Sheltering Wings~ Chapter 1:Evening

Fiction By Julie // 7/17/2009

In my earliest dream, I was a bat, gliding on huge leather canopies through the velvet night. I still soar with bats in the silver twilight—before I fall asleep.

 
Sheltering Wings
I long to dwell in your tent forever
 and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Selah
Psalm 61:4 
Chapter One:Evening
I shoved my window open, removed the screen, and carefully lowered it onto the roof. Peering out of the window, I inhaled the night air. Freedom. I was halfway out of the window when my bedroom door swung open.
“Whatcha you doing, BatBoy?”
“Shh, Loren.” I warned my sister.
“Sneaking out again?” She stuck out her lower lip. “Don’t you remember what Mommy said? Someone’s gonna catch you.”
“Wren, have you ever caught a sparrow?” I shook my head. “They fly too quickly. I’ll be fine.”
“If I’m a wren, maybe I can fly with you,” Loren grinned.
“You wiggle too much for me to carry you. Maybe someday you’ll have your own wings.”
“Really? We could be BatGirl and BatBoy.”
“Stop calling me that.” Secretly, I adored the nickname. Bats were clever, quick. They loved the darkness. They could fly.
Just like me.
 “Tell me all about it, okay?”
 “I always do.” I slipped onto the roof. “Could you make a distraction for me?”
“Like what?” Loren bounced up and down.
“Tell Mom…you heard a funny noise. But have it change places…under the bed…down the hall…”
 “Anything for you,” she winked. “BatBoy.”
 
 I rolled up my sleeves and yanked off my backpack. “Much better,” Two gigantic wings unfolded between my shoulder blades. “They get so cramped in there.” With one mighty flap, I sprang from the roof, startling a nearby sparrow. “YAAH-HOOOOOO!”
The stars shone silver through pale wisps of clouds playing hide-n-go-seek with the half-hidden moon. A barn owl cooed softly as it soared on a rising thermal. I glided like a kite, barely moving my wings.
‘You’re too careless. Someone’s going to see you one of these nights.’
I laughed. ‘Who’d believe them?’
‘Someday they’ll find you.’ Mom stared at me. ‘And you’ll regret being so flippant.’
I shook the memory away.  Mom was just paranoid.
            I plunged earthward, unfurling my wings at the last moment. What a night for flying!
“Let’s go fly a kite/ up to the highest height,” I sang.  Except I was the kite! I gazed down at the lights of my Chicago suburb. Mother was right about one thing—there were too many people here. Give me a hermit’s cabin any day of the week. I’d never have to wear a backpack; I could fly in broad daylight for all to see.
                        The moon had already set when my toes brushed the roof. I tugged the backpack on again and crawled through the window. Quietly I reset the screen and shoved down the window. Maybe dreams of flying would relive the pain of another earthbound day.
 
                        “Good morning, good morning, good morning.” Loren sang as I sprinted down the stairs. “What are you so happy about?” Mom asked.
“I had a nice dream,” my sister giggled. “All about ponies and teddy bears and dragons!”
I bit back my own laughter. “Come on, Wren, we need to get on the bus before it leaves without us.”
Trees and dense shrubs shrouded our house.  Loren skipped down the driveway. “Come on, BatBoy, tell me about last night. Did you see any owls? What did the clouds look like?”
“Call me Chris, and maybe I’ll tell you,” I teased.
“Plleaseeeee, Chris,” my sister fell to her knees and clasped her palms together. “Oh please-oh please-oh please!”
“All right.” I lowered my voice. “The moon wore a bridal view of delicate clouds across her brow. The stars twinkled like your eyes when you have a secret. The bats rushed out of the trees like knights on a quest, to slay the evil mosquitoes,”
“Go on, go on,” Loren begged.
“Then I heard the whispering hoot of an owl. He wore bars of brown and black like a general, and led me to a secret path, a thermal of rising wind. It was like a rushing river, with fountains and plunges over waterfalls of air. I glided over the houses like a kite, silent and swift. Then I drew in my wings. I plummeted like a pillar, about to be crashed on the houses below. At the last moment, I spread my wings. My feet skimmed the ground like a water-skier before I pulled up and flew away.”
The stench of diesel fumes assaulted my nose. I fell silent.
“Don’t stop!” Loren begged.
 “I can’t. Look, there’s the bus.”
“Well, tell me another story then. Tell me about Martinesse, please!”
“Loren—“
“If you don’t tell the end, no one’s gonna know that it’s about—“
“Shh!” I hissed. The door jerked open, and I hopped aboard. “Okay, okay.”
Loren followed me to the back of the bus. “Your seat, milady,” I gestured, letting her slid in first. I scooted in next to her.
 “A long, long time ago, when Arthur was king and Merlin stood at his side, dragons lived among us. Makaidos, King of the Dragons led his followers alongside Arthur in many battles.
“But the evil Goliath turned from the path of light, choosing instead to seek his own glory. His followers caused much ruin throughout the land. And because of their evil deeds, a knight named Devin became poisoned with dragon- lust, seeking to kill and destroy the entire race. Despite Merlin’s attempts to save the good dragons, eventually only twelve remained.
“They are remembered in story and song: Sorentine the timid, Hartanna the wise, Clefspeare the redeemed, Valcor the loyal, Thiogacia the Queen, Firedda the valiant, Yellina the strong, Legossi the tenderhearted, Alithia the graceful, Carboni the warrior, Martinesse the wise, and Gartrand the faithless.” And these twelve were summoned to Bald Top by Merlin. The great prophet brought with him a flask of wine. By the power of prayer, all who drank in faith were transformed into humans. But Gartrand fled in fear, and being found by Sir Devin betrayed the others at the point of a sword. Merlin recommended that the former dragons scatter.
 “But before they fled, Arthur adopted Hartanna and Clefspeare into his bloodline. And the king renamed them, giving to Hartanna the name Irene Silver, and to Clefspeare he gave the name Reginald Bannister.
“As the centuries passed, the former dragons began to die. Not from old age, but at the point of Devin’s blade. For Devin unexplainably lived on. Today, no one knows if dragons even existed. But Merlin promised to return someday, and when he does, the dragons will come forth.”
Loren gazed out the window. “Do you think it’ll ever really happen?”
“I do.” Every night, when I lay down to sleep, the wings sprouting from my back reminded me that it was true.
The tales and legends were carved on my mind as surely as my wings sprung from my back. I knew they’d come true someday.
 
 
“Christopher Wayne, who was the third president of the United States?”
 “Thomas Jefferson, who also wrote the Declaration of Independence.”
“Very good, Mr. Wayne. What else can you tell me about President Jefferson?”
“His house was called Monticello, he invented lots of stuff, and he died on the same day as John Adams.”
My teacher, Mr. Williams nodded approvingly. “Can anyone else tell me about President Jefferson?”
“Teacher’s pet,” someone muttered
I tried to shake off a sudden chill. The nickname didn’t bother me—but the intense expression on Mr. William’s face did.  He’d been hired in a rush after Mr. Thompson’s stroke last summer; no one knew anything about him.
At last the bell rang, releasing us to our next classes. I pushed past two giggly girls, trying to ignore a sense of being watched.
 
After we arrived home from school, I wanted to go play in my tree house.
 Mom shook her head. “Don’t even think about it. I know how your mind works. You think you can see everything from up there, so you would take off your backpack and go flying. In broad daylight! Don’t be foolish.”
I sighed and shuffled inside. After pulling down all my blinds, I yanked off my backpack, letting it fall to the floor with a resounding slumph! I pulled out my history book and turned to chapter 3, “The Early Presidents.” I was flipping through the pages when Loren ran in.
“Don’t you ever knock?” I demanded.
“You know you just wanted a break from that stuffy old homework. Admit it!”
I could never stay angry with my Little Wren for long. “You’re right. So, what do you suggest?”
“Finish the story!” She bounced up and down on my bed. “Finish the story!”
“Like you’ve never heard the ending before.”
“Come on, you tell it best. Mommy makes it so gloomy.”
”As you wish,” I bowed my head. “One of the dragons transformed on Bald Top was Martinesse. Over the centuries, she traveled around the world, from England to China to Egypt to Mexico, and finally to the USA. About sixty years ago, she married a man by the name of Thomas Lockwood. Under the name of Rachel, she gave birth to a son, Henry. Ten years later, she had a daughter named Joy. When Joy was just eight, Henry disappeared. Thinking that the slayers may have caught up to them at last, Firedda changed her name again to Charlotte Johnson. Her husband became Larry, and her daughter was renamed Anna. Anna grew up and married Gareth Wayne. Together they had two children, Christopher Redmond and Loren Diane.”
“That’s us!” Loren squealed. “Tell me what my name means, please….”
“Grandma Char chose your name. In the Lord of the Rings series by Tolkien, Lorien is a wood where elves live. Char said that since Lorien was a place of legends, it was a good name for a dragon-girl.”
“What’s a legend?” Loren demanded.
“It’s a story—like King Arthur or Johnny Appleseed—that was true once, but people have changed it so much that no one knows fact from fiction. Some people even say it never happened at all. But we know better, Little Wren.”
“I like my name,” Loren stated. “Why do you keep calling me ‘Little Wren?’”
“Because you are my little sister, and a wren is a little bird. Someday, you’ll have wings just like me, and then we can fly together.”
“But yours starting growing when you were five. I’m almost seven, and I don’t even itch yet!”
“Be patient.”
“Easy for you to say, Bat-Boy!” Loren muttered. “You can fly.”
I laughed. “It took a few years for them to get this big. Remember how I broke my ankle jumping off the swing when I was your age, because I knew I could fly?”
Loren giggled.
“Lor-en!” Mother called. “Let your brother finish his schoolwork.”
I rolled my eyes at the ceiling. “You’d better go.”

 
I stepped off the bus, crunching a patchwork quilt leaves crunched underfoot. Autumn was one of my favorite seasons. Darkness fell earlier each night, and it was still warm enough that I didn’t need a winter coat.
“Christopher Wayne, please report to room 108, Christopher Wayne, Room 108.” The intercom’s bland tone took me by surprise. Why would Mr. Williams want to see me early? What was so important that it couldn’t wait till third hour?
I shoved my textbooks into my locker and continued to room 108. Through the half-window of the locked door, I could see Mr. Williams sitting at his desk. I leaned over and waved. He walked over to the door and opened it for me..
The first thing I noticed was that he was wearing a full suit of armor—breastplate, greaves, shoes, gauntlets, helmet, and even an empty scabbard. “What’s this about?”
“There is going to be a special assembly second hour—a display of medieval sword fighting techniques”
“You know sword-fighting?” I asked. “I never would have guessed.”
Mr. Williams grinned slyly. “I’ve spent some time practicing. The problem is, I need someone to help me set up over at the city center.”
“The community center? Why?” I asked. “Wouldn’t the auditorium or the gym work?”
“The stage is too high. I wouldn’t want to risk falling into the band pit. And if we had it in the gym, the people at the top couldn’t see as well. Anyway, I’ve noticed that you’re interested in sword fighting. Would you be interested in helping me?”
I grinned. “Seriously? I’ve always wanted to see a broadsword fight. Where’s yours?”
“Oh, I left it at the community center. Principal Haines wouldn’t allow me to bring it to school. So, is that a yes?”
“Mr. Williams, take me to your swords!” I quipped.
 
We cut through the back halls to get to the teacher’s parking lot. “Don’t want to spoil the surprise,” Mr. Williams explained.
I buckled myself into the backseat of his blue Cadillac as Mr. Williams, still dressed in his armor, turned the key and revved the engine.
 I was jolted out of my reverie of swords and noble knights when we turned left down Hobson, instead of right onto Jackson. “Mr. Williams, we just missed the turnoff for the city center.”
“Oh, I have a friend to pick up. He graciously agreed to join us for this demonstration.” Mr. Williams pulled into a driveway and tapped his horn. A figure in silver armor with a scarlet dragon emblazoned on his breastplate hobbled up and slid into the car. I shuddered slightly at the arrow sticking from the dragon’s chest. “Is it ready?” the new man growled.
“All is at hand, my liege.” Mr. Williams bowed his head.
Something fluttered inside me. “My liege? Come on, that’s a bit much. Mr. Williams, aren’t you going to induce me to your friend?”
“All in time,” the figure growled. “Let’s go.”
I swallowed hard. Mr. Williams backed out of the driveway and swerved around the corner. My unease grew as I recognized that our destination was not the city center, but my own house.
 
“Get out,” the man growled. “Palin, make sure he doesn’t escape.”
Palin? There was a Palin who was Devin’s squire in the old tales …
Mr. Williams got out meekly and pressed his gauntleted hand on my shoulders. “Do you have the sword, my liege?”
My liege…
“Of course.” As the other man came around from the back, I noticed that he limped slightly. Devin has a limp from where Thiogacia slashed his leg.
“Inside, boy!”
I swallowed hard, focusing on taking each step at a time. The front door was locked. Mr. Williams—Palin?— slashed the hinges off with his sword.
“I could have found the keys.” I quipped.
Mr. Williams shoved me onto the couch. “Do you like dragons, boy?”
The gleaming blade followed my throat. “Yes.” I swallowed hard.
“Have you heard of King Arthur?”
“Yes.” I whispered.
“You know of Merlin.”
“Yes.”
“Do you know the name Devin?” the limping man demanded.
The answer flashed in my eyes.
“And do you know the significance of Bald Top?”
I swallowed hard.
“I see that you do. What is in your backpack?”
“What do you think?” I answered. Courage. Don’t admit anything. Maybe it’s all just a joke.
“Let’s find out,” Before I could move, Mr. Williams ripped off my backpack.
“Demon Mongrel!” he cried. “Sir Devin, shall I strike him dead where he stands?”
Devin…
“Not yet. I wish to have all the dragons in one stew.” Devin’s eyes flashed like lightning. He brought the sword point to my throat. “Where is your mother?”
I bit my lip. He might kill me, but I wouldn’t say a word.
 “What about your sister?” he demanded.
 “I’ll kill you if you touch her!” I spat.
Palin drew back his blade, but Devin stopped him. “Not yet. We must wait for his family. His sister will die before his eyes, and he will perish in despair.”
Never. I vowed silently. As long as there was breath in my body, I’d protect my little Wren.
 
The blade hovered at my throat while Palin gagged and bound me to a chair. “You are going to die, boy, die like the other mongrels. Your blood will stain the hilt of my master’s sword, and your Demon Witch mother will perish!”
My wings were squashed against the back of the chair. My wrists were bound with a rope, but there had to be something I could do. Eventually Palin fell silent, leaving me to ponder escape methods.
My lips became chapped. My throat was dry as a pumpkin seed. But I would not give in and ask for water.
Then I heard a car pull into the driveway. Two pairs of feet rushed to the door. Mom gasped as her eyes met mine. I shook my head. Run, Mom, run!
“Ahh, the Demon Witch has arrived.” Devin smiled maliciously. “Now, whom shall I kill first?”
“Don’t you dare touch him!” she screamed.
“Planning to stop me?” he sneered. The silver blade flicked out and caught Mom in the chest.
She silently slumped to the floor.
Loren froze in the doorway.
 I struggled at my bonds. If I moved a certain way, the chair inched forward. It wasn’t much, but it was all I had.
Devin drew closer to my sister. “Die, Demon Witch!”
I skidded in front of him just in time to block one of his strokes. The blade sliced my wrists, cutting a thin stream of red—and fraying the rope. Applying every muscle in my body, I broke loose. The gag was still over my mouth. “Get behind me, Wren,” I shouted, hoping she’d understand.
Devin bellowed in fury. His sword wove intricate patterns in the air. After one particularly high stroke, I kicked him in the thigh. He teetered to one side, but quickly recovered.
I needed a weapon. I scanned the room. Ah! The atlas. I grabbed it and swung at Devin’s helmet. The book bounced back, stinging my hands. Another stroke came down, cutting a thin ribbon of red on my left wing.
I hefted the book like a discus, aiming at Devin’s forehead. But it merely glanced off his helmet. I looked up to see his blade descending on my head. I ducked. Only the flat hit me, but it was enough. A fuzzy blackness fell on my vision, and my hearing faded.
I heard Loren scream. I‘ll kill Devin for that. Then I was hoisted into the air and draped over Palin’s shoulder in a fireman’s carry. The darkness pushed harder, trying to obliterate me, but I forced one eye open. Loren lay against the door, her eyes closed. No. No. It was over.
I gave in and let the night swallow me.
 
Standing on tiptoes to see what Mommy was holding in her arms. “It’s your new sister, Loren,” she says. I smile at the little pink bundle. “I’m your big brother, Lor-i. I’m gonna watch out for you.”
“Are you sure he’s still alive?”
“Of course. I wrapped the wound on his wing. He’ll survive.”
“Just make sure he’s secure. If he escapes, you’ll pay for it.”
Scratching an itch between my shoulder blades as Mother explains about Bald Top and dragons and what’s happening to my back…”So I’ll really have wings?”
Icy metal digs into my wrists and ankles. My moans seem distant echoes.
 “He’s waking up, my liege.”
“Quick, give him another shot.”
A sharp pain stabs my wrist, then all fades on a curtain of mist…
’Chris, why’d you jump off the swing?” Mom demands.
“I thought I could fly.”
“Not yet. They’re not big enough.”
“Almost.”
“There’s a difference between almost and enough.”
Mist scuttles across my vision. I glimpse two figures bending over me. One approaches with a shadowy object in his hands. I try to move, but my body refuses to obey. A needle is inserted into my arm, and a dark red fluid flows into a vial. The vial is handed to Devin, who injects my blood into his veins. His wrinkles begin to smooth out…
Bands of ice encircle my wrists and my ankles. My wings are smothered under a mass of serpents. Darkness surrounds me; not the familiar, welcoming cloak of night, but a terrifying void of emptiness. “Help!” I cry, but there is no one to hear.
“He’s running a fever of 102. He won’t survive without antibiotics.”
“I won’t play nursemaid to a demon mongrel!”
“Do you want his blood or not?”
Sheets of fire leap about me. My skin blackens and curls like ash in a campfire. The burning leaps from toes to thigh to wings. Canopies of fire, like a phoenix. But I cannot rise from these ashes. The fire consumes my vision, and then my heart.
“The fever is gone. But you must wait for his photoreceptors to recover. He nearly died.”
“Chain him in the fortress.”
Iron chain draped my wrists and ankles. My wings tied with a mass of cords and chains. Cold steel dug into my neck. I stumbled, falling on rough-hewn stone.
“Get in there,” Devin growled. He slapped my back, sending me sprawling into an empty chamber of stone. Chains dangled from the walls like evil stalactites. He snapped the shackles onto my fetters, chaining me like an unruly dog.

I slumped to the floor, unable to move. The stone door slammed shut behind him, leaving me in utter darkness.

Comments

Wow, Kestrel, this is

Wow, Kestrel, this is amazing--I hope you finish it. Just one question though--how old is Chris?

 

Annabel | Wed, 07/22/2009

Hey! Great job! I was just

Hey! Great job! I was just wondering something...is this a fan fic/patterned after the "Dragons in Our Midst" books? I've never read them, but from what I do know about them, this sounds sort of like them. Just wondering...

Ariel | Wed, 07/22/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

OFGirl

OFGirl, it is based on the main idea of DioM, but only the first chapters contain cannon charries. The rest are originals.

Julie | Sun, 07/26/2009

Formerly Kestrel