Saturday, July 23, 2016

Isle of Mystery - A Farloft Youngling Tale - Chapter 1

“Are you listening to me?” Farloft’s father asked.

The youngling dragon snapped back from his thoughts of fun in the snow with his friends, to his father’s slightly irritated tone. “Yes, Dad,” he said, as he came to his feet and ruffled his wings in order to wake up and get his mind back on the lesson.

“You need to pay attention,” Mandrake lectured. “You have to concentrate.” His father shook his wedged head and started to turn away. “Maybe it’s too soon.”

“No!” Farloft shouted. He bound around his father to stop him. “I really want to learn how to ‘jump,’ it’s just that Nillit found an abandon human’s sleigh and the rest of the gang helped fly it up to the glacier and they are going to sled today and I was thinking about that and…” his voice trailed off as his father looked down his muzzle at him in total disapproval.

“What kind of dangerous folly is that?” his father growled. “Careening down a glacier in a beat up human sleigh. You could break a wing, or worst, your neck. How many times do I have to tell you…” His lecture stopped abruptly. The youngling really was not ready to learn how to ‘jump’ through time and space. He was too irresponsible.


Farloft knew the instant he used the excuse that he should have thought of anything else to tell his father other than the truth. They all had been warned against playing on the glacier. ‘Uncontrolled slides broke wings’ and that was one thing you didn’t want to do as a dragon, break a wing. Broken wings sometimes did not heal correctly and a flightless dragon was like not being a dragon at all.

Mandrake started to walk away. “We’ll continue this later, when you show me you are responsible enough to learn the technique properly.”

“Please father,” Farloft ran ahead and stood in the path of his retreating father. He hung his head in submission. “I really want to learn.” He looked up, his golden eyes catching the light from the sun behind his reluctant parent. He smiled, “and it will keep me off the slopes,” he offered.

Mandrake’s eyes narrowed to slits. His son knew how to play him. He was a push over for those golden eyes of his and that silly toothy grin. “Alright, but if I see your mind wander again, we are done for the day.”

“Yes!” Farloft raised a wing for a bump and his father lovingly obliged with a nudge of his much larger one.

The young dragon bound around the much larger green dragon in excitement. He really did want to learn. ‘Jumping’ was supposed to be one of the unique abilities of his clan. Being able to fold time and space in order to transport yourself from one place to another instantly was the dream of all younglings in his clan.

“All right,” his father intoned. “Calm down.” He headed back toward the edge of the cliff. “Now sit down and listen to me carefully.”

Farloft sat down on his haunches and looked expectantly up at his father. His father was his hero. He was one of the five elders of the clan and hence one of the most experienced and well respected dragons in their tight little society. Other fathers and mothers entrusted their sons and daughters to Mandrake to teach them ‘jumping.’ He was a master at it. There were tales told around the fire at night about how his father had once ‘jumped’ to other continents on their world and met other dragon clans and humans alike. Some of his stories of what he had seen and done as a youngling were the stuff of legends. Farloft wanted to be just like him.

Mandrake draped a wing over his son’s shoulder. The young dragon seemed to lean into his father. It made the older dragon smile. Farloft was his middle offspring. He had one older son and a younger daughter. His eldest was off exploring, as all younglings did when they reached a certain age. Some came back to mate and settle here with the clan. Others found homes elsewhere with other clans or some strong individuals started their own clan. Mandrake felt his eldest was one of the later. He thought Dragdal would establish his own clan. He liked being his own boss and was always headstrong. A difficult child, but an extremely intelligent dragon who needed room to grow.

Airlit was his only daughter and like her name she was a gentle and sweet sole, but a bit rebellious even at her young age. Mandrake left her schooling to his mate and would only step in when the two of them butted heads.

In truth, he had to admit that all his offspring were a bit headstrong and likely to go off like a hummingbird on a large dose of nectar at the slightest provocation, but he loved each and every one of them with all his massive heart could give.

“All right,” he started again, “tell me the steps and we will see if you were really listening to the lesson.”

Farloft looked up at his Dad. “We take off. I follow you to the second level air currents.”

“Which you locate how?” Mandake asked.

“By the temperature,” Farloft answered.

“Good, go on,” Mandrake encouraged, “and keep in mind where we are ‘jumping’ to.”

“At the top of the second level just as it bleeds into the third, we turn, tuck wing and dive…”

“Doing what?” Mandrake squeezed Farloft’s shoulder with his wing.

“Thinking of our destination, the peak of Shattered Mount.”

“Picturing it as well as thinking of it,” Mandrake corrected. “I can’t emphasis that enough.”

“Yes, picturing the peak.” Farloft was getting excited now. He was going to ‘jump’ today. For the first time he would feel the crispness and clarity of ‘jumping’ that all the elders talked about with such awe, even if they had done it hundreds of times before. “Then when we reach the bottom of the second level, we take a deep breath, still picturing the mount, exhale with a burst of fire, pop our wings open, and it happens. We have jumped to Shattered Mount.”

Farloft grinned up at his father.

Mandrake gave his son’s shoulder one more squeeze. “I think you are ready.” The older dragon looked off toward the west. There was a storm lining up over the far ridge. He stuck his muzzle up in the air and breathed in. It was coming, but they had plenty of time. “We should go.” He rose to his feet and dropped off the cliff to start the climb for his son’s first ‘jump.’



*****

Father and son had been climbing for several minutes. The younger dragon trying his best to keep pace with his much larger elder. Farloft needed to give two wing strokes to each of the single strokes of his father’s massive wings. He felt the air temperature cool and knew instinctively that they had reached the second level. His father hovered for a moment doing lazy strokes in order to let his son catch his breath.

“Feel the change?” he asked.

“Yes, Sir.” The dragons had their own internal temperature control which allowed them to regulate without being affected by their surroundings.

“I will let you tell me when we reach the third.” Mandrake pumped his wings forcefully downward and shot up away from his son.

Farloft followed. His nostrils flared as he tried to inhale more of the thinning air. His chest filled allowing him to float higher almost as though he were lighter than air. Flying became easier the higher he went. He could see his father up above him, still gaining height, but he could also feel the temperature drop again. They had hit the third level.

“Here, Father,” he called.

Mandrake turned and glided down to his son who hovered at the correct level. “Good,” he complimented “very good. Now picture the peak. Don’t let it waver from your mind and when you have it solidly in your thoughts, DIVE!”

Farloft took a deep breath. He could visualize the peak in all its detail easily. He had physically flown to it many times in the past. He had a fleeting thought of how surprised his friends would be when they saw them appear over the peak from their place on the glacier, but he quickly shook those thoughts from his mind. ‘The peak.’ Keep your mind on the peak.

Mandrake saw the concentrated look in his son’s golden eyes as he flipped away, tucked his wings and started to dive. “See you at the peak,” the older dragon said, as he tucked his wings and followed his son.

*****

The air rushed past Farloft so fast it rippled his scales. With his second eyelids closed the speed made it necessary for him to duck his head in order to breath.

At the edge of the second level, just as the air started to change temperature, with the peak firmly planted in his mind, he inhaled, shot a burst of fire, and popped his wings open. That was when it all went wrong. A gust of wind from the approaching storm caught the tip of his right wing. His mind felt the change and instantly his mind shifted from the peak to the image of an approaching storm. Without warning Farloft found himself struggling to keep upright in the violent storm his ‘jump’ had shifted him to. Rain and hail pelted his body like bullets. The sky was full of debris, dirt, grass, twigs, branches. He swooped and swirled with the current.

He was hit by a stronger blast as the funnel cloud descended on him. It grabbed at his wings and flung him into its massive body. He flailed at the air with wings too weak and small to drag him out of the gray/black mass that had swallowed him. Out of the driving gale came a projectile of an uprooted tree. Farloft had no time to avoid it. The funnel flung it at him. He felt the impact, the breaking of bone, but he couldn’t hear the cracking or the bellow of his pain over the roar of the wind.

His body tumbled helplessly without direction now, as the funnel cloud moved on. Eventually, it spit him out, along with the rest of the debris, and moved on.

He lay unmoving for what seemed like hours, but was probably only minutes as the last of the rain and hail passed and the sky turned to nothing but a dull grayish green. The aftermath of the storm. He lifted his head slowly from the mud. He hurt all over. His right wing was tangled under him and when he went to rise, he realized with horror that it was broken. He was in excruciating pain as he tried to fold it and tuck it to his side. In fact, it wouldn’t obey either order. It just hung useless at his side.

He looked around, trying to get his bearings. He realized he didn’t recognize where he was. This was a flat plain. There was no sign of Shattered Mount off in the distance. The lair of the clan was not anywhere to be seen. This was totally foreign territory. It was bleak, featureless, with no sign of food, water or inhabitants. Where was he? And how the hell would be get back home with a broken wing?


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