02: Kate and Torac
Friends, Horns and Fish
The moon had just risen above the valley. A waterfall fell a hundred or so feet down to a raging river below filled with jagged rocks and slow-moving swirling pools of freshwater. The surrounding peaks held plenty of variety of trees and other plant life. Small fluorescent insects lit themselves up in specular dancing lights.
Laying on a set of large boulders beside one of the slower moving eddies, Kate looked up at the full rising moon just cresting the top of the waterfall. She kicked her feet bare up and down while soaking up the site, and her brunette hair rolled off the back of the boulder she was resting on, falling into the water below. “Torac. What do you think is going to happen tomorrow?” Kate turned over and took her red eyes off the rising moon to the horse-sized blue and silver lizard-like creature setting off to her side.
The creature snorted, “Trouble, adventure, and a life change, I am sure.” His green reptile eyes rolled. He stood on all four legs and arched his back, expanding the blue and silver dragon wings that matched the rest of his scales. “Tomorrow is your birthday. You have reached your 18th year. Master Jerilith said your new teachers would be coming for you. These new teachers will continue your training; you will have to leave the nest and journey into the world of man.” Torac thrust the sharp end of his spiked tail into the water with a splash, hooking a squirming fish. Quickly turning around and bringing the tail up to his mouth, he opened his fanged maul. He paused and pushed the fish towards Kate, “Want a bite?” She shook her head. “Suit yourself.” The fish disappeared into his mouth, “Still like sheep better.”
Kate was chuckling, “If it fits, you eats.” Turning her head back to the full moon. “I don’t know if I want to know who my mother and father was or is. I have lived here all my life. This valley is all I know. I am afraid of change.”
Torac continues to scan the water for more tasty fish. “You can’t choose who your mother and father are. Fear of Change? We all are, but it is the nature of life. Life changes, as do the experiences we have. Never live for the past. Kate, always go forward, or you will find yourself doomed to repeat the same something over and over.”
Shrugging her shoulder, “Coming from the drac who constantly can’t match me for turning. You sure repeat the same mistakes over and over.”
The dragon scoffed, “No. Don’t mistake practice for insanity!”
Kate laughed and put her head back down on the boulder. “It’s a lovely night. The sound of the water is so settling.” Glazing again at the slowly rising moon. “I wonder if the gods listen to us when we make prayers?”
Torac stabbed at another fish just below the surface with his spiked tail and missed! The large morsel continued to live another day as the fish swam away from danger. “Grr.. yes, and you don’t want them involved. They are tyrants, well, most of them. They live just to create nightmares for the living. Only pray to them in desperation and hope they don’t damn your soul in the process.”
“I have asked Uncle Jeri about why they are so mean he told me they just lost their way, forgot who they were and their responsibilities. I know if I forget to do the dish’s Uncle Jeri will punish me, not harshly but enough for me to remember my duty next time. But what kind of person would go out of their way just to harm someone without reason is beyond me.” Kate looked at the small dots of lights that stood almost motionless behind the slow-moving moon.
“It’s not hard if you lost the love of life in your heart. You have read the books of old. I have told you many stories of legends and the myths they are based on. Soon it will be your time to decide on what you will do. I am still hungry; fish are hard to catch.” the dragon still eyeing the moving water; his eyesight allowed him to see very well in the night’s darkness.
Kate waved a pointy finger at the blue scaled dragon. “No, you don’t. Uncle Jeri told you to stay away from the boggling’s livestock. No sheep for you!”
Torac chuckled, “Aye, I don’t want to be put in a box, with only my head hanging out while upside-down dangling from the top master’s tower for a few hours.”
Torac dived off his boulder into the water, “I will be back in a few hours. There bee fish that need to be put in my belly!” The dragon disappeared into the swirling watery Eddie.
Kate reached out over the edge of the boulder, “Wait!” The dragon had already moved away somewhere down in the deep.
She sat back, “I have only one more night before having to leave. Damn dragon, now I am alone again. I HOPE YOU GET BAD FISH! You scally bastard.” Kate grumbled. Hopping from boulders to boulder, Kate, sulkily, made her way back to the river shore.
Kate and Torac had come to this place often; it was his favorite fishing spot and sat just far enough away from the falls not to get splashed from the ever falling water. She had hand-built a simple table, a small shelter for a resting place. Torac had constructed a crude stone fire pit for cooking and warmth. He had a sizeable rocky bed across from Kate’s hammock, strung up in between the shade. This was her and his little clubhouse when they went out to play. Uncle Jeri told her she had to stay far from the human settlements, for they would not understand and would be afraid of her and Torac. When did she ask him why? He would only tell her that most people were afraid of something different from themselves, like a red person wanting to be with the red people and not tolerating the blue people because they were not the same color.
Kate stacked several logs into the fire pit. She still remembered how to light a fire by rubbing sticks together, but Uncle Jeri had been teaching her magic. She channeled the cantrip into her fingers, “Arcana: Firebright.” Several small burning embers rained off her finger and landed on the collected, dried grass at the bottom of the dry wood. The grass brightened with fire. Soon with a few gentle blows from her lips, the fire started.
Closing her eyes and warming her hands by the fire, she let the crackling yellow and red heat warm her body for a moment. After warming enough, she moved over to the small chest in the shelter. Through the wooden box, Kate continued rummaging until she found a small ornately carved box with several dancing elephants chiseled into the thin oak sides. Opening the top, a short metal key protruded. Turning the key clockwise a few times, each time the gears made a clicking sound. Kate released the key, and the small box started to play a musical tune.
Placing the music box on the nearby table. She slowly and gracefully let herself get lost within the music box’s melody. She sang the same tune with all the harmony she could muster. Closing her eyes, she raised her hands and struck a pose, and began to dance around the fire pit. She could easily judge the distance and the pattern she had danced this dance several times. She pretended she had a dance partner while twisting her body and kicking her legs up in step with the mechanical musician.
Maverick had heard the song of a woman, strange considering the waterfall’s sound and the river should have drowned out her lovely voice. The moonlight guided him to the edge of the river, where a small shelter had been constructed. He studied the lonely woman with raven black hair, small white horns jutting out of her forehead. Her green dress went down to her knees and her barefoot kicked up in the air to the tune of the mechanical box. Had he not got lost while exploring the nearby woodlands, he would not have found his way here. Something had drawn him here, that was for sure. He felt a strange desire as if he was drawn to this mysterious devilish woman. He hoped she was not a demon, but he could not resist her call.