Shadowed Moon Chapter 24

Fiction By Kay J Fields // 8/12/2011

 

As I fell through the air, I knew that I had done the right thing. The only thing, really. The only way I could see to destroy any sword—a magically sword especially—was to throw it against the rocks with enough force to shatter it. As I had left the edge of the cliff, I had shoved the point of Macarran as hard as I could into the back of the shield. Now when I dropped it, the impact against the knifing stones below should destroy both of them at once. If it didn’t…I tried not to think of that.
            It must have looked utterly crazy and hopeless to Faylin and Kellen as I threw myself to my death. But see, when I had last looked over into the darkness beyond where we stood, I had seen a familiar shape over the waters. And so I screamed at the top of my lungs a sound that came nowhere close to the word I intended it to be: “Azteric.”
            I knew of course that the others wouldn’t dream of sending young Azteric into battle, however much havoc he might wreak. But it was just possible that they might send him to look for Faylin and I before the battle ever even began. It was also plausible that the young dragon might find us and be of some help, which is probably what the others had hoped in sending him off.
            In the few heartbeats of time it took for me to fall, Azteric heard my cry and swooped towards me. I looked at him and at the ever-closer rocks which were half buried in water. I dropped the sword and the shield a mere second before I hit the rough, scaly back of the white dragon.
            Azteric, likely because of his youth, was a terrible flyer. He shot first one direction and then the other and his wing flaps were not the syncopated rhythms that I had felt with Ditri. His tail lashed wildly about as he gained a bit of altitude and I peered over his bony white shoulder in the hopes that I could see the sword and shield hit the rocks.
            I wasn’t disappointed.
            A brilliant flash of green light erupted into the night. I gasped and shut my eyes against the glare and Azteric banked sharply in surprise. After a moment, he recovered and swung his momentum upwards.
 “Why were you falling?” Azteric asked. “Aunt Veilara always tells me to be careful and so I don’t fall. You can hurt yourself very badly doing that.”
            “Well,” I said hoarsely, fighting to regain my breath. “The next time I consider jumping to my death, I’ll be sure to remember that.”
           
            The voice of Rourke came to me for the last time as Azteric fought against the winds to bring us up to the cliffs again. “Well done, child of the prophesy. The sword and shield destroyed each other, as it was meant. Kellen’s power is now far less. But your job is not yet done. There is still a battle waging and there is still the last part of the Prophesy of Zandar to fulfill:
‘This child shall the last blade wield
When all things evil, their power yield.
Life springs up from the dead of night
For in utter blackness, may the wrongs be right.
The battle won before second noon
Arise victorious, beneath shadowed moon.’
“Though your faith is small, your Lord is great. Finnish the task he has set before you.” There was a smile, a hint of laughter, a breath of joy, in the angel’s words as he repeated, “Well done.”
As the last words faded and I was still trying to get back my breath from the fall, we leveled with the cliffs and my stomach turned over to see Faylin and Kellen locked in a fight that was clearly to the death of one or both of them.
Azteric craned his neck to be able to see me as we glided in a huge arc around the battle. His bright orange eyes glowed like embers in a fire. “What do we do?”
I was tired. More tired than I had ever been—it’s quite possible that falling hundreds of feet and screaming had something to do with it. “I don’t know…” I trailed off as I watched Faylin leap up and snap at the sorcerer. As he did, his eyes must have glanced upward because when he landed he didn’t push his attack, he backed off so that he could see better. So that he could see us. Well at least he knew I wasn’t stupid enough or brave enough to throw myself to my death.
Kellen had a dagger to fight with, which meant my sword was probably lying somewhere in the grass.
“It’s quiet.” Azteric said suddenly, slowly heading downwards for a landing on the cliffs.
“Of course it’s quiet, we’re way up here—“ I stopped myself. “It is quiet.”
There was only the sound of the wind rushing past. I couldn’t hear the fight happening just below me, but then, I had expected that. What I hadn’t expected was not being able to hear the battle which raged between two armies some distance away. That roar and clamor had completely vanished.
“Azteric,” I said, casting one last look at Faylin and Kellen. I should be down there but…”Go to the battlefield Azteric, and hurry. We’ll come back here as soon as we can.”
“Just don’t do anymore falling.” the white dragon replied, banking sharply upward.
“I’ll have you know I rode your older brother just fine and—“ I again stopped myself after realizing that Azteric was teasing me. “You sure are Ditri’s brother. If I didn’t know better, I might say you’re even related to Faylin.”
The young dragon beneath me chuckled. “That would be strange, Lara.” His voice lowered. “Let’s go.”
            Azteric, though not the most graceful of flyers still reached the two clashing armies long before I could have on foot, or even on horseback. Only, the armies were no longer clashing. As a matter of fact, I didn’t see armies. I saw one army, one large group of armed animals, a few men and women and; yes, dragons. Relieved, but still concerned, I told Azteric to land.
            Ditri swooped up to meet us as we neared the ground. He looked tired and worn and he seemed to me to be far older than when I had left him. But he smiled when he saw us. “Lara, Azteric, I’m glad you’ve come back, but…Where’s Faylin?”
            “He’s fine. I think. I’ll explain in a moment; what happened here?” I asked, scrambling down from Azteric’s back.
            “Well.” Ditri said. “That’s rather an odd question. See, we found out that you and Faylin had left—in fact, I saw you leave and knew very well what you were planning to do—and we met Kellen’s army when it came at us. We were losing, in a very desperate situation.” He gestured with a claw to an area that had been set up for the wounded as we entered the camp. “We had called a momentary retreat and were preparing to face them again when they…” He shook his head and gazed out again at what had been the battlefield. “They simply disappeared.”
            “How long ago was that?’ I asked, wondering.
Ditri shook his head. “Not long. Ten, fifteen minutes maybe.”
“The sword,” I whispered to myself.
“What sword?”
“I destroyed the sword. Kellen must have been using it to boost his powers and create an army that wasn’t an actual army.”
Veilara came up then, interrupting Ditri as he began to speak. “They were real, Lara. They bled. They died. And our injuries are not imagined.” Smoke rose from her nostrils.
“I meant that they were a result of Kellen’s sorcery. When he lost some of his power, he lost his army. No wonder he needed that sword so much.” I said. “Where is everyone else?”
“Grinl is helping the wounded. Phyletus is out scouring the island in an attempt to find an apparently nonexistent army. Enriad is helping those who have lost comrades and the foolish little vixen is running around somewhere, trying to help but not accomplishing much.” Veilara snorted, but her features had softened from sharp to stern.
“Faylin?” Ditri asked again.
I bit my lip. “One more thing. Where is Narris?”
“She betrayed us, Lara.” Ditri said gently.
“I know. She met with Kellen.”
“I believe that she has been flying in aimless circles since the fighting stopped.” Veilara said roughly.
“Go get her, for me please.” I said. Veilara tilted her graceful head at me but turned to obey. “And Veilara,” I added. She paused. “Be gentle.”
“I will not kill the little traitor, if that’s what you mean.” Veilara rumbled. She jogged a few steps beyond us, where there was enough room for her to spread her huge wings, and sprang up into the air, climbing higher and higher.
I answered Ditri before he could ask again. “Faylin is fighting Kellen.” I said.
“And you left him?” Ditri asked, astounded.
“Yes. I need Narris.” I hoped that Narris’s ability to convey images to Kellen through her own eyes and memory had not disappeared along with Macarran and the army.
With a heavy sigh, I went to where the wounded were lying. There were so many. Somehow, in all our schemes, I had never thought about the toll this fight against evil would have. My stomach turned and tears sprang to my eyes. I pushed them away, clenching my jaw as several of the injured looked up at my approach. To them, I was a leader and for them, I needed to be strong.
Grinl was tending to a lithe mountain lion. All around I saw animals and people whose injuries ranged from head wounds, to limbs which were already bandaged heavily.
A man I didn’t recognize was watching me. He smiled wearily when our eyes met. I went to him, hoping I could encourage him. At a glance I could see that his wounds were severe, perhaps worse than most of the others. A strong feeling of compassion welled up in me and I wished more than anything that this could have been solved another way. Perhaps if I had just been stronger when I first met Kellen…no one would have died. I would be home by now. All these people would be home.
“Ma’am?” the man asked hoarsely.
“Yes,”
“Has the fighting stopped?”
I smiled. “Yes. The fighting has stopped. We’ve won.”
“But what about the sorcerer?” the warrior asked, his eyes full of confusion, his jaw tight against the pain.
“He will fall like his army.” I said after a moment. “His kind always do.”
The man smiled again and his body relaxed. “I’m glad.”
“I am too.”
Enriad came up to me. “Lara! Ditri just told me about Faylin, why are you still standing here?”
I faced him, edging away from the wounded soldier. I peered into the blackness, noting that the two moons remained dark. But for how long? A large shape emerged from the sky, cutting out the light of several stars. “There.” I said. “That’s why I’m still here.”
Veilara landed, Narris trapped in the talons of her left foreleg. “Here, Lara, is the traitor.”
“Good. I need her to come with me to face Kellen.” I grabbed a piece of cloth from a pile of rags and wrapped it around the bird’s head. That would help for the moment. But then the blindfold would have to come off.
“Don’t think we’re letting you go off alone again.” Veilara growled.
“She’s right.” Enriad said. “We’re coming with you.”
The others gathered around me. Only Catalee and Grinl were missing. Azteric went off to find his brother-in-law.
Ditri smiled tiredly. Somehow, after going through all this, exhausted as we all were, my friends all seemed stronger than they had been before. “We’re with you to the end, Lara.”

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