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The Quest for Fire - Into the Mists - Chapter 55

by felistia


The two moons hung low in the early morning sky, their fading light barely able to pierce through the canopy. A breeze whisked through the branches causing the leaves rustle softly, the gentle whisper all that disturbed the silence hanging over the hut.

Zoltar lay with his head over his paws, staring out the door, his eyes locked on the silhouette of Solar. The Wisp Talon was resting against the door frame, his head dipped as he spun a blowpipe in between his talons.

He’d been like this for a few hours now and hadn’t made any move to leave or even check on him. Which was both good and bad. Good that he hadn’t noticed Zoltar was now awake. Bad because Nova hadn’t come back and it looked like Solar was going to stay the rest of the night.

Zoltar knew he wouldn’t stand a chance of escape with him guarding. He had to wait for Nova, but that might mean delaying until tomorrow night. What would happen between now and then? He couldn’t even guaranty that Nova would be the one guarding him.

The beat of wings disturbed the cold night air and Zoltar pricked his ears, looking up to see Nova land on the platform outside his cell. The Wisp Talon’s arm was wrapped in a tangled mass of vines and leaves and he held it close to his chest as he walked.

Zoltar breathed a quiet sigh of relief when he saw the dragon. Finally. Now he just had to wait for other one to leave.

“What did they say?” Solar asked, rising from the spot he’d taken up a few hours earlier.

“It’ll heal, but ...” Nova avoided his bothers gaze, rubbing a talon lightly over his horns, “They don’t think the scales will recover this time.”

The older Wisp Talon run a paw down his snout with a heavy sigh, “Well, I guess that was to be expected.”

He sighed, shaking his head, “Anyway, the Shadow Talon’s still resting. You won’t need to give him another dose for a few hours. And for moons sake, use the blow dart this time. Please?”

He lingered on the last word.

Nova shifted to the side, fiddling with his talons before nodding.

“Good,” Solar said, resting a paw on Nova’s shoulder, “I’ll be back sometime before midday, okay? So you won’t have to be here too long.”

“Mmmm,” Nova whispered, still not meeting Solars eyes.

“Alright,” Solar murmured as he dropped his paw and spread his golden wings. After one last lingering look at Nova, he launched off of the platform, soaring off into forest.

Nova watched him go, rubbing his shoulder anxiously. He sucked in a shaky breath and glanced in Zoltar’s direction.

Zoltar quickly shut his eyes before the Wisp Talon could catch him awake. He focused on his breaths, keeping them slow and even in the hopes that he’d think he was still asleep.

Nova seemed to buy it and settled down, resting his back against the door frame with a sigh.

Zoltar cracked open his eyes.

The Wisp Talon had his back to him and was gazing up at the canopy, his eyes glazed over as he lightly ran a paw over his wounded arm. A yawn escaped his jaws.

This was perfect. Now to get to work.

Carefully, Zoltar began to coax his fire to heat up once again. His chest glowed a soft scarlet as the flames began to flicker at the back of his throat. Smoke coiled from his nostrils, warning of the inferno within. Tongues of flame licked over the vines around his snout, the already blackened ropes shrivelling in the heat.

Zoltar gritted his teeth as another wave of searing heat flickered over his scales. He’d known that this wasn’t going to be pleasant. His scales weren’t completely fire resistant and this would probably leave scars, but it would be worth it if it meant escape. The burns would heal.

Finally after a few excruciating minutes, the vines crumbled into a pile of smouldering cinders, much to Zoltar’s relief. He brushed off the last of the ash, wincing as his talons grazed his scorched scales. It wasn’t too bad. It should heal in a few days. If he was recaptured, the bounds would be so much more painful.

He shook his head, chasing off the thought. He wasn’t going to fail. This was going to work.

Bringing his paws up to his fangs, he began to gnaw away at the creepers holding them captive.

He snuck a glance up at Nova once the vines around his front paws fell to the ground. The Wisp Talon still hadn’t noticed anything amiss and was slumped, his head resting in his talons. The herbalists must have given him something for the pain in his arm. With any luck he’d drift off at this rate.

A small smile crept over his snout as he continued to work away at his paws. Almost there.

Suddenly, there was a loud thump and he jerked up to see Nova collapsed on the floor, narrowly escaping tipping over the edge.

‘What!’ Zoltar flinched, quickly getting to his paws.

He strained to see what had caused the Wisp Talon’s sudden collapse, still held back by his trapped tail. His eyes widened when he saw the dart poking out from between Nova’s neck scales.

“What in the moons,” Zoltar hissed, quickly looking around for the source of the dart.

A Wisp Talon shimmered into view, her jade green scales luminescent in the pale moon light as she perched on a branch over hanging the walkway.

“Hey, Zoltar,” Emerald whispered, waving her blowpipe with a grin, “Did you miss me?”


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Tue Sep 13, 2022 10:11 am
Liminality wrote a review...



Hiya felistia! Lim here with a short review.

First Impressions
The ending fills me with pure glee! I hadn’t been thinking Emerald would turn up at this point, even though I seem to remember speculating she’d be involved in Zoltar’s escape. But YAY – it looks like he’ll make it after all! A big oof moment for the antagonists. I found myself thinking that if I were Solar, I definitely would have continued guarding the prisoner myself instead of letting Nova do it after the fumbling.

Descriptions
Something I liked about this chapter was the description of Zoltar using his fire breath. I like that the situation about the burning was addressed here, since that answers a question I had from the last chapter. I can also understand why Zoltar was hesitant to use it. Another thing I like about those paragraphs is that there are descriptions of both how Zoltar is feeling to use that power (“heat flickered over his scales”) and how the use of the power looks (“chest glowed a soft scarlet”). I think that helps me imagine how the ‘magic system’ works, which is great for a fantasy story and makes things feel more real and immersive.

Dialogue
Here are some minor comments about the dialogue!

“Mmmm,” Nova whispered, still not meeting Solars eyes.

“Alright,” Solar murmured as he dropped his paw and spread his golden wings.

I wonder if it’s possible for this bit to be purely body language? Maybe nodding? I just felt like the double quoted parts didn’t really add much to how their convo ended, personally.
I also wonder if the “What” exclamations Zoltar makes could be punctuated with a question mark along with the exclamation mark. This could just be a weird quirk of mine, but I find it easier to imagine how a surprised “What?!” is said when it’s got both the question and the exclamation mark, just as I’ve written there. Very much a stylistic choice, though!

Overall
I like the developments that happen in this chapter. It felt like we got to learn a little something new about each character. I find myself feeling bad for Nova, since he’s been portrayed as kind of injury-prone lately. Emerald just won even more of my respect because of her heroic stunt. And I’m just so happy that Zoltar managed to burn and chew his way out of those restraints – even though Emerald helped to save him, that still felt like a great accomplishment. Solar continues to be a morally grey character, with both a ruthless side and a side that cares more for his brother.

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





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