The mountains shone a flaming crimson as the sun rose over the towering peaks. It bathed the Moon Talon village below in bright ruby and golden copper rays, driving the mist curling around the houses back to the shadows. The bright green fields surrounding the village blushed golden emerald as the sun’s light swept over the swaying grasses. A roaring river cascaded down from the tree covered mountains behind the village. It twisted and turned like a writhing serpent on its course down through the fields and out to the far off sea. Willows bowed over the gushing water, their long vines whipped up by the raging current.
Zoltar gliding over the village’s mud houses, his scales shining like black crystal. The wind brushed his wing tips and whistled in his ears. He took a deep breath of the sweet, early morning air. A ripple of nervous anticipation crossed his obsidian scales like electric sparks as he scanned the ground below with his eagle eyes.
As he surveyed the landscape below his thoughts wandered back to what Hisster had said. Hisster was prepared to go to war with the Wisp Talons if they were on the island. Zoltar didn’t know how he was going to do it, but he had said something about a plan if they needed to go to war. The last thing Zoltar wanted was another war.
They’d fought for land with the Sea Talons many years ago and neither side had won in his eyes. Many dragons from both sides were lost and many left the battle with permanent scars. The Shadow Talons had got their land by the sea, but in doing so they’d made a permanent enemy out of the Sea Talons and had had to guard the coast from further attaches back when the coast had been worth fighting for. The whole thing just wasn’t worth it for the little they’d gained.
Sure the fight with the Wisp Talons would be for the Shadow Talons very survival, but Zoltar just couldn’t see why they couldn’t try to find a less violent way. Maybe if they approached the Wisp Talons with an appeal to share the land? The island looked big enough for it and who knew the Wisp Talons might agree to them sharing the island. All he knew was that it would be better to try something along these lines before announcing war.
On the other paw though, he might be worrying for no reason. The Wisp Talons may no longer live on the island and it would be available for the Shadow Talons.
His thoughts were broken by the roar of waves on the shore ahead. Zoltar looked up to see the sparkling, blue ocean in the distance, its frothing waves catching the sun’s golden light as they curled. The thick forest in front of him shone emerald, its leaves dancing in the wind. Birds warbled and chirped from the waving branches and small, silver, winged lizards glided from tree to tree. The waves crashed onto the golden beach’s sand bordering the forest as Zoltar flew past. Small fish darted in the shallows, their bright, violet shapes shooting through the water like torpedoes.
He looked over at Nira who was flying just a little ways off from him. She smiled when he caught her eye, but didn’t say anything.
Zoltar breathed in the salty air happily as he soared out over the sea. His shadow danced on the water below him as he sped along. The sun’s yellow beams warmed his back and white sea spray cooled his belly. Dolphins leapt out of the sea, the crystal clear water streaming down their silver bodies. Zoltar eyed them hungrily. One dolphin would make a nice meal for a dragon, but they looked so happy leaping in and out of his shadow that he decided to leave them be.
Scorpus had glided in from the back and was now flying beside Zoltar and Nira. His eyes were trained on the sea ahead. Zoltar followed his gaze.
Far off in the distance he could see mist swirling around tall pillars of seaweed covered rock, their peaks reaching for the sky like dragon claws.
Zoltar felt his stomach start to churn. They could fly over the maze with relative easy, but he hadn’t flown very low last time and had opted to make a quick pass around the island staying close to the pillars. He had no idea what would be waiting for them beyond the beach.
“That the island?” Scorpus asked, his eyes still trained on the pillars ahead
“Yes Sir. We can fly over the pillars, but I haven’t been beyond the beach.”
Scorpus nodded, tilted his wings and began to gain height. Zoltar and Nira followed.
Soon they were far above the ocean and on course to fly straight over the maze. The mist swirled below Zoltar like a writhing sea. Strange echoing calls reverberated from the haze, but he couldn’t see nothing.
He felt a brush on his left wing and looked over to see Nira fly beside him, her wing just brushing his. Her eyes reflected the fear he felt, but they pushed on.
Before long they broke through the heaviest of the fog and landed on a beach. Tendrils of mist snaked over the dark grey pebbles that made up with coast. Thick forest boarded the beach. Not a blade of the weak sunlight could break through the dense foliage. The sky was still hazy with mist and it was hard to make out anything beyond the forest’s edge.
“Are we going to fly over the island or do you wish to have a look on foot, Sir?” Nira asked Scorpus after a quick look around.
“I think we should go on foot for the moment and then maybe make a pass over the island later today,” Scorpus said and began heading up the slight incline from the beach towards the forest.
Zoltar sucked in a deep breath and followed him, Nira close at his side.
Vivid blades of honey gold streaked through the forest canopy, the dappled light waving over the forest floor. An evening wind was starting to blow, the colors of the forest slowly growing dim as the sun dipped behind the mountains.
They’d been walking for hours with no sign of a native tribe. The only sign of life coming from the forest around them had been the occasional snap of a twig.
“Don’t you think we should make a quick pass over the island now before the sun sets?” Zoltar inquired Scorpus.
“We can carry on just a little while longer, until the sun sets below the western peak. Then we can make a few passes over the island” Scorpus said, continuing on his path through the trees.
“You do want to head back to the Shadow Lands before night settles right?” Nira asked, her voice ever so slightly trembling.
“I think we should stay the night. We don’t know what might happen after dark here.”
“I agree Sir, but as you said we DON’T know what happens after dark and we don’t have safe place to roost. Are you sure we shouldn’t call it a day and come back tomorrow. We could look for a safe place to sleep tomorrow while there’s day light and then stay the night.” Zoltar urged. He swallowed the lump building in his throat and tried to calm his shaking nerves. The night creatures were starting to play their eerie songs, the shaky notes bouncing through the damp air. Who knew what was out there, watch them from the shadows? Just because they hadn’t seen anything didn’t mean there was nothing out there.
“I appreciate you concern, but we haven’t seen anything today that would signal any danger to us. I doubt that tonight will be any different. It’s just a precaution so that we can tell Hisster that the island is safe. Besides it’s a long flight back,” sighing, Scorpus moved on, the dry leaves rustling ever so slightly under his claws. The forest was almost black now. The moon had yet to rise and the only thing preventing Zoltar from being completely blind was his extraordinary night vision.
Suddenly some movement off to his right caught his eye. It was so slight he almost missed it. For all he knew it could have been some leaves blowing in the wind, except there was no wind. The breeze from before had died off a few minutes ago. There was nothing to make the foliage move.
“Guys,” he hissed, crouching with his wings flared out. Nira and Scorpus looked sharply over at him. He bared his fangs and nodded towards where the movement had come from. But what had moved only a moment ago now looked like a clump of bushes, unmoving and still in the cool night air.
“What did you see?” Nira asked, slowly walking over to Zoltar. Her amethyst eyes seemed to glowing the ever darkening shadows of the forest.
“I don’t know,” Zoltar whispered, glaring at the spot, “I’m sure I just saw something move that bush.”
“Are you sure you didn’t just imagine it?” Scorpus said, moving on.
“Maybe,” Zoltar said, relaxing a bit, “I swear I saw something though.”
“It might have been a rodent or small bird?” Nira suggested as they followed Scorpus.
“No. I don’t think so,” Zoltar growled, looking back over his shoulder. The forest seemed shrouded in darkness thick enough to touch. Shadows appeared distorted and the ever louder moans of the night creatures seemed to be warping in the cooling air.
“Scorpus, I….” he never got to finish the sentence.
Chapter 5: https://www.youngwriterssociety.com/work/felistia/The-Quest-for-Fire--Into-the-Mists--Chapter-Five-144555