Book III Prologue
Kelan Flarion rode swiftly upon the back of his steed, a massive red talstag bull, his grand antlers inhabited by a small flock of songbirds hanging on for dear life. The beast ran gracefully down the stone path into the heart of the strange wood, gigantic flowers and blooms of all kinds taking the place of normal trees.
The Petalforest, as it had come to be known, was home to the common folk of Schalle, not only active Firestarters but their families and friends-- Aeneski, dryad, pixie and sprite, as well as even more unusual creatures of the wilds. They lived in harmony here, safe from the rest of the world, tucked away beneath their gargantuan garden.
"Ya! As fast as you can carry me, my friend-- go!"
But now, it was in danger-- a danger few of them would have ever imagined.
Desperate to bring its companion to his destination, the talstag leapt gracefully over a fallen trunk, flying through the forest like a spirit on the wind, causing several of the little birds to flit off for a moment, startled.
Elves, fae, and people of the earth stepped aside to give the Chapter passage, worry immediately spreading throughout the city people as he went.
Kelan did not often visit them with such haste and such fear in his eyes; their concerns grew as he came to a halt at last before the city hall-- a simple structure of magic-sculpted wood, seated beneath the stalk of a grand sunflower.
"My people, my friends... grave times are upon us, I fear."
The Flamekeeper gazed down at them all from atop his mighty steed, his birds coming to perch atop his gleaming green pauldrons or atop his head as he waited for the crowds to gather, for the people of the city to lean from their windows and doors to hear his words.
A small group of pixies buzzed over the crowd to sit atop the stag's hind end, gazing up at Kelan with bright, damp eyes.
Nodding his head slowly to them, he swallowed the lump in his throat and continued.
"As you no doubt have noticed in recent times, our flarions have vanished in great flocks. Some precious few still remain, and you must thank them with all of your hearts that they have done so.
"With things as they are now, however... Aenswynne is no longer safe, and I must urge you all to gather those dear to you and flee."
The shocked gasps and hushed whispers filled the air at once. Leave Aenswynne? What could bring about such a suggestion-- what could possibly endanger their sacred forest home? They had lived here for centuries, and few outsiders knew such a place could even exist, let alone where it was.
The very thought was preposterous!
Kelan closed his eyes for a moment to take a breath. This was no easier for him to say than for these people to consider, but too much was at stake to stall-- and time was of the essence!
"I know, my friends. I know. But I can't in good faith allow you to stay here without warning of things to come. The missing flarion have left of their own accord-- they mean to attack us, and they will surely come here first!"
At once, shock grew disbelief and anger. His people began to shout and yell at him, some turning to go back into their homes, others pushing forward to demand answers.
"Flarion, attacking the Petalforest? What's gotten into you?!"
"We love you, but how can we believe a thing like that?"
"Lord Flamekeeper, why? What's going on?!"
"That'll never happen! The flarion are our protectors-- your children!"
"Times are changing," hissed a voice from above.
Shining gold scales reflected the sunlight from atop the giant flowers-- three pairs of wings spread in display, high above the city. Two of the dragons were young, mere decades from the egg, and they dipped their heads and shrieked, heralding their commander's presence.
The people of Aenswynne grew silent, turning to stare at the three flarion looking down upon them.
Wyra Casarilinia lifted her feathery red crest. "Hello, granddaddy. You didn't waste a second in getting here, did you? That old deer of yours can move."
"Don't toy with me, Casarilinia-- it's unbecoming of a lady," Kelan said through clenched teeth. "What do you intend to do here?"
Kelan already knew the answer; he had known long before she had come to do her work, before his son had even given her permission to act.
He tightened his grip upon the reins as his talstag snorted, dipping its head and standing firm.
"Why... we're here to take back what belongs to the planet."
A single, female voice cut into the uneasy silence-- a confession of thoughts running through everyone's minds.
"The flarion have gone mad! Run for your lives!"
The city square exploded into chaos.
Far above, the three dragons drew deep breaths.
Next Chapter: Book III Chapter I
Category: Book III | Story