At the sight of the enormous, bellowing, horrific beast landing before them, Berk, Lellin, and Narn took off faster even than a runner. None of them gave a thought to any but themselves, not even their Farn. Perhaps they thought that he, like themselves would be saving his own hide, and they must act accordingly. Whatever their thought process, all three were racing away before even the group of villagers who had paid to see the intriguing spectacle of captive flier folk, ran screaming in all directions.
They didn’t see poor Terris, overly large, belted pants slipping further down on his hips, as too terrified to run, he dropped the cage and fell forward into the dust at his feet. He covered his head with his hands, rolled up sleeves and baggy shirt clinging to his sweaty arms and back. Then doing his best to disappear into the earth beneath him, he put his dripping forehead to the ground.
He had seen his death in the Guardian’s eyes in the short time that he dared to look. Those golden, round-pupiled eyes bored into him, filled with rage. He was sure he had seen flames flickering within. The Guardian would surely rend him with those horrible claws and tear at him with it’s huge, terrible teeth at any moment. He trembled uncontrollably, awaiting his end.
It might even eat me, he thought with horror. He had never heard of someone being eaten by a Guardian. He had never even heard of someone seeing a Guardian. But this had to be a Guardian and it was so terribly angry. Angry at me, he thought. He curled in upon himself, knees drawn up to his belly, arms covering his head, face still to the ground, and trembled all over.
The roaring stopped and Terris, Praise the One, discovered he was not dead. Not even a little bit. He raised his face up from the dirt and peering between his fingers, risked a quick glance upward. He saw the Guardian standing over him, staring at him fixedly. He was sure he saw a bit of saliva falling from between it’s jaws. Recoiling, he lowered his head quickly and looked to his left. A girl-woman knelt in front of his cage, now lying on its side. She gently righted it and unfastened the door. A green flitter burst from the door, chittering loudly, followed closely by the red-winged flitter. The green one landed on the girl’s shoulder and shook it’s whole arm at him, chittering so rapidly and with such vehemence that it bounced about on the girl’s shoulder. He watched just long enough to see the red flitter hover before the green one and touch it gently with both hands, then zip away. My flitters is gone and my future along with them, he thought. He put his face to the dirt and shook.
The clacking sound of the flitter’s chittering grew louder and he felt a pull and a hard yank on the hair at the back of his head as hairs were ripped out. ”Ow!” The exclamation burst from his lips. He turned his head quickly to see the green flitter triumphantly brandishing it’s fist at him, holding a few of his grey and black hairs. She, for it was clear now that this was a female, hovered before his eyes, her lips spread in a feral grin, her head haloed with moss green hair. Then she whirred back to land once again on the girl’s shoulder. Just the beginning of the end, he thought morosely.
He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and turned his head back to see the Guardian rise to all fours and move away. He couldn’t help but watch even as his body lay curled on the ground. The Guardian’s long wings were folded now upon it’s back. Crimson wing tips draped gracefully over back haunches. The olive-green head ridged in carnelian, it’s terrible teeth now thankfully hidden within it’s jaws, was turned purposefully in the direction in which it moved. It moved rather awkwardly on it’s four limbs, if such a word could be used to describe such a creature as a Guardian, he thought. It’s long ridged tail, scaled in shining green, ridged in ruby red, dragged along the ground behind it. It’s a creature of magic and air, not meant for trudging on the ground with the rest of us, he thought, momentarily distracted from his predicament by the awe he felt in the Guardian’s presence. Then he remembered himself. Even a creature such as that has to eat, and he shivered with the thought.
“W…watch him Gareth?” The girl-woman followed after the Guardian her long, nut-brown braid trailing down her back, the green flitter riding her tunic-clad shoulder.
Terris raised his head, hope sparking within him. He looked at the tall, young man dressed in hunter’s garb, standing just to his right. The man looked back at him, deep eyes intense, a lock of dark hair falling across his forehead. His upper lip curled with distaste. The man held a wicked looking hunter’s knife in his hand. It had a very long blade.
“Face down,” said the man. Hope died in Terris. Guardian’s probably saving me for it's end-day meal, he thought. Terris put his face down and lay, trying unsuccessfully to still the trembling of his body.
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Introduction Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13
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