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The Quest for Fire - Into the Mists - Chapter 47

by felistia


Orange flame flickered over the cave walls as Zoltar huffed, the spout of fire curling from his nostrils. His talons trembled in suppressed anger as he dug them into the rock beneath him.

All of this could have been prevented. The sacrifices, Nira’s death, even this whole stupid quest could have been avoided if they’d been willing to talk.

The Wisp Talons lived on a rich, thriving island, with more than enough for their tribe. Blue moons, that’s why this place had been a haven for traveling dragons in the first place.

If Scorpus could have just talked to the Wisp Talons, they could have worked something out. Sharing the island would have benefited both tribes. The Shadow Talons could have kept the Death Grippers at bay and the Wisp Talons could have allowed them to live along the coast, an area they didn’t even use.

But no. There was no chance of that now. Scorpus had been tortured and murdered, fed to the Death Grippers. All of it just to keep the tribe temporarily safe from a mistake that could easily be fixed.

There was no chance of negotiation. If he was caught, he’d suffer the same fate as Scorpus.

Zoltar shook his head and got to his paws, his talons aching from gripping the rock so tightly. He had to get outside, clear his head. He couldn’t stay down here. It was driving him crazy.

A light rain still clouded the air as Zoltar emerged from the cave, but it seemed that the main storm had passed. He stretched out his wings for the first time in over a cycle and sighed. It felt good to be out in the open again. With the storm finally clearing up, he could try hunting. It had been a while since his last meal and hunger pains were starting to set in.

After a quick look around, he set off up the mountain. Better to head away from the village. No need to attract unwanted attention.

The ground was slick beneath his paws, the rocks now coated in a thin layer of mud. He was careful to stay near trees whenever he could. The earth was more stable there, the roots keeping the loose rock and dirt clumped together despite the heavy rainfall.

It was so quiet up here with only the faint pitter patter of rain against the towering columns and sparse tree cover to disturb it. Zoltar took in a deep breath, searching the air for signs of prey. It would be difficult to track in this weather. The rain would have washed most, if not all scent trails away.

Still, it was better than hanging out in the dark waiting for Emerald to come back. At least out here, he a slim chance of stumbling across something.

His stomach twisted at the thought of Emerald and Zoltar found himself feeling guilty. He knew he shouldn’t have yelled at her like that. She hadn’t deserved that.

He sighed, shaking off the water accumulating on his wings and back spines. It was so hard to remember that she wasn’t responsible for what had happened. She couldn’t have been much older than nine seasons when Comet had died. There was nothing she could have done to prevent this situation. She’d just grown up in it and it wasn’t like she’d been one of the Wisp Talons to kill Nira.

Zoltar’s heart ached at the thought of Nira. The last conversation with Emerald had brought a lot of feelings to the surface. Feelings he’d tried to forget.

‘It could have been worse,’ he found himself thinking. What if Nira had been captured and he’d escaped? She would have died scared and alone. He couldn’t bear the thought.At least, this way her last moments had been with him. It was better than what could have happened.

Thing is though, would he have even left her? Probably not. They both probably would have ended up like Scorpus.

Frustrated, Zoltar slapped a loose rock, watching it as it tumbled down the slope. There was nothing he could do to make himself feel better about what had happened. Deep down, he knew that he would have preferred to rather die with Nira, than live on without her.

Was that why he was doing this? Was that why he’d refused to use Felistia and Shiraku to get the gem? Had he done that because it was the right thing to do? Or had it been an excuse to go on a mission that would without a doubt get him killed? Was that really what he was doing?

Was that what Emerald was doing? By talking to him and just hanging around him in general, she was tempting death. She knew the consequences if she was caught and yet she still did it.

Zoltar shook his head, rubbing his horns where a familiar horn ache was beginning to bloom. Maybe they weren’t so different after all. She’d lost her sister to the same fate that he’d lost Nira too. That gave them something in common and not a small thing either.

He should talk to her about it. He owed her that much anyway after the way he’d acted.

He’d walked many dragon lengths from the cave by now and there hadn’t been a single sign of prey. The weather must have sent everything into hiding. Not that he’d expected anything different. Still, he should probably head back before it got too late anyway.

Circling back around a column, he began making his way back down the mountain. It was strangely silent. There was no wind brushing through the leaves and the rain had all but stopped. It was eerie. Like someone was watching him.

Suddenly, the unfamiliarity of the area hit him and a chill ran down his spine. Zoltar picked up the pace, twisting around tree trunks and rock pillars. He had no idea what lived up here, not to mention what might come out come evening. There could be anything out there, hidden from view, but all too aware of his presence.

How he wished he could go back to the maze. Back to his familiar cave and Felistia. It was an odd thought, but he still found himself yearning for the familiarity of it all. He’d grown used to Felistia and Shiraku’s company.

Sure, Shiraku hadn’t been a breeze. Quite the opposite actually, but she’d begun to warm up to him towards the end. Felistia on the other paw had always been friendly towards him, right from day one on the island.

He missed them terribly. More than he’d like to admit. Still…he knew he’d done the right thing even he’d seemingly had a morbid ulterior motive behind it. He was glad that Sidious couldn’t use them anymore. The Ghost Talon would have to find another way to manipulate him.

‘Where is Sidious anyway,’ Zoltar thought suddenly, coming to a stop. He hadn’t really noticed the Ghost Talons absence. Mostly because he despised him, but he had to admit that this was strange. He’d been out here almost half a sun, all alone and there was no sign of him.

He must have something to say about what was going on. Something about Zoltar teaming up with a Wisp Talon being a stupid idea. Or even the fact that they now had their conversations in a place he couldn’t possible spy on. That must be driving him crazy. Enough to want to rant about it.

So where was he? It was weird. Almost as weird as the deadly silence that had fallen over the mountain in the last little while.

Zoltar scanned his surroundings. Nothing stirred. If Sidious was out there, he wasn’t planning on showing himself today.

Snorting, he carried on. The cave wasn’t that far off. Soon he could lie down, maybe even have a drink from the stream. He doubted Emerald would be back today, but she’d probably show up by the morning. He should think of the right things to say by then.


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Thu Aug 25, 2022 3:08 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hiya again!

First Impressions

I like the reflection happening in this chapter that’s letting it all sink in. I hadn’t quite understood the scale of what Emerald’s words had meant in the previous chapter, so with what Zoltar says here, it all starts to make more sense. I can definitely feel Zoltar’s regret and darker musings in the first part of this scene. The mood seemed a lot more neutral in the second half of the chapter, at least on first glance.

Characterisation: emotions

Something I like about the character descriptions is how their unique tribe qualities are used to show their emotions. I liked Zoltar breathing fire in this chapter, as it really conveys this brooding fury he’s been holding. I thought Zoltar having to leave the cave was also an in-character moment. I get the sense that when he’s upset, he really can’t just sit there with his thoughts.

Frustrated, Zoltar slapped a loose rock, watching it as it tumbled down the slope. There was nothing he could do to make himself feel better about what had happened.

I thought this bit was a little odd, since doing that would have scared away the prey. I guess he’d gotten sidetracked from his original objective by this point and gotten lost in his thoughts.
Additionally, I find myself feeling bad about Scorpus every time he’s brought up, even though I only know his character from the prologue and first chapter. Maybe it’s because from what I remember he was an elderly dragon?

Setting

Something that could be improved in this chapter I think could be how the atmosphere of the setting is shown. For example, Zoltar notes:
Suddenly, the unfamiliarity of the area hit him and a chill ran down his spine. Zoltar picked up the pace, twisting around tree trunks and rock pillars.

I couldn’t really feel this unfamiliarity myself. It seemed that there wasn’t enough detail to go off of, so this thought was a bit hard to empathise with. A lot of the chapter seems to take place in Zoltar’s head, after the descriptions of the weather. It did feel like the ‘scenery’ was meandering a lot together with his thoughts. He started out going around to hunt, but ended up returning empty-handed.
He had no idea what lived up here, not to mention what might come out come evening. There could be anything out there, hidden from view, but all too aware of his presence.

I wonder if a description of the mist, or the trees here might help convey that Zoltar is paranoid about things watching him from the shadows? c:

Character Development, Plot and Themes

Zoltar strikes me as a very introspective character who also overthinks sometimes. For example, his what-iffing as he comes across new information feels very believable for someone who seems to have lost so much in a relatively short period of time. I like this continuity in his inner thoughts, because it makes him distinct from an at least outwardly more optimistic character like Emerald.
Had he done that because it was the right thing to do? Or had it been an excuse to go on a mission that would without a doubt get him killed?

To me, the main plot movements that happened in this chapter are 1. Zoltar thinks about reconciling with Emerald, 2. He wonders where Sidious is and 3. He has the thought I just quoted above. I was kind of taken aback by it at first, but the more I think about what Zoltar said in the cave, the more it makes sense. I’m not 100% sure at this point how Zoltar’s thoughts on this relate to the narrative as a whole? From what I can tell, the story seems to be exploring grief as a theme, and maybe this reflection he has is a part of that? This bit isn’t a critique, just an observation.

Overall

This chapter leaves me anticipating a bit of a hard time for Zoltar. It looks like he’s going to want to reconcile with Emerald not just for practical reasons but also personal reasons. It also seems like the disappearance of this Sidious character might not be a good sign. I think the chapter does a good job of contextualising all that happened in the previous more heated chapters and moving the story towards the next step.

Hope some of this helps and feel free to ask for more feedback!
-Lim




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Sat Jul 23, 2022 9:19 am
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi felistia,

Mailice back again with a short review! :D

We have now reached a very good point here to reflect a little on the first three chapters. Because in general I see it as a separate arc that you've written here, where the chapters are similar in many ways, and have a bigger build-up than the past chapters. It feels like we're getting towards something big.

While the first chapter was a bit lacking in descriptions in my opinion, I found the suspense arc very interesting, especially when the climax was reached, it didn't happen the way I expected it to. I think you created a good introduction to introduce Zoltar again.

The second chapter had a good contrast to that, where you had Emerald open up a bit now that you've known her for a while, and you had some questions answered as a reader. I liked the revelations from her. What I missed there was more of the expressions of emotion from her after we have already met Zoltar as a rather shallow Talon. Nevertheless, I like the build-up so far very much.

Here we have a lot to do with reflection, and I always like how we see Zoltar like that. Combined with some of the descriptions built in, I think this is a good middle section, for the chapters to come, and again shows well all that Zoltar has already done and witnessed. He asks himself questions and it becomes clear that there is a tragedy that cannot be forgotten so easily.

One thing I noticed while reading:

At least out here, he a slim chance of stumbling across something.


Tiny typo here. :D

Have fun writing!

Mailice





sometimes i don't consider myself a poet but then i remember that i literally write poetry
— chikara