The Wanderer’s Tale – Part 5 October 6, 2012Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
Tags: #fridayflash, flash fiction, Nox and Grimm
Grey suddenly understood why animals freeze when a predator swoops down on them. It’s that moment of indecision, do I flee or fight, that holds them in place.
He hovered near the edge of the crater, the wyvern Queen roaring toward him with her jaws agape. Overhead, beyond his Wind barrier the male wyverns circled. If he fled and saved himself, the barrier would break and the males would dive down to annihilate the rest of the raiding party. If he stayed, the Queen would eat him and the barrier would break anyway, though his death might buy a few precious moments for everyone else to run.
All these thoughts ran through his mind between one heartbeat and the next, as the Wind barrier swirled overhead like a great glass eye…and the answer hit him like a thunderbolt.
He created a small hole in the middle of the barrier, like the eye of a tornado, and shot up through it.
The queen was so close on his heels that she smashed into the barrier with enough force to make it bow outwards and smack into Grey as he darted through. It bounced him up like a child’s ball off a paddle, straight into the middle of the startled males. He let out a small, hysterical laugh as he got to eye-level with the huge predators, and let himself fall back down before they could recover enough to snap up the snack that had appeared in their midst.
Grey turned in mid-air to guide his fall back through the small hole, only to see the Queen still circling beneath the barrier. She hadn’t hit hard it enough to be stunned. “Oh, Hel,” he said. There wasn’t enough time or clear air for him to avoid her.
He thought he was a goner, but just as he tumbled through the hole something distracted the queen. A chunk of rock smacked into her chest, and she turned to look down with an angry hiss. Grey managed one small puff of Wind to steer with, and landed right on top of her snout.
The Queen let out an ear-splitting shriek and whipped her head side to side. Grey grabbed onto the softer skin around her nostrils to hang on, gagging from the fetid, charnel smell of her breath. The beast barrel rolled in mid-air, with Grey hanging on for dear life. If he let go this close to her mouth she’d nab him faster than a striking snake.
To make matters worse the maneuver also dropped them away from the barrier. Grey began to shake as he struggled to maintain the Wind casting over the widening distance. His strength was quickly running out. He yelled to the men below, “Get out! The barrier’s going to break, RUN!”
Far below, small figures streamed toward the hole the Mountain kin had made in the crater floor. Two of them were heading upwards however, and Grey recognized his father, and Tairwyn.
Aurelius spun around and made a throwing gesture, and Tairwyn let out a whoop as a gust of Wind lobbed him up onto the Queen’s neck. The Mountain kin landed with a resounding thump, a grin splitting his face. “Wrestling a wyvern! Way to go, laddie!”
Aurelius circled around the Queen, dodging wings and her flailing tail stinger to get closer to her head. “Aurengrey, when I give the word you let that barrier go and jump!”
Grey didn’t get a chance to reply. Tairwyn had drawn his sword and was chopping away at the Queen’s neck, sending her into even more wild aerobatics. “Hah, you can’t do this with one of your pig-stickers, eh? Swords are the way to go!”
Aurelius spiraled around with them, one of the big hunting spears balanced in his hand. He circled up over the Queen’s head, paused to take aim and let it fly with a whistled Wind casting to speed its flight. “Now, Grey!”
Grey dropped the casting and pushed away from the Queen. Tairwyn did the same, leaping off her back out into space. Aurelius’ spear hit the beast in the eye and buried itself deep in her skull.
The sound of her death cry was surprisingly quiet. The males roared overhead, deafening in comparison. They arrowed down into the crater, but they tangled in each other’s wings in their rush to get inside.
Grey frantically summoned some Wind to try and avoid the thrashing behemoth beside him. The Queen was dying but she seemed determined to take him out with her. Grey bobbed up, dived to the left then juked right to dodge a swipe from her tail. Something pushed at his back and he nearly jumped out of his skin, but it was only Aurelius sending a gust of Wind to nudge him out of harms’ way. Grey, utterly exhausted, let the Wind pick him up and carry him to the safety of the tunnels.
The Mountain kindreds shut the hole behind him, and not a moment too soon. The males landed and started tearing at the ground to try and dig them out. Grey hazily watched as his father organized the Wind tribes, lifting up everyone and sending them zooming through the tunnels. Tairwyn was somewhere in the back, working with his men to collapse the tunnels behind them. An hour later they finally came to a stop – battered, exhausted, but elated as well. For the first time ever, they had come out of a fight with the wyverns without a single casualty.
Tairwyn flopped down beside Grey. “That was some fine work back there, lad. We hadn’t counted on the males being so close. Nasty buggers; scales harder than diamonds. Even my trusty sword won’t cut through them.”
“That’s why we have spears,” Grey said, with a challenging grin. “Ready to learn how to use one yet?”
Tairwyn chuckled. “Aye, lad. The deal’s still on.”
Grey leaned his head back against the cold stone of the tunnel wall and closed his tired eyes. “Do you think this will get rid of them?”
“No,” Tairwyn said, “I’d say we merely bought some time to prepare. But I hope I’m wrong.”
“There has to be a way,” Grey said, the old anger still burning deep inside him. “I’ll find a way…”