Into The Bright Sky — Act IV: Revelations
Act IV: Revelations
Act IV: Revelations
Autfaer Forest. The 30th of Dratma. Noon.
Fol Drakvrend Jihra
Eigyys sat calmly.
To a dragon, three years felt shorter than a single human season, and the note he had received from his beloved son was a perfect opportunity to reminisce on the past.
Sitting silently in the glade where they’d first met, Eigyys allowed his thoughts to wander, alternating between wistful joy and fatherly concern.
Why a dark place, with a dark message in secret? He wondered.
What sorts of trouble might James be getting himself into, if stooping to secrets and shadows with his own father?
It was all quite unbecoming for a member of the Bright Sky… Though, Eigyys knew better than to reveal the note to any others. By ritual-law, his son’s life would be put under harsh surveillance if word of this meeting reached his kin.
As the noon chimes rang from Eigyys’ time-dial, James appeared from the forest shadows.
“Father… Thank you for coming.”
“What is the meaning of all this?”
“I… wish for a reckoning.”
“After three years… you now decide to break ritual-law? Explain.”
“I can’t… focus.” James sighed, shifting uncomfortably on the balls of his feet, “Not until the rift between us is repaired. I miss our talks. I miss… you.”
“J-… Son, the rift between us is only within your mind. I am proud of you, my son. And I always shall be. Of that you need no words or rituals to attest.” Eigyys assured, patting James’ shoulder lightly with his tail.
“The bonds of trust. The bonds of caring, of love. All more powerful than anything born of words, physical touch, or ritual. This lesson I tried for years to teach you, but perhaps our time apart was needed to get through that thick skull of yours.” He smiled, gently puffing out a halo of grey smoke.
James grinned at his father’s jest, ruefully nodding.
“What now, father?”
“ Abide by the code of the Bright Sky. Burn each law into your heart. Return to Heimlock. He is your Drakvrend. Until the gods allow, he and I shall never meet.”
“The gods allow? What do you mean?”
“A golden mount… Has a task from the gods. None may interfere. None. Under any circumstance.”
“Wait… I’d been told it was ritual-law we must remain separate.”
“And so it is. But your steady inability to focus on the ‘why’ of all things is troubling . Do you still doubt that I love you with all my heart?”
“But Heimlock said-”
A roar of rage pierced the sky from the west. Heimlock’s form came crashing through the trees like a thrashing juggernaut.
“Enough! No longer shall I bear this mockery!” He roared.
“Heimlock! In shadows you hide?” Eigyys gasped incredulously, “Have you no sacred honor? So carelessly do you break your oath to the gods!”
“Hypocrisy to its core.” Heimlock spat, his teeth bared menacingly, “You should not have met with James. My oath to the gods is now to slay you where you stand!”
“Heim, no! How did you know I was here? Talon…?” James cried out in disbelief.
“Do you think me a fool? I saw the moment you left you weren’t seeking comfort but action. Seeking a reckoning. I merely waited, praying you would change your mind and not take part in such foolishness… Or, that your father would have the sense not to show.”
Heimlock shivered, his eyes reflecting deep sorrow while a grin spread across his gaping maw.
“Now… All is lost. I am sorry, James. I’m oathbound to forces greater than I.”
Bellowing a mighty roar, Heimlock charged Eigyys, spewing out a sizzling ball of blue flame. Instantly Eigyys took to the skies, letting out an enormous cloud of crimson light, enveloping Heimlock in smoke and flames. Out of the inferno, Heimlock’s claws and fangs snaked out to strike, forcing Eigyys to return to earth.
“Stop! No!” James cried out desperately.
For a moment, Eigyys paused as if he’d heeded his son’s call. But in reality, it came from a peculiar change in his adve rsary.
“Deceiver!” Eigyys roared out in fury, slamming his foreclaws deep into the ground.
Heimlock’s scales now shone a dull copper, every inch of his form no longer bearing the unique luster and sparkle of gold.
“Copper!!! You dare deceive all Thunderborn?” Eigyys fumed, his eyes flashing in indignation, “And worse, you’ve stolen three years of observing my child’s growth!”
“Three years?” Heimlock snarled, whipping his spiked tail around in invitation, “What of the countless years lost for whelps of the tributes? Come, and we shall decide this in blood! Yours or mine!”
Smoke, fire, and earth erupted all around as the two dragons ferociously battled. James screamed, throwing his arms up into the Drakvrend sign of “ceasefire,” but they had become oblivious to his existence. A stray blast incinerated the ground beside him, forcing him to take cover under an outcropping of rock.
Stop, please stop…
In vain, the sad mantra repeated over and over in his mind.
As the combat rapidly approached conclusion, his father and Drakvend became possessed by thousands of years of strife, pain, and dragon history. Two titans faced off, each intending to rend the other to shreds.
James sensed the next strike would be the last. Whichever side won, he would be lost. With tears streaming from his eyes, he opened his mouth to scream one last protest, but all that emerged was a raspy wheeze of sorrow.
Powerless, he watched as his only two true friends and mentors in life flashed through the sky, colliding into an explosion of light, sparks, and flames.
Scales of emerald and copper erupted from the enormous impact, pelting James and knocking him unconscious.
The bright sky overhead burned like a blue-lit candle at midnight.
James yawned as he stood and stretched over his rucksack bed, camped at the mouth of the large cave. Gathering his things, he reviewed the past week of failed treasure hunts into Barratry Den.
It seemed he had had quite the streak of beginner’s luck the first few weeks on the job, successfully adding several relics to the treasuries of the Amity clans, keepers of the Outer Borders. They knew not of his past, and had blessedly accepted him without any demands or expectations.
As the days turned into months, more and more he felt that this was where he could forge a new path; a new destiny.
Just after he’d finished packing for the day’s expedition, he noticed from the corner of his eye an intense glimmering light. Glancing back to the campground, he saw it was coming from Alluin. The round-shield’s spotless face peeking out of his rucksack, seemed to be playfully reflecting the sun’s rays through patches of clouds drifting across the sky.
Above him, the tell-tale roar of a drake’s entreaty rang out from the heavens. Lifting his head nervously, James saw a full-blown thunder of whelps circling high above the clouds.
A familiar voice lightly penetrated his thoughts.
It is easier for humans to let go of the past, since there is such little of it.
“For a human… yes,” he muttered to himself, “But I am no longer fully human, nor am I fully Thunderborn…”
Uncertain of what to do next, James began to pace back and forth before the mouth of the cave, pondering whether a response was required or deserved.
Stopping to stand in full attention, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
For a dragon, it is much harder to give up the past. So much history. Too many painful memories.
Humans were blessed with a shorter life, granting a chance at happiness. A chance to move on. A chance to progress towards the future. To build a new future apart from the past.
…And that is what I shall practice doing for the time-being.
Farewell, old friend.
Taking one last deep breath, James opened his eyes, bracing himself for a day of adventure deep into Barratry Den.
Before taking his first steps into the darkness, James stopped, staring up at the tens of dragons playfully roaring and snapping at each other.
This is the extended unedited version of a short story I previously submitted on Vocal for a writer’s challenge by Christopher Paolini.
To see the edited to-fit-5000-words version of the story, click here:
Into The Bright Sky
The gold is a trap. The vivid words flashed inside the young man’s mind, providing a silent warning as he slowly…vocal.media
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