A minute before, the cliff had exploded in front of them in a shower of debris and dust. The fairy, Misty Morningdew, swirled around him like a buzzing fly, her wings beating softly in the aftermath of the explosion that had rocked the cliffside. A large oak was threatening to follow its foundations over the side, its roots struggling to keep it upright, but slowly losing the battle.
They stood at the lip of the cliff, looking down into the Valley of Life. Malken Armenstad watched in stunned silence. There were no words for the magic he saw before him. His cape billowed in the wind. His horse whinnied and he patted it to calm its nerves. He adjusted the bracelet that was locked on his wrist. The fairy adjusted to his movements making sure the collar around her neck wasn’t too tight.
The chain that bound the two together was no longer any trouble. The chain was like an extra arm now. Where one moved, the other complemented. They flowed together like wind over land.
He paid the fairy no mind and he took a moment to check his weapons. His sword was untied, and his pistol rested loosely in its holster. There was no telling what could attack him at any moment. What he saw below was total chaos. Whatever city rested in the crevice of the valley below now lay in utter ruin. A long line of people made its way out of The City, through the very gates of the gigantic castle.
Plumes of smoke were rising into the sky, fires were spreading from building to building like sparks through dry timber, and the very air smelled like burning hair. All throughout The City, its byways and waterways were overfilling. He couldn’t help but notice the carnage that was happening to the east of The City. Whatever had caused the wall to go up, it had surely left those trapped on the other side to a horrible fate.
He could smell the blood from this height. He was usually thankful for his sharp senses, but today was not such a day. The glow emanated by the fairy drew close, sharply exaggerating his features even in the light of the bright sun.
“This could be a place we could find a place in,” came her sweet voice. If it had not been for his acute hearing, he would not have heard her words. “A place to fit and belong again.”
He had been thinking the same thing. The thought of being accepted was almost too much to bear. So much wondering made a person numb to the ways of belonging, of sharing a warm fire and struggling for a common cause.
“I dare not think such thoughts, yet,” he lied. “There is strong magic here. Magic enough to destroy us a hundred times.”
“So we must be wary,” said Misty Morningdew, the succubus whispering into his ear in the middle of the night. Her blithe body would have been a prize for any man. This being the case, most who saw her only saw a bright ball of light and only the hint of a shape behind that luminescence.
“We could follow behind,” he speculated, “trail them as The City moves.”
“They will need food.” She circled around him. “It will take skilled hunters to gather enough food for so many people.”
He knew where she was going with this. “Very well,” he said. “Let us trail this vagabond city. We will be there helping hand in the dark, their unyielding support, and guiding hand.”
“We will be the answer to their prayers in the middle of the night. We must be wary of the magic possessed here, though,” she stated.
He already knew that kind of power could destroy them both, and so he nodded his agreement. Taking the reigns of his horse, he moved away from the cliffside, into the shadows of the forest where he would not be seen.
It had been so long since he had shared a meal with someone, patted someone on the back and in turn received a smile. It was considered human nature to want and need these things he had gone so long without. But some, where he was from, did not consider him human at all.
It was good to be in a place where he could start anew. Even if that place was visibly being destroyed.
Copyright © 2004 by Julian Lawler III