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From Dawn to Dusk

by Catherine Guillotte 11 months ago in Fantasy
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Part 1

From Dawn to Dusk
Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Insects chirped and birds sang out as the first warm rays of the sun crested the horizon. Night slowly gave way to day as Amonsun-Ra reached the top of his post.

Taking in a deep breath, the warm, moist air of the rain forest filled his nostrils, flooding his senses with the scents of wildlife and flora. Dawn was by far the best part of his day, and here at the top of the Ra’Kurax lookout, he had the greatest view of his vibrant homeland.

Setting his spear down, Amonsun-Ra sat down upon the cool, lichen coated stone. He crossed one leg under the other, keeping one hand on the stone as his thick, muscular tail curled around so the tip hung over the edge. The cool stone was soothing upon his scales, adding just enough friction to relieve the itching brought upon by his yearly molt.

As the sun rose higher, the vivid scape of the canopy below created an endless, shifting sea of emeralds contrasted against the warm rose gold approach of dawn. The chitter of wildlife below created a calming, yet delightful morning song. Soon the dawn chants of the Slarega, his own people, joined that of their lesser neighbors as all life welcomed the new day.

Dawn was the most important time for his people. It represented their chief deity, Xolra, bringing the gift of life back to the world, chasing away the cold and terror of darkness.

The first rays of light fell upon his shoulders, creating a veil of warmth around him. Despite their reptilian appearance, the Slarega were far from cold-blooded, but they all enjoyed a good sun bath.

Amonsun-Ra was no different, closing his eyes momentarily as the sun’s warmth spread across his scales. Opening his eyes, he couldn’t help but smile, his lips lifting above his many, razor sharp teeth as he watched the sunlight dance upon his scales. As a male, his colors were vibrant and attractive, but he possessed a rare color combination that was even more enticing. His dorsal regions and outer scales of his limbs were all a deep, abyssal blue that slowly faded to a vibrant sea blue on his chest, appendages and muzzle. Though blue was an uncommon color, he possessed an even rarer pattern of vibrant orange scales that decorated his body in a repeating diamond shaped pattern. In the sunlight, his scales glittered like the dawn upon the ocean, brilliant blips of orange decorating an otherwise perfect azure gradient. The elders said he was blessed by Xolra himself, a Dawnscale, a harbinger of change. His faded blue base represented the ever changing, but constant presence of the ocean while his orange diamonds represented the sun, hope and healing. Naturally, from birth he was slated to become a Xanra, a revered defender trained in the holy destructive, and healing, light of Xolra.

Earning the respected affix “Ra” of the Xanra had been an easy task for light magic had come naturally. It was an unusual, for most Slaregas were genetically disposed to one of three major lifestyles: magic, combat or stealth. Amonsun-Ra possessed the skill and talent for both magic and combat, making him an exceptionally powerful Xanra. However, there were drawbacks, because he was unable to blend in with his surroundings like some of his stealthier cousins and any other type of magic, especially dark magic, was impossible for him to cast.

A gentle breeze lifted from the trees, making Amonsun-Ra sigh as he relaxed, closing his citrine eyes briefly. The breeze blew over, rustling the small plants that grew atop the Ra’Kurax lookout.

Smiling once more, he breathed in deeply, pausing as he caught the scent of blood.

His yellow eyes flashed open and he turned to see a mangled, dead monkey levitating beside him.

Amonsun-Ra shrieked, jerking back and scraping his tail scales in the process as he scrambled to grab his spear.

The bloody carcass began to sway in the air as an amused chortle rang out, before the carcass dropped to the stones with a wet thud. Almost instantly, the skyline in front of him shimmered before a lithe figure coated in deep, dull purple scales became visible.

His heart was still pounding in his chest as he stared at the female Slarega standing in front of him.

“DAMN IT, V’losa!” his normally deep and gravelly voice was a frightened squeal as he glared at his friend.

V’losa continued to cackle, her dull scales shivering with delight as she finally sank down to her knees. “I… I sorry… you…. You’re so easy!” her pale rose eyes glowed with amusement while her lips curled up to reveal her numerous teeth. “Look at me, the mighty Xanra! I watch over all- except my own back!”

“Pah!” Amonsun-Ra scoffed at her, swiping the air with his claws dismissively. “I knew you were there!”

“Mm-hmmm… that’s why you squealed like a hatchling and tried to run.”

He could only huff in response, crossing his arms over his chest as he turned to look out over the emerald canopy once more.

“What do you want now that you’ve ruined my peace?”

V’losa laughed then, picking up the monkey and coming to sit where he had once been comfy and relaxed.

“Got it nice and warm for me, thank you,” V’losa winked then, before she extended out the bloody carcass, “Want a snack?”

Amonsun-Ra glared at her a moment, before he nodded.

“How’d you catch this?”

“Same way I scared you.” V’losa replied, “It was unaware and I was invisible.”

“Cheap trick.”

“Well then, master hunter, you go catch one of these quick little beasts. Show me how it is done.”

He rolled his eyes, before glaring as she handed him the carcass. Of course, she’d have him do all the work. Shaking his head, he took a seat beside her to begin skinning the small mammal.

“I caught it,” she reminded him, before leaning against his shoulder. V’losa was so light and lithe, delicate even, compared to him. Even still, she commanded a presence he could not ignore, especially as he felt her scales upon his own.

Taking a breath, he turned to look away, trying to focus his attention on the carcass.

“Why are you here so early?”

“Hmm?” V’losa turned to look up at him, their gazes meeting.

“You never visit this early in the morning. You come right before your evening hunt,” Amonsun’Ra pointed out.

“Hmm… true…” V’losa nodded, “Well, I thought I’d tell you about my hunt.”

Amonsun-Ra hesitated, turning to look at her, “Should I be concerned?”

V’losa shook her head, “Maybe… I saw a Moonscale.”

“What?” Amonsun-Ra tilted his head, “Are you sure?”

“Mm-hmm… scales white as the moon. It was beautiful in a way, it moved with impressive speed and was silent as the dawn. I was following the pale fiend through the rainforest and it came upon a camp. I think whatever was at this camp… the Moonscale was hunting.” V’losa paused for a moment, before shaking her head, “That’s why I killed that little beast. It was going to give me away. I wonder if the pale-scale knew I was there?”

Amonsun-Ra listened, and he wanted to tell her she was mistaken, or even playing, but he knew by her awed tone, she was sincere. “What was at the camp?”

“It was strange… I waited till after the Moonscale left, but I did not recognize any of it. Foreign smells, strange items. There was some sort of container, a package even… wrapped in brown bindings. Whatever was in it, the Moonscale was interested in, but the vessel was already empty.”

“Brown bindings?” he tilted his head, debating that, “Like a leather?”

“No… thinner… like the scrolls used out in the drylands.”

“Hmm… a form of paper then…”

V’losa nodded in agreement, “So it would seem… other things too. It was like whoever was there disappeared suddenly.”

“Did the Moonscale kill them?”

“I don’t think so… there was a faint scent of death, stale and earthy, but nothing fresh.” V’losa shook her head, “I saw no one else. The Moonscale disappeared into the jungle as night faded…”

“You didn’t follow it further?”

“Ha! By Noxuth, no! I am not eager to die, not when I still have many years left to frighten the mighty Xanra!”

Hearing her words, Amonsun-Ra’s eyes immediately rolled.

“I will never live this down.”

“You will not.” V’losa smiled again, “I figured you would appreciate knowing there was a Moonscale about… and possibly some outlanders.”

“Hmm… which is worse,” Amonsun-Ra mused, “The undead or these foreigners the Moonscale seeks?”

“Hmm… the foreigners.” V’losa replied, “The Moonscale had to know I was there. It heard the beast die,” she flicked her wrist towards the dead animal, “But it still offered no threat to me. Whatever it was hunting, it was focused on…”

“And to draw the attention of a Moonscale…” Amonsun-Ra nodded, “That is worrisome.”

V’losa nodded in agreement, before looking around the outpost. “It is beautiful up here. I spend too much time in the shadows… I need to come to the light more often, be closer to Xolra.” As she spoke, he heard the soft scrape of scale on stone, before her tail entwined with his own.

He stiffened for a brief, awkward moment, before he relaxed, turning to smile at V’losa, “Perhaps I spend too much time up by the clouds.”

“Oh?” she turned so their gazes met once more, “How shall we fix this then?”

“Hmm…” Amonsun-Ra looked away, feigning thoughtfulness, before he chuckled. “Come.”

“Come?” V’losa asked, “Come where? Where are we going?”

“Let’s look at that camp you found.”

“What?” V’losa stared at him, “I didn’t tell you about it so you could run off!”

“Let’s go together.” Amonsun-Ra pointed out, before he chuckled, “A Moonscale and outlanders? Worthy enough cause for me to investigate,” he winked as he spoke, “Whereabouts was this camp?”

“Hmm… by the abandoned shrine at the edge of the forest leading to The Stench.”

“Oh.” Amonsun-Ra huffed, crossing his arms as he stood up, the half-skinned carcass hanging limply from one hand. “Hmm… wait. Axul Falls is not far from there.”

“Your point being?” V’losa stared at him a moment, before her eyes went wide. “I see your point. Yes, let’s go. Alert your brethren. We have much exploring to do- I mean investigating.” V’losa nodded, “This is a good plan.”

Turning to look at the sky, Amonsun-Ra thrust his hand into the sky, sending up a pillar of golden light. That would be enough to alert the other Xanthra he was leaving to investigate something. Which was true, he was just going to make an extra stop along the way.

“So… shall we race?”

He snorted at V’losa’s question, “You would lose.”

“So sure?” she asked, “You don’t know where the camp is. The jungle looks different on the floor than high up on the outlooks, Xanthra.” She grinned a moment, “Fine. Last one there has to find, and approach, the Moonscale.”

He snorted again, before pausing.

“What?” he asked, before V’losa had already dropped over the side of the outlook.

“You’re not serious!” he called out, leaning over to watch V’losa climb nimbly down the side of the stone structure.

“Bring the snack!” V’losa called out, before she chortled once more, the mirthful sound echoing about Ra’Kurax.

Amonsun-Ra stood a moment, before hissing in frustration. He would not let her win! Grabbing his spear, he turned to head down the stairs. He was not built to scale down the walls, so he would have to make up for lost time in the forest. Then again, V’losa was a huntress, she thrived on the chase. The odds might not be in his favor. Regardless, he intended to make full use of this day off the watch. There was a Moonscale and foreigners to investigate alongside his friend. An entire day to spend with V’losa. This was a good plan.

Fantasy

About the author

Catherine Guillotte

Writing, gaming and creating art are my passions. Along with cats. All hail the mighty felilne overlords! Fantasy- traditional and urban- are my forte, but I dabble with romance, sci-fi and occasionally horror. Let me know what you think!

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