Art by @FlamingPhoenix
“Ahh, Zoltar,” Hisster said, looking up from the scroll he’d been studying, “Good to see you back in one piece. One of my soldiers reported the storm over the Sea Talon Isles. I was afraid that you’d have to shelter in Moon Talon territory until it passed, thus delaying your return.”
“The storm lost power once it hit land. I was able to fly through it without too much trouble, Sir.”
“Good,” Hisster rolled up the scroll and placed it in a large crevasse in the wall alongside a few other scrolls. “Now onto business. What did you manage to find out about the island? Would we be able to inhabit it?”
“It seems that way, Sir. I only circled the island as you instructed, but from the looks of it, it would be just right for us.”
“There is a fresh water lake and plenty of prey animals. From a defensive outlook, the maze of misty pillars ringing the island will provide some decent protection. Its low enough for the Wind Talons to fly over it, but it makes for a great defence against low flying dragons like the Sea Talons as it’s not the easiest to navigate. From my judgment, the island is the best land yet, though it is more wooded than we would like.”
“Excellent, don’t worry about the trees. We can clear some land once we get there. Now onto my main concern,” Hisster grabbed another scroll from the pile and unfurled it, the edges an ashen black, “What about the Wisp Talons? Did you manage to see any?”
“No, Sir. The tree cover was quite thick and there didn’t seem to be any inhabitation in or around clearings.”
“Hmm,” Hisster rubbed a scar along the base of his jaw, “That’s promising, but doesn’t grantee that the island is clear. There hasn’t been a major disaster on the island so there’s no reason for them to have left or died out. Not to mention that they are part of the chameleon class. They could have camouflaged as you flew overhead, which just makes things harder.”
“You do make a point, Sir. What do you wish to do?” Zoltar asked.
“Their village could be located in the forest somewhere. That would explain why you weren’t able to see anything from the air,” Hisster said, examining the scroll again as he beckoned Zoltar over.
Curious, Zoltar walking up to the Chief and leaned in to see that the scroll was covered in scrawling drawings and crud notes depicting the Wisp Talon Tribe. It all dated back to around six years ago.
A small growl of frustration escaped his jaws as he squinted, trying to make out the words on the scroll. Most of it was almost impossible to read due the text having faded, though the silhouette of the slender, snake like dragon in the middle of the scroll was unmistakable. Its features were blurred, but it was still enough to send a shiver down Zoltar’s spine.
“Unfortunately, we no longer know much about this tribe,” Hisster said, rolling up the scroll and putting it back, “Many of the documents on them were lost on that fateful day. This is the only one we have left and it ain’t much.”
Zoltar lowered his eyes, his back spines sagging. He remembered it all too clearly. A few days after the initial eruption, Hisster had instructed a band of Shadow Talons to salvage what they could from around Mount Mokewtu. They’d found a few scrolls, but mostly metal objects in the form of weapons and armour. That’s not what burned the memory into his mind though. Scattered all around had been the ghostly white remains of bones, many half buried in hardened lava.
Zoltar quickly shook his head as he tried to get the image out of his mind. He couldn’t think about it. He couldn’t go back to that dark place.
He turned back to Hisster and tried to focus on the present.
“Anyway, I think it would be best that I send a scout group to search the island before going any further. If the Wisp Talons are still there, I’ll want to know before I tell the tribe about this island.”
“And what if the Wisp Talons are still there?” Zoltar gave Hisster a worried glance. Their tribe wouldn’t be permitted onto another groups land without a fight. The Shadow Talons would have no chance in a war with their numbers and condition.
It was the main reason they’d been searching for so long. All the inhabitable regions in Megalonia were already occupied. The only places left to look were the few scattered islands around the continent. They were running out of options.
“In that case, I’m afraid we’ll have to take... a more drastic approach to the matter,” Hisster said, his tail flicking back and forth, “The Wisp Talons were never a very large tribe. I have a few ideas that could get rid of them.”
“Very well, Sir. When do you want to organize the scouting mission?” Zoltar asked, stepping back.
“Nira and Scorpus should be back in the next day or so. I’ll will arrange a meeting then. In the meantime get some rest. Moons know that we need it. ”
Zoltar nodded and turned to leave. It was well past dark by now and only the sound of his own paws thudding against the dry earth disturbed the silence hanging in the air.
A barrage of thoughts filled his head. What if this was it and they could finally leave this place? They could rebuild. Have a home again. He’d be able to see his fellow dragons happy again. He and Nira could live in comfort and maybe even start a family. They’d talked about it before, but had both agreed that they’d hold off until they’d found a new home. It would be so wonderful to have a dragonet of his own after all this time.
If only his brother could hear his thoughts right now.
Zoltar smiled sadly at the thought. Maybe he’d see him again someday when he made that journey and become one with the stars like his ancestors before him.
Turning down a different passageway from the one before, he made a detour past the food storage room.
Zoltar had to suppress the feeling of despair rising within him as he survived the stash. Besides his six melons, there was a scrawny dear that looked like it had died before the Shadow Talon got hold of it and a few rats. This was supposed to be a whole day’s catch. It was barely enough to be considered a meal for three dragons, let alone a tribe of almost a hundred.
Sighing, Zoltar moved on. They couldn’t last much longer. This island was their last hope. If it didn’t work out, they’d end up starving to death.
But what if the Wisp Talons were still on the island? They couldn’t just move in if that was the case.
Hisster supposedly had a plan, but surely he wasn’t planning on going to war with another tribe. They didn’t have enough soldiers regardless of how small the Wisp Talon tribe was. They’d lose before they’d even started.
Hisster knew that. He had been their General before the eruption after all. He must have something else in mind.