The shadows continued to darken as the pair made their way along the shoreline. Strange calls echoed out from the nearby forest, warping in the mist cloaked air as the last of the sun disappeared beyond the distant mountains.
“Almost there,” Felistia said, looking over her wing at Zoltar, who was trailing behind her.
He nodded nervously, before fixing his eyes back on the tree line. Nothing stirred, but still he couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling hanging over him.
He shivered, his back spines bristling as an evening breeze brushed over his scales. It was just the memories. Felistia seemed fine and from the sounds of it she’d been on the island for a while. If anything was wrong, she’d probably sense it before him.
“Here we are.” Felistia had stopped and was gesturing to a large rock column standing a few dragon lengths from the beach. Ocean waves lapped gently against its sea weed cloaked sides as misty tendrils coiled around it.
“We’re going to sleep on top of that?” Zoltar asked, squinting at the pillar. It wasn’t exactly his idea of an ideal place to rest.
“No silly,” Felistia batted him with her wing, before saying, “Here I’ll show you. Shiraku had a hard time spotting it on the first night too.”
“Wait…who’s Shiraku?” Zoltar blurted, but Felistia was already in the air and climbing. She’d nearly reached the top of the pillar when she stopped and hovered. Angling her wings, she plunged straight through the sea weed strands and disappeared.
Zoltar stood there blinking for a moment, before mentally slapping himself. Of course there was a cave.
Cringing at how he must look, he jumped skyward, following Felistia’s lead. He hovered, eyeing the sea weed hanging over the column. It all still looked very solid to him. What if he didn’t get the dive quite right and end up colliding with rock? He could break a wing.
“You coming?” Felistia stuck her head out from the strands, “The entrance is quite wide. You can’t miss it.”
Zoltar nodded, still somewhat doubting her, before tucking his wings and swooping. He braced himself for impact, but instead felt the slimy touch of sea weed as he flew through the cave opening.
Trusting out his talons, he came to a screeching halt.
Zoltar let out the breath he’d been holding in. He’d made it, without a scratch on him.
Turning around, he breathed a column of fire, its orange glow lighting up the cave. Cracks scuttled across the amber walls like small rivers on their way to the sea. Olive green moss flowered all over the ceiling, their delicate tendrils wet with dew.
Felistia was standing up against one of the walls, well clear of the entrance. Her scales gleamed like white gold in the flame’s orange glow as she walked over to him, “It’s not so bad once you get used to the positioning. You should have it down in a few days.”
Zoltar gave her a confused look for a moment. She was expecting him to stay here for more than one night? Why was she being so friendly?
“Shiraku should be back anytime now. Then you two can get acquainted,” Felistia continued as she picked up a few strands of foliage scattered across the floor. She placed them back onto a pile of grass in the back of the cave.
“Who’s Shiraku?” Zoltar asked, walking over to help her. There was another dragon living on the island beside Felistia? Another outcast no doubt. How many of them lived here?
“Oh she’d been living here for two to three years now. I lose count of the days,” Felistia said, absentmindedly as she patted down the pile into a large bed.
“Three years,” Zoltar echoed. How had the two managed to survive the island for that long, “That must have felt like an eternity?”
“Well, the days start to roll into one another once you’ve been here long enough. When your days are spent trying to survive, you lose track of time after a while. It’s better when you have company though. Before Shiraku arrived, I was alone on the island.”
“How long have you been here?” Zoltar asked, suddenly feeling rather sorry for the Ice Talon.
Felistia paused for a moment, before saying, “Fourteen years I think. I’m pretty sure it’s been longer than that though.”
When Zoltar didn’t say anything she stopped and looked at him with a sad smile, “It’s alright though. I mean I’ve got food, water and shelter. It’s not so bad once you get used to it. Besides, you won’t have to live alone. Three dragons is better than one.”
“But, I’m not going to stay here forever,” Zoltar blurted, before he could stop and think, “Who would want to live in a place where everything wants to kill you?”
Felistia tipped her head and batted him with her wings, “Shiraku was the same when her and her father showed up here, but she’s still here after all this time. Don’t you worry. You’ll get used to it in no time.”
Zoltar nodded sullenly, all the while scolding himself. He had to remember he was supposed to be an outcast. He had to stop and think before just saying stuff. Felistia may be friendly now, but he couldn’t guaranty she’d be so nice if she found out the real reason he was here. He had to be more careful.
Just then there was a rush of loud flaps outside and Zoltar hurried to move away from the entrance as another dragon tumbled through the opening.
“Shiraku, you’re back,” Felistia exclaimed, waving a wing in greeting at the turquoise blue dragon.
Zoltar pressed himself against the wall, his back spines flared in alarm as Shiraku’s jade green eyes landed on him.
“What is that doing here?” she spat, pointing a talon at Zoltar as her webbed back spines bristled.
‘Shiraku is a Sea Talon,’ Zoltar thought, panicking. He couldn’t spend the night with a Sea Talon. She’d probably kill him in his sleep.
“Shiraku, this is Zoltar,” Felistia said, a disapproving note to her voice, “I found him being savaged by a pack of Death Grippers this afternoon and offered him a place to spend the night.”
Shiraku hissed under her breath, lashing her webbed tail, “But he’s a Shadow Talon.”
Felistia shot the Sea Talon a warning look, growling, “Shiraku, don’t make me say something that you’ll regret.”
Shiraku’s eyes darted from Felistia to Zoltar and back for a moment, before she huffed. Muttering under her breath, she stomped off to the back of the cave and flopped onto one side of the grass pile, with her back facing the pair.
Felistia eyed her for a moment, before turning back to Zoltar, “Sorry about that. She’d doesn’t take well to new comers and well, you know how Sea Talons feel about your kind.”
Zoltar nodded, but somehow felt like she wasn’t telling him the whole story.
“Anyway, it’s getting late and it will be full moon tomorrow. Get some sleep while you can,” Felistia yawned, displaying her sparkling white fangs.
Zoltar couldn’t help the confused look that flashed across his face. What was so important about the full moon?
He decided not to press her about it as he watched her pad over to the back of the cave and lie down opposite Shiraku. She stared at the wall for a while as though pondering something, before closing her eyes after a few minutes.
Zoltar lay down near the entrance to the cave. There was no way he was going to sleep so close to a Sea Talon.
He stared out through the sea weed tendrils hanging from the cave entrance. Night had fallen over the island and the forest beyond the beach was wreathed in shadows. Eerie calls floated through the humid air, their sounds warped by the dank wind that blew over the trees. The two pale moons were slowly rising over the mountains, one a thin sliver, the other nearly full.
Every now and then a high pitched screech would rip through the night air, reminding Zoltar of what lay outside the cave. He looked up at the twinkling stars and sighed. How was he going to do this on his own?
Shiraku by @FlamingPhoenix