Zoltar’s heart was still pounding by the time he reached the wisp talon village. The moon was just rising over the mountains and the stars were out and twinkling. The sounds of the night creatures were all around him as he hauled himself up a ladder carved out of a tree and onto the wooden bridge. The bridge was in good condition and had fruit vines winding around the rope railings. Silver Moon Flowers bloomed on and around the bridge. Their petals glittered in the moon light as Zoltar walked through the dark wisp talon village silent as a ghost. He could hear gentle snoring coming from some of the dangling huts. The houses looked similar to a weaver bird’s nest with a hole in the side for dragons to climb into the hut. Strong twisted vines dangled from the trees and were knitted into the huts vine walls, securing them to the trees branches.
Two wisp talons were sitting on a branch a few feet above the wooden bridge on which Zoltar was standing. Their long snake like necks were stretched towards the full moon and waves of gold and silver were rippling over their scales.
Zoltar flapped his wings, trying to get their attention. He didn’t want to shout and wake the rest of the sleeping wisp talons. That might end badly for him.
When they didn’t respond Zoltar figured that he was camouflaged to well for them to see so he picked up a large twig resting on the bridge and tossed it at the branch next to the mesmerized wisp talons. It bounced off the bough making a hollow sound that could only be heard be the two wisp talons and Zoltar, due to his excellent hearing. The wisp talons blinked their golden eyes and looked around for the source of the sound. Their eyes fell on Zoltar, who was waving at them. Zoltar signaled for them to come down.
The wisp talons landed with a thump making the bridge sway. They were about a head taller than Zoltar and stared down on him. This made Zoltar feel uncomfortable and the red pulsing through the wisp talons scales was not helping.
“Ah…hi,” Zoltar started shifting on his paws nervously. The expressions on the wisp talons remained hard as steel as if waiting for him to give an explanation to why he was there.
“Emerald said that you would let me stay here for the night,” he probed optimistically, glancing up at the wisp talons. To his surprise they were smiling.
“Anything for our sister,” the large of the two said in a deep voice.
“Did she say anything about when she was going to come back to the village? We haven’t seen her in three sun downs,” the other one interjected. He had a hopeful expression on his slender orange snout.
“I’m sure that she’ll be back, Zoolarth,” the largest reasoned.
“I know, Vextar,”
“She said that she’d be back tomorrow morning." Zoltar interjected, hoping the information would help the wisp talons warm towards him. "Emerald never told me that she had brothers.”
As soon as he heard the new, Vextar beamed, ending up looking quite silly in the process, "I'm sure she will. We're probable over reacting. She always comes back."
Zoltar shivered. There was a cold breeze brushing though the forest, rustling through the leaves and swirling over his scales.
“We should get inside,” Vextar said turning and walking down the bridge.
“You can sleep in the guest hut over there,” Zoolarth pointed at a moonlit hut on the left of the bridge. Evening primroses clung to the leafy walls, glowing a sun yellow in the night air.
Zoltar noticed a small pile of fuzzy leaves in the back of the hut. There was a wooden plank running from the bridge to the huts door way and tying the hut to the bridge were long green vines. Zoltar could see that the ropes kept the hut from swaying in the breeze and knocking the plank down.
“Why do you keep the board there?” Zoltar asked, happy to see that he didn’t have fly to get to the hut, but intrigued none the less.
“Because we have a lot of injuries concerning wisp talons. You see we like to climb and we have big wings, so we sometimes scratch them. It’s easier to just put the planks there then fly up with a sore wing,” Zoolarth looked at him and Zoltar saw his eyes land on his wings for a second. Zoltar pulled his wings in closer.
“And in your case, I’d say that you are lucky that we keep the plank there or else you would have to sleep outside or make the painful flight over to the hut,” Zoolarth finished.
“Anyway we wish you a good night. We are on guard duty tonight, so don’t lie there worrying about the night creatures.” Vextar said as he and Zoolarth walked down the bridge and back up the tree they’d been sitting on earlier.
Zoltar looked around the dark hut. There was a bed made of soft leaves and half a hollowed out coconut shell lying next to it, presumably for water. There was a brown poach in the corner in which Zoltar put the stone tablet for safe keeping. There would be time to look at that later. There was a pile of luscious looking fruit in the corner behind his bed. Zoltar’s stomach rumble and he suddenly became aware of how hungry he was.
Zoltar reached out and grasped a ripe watermelon in his paws. Its jade green shell was speckled with amber and black dots and cracked under his claws as he broke it in half. The rich ruby flesh shone in the moons light, its seeds glistening drops of obsidian. Zoltar took a bite out of the fruit. A wave of sweet and tangy flavor swept over his tongue, sparks of sour bounced around his mouth. Fresh nectary juice ran down his throat and into his stomach.
“Oh, I missed these,” Zoltar thought happily as he chewed on the melon. The Shadow Lands had once had water melons and other countless fruits, but all of that had been lost when the volcano had erupted. All plant life had vanished along with the animals the shadow talons preyed upon. The only food left had been small burrowing rodents and the occasional bird. Both were hard to catch and tasted terrible. Not a day had passed without Zoltar longing for a bit of fruit or any sort of plant life for that matter. It was one of the many things he'd struggled with the most when the volcano had erupted.
Zoltar looked at the moon in the star light sky, studying the craters potting its surface. He knew that it was strange, but he kind of missed the way the moon glowed red in the shadow lands and how the sparks from the fires dotting the landscape seemed to dance in its light.
Sighing, Zoltar walked over to his bed and curled up onto the warm fuzzy leaves. It was warm and cosy, soothing his aching bones, but it did nothing to dull the fears swirling through his head. Right now life just seemed so full of worries, a raging fire with no end in sight. Funnily enough the only one that he was thinking about at the moment was the fact that he didn't know where Felistia, Shiraku and Emerald were. Was Felistia and Shiraku out in the forest looking for him and was Emerald alright all by herself out there in the forest? What if the Exltron found any of them? What would happen then? Just thinking about it caused cold fear wrapped its self around Zoltar's chest.
Zoltar knew he'd just met them and shouldn't be worrying about them so much. What he really should have been stressing about was the fact that the future of the whole shadow talon tribe was resting in his paws, but for some reason he didn't care as much for the shadow talons as he newly found friends. With them, he felt wanted or at least didn't feel like they were pushing him away. Deep inside he had feelings for them; warm feelings.
Staring up at the moon, Zoltar sighed. He'd have to wait for tomorrow to see if they were okay. For now, he'd try to get a good night’s sleep.