Prophecy of the Equinox: Part Two
Astrovia smiled faintly as he gazed out over the horizon,
watching the violets in the sky deepen and the clouds turn to pink. The females
of his family, turned faerie Draik at birth, circled through the skies, calling
out though the air in notes of sweet joy. His fellow blue Draik males lounged
on the cliffsides, silently watching. For this peace I can always smile,
he thought to himself, even when little else deserves it.
It had been almost ten years since the capture of
his sister's egg and the brutal attack of his parents. Though he had been young
at the time, Astrovia had helped to care for the tiny blue gemlike shell, polishing
it with his breath, humming softly to the stirring life within. His voice had
not yet been developed, then, to match the rich glory of his father's cry or
his mother's haunting melody, but he knew that the spark of power in the notes
under his breath had helped her grow nonetheless.
Was it all to be for naught? Was he to have cared
for her and protected her, only to never lay eyes on her, to have her snatched
away by the greedy claws of enemies? Though the years had passed, anger from
the injustice of his family's separation burned deeply in his soul, and he had
trained from the day of her capture to this so that when the prophecy of his
sister's rise to power was fulfilled, he would be prepared.
The skies deepened farther, toning down the blues
so that the twinkling eyes of stars appeared sprinkled in them. The Draik
Forces claim the night as their own, hiding in its shadows, but perhaps it's
not so evil, thought Astrovia sleepily as his family circled around him.
No more evil than the day…
With that last thought, sleep took him.
He hit her again. Hard. Aloren knew that a red welt
would be rising on her scarred blue scales, turning slowly to be a purple bruise,
but she also knew better than to wince or cry out. Her gaze did not falter as
she stared into the distance in attention.
"I will ask you once more," hissed General Velor,
circling her slowly, whip in hand. "You are surrounded. There is no way out.
What do you do?"
"I go down fighting, Sir." She blinked, waiting for
another strike to fall, but this time he seemed satisfied with her answer.
"But…?" he prompted, his claws tracing the line of
the whip he held.
"But that will not happen, Sir. I am the most powerful
Draik born in a century, and it is my destiny to destroy the enemy. The prophecy
has told it so. The enemy will never have a chance to surround me."
She could almost feel the General smiling. It wasn't
a full smile, no; but a twisting of the lips and glimmer in the eyes that revealed
his pleasure. For her, that meant much. "You are done for the day," he said
abruptly, and strode out. The armor he wore jingled with each heavy step.
Aloren sighed in relief, lowering herself onto the
poking hay covering the floor of her room. She remembered a distant time when
this cell had been all of her world, before she had proven herself to her lords
Velor and Dusken and earned the right to the castle. They were kind in their
offer, she knew; always rewarding her faithfulness and steadfastness with food
and exercise, quickly punishing weakness or fear. Under their careful eyes she
had grown to be slim and strong, with taught muscles and no extra fat. Though
she knew Velor to be strict, she knew he was only preparing her as best he could
for the trial that it was her destiny to face: the battle with the enemy. Her
Lord Dusken was as a father to her---she knew of his greatness, and whenever
he asked after her or made time to meet her, it was an honor indeed.
They raised me skillfully, she thought to herself
as she stretched her exhausted muscles out on the hay: she thrived in stark
conditions, could fight from dawn to dusk, and was not weak or gluttonous or
vain. I am grateful. If all I have to do is win a battle to repay them, I
should consider myself fortunate.
The sun's flush of light across the sky woke Astrovia.
Dawn was breaking earlier each day; the longest day of the year approached,
the day of the fulfilment of the prophecy: when the day would be ruled by sun.
My sister will come to us soon, he thought
with a twist of sorrow in his belly. To fight us.
His family stirred as the light grew, raising sleepy
heads and yawning widely. Astrovia tilted up his head and called out into the
air, "Arooooo, arooooo!" It was the sound of the morning, the song of the dawn,
and his family grimly raised themselves to their feet to begin their daily training.
Half of the Draiks stretched their leathery wings
into the air and propelled themselves into the early morning chill, slicing
their slender bodies through the air to a neighboring cliff-top. As one they
wheeled around, screeching out a battle cry: they were the mock enemy.
Astrovia prepared for the response. As his side took
to the air, he and five other males shot to the front of the group. They were
the six leaders, who would make last-minute battle decisions that the rest would
follow. The opposing half neared, and their shrieks filled the air and rustled
the grasses. Astrovia shot a glance at his fellow, a blue Draik called Sapphire.
His friend returned the look meaningfully; silently they agreed on a reposing
The enemy group was almost upon them when the three
Draiks on the left cut through their ranks on the right side and those on the
right shot left. The family members behind them mimicked the attack, slicing
the entire enemy formation in two. Working quickly, each side surrounded their
enemy in a ring, driving them together and down until they were cornered.
The half of his group that had pretended to be the
enemy grinned as they raised their paws in submission. "You got us!" they cried.
"We might have a chance after all."
As Astrovia gazed through their ranks, lit by ever-strengthening
sunlight, he only hoped they were right.
General Velor's tall, purple form loomed before Aloren as she followed in excitement.
She was going to the grounds today, he had said! It was only rarely that she
had been allowed outside before, but because the tenth spring Equinox approached
Lord Commander Dusken had ordered her to exercise out of doors to become accustomed
to the sunlight.
Velor opened a wooden door at the end of the dark
tunnel, and tears came to Aloren's eyes as the sharp gold light flooded the
darkness. It seemed unusually bright. "It is difficult to see," she said, wiping
Her trainer nodded. "Your eyes will accept the light
soon enough. You will be attacking by daylight tomorrow, so it is crucial that
you get used to this."
The Darigan Draik led her outside into the training
circle, and Aloren couldn't help but smile as the fresh scents of the Outside
world streamed into her nose. She breathed it in deeply; it was beautiful compared
to the dank, moist air of the dungeon. She thought she heard a faint music on
the air, and a part of her stirred as if remembering something long, long forgotten.
She glanced at Velor, but he gave no sign of hearing it. It must be my imagination,
she concluded, and pushed it from her mind.
The General gave her a wicked-looking sword with pointed
edges. The steel was painted black so as not to reflect into her eyes. "Tomorrow
it will be dipped in poison," he explained. "You will not need hit a vital area
She grasped the blade, wrapping her claws about its
hilt. Swinging it experimentally, she smiled with delight. "Light, but strong,"
Velor nodded. "One of our finest. You will not be
using it in the conventional way, however."
Aloren was confused. "What do you mean?" She had trained
all of these years in swordplay, and now she was not to attack?
"You will be among the enemies already. Aloren, you
are identical in appearance to the other females of the enemy of the Draik Forces.
You know this. We will use this to our advantage… you will infiltrate their
ranks, and attack from within. You are to take care of their leaders first,
then summon us." He took from his pocket a slender gold chain with a sparkling
white jewel on its end. "The jewel is our link. Touch it, and it will turn red.
I have its twin. Signal us when you have done your part, and we will send in
our army. Do you understand?"
Taking the jeweled necklace, the Faerie Draik placed
it around her neck. "I understand." It flared at the contact with her skin,
then reduced to a white sparkle, glimmering softly. "When do I leave?"
Velor's mouth twitched into his familiar smirk. "Now."
To be continued...