Destrian’s head was reeling. This wasn’t the order of things! Atranoch’s, according to the teaching’s of their mother, didn’t just go around making friends with the creatures they wanted to eat! It just wasn’t done! But on the other hand, what she said made sense. He and his sister didn’t have any friends. Not one. Everything and everyone was terrified of them and ran, which in turn made them instinctively give chase. It was in their nature. Then here come along this little bit of a human girl telling them they could be friends! Looking at Anastas, he saw the longing in her dark brown eyes. He remembered as children out on their first hunting trip with their mother. They had run into a big fat hare and her five babies. Anastas was next in line to make her first kill. Instead of running after them, she stopped in front of them looking with tortured eyes at their mother.
“I don’t want to kill them, mother,” she whined, “can’t I bring them home to play with?”
Demetrias remembered laughing hysterically at her, earning him a glare and a cuff.
“It’s what we do, child,” their mother told her, “They have to die so that we can eat.”
“Well, I don’t have to eat them!” Anastas yelled, running home.
Maybe she was right, Demetrias thought, maybe they didn’t have to kill everything they saw.
“Fine,” he told the human girl who called herself Star. “we promise not to hurt you.”
Starlyn dazzled him with a smile and Demetrias felt his lips turn up in return. Their mother told them that humans were the worst creatures in Kilacomb besides the dragons and none should be spared. He was starting to question his mother’s wisdom after meeting this fascinating human. Her hair was something out of this world with its bright red color and he wanted to reach out and test a springy curl. Was it hot?
The human girl walked cautiously over to her horse who pawed the ground nervously at the presence of the Atranoch. Reaching inside of a leather bag, she pulled out a smaller pouch and dug around until she found what she was looking for. Walking back to Anastas, he saw it was a handful of leaves that she popped into her mouth, chewing vigorously. As he looked on, she spat the masticated mound into her hand and gently spread it over her wound.
“What is that?” he asked, not quite trusting her.
“It’s Yarrow leaves,” she told him, “They have properties that will speed up the healing process and dull the pain.” Turning to Anastas she said, “I’m so sorry I hurt you. But to be honest, you had it coming. I was only defending myself.”
Anastas, quiet up until now, smiled up at Starlyn gratefully. “It feels better already! Thank you. Is your hair hot?”
Starlyn was confused for a second until she realized how it must look to someone who’d never before encountered a redheaded creature. Laughing delightedly, she took Anasta’s hand and placed on top of
“See?” she told her, “It’s not fire, it’s just a color.”
Anastas touched the downy soft curls, coming closer still to smell them. They didn’t smell like ashes and smoke, but instead, the fragrant odor of chamomile filled her nostrils.
“How odd,” she exclaimed, “It looks like fire, yet smells like a flower.”
Starlyn laughed, “I crush up chamomile blossoms into crushed soapwort when I wash my hair. No big mystery. So, why are you two in the forest by yourselves?”
“We don’t have any family,” she told Starlyn, “Mother died few moons ago and we have just our little cave up on Hawk’s mountain. We hunt at night, and sleep during the day. This is the first time we’ve been out in the daytime.”
“So you’re both all alone? How awful!” Starlyn cried, “What will you do?”
As the words left her mouth, all hell broke loose. From out of the sky came the sound of the flapping of giant wings. A huge shadow covered them as Daelyn swooped down yelling for Star to stand back. Demetrias looked up to see the biggest dragon he’d ever seen heading straight for them, his terrible teeth bared.
Starlyn quickly stepped in front of the twin Atranoch, raising her hands beseechingly.
“Daelyn, no!” she screamed, “Stop!”
The huge dragon spun in midair, almost losing his balance as his beloved Star stepped between him and two creatures he thought for sure he’d never see again. Landing clumsily, he stared at them with unbelieving eyes. What was Starlyn doing with those abominations?
“Star!” he ordered, “Step away from them right now!”
Standing her ground, she stubbornly refused to move an inch. Her green eyes, smokey and full of heat, she glared at her adopted brother.
“Stay back, Dae, this doesn’t concern you,” she ground out, “These are the last two creatures of their kind and they’re my friends. You will not touch them.”
Looking at her in astonishment, Daelyn couldn’t believe what his young charge was saying. After all she’d been through and the scars she bared, Starlyn wanted to protect them? Angered beyond control, Daelyn roared unlike Starlyn had ever heard him do and in one bound he grabbed the young male in his powerful jaws. Shaking him like a rag doll, the audible, sickening snap of a broken neck made Anastas and Starlyn scream in horror.
“Daelyn! What have you done?” Starlyn screamed, “I hate you!”
With that, she grabbed Anastas by the hand and together they leaped up on Rane, disappearing into the forest. Daelyn stood with his chest heaving from the force of his rage, his breath coming in great, ragged gasps. For the first time since the child was an infant, he wanted to thrash her soundly. Scraping at the soft, loamy soil with his sharp talons in frustration, he looked at the dead Atranoch in disgust. It seemed as if every bad thing that had ever happened to him was because of these foul beasts! He hated them! He had a feeling he knew where Star was heading. to her secret cave across the meadow and half way up Shadowmire Mountain. He’d followed her there many times, unbeknownst to her. He let her have her little hideaway, never revealing to anyone her little secret. Looking down, he kicked at the male Atranoch in anger before ascending with a great flap of his wings.
Starlyn could feel Anasta’s sobbing body behind hers as the beast mourned her brother. Starlyn was seething with shock and anger at her lifelong friend’s heartless execution of a another living creature. how dare he, she thought angrily. Who was he to decide who lived and died? Knowing that he knew where her thinking place was, she waited to change direction until she absolutely certain she wasn’t being followed. He thought he was so clever, she thought, but she’d show him who was the smarter one.
“Was that a dragon?” Anastas asked fearfully after her sobbing subsided, “mother told us to never let a dragon see us. We didn’t listen and now my twin brother is dead! He knew you, Star! Why did he know you?”
Stroking Rane’s long, silvery mane, Starlyn wondered if she should tell the grieving Atranoch of her true identity. She decided to be truthful. If caught in a lie now, it would break what little trust they had.
“I was found as an infant in a burning, Chimarian village by the dragons, Anastas,” she revealed, “They cared for me like I was born to them and even named me. They found me under my dead mother after seeing smoke from the fire a distance away.”
“What happened?” Anastas asked, “Why was it on fire?”
“Because your kind, the Atranoch, slaughtered every single living person in my village, including my mother, father and a sister,” she said softly, hearing her gasp from the impact of her words. “Daelyn, the one who killed your brother, pulled me out from under my dead mother after hearing me whimper. He saved me.”
“Are you saying that my people murdered yours?” Anastas asked, “Why? They must have done something to make them angry, right?”
“No,” Starlyn answered, “the Chimirian’s were a peace loving people. Hunters and gatherers. They kept to themselves and bothered no one.”
Starlyn stopped the horse, sliding down so she could walk in front of Rane. Her destination, a shady grove of weeping willows, lay just up ahead. The long, sinewy branches of the tree provided shade, privacy and a feeling of peacefulness. She led Rane under the branches,tied her to a thin sapling and helped Anastas dismount.
“We should be safe here for a little bit,” she told her, smiling, “I come here all the time. Daelyn thinks that he knows all of my little secrets, but I still have a trick or two up my sleeve.”
They sat with their backs against the sturdy Willow, thinking about the day’s events as Anastas mourned her twin. He was all she had left in the whole world and now he was gone. The Atranoch thought about all the warnings her mother gave them about humans and dragons, but she was only half right. Anastas really liked the strange looking human with the hypnotic eyes and fire hair. Skilled as a warrior yet as gentle as a lamb. Fights for her life then saves the enemy. What a strange concept, she thought. Glancing over at the human enigma, she saw droplets of moisture seeping from beneath the strange one’s eyelashes. Instinctively she knew that each drop of water signified sadness.
“Do not be sad, my friend,” Anastas begged, “my mother always said that everything happens for a reason.”
“Perhaps,” Starlyn answered softly, “But I don’t think taking a life is supposed to be one of those reasons. I wish the leader of your people, the Atranoch, had not been so eager to kills the Chimerians. It started a war that can never be settled peacefully. You are the very last of your kind, Anastas. When you die, you will take with you a whole species. It’s funny, but in a way, you and I are alike in that we are both victims of circumstance. We didn’t choose this! It was not our war! But here we are, just the same.”
“Well, well, what do we have here?” a deep, masculine voice asked.
© 2016, RissRyker518. All rights reserved.
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