Chapter 13.1Mature

Beth felt Storm lift her up a little as he walked over to his dinosaur. It squawked loudly and looked at her suspiciously. Storm spoke to it in the language that Beth didn’t know. It growled, but stopped when Storm snapped at it. After a moment’s hesitation, it stooped down and spread its wings flat.

“He will accept you,” Storm said simply before placing her on its back. “Be careful though; he has boundaries.”

“That language,” Beth started as she gently touched the animal’s leather skin, “what is it?”

Storm was quiet for a moment, going over to Thail and murmuring to her. The Sarmiine seemed to nod and started to run out of the forest.

“It is the tongue of my ancient people,” he said as he turned around. “This land, this forest, was once full of my kind. We lived at peace with the animals and the trees, taking no more than we needed. We maintained balance between prey and predator. Not even Fate and Destiny have control here.”

“And now?”

“Now I am the last one of this line and my race will die with me.”

“But, are there no others at all?” Beth asked.

“There are those who live to the north, and the west, but no, none of these trees.”

“I’m... sorry, that’s so sad.”

“Pity will not undo the slaughter that befell my family,” he said, his tone sharp.

“What happened?” she asked, unsure of whether he would answer.

“They were murdered. The invaders wanted this land as their own. At first they came bearing gifts. They made us trust them, but then the butchery began. They started with the newborn, and the elderly.”

Beth gasped in horror. “What invaders were these?”

“They were of the morag. Rogues, tearaways, mercenaries, you name it. They came for the spring. Now, we really must be getting back.”

Beth knew that that meant they were not continuing this line of conversation. She simply nodded. She saw something flit across his face, and could have sworn it was relief but it passed too quickly.

Storm climbed on the creature behind her. His body was almost completely against hers and she wasn’t sure how she felt about it. She felt his warm breath on her shoulder and suppressed a shiver.

“Ready?” he asked quietly.

She nodded. She heard his whistle and then felt only a rush of cold air blasting across her skin. Her fingers curled into the leathery skin of the creature.

Storm reached around and took her wrists.

“Don’t; he’ll drop us,” he said into her ear.

She clutched at the fabric of her dress instead. She risked a glance down to the ground and instantly squeezed her eyes shut. They were so high that the forest just looked like a dark green stain on the ground.

“Are you okay?” he asked her.

She nodded vigorously, her eyes still tightly closed.

The End

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