Veiled Threats

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Chapter 6

The wind rushing through my hair is addicting, the feeling of something I can see myself getting used to. Up in the sky, riding the capalts gives me a sense of freedom I’ve never experienced before. That’s not to say my life had been a confining one, a restricting one, but in many ways, it had been such.

Our self exile was enforced from the fathers before us, an effort to protect us, or so I’ve been told. I’m not sure how well I believe our isolation was for our good though. Rather I think our ancestors were cowards and hid away from fear of persecution. And while I never agreed with these actions of cowardice, there was nothing I could do about it. I was far too young to take command and lead our people from the shadows. Besides, with my mother still in charge I wasn’t about to overthrow her in a stupid attempt at publicizing our existence to the talnarins who have grown accustomed to our absence.

Uncle Elias has expressed his own distaste over our families hiding but there was nothing he could do about it either. His sister was our Queen so he had no power to inherit the throne, something he frequently mentioned with barely concealed anger.

But being up here among the clouds seems to almost free me from those burdening thoughts. All my obligations, responsibilities, and past being ripped away from me with the wind itself. A part of me dreads the end of our journey. Knowing that our imminent arrival is drawing ever so closer and that loss of freedom is creeping up on me is enough to send shivers down my spine.

The other part of me is eager to land, eager to get Abel someplace safe while I head off and find the bastards who killed our parents. The bittersweet taste of revenge sits on the back of my tongue, taunting me. And I know, regardless of that small voice in my head telling me to let it all go and surrender to the sky, that I can’t let this mission of mine go. It doesn’t matter how sweet the call of freedom is, I know that my freedom will always be sacrificed in the name of revenge. Abel will take it upon himself to see it through, to see those responsible dead and bleeding if I were to give it up.

And I can’t let him do that. I won’t let him darken and taint his soul when it’s my place to do so. He’s not fragile by any means but I’ve always been the stronger one who doesn’t let the taint of the world drag me down. Abel carries it all, letting it weigh him down as hopelessness threatens to drag him under. The problems of our people are ones that he takes to heart and suffers for when he can’t do a thing to change them.

Isolated we might have been, but never ignorant, not really.

Abel soars on his own beast ahead of me, his white blonde hair whipping behind him and the wind tears through us both. I know the moment he spots what I had seen minutes ago as he seems to sit up straighter in the saddle. He leans over the capalt before turning to me, his expression hard to make out from this distance but I imagine he has a smile on his face, one I wish I could emulate. Below us and drawing nearer as the seconds pass is our destination. It’s a small village, walled up, housing our last living relative, Chrome and our childhood friend, Elaine.

I don’t remember him very well; he had left some years prior to take on a task that our mother had begrudgingly assigned him. Chrome gladly accepted it and left for Craforian to see his duty through. While the matters of his particular job have been kept quiet, I picked up small bits from the letters my mother had exchanged with him.

Chrome works with humans, a thing forbidden by our ancestors themselves years ago during the great war.

Before I can delve too far into my thoughts of the war, Abel begins his descent and I follow suit. As Craforian gets closer, the opposing walls blocking the village from prying eyes grow larger still. I haven’t yet decided if they were built to keep people out or imprison them within but this feeling is the same one I felt a month ago when my brother and I dropped Elaine off for a short stay.

I will say this though, the idea of ending our week long trip since our stay with Elder Shew is a welcome reprieve. My ass went stiff days ago from the constant ride in the uncomfortable saddles, only stopping to relieve ourselves, eat, and rest for the night in a tent that the elder gifted us.

He gave us plenty of food to ride out a two week journey at the very least, a map to guide our way, two beasts to see our travel time cut in half, and soft furs to line our makeshift bed at night. All things Elder Shew didn’t need to do, but insisted regardless. All things my brother and I won’t soon forget.

We never forget a debt, especially one as significant as this.

My capalt lands with a thud mere moments after Abel’s beast drops down. His capalt is a light tan while my beast is covered in fur so dark it’s nearly black. We dismount and turn to face our Uncle and Elaine as they wait off to the side with wide smiles on their faces. I know as soon as we break the news of why we are here, it will break their happy mood.

Elaine was like a daughter to our parents after her parents were killed years prior. She grew up with Abel and myself and we treated her like a little sister. It was only a month ago that Abel and I escorted her so she could study and train with Chrome for a short while. Elaine said she wanted a break from our insufferable manners though I think she was eager to spread her wings and grow.

The two of them step closer to where Abel and I stand almost hesitantly. I’m not eager for this conversation and from Abel’s stiff shoulders, neither is he. But before my brother can speak and be the one to bear the horrible news, I spit it out.

“Our parents are dead.”

Just like that, the smiles are wiped from their faces.

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