The sun barely held in the sky. It had nearly been swallowed by the “Unknown Lands” to the west, as it was each and every night. The colors were beautiful. Thin white clouds moved quickly around the multi-colored sky to the north. A chill was in the dusk air. It moved with more force than usual, bending the smaller trees like a bow after letting loose an arrow.
Grace Tallon watched from the western edge of Dragon Lake. The usually calm waters were choppy tonight. The edges of the lake slapped along the stones and pebbles on the short sandy beach just behind Grace. She was once again wearing her customary Elven garb: green knee-length skirt, belt just below her chest, and dark black cloth sleeves. She wore matching knee-high boots and protective bracers over her forearms. Most importantly, she had her arrow pack and bow slung over her shoulder and rested her hand upon the hilt of her sword at her side.
Though the night was blustery, Grace was very calm. She invited the winds through her white flowing hair. The air brushed across her cheeks. She inhaled deeply and looked to the sky. The silhouette of a dragon flew overhead. It darted between the clouds, treating them like an obstacle course. Grace smiled.
She removed a small glass square from her side pocket and angled it to refract the remaining sunlight skyward. Monitoring from below, she signaled to the dragon. A bellow cascaded down to her ears. While she placed the glass back into her pocket, the dragon landed with a raucous thud. It opened its mouth wide enough for Grace to easily fit within. She grabbed hold of the largest tooth and heaved upward. The dragon held still until she patted its tongue with her boot. The overzealous beast snapped its mouth shut and leapt into the night sky; its wings clipped the tops of a few nearby trees.
* * * * *
Adair Village rested quietly in the night along the shore of Omega Blue. It had long been neglected under the kingship of Cragon Cadieux, yet restored to its former glory as a fishing village under Queen Merran. These elves once again felt gratitude to the Cadieux family.
The houses were small, more like huts, with some held up on stilts the closer they sat to the ocean. Omega Blue was known to sometimes come ashore to play in the fields and ransack the villagers’ homes. Those living in Adair accepted their plight as a tradeoff with the ocean which provided them with plentiful supplies of food. Though it was just past dusk, the village was quiet. All, except a few in the village pub, were already sleeping. It was customary for these elves to awaken with the dawn, or even before, to start their daily chores.
A single elf walked among the huts heading toward Omega Blue, wearing a long black cloak, hooded and slender. The figure moved lithely upon the ground, nearly hoovering. Its arms resting in front, hands tucked inside the oversized sleeves. The cloak bore no decoration or color. Even in the sunlight, it would be difficult to determine who was beneath. The elf left the village and headed straight for the shoreline but turned at the last moment and hid within the tall brush. Beyond this point was sand and small patches of grass that led to the water.
The waves from Omega Blue rushed up to the shore, accepting treasures from the villagers. It was customary that they would offer penance to the sea to keep her at bay. They would leave food, clothing, and even woodworks on the shore. Omega would rise up onto the shore and retrieve the gifts each day. She returned or denied those that she did not want and was even known to give back to the villagers by depositing fish or shells that they could eat or use.
The elf waited by the shore, watching. A rhythmic noise entered his ears. It did not match the pattern of the waves. He moved to one knee and peered through the brush. A large dragon landed in the sand. The elf stood as the dragon’s mouth opened revealing something inside. The object within moved. The hooded elf pulled back his robe at the waist to reveal a sword.
The dragon moved toward the water, then spun around and laid in the sand, nestling its tail between its legs. Closing its eyes, the dragon yawned, letting out a snort before resting its head upon its forearms. The object that had walked from the dragon’s mouth turned, its back to the moon, face completely in shadow.
The hooded elf moved toward the shore.
“Grace?” His voice called.
Once closer the hooded elf revealed himself.
“Javid. What news do you have, brother?”
* * * * *
Lura found it almost impossible to sleep tonight. She paced about her room mulling over her conversation with Commander Tallon. ‘That is the question’. Was the commander’s reply. Oh, I can’t believe I asked it, ‘How do they return?’ That was stupid. I am not cut out for this.
She wondered why she hadn’t been told that Grace was a telepath. Surely, someone before me had discovered that. Hadn’t they? And if so, why didn’t Commander Kaval or Queen Kraylan inform me before I arrived. I could have blown everything just by thinking something at the wrong time.
Lura was mad at herself for being so foolish, frustrated with Atom for not telling her everything, and confounded at Grace for being so cruel. Commander Tallon is playing with me like I’m a child. She knows what information I need… Lura’s face showed her deepest thought and her sudden fear.
“She knows why I’m here!”
* * * * *
Grace and Javid Tallon walked along the shore. The siblings looked over their shoulders periodically checking to see if they had been spotted. Javid had summoned his sister to Adair Village, the outpost to which he had been relegated. He was surely not enthralled at this appointment, but it did have some positive aspects; the villagers treated him like royalty as Grace Tallon’s brother, and he didn’t have to see her with any regularity.
They had attempted to make amends after the Last Emerald had been destroyed and Cragon Cadieux dethroned, but Grace had refused to forgive him for his role in the fall of Cadieux Castle. He didn’t blame her but could do without all the pointed remarks and constant supervision. He just wanted to prove to her that he was trustworthy. Grace provided him with the only thing he requested, an opportunity to win back her trust. She finally decided to send him to protect Adair Village. Giving them both space to allow for things to work themselves out.
There had not been any true threats to the village during his tenure; however, Omega Blue had attacked on a few occasions. There really wasn’t anything he could do about that. He tried to keep his powers as a sorcerer to himself, only practicing them on nights like this when no one was around. He felt that he needed to stay sharp. Sorcery would be useful in the proper situation. He had actually attempted to fend off the ocean during its first attack but quickly realized that was out of his realm. He ended up getting dragged out with the riptide and bounced around between rocks like a pinball. He awoke the following morning buried up to his neck in the sand.
“Why have you summoned me here, Javid? It had better be worth the trip inside that beast’s slimy mouth. Traveling by dragon is not my favorite mode of transportation.”
“I apologize, sister.” He struggled to hold back a smile. It surprised him how much that hurt. He continued as Grace found something in her hair that had transferred during her time in the dragon’s mouth. She held it out to show him. “Yes, that is...”
Javid’s smirk grew. “Yes. You know you could not be seen traveling here, Grace.” Javid reminded her as to why she was inside the dragon’s mouth and not riding on top as usual.
She took a calming breath. “Continue.”
They stopped a good distance down the shoreline standing side by side. Javid was considerably taller. His wild dark hair flapped about with the wind as though it were dancing to music.
“Grace, it has come to my attention that Keegan Castle has sent yet another ambassador.”
“That is true and better not be why you called me here,” she scolded, wagging her finger at him.
Javid waved his hand back. “Well, Commander,” he said with obvious sarcasm. “It is something to consider. You haven’t changed your ambassador in twenty-five years. Why would Queen Kraylan continue to switch hers?” There was an intensity in his blue eyes. Javid was concerned.
“The answer is quite simple, brother.” She folded her arms defensively. “They are gathering information.”
“Yes, they are…wait! You know?” He scowled his thick dark eyebrows in frustration.
“Yes, Javid. I am not ignorant. In fact, I just had a conversation with our newest appointee tonight. Her name is Lura Skurk. I treated her to supper with Queen Merran. She was so nervous. It was quite entertaining.” Grace smiled while attempting to keep her stark white hair from blowing into her face.
“You are tormenting her then are you?” Javid turned his back and walked toward the dragon. “You know she’s a telepath.”
“What?” Grace dashed after her brother. She closed the gap between them quickly and grabbed him by the arm before spinning him around. “She’s a telepath? Queen Kraylan sent a mind speaker into my castle?”
“Yes. Yes, she did. That is what our ambassador in Keegan Castle informed me of just today.”
“You are in contact with Warrior Anza?” Grace seemed impressed. Her brother nodded in reply while raising an eyebrow and curling his lip. He had always annoyed her with that smug expression, yet this time she didn’t want to fire an arrow into his forehead. “Alright, I have to admit it. I’m impressed. You have done well, Javid. This trip wasn’t a waste.”
Javid stood tall with his arms folded, beaming with pride and arrogance. He suddenly realized that Grace had walked away and quickly approached her dragon, which snored in the sand.
“How are you going to handle this?” Javid questioned as he ran to catch up with her. His wild black hair flowed atop his narrow head like the waves of Omega Blue. “She isn’t going to just tell you she’s a telepath.”
“No, I don’t believe that she will purposefully. I am going to use this to my advantage. She was obviously sent to uncover something.” Grace gently rubbed under the dragon’s chin. It snorted and opened its eyes. Grace turned back toward her brother as the dragon got back to its feet, kicking sand about the beach.
“What do you think Queen Kraylan is after?”
Grace stepped inside the dragon’s open mouth. She leaned out while holding on to a tooth. “I assume she wants to know our most important secret. The location of the Mystical Mirror.”
She moved inside and the dragon clinched its mouth closed and took off. Sand sprayed across Javid’s face and down his cloak. He angrily brushed himself off and replaced his hood over the top of his head; then he made his way back to Adair Village.
MYSTICAL MIRROR - (A LAND OF MISTASIA NOVEL) WILL BE RELEASED ON JUNE 21, 2016
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