The Chrysalis Emerges
by K Griffin © 1998
"Rainbow dancing is something the dragons mastered long ago."
extract from 'The Chronicles of the DreamWeaver'
Skye left the tavern in the grey light of the pre-morning, slipping out unnoticed by all but the mangy dog that rifled the scrap heap behind the Inn. Once outside, Skye stood and surveyed the bedraggled group of buildings. This was not a town. It was barely more than Hergoth's Inn. His well honed survival instincts had caused the automatic survey of the area, but no-one was in sight. Skye was not foolish enough to bet his survival on what he could or couldn't see, He knew that there was no guarantee that unfriendly eyes were not observing him, so he headed north out of the settlement. Anyone following him, would follow the northern road, whereas he followed it only as far as the first bend. As the road curved around the bend and entered the dark forests, he slipped from the road and disappeared into the forest.
He paused for a moment and waited for his eyes to adjust to the green gloom. Somewhere in this forest he would meet his travelling companion, Maryx. Each year the two of them journeyed together to the Dragon Caves for the ceremony of the Awakening. Each year, Maryx simply appeared at this side and they then completed the journey together. And each year, it was as Skye passed through Yang'Grir, that Maryx appeared.
This forest had a fearsome reputation and camp-fire stories of wanderers entering but never returning, abounded. Maryx insisted that the forest was not malevolent, however even Maryx recited an ancient druidic chant whenever he entered the forest. He claimed it was no more or less than the equivalent of knocking on a door before entering. Skye had no idea of how much truth there was in the stories, but a shiver did run down his spine whenever he entered Yang'Grir. He recited as much of the chant as he could remember, on the premise that a feeble attempt was better than no attempt at all. Then he slowly began heading south west through the forest.
Skye was one of the few people alive who regularly travelled Yang'Grir but he didn't claim to know it. Each time he travelled through it, he found it to be different. This visit, the forest was dark and cold. It was strange how it could, at the same time, feel more alive and more dead than he had ever seen it; alive, in that he could feel it shivering with the cold and feel it's pain; dead, in that it was unaware of him. One constant for every visit to date, had been the sensation of being watched. Whilst he would have been loathe to put it into words, Skye was certain that the watching presnence was something more than the wolfpacks that hunted the forest. If the watcher was still present, the focus of its attention was not on Skye.
The forest might have been unaware of him, but its inhabitants were not. As he moved deeper into the forest, the shadows turned into shadowers. He could sense the movement and caught glimpses of wolves slipping from shadow to shadow. He didn't trust the silence of the wolf pack. With the unnatural winter starting to grip the lands, the wolves should have been hungry. None approached him though, but none seemed to leave him either. He travelled steadily south west all day with his accompanying grey army. The towering trees only let a little pale sunlight reach the forest floor but it was enough to see the passing of the day.
Skye kept moving until the last light, hoping that Maryx would join him today. The cold and quiet was setting his nerves on edge and any lack of self-control bothered him. Finally he had no choice but to admit that today was not the day which Maryx had chosen for his appearance. He chose a large tree to protect his back and settled into a comfortable resting position. Sleeping alone in the forest was foolish, but moving on in the dark was even more dangerous. To travel onwards with a torch was not an option, since Yang'Grir did not look kindly on flames of any sort.
As he waited for the dawn, his thoughts drifted back over the previous day. Chrys was an enigma that continued to bother him. It had taken almost more willpower than he had, to leave her in the room in Hergoth's Inn. Only her calm certainty that their paths would again cross had tipped the balance. He'd not missed an Awakening since he'd left the Caves.
His quiet reverie was broken by a soft laugh. He sighed and looked up. Leaning against his tree was a tall slim man. His black eyes were unreadable. Long dark hair was swept back from his face and braided with leather thongs. A jagged scar marred one cheek making any smile lop-sided and a little menacing. The filed and pointed teeth made the smile almost evil. He was clothed totally in dark leathers that were laced carefully to avoid any rustle of clothing as he moved. Strapped to one thigh was a machete and he held an enormous long bow. A quiver of arrows was slung across his back, holding arrows tipped with tiny sleek black feathers. Few men could string that bow. Skye grinned a little as the thought flitted past, because none were allowed to try anyway. The only hint of light in this dark figure, were the gleaming white teeth which flashed as he grinned and a tiny teardrop ring that graced the little finger of his left hand.
Skye shook his head and sighed dramatically as he said "Ah Maryx, well met. One day I shall see you arrive." Maryx smiled and said "So you keep saying Skye, but something else was on your mind. I haven't seen you so lost in thought for a long time. It's not like you. An army could have marched past today and I doubt you'd have noticed."
Skye stood and stretched. He smiled for a moment at the memories, then looked at Maryx and said. "Maybe you'll meet her one day Maryx. She might break through that hard shell around your heart. She managed to make even me talk to her. She calls herself Chrys, but I doubt that she's always been known by that name."
Maryx almost spat in disgust and his voice was hard as he said, "This is over a woman, Skye? You disappoint me. I thought Lysis had cured you of that weakness. Perhaps you need the Awakening more than usual this year."
Skye shook his head refusing to be lead into that discussion. He looked at Maryx and said "Wait until you meet her, Maryx, and you'll see why this is different." There was a bitter undercurrent in his voice as he said "And you know you're right, Lysis did cure me in a sense. I've seen innocence and trust turn to revulsion and fear too often now. I don't fight my destiny any longer. Loneliness is the curse of those who do not accept their aloneness. I've accepted it Maryx." Skye undid the heavy gold clasp that held his cloak in place and let the cloak fall to the ground. The silver light of the last moon danced down through the trees, casting strange shadows as Skye stretched.
Maryx watched, his face impassive as he asked "If you've accepted it Skye, why do you still hide your true self?"
Skye avoided answering by unfurling his leathery wings. After being folded away for so long, the sudden rush of blood was painful. With a muttered "Wait for me, Maryx" he rose into the night air. The closeness of the trees made flying difficult and the branches and twigs scratched his face as he went higher and higher. Finally his efforts were rewarded and he broke through the canopy of the forest into the full splendour of the night sky. Like a wolf howling at the moon, he let loose a scream. The scream had been building in him for a long time. Talking to Chrys had been a small release, but not enough. He needed the freedom of the night and he'd been denying that need for too long now.
Far below on the forest floor, Maryx heard the scream that ripped across the night sky and sighed. Skye had not found the peace he sought after all. Maryx's words were slow as though he repeated a lesson learned by rote long ago "I always do wait for you, brother Skye."
When Skye finally returned, his sword was bloodied and his clothing torn. His breathing was as short as his explanation. He simply said, "I flew too far north, Maryx. Her hounds still hunt me. They noticed me, but that was their mistake."
Further explanation was unnecessary. The two men had both felt Lysis' hounds baying at their heels and had no doubt they would have to deal with much worse in the future. For now though, their path did not lead towards her. In companionable silence they continued their journey, now heading more west than south towards the Mountain named Dragonslair. As they headed west along the trails, they found tiny signs of regeneration in the forest.
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