Michael looked down at the dracor below him. It was an interesting creature – long and serpentine, with two arms. It moved quite quickly, slithering along while using its hands to propel itself faster. It was also easy to find, meaning that Michael had already found a lot of information about it.
Michael didn’t really know why he liked to collect information about the creatures of Renysk, but he found it relaxing to sit in a tree and study the creatures around him in the huge Forest of Gelont. He had never gotten lost here, and knew that if he did, he could just climb one of the tall oaks to the top and look out across the forest to find his town, which had been built in a small clearing. Because of this, Michael had been deep inside the forest, and studied some of the most elusive creatures to be found there.
Through his musing, Michael lost the dracor, a relative of the racor, as his studies had shown, but noticed a different serpentine tail, then looked forward to the rest of the creature. This one had a yellow and green tail, split by a jagged, but patterned, black line down it’s back. As the creature slithered, Michael caught glimpses of the bottom of the snake-like creature, where he could see the two colours fade into the other. This was one of the few creatures Michael had only seen once before. A fiarzak, he whispered. Quickly, Michael took out his notebook and flipped to the page with all his previous information about fiarzaks, which wasn’t much, and completed the drawing. Next he started jotting down everything he noticed about it, glancing back every few seconds to study it more. Later, Michael would put all this information together into a readable order, but for now he was focused on the fiarzak.
Michael considered moving to a better position to see the fiarzak better, but decided against it for fear of disturbing the creature. A fiarzaks bite was highly venomous and could kill a grown man very painfully within an aki – Renysk’s equivalent of a minute.
Michael spent a long time studying and writing everything he could down, until eventually, when he looked up from his notebook, the fiarzak was gone, having moved on to a more comfortable place.
The rest of the day continued as usual – studying a bit of this, a bit of that and soon the first sun was reaching the horizon – Michael’s queue to start picking his way back through the dense, expansive forest that covered most of Gelont.
Michael followed his regular route home, but even as it got dark, he couldn’t seem to find his way back, even after backtracking to familiar landmarks multiple times and climbing a few trees. At last, as the second sun sunk low on the horizon, colouring the sky brilliantly with streaks of red and orange, Michael climbed part-way up a tree and settled down to sleep for the night.
Michael woke to blackness, the ground trembling every so often. Michael quickly gathered this information to provide only one possible answer – at least, in his panicked state. An eggsenestorrent, one of the fiercest creatures in Renysk. It was tall, tall enough to clear the tree-line, with an ovular body and two huge wings. It also had clawed feet and, worst of all, three diamond-shaped heads.
Michael scanned the forest, but could notice nothing in any direction, though still, the ground shook. An eggsenestorrent this far into the Forest of Gelont was troubling, even if Michael couldn’t see it there. Usually, eggsenestorrent kept to their caves on the outskirts of the forest and preyed on unsuspecting creatures that passed by there. If there was not enough food though, the eggsenestorrent would sometimes move further into the forest and could even stumble upon a town.
Suddenly, Michael noticed that the trembling had stopped and some unknown force soothed him back to sleep.
Michael woke with a start, exhausted as if he had had to fight to wake up. He was confused, but forced himself to look around. The suns were up, but they were dark, as if someone had dimmed them with fog, but Michael knew that he was too high up in the tree for fog to dim the light of the suns that much.
Magic was the first thing he thought of, but he pushed that aside. Every country had signed a pact to never use magic again, after what had happened last time. Michael had often wondered what the ‘last time’ had been, but had quickly found out that no one knew.
So Michael continued life without knowing and always pushed that concept away, but it had stayed with him and, in a way, he had never let it go. It seemed that he might need it now.
Now Michael dropped to the ground from the tree, landing on one hand, a foot and a knee. He then almost crumpled to the ground of exhaustion, though he didn’t know how he could be so tired. Obviously his body was still feeling the effects of whatever dream he had dreamed up last night. Slowly, Michael stood up and started walking home, determined to get there before the second sun was over the horizon. Once Michael shook off the last of the tiredness, he swung a bit from tree to tree using vines and log branches, challenging himself to not touch the ground the rest of the way back. He enjoyed the fresh air that he got higher up in the trees, but he could detect something – some taint that made it not as fresh, not as clear as it usually was.
Again, magic sprung to Michael’s mind, but this time he dwelled on it. The force that had put him to sleep last night and possibly tried to restrict him from waking up, the shrouding of the sun and now the taint in the air. To Michael, it all stank of Dark Magic.
Suddenly, Michael felt the need to race home, to check if everything was okay there. He broke into a run, dodging around trees and pushing his stamina to it’s considerably high limits.
At last, he skidded to a stoop at the outskirts of the town and slowed down, calming down as well. Everything was quiet, and after checking the suns, Michael could see that there was no reason for it to be any different.
Taking a deep breath, he brushed himself off and walked toward the town square. There he saw a man in a silver hooded cloak standing in the center of the square, facing him.
Michael slowed, striding towards the man, wondering what he was there for.
“You think you have it all figured out.” the man whispered, and Michael cried out, surprised, as images flashed through his mind. “You don’t even know how wrong you are.”
Well now I do Michael thought, when suddenly the figure’s hood fell back, revealing a skeleton with eyes made of white fire, which instead of warming Michael chilled him. The skeleton swept towards him and Michael fell back, hitting his head against the stones and seeing black.
“Your warning has been given. Join him.”
The combined pain from the stones and previous exhaustion overtook Michael and he succumbed to blissful blackness.