The wet sand seeped over Zoltar’s paws as he stood on the desolate grey beach, staring at the towering pillars in front of him. Ghostly white mist twisted around the gnarled columns like sea serpents ready to strike. The air was damp and cold, with the over powering stench of salt. Teal blue waves lapped at the beach, sucking at the coarse sand. Eerie wailing howls echoed through the maze, bouncing off the towering pillars of rock and into Zoltar’s keen ears.
He could hear the Wisp Talons angry roars echoing through the forest a few meters behind them, but they didn’t come any closer. He was safe for the moment, but with the sunlight fading fast and the shadows creeping ever closer, he knew they didn’t have long before they’d have to face the Death Grippers.
Emerald was panting beside him, her scales an ocean of rolling white and crimson waves.
“You okay?” Zoltar asked, a little worried.
“I’m…fine,” she gasped, shaking from head to tail, “I’ve just been through an attack and I’m out on the beach at full moon. Sure, I’m just fine.” She managed a weak smile.
Zoltar nodded. He couldn’t imagine how she was feeling, but knew it must be similar to the feeling he’d had the day of the eruption of Mount Mokewtu. It was a horrible feeling of overwhelming shock, anger and deep sadness. She would learn to cope with it, but it would take some time.
Zoltar glanced over at Felistia. She was standing a little way off, staring at the dark forest behind them, her wings drooping and her tail limp against the sand. Zoltar didn’t need to see her scales to understand.
“I’ll be back in a moment,” He said to Emerald as he turned and walked over to Felistia.
She was silent on his approach, but he saw her eyes drop from the forest to the beach.
“I’m sorry, Felistia,” Zoltar didn’t know what else to say. She must be feeling terrible. For the second time in her life she was leaving her home or at least a home of sorts and it was because of him.
“It’s alright Zoltar,” Felistia whispered, running her paw through the sand in a slow rhythmic motion, “I needed to leave sometime anyway. I can’t keep living my life thinking I’ll have a future tomorrow. Nothing will happen as long as I live on this island. I need to start living my life and stop holding onto the past, and my life is back home in the Ice Talon Kingdom.I have to find a way to get back there. You made me realize that Zoltar. You know what you want in life. I’m not sure what it is, but you seem sure.”
She smiled at him. It was sad, but warm at the same time and Zoltar felt the weight start to lift from his horns. She wasn’t angry with him or even resentful. He still needed to explain himself, but at least he could go into it knowing she’d understand.
Zoltar sighed, relieved, “You’ll get back home. I know you will.”
Felistia nodded and walked with him back to Emerald. The Wisp Talon was still shaking, but had managed to calm down enough to get her scales down to the same pebble grey as the beach.
“Come on then. Let’s go,” Zoltar said as he spread his wings to lift off.
Without warning, something moved in the corner of his vision and he heard Felistia gasp. Zoltar spun, wings still raised, ready to fight off the creature. A fire ball burned in his throat as he prepared to launch.
Then the creature materialized from the mist, her turquoise blue scales shimmering ever so slightly in the evening light
“Shiraku,” Felistia cried, running up to the Sea Talon, “Where have you been? I’ve been worried about you.”
Zoltar swallowed the fireball, smoke streaming from his snout as a result. ‘What was she doing here?’
“I went out for a walk… a long one. I had to do some thinking. Sorry I got you worried,” The Sea Talon looked guilty for a moment, but quickly regained her prickly personality, “What are you doing here anyway and why is there a rabid pack of Wisp Talons surrounding the beach? Honestly I leave for a day and this is what happens.”
“Well it’s a bit of a long story or so Zoltar tells me,” Felistia shot Zoltar a look, “We kind of had to leave in a hurry.”
Shiraku rolled her eyes and scowled, “Of course, it’s all his fault,” She flashed him a half a smile.
Zoltar scowled at the Sea Talon, but he was glad to see her safe.
He felt Emerald brush against his wing. She was almost completely invisible with just the faintest trace of an outline to make her out.
“Zoltar, I hate to break up the reunion, but we need to move. The Death Grippers will be here any second,” she whispered.
Zoltar nodded, “Felistia can we talk this over once we’re off the island? Emerald says we need to go and I couldn’t agree more.”
Felistia opened her mouth to speak, but her words were drowned out by a blood curdling screech slicing through the curling vapors. It resonated through the maze, twisting and distorting.
“Jumping jellyfish, what was that?” Shiraku cried, her spines raised in alarm.
“That was a Death Gripper,” Emerald whimpered turning a ghost white from head to tail.
“Don’t worry. I’ve got your back,” Zoltar growled as he eyed the shadows shifting through the rock columns beyond. He knew what was coming and he was ready for it this time.
“Wait, we’re leaving?”
“Yes, Shiraku. We can talk about it later. “Felistia stood beside Zoltar, her face hard as steel as she raised her silver wings.
“I have so many questions right now,” Shiraku muttered behind Zoltar.
Zoltar smiled, determination building with in him as he launched himself into the air, heading straight into the maze.