is what you are implying.” he said. “You of all of our companions know how unpleasant and offensive I am, so don’t pity me or try to make me feel better if you’d like to live to see morning.” He growled deep in his throat, annoyed perhaps but also amused.
            “Then maybe I’ll just go back to sleep to avoid saying anything else.” I replied, knowing full well where my sarcastic tongue had come from. Even if he was nothing else, Faylin made quite a teacher.
            “That would be wise, human.”
            “Are you saying I am wise?” I asked, smirking slightly.
            Faylin smirked back for all he was worth. “Allow me to put it this way: you haven’t shut up yet.”
            I bit my tongue to keep from saying anything more and for but a second there was silence. Then, a deep growling chuckle came from Faylin at the same time as I let out a snort of amusement. Both of us stopped immediately and stared at each other with such expressions of shock that we began laughing again.
            By the time our laughter was reduced to coughs and groans, Grinl peered in on us. His violet eyes looked puzzled. “Pardon me, but I could have sworn I heard two different voices laughing and I am most certain that you, Faylin, never laugh like that. Ditri has always led me to believe you to be such a…” he searched for the word, “curmudgeon.”
            “Don’t believe everything you hear.” Faylin growled.
            Grinl ruffled his wounded wings—it seemed all of us had any number of bruises and cuts anymore—and replied, “Ah. Am I not supposed to believe I heard such an expression of merriment from you; or that Ditri told me incorrectly?”
            “Take it as you will.” Faylin said.
            The stocky blue dragon nodded. “Well then, if you two are quiet finished with…” he shook his head “whatever it was that you were doing, you might as well get some rest. I expect Ditri, the real Ditri, to be back within a day or two and neither one of you can go fighting villains and sailing strange oceans in the shape you’re in currently.”
            “But Grinl,” I replied. “That’s just what we were doing.”
            “Ah. I see.” Still looking puzzled, the scientific husband and brother left us alone. However, neither Faylin nor I believed he had gone far and made ourselves as comfortable as possible so that we could sleep.
            “Silly, clumsy human girl,” Faylin hissed.
            “Mangy, stubborn old dog,” I said in kind.
            “You have learned some things since we met.” he said and I smiled at the compliment. “I pity you when the time comes for you to go back and live among other humans again and they find you have such wit and sarcasm. A good number of them will not like it.”
            I was quiet, one hand curled under my head, the other clutching the old blanket around me. I thought about the mother I couldn’t remember and all my questions about her. I had more questions than answers. I thought about home and my father and my friends; friends who would find me very different, to say the least, if I ever saw them again…and yet here I was with Faylin and actually enjoying his company for perhaps the first time since I met him. “But you like it.” Faylin didn’t answer, but I knew him well enough to believe he was smiling. “And seeing as how you’re the only company I have at the moment, I can deal with that.”
            “I suppose you must.”
            “No. I don’t have to. But I will.”
            A pause. “Go to sleep Lara; you are a very tiring person.” I could nearly count on one hand the times he had actually taken the trouble to call me by name and as far as I could recall, those times were either when he was yelling at me or when he had approved of something I had done—which was rare, seldom, never.
            “Thank you,” I whispered, closing my eyes.
            Faylin grumbled and I heard him shuffling around. “Humans,” he said in exasperation.


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