Two moons over, p.16
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       Two Moons Over, p.16

           Levi Shipley
 
could. The desert was giving way to a prairie, and beyond it laid mountains. He slowed down to take in his surroundings. Golden wheat stretched endlessly along the plain. Clouds reappeared over the mountains that were blocking their passage. A large mound of boulders was to the left some distance off of where he was standing. He thought he could make out the shape of small animals poking their head through the ground ahead of him. They were gophers he assumed, or maybe this world’s variant of them. To this point he hadn’t seen any life unique to Destursha, but that ended no sooner than the thought had come.

  Fifteen

  There was a screech above and behind him. It wasn’t a hawk, for the sound was far too low. However, Cecil didn’t need to think for long as he found himself airborne in the clutches of an enormous winged creature. Talons were holding onto his shoulders with an immovable grip. He looked up at the belly of his attacker. It was scaled and connected to an elongated neck. The creature was gray in color and white on its underside. It was the size of a large horse or a small elephant. He couldn’t tell from where he was. However, he did expect dragons to be larger than this. Perhaps it was young, or he was wrong. Either way, the dragon did not have Cecil’s best interests in mind.

  It dropped Cecil on top of one of the boulders he’d seen just moments ago that were so far away. He was on a broad ledge with a downward sloping overhang, a perfect place for the creature to call home. He was facing the open plains outstretched before the rocks and sighed out of habit. From behind him he heard a small chorus of infantile growling. Cecil looked back and was not surprised to see three little hungry mouths poking out of a nest made of branches and bones. The heads of these hatchlings had closed eyes and only nubs for teeth.

  As Cecil attempted to jump off the cliff, the mother caught him by the neck and threw him to the cold stone ground in front of her nest. She then proceeded to roar angrily and lunge for him. She first clawed away what was left of his coat with her talons and then went for the kill with her dagger like fangs and massive jaw. Of course, she only wanted to feed her young, but all she succeeded in doing was holding Cecil down for the moment. She bit and tore at his cringing face and then his neck. It seemed that she either was an exceptional hunter or had experience killing humans, though in her time they were likely shorter and were called novians. The same principle applied, but then again it did not. Her prey refused to yield his lifeblood for her or her children, so she tried harder.

  Cecil became agitated that she first stripped his torso and wouldn’t let him go when her work was fruitless. He rationalized that if he could get her off of him for a moment, he would be fast enough to outrun her. She would give up the chase and find new quarry for the hatchlings. Thinking of no better way than a push, Cecil planted his palms on her chest as she continued to try and crush his skull. He released what he assumed would be an ample force to get the beast off of him. He was correct in that regard, but once again he misjudged his new strength. As the force was applied, Cecil heard and crunching of bone as his hands sunk deeper into her chest than he intended. The mother screeched in pain and wheezed for air. She staggered back and slipped off the cliff. Cecil rushed over to watch her spread her wings. But her wings never opened. Instead she landed with all her weight on the stony floor some hundred or so feet down. No more noise came from her, as Cecil watched blood begin to pool around her.

  He cursed himself for his lack of control. With rage he beat his fists with a horrible thunder against the rock he now stood upon. It shook as if with fear and chipped where he struck. The hatchlings ceased their hungry cries and instead cried out in distress. He thought back again of the dogman in Ectoplas. Was I weaker then, or did I have better control? Either way he had the young ones left. Cecil knew that if he left now, they would starve to death. He couldn’t take care of them. It might be a month before they could fly themselves, or more. And he had no time for it, at least he didn’t feel like he did. Some part of him told him that he needed to get away from the others, away from the mine, away from everything.

  He stood up with sorrow radiating from his face. He turned and looked at the helpless things in that nest. If it weren’t for him, they’d grow to be majestic hunters in their own right. Now though, they were condemned to have crossed paths with him, slayer of their mother and soon of them. He wondered if he would be able to kill them on purpose, as he seemed to do that best when he intended to do no more than injure. A cruel image of him trying to stun them over and over with blunt strikes ran through his mind. He saw himself bloodying their beaks and breaking their arms, watching them writhe in anguish all the while screaming their child’s plea. He couldn’t do that

  Sixteen.

  Cecil grabbed a large rock the size of his torso. It might have weighed as much as a brick for all he knew, but he knew it would get the job done. One by one he pulled them up out of the nest, laid their heads on the ground and held it there with one foot, and ended their short lives with his crude executioner’s rock. The last one let forth a terrible cry before Cecil silenced it. He knew it didn’t cry for its own life but for its lost siblings.

  Cecil hopped off the cliff with success this time. His greaves clanked together deafeningly when he hit the surface below. He landed on his feet, which amazed him. But the ground he landed on was slanted forward, and he went sprawling ahead. He broke neither his remaining armor nor any of his bones. He sat down where he landed and thought about what he was. He was alone for one thing. No one would be around to teach him how to control these powers he had. The friends he had abandoned him. Perhaps Hodge wouldn’t have been able to kill all those slaves if Cecil had some help, but he went off on his own and got what he deserved. All that strength and no knowledge of how to channel it. He knew what that made him. It made him a monster. Cecil was now in league with the boogeyman for all he cared. He was a danger.

  He fought away tears. They couldn’t help him now. All he could do was run. Maybe he would find his answers. He had no other options. He had run for such a long time with closed eyes like a fool that he had no way to know how far he was from his old comrades. His choice now was to keep going and nothing else. He wasn’t afraid, though he was a bit distraught. Things always worked out in the end. He needed to find something, but he didn’t know what.

  He started running again. This time he ran northward. Cecil didn’t know what he’d find and didn’t care. As long as he could find a way to restore his composure. He needed control. Maybe he would find it.

  The werewolves found Harkem and its train station. A fine locomotive sat on the rails next to the loading dock. It was split into classes. The most impressive booth was made of golden crystal and the least was a polished but dated looking iron trolley. Arthur managed to haggle an attendant into letting them ride to Fraushein in the iron trolley for his boots. Whether or not they could help Hodge there no longer mattered, but perhaps they could acquire more information on what was happening there. They might even be able to learn what was wrong with him. Once they each set foot on that train, their own adventure began.

  Seventeen

  At length Cecil came to a town. From what he could hear just outside its border, he believed it was nicer than Hurlinge. He heard no screaming or gunfire, and the smell was as good as could be expected from a town. No one he met on his way in seemed to care that he was shirtless. Instead he received a few comments about his height. Novians didn’t get much taller than halflings for the most part, and a human sized one was apparently miraculous.

  He found work, though he didn’t need the money. But what he did earn, he used for shelter, which he also didn’t need. And of course he bought clothes. He had to buy items tailored for dogmen or aemon, but that didn’t bother him. He fit in here, in Redora. And he went on that way, just fitting in, blending in, and forgetting what he truly was and from where he came.

  Ignorance

  One

  T
wo years passed since the mine, and since then Cecil had forgotten about that, forgotten everything. It was revealed on the news and through spoken word that Dahzir had possessed the body of a very powerful, very tall novian. Trothos had been executed publicly by his own nephew, who was now immune to any magic thrown at him. Cecil didn’t recognize the novian that Dahzir controlled, nor did he care when Chrissenia had been singlehandedly overrun by Dahzir himself.

  Cecil nightly found himself in the woods outside of Redora attacking trees with branches to teach himself swordsmanship. He didn’t know why he did this. He only knew that he wanted control over himself. When he wasn’t working at the general store, he found himself wondering why he couldn’t sleep. Sometimes he had waking dreams about a place called Earth and that there he was vulnerable like everyone else. He wasted money in food for a while, but never had any urge to eat it.

  Every now and again he would watch a news report about The Order of the Wolf. They were some small organization bent on usurping the government and restoring someone called Hodge. Cecil thought they were a group of psychotic terrorists, but he always felt
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