Your Current Location is Chaos Keep : Stories : Miscellaneous : Objects: Chapter 5: In Motion.

Objects: Chapter 5: In Motion.

By: Fox Cutter

Frances sat cross-legged on the white sands of the beach, staring out over the blue water as the sun set in the distance. The bottom edge was just starting to touch the sea, and the light was shining over the rolling surface.

He reflected back on the day that had been, on all that had happened to him. The discovery of Renie hidden in the caves outside of town, the trip across the ocean and the fight with the black beast. It was only now really settling into him what he had gone through, what the day had brought him.

With a look over his shoulder he glanced at Renie, watching her green chest rise and fall as she slept. She was something beyond everything that had ever happened to him. Something so strange. and unexpected that it had broken him out of his old life and thrust him into something new and different.

Yet still, it wasn't enough to make him want to live. He didn't think anything could arouse that desire in him. After so many years he felt that a part of him was already dead, a part deep inside, and that was leading him to his own death. A death that he was willing to embrace.

Even so, he was pleased he had gotten the Jaksarin blood off of him. He might want to die, but it was going to be when and where he said it would be, not because of some crazed beast.

His eyes returned to the sunset, watching the colors play over the moving water. He wondered about Renie, why she had been hiding for so many years, and why her return would make someone want to kill her. He hoped she would tell him, but he wasn't going to pry more than a little bit. He felt things had to happen on their own.

The sunset continued to glow over the water, the sun halfway under the water, the reflection stretching out towards the beach under him. He ran his fingers through the white sand. It passed over his skin and tickled the tips of his fingers. It was a strange feeling, not quite like anything he had felt before. Lifting his fingers up, he looked at the sand that stuck to the skin, twinkling slightly in the setting sunlight.

He shook the sand free and wiped his fingers clean on the leg of his pants. "That was odd," he said as he stood up in the sand, feeling his bare feet sink down into the soft surface.

He turned around and walked up the beach to where Renie lay sleeping, watching her body rise and fall with each breath, her wings fluttering down over her back. She was attractive in her own way, almost beautiful. There was just something about her when she slept that was so different, yet peaceful. It stirred something in him, something that had he never really felt before.

Frances laughed at himself and shook his head. "I need to get a grip; imaging being attracted to a dragon," he said, and turned away from her, looking back down the beach.

They weren't alone, Delgration was still there with them, but quite a distance away. He was relaxing on his back in the sand, enjoying the warmth of the setting sun on his belly. Beladana had already left, once it was clear that everyone was healthy.

For a moment he felt alone. He was considering walking down the beach to visit the large red dragon when he heard a soft sputtering sound from behind him. He turned back around and smiled as Renie lifted her head from her foreclaws.

"Good evening," he said to her.

She looked up at him, her eyes focusing on his outline against the almost set sun. "Frances, how are you feeling?" she asked.

He smiled and moved a few paces to stand next to her. "I'm feeling alright, Beladana was able to heal me of my cuts and scraps. How about you? You had a lot more injuries than I did."

The dragoness sat up and flexed out her wings, spreading them out to their full width and fanning them through the air. "They are healed, I should be able to fly without any pain."

"That's good," he said and reached out, placing his hand on the top of her long muzzle. "I don't want you hurt on my account."

She shook her head. "You had little to do with my injuries; the attack would have come no matter when I left my caves. Someone was waiting for me to reappear."

The young man shook his head. "You wouldn't have left the caves if I hadn't come along. It was my fault you were out there, so it's my fault you were attacked."

Renie gave the human a cross look. "Frances, you are not to blame for every bad thing that happens to your friends. You should not bear the burden of that responsibility."

"I bear it because it is my responsibility, at least in your case. You were safe where you were and you came out of hiding because of our deal," he told her.

The dragons leaned back and lifted her head up to look him in the eyes. "A deal which I still intend to honor. This attack will not change anything, we will keep to our quest."

He laughed and sat down on the beach. "When you say it like that you make it sound important. It's no quest, it's not that important," he said.

She shook her head and flicking her tail around to press against his side. "It is that important to me. I want you to live," she said.

"I guess it's good that one of us does," he said, his hand reaching down to run over the scales of her tail.

Renie nodded and stretched out her back, kicking out her hind legs and sending a spray of sand up into the air. "I hope to change that soon," she said with a smile. "I must speak to Delgration in private; after that we will continue on our journey."

"I'll wait for you here," he said, turning around to walk back to the edge of the water. He scratched gently at his chest, pulling at his shirt as he tried to track down the itch. He sighed as it finally faded away as he was able to let his hand drop. Instead he crossed his arms behind his back and looked out over the dark horizon, catching little glimmers of starlight off the distant waves.

There was something in the air, a tingling as the stars started to come out. More and more were appearing in the sky overhead, more than Frances had ever thought could exist. They seemed to fill every part of the sky, sometimes clustered together, sometimes spread out, but they were everywhere.

He leaned his head back and stared into the sky, spreading his arms out as the night seemed to fill him. He wanted to reach out and touch the sky, and almost felt like he could do it if he could just push a little more. He lifted one hand above him, and rose up onto the tips of his toes, trying to get just that much closer.

"What do you see?" Renie asked, her muzzle next to his ear.

"More than I've ever seen before," he said as he lowered his hand back to his side. "But it's just out of reach, just inches beyond the tips of my fingers." He looked down at his hand as he spoke, glaring at it like it had betrayed him.

The dragons moved closed, her wings fanning out slightly behind her. "I can take you closer to them if you like?" she asked.

A smile spread across Frances's face as he reached out and placed a hand on her long neck. "I was hoping you would ask," he said, then leapt onto her back and held on tightly.

She reared up and fanned out her wings, kicking the sand up around them with each flap. She started to rise into the air, then with a kick of her tail she started to glide out over the waves, rising higher and higher into the air as they picked up speed.

Frances held tightly onto her neck, feeling the muscles attached to her wings flex against him. His eyes were still focused on the stars above, watching them as they flew on in the darkness of the world.

* * *

Surenian flew on in the darkness, enjoying the cold night air of the high altitude as it blew over her face and wings. It was a pleasure that she had nearly forgotten in her century of self-imposed isolation. There was so much that she had forgotten in the darkness of the cave, and it was nice to have it returned to her.

Around her she could feel the lynkxs growing in power as she neared the DragonHome. She was close enough that she could feel thousands of other dragons, filling her mental channels with both pain and joy. Many where cheering her return to the DragonHome, but others were fearful that her return had brought the return of the Jaksarin.

The news about the Jaksarin was spreading, slipping it's way from mind to mind, creating a dark undercurrent wherever it went. The black monsters were supposed to be dead, so the return of one caused a great deal of concern among the dragons. They also worried that if one had returned, then more were on the way.

No one mentioned Frances, and that was a good thing. She didn't want every dragon to know that she was taking a human to DragonHome. Many would object to it and a few would try to prevent her from arriving with him. It was best that he was an unpleasant surprise, and that way she could also hide him from the others.

She let her mind return to the real world and the air passing over her wings. Flying was one of the great joys that she wished she could share with Frances, but knew it was something that a human couldn't ever understand or truly experience.

"We're nearly there," she said and cast a glance back at the human.

He nodded, his cheek pressed against the base of her neck and his eyes still on the stars in the sky. His arms were wrapped gently around his neck and the fingers of one hand were stroking at the scales on the underside of her neck. It was a touch that she barely felt, but one that was pleasurable when she focused on it.

"Where is there?" he asked, turning his head to look at the world in front of them.

Banking in the air, she dived down through the clouds, the vapors closing in around them and casting the world into a dark gray. "The DragonHome, you will be the first human to see it in half a millennium," she said.

They were deep in the heart of Asia, where the land reached up to touch the sky. It was a place that few humans ever dared to venture, although it was less remote in the modern world. Those few that got closer were easily distracted by some spells, and turned away from discovering the dragons.

"I guess that dragons don't really care for humans, do they?" Frances asked as the clouds grew ever thicker around them.

She shook her head. "There are very few that we can trust, and I don't believe there have been any in quite some time. Many will not be happy when you arrive, but I will try to keep you hidden from them."

"Why do you trust me, then?"

Surenian smiled as she started to weave her way through the familiar stone peaks, hugging them close enough that they could almost be seen through the cloud cover. She swooped and dived around the mountains, moving closer to one of the lesser used entrances to the caverns. "I don't know," she said once she was flying level. "Maybe it's because I needed someone to trust."

The human said nothing in reply, he just pressed his cheek against the scales of her neck.

She continued flying around the rocks, slowing down with every passing moment as she slipped around the tall rocks and peaks. Soon she landed on the side of a mountain, finding a perch in the damp, dim light. She pushed aside a boulder to reveal the soft blue lights of the tunnel behind it.

"That's well hidden," Frances said.

"And smaller than I remember, but I was much younger the last time I took this passage. We will have to walk from here," she told him.

He smiled and took a few steps into the passage. It was huge compared to him, but it was not made for humans. She followed after him, finding the passage narrow but not cramped. Once she was inside she shuffled around and pulled the bolder back into place.

They started down the tunnel, walking slowly downwards into the dim blue darkness. The narrow passage brought back memories of her childhood. She had grown up in the DragonHome, and had learned at an early age to navigating the twisting tunnels through the length and breadth of the mountain.

That was gone now, as were her parents, but that was one of the costs of the passage of time.

Together human and dragon continued to walk deeper into the mountain. Slowly the tunnel started to open around them, allowing her room to spread out her wings somewhat, almost enough to fly.

Without warning the tunnel came to an end, opening into a large cavern that was over a mile across. It was so large that the light was fading out in the distance. Starlight flittered down through a covered roof, adding a small amount of illumination to the dim blue lights.

In the center of the cavern was a large structure, not really a building, but carefully built. It was made on the same scale as the dragons, with tall arching doors and wide passages through the structure. The top reached nearly to the roof where a large statue, huge even to a dragon, stood dominating the cavern.

"This is amazing," Frances said, his hand firmly grabbing onto Surenian's foreleg. His head turned to look around the cavern, watching the dragons flying around the building. They looked tiny compared to the cave.

"It's where I grew up," she said, her head turning to look at some of the smaller buildings that were built up against the base of the cavern. There were one or two new structures, but most were the same.

The human took a few steps back from the edge, his head spinning as he realized they were at least a thousand feet above the floor and had very little room to move. Surenian reached out and placed a foreclaw on the center of his back.

"Climb onto my back, and I will show you what you want to know," she said.

He nodded and scrambled onto her back, wrapping his arms tightly around her neck as he looked down at the steep drop.

Surenian moved forward a bit, bracing her hind legs on the stone floor as she flexed out her wings. She lunged forward out of the passage and into the cavern, her wings snapping outwards as she caught the air. Gracefully she circled around the edge of the room, staying away from the other dragons. The floor rose up to meet them as they completed a half circuit of the room, and she landed gently in front of a small building tucked up against the stone wall.

"What is this?" he asked as he slid off her back and looked at the room. There was a plain stone archway leading into a dark room. Even the light in the cavern seemed to be avoiding the building.

The dragon looked intently into the dark archway, a pained look on her face. "This is a memorial," she said and then reached up with one claw to touch the archway. Lights flared inside, so dim as to hardly be visible.

"It's not a happy place," Frances commented as he looked through the archway. In the dim lights he could make out a long hallway with carvings along the wall.

"No, it's not," she replied and entered the hallway, the young man following behind her. The walls were made of white marble, reflecting the dim light back into the hallway. There were occasional carvings of dragons, each one in a different pose. Between the carvings were row after row of names, each one a foot high and inlayed with obsidian.

Frances looked around at the names as they walked, a frown pulling at his face. "What happened? Why did so many die?" he asked.

She said nothing, instead she bowed her head as they came into a large room. The walls were lined with unfinished marble, except at the very top of the room. Around the roof was a series of numbers, each one seeming like a date. Against the back wall was the statue of a dragon, painted orange and red. He looked sad, his head turned down to the floor, his eyes half closed and his wings and tails drooping onto the ground.

"Who was he?" Frances asked.

Surenian walked up to the statue, reaching out to touch his head with one foreclaw. "He was Suranderdra," she said with reverence.

The human looked up at the statue, looking into the sad eyes. "Tell me about him?"

She let out a sigh and turned her head away. "He was a leader, and a fighter. Dragons are like people, some are good, and some aren't. He was the best of us, maybe the best there ever was. He lead us in the war against the Dark One," she said.

"A black dragon?" he asked.

"No, the Dark One was a green, like myself, but his spirit was black. His name was Penbastian. Half a millennium ago he started to gather power, by violence and death and taking the Jaksarin under his wing. As his power grew, he started to kill those who stood in his way, trying to rule over all of us."

"Suranderdra was the only one who saw what was coming, saw that Penbastian's darkness would soon envelop everyone, human and dragon alike. He started to gather his own army, while many in power thought Penbastian wasn't a threat. Suranderdra was proven right when the Dark One attacked the Conclave in Africa, and took it over."

Frances nodded looked up at his friend. "What is the Conclave?" he asked.

"A place much like DragonHome, a place that doesn't exist anymore," she said.

He nodded.

Surenian continued the history lesson. "That was when the war started, when Suranderdra started to call Penbastian the Dark One, and when we started to die. Many battles were fought in the century the war lasted, thousands of dragons died on the battle field, but Suranderdra fought them back to the Conclave.

"It has been almost three centuries since the final battle. Suranderdra died to kill the Dark One, but it came at a cost. The Dark One had been hoarding his magic, creating a spell that was unleashed upon his death. It destroyed the Conclave, killing hundreds of dragons, and worse," she said, her words fading away.

He looked up at her, his hand reaching out to brush along her neck. "Worse? What could be worse?"

A frown played over Surenian face as she turned her back on the statue. "I will show you, come with me," she said, and then turned and started back out of the memorial.

Frances followed after her, looking at the names on the wall with a new found sadness. He couldn't count them all as they went past, but the weight of them was imposing. He was silently glad when they stepped back outside.

The dragoness reached back to turn out the light, then fanned her wings out wide. Frances didn't need any more of an invitation. He jumped onto her back, barely settling onto her before she took into the air. They quickly left the memorial behind them.

Surenian flew around the outside of the large cavern, sweeping high along the wall before slipping back down to land in front of another set of buildings. These were old and abandoned, the facade collapsing in places, and it looked like someone had once crashed into the corner of the building.

"This is how it could be worse," she said as she placed all four feet on the ground.

Frances wrapped his arms tightly around her neck before he slid off to the ground. "What happened here?" he asked.

She lifted her head and let out a soft huff of air. "This was once the hatchery, where our eggs were tended to and hatched. The very moment the Dark One died every egg in this room became barren. The sparks of life in over a thousand eggs snuffed out in an instant. Since that day not a single dragon has been born. We have become sterile; we are dying."

"On my," he said, feeling the horror in his belly.

Surenian nodded her head. "I was the last, the very last dragon born, hatching just moments before the Dark One died. I was special, I was treated specially by everyone. They tried to groom me to be something I wasn't, some sort of hero or harbinger to save us all. I hated it, I hated every second of it, and I left. I ran away from everyone and everything and hid for a century."

He signed, reaching out to place his hand on her flank. "Where no one paid attention to me, everyone paid attention to you, smothering you competently," he said.

"That is one way to say it, and it is true. Too many people wanted and expected too many things from me. I had to leave, and I had to find my own place. They searched for me for years, but I wouldn't let them find me," she told him.

The human turned his back to the broken nursery and ran his hand over her shoulders and upper neck. "Let's leave this place," he suggested.

She nodded her head and flexed her wings. "Yes, let's leave before the memories are too hard. Daylight will be arriving soon and we have much to do. I want to show you the Library before the rest of the dragons know you are here," she told him, smiling a bit as he scrambled onto her back.

"So where is the Library?" he asked.

Surenian motioned towards the huge building that dominated the cavern. "At the very top," she said.

He smiled and wrapped his arms around her neck, pressing his face gently against her scales. "Then let's fly."

To Be Continued...

This story is copyright 2007 by Fox Cutter, hardcopy reprints limited to one a person, all other rights reserved. This story may not be distributed for a fee except by permission of the author, and this copyright notice may not be removed.

Your Current Location is Chaos Keep : Stories : Miscellaneous : Objects: Chapter 5: In Motion.
Page last updated: 02/19/2012

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