Darkness. It was all around him, suffocating and never ending. Zoltar fought against the claws that held him under as he tried to break from his sleep like state.
He was aware of everything going on around him. He could feel talons wrapping cold chains over his wings and paws, his scales dragging through the grass as he was lifted into the air and wind sweeping past his ears. Yet, he was unable to do anything about it.
The dark void that trapped him held onto him with an iron grip, never allowing him to wake and yet he wasn’t asleep.
He couldn’t tell how long he was in this state, only that it seemed to drag on for days. He knew it couldn’t have been that long though since his captors didn’t land once. More likely he’d been under for only been a few hours when the fog finally began to clear.
It was like watching mist swirl over a lake in the early morning only to have it slowly burn off with the heat of the rising sun. He could see the mist, he knew it was there, but only once it had lifted could he see clearly.
Zoltar slowly opened his eyes, almost recoiling from the brilliant sunlight that flooded them. The pounding of wings beating the air was all around him, drowning out almost every other sound.
Once his eyes had adjusted to the light, Zoltar looked around him. He tried as much as he could not to move as he didn’t want his captor to realize he was awake before he could get a sense of what was going on. The last thing he needed was another stab in the neck and to be sent back to that void.
Even without moving his head, he could see other dragons all around him, all a deep cobalt blue. He guessed that there were around ten, included the dragon that held him, from what he could see and hear.
‘Wind Talons’ Zoltar’s heart began to drum against his chest, fluttering like a bird trying to escape a dragons claws. This couldn’t be happening. Not again.
It took every ounce of energy that he had to keep still and not fly into a desperate attempt at escape.
Where was Felistia? What had they have done with her?
He twisted his head ever so slightly as he craned to try and catch a glimpse of her. His eyes found her in the talons of a large Wind Talon, whose wings rode the air with the power and grace of a falcon.
She was hanging limply from his claws, her eyes closed.
Zoltar felt a small brush of relief when he realized she hadn’t been hurt. Other than a small patch of red on her neck, she seemed fine.
How long that could last though, he wasn’t sure. They were obviously thought of as intruders and the Wind Talons were flying them into the heart of the kingdom. What lay ahead couldn’t be good.
Zoltar cursed his stupidity at allowing them to be caught off guard. He known he was on the border of the Wind Talon Kingdom and that this tribe was at war. Of course they’d have border patrols and there they were splashing about in the river without a care in the world.
Sure, it had been Felistia splashing about, but he could have kept watch, instead he decided to have a nap. It had been a careless mistake and now they were paying for it… again.
It was early evening when the Wind Talons crossed over the last mountain in the chain that marked the kingdom’s border. Beyond lay a lush valley, protected from all sides by more towering peaks. The only gap in the defense was a small opening in the mountains, giving way to the ocean on the far south of the basin.
Mist rose off several waterfalls pouring from caves in the mountainsides, their life giving waters spilling out over the valley in a series of rivers and streams. Jungle coated the mountain sides before giving way to the wide open plain on which the Wind Talons marble villages rested.
To the north of the valley, carved from the mountain side, lay the Wind Talon palace, its marble walls mixing with the ivy growing from the surrounding jungle.
Zoltar gulped as the Wind Talons swooped over the valley. Soon they’d be imprisoned again, their lives held at the mercy of yet another Queen.
With Shiler he’d know what to expect; a cruel, selfish Queen that ruled with iron talons. Now, he didn’t know what he was getting into or what strategy they should use to get out of this mess.
He’d studied most of the tribes in Megalonia, but the Wind Talons were probably the most mysterious, besides the Wisp Talons. He hadn’t know they still had Lightning Talons, wailing moons, he didn’t even know what their current Queen’s name was. They’d gone silent since the beginning of the Thunder and Ice War.
As they soared over the village, Zoltar saw a few dragons look up to the passing battalion, their eyes fearful before recognizing the troop. As he looked closer, he notice that some of the dragons where missing parts of their tails and wings. The wounds were clean as though they’d been broken off unlike the normal rip like battle scars.
Dragonets hustled from one house to the next, carrying everything from plants to armor. None seemed to be playing or having fun. The whole scene had a sense of unease and dread as though the whole population of dragons were waiting for some great calamity to befall them.
Zoltar’s mind dwelt on that thought as he was whisked past the villages and towards the palace. Were the Wind Talons scared of their Queen? Was that the reason they all looked so afraid?
No. It was more likely due to the war. Those battle wounds could only be made by one dragon tribe; Ice Talons and their disfiguring frost breath.
Zoltar couldn’t help, but compare what he’d just seen to the one of the Ice Talon village he’d passed a few days ago. It had been entirely different. The dragonets had been playing, while the adults went about their lives contentedly. To his recollection, he hadn’t even seen any scars.
It was obvious which side of the war was winning and it wasn’t the Wind Talons.
Maybe this was a good thing, for them at least. It should mean the Wind Talon Queen would be open to negotiations. Maybe they’d be able to talk their way out of this one, after all they did have the Lighting Jewel.
As the guards swooped in to make a landing on the ledge outside the palace, Zoltar could only hope that his theory would hold out.