Moonbeams

The light of the flames sent streams of gold and streaks of black around the camp, dancing in the eyes of the people about it. Laughter mixed with the mirth of song, a happy, high-strung melody playing loud and merry in the silence of the night. The heavy smells of smoke and alcohol mixed with the aroma of a boar roasting above the great fire pit, it's skin shinning with seasonings and grease. Tucked deep within the gloom of the woods, I was a shadow as I mingled with the my long time companions-a caravan of traders, known as gypsies by wary village people. Times were uncertain, and many believed we were thieves, witches, and murderers lingering about their villages. Many had shunned us, so times were hard in our business of selling trinkets and things.

Drifters and travelers who dared joined our group for brief stays with us, livened up our little celebration-the boar causing it all. It would give us a feast, a rare thing now-a-days. From the corner of my eye, I noticed an elderly man hanging about, obscure in the night. His glittering eyes were locked onto me, making me meet his gaze. He was a stranger, clothed in a thick, heavy cloak, his withered hands clawed about his staff eagerly. The look of his eyes made me shudder and turn away-he had an aura of magic.

My cousin, Dedril, snatched my hands, making me jump, and pulling me into a circle of twirling dancers about the fire. I laughed, his long, shaggy hair half covering his eyes as he turned me round and round, my colorful skirts spinning about my legs. Dizzied, I stumbled about for a moment as he ceased, his emerald eyes set like jewels in his rugged face unusually serious and stony. He brought his lips close to my ear, his hair brushing my cheek, "Arien, do you see that old man?" his voice was so incredibly quiet.

"Yes...," I began, my eyes turning to the old man I had seen before. His eyes met my own, making me turn away from him.

"Do you have an idea of who he may be?"

I furrowed my brow, pulling away from him, "No-why?"

Dedril pivoted on his heel so that he may look at the elderly man in full. The stranger returned a harsh gaze and strode away into the shadows. Without saying anything, Dedril strode briskly away from me, following the stranger with determination in his step.

"Where are you going!" I hissed, grabbing his arm. Something mischeivious that would turn out terrible was in his mind, I knew it.

He shook me away and grumbled something, his hand on the hilt of the sword at his side, trotting off.

I watched him melt into the darkness after that man. I sighed, looking about uneasily as I began to weave my way through the dancers and into the woods after them. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the murk of the night, as I slipped silently through the bushes and about the trees. I could hear Dedril's heavy footsteps ahead of me, crushing the leaves and branches beneath his feet.

When I had finally caught up to him, I brushed aside a branch out of my vision and looked sleathily into a small clearing, an ancient decapitated stump in the center, rays of moonlight beaming onto it. The old man was perched on top of it like an anciet owl, his heavy cloak drifting about his crooked figure. Dedril held his sword high, glinting silver in the faint light. "...you have caused enough trouble, Old One." he declared, advancing on the stranger.

"I!" he croaked. "I! I was not the one who trespassed and stole." He pointed a wavering, bent finger at Dedril. "You shall pay for what you have done-give me it back or I shall take it along with you!"

"I defy you, Demon!" cried Dedril in response, charging the old man, his sword held high.

He laughed, a rusty, broken sound that sent shivers down my spine. "Wait-!" I leapt from the bushes, my palms up. Magic swam through my veins, and as a result, silver, ghostly butterflies flew from my fingers lingering around my face. That had never happened before. All paused, myself included, and looked at me curiously.

Yet the old man's eyes then widened in terror suddenly.  "You!" he declared in an accusing, disgusted tone. "You shall d-!"

 "You shall leave her alone!" boomed Dedril, drawing his attention back to him.

  "Ah, you." he squinted his eyes. "I shall deal with you now."

  He raised his own hands to the sky, and a change in the air making me shudder. "No!" I gasped, running to Dedril. I was too late, wind hurled me back into the bushes, my hair masking my eyes. My dress was tangles in thorns, cutting through the fabric and at my skin. I ripped the thorns off of me and stood.  I was alone in the clearing, the breeze shifted eerily. The moon beams glittered as they lazily fell onto the stump, where something shone like starlight.

   "Dedril!" I called desperatly, whirling around. "Dedril!" my voice wavered. Gulping, I walked slowly to the stump, finding a small, flat silvery gem that was nearly translusent laying in the perfect center. My fingers trembled,  brushing it as I went to grab it. A blood from a fresh cut on my hand streaked across it. I gasped, pulling my hand back; the tips of my fingers tingled extraordinarily, nearly becoming numb.

   With wide eyes I watched as the stone melted into the air, mingling with the moonlight. It appeared like silver liquid, shinning most brilliantly. It floated gently on the breeze towards me, and I felt like retracting, but was frozen in my place. My heart beat frantically as it materialized on my left thumb as a simple, silver ring. I gazed at it, I couldn't turn my eyes away.

  I pulled at the ring, attempting to take it off. It was stuck. Swallowing, I yanked my glance away from it and looked about. Gone! Dedril's gone!

   My blood burning angrily, I looked back at the ring. Perhaps this would help me find this terrible man, and save Dedril. A ghostly, peculiar butterfly fluttered over and sat on my shoulder, it's mystical wings sparkling in the moonbeams. What had just happened?

  

The End

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