We reached the steps outside the rows of cells, and Shiara lurched to her feet from her position next to Donicon's head. "He's gotten worse -- his fever won't break. If it doesn't at least lower soon, I think we'll lose him." Her voice broke on the last word, and tears started to fall again, but she faced Trenton determinedly. He had already released my tail; now he looked in my direction as I turned to face him. "He's that badly off?" Trenton's whispered voice caused Donicon to stir.
"Trenton?" Carefully I lead the worn healer over to Donicon's sweat soaked side. My muzzle almost inside his ear, I told him, "He's right in front of you." Slowly kneeling beside his friend, Trenton stretched out his sensitive wingtip to find Donicon's face. "I'm here." Donicon spoke so softly that Trenton had to lean close to hear. From the look on Trenton's face, whatever they were talking about wasn't good news.
"You know I will. But I don't know what good I can do, Donicon. I'm not the same person you knew as a colt." Carefully, Trenton pressed Donicon's head down, and I was startled by how little resistance that he offered. The effort of keeping up even a whispered conversation was almost too much for him. Trenton's voice brought my thoughts back to the present. "We need to get him somewhere he can rest, and where ...Shiara?” Shiara nodded her acknowledgement, then remembered Trenton couldn't see her and confirmed her name out loud. Trenton nodded and continued, “where Shiara at least can see. I’ll bet that even you can't see very well." His voice ended on a wry note. He was right; the prison levels had never been well lit. It made no difference to him, but Shiara would need light to see by. I offered a solution.
“The dormitories? They should be empty, now that the Mescars are gone. My room’s buried under the boulders now, but Donicon’s might not be.” Trenton considered the idea, cocking his head to the side. Donicon, on the ground before him, drew in a shuddering breath, and Trenton made up his
“Very well. Dorm...?” I took his meaning.
“Fifteen, in the new wing of the Elder section.” Belatedly, I realized that Trenton wouldn’t know the new dorms- he’d been locked up much longer than they had been around.
“The new wing is off the first left corridor of the Elder dorm. Donicon said there used to be a common room there...?” I trailed off in the hopes that Trenton would figure out what I was rambling
“I know what you’re talking about. Alright, I think I can get myself there from a directional standpoint, but, Fadrid, there’s another problem.” I looked sharply up at the tone in his voice. It was not encouraging.
“When they arrested me, they clipped my wings.” He spread them as evidence. Sure enough, the edges of the long, beautiful black flight primaries were shorn off, ugly, ragged edges the only remnants. Trenton would never fly again.
Behind me, I heard the almost silent whisper of Wolken’s hooves on the stone floor. “Laroac and I can take him, if he will let us. It is easily done.” To Shiara’s left, Laroac nodded. I glanced at Trenton. He shrugged, evidently assuming that everyone could see.
“I have no problems with that.” Nods all around signified acceptance of the plan. Trustingly, Trenton took a hesitant step forward, holding his hooves for a half second before he placed them to be sure that he didn’t step on anyone.
“What do you need from me?” he asked. Wolken stepped up on his right; at his nod Laroac moved to Trenton’s left.
“We are going to cross our inside wings against your belly. You need only place your wings across our backs and direct us. We can handle the rest.” Trenton did so and the two Mescars unfurled their great leathery wings. They crossed under Trenton’s belly, and the three were drawn together, sides touching. At Wolken’s Mescan command, the ungainly trio took three hop-steps and launched down into the canyon.
I rushed to the edge to see what happened to them. They had glided to the opposite side and caught an updraft. Awkwardly at first, then with greater dexterity, the two Mescars began to pump powerful wings in synch. They gained altitude until the overhang above me blocked my view of them.
With a sigh, I turned to go back to where Donicon lay. He was much too heavy for just Shiara and me, so we lay around, too anxious to make small talk. I lay at Donicon’s head, Shiara at his side with her wing thrown over him. We both faced the edge, waiting for the The Mescars to return.
I don’t know when exactly it happened, but I gradually dozed off. I woke with a start, though, when a rough voice said, “Let’s just kill ‘em and get out of here.” My eyes shot open. Donicon was still beside me, but Shiara was nowhere in sight. Instead, three scruffy, dangerous looking fliers stood around Donicon and me. Their hooves were chipped, and the hair around their hocks was worn thin, the scars there evidence of shackles. My blood ran cold as I realized that they must be from the prison levels, escaped now that there was no one to watch them.
I scrambled to my feet. Around me, the criminals exchanged amused glances.
“So, the little Scout wants to play, does he?” they chuckled menacingly, but somehow, it seemed more condescending than anything else.
“Hey! Bloodhoof!” From the depths of the prison level, a huge Flier appeared. He was at least the size of Wolken, though his coat was light grey speckled with tiny brown spots. The wings folded at his sides were the same shade of blood-bay, a bright brown that looked almost exactly like dried blood. His mane and tail were the same shade. The three scruffy thugs grinned at me.
“Blood! We got a new toy for you!” The massive flier grinned like a halfwit and strode forward. Unlike Wolken, who despite his huge size was quieter than me, Bloodhoof’s steps rang ponderously against the rough stone.
For now, the thugs and this Bloodhoof seemed to be ignoring Donicon. I backed half a step back, retreating in a circle until I stood over his prone body. I lowered my wings to cover as much of him as I could, and watched as the huge grey monster approached. The thugs around me began to back away, obviously not wanting to get caught up in this flier’s “games.”
He was less than a wing’s length away from me at this point. I closed my eyes and lowered my head, refusing move but also refusing to watch as my death approached with an idiot’s grin. I could smell his breath on my forelock...
...And a sudden gust of air swept my mane away from my neck. I jerked my head up- what was it?- and saw Wolken land, his wings spread wide in front of me. Over his wingtip, I could just barely see that Bloodhoof had backed away, blood streaming from bites on his neck and two long cuts on his back. He snarled, and the sound echoed in the small space. In front of me, though, came a sound that can hardly be described as a snarl. It was far to terrifying to be the same sound from a different throat- it was so deep that it reverberated in the rock below my hooves, and I felt the hair on my back rise despite the fact that this sound was in my defense.
The four Fliers had fallen back at the unexpected interruption, but even a Mescar as terrifying as Wolken didn’t distract them from their escape for long. They circled around, looking to force Wolken to fight on two fronts. But as they started to move around to the outside of the ledge, Laroac plummeted out of the sky to land with a thud in front of them. Although smaller than Wolken, Laroac’s snarl was no less terrifying.
Wolken’s voice was deadly quiet in the sudden silence. “Fadrid, go get Shiara.” I glanced between the two Mescars and Donicon, but despite the sticky tension in the air, I knew he’d be safe with them.
Shiara was further in the opening to the prison levels; not quite beyond where Bloodhoof was standing, blood still streaming from his neck. I walked cautiously over to her. She was bruised, certainly, and there was blood showing in a few cuts, but she seemed physically fine. At my insistent nudging, she dragged herself to her feet. As we moved carefully back towards the Mescars and Donicon, I watched Bloodhoof’s baleful eyes tracking us and shuddered to think what would have happened if Wolken and Laroac hadn't gotten back when they did.
Shiara moved past me to go to Donicon, and as she did I saw something change in Bloodhoof’s eyes. He lunged for her, and I whirled to kick out at him. At the same time Wolken jumped at one of the other Fliers who had been steadily moving further and further to the side in an attempt to take him from the side, where his defense would be weakest. Wolken’s back legs never left their position in front of Donicon, but the rest of his body moved like a snake to create a barrier of fangs and flesh between the Flier and his goal.
Laroac was keeping two fliers at bay with the threat of his own fangs, but they were quickly gaining confidence as the situation devolved around them. As my hooves missed Bloodhoof’s face by inches, Wolken called out something in Mescan to Laroac. With a final snap at the Flier in front of him, he spun and lunged, fangs closing around Bloodhoof’s muzzle. He gave a fluid sideways turn of his head, and Bloodhoof’s head followed, neatly snapping his neck.
Abandoning the body on the floor, the Mescar spun on his heels and launched himself at the second of the two Fliers now openly fighting with Laroac. As the two Mescars lunged and spat at their enemies, I struggled into the front of the harness we used to carry Donicon. I was almost all the way into the straps when I heard fighting behind me. The last Flier had jumped on the chance that Wolken’s distraction had given him to attack Shiara.
I abandoned the straps and turned to help her, but Shiara had maneuvered her enemy right where she wanted him. Driving him away from Donicon and into the body of his erstwhile friend, Shiara pounced as the Flier tripped on Bloodhoof’s bulk. With a savagery that I wouldn’t have thought possible, Shiara rode her enemy to the ground, her teeth locked around his throat. She stood, shaking a little, and as I tried to decide what to say, what I could say, Wolken and Laroac came from behind me to stand next to Donicon. Wolken spared only a glance for the two of us before issuing his orders.
“Fadrid, I need you to guide Shiara and keep a watch out for those who would follow us. There’s no time for the harness; on our way back here we saw wings in the distance. Its too early to see which kind, but either way we need to be somewhere safer when they arrive.” Without another word, Laroac and Wolken were kneeling next to Donicon, lifting him as gently as possible. He was just on the edge of consciousness, but it was obvious that this hurt him.
I tore my eyes away from the ungainly three as they took halting steps to the cliff and dove, and shifted my attention to Shiara.
“Shiara, we have to go. The Mescars already took Donicon. Shiara?” She was not listening to me, her head hanging low as she stared at the Flier she had killed. She was trembling badly.
“Fadrid… what have I done? What kind of monster am I?” I trotted to her and looked her in the eye.
“Shiara. You are NOT a monster. You were defending yourself, your brother, and me. You did NOTHING wrong here.” She raised her face to meet my eyes, and her ears raised themselves from their dejected droop.
“Now, we have to leave. The Mescars have Donicon. Can you fly with me?” Her eyes slid back to the body on the floor, and I laid my wing gently across her back.
“Come on, Shiara. Let’s go.”
And that’s the end of what I have written. From here, there was going to be a time where Fadrid, Wolken, Shiara, Laroac and Trenton spend a good long while getting to know each other and realizing that, really, there aren’t that many differences between the Mescars and the Fliers. They begin to form friendships, with Wolken taking on a lot of Donicon’s “mentor” role towards Fadrid as Donicon recovers. They have a few confrontations with other Fliers, and they begin to carve out a life in a rather dusty old wing of the Canyon. Eventually, Logian and his council return, and they want to either kill or imprison the two Mescars. However, a weak but recovering Donicon and a VERY outspoken Shiara together manage to talk them out of that. Wolken, Laroac and Fadrid eventually return to the Mescan City and bring many (mostly) peaceful Mescars back. And then… I suppose they just proceed to work out the kinks of living in world where they now don’t fight each other. That’s about the extent of what I had thought up till now. Thank again you guys for being so supportive and amazing and wonderful and the BESTEST EVER!!!!!!!