Shadowed Moon Chapter 21

Fiction By Kay J Fields // 6/8/2011

 

It was like something from a dream; or, perhaps, more like a nightmare. The barren shores of a foreign land seemed close enough to touch while the captain debated the wisdom of sending any persons there and the sailors went crazy because they had done something all the others were afraid to do. We had reached Zandar.
            I knew as soon as one of the sailors had announced land in sight that this was where Kellen was hiding. How I knew was anyone’s guess, but I knew it just the same. “HolyOne, Maker,” I whispered. “I don’t know what I’m doing.” I inhaled deeply and turned to see my companions—now including Enriad—walking about the deck. “Please protect us. Please protect them. And please…please stop this madness. Stop Kellen.”
            “Ay,” growled a soft voice.
            I stared at the sandy shores of legend mere yards away. “Ready Faylin?”
            “Indeed. Let’s be done with this.” There were abstruse meanings in those words that only he and I knew.
            With the shipmen finally deciding to stay aboard their vessel, we took the rowboat with two crewmembers who would return back to the ship when we had gotten off. I had asked the captain to return for us by the end of the next month and he had agreed. Hopefully, this war wouldn’t last that long. Not nearly that long.
            As the ship faded in the distance, the dragons came back into view for the first time since we had departed Karamin days ago. “Ditri,” I called in greeting, smiling broadly.
            “I see you are none the worse for wear, hmm?” Ditri asked.
            “As soon as my legs will stand straight again, I’ll be fine.” I replied.
            “Ah, Lara…” Grinl began. He was looking at Enriad and cocking his head quizzically.
            Enriad, to his credit, only looked white as a sheet and trembled like a late autumn leaf that is still clinging to its tree. He hadn’t fainted or ran screaming in the other direction. What’s more, he could understand the dragons. “It’s alright.” he said quickly. “I’m a friend.”
            Veilara snorted smoke disdainfully. “Another one.” she muttered. “I was fine with Lara. She’s part of the prophesy. But—“
            “Sister,” Ditri huffed. “One more pair of hands in our tiny troupe is always welcome.”
            “I would hardly call this tiny.” Enriad said. “There are ten of us and five are dragons who appear more than capable of their share in any fighting that has to be done.”
            Veilara looked on him with a touch more respect. “Of course, young flatterer. However, there are only four of us who can really fight.” She pointed with a black claw at Azteric who was happily rolling in the waves and sand. “That one is not to be even considered for fighting. He just got to come along because no one else would watch him.”
            Azteric looked up from his play, orange eyes glowing. “Are you talking about me, Auntie?”
            The dragoness rolled her eyes dramatically. “No, dear. I was talking about you, which is quite another matter.”
            “Oh.” said the white dragon, returning to his game.
            “Now,” Phyletus interjected. “We must explore this accursed place and make our camp. Then we can start calling the other dragons to come to our aid. Simply knowing that this place does exist will encourage them to stand beside us, though I can’t imagine why we have never flown over it before.”
            Narris clacked her beak together gratingly. “Perhaps Kellen wanted to keep this place hidden.” she said with a strange look in her eyes. She turned her face briefly inward, as if peering into the very heart of the land, then returned her gaze to us. “Whatever created the legend of this place, whatever forced the inhabitants to flee, must still be here. Perhaps it is how he uses the magic of the sword.”
            I gazed into the heart of the land and shook me head slowly. “Where are you Kellen?” I asked, mostly to myself.
            Catalee swirled around my feet, her white-tipped tail waving like a flag. I looked down at the fox as she pranced about excitedly, spun in a circle and dizzily beamed at us.
            “For heavens sake, Catalee, what is it?” Faylin growled.
            Catalee’s black nose quivered. “I, well, I just found something. I think, that is, maybe.”
            “Continue…” Faylin prompted.
            “Ah. Yes. Yes! I did!” Catalee spun around once more and pointed with an upraised paw at some nearby cliffs. “There!”
            “Oh.” I said.
            Atop the cliffs was what first appeared to be a barren hill, but if you looked at it just the right way, you could see that it was the sandstone ruin of some great fortress. Sandstone cliffs met with walls of the same materials, walls met with the crumbling bases of towers and what might once have been windows were now gaping holes in the sides. If you looked hard enough at the place, you could almost see some sort of movement behind those walls and winding between toppled pillars.
            “As likely place as any for Kellen to be hiding out in.” I commented.
            “Aye, and if he is there,” Faylin said, “Then he has seen us and knows very well that we are here—and how many of us there are.”
            Ditri nods grimly, smoke curling from his nostrils. “We will have to move away from this place, out of sight somewhere else.”
            I pulled my small sword from its sheath and turned it over in my hands, allowing the sharpened blade to catch the sunlight, all the while dreading what was undoubtedly to come. Enriad drew his bow, carved out of silverwood and formed into a beautiful, deadly weapon. He fitted an arrow to the string and smiled at me. “We’re ready when you are.”
            It was, at that moment, made perfectly plain to me that neither Ditri nor any of the other dragons were leader anymore. Neither was Faylin or Enriad, Catalee or Narris. I had accepted some time ago that I was this child of prophesy who was somehow to deliver others from the evil of Kellen and the cursed sword of a mysterious man named Rourke, as well as whatever amassed armies he might have erected over time. Yet it had somehow not even entered my mind that I would be the one to lead our small band when the time came, not even when we had been planning for the battle, or when Faylin and I had held our secret conferences on the ship. Now it hit me as hard as the rockslide in the Yalee Mountains. I was the leader; and, above all else, I was responsible for everything that now happened.
            I sheathed my sword but kept a hand on it, wary of whatever welcoming committee Kellen might send to us. With a tight smile back at Enriad, I nodded and took charge. “Phyletus, Veilara, now that we know Zandar is here, I want you to return as quickly as possible to Karamin, Chelise, and Elle—whatever countries you have allies in—and ask them to join us. Tell them to prepare for war.” I turned to Ditri. “Ditri,” it didn’t feel right ordering the forest dragon around though, so I only asked, “Can you and Grinl scout out as much as you can of Zandar? Try to find out where Kellen is, but keep well away from him; we’ll deal with the sorcerer when the time comes.” I added, glancing briefly at Faylin.
            The four dragons left, leaving only Azteric, the three animals, Enriad, and I. All in all, our force was a small one. But I counted on others to follow after Phyletus and Veilara to come to our aid. Most knew of the sorcerer and wanted him disposed of as much as we did. I also knew that the God of the universe had, for some reason, chosen us and He would make our victory sure.
            “Catalee, Narris, scout out supplies of fresh water and any food sources you can find.” I continued, considering my remaining three companions. “Enriad, Faylin, Azteric help me go through whatever supplies Ditri brought with us—“ I gestured to the huge sack lying on the beach, “—and as soon as he and Grinl get back, we will find our camp.”

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