five

The glowing eyes stared back at them from the darkness as both boys kept their gaze fixed on the mass of dark fur and teeth that blocked their way.

The wolf looked hungry.  it took a step forward and emitted another low growl bearing even more of its sharp flesh ripping incisors.

Weylan reached behind him and blocked Talis on either side, keeping his friend behind him as much as possible. Talis reached for his ring.  Fear beating through his pounding heart.  

“I’ll use my ring.”

“No. Stay still. I think its more afraid of us. “ weylan replied and the wolf seemed to respond by jumping forward with a loud bark and a snapping of the jaws that didn’t quite reach where the boys stood frozen.

Talis put a hand on Weylan’s shoulder to steady both his shaking body and nerves.

Attempting to clear his mind the way he had been told, he tried to imagine something fierce and menacing. His ears pounded with the sound of his hearbeat making it difficult to clearly see every detail of his mental creation. But as the Wolf barked again making even Weylan flinch and attempt to back away, he knew he was out of time.  

Talis called on the powers of the ring and sent his image forward, he felt a terrible horrible swirling around them and opened his eyes to see the half formed creature from his mind coalescing in front of them.  

It was twice as big as either of them, its body a crude mixture of dark clawed limbs and swirling formless smoke. Talis willed it to become more solid. Its eyes glowed a hideous red and its growl a deep earth moving bass. If he hadnt known talis was using his ring Weylan would have been more frightened.  As it was, he stood his ground between the wolf and his friend.  

The creation lumbered forward and swiped at the wolf. The wolf dodged the attack and tried to leap at the boys but the creation moved too fast and caused the wolf to dart to the side at the last moment. It turned as it landed and launched itself directly at the swirling smoke, sailing cleanly through the creature.

With a wide sweeping motion the creation brought its great arms down where the wolf was turning around to attack again.  

Weylan stood watching in horror as the smokey monstrosity dissipated leaving only the smoky tendrils of the forrest mists to swirl around their feet and no sign of the wolf.

He held still, every sense alert to the threatening silence not knowing where the animal had gone.  Heart slowed as the danger had appeared to pass.  Only then did he notice the heaviness of Talis’ weight against his back.

“I don’t see it anymore, I think you scared it away.” He said to his friend but received no answer. “Talis?”

Weylan took a step forward expecting Talis to take his own weight but he began to fall as soon as the support was removed.  Weylan caught him and lowered him to the ground and checked his breathing. “Talis! Talis, are you alright?” The breath was there.

“Talis wake up!” But there was no movement, just steady breathing and a complete lack of consciousness.

Weylan struggled for a moment but was able to lift his friend over his shoulder, making sure to take thr ring from his hand so it wasn’t lost.

Arriving back at the crest that circled the valley before decending gently to the valley floor , Weylan worried that it was well after moonfall.  He could see the slowly rocking lamp swaying in the distance as Chirranna walked along the path toward them calling their names. Hoisting Talis back higher up on his shoulders he traveled as quickly and carefully as he could. Chiranna met him at the foot of the path.

“What in the name of Sasan happened?!” Chiranna asked in alarm as she rushed to Weylan’s side. Checking Weylan over for any sign of injury.

“Wolf.. Talis tried to scare it off.” He managed through labored breaths.  

“He seems alright, breathing is steady. Are you able to carry him back to the cottage?”

Weylan chuffed. “He’s as heavy as a ewe at slaughter.” He attempted a smile that was lost on the woman in the dim lamp light.  “Slow going yet. but I’ll manage.”

“We best be getting on, you can tell me what happened on the way.”

*****

Radek hovered over the valley on the back of WindSpinner. He reached out to pat the dragons neck. The scene below reminding him only how urgent his mission had become. The boy was strong but not ready, too willing to commit all of himself, too rash.

The End

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