(Sequel to “The Jracon’s Burden“)
The waves split endlessly against the headland, seemingly intent on dragging the rocky point into the sea. Seagulls called to each other in a minor key, their pure whites and slate greys matching the frothy clouds above and the gloomy waters below. The steady wind, as merciless and constant as the surf, blew through the bent grass that coated the top of the peninsula and around the tall white tower that stood sentinel-like, watching the ocean beyond.
The white light spun at the tower’s crown, warning of the rocks below, the light now losing its daily battle with the rising sun.
While the tower’s light protected during the dark hours of the night, it was the sunlight that brought life and energy to the day; feeding the wind-swept grasses, and warming the seas and the air, and the blood of the multitude of cold-bodied creatures that swum, flew and clung to the rocky outcropping.
As the morning light rose, it uncovered an unusual sight amidst the lush grassy greens and the lazy yellows of the flowering plants growing near the tower’s base. Nearly invisible to all but the most-observant eye, two ribbons of orange and ochre, and a third of emerald green, close together, barely moving.
The wind blew on, uncaring.
Resting on the flattened grass at the foot of the white tower, Ithios, 11th Viajante to the Odonata, grimaced as he tested his damaged wing, “It’s no good, this one’s taking me nowhere.”
Dax frowned, the orange colours of his carapace muted with fret and anxiety, “I’ve got to try and pick up the creature’s trail. If it gets the Enchiridion back to the Hawkers we are all done for!”
Ithios reached out with a forelimb to touch Dax’s shoulder, even though the movement clearly pained him, “Calma young Darter, first things first. You have given your all, and I am sure you will continue to do so. The Odonata would ask no more. Your quick actions saved me from a watery end, and saved your young Ranger friend too.”
Dax turned to look at the still form of his travelling companion, the Emerald Ranger Yslana, where she lay on the grass, the pulse of her abdomen the only sign of life on her bedraggled form.
“Do you think she will be alright?”
Ithios nodded, “Aye. She has twice fought Dephronyis, or whatever the Hawkers’ Corruption made of him, and she is weak, but I believe she will recover given time. She is young and strong, both in body and mind.”
Ithios sighed, his head low, “The Hawkers’ Basilica is many days’ travel from here. Whether you follow the creature’s trail or not, we must get word to the Salix that this Viajante has failed in his duty, where no other Viajante before him has done so. May Holy Thau forgive me. Dax, find me an insect with a strong set of wings so I can send it with an urgent message to Lords Japhryis and Hydraea.”
Dax knew Ithios spoke the truth. Every muscle in his body screamed at him to take flight and fly north, confront the monstrous Jraconoid and retake possession of the Chama Fogo Enchiridion, the spell book containing the Hawkers’ secrets of Fire Magic. But his mind knew better than his body. He had seen how fast the creature moved, unnaturally so in fact, for such a deformed, cumbersome-looking monstrosity, and so even assuming it was heading for the Basilica, he doubted he could overtake it now. Even if he were to manage to track it, and overtake it, he would never best it in one-on-one combat; he was a quill-pushing scribe. Combat training was reserved for the Emerald Rangers and the Clubtail breeds, not the bookish Darters, of which he was one.
No, the solution must lie elsewhere, and no doubt not in his unschooled hands. He imagined he would be back at his desk within hours of returning to the Salix – the mighty willow tree that was the centre of Odonata society – quietly scribbling away at some ponderous tome while the Emeralds righted the wrongs that had come to pass. The Emeralds were the noblest of breeds, destined for positions of great political power, high Academia, or the ranks of the Rangers; the skilled and deadly warrior clan. The Emeralds were traditionally seen as the breed most able to keep the Odonata society safe from harm, especially with the recent surge in the frequency and severity of Hawker activity on the borders.
The urgency in Ithios’s voice brought Dax back from his thoughts. “Sorry, Ithios. Your message. Right…”
Let me know what you think?
I’ve got a ways to go yet with Book 2, so why not check out the first book, “The Jracon’s Burden” in the meantime?