Shadowed Moon Chapter 17

Fiction By Kay J Fields // 2/25/2011

 

I must admit first off that the prospect of sailing across the Beln Sea into the mysterious unknown on the other shore didn’t make for proper ‘tea-time’ discussion. I wasn’t comfortable with it, but then I didn’t think I should be, considering the whole ‘impending doom’ aspects. For the most part, I tried to comprehend what was happening by keeping all the events in an over simplified context.
Those three days while we waited for Ditri gave me more time than I needed to think and I of course resorted to thinking of all the terrible things that might or might not occur. I thought of my father and wondered when I would see him again—I refused to think the word ‘if’. I also thought often about Kellen and wondered why he had turned into the monster that he had. Was he born with a natural hatred or did something happen that caused it, and what was his plan anyway? He wanted to kill anyone who threatened him, he had made that very clear, but how were we threatening him? What was he trying to accomplish? Domination? Did he want to be some great emperor who ruled all of Felmath? I at last decided that the entire episode had a lot to do with the legendary city called Zandar that was spoken of in the prophesy. The prophesy mentioned the city ceasing to exist, so it couldn’t simply be a story. Could it be that this was where Kellen came from, maybe even the place he now occupied?
I rubbed my head in frustration, noticing with a minor feeling of disgust how tangled my long dark locks had become. Digging into one of my pockets, I found a strip of thick cloth and tied my hair back with it, hoping to keep the tangled mess out of my face. Especially if a certain canine—
“Lara?”
“Faylin. I was just thinking about you.” I muttered.
“I’m flattered.” he replied with a sardonic grin. “We’re getting closer to our destination, maybe you should get in some practice.”
I glowered at the wolf. “What about Narris and Catalee?”
He snorted. “They are wild, human. They’ve had a lifetime of fighting experience already. The sooner you get into the main cavern and join me, the nicer I will attempt to be.”
Refusing to be cowed, I stood firm until he had trotted easily off to another section of the dragons’ cave before hurriedly digging out my sword. I paused when I came to the bundle that held the shield. I hadn’t the slightest idea of how to use it, and this seemed a good reason to cart it along. I unwrapped it and studied the contraption a moment before grabbing hold of the only handle available and lugging it along with me. One of these days, I would get good enough to beat that darn wolf black and blue.
Faylin was waiting for me but thankfully there was no audience. I set the shield down and Faylin cocked his head. “What do you propose to do with that?”
            “I was hoping you would tell me.”
            “I know nothing about shields and their use. All that I have taught you is merely in defense of yourself. From some small pointers you have picked up on the actual handling of a sword on your own.” He studied the shield. “Interesting picture.”
            I looked down at the shield to again study the etching on it when a sudden gust of wind howled into the cave followed by a familiar voice. “Lara, Faylin; hello again.”
            “Ditri,” I said, turning to face the dragon who had just landed. “You’re back so soon?”
            “You act disappointed.” Ditri said.
            “No, not at all; did you find anything?” I asked.
            The forest dragon shook his head. “No, but we will all be going back together. Ships are due in at any time, I heard.”
            Faylin studied his friend with a slightly puzzled expression. “Ditri, did you meet anyone?” His nostrils flared as he took in some scent or another.
            Ditri laughed. “Really Faylin, I’m a dragon. I didn’t exactly go around tipping my hat.”
            “There is a strange smell around you.” Faylin said, yellow eyes narrowing. He cocked his head and the thick fur along is tail was bristling. Something was agitating him, I knew.
            Ditri merely shook his head. “I’m sorry; Faylin but I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.” The wolf continued to study the dragon’s face but Ditri turned to me. “May I speak to you Lara?”
            “Go ahead.” I replied, smirking. “You don’t need permission.”
            Ditri chuckled, folding his huge wings tightly against his body. “I meant alone.”
            “Oh.” Surprised by the request, I shrugged and set the sword and shield down. “Of course.”
            “Lara—“ Faylin began.
            Ditri looked directly at him, boiling eyes boring into the other’s. “Do you need something Faylin?” he asked quietly, one foreleg scraping against the stone floor of the cavern.
            Whatever had been bothering Faylin evidently left and his eyelids drooped lazily. “No.”
            The dragon smiled, showing his gleaming teeth. “Right then. Lara, follow me a bit.”
            Something nagged me about this conversation...perhaps because it was a bit stilted but I ignored the feeling and left the cave with Ditri. We walked far enough away from the opening of Grinl’s cave that no one would see or hear us. Whatever Ditri wanted to say must be important. I focused my attention on him. He faced me and his outline shimmered. My eyes widened. “Uh, Ditri?”
            “Yes Lara?” He was still smiling.
            “Are you feeling alright?”
            “Never better.”
            I rubbed my eyes. “Oh.”
            “Ah, Lara, Lara.” Ditri sighed. “I should be straight with you.”
            “That would be nice.” I grin up at him. “What’s so important that you dragged me out here for?”
            Ditri’s head snaked down to my eye level and to my horror, his eyes turned from green to black. “This.” he hissed, smoke drifting from his nostrils. He opened his mouth and the sulfurous fog blew into my face. I doubled over, choking and unable to see before it cleared. When I finally stood upright and looked around, Ditri was gone.
            “Ditri!” I exclaimed, spinning in place. “Is this some sort of joke? Ditri, where are you?”
            “Undoubtedly still at the coast where he told you he would be.” someone replied.
            “Who—“ My hands reached for my belt which still held the knife I had taken with me that first day so long ago. “What are you doing here?” I asked through clenched teeth. I felt light-headed and my hands shook.
            Before me stood a man I had never before seen in my life but there was no way I could not know who he was. He smiled at me, the same expression Ditri had been wearing moments ago. His head was covered in bright red hair and a trim beard surrounded his sneer. Black eyes stared back at me, haughty, laughing eyes. A scar coursed down one side of his face, cutting through his beard.
            “Faylin!” I cried as the man stepped toward me.
            “That cursed wolf cannot come to you, my dear. After this is all over, he’ll wake up with the most horrendous aches in every joint of his body. And don’t bother shouting to the others. They are far too deep underground to be able to hear your pitiful blubbering.” the man replied slyly.
            “What did you do to Faylin?” I challenged.
            He rested one hand on the hilt of a long sword at his side. My eyes were drawn to the weapon and I couldn’t look away. Its black blade barely showed over the top of the sheath it was held in but still, the darkness of it gleamed and it’s edge was sharp and smooth as glass. “I merely made him cooperate, as I did with you. Thank you, Lara, by the way for not resisting. If you had, then you would have woken in worse shape than your friend. As it is, I still got through to the stubborn beast. Pity I can’t have a one like that on my team. He would be most valuable. As it is, he’s merely a nuisance.”
            “Why are you here Kellen?” I asked.
            He dipped his head and clasped one hand behind his back in a curt bow. “I’m so pleased you recognize me. This could be enjoyable after all. And in answer to your question, I am here to test your mettle—as well as your metal. But it seems you have left your weapon behind so we must make do with what we have. I’m afraid I can’t offer you a weapon, but I can at least open your mind to some things. Secrets, Lara. Would you care to listen to them?”
            “Get out.” I said my stance wavering.
            “Ah but I cannot do that just yet. You should be flattered that I came all this way simply to meet you.”
            “I’m not flattered.”
            “Sorry.” Kellen shrugged. “Sit and we will talk.”
            “Oh yes, sit down so that will be unprepared for an attack.” I planted my feet, staring across the gap into his black, black eyes. “Nice try.”
            “Sit.” he repeated.
            I sat.
            “Better.” He walked close enough to touch me and I shuddered but I couldn’t flee. “This is nice Lara, we should have met long ago. After all, we are distantly related.”
            “I am not related to you.” I spat.
            “No? Have you never thought to ask just where you got your abilities? What about your mother? How much do you know about her, hmm? Not much, I’ll wager. Yes Lara, we are distant cousins. You have the same blood flowing through your veins and the same potential for greatness. I’m here to help you realize this.” Kellen smiled and his left arm reached out to touch my face. I recoiled but there was nowhere to go and even when I managed to force my wooden legs to move, I only found myself with my back against the mountain. Kellen reached out again and his rough hand stroked my cheek. “Oh, you poor misled little girl.” he whispered. “You cannot possibly understand that I am trying to help you; not after what they have said to you. Lara, don’t you get it? I am not the enemy here.”
            I again looked up into his scarred face and met his gaze. “The enemy?”
            “These so-called friends of yours are misleading you. But come with me, allow me to help you and I will teach you the ways of more powerful magic than you can imagine. I can teach you how to control others, how to fight, how to make sweets of all kinds appear on the table in an instant. Whatever fancies you.”
            His eyes stared back at me calmly. Kindly? No, but the honesty of his offer was plain. Kellen sincerely wanted me to say yes. For his own purposes of course, but in that instant he was not lying when he said he would give me authority in ways of magic and of warfare and perhaps more. The lie was about the others; about Ditri and Faylin, Catalee and Narris and the other dragons. “Come on Lara, I am a man of great power. I came here disguised as your dragon friend to not only catch you off guard enough to speak with you but also to show you a small sketch of what I am capable of.”
            Capable. My eyes snapped away from his own. “I know perfectly well what you are capable of.” I said coldly. “You’re a murderer and a thief, a man whose only passion is for his own greatness. Don’t come here and try to tell me what you are ‘capable’ of because I already know.”
            Kellen stepped back, obviously offended but he recovered and shook his head. “Ah, you are speaking for your wolf friend. My past with Faylin and his family is one of the more foolish things I have done. I have learned to better myself; I have learned to create leadership without blood being spilled. For you, Lara, I would go back and change the past if it were allowed.”
            “Don’t do me any favors.” I replied, standing. As my legs straightened it felt as though some giant hand were pressing down at me while something else kept commanding in whispers that I stay. I wasn’t such a fool that I didn’t recognize magic in the form of Kellen’s sorcery.
            “No, not favors I suppose. But still Lara, you have not answered my offer and to be honest, I am surprised you did not turn me down flat. There is something in you—a large something, I might add—that wants what I can give. If you will only let me.” He cocked his head, running a hand over his red beard.
            The weight pressing me back had lessened and, encouraged, I took two bold steps forward. “What about you, Kellen? What’s in this for you?” He opened his mouth but I waved him off. “You made your proposal, now let me make mine. If you give up this search for great power in the form of kingship or magic or whatever it is that you are longing after, than I can promise you friendship and peace and never living with the thought that any day could be the day your enemy attacks. Right now, we are enemies, so don’t confuse the facts. If you decide you no longer wish to be enemies then fine, it will be done. But that is your decision.”
            Kellen’s smile hadn’t faded. “You are stronger than I thought then. You had me interested at least; I’ll give you points for that. However, your reward fell flat and I’m afraid it would be utter foolishness to accept. And I really do wish we weren’t enemies. As I said before, the same blood runs through our veins and it would be very nice to teach someone of my own stature. But as I can see by your expression that you will not accept either, then we must settle this another way.” He stroked his beard and then waved his hand in the air. “I have it. How about we save everyone the trouble and just battle it out right here? To the death of course, it wouldn’t work any other way.”
            My eyes widened. “What?”
            “A sword for you, my dear?” From the air, Kellen plucked my own sword. “Don’t worry,” he said, tossing it to the ground by my feet. “I only summoned it from where you had left it, I have not otherwise touched it.”
            I picked up the sword. “Fight? Now?” I asked.
            Kellen laughed. “Off course my dear.” His eyes narrowed and his grin turned into a sneer. “To the death.”
            I raised my sword as he attacked, blow after flow ringing across my steel as I barely had time to parry, let alone counterattack. Trying desperately to keep Faylin’s instructions in my head I waited for Kellen’s next move and as he rained down another blow I dodged it, twisting lightly on my heel and striking out. The aim of my strike was perfectly centered on Kellen’s back but before it landed Kellen dropped and twisted his own blade out.
            Too late, I realized I couldn’t draw back in time to defend myself and felt only self-pity that I could defeat him as I had been informed I would. I couldn’t even make the flight last for more than a few seconds.
            Kellen’s sword cut down under my far reaching blade and pain shot up through my body as his blackened sword sank into its target. He was laughing as he struck but I couldn’t hear the sound, I only heard the rushing of the blood in my ears and the pounding of my pulse. I don’t know if I screamed or not, just that the pain made me double over, my sword dropping from my gasp.

Comments

Chapter 17???

Oh boy--I'm way behind on reading this. I had no idea you had posted this many chapters. I'm going to have to go back and catch up.

Mary | Mon, 02/28/2011

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Brother: Your character should drive a motorcycle.
Me: He can't. He's in the wilderness.
Brother: Then make it a four-wheel-drive motorcycle!

Ack! Next chapter, Kay, and

Ack! Next chapter, Kay, and quickly!

Heather | Thu, 03/03/2011

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And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"