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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Broken Path, Starless Tail - 21. Chapter 21

Damn, he hated being right. Around mid-morning on the next day, when the city was still the faintest smudge on the horizon to Beckett, Valrinda came swooping down. “There’s a large cloud of dust heading our way.”

“Dust?” He thought it was just the nature of the desert, not something coming for them.

“Well, obviously something is making the dust, but for that to happen, something must be kicking up enough sand and dust on the sides of the road to make such a thick cloud even I can’t really see what is coming. Just… there’s a lot.”

The wisps were squeaking and talking over each other, rushing around. Beckett couldn’t make out anything they were saying, they were so frantic. “What? What is it?”

“I don’t know.” Valrinda lowered his head. “Quiet!” he thundered.

The wisps froze.

“Better. Why are you so scared?”

“It is the protector.” The way they said the last word, then chittered and clung together, proved they didn’t view the cause off the dust to be something positive, like they viewed Valrinda with awe after he protected them from the chacory. No, they feared it.

“Protector of what?” Beckett asked.

“The city.”

“The master.” They all squeaked in alarm and started patting each other’s faces, like they weren’t such which one had said that and wanted to no one to say more.

Beckett, as American as they come, didn’t like the word master when it came to someone who thought they were in charge of other people. He scowled, staring toward the city. “What should we do?” he asked Valrinda darkly.

“I’m stronger than any protector,” he said proudly, posing with his wings spread. “Especially with these runed chains protecting me. Stand beside me, ready to leap up on my shoulders just in case.”

“But what about the w—” Beckett stopped, looking around. The wisps had melted away in just the few seconds that Valrinda’s posing distracted him, and if he hadn’t known they’d traveled with them, he would never have known they had been there. “Where did they go?”

“Hiding. They’re wisps. It’s what they do.” Valrinda shrugged, but then he’d never really had anything good to say about the wisps. “They’ll come out if we win.”

“Win?” He didn’t like the sound of that at all.

 

Valrinda’s sight was definitely improved by the wisps’ chains. It felt like an eternity of waiting, Beckett’s stomach churning with acid and heart trying to lurch out his chest with the strain of not knowing what was coming toward them, before the cause of the cloud of dust finally came into view.

When it did, he wished it hadn’t. Not a dragon, or a chacory, so at least it didn’t have wings. But the monstrous beast had three heads that bobbed and wove as it charged forward and two wide tails that whipped behind it, making the large cloud of dust. A much smaller being rode on its back in a metal cage that was strapped to the thing’s green sides and along the wider, primary neck in a thick collar.

“What is that?” Beckett shuddered, balling his hands up into fists to hide their shaking.

“I-I don’t know. Be prepared to climb on. I don’t see wings. We can escape.”

“We can’t. We have to go to the city to find the star, and that’s where that thing came from, the city! We can’t just leave.”

“I can’t let it kill you either.”

Beckett didn’t want to die, and he didn’t want Valrinda to get hurt fighting a creature that was twice as big as he was with unknown defenses. “What is that on his back?”

Valrinda cocked his head, “A… human? Another human is here? Why didn’t I know that?”

“This isn’t the time to worry about that,” Beckett hissed.

“Then when? Humans come here once an age. It’s very rare. Usually only magi—” He cut himself off. “Not the time, right.”

It really wasn’t. The huge beast came to a stop when even Beckett could see the human inside the glittering cage. Protection or possession? He wasn’t sure until he started yelling. The beast’s two outside heads wove and snapped at the air, baring fangs as long as his hand.

“So you finally made it here, Beckett. I wondered if you ever would.”

“Do I know you?” Yelling at least made his voice shake less.

“No, but I know you. Know your so-called friends. Have you unraveled all their lies yet or are you still trapped in their little game?”

None of what he was saying made sense? Knew my friends? The only friend I had here was Valrinda. He wasn’t playing games. “I’m here to save a friend.” Not that Beckett would necessarily call Parallax a friend, but his family was. This whole thing was crazy but he wasn’t going call it a game.

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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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“No, but I know you. Know your so-called friends. Have you unraveled all their lies yet or are you still trapped in their little game?”

Another human in this strange place who claims to know Becket's friends sent him on the quest is very suspicious.  The stranger claims his friends are lying to Becket, but that is weird since Becket was told very little about what is happening.  I think Becket has met the enemy or at least one of their agents. He should be very cautious!

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