Shadowed Moon Chapter 15

Fiction By Kay J Fields // 7/30/2010

 

Three things happened simultaneously when I screamed:
            The eye blinked.
            The voice said, “Oh dear.”
            And several voices began to franticly call my name. “Lara! What’s happening? Are you alright? Lara!”
They hushed almost as soon as they had started and I heard a scrabbling on the other side of the rock. Ditri’s voice rose into the dusty air then. “Faylin, get down from there! You won’t be helping anything by killing your self.”
            Faylin growled a deep rely but I couldn’t catch the words. I was so stunned by the recent chain of events that at first I did nothing.
            “Lara, is it? I am very glad to meet you!” exclaimed the voice. “However, we must cut the introductions short for now because I have nearly spent the air in this little hole I’ve dug. I don’t suppose you could assist me?”
            I had connected in my mind that the voice and the eye belonged to the same creature and now that, whatever it was, was running out of air to breathe. “Where is your nose and mouth?” I asked.
            The eye looked emphatically to the left and downward. “Perhaps two of your arm lengths that way.”
            I half scrambled, half slid down the loose shale in the direction the creature indicated. The sharp edges of rock sheets scraping against my clothes and skin and I winced and grabbed an injured elbow before tugging out a single rock which started a landside.
            “Careful there.” the thing warned.
            Feeling grumpy, hot, and thirsty and frustrated at having to do this alone, I snapped at whatever it was. “If you would stop talking you would have more air to breathe.”
            Pause.
            “Good point.” And the voice went silent. The only sign I had that it was still alive was the eye that constantly watched me.
            I dug at a wedged rock with my finger nails and managed to loosen it. It fell out and three more tumbled out behind it. “Just tell me if I’m close.” I muttered, sweat running down my face.
            Five more minutes of frenzied digging and pulling and kicking and the creature spoke up. “Your close now, I can feel the rocks shifting.” It coughed then and the eye squeezed shut. I renewed my effort.
            Another minute and I had freed a large, hard, dusty muzzle from the rock. The creature drew in long, labored breaths while I caught my own and turned at the sound of light feet behind me.
            Catalee was bouncing towards me across the rocks, her slight body not weighing enough to disturb them. She was covered in dust from her red-and-white tail down to her black feet. Her amber eyes smiled at me. “Lara!” she cried happily.
            “How did you get over here?” I asked.
            “I’m small enough that Narris picked me up and, er, well, she actually picked me up!”
            I looked skyward and saw Narris wheeling overhead. “Ah.”
            Catalee looked past me at the large muzzle sticking out of the rocks. She blinked. “Is that a dragon?”
            “I think so.” I said, casting another look. “I suppose we could ask him, if he can breathe well enough now.” I went over and gently tapped the muzzle with my fist. It wiggled, then opened to reveal a row of long dagger-like teeth.
            “Yes?”
            Catalee bounced over. “Grinl?” she asked.
            The muzzle coughed and I stepped out of the way of the hot air escaping. “I don’t suppose you could help me get out now? I can’t move my wings and my legs are in very awkward positions.
            I clambered over to his side and began digging again, wondering at the fact that after all this we had finally found Ditri’s brother-in-law.
            “Catalee!” Faylin barked. “Lara! Are you coming?”
            “Not yet!” I shouted back. “Grinl is here and buried in the rock. I don’t think I can get him out!”
            There was a long, heated discussion from the other side; at least--as far as I could tell. All I heard was a bunch of muffled grumbles. At last, Faylin called back in his deep growl of a voice. “Ditri thinks he can get over there but wants you all to stay well away from the wall separating us.”
            That didn’t sound good. Catalee bounded around the other side of Grinl and snuggled up against the mountain and I trialed after the vixen.
            With a great flurry of wings and a loud grunt, Ditri vaulted into the air and hung suspended by his flapping wings over us. He saw me, saw Catalee and saw Grinl. He smiled. “What on earth have you gotten yourself into this time?” he murmured, but his rocky rumble was loud enough for Grinl to here.
            Grinl gradually moved his head from side to side and rocks slid off. His entire head was free now and he tilted it to look up at his relative. “You could help.” He muttered.
            Ditri laughed and dove down, landing heavily on a relatively bare spot and still causing the rocks all around him to shift. I climbed down and struggled over a pile towards him, relieved that he was back in sight.
            “You could have thought to bring me over, you great ball of green fire.” Faylin complained as he scrambled up a sheer cliff and miraculously landed on our side.
            Despite the fact that everyone else stared at him in amazement I just grinned bigger. “It’s nice to see you too, fuzzy.”
            Faylin swiped me with his tail, which was about his equivalent of the standard ‘hello’.
            “Let’s see what we can do for you, Grinl.” Ditri said, making his way to the rubble that was Grinl.
            We all stood back and watched hopefully as Ditri got to work, using his superior size to clear stones from Grinl until the dragon was free.
            As he rose he was a bit wobbly on his feet and I immediately saw the jagged tears in his wings. I put a hand over my mouth and watched the dragon dust himself off more or less, then study his damaged limbs. The delicate membranes and leather hide of his wings were so ragged that they looked as fragile as lace. It was impossible to tell what color he was with all the brown dust covering him but he was surprisingly smaller than Ditri.
            He studied his wings and frowned but then shrugged and went on to checking for other injuries by moving this way and that. Other than a large number of bruises and a sore tail he appeared fine. 
             I was about to voice my thoughts on his ability to fly with the damage to his wings but my words were drowned out by the long, shrieking call that Grinl shrilled out to the mountains.
            Catalee winced at the sound and we all looked at him questioningly.
            “I signaled to Phyletus, a dragon friend of mine who lives near these parts.” He explained. “Veilara would not be able to hear me from here, if she’s even still in the cave. Her charge might have already driven her insane.”  
            I was about to ask who this ‘charge’ was but was again interrupted, this time by the screeching from Narris.
            “Another dragon is coming Ditri!” she cawed.
            “He’s a friend Narris. No worries.” Ditri called back.
            A huge, bright dragon came into view and his shining scales in contrast to our thick coats of dust made me flinch and hold a hand over my eyes to see him. The dragon was covered in motley of golden and yellow scales, ranging from a dramatic shade of lemon to many that were so pale they almost seemed white.
He descended rapidly and landed on a piece of mountain ledge above us that was not covered in so much rubble. Luminous grey eyes swept over each member of our group, considering us and not seeming terribly confident in our evidence of good will.
He looked last at Grinl and his gaze turned compassionate. “What happened here Grinl?” he asked and I was shocked at the clear, tenor voice that came from the big creature. Phyletus must have been three feet taller than Ditri and broader than the forest dragon too.
“A rock slide.”
Phyletus laughed. “Is that so? The evidence of it only stretched from your cave to mine.”
Grinl almost smiled but it was replaced by a grimace. “Phyletus, my old friend, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you a favor.”
The yellow dragon nodded. “And I’m afraid I don’t have much choice in the matter.”
“But first: introductions.” Grinl announced as if not including this important piece of etiquette would cause him bodily harm. “Phyletus, this is Veilara’s brother Ditri and his companions. “The dusty dragon pointed to us with a claw then hesitated. Ditri broke in.
“Lara, Faylin, Catalee and Narris.”
“Precisely. Ditri and company, this is my neighbor Phyletus.”
Phyletus kept his attention fixed on Grinl. “We need to get you back home. Ditri, come help me.”
At first I thought Ditri would be offended by the command but he said nothing and only joined the other two dragons. They discussed how best to help Grinl and agreed that the safest way was to carry him between the two of them. I winced when I heard this. It sounded risky and dangerous to me.
Nevertheless the dragons managed to do it and within minutes they had Grinl stretched out from limb to wingtip across both of their backs and allowed Narris to direct them from above. It took a lot of team work to maintain the distance between them and to keep Grinl from slipping off. Phyletus for one didn’t seem comfortable with the situation but they made it work as they flew over a steep bank of rocks and made their way in the direction of Grinl’s cave.
Although Phyletus’s cave was closer and easier to get to, he explained that it was not large enough for such company and that Veilara would be impatient and worried about her husband. At this, Grinl paled and offered a weak, guilty smile.
Something told me that Veilara had a very interesting character.

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