The Chrysalis Emerges
The Second Book of the Darkness Trilogy
by K Griffin © 1998
"Only a fool sleeps in the shadow of a dragon."
translation from a statue now housed in the Museum of the Cataclysm'
Maryx and Skye continued travelling west through the silent dark depths of Yang'Grir. It was as though each step was taken on virgin forest floor and no-one had been there before them. Each time that they traversed this forest, the feeling was the same. It was also not true. A careful look at the detritus that created the cushion of silence underfoot, showed occasional evidence of previous travellers. Yang'Grir was very good at keeping dark secrets and anything left on the floor of the forest was soon swallowed into oblivion.
The men travelled swiftly. Less brave men might have panicked and run, because each day a wolf pack escorted them. Grey lean shapes could be glimpsed, slipping in and out of the shadows, running as silent point guards for the two travellers. The occasional growl and squeal suggested the forest was not as empty as it appeared, but the grey army cleared their path of any threat. Unfortunately no game could cross their path this way either. After several days of this style of travelling, Skye was heartily sick of dried meat and berries.
Maryx seldom allowed himself the luxuries of civilised existence so the unvarying diet bothered him not at all. He couldn't fail to notice Skye's mood build into a brooding blackness that threatened to break like a storm, and shatter the peace. Maryx watched his friend with growing concern.
Each day of their journey they started at first light, travelling until the sun was overhead. Unlike most forests, no moss grew on the trunks of Yang'Grir's trees. Without the usual trackers clues, they depended on the sun for their directions. When the sun was overhead, Maryx claimed that judging direction was difficult. Secretly, Skye suspected that Maryx's forest craft was not as dependant on the sun as he claimed, but he accepted the fiction and allowed Maryx to insist on a midday stop each day.
As they stopped for a routine rest and a midday meal, the sight of Skye chewing morosely on some dried jerky was too much for Maryx. He finally broached the subject that he'd been avoiding for years now. "Why do you walk when you could fly, Skye?" he asked.
Skye pulled himself out of his reverie and looked at his friend. Maryx looked perfectly relaxed, lounging back against the nearest tree but the dark eyes were watching him steadily, searching for an answer. Skye sighed and said, "For a long time I couldn't have answered that question even to myself, Maryx. But last year at the Awakening, when I again declined the invitation to ascend, Seralia took me aside and we talked long into the night." Skye smiled at the memory.
Seralia was the High Priestess of the Dragon Clan, but behind all the trappings and ceremony of her office was a mischievous fun-loving sprite. She seldom showed that side of her nature these days, but she'd known the two men long before she ascended to power. She'd more than once, nursed them back to health. The mere mention of her name was enough to bring a hint of smile to both of the serious faces, but there was no smile in his voice when he answered. Skye spoke slowly and carefully as though reciting a well-learned esson. He said, "I walk, not to deny what I am, but to deny what they wanted me to be." Even at this distance, Maryx could see the tenseness in Skye that belied his words of acceptance. A tiny tick above his eye and the tightness in his jaw were the outward signs of the battle within.
Maryx reached down and plucked a blade of grass. He slowly began peeling back the coarse outer layer to reveal the succulent inner flesh of the plant. As though time had no meaning he completed the task and only when complete and the even more serious task of chewing the grass had commenced, did he look up. "Talk to her again this year Skye" was his comment.
Maryx closed his eyes and appeared to drift off to sleep. He chuckled softly to himself as he thought of that delightful witch Seralia. He shouldn't have been surprised that it was Seralia who had attempted to force Skye to confront his inner demons. She knew well the excesses of the Triskellion hordes and had once aspired to rise in their ranks to become a Daughter of Darrack. Curiousity had been her prime motivation; curiousity as to the power they wielded. Seralia though, was basically good-natured and this combined with the dearth of humour to be found amongst the hordes had caused her to melt into the night and explore other paths. Where most people fled from the hordes, Seralia just left. She seemed to lead a charmed life in many respects and had done the melting trick on other occasions to avoid trouble. Not even the master ranger, Maryx could quite fathom how she did it.
That such a bright and bubbly nature could fade from sight unnoticed and forgotten did not seem possible. One day he would ask her, he promised himself as he reluctantly gave up the charade of sleeping.
He opened his eyes to find Skye standing in the middle of the tiny clearing, staring up at the break in the canopy above. The tenseness in Skye was palpable and painful to see. Maryx stood and moved closer and hesitantly raised his hand to rest it on the tense shoulder. Skye flinched at the movement and before the action could be completed, he uttered one sharp and brittle word "Don't!".
Maryx could see the obvious pain in his friend, but waited for him collect his composure. To fill the silence, Maryx said in a matter-of-fact tone "What happened Skye? It doesn't usually take you this way. Why now?" Skye closed his eyes and seemed to be striving to control something deep inside. Maryx added in a quieter voice, "There's more to it than you admitted, isn't there.?" He paused then re-phrased the original question, "Why don't you fly, Skye?"
Skye turned slowly as though reluctant to break his link with the distant patch of blue. He gave Maryx a long searching look before saying, "I thought you'd feel it too, Maryx. I thought the blood oath between us would make it affect you a little too." Skye removed his cloak and let his wings unfold. Maryx watched as life returned to them. With the first stretching, Maryx felt a familiar strange tingle in his own veins and answered warily, "I suppose I do, but what is it Skye?"
Skye spoke in a flat emotionless voice, "I walk rather than fly, Maryx, because each time I give in, the dragon call is stronger. If I'd known it would be like this, I'd never have bound us in blood." His voice broke a little as he finished quietly, "I'm sorry, my friend." Maryx felt the strange tingling course through his veins and wondered at his own blindness. It had never occurred to him to connect the feeling with his vow.
He recalled the day on the top of DragonsLair Mountain when they'd stood before the blood red sunset and vowed eternal brotherhood. As the red sky faded and deepened into the darkness of night, they had taken the ceremonial silver dagger and sliced the triskellion tattoos from their arms. The blood had flowed freely and with this blood they had sealed their vow. It was an act of ignorance made in defiance of the ceremonies they'd witnessed in their captivity. It was also an act of sacrilege since they used both LifeBringer, the dagger of the Awakening, and the Chalice of Life. They filled it with their blood and toasted the rising of the moons. Their vow was one of hope and innocence, but it was bound with their own fresh warm blood. They drank from the chalice and became more than brothers in shared adversity.
Maryx dragged himself back to the present and the enigma that was Skye and repeated, "But what is it Skye?"
"Itís her dark plan still alive in me Maryx. The transformation was not complete, but itís still possible. I'm afraid that I'll end up no better than one of her Drakken pack, so I fight it", Skye said in a bitter tone. Maryx wondered at the stubbornness in the man. He shook his head sadly and looked at Skye. The magnificent wings were unfurled and it was not clear whether this was a man or a demon who stood in the tiny clearing. Maryx looked into the eyes of his friend and was reassured. This was a man. Maryx smiled and said, "It was the blood of the Golden Dragon she used Skye, not her own. There is no risk that you will become her slave." Maryx felt the call in his blood and could feel raw power. It was the same power that emanated from the still figure before him. Maryx was sure that he was right when he said, "There are other risks though Skye. You need to fly now and you also need to talk to Seralia. She is High Priestess of the Dragon Clan. She will recognise which dragon calls you."
Skye nodded and without another word the power of those wings became evident. With the slightest of movements, they raised Skye into the air. Maryx watched as his friend disappeared above the canopy. Skye's last words were barely audible as they floated back down. "We'll meet at the forest edge, Maryx. Yang'grir does not heal me this visit."
Maryx grabbed their belonging and set off at an easy jogging pace. He could travel faster alone and suspected he could reach the edge of the forest before the night fell again. As he travelled he felt the tingling grow, but it was a refreshing renewing feeling, rather than a threat. He wondered why Skye feared that power.
© 2005 Elusive Dreams Mud. All rights reserved.