The Wyverns - Chapter 1

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The Wyverns

by MaskedLin

Libraries: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Gothic, OriginalFiction

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Two wyverns, close to one another for many years, live in a small village near the secluded Folien Canyon. One day, they learn how quickly things change.

The Wyverns
     “Now, welp!”
     A dragon turned his two noses towards glittering water and pulled his wings close, plummeting his streamlined snouts into its murky mass with a fantastic splash. Ahead of him, panicked fish fled, fanning away from the both the wyvern and open waters. He adjusted his course to intercept a small group thinking to do otherwise, herding them into a sheltered cove, but stopped just short of its opening. A net sprung taut before his twin heads, successfully trapping the school as the diver allowed himself to float towards the light above.
     The sound of laughter greeted him as he broke through the water's surface, where larger wyverns hauled the catch ashore, bringing a smile to the swimmer's face. He was big enough to help with the nets, but the older dragons had greater muscle mass and size, so it was more efficient this way.
     “That was excellently done, Kamon! It'll be a shame when you finish growing, you make a mighty fine diver.” Turning his left head, he saw the lead of the fishing crew, a large wyvern with dark violet striped scales and a particularly large build beaming at him. His twin faces were handsome, though the right one had a nasty scar crossing its snout, leaving some of his teeth exposed.
     “I'm small for my age- if I get good enough, you won't need to find a new one.” He spoke it more like an observation, but he'd be happy if it turned out that way- he's always been competent in water and disliked the thought of joining the hauling crew, as much as he liked them.
     “Hah, wouldn't mind that myself!”
     “How's the catch? It looked like a sizable school from my end.”
     “Fit for a feast, we actually should let the lake rest for the time being. We've got the nets covered, so you can take the rest of the day off.”
     Kamon raised a brow as he waded from the floating flora that unevenly coated the water. “You sure?”
     Laughing some more, he nodded. “Take this fellow while you're at it, stay fed!” With a powerful swish of his wing, the older wyvern sent a fat catfish flying from the net, which Kamon had to catch with both jaws to make sure he didn't miss it. It slapped him in the face several times before it went still, a detail his boss found amusing. Kamon promptly left before others in the crew noticed.
     This will make dinner quicker for certain, but it won't be enough for both of us, he thought to himself as he crossed the short distance to town. The trees dotting the area were golden with Sal flowers, and the rivers had already begun to shrink with the coming of the season. He does like catfish though, I'll get a carp or something. He picked up his pace, leisurely loping past several of the elevated houses, coming to a stop at a stand where a knucker with pale blue sclaes sold fish caught by one of the river crews. She often traded with him, so she put a lengthy eel on his tab.
     With that finished, he headed to the center of the village. There were two large buildings there, made of fine wood with strong doors, they were doubtlessly were the fanciest in miles.
These both hosted the mages that often visited here, housing scrolls to write in and special rooms to store plants and other materials that the dragon supposed spells often required. The two housed different kinds of magic users, exorcists and familiancers, whom seldom got along in close quarters. Kamon figured it was because their magics worked in opposite ways- he didn't know much of exorcists, but he had some knowledge of the later. Familiancers contracted with spirits to make companions to do their will, exorcists used their magic to act upon spirits directly with their own soul- often to drive out said spirits. It was an odd combination certainly, but both came for the same thing- Folien Canyon, a glen where spirits gathered a short distance away, and, remarkably, they were peaceful for the most part. The mages would hone their skills there, testing the waters in a comparatively safe environment. Kamon knew this because someone he knew was doing just that, and was also why he had come here this afternoon.
     He entered the left building, the oiled hinges gliding with remarkable smoothness despite the door's weight. Inside, the lobby was dotted with strange dragons. Remarkably few of them had two heads, and some had the oddest assortment of limbs. Right now, there was a pair of dragons with a second set of legs in place of wings, three with an extra set of legs in addition to wings, and one in the far back that only had wings. Kamon often wondered about what lands the strange mages came from that molded their people into such shapes, but at the moment he had his eyes set on a specific individual, who's looks were comparatively similar to his own.
     The wyvern also had twin heads, but his scales' color was somewhere between navy and black, dotted with rich cinnamon, while a coat of silver ran down his underside. The profile of his snout dropped from his brows, similar to a bird of prey as to cut through air, with four streamlined horns sweeping back
from each of his faces. At that moment, he sat facing away from the entrance at a small table near a bookshelf, reading another text the aquatic dragon didn't recognize. Perched
higher up was the wispy figure of a crane, her plumage pale blue and white, her eyes looking at Kamon with slight confusion.
     Shhhhh, he motioned with a smile. He quietly got behind the reader, edging as close as he was sure he could get away with before taking a breath.
     Nolous yelped, springing to the side and almost knocking the table over with it.
     Kamon laughed, plopping down next to the table as it wobbled and watched how his partner's scales ruffled in embarrassment.
     “Wh- you-” Nolous turned his pale green eyes to his familiar as he recomposed himself. “You saw him coming and didn't say anything! Caloi, you are horrible at keeping guard.”
     “I hadI had no way of knowing what he intended, so I felt no need!” She looked away, barely choking down laughter. Her beak had no way of smiling, but her eyes did, and they hid it horribly.
     “Sure you didn't! And you-” The scaled dragon focused on his jade-green companion, “Why are you here so early? Aren't you working at this time of day?”
     “We had a good haul, so the boss let me off early. Since we have extra time, I was thinking we could go to that pond I was telling you about instead of our usual, it's great at this time of year but it'll dry up soon.. Oh! And I got this for you.” He held out the catfish with big smiles crossing both of his faces.
     Nolous looked at it and his posture sunk a little. “I... thank you, but I won't be able to tonight. We got word from the main branch of the guild earlier, we need to investigate the Folien Canyon.”
     Kamon's smiles faded. “What? Why?”
     Taking the fish from his companion's grasp, the darker dragon continued. “Spirit glens around the region are being vacated, and we don't know why. It's happening here too, so all members in the region need to prioritize figuring out why, myself included. I was planning to send Caloi to tell you a little before you got off, but...” He looked away for a moment, then hastily added, “I can eat this with you now before I head out though.”
     “Uh, ok, sure.” He unwrapped the eel from his neck and tore off a section from its side.
     The two ate quietly. Caloi preened for a moment before she quickly looked up and addressed the dragons. “What if we brought Kamon with? He knows the area a lot better than we do.”
     “The glen can be dangerous to those without magic, I'm not doing that to him.”
     “No, but we aren't going into the glen, just around it. The site itself is covered by higher ranked members, we're checking the mundane surroundings, which won't be bad with an escort.”
     “I want to go. This sounds important, and if I can help you, I want to.” Kamon met Nolous' gaze, wanting him to know he was being frank about the matter. Nolous hesitated with furrowed brows, glancing at Caloi, who nodded.
     “...Alright, but you've got to stick close, and if either of us tell you to do something, listen promptly, ok?”
     The aquatic wyvern smiled. “Will do.”
     A couple hours later, the fisher was considerably bored. Most of what his companions were doing was speaking in a bunch of terms he didn't understand and looking at plants or rocks, then taking notes and doing it again. He supposed that they were casting spells to test them at various points, but there were no fancy lights or mystic displays, so it looked quite un-magical to him. There were no drifting ghosts, no unnatural phenomena, no dramatic warnings, and little casual conversation, so it felt like a boring tour of nowhere rather than a research trip. Granted, he never had been on a research trip, but he imagined it would be more interesting. They asked a lot about where some things were though, so he was glad his presence wasn't useless.
     Nolous abruptly stopped, sitting with an aggravated sigh. “None of this is remotely useful.”
     His companion took a few steps towards him.“Why not? Does it not add up or something?”
     “No, that's not it.” He angrily flipped through his notes.
     Caloi glided from the stone she stood on next to Kamon and spoke to him softly. “Everything is normal... precisely normal. There's nothing to suggest the spirits should be leaving.”
     “I'm going to try something different, this isn't working.” Nolous stood up and marched to a clearing. “Kamon, you stay there. You too, Caloi.”
     The two looked at him with curious eyes as the mage thumped down a portion of leafy plants and dug up certain sections of dirt. It wasn't long before it clicked with the familiar, but whatever she recognized went unnoticed by the wyvern by her side.
     “Are you sure that's going to do much better?” She called to her master.
     “I don't know, but I'm still going to try.” He shouted back.
     “What's he doing?” Kamon asked the crane, still confused.
     “You'll see.”
“Thanks, that's helpful.”
     Nolous preened his area for several more minutes before he decided he was done, then he stood outside of it, looking in the direction Kamon recognized as facing the spirit glen. He spread his wings so they framed the circular patch he made, and with a deep breath he blew across it. The patch emitted a weak glow, only visible in the long shadows cast by the trees, and Nolous sat there like that for what felt like an hour.
     “What's the spell doing?” The second wyvern whispered to the familiar, not wanting to break the mage's concentration.
     “At the moment, nothing. Given the state of the glen, it may not have an effect.”
     “You must be feeling particularly unhelpful today,” he retorted sourly.
     “I don't want to ruin the surprise. That, and it is bad luck to speak a spell's purpose during its casting period.”
     “Yeah, most mages know that. I picked it up pretty quick after I contracted with Nolous.” She watched the spell circle intently, almost mesmerized by the soft green aura it shed. Bahogar turned back to it as well, watching the attentiveness on his companion's face. Nolous' eyes were vivid in the strange light, scanning the area for some unseen thing as if he were submerged in some other plane. Suddenly they came into sharp focus.
     “Pelle'd!” His voice was sharp and subtly layered with dissonance. In the moment he spoke, ethereal tendrils the thickness of thread and twine shot from the circle and tangled around an invisible form, dragging it to the center. Whatever it was thrashed in the hold, color slowly revealing the shape of some bird. Kamon thought it most resembled a duck, or maybe a coot- it was only partially opaque, which made it difficult to be sure. The mage continued, speaking more spells that layered on the being until it lay anxiously entwined on the ground.
     “Bad. Much bad. Sharp stones for you, strange duckweed.” Kamon wasn't expecting it to start babbling, especially in such broken language. He looked suspiciously at Caloi.
     “Welcome, spirit. I am Nolous, apprentice mage and contractor. Do you have a name?”
     “Rude Nolous contractor, faster fish. I swim.” It had a distinctly insultive tone.
     “Swimmer, I will release you in time. Speak with me, I have questions.”
     “Fast fish, fast fish, strange duckweed.”
     “What drives the spirits from here? The glen is good for strength.” Nolous inquired, ignoring the fowl's strange chatter.
     “Good fish, but too long, too too long. Gone duckweed, go go.” It made to nip at the binding, to no affect.
     “Too long for what, Swimmer? Tell me and I will release you.”
     “Too long, too long! Winter bad, warm water. Gone duckweed!” It started struggling again, making angry noises. “Duckweed duckweed duckweed duckweed!”
     “Wait, what is winter? Swimmer, speak to me.
     The strings began to snap, and it flapped frantically. “Weak duckweed, swim! Bad! Sharp stones!” Nolous focused more tendrils at it, but it was too late. The bird broke free, fading as its form grew distant. The familiancer cursed to himself, flicking a small branch away with his tail.
     “So... that was a spirit thing, right?” Kamon looked between then two, unsure what to think of the experience.
     “Yeah, a feeble one for certain.” Nolous started digging up the circle, smearing the lines and orderly holes with an aggravated vigor.
     “So, was that... how Caloi started out?” He asked hesitantly.
     “Most certainly not! I'm leagues stronger than that thing, and I didn't need assistance spells to speak my mind when I met Nolous.” Her chest feathers puffed out indignantly.
     “Ah, sorry. You both are birds, so I couldn't help but wonder.”
     “Caloi rests in the form of a bird, but that isn't what she was in life. Animal spirits seldomly get strong enough to have the cognitive functions she does on their own.” Nolous had finished his cleanup and joined the two where they sat.
     “If she's so much stronger, than how'd you catch her if a coot broke out?”
     “Because I didn't spend just twenty minutes and munched grass on her snaring circle, spells are pathetic if your commitment to time and materials is minimal. Anyways, I'm going to report my findings to my superiors. Kamon, wait here, we're going into the glen. I should be half an hour or so.”
     “Alright, I'll try not to get distracted by too many duck ghosts.”
     “Kamon...” He looked at him seriously.
     “I'm joking, I know. I'll keep an eye out for anything strange.”
     Nolous nodded before spreading his large wings and executing a spetacular standing launch, Caloi following close behind. The jade striped dragon nestled against a tree, prepping for a long and boring wait. From there he had a solid view of his surroundings, only inhibited by the thickening trees in the direction of the spirit glen. He picked up a flat pebble and began bouncing it on his noses to stay entertained.
     He was still playing with the pebble when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye, somewhere to his left. A distance away there was a dragon, walking up the slanted terrain distinctly in the direction of Folien Canyon. The richly colored light of the sunset skewed his perception some, but xe had a dark coloration and wings. Kamon figured whoever it was had the same reason for coming as Nolous and the rest of the familiancers, but he was curious anyways. He stood clear of the tree so he could make a good take-off before hesitating.
     It hasn't been too long yet, he probably isn't done with the report. It's the glen that's dangerous, I doubt there's any issue with me going away from it. I'll just get back before he does. He took to the air in the stranger's direction.
     He had expected it to be a few minutes by air, but it turned out to be longer. As he drew closer, he understood why- this dragon was huge. Regardless of what ethnic group a dragon was from, it was nearly universal that female dragons (drenices) were larger than their male counterparts, though how much varies- however, this was something else. She (he assumed it was a she) was easily a size and a half of the largest wyvern that lived in his hometown, possibly twice the size of a normal drenice. She had four legs and large wings, a build that balances air and ground prowess, and was coated in scales so thick he mistook them for plate mail at first. Two stunningly long horns sprouted from the back of her head, sweeping forward and down in a motion reminiscent of a bull's, and muted blue like the sky in the early morning after dawn. He did not wish to draw any closer, not only because she looked built for war, but she had a strangeness to her- her eyes were closed like shutters yet she strode effortlessly across the terrain, and the air buzzed against his skin in her presence, as though it were holding its breath.
     Despite her intimidating demeanor, she didn't seem to pay him any mind as he circled. She's probably a high ranking member of some guild, he thought to himself nervously.
     “Hello, stranger. What brings you here?” He called to her.
     She kept walking, reacting as little as if he hadn't spoken at all.
     “Are you from a mage guild?”
     He figured it was pointless and stopped trying to speak to her, and with her eyes closed it would be even more useless to wave. I should tell Nolous about her, he thought as he returned to his waiting spot. It was as it were when he left it, so he was certain his companions had not finished their report. They should be done soon, I need to be patient. Kamon tried to be, but as he watched the large dragon approach, it grew shorter and shorter in supply.
     They're probably expecting whoever that is, it's fine.
     It's dangerous in the glen, so you can't go there either way, Kamon.
     They'll be back soon, then I'll tell them.
     Someone really should tell them.
     ...Damn it, he's going to have my heads for this.
     The wyvern took flight and headed directly to the glen. He had never been there himself, but he figured since it was vacant this would be one of the safest times to fly in unannounced. There weren't any rules forbidding non-mages from entering, but tales of ghosts and warnings from magic users was enough to keep sane dragons without magic from going there. As he got closer, he saw the trees had grown in increasingly curved shapes, making the woods have a ripple affect similar to long grass in the wind, something he was sure magic was responsible for. Their trunks were dark, and the heart of the glen was easily distinguishable by the sheer concentration of leaves gilded in silver hues. The walls of the canyon blocked out much of the remaining light of day, creating a enclosure of shadow around the landmark. The finned dragon wanted to turn around immediately, but stayed his course. He had made up his mind, he wasn't going to back out now. He waited until he saw the cluster of mages under the canopy before he set down. Caloi noticed immediately.
     “What are you doing here???” She snapped at him, practically swelling in size from anger alone. Behind her, both of Nolous' heads whipped into focus on Kamon, interrupting him mid sentence. He looked like he was about to dash over, but his superior stopped him and pressed the conversation.
     “Look, I wasn't wanting to upset y-
     “One thing, Kamon, one thing! We asked you to do one thing, yet here you are anyways! It hasn't even been an hour!”
     “Let me speak, ok? I know what you said, but I saw someone and I thought you should know. It's this enormous dragon, who I'm really sure is a mage of some sort.”
     “Yeah probably, mages are the only people who come to these spots, Kamon, because mages aren't likely to get hurt at them.”
    “I'll tell one of the mages and go then, ok? I just want to let you all know.”
     A drake walked over to them. “Is this familiar giving you a problem?”
     “Wh- no, I know her, we were just talking. I saw a dragon approaching the glen and wanted to inform the mages here.” Kamon hadn't expected one to walk up to him on their own, since they tended to stick to themselves.
     “Alright, what does this dragon look like?” She asked, though she didn't seem heavily invested in the subject. He described the stranger to her, making sure to emphasize what it felt like near her.
     “Hm, doesn't sound like anyone from our guild, though I would think she's some sort of element caster. They tend to be a curious kind about the world but prefer to forgo interacting with the people who inhabit it. They directly manipulate their surroundings, which certainly can lead to some strange auras, I can see why someone who doesn't know would be unnerved. She probably heard about what's happening to the glens and decided to see for herself. If she starts trouble, we have ample familiars to deal with it, so don't worry about it.” She turened to face the lindorm Nolous was speaking to and cleared her throat, to which he promptly turned around. She gestured at Nolous while still meeting the older dragon's gaze, who shook his head in response. She beckoned the wyvern mage over.
     “You know this villager?”
     “Yes, he accompanied me as a guide earlier.” Nolous briefly glanced at Kamon, his eyes still glowing with anger.
     “It would be good if you guided him out of canyon then. We need more raw information about the surroundings as well, so you are free to continue as you were.”
     “As you wish.” Nolous gestured Kamon to follow as he turned and left, remaining quiet as they departed by wing. Once they got a considerable distance away, that changed.
     “I should have left you home, this isn't a place for anyone but magic users.” The dark dragon wouldn't look at Kamon as he spoke, but his faces were set in a scowl.
     “Nolous, I was just worried for you, ok? I don't know everything and I wanted to make sure it wasn't actually dangerous.” Kamon tried to pick up his speed to fly besides him, but the horned dragon was at the advantage in the air.
     “I know, and that is exactly why I shouldn't have agreed to this. You don't even know half of what we're doing, how would you know if there's actual danger? You c- you could walk straight into it and not know until you're dead. I'm the one who'd know, and it would be my fault, not yours.” A small snarl ticked at his right snout and Kamon realized his companion was upset at himself. The smooth smaller wyvern wasn't sure how to respond.
     Caloi sailed past Kamon so she was close to her master, whispering something to him and gesturing to some point below.
     “Yeah, I know we should check those out. We'd need to check both though, and I'm not leaving him alone again.” The mage wasn't in the mood to whisper.
     Caloi still spoke softly, but Kamon heard what she said this time- “I'll stay with him, ok? I'll stay with him at the one while you check the other.”
     “...Alright. Let's go.” He tucked his wings into a sharp dive, quickly ducking out of sight.
     Caloi dropped back to match the other wyvern and nodded to the side. “This way.”
     “I'm not a child, I can follow without being told.” He descended in a smoother fashion after her.
     On the ground, Caloi examined a particular bush, parting its branches with her long beak. Kamon sat next to it, distinctly uncomfortable in the silence. He wanted to say something, but he was sure she'd scold him again if he tried. He also felt sure that she agreed to go with him so Nolous could blow off steam where no one would see him, which probably was both good and ba-
     The air itself rippled and everything shifted. Both of the two jumped in alarm as everything took on a blue tinge and things spun into sight. Trees became tapering, twisted pillars, their branches swirling around their strange trunks, the blades of grass changed into stalks holding small and glowing orbs. Transparent figures spotted the area, dozens scattered amongst the alien trees, faint as the dancing spots in one's eyes after glancing at the sun and defined like the air had been painted in thin strokes of oil. They stood silent and still, unanimously staring in the direction the three had just come from. In stark contrast, a handful of beings madly dashed the opposite way, made of the same ethereal quality that the bird from earlier was.
     Kamon whipped a head towards the crane, his voice strained. “Where is Nolous?
     She immediately sprung to action, moving airborne through the not-trees, the wyvern lurching as close behind as he could on land. The spirits ran with no consideration of the two, one ran straight under the dragon's off-white belly, it's form surprisingly solid and nearly tripping him. Finally they saw their mage, darting between pillars on his agile wings.
     “Get in the air, Kamon, we're leaving! He turned into a large wheeling motion to give the aquatic dragon the time he needed to get his frame into the air in a nearby clearing. The three turned and followed the lead of the fleeing spirits immediately.
     “Is it bad luck to ask what is going on? Did we upset the glen or something???” Kamon hissed to his companion, trying not to sound as scared witless as he was.
     “I don't know! Spirit glens don't have a conscious, at most spirits can riot but that doesn't affect the world around them, I don't know what's going on!” Everything about Nolous was panicked, from his pin-sized pupils and shrill voice to the fluttering speed of his flaps. His scattered train of thought was interrupted by distant roars behind them, followed first by weak flashes of light, and then silence.
     “Oh gods oh gods oh gods...” Caloi whimpered quietly, moving somehow even faster.
     “Kamon, can you fly any faster?” Her master asked, purposely dropping behind to meet his partner's scarlet eyes as best as he could.
     “I'm trying! I'mI'm not built for the air..!”
     “It's ok, I won't leave you, we just need to keep moving at our fastest, whatever that is, ok?” His voice wavered like candle flame, but his gaze was steadfast.
     Kamon nodded, sucking in as much air as he could in each twin breath.
     “Nolous, look!” Caloi cried from the front, her voice carrying the tone of hope. Ahead of them, the world faded back to normal, as if the canyon was not changed into a completely different place and all was as it should be. In less than a minute they exited the field of altered reality, the night's cool air pressing against their skin. Kamon was too out of breath to smile, and Nolous noticed he was lagging farther and farther behind.
     “Caloi, we're landing now!” He called to his familiar, brushing the tip of his wing against the edge of the finned dragon's as she looked back. On the ground, Kamon wheezed, hunched over and gasping- he had been sprinting in flight for longer than he should be able on adrenaline alone, and it was taking its toll.
     The crane's eyes flashed between concern for her friend and apprehension. She wanted to keep moving, but she didn't want to leave him, and knew with no doubt Nolous would refuse to even if she was heartless enough to insist. Her master still got the message from how she shifted uncontrollably. He touched his companion's back with his tail.
     “Kamon... we need to keep moving. Can you walk?” He asked softly. The red-finned dragon still couldn't speak, but he nodded. “I'm going to need you to take the lead, alright? You know the area, we need to get someplace out of the open, so we can hide as we move. Is there anywhere like that?” He nodded again, looking up in the direction of some hills. Nolous couldn't see it in the dark, but he remembered that there was a forest covering them, which would be perfect. His partner stood and started in the direction, still winded but somewhat under control. The dark dragon motioned at his back, to which Caloi, her characteristic glow gone, responded by gliding over and perching on him. It was a thing they had begun doing before in less trying times, to keep an eye out for anyone trying to come up from behind- those times, it would be for bandits or wild animals, things they could be expected to win against.
     They trudged for a while in silence, adrenaline and terror still trickling out of their systems. Nolous kept thinking of how he and Caloi had berated Kamon for coming to them, it felt like such a petty thing now that he looked back on it. In all likelihood, he was right, that strange dragon could have been responsible and they might be alive right now because of his instincts. He wanted to say something, but was unsure of how to break the heavy silence- to his surprise, he didn't have to.
     “Do you think everyone in town is ok?” Kamon asked softly, eyes still staring ahead.
     Nolous thought about it before saying anything. He had little way of actually knowing, but he grasped at any clues he could think of to give his partner an answer. “I... I think there's a chance they are. Magic of that scope creates a wave of high pressure, and I didn't feel any like that before we left. If she wanted to get the town, it would make sense to strike there first since there are more people-” Kamon looked at him anxiously as he spoke. “-so, since there was no wave, she likely only wanted to attack the glen, which means there's a good chance the town is fine. It probably would be wise for us to hide out for a while though anyways.” He drew his lips back into the biggest smiles he could, trying his best to reassure his iridescent green companion. Kamon had a lot to lose here too, even if he wasn't a mage- his home was so close, a home filled with people he'd known and been with all of his life, friends, family...
     “Thanks, Nolous.” He looked up and smiled faintly at the darker dragon.
     “...Thank you, Kamon. I... am sorry about how I treated you earlier.”
     “It's alright, you were worried for me. I knew you'd react that way before I decided to do it.”
     “I'm serious, I understand, and I forgive you too if that helps. I just don't believe there's anything else that needs to be said about it.” He kept one set of eyes facing forward, but his left head was focused entirely on Nolous. “We should concentrate on what we're doing. We're all okay, and I want us to stay that way.” He quivered a little as he walked. “We all look dead on our feet, we need to do something about it.”
     The mage had noticed that as well, he moved in closer to the other as they trudged. “I won't light us a fire for camp, I think it could attract attention to our position. Where would be a good place to set down?” They had reached the woods, trees sprouting from the sloping earth at angles to compensate for the direction of the wind. While the canopy provided shelter, the roots made for little flat ground, leaving no easily discernible spots to rest in the mages eyes. Thankfully, Kamon had a better eye for such matters.
     “That's our spot,” he pointed at a particular tree, which appeared just like all the others until they moved closer, revealing an overhang in the soil that created a bit of shelter and a flat space where one would be difficult to see. It wasn't large, though it would be enough to hold them both if they stayed close. The aquatic wyvern climbed into the spot, feeling tharea for uncomfortable stones or twigs, while his partner moved above it and shoved a pile of leaves into the space. They would be useful for further camouflage. The soft beds of the mage's hall sounded so nice at the moment, but Nolous quickly shoved the wishful thinking from his mind- it wouldn't make the night any more comfortable nor would it honestly put his mind at ease. When he hopped down to the spot, he saw Kamon had already curled up, back pressed against the dirt wall of the divot and mostly buried in fallen canopy.
     The darker dragon looked up to his familiar, perched in one of the branches. “Wake us if you see anything strange.”
     “I will. Rest well, master.” She positioned herself to stare down the hill, the way they came. With that taken care of, he sat down close to the tree in an attempt to respect his companion's space, but the striped wyvern responded with a raised brow.
     “You're giving those roots way too much credit- if you sleep like that, you're gonna fall off this patch and wake up in no shape to move.” He lifted a wing to make space, which Nolous hesitantly crawled into. His partner had a point though- wings take up a lot of space, and with him occupying the space under Kamon's wing instead of the one next to it, he was both better camouflaged and not skirting the edge.
     “Sorry if this is uncomfortable,” The dark dragon apologized awkwardly as the iridescent diver rested his tapered wing over his own.
     “It's not. Get some rest, okay?” His voice was soft and quiet.
     Is he already nodding off?
     It took some time for the mage to succumb to sleep through the worry and the strangeness, but the fact that he did was remarkable. It was short lived.
     “Wake up! Wake up!” Caloi frantically battered them with her wings. Kamon startled awake, instinctively pulling Nolous closer before realizing what was going on.
     The woods had changed again.
     All three immediately sprung to their feet, dashing the best they could through the lifting grogginess of slumber, stumbling over the strange grass and the slope of the hill. Everything had transformed exactly how it had at the glen, down to the littlest detail. They almost reached the peak when something huge came crashing down through the leaves right in front of them, slamming against the ground with thunderous force and tearing huge branches asunder like they were nothing.
     It was her.
     The world distorted the most around her, the pillar-trees abandoned any lingering features of what they were before and taking on the shape of curved ivory pillars, holding at their top sputtering fountains of light, strangely gold against the shroud of blue, the grass a field of free drifting spheres the color of the pale moon. Somehow, Kamon could tell her eyes were open, despite not being able to see them with her down-turned face.
     “Split up!” Nolous barked, springing to the left. Whoever this was, if she could alter reality like this, they had no chance in a fight- all he could hope was to minimize how many of them she caught, giving the remaining two of time to escape. He prayed Kamon wouldn't be the unlucky one.
     Caloi wheeled to the right, and Kamon took to the air down the way they came. The red-eyed wyvern hated the idea but had followed the order instinctively, and turned his heads to track his companions' movements. The plated dragon focused her eyes on the crane, and the wyvern watched as time seemed to slow- as the behemoth crouched, as his friend fluttered between curving columns, as in less than a blink the space between the two was gone. Caloi screamed as a huge dark hand smashed her against the ground, her form
exploding like shattered glass. Left pinned against the ground was a spirit like the others, her form misty like smoke dancing in glass, the small but unmistakable shape of a serpentine dragon. She frantically scratched at the claws, writhing futilely in the grasp. The moment she looked up, she froze, like her time had been stopped. With nothing more, she faded, her form turning as transparent as the strange oil shapes that watched motionlessly, then until there was nothing left. Caloi was gone.
     The silent dragon slowly turned to the opposite direction, searching.
     Kamon whirled around, moving the fastest he could. He dived at her legs and wrapped himself around the closest one in the front. He snapped his jaws at her bicep, but to his dismay his thin teeth slid across the huge scales uselessly, leaving him with nothing more than searing pain in his gums. The powerful being ignored him, crouching once more, then pounced with terrifying velocity. As Kamon reoriented, he realized she had Nolous by the membrane of his wing, waiting for him to make the same mistake Caloi had and meet her eyes.
     No! The lithe wyvern leaped at her head, trying to keep her destructive gaze away from the trapped dragon as long as he could. His wings wrapped about her face, scrabbling for a grip as he lunged with closed lids and open jaws at her left eye. She didn't let him finish, half burying him in the ground with a flick of her head, a loud crack sounding from his ribs. One of her sweeping horns had left a gash in his wing, and the force of the impact left him unable to breath for a moment- a moment long enough for her to turn towards him.
     Her eyes felt like they were too much to fit in her skull, glowing and emitting amber and silver-lavender mist. As he stared into them, he was overwhelmed. Everything flashed before his eyes- glimpses of places he had never seen, strange faces of animals and people from times long gone, nebulous masses of which he did not comprehend, and then his own memories. It was like his mind turned from a solid into sand, his past experiences jumbled and swallowing him as they played out as vividly as the day they happened. He had just woken from a nap to the smell of freshwater clams steamed in his parent's home, but also had just finished being scolded by his uncle in the yard for biting someone in daycare for hitting him while soaring over the river with the boss for the first time as a part of the crew. That couldn't be right, because he had just met Nolous on the street, the wyvern anxious in the new place and hesitant to talk to Kamon after the two had just spoke about a new place the striped wyvern had found that they should eat at and his father gently rocking his roost... but would he get hired with the fishing crew? They had a lot of people to choose from this year, and he wasn't able to go to class this morning because his sister the merchant had just come home and because Nolous was still screaming his name under that monster's grip. It sucked being sick, he wanted to go outside and play with the other kids before he had to help the crew clear the overgrown foliage at the river bank.
     His mind put itself back together, tentatively remembering the order his life happened in as the memories faded back into their place in the past. Kamon slowly started to get a focus on the forest around him, trees warm in the light of day, and realized this experience probably was the true reality since it was the only one remaining so clear. Then the pain started throbbing at his ribs again.
     Nolous, oh gods, where is Nolous? He bolted upright and doubled over in pain as his chest screamed in protest, but he looked up as soon as he could push the reaction down. A wing's length from him was the form of Nolous, the black scales of his back facing the him. Bahogar rushed to his still form, fearing the mage had not been treated so lightly as he had. The sight of his dark sides softly rising brought tears to his eyes, and he gingerly sat besides him. He was terrified that he would be nothing but an indent in the dirt under a huge claw print, so knowing he was alive felt breath taking, so much so that he couldn't stop from laughing a little as moisture ran down his cheek. The wyvern felt terrible about it, he had just lost one of his close friends, but everything still felt unreal and somehow she hadn't murdered everyone.
     Kamon gently shook the dragon. “Nolous, are you ready to wake up?” The wyvern didn't stir. It was fair, he could sleep as long as he needed as far as the scarlet-eyed wyvern
was concerned. However, his empty stomach didn't have that kind of patience, and reminded him of his situation. We're alive, and she's gone. If she wanted us dead, we would be... is the town ok? Could we go home? He knew where the next town over was, but it was days away, where he could get back to his town before nightfall. Whatever he did, he needed
to commit to an action soon, and he needed to take Nolous with him- the iridescent dragon's wing had stopped bleeding, but it and his rib needed to get looked at, as did his companion. After feeling for broken bones on his partner and finding none, he slowly shifted the still dragon onto his back, jaws clenching from the sting of his injuries. Years of physical work with the fishing crew had given him ample strength, which served him well as he began his long trek home.
     At first, he figured the unconscious dragon was soundly asleep, resting deeply to recover from the unreal encounter. As they approached the town and he remained just as motionless, he worried it was something else.
     When he finally arrived, several people rushed to him- they had thought he was dead, as well as everyone who went to the glen. They had heard roars from the Familiancer's hall and the world had warped. It all disappeared before the exorcists could see what happened- all that was left was an unconscious mage who had yet to wake, his familiars gone. They asked him what happened as they tended to their wounds, but he didn't want to talk about it.
     A few days later, all of the mages from the glen were recovered, with little in the way of physical injuries but none would wake. Nolous rested with them, his condition the same. Neither Caloi nor any of the other familiars could be found.
     A couple weeks past that, Kamon attended to Nolous and the other mages daily. He had been shown how to feed the unconscious people and spent his evenings doing so. He made sure to move Nolous around so his limbs wouldn't atrophy, since no one knew how long they would remain comatose. The hall keepers took care of the others similarly, but let him be responsible for the one- they figured it would be an act of kindness to give the wyvern some means to feel he could help his companion.
     After a month, the guild sent someone to investigate. The glen had lost all spiritual activity. She asked the only conscious survivor about what happened, and though he told her all he could in hopes she would be able to do something, she was left understanding little more than he did. She departed soon after.
     Some time beyond that, the guild sent an official leading a transport to take their affected members into their personal care. Kamon pleaded with her to take him with, offering both his knowledge of the event and his services as care giver in trade for just food and board. She accepted.
     By the coming spring, the guild had partnered with a couple others in researching the slumbering mage's condition. They made little progress.
     Kamon often spent his time reading books on sorcery and myths at his companion's bedside. He had little inclination to magic, but had no love for the bustling city surrounding the guild walls and felt there was nothing else left do that could help. At times, he'd stare at Nolous' still face, unsure why he was the only one she had spared.
     “Nolous, please... wake up.”


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