Take a seat with a cup of tea and enjoy the inside scoop.
“There, the mountains will give us cover,” Kalera said.
The winds were kind on their descend so there was no need for a shield, which overjoyed her. Unmasking allowed her to feel the wind on her face as a human does. Her face tingling in the breeze, but not for long.
To unmask is to lose the power of the veil and that’s not the worst of it. After planting his four feet on the ground, Cruor lowers his massive wing for Kalera to slide down.
For a few moments, she gazed upon the majestic mountains of Rhodes, once a bustling metropolis before the depletion of magma glass, one of the realm’s most important natural resources.
A growl from her stomach takes hold. She rubbed her right hand over the area near her pelvis as her stomach began to bubble. Putting one foot in front of the other, sweat began to seep from the pores of her head and face. Her eyes watered so she lifted her hands towards her mouth but it was too late. A burp escaped and with it yellow and green vomit. Instead of pins and needles, she felt as if spears were impaling her.
Cruor looked down upon her and then to the heavens. He let out a screech of freedom.
“No Cruor!” Kalera mumbled.
Though the seal allowed her to connect to him telepathically, without a bond she could not connect to his deeper thoughts. She could only hear what he wanted her to hear at that moment.
“Please. Don’t leave me here,” She said while trying to stand.
Kalera’s legs gave out and her face met the dirt.
“The crystal’s navigation took us off course. We must get to Ta’l before the third blue moon rises or we won’t have much time.” She said.
“Your powers have been flicked away. You can’t even cloak me. I may as well have some fun.” Cruor said.
“Cruor please. I have a Seer Stone which will cloak you and still allow the seal to work.”
“And the vileness seeping from you?”
“I’ll be fine,” Kalera said as she slowly stood to her feet.
But Kalera was far from fine. The illness could last longer or shorter than two moons. She didn’t have her Elementos dragons, and she had no way to control Cruor. Even though the Elementos would have become hatchlings without the veil, their powers would’ve remained in tack giving Kalera a shield from the elements of the realm. Without them, she’s nothing more than human. At least for a moon or two and hopefully not longer.
Cruor is not like the Elementos. His powers remain in tack and he remains a full adult dragon capable of destroying the Zaylen Realm if he wanted to. Destroying the realm is not her mission.
“We’re not here for fun,” She said after she retrieved the Seer Stone from her inner cloak.
The rays of the sun struck the stone which activated it. A small bight light radiates and then it expands surrounding both Kalera and Cruor.
“Hey. What are you doing back there?” A voice calls that is drowned by Kalera’s hacking and coughing.
Cruor opens his mouth. “A sweet treat.”
Kalera could see the silhouette of a man as she tried catching her breath.
The closer he got, the wider Cruor’s mouth opened. Losing her balance after pleading with Cruor, Kalera sat on the ground. Gazing upon her, the man removed his sword from his scabbard.
“Get up!” He orders.
Kalera raised her hand above her brows trying to block the spectrum of the sun.
“I won’t ask you again, slave!” He yelled.
“You’re about to be a dragon’s snack,” Kalera said.
“Ha. Ha. The sun must have fried your brain. There’re are no dragons. The Northmen killed them all. But you wouldn’t know that being a slave girl.” He said as he wiped the sweat from his burning forehead.
“Dam, I’m melting all of a sudden.” The man said.
The smoldering heat of Cruor’s breath had taken effect.
Again he orders Kalera up. This time he pointed his blade towards her throat nearly making contact with it. The blade began to quake and glow red so he immediately released it.
“What the f**k,” He whispers then he reached out, took Kalera by the arm, and violently removed her from the ground.
“Did you do that to my blade? Are you a Shellion?”
“First a slave, now a Shellion. Make up your mind and never touch me again.” She said and then coughs.
“What’s wrong with you? Do you have the plague?”
Kalera turned to look up at Cruor who had closed his mouth. She didn’t know why but all she could do was accept it.
“Do you have a mere?” she asked
“Answer my question. Do you have the plague?” He asked again.
Kalera knew she had to think of something quick.
“I ate a flash weed and it didn’t agree.”
“What house do you belong to? I bet I could fetch a good coin for you.”
I guess I’m a slave again.
Light comes to her mind. Her way to Ta’l presents itself. That’s of course if Cruor continued to behave.
“I belong to the Bolongs. To Lord Bolong’s Blood Shellion, Shereen.” Kalera said.
“I’m blessed by the … F**k the Gods. They curse us anyway. So you’re a handmaid. Shereen only keeps the best around to ease the storm of King Ager.” He said.
“Yes. A handmaid who needs to get back to Ta’l before the Bereft of Life Festival. Can you help me?”
“The road will be crowded with every kind of riffraff the realm has to offer especially this year with Shereen accepting applications for apprentices. She’s even opening it up to Dreds. Can you imagine, men born with dark magic interested in becoming a Shellion?”
“Can you get me there or not?”
“You will be more than worth my comfort. I’ll help you.”
“Good. Now let’s go.”
“I taste savory flesh beneath my tongue,” Cruor said.
“Hold your tongue. This is my ride. ” Kalera said hoping Cruor would follow without incident.
He takes to the sky. The shield absorbing the quake of the ginormous beast when he lifted from the ground.
A burning sensation rises from Kalera’s core into her desert mouth as she and the stranger made their way around the mountains and molehills to finally come upon his camp.
Bamba shelters lined a small section of the desert terrain. Some elders were attending to younglings while others roasted fresh kills. They communicated with their hands which Kalera found odd.
The elder attending to the meat suddenly blankets the flame, but Cruor’s nostrils awakened to the aroma and the sent wilded him. Kalera pleads but the beast approaches to devour the unexpecting nomads.
The weary Morph closes her hazel eyes and stepped in his path while clutching the Seer Stone.
Opening her eyes, she finds Cruor looking pon her. He lowered his head and looked into her eyes.
“You would die for these specs?” He asked.
“No. I would live for them,” Kalera said.
Cruor sniffed his queen, snarled, turned his body, and walked a distance as if he was a puppet. He was hungry and Kalera couldn’t stop him so why change course.
I would live for them. Why were those my thoughts and words?
Baffled, Kalera realizes that losing power and falling victim to the elements was worse than she remembers.
Her thoughts ceased with a high pitch whistling sound. From above male and female archers appeared atop the molehills. Even with impaired vision, she noticed pelts only covered their most vulnerable parts.
Attention back on the ground, the stranger is in front of her. He speaks but only his lips were moving. Kalera’s eyes became heavy before going dark.
Kalera jumped up to a sharp pain at the center of her head. She removed a wide pelt covering to see black stones surrounded her nakedness. She stood too quickly and stumbled when her fall was broken.
Looking into her helper’s face, she discovered he’s not the stranger she originally met. He was someone else with a familiar gaze.
“Where are my coverings and the man who brought me here?” She whispered.
“There,” He replied pointing to a small chest.
Slowly she put one foot in front of the other and made her way to the chest and opened it.
The man gazed upon her dark, oily, skin as she covered herself.
Kalera met his gaze. “I’m sure you’ve seen a naked woman before.”
“It has been a while and you’re welcome by the way.”
“You want a thank you. Where are my manners? Thank you.”
“I have you know my mother kept frozen stones a top you when the fever took hold, so yes a thank you.”
“How long ago was that?”
“It matters not.”
“How long?” Kalera commands.
Panic sat in as Kalera realized how much time had escaped her and she thought of Cruor. She felt for the seal and called out to Cruor but he was silent.
“I have to go. The man I came here with promised me that he would get me to Ta’l.”
“Tomas didn’t break his promise. By light, we will be near the Keep.”
“Tomas. And what may I call you?”
“Jessup I’m Kalera.”
“You’re quite more. You’re a Morph and the next time you decide to bring along a dragon, feed him first.”
Kalera’s eyes widened.
“You are mistaken.”
“No. I’m a Seer.”
She knew there was no lie that would convince him. Seers are Dreds, males born with dark magic from the light of their maker, the God called Daft.
“Yes. I’m a Morph.”
“Why are you here?”
“That’s no business of yours.”
“You are powerless at the moment so your thoughts are mine.”
“You wouldn’t dare. I will order my dragon to destroy you.”
“The one outside who refuses to answer you? I think not.”
Kalera exited the shelter to find Cruor a short distance away still shielded from all eyes except his.
“Those humans were caring for you.” He said.
“Why didn’t you respond to me?” She asked.
“I was busy. You were in good hands.”
Cruor had killed no one nor flown away. No one but Boilos tames him so why hadn’t he done what he was made for?
Jessup exited the shelter when Kalera noticed the humans speaking in Upar, the dragon’s tongue.
“Before, they were mute.”
“I had only warned them of what you are and what you brought with you.”
The archers, elders, and younglings were readying the meres to move out when Tomas returned.
“Good to see you feeling better, ” He said.
“Is the Keep full?” Jessup asked.
“There’s still space and you will be just in time to throw in a coin for the apprentice challenge,” Tomas said.
This was news to Kalera’s ears and her ticket to sharing the same space with Shereen. But until her powers return she could try her best to hide her thoughts or risk her mission by revealing to the Dred her plans. Decisions. Decisions.