The two blood red crescent moons were just visible behind the billowing clouds of smoke as they broke the surface of the ocean. What little light they provided, tainted the land in a scarlet haze, distorting familiar surroundings into an almost looking alien world.
In the distance, Mount Mokewtu glowed with a fiery rage as wave after wave of lava spilled over the mountain’s fractured basin. Small tremors shook the earth continually as the volcano’s never ending groans filled the night air.
Overlooking the devastation from a few miles away, stood the band of Shadow Talons, their heads bowed and their wings spread.
Then as if moved by an invisible force, they began to rock, sweeping their wings up and down in harmony. A low, mournful song filled the night as they twirled, lifting their heads to the heavens as they voiced their despair.
Through the smoke and fire surrounding what once had been the Shadow Talon city, little glimmers of gold could be seen slowly rising from the rubble.
Wings swept over blades of ghostly red grass as the Shadow Talons took to the air, their tails trailing across the blackened night. Streams of golden dust were now pouring into the heavens, the Shadow Talons circling ever higher as they followed the shimmering mist. Paws swayed in rhythm to the ancient song as the dance continued.
Gradually, the flow of the sparkling trails began to ebb as they disappeared into the rolling clouds of ash. The Shadow Talon dance slowed as the dragons returned to the earth, bowing their wings in respect as the last of their loved ones faded into the night.
It felt like an eternity before Hisster rose, folding his wings back against his sides. He let out a long sigh as he gave one last look at the volcano, before turning to address what was left of the tribe.
“Try to get some rest tonight. You’re going to need it. Tomorrow we will head for the plateau overlooking the beach. The ash and lava won’t reach us there. From there we’ll start forming some sort of shelter to wait this thing out. The eruption should last longer than six months to a year. We will just need to make do until then. As for re-building, we will address that when the time comes.”
Hisster dropped his head, refusing to meet the gaze of any of the other Shadow Talons as he passed between them. He walked sullenly down the hill to settle under one of the few scattered trees around the area, his black wings tented over himself to hide his face.
Gradually, the Shadow Talons began to disperse, some choosing to seek solace in small groups, while others went off on their own, preferring to grieve in solitude.
Before long, Nira and Zoltar were the only ones left. They sat in silence as they stared out at the almost pitch black night. Only the crimson light of the volcano pierced the darkness.
Even with his night vision, Zoltar found it hard to pick out the details in the landscape, though he was mostly thankful for this. He knew that the shadows hid a lot of the destruction. The light of dawn was not a welcome thought.
Nira breathed a long sigh next to him and clasped her paw in his before slowly turning to look at him.
“What are we going to do now?” She whispered, her voice barely able to carry the words without breaking.
Zoltar stared at the ground, the tears threatening to well up again. What were they going to do? Their whole tribe, save maybe a hundred or so Shadow Talons had been wiped out in one fell swoop. What was their future now?
Sure, they could resettle once the volcano’s anger ended, but what then? It would take centuries to repopulate. What would happen in the meantime?
They barely had enough dragons to continue on their species, let alone defend their homeland. But then again, who would want to take this from them. Now that they and the rest of Megalonia knew that Mount Mokewtu was active, who would want to live on her slopes again?
“I don’t know,” Zoltar said finally, brushing his wing against Nira’s, “I guess we’ll have to just see what happens. Hisster seems to have a plan. I guess we’ll just go along with him for the moment.”
Nira nodded as she leant against him, “I’m so glad you’re here. I don’t think I’d be able to keep things together if I’d lost you back there. You’re all I have left.”
Despite his sorrow, a little spark of warmth filled Zoltar’s heart upon hearing those words, “I don’t know what I’d do without you either.”
He breathed a quiet sigh as he wrapped one wing over Nira and rested his head on hers. They’d be okay. They’d make it through this…together.