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Shadow and Rock

By JBazPublished 4 months ago Updated 3 months ago 15 min read

Even in the harshest soil a flower may bloom.

: Parr'- Linii

Gold colored petals, dance playfully amongst the currents of air, freely floating on the Ocean breeze. Soft blossoms swirl around a tiny house perched upon the cliff, before drifting away without a care.

A stark contrast to the chaos now taking place within the stone walls. Caleb watches his mother frantically stuffing items into a leather bag. Something happened last night that set things in motion, words whispered in the dark, changing his life forever.

That night he lay on his bed, listening to his mother weep, It was a long time before sleep took him. When it did, he was haunted by the recurring dream of fire and scorched earth, giants wings fanning the flames. It was the burning eyes staring into his soul that woke him.

This morning no words are spoken. Throughout the day his mother moves like a rabbit caught on open ground, head cocked to one side, eyes darting about for an unseen threat. The late afternoon light fills the house with its glow. Rays from the red sun, shine upon his mother, a calm washes over her. Caleb thinks this is what an angel must look like.

Her voice breaks the silence. “Caleb, your father is… I wish I ...we need to leave now.” A sack hits him in the face, as his mother calls out. “Fill the bag with food.” Pulling the cloth off, he stares at the wooden planks on the floor. Amazed at how clean his mother keeps their house, which is only rocks held together with mortar. It is his home, and they are leaving it.

In a broken whisper Caleb questions. “They're coming for me, aren’t they?”

Looking up, his mother is smiling a sad smile. Realization of why this is happening suddenly overwhelms him. His mother was of the golden people who work the lands while his father was of the Azure people from the sea. He was the product of their love.

“It’s because I’m different, isn’t it?”

Kneeling in front of her young child, tenderly placing both hands upon his tiny shoulders. “There is nothing wrong with being different, don’t apologize, for being who you are.”

“Why do they hate me?”

“I wish I had an answer that makes sense. They are blinded by fear, unwilling to open their eyes to change."

“I didn't ask for this.”

Reaching into her satchel she pulls out a rolled parchment, holding it up she says. "This is our future, a map showing a place where people like you are welcomed to live in peace. It's a Haven."

Raising her hand to his cheeks, she gently caresses his marbled skin, her fingers tracing the fine blue lines that meld with golden undertones.

His mother looks deep into Caleb’s blue green eyes and repeats a line he has heard many times before. “Even in the harshest soil a flower may bloom.”

They remain silent, and for the briefest of moments they are at ease. Suddenly their peaceful world is shattered, as the front door bursts open and two men storm into their home.

His mother stands between him and the intruders.

The taller one with a sparse grey beard and a patch over his left eye speaks. “Ya should-av fled by now.” He stands tall, menacingly, wielding a harpoon like spear.

“I only heard last night Tagger. Even with your one eye you can see we are leaving.”

“As I sed, ya should av left. Ther'z no-one to protect ya now.”

With graceful steps she confidently approaches the man, gently placing her hand on his chest. “Tagger, please…”

Tagger slaps her hand. “Git yer yella hands off me. Jacopp should never a’ brought ya here, ya don’t belong.”

“We’re married.”

“Blasphemy.” Pointing towards Caleb, Tagger spits out. ”Ther'z what happens when races mix.”

Involuntarily shaking, her chest heaves as she takes in deep breaths, straining the already thin fabric. Tagger smiles and begins to fumble with his belt. “Maybe I shud find out what Jacopp saw in ya.”

In a deep voice he growls. “Garby, git the kid outta here.”

“Ya Pa.”

Caleb’s mother charges forward, a knife magically appears in her hand, driving it under Tagger’s chin, through the mouth and into his brain. His one good eye looks stunned for a moment then goes dim.

A scream fills the room, as his father collapses to the floor, Garby turns and flees.

Taking the child’s hand, Caleb’s mother shoulders the satchel and they run down the hill as fast as his small legs can move.

Between breaths Caleb manages to ask, “Where are we going?”

“I’m sorry, we should have left earlier, I will explain later, now we have to run.”

Thankfully wisps of dark clouds blanket the bright scarlet moon, shadowing them from hunting eyes. All night they run, always off the roads and paths. Arriving at their destination exhausted. Caleb recognizes the place. As the sun’s rays break the morning plane the youngster collapses.


Murmur of voices wakes him from his forced slumber, through bleary eyes he sees his mother talking to his aunt and uncle. The voices in the dark, she motions him over.

“Caleb, your father…” She breaks down.

Kneeling before the confused child, his uncle’s eyes are red from crying, “Caleb, ya know your father iz a warrior, right?”

Slowly nodding, he knows where this is going.

“Yer father’s troop met a large force of the enemy.” At the word ‘enemy’ he watches his mother shake, knowing that her people are the ‘enemy.’

His uncle bows his head, then looks into his mothers’ eyes. “I’m sorry, Nahani, I didn’t mean nott’n by it.”

His mother speaks up. “Caleb, you are not safe here anymore.”

With his head down Caleb asks, “Are we going to your people?”

“No, you would not be safe there either.”

“Where are we going?”

“Your uncle has given us a boat.”

“T''iz more o’ a raft, any’ting bigger and youz be spotted.”

“Right, we are going to take it down the Dunna river, you know that one.”

Caleb nods his head. It is the only river that flows from the sea, inland, then disappears beneath the mountains.

Before another word is spoken, flaming arrows crash through the windows. A voice outside yells. “Send dem out Cavin, or we’z burn your place down, with all ya in it.”

His uncle picks him up, runs to the back of the house, opening a trap door in the floor. Placing the satchel on the child, he yells. “Run to da river, git ta Haven.”

His mother cries out, “Come with us.” But even as she says this, she knows that isn't an option. Once again, they run.

Long wild grass offers cover as they creep forward. Blood pounding in Caleb’s head, harrowing screams fill the air, looking back, the house is ablaze. He watches his uncle battling three people, suddenly his body stiffens, and he topples back.

Receiving a gentle push, his little legs continue running toward the water’s edge. Sharp blades of grass slapping against his face and arms, he soon loses direction until they break into the open. Before they reach the raft, two men charge out of the grass. Caleb’s legs lock up.

An arrow flies past him, piercing the throat of the first man, who falls back gurgling and thrashing about. Before his mother can draw another arrow, the second man draws his sword and runs towards his mother. All secrecy is gone She yells “Run Caleb, go …”

The sword arches in the air preparing to cut his mother down. A knife appears in his mother’s hand, three quick stabs to the torso and the man goes down clutching the handle of the blade embedded in his gut.

His mother cries out. “Get in the raft Caleb, untie the ropes.”

Hopping in, he undoes the knots. His mother drags the first man to the water’s edge, pulling the arrow out of his throat and rolls his lifeless body into the water. His blue skin blends with the sea, soon he disappears with the current.

Seeing a puzzled look, she explains to Caleb. "We must be rid of the bodies, they need to believe we burned in the fire, and not escaped.” Giving him a little smile and a wink. Then a strange look comes over her, as dark red blood dribbles from her mouth, clashing with her beautiful golden skin. She stumbles forward, and in doing so pushes the raft into the flowing water. Caleb sees the second man standing over his mother with her knife in his hand. Crying out, he watches his mother’s arm thrust up, jamming the arrow into the man’s throat. He falls forward, landing on his slayer, they roll as one into the water. Caleb tries to paddle towards his mother, but the current is too strong, they drift further and further apart. Caleb hears her call out one word, before she disappears, ‘Haven.’

Time means nothing to him, days blur into nights. He eats the food and drinks the water from the supplies and drifts with the current.

One word repeats itself in his head, Haven.


The haunting cry of a loon pierces the morning silence, it’s echoes float along with the wispy pockets of mist hovering above the gentle river. Sprawled out on the damp planks of his raft Caleb slowly opens his eyes. Inhaling sharply through cracked lips, he no longer tastes the salt water from where his journey began. A shudder ripples through his weakened body, uncontrolled sobs once more rack his tiny frame. No other movement comes from him, he closes his eyes and sleeps again. Once more the solitaire cry of a loon wakens him, an evening lament embracing the night. The raft is beached upon the shore. Through bleary eyes he glimpses his surroundings, the bright scarlet moon lights up the beach. Forcing himself to move, Caleb rolls onto the sand. Dampness chills his body even more than it already is.

Caleb's parents taught him to survive, they had little choice. Accumulating more skills in his few years than most will ever accomplish throughout their entire lives, instinct takes over. Dragging the raft as far as he can onto land, knowing he needs to find food he soon begins the search. Snails and grubs curb his hunger.

In the morning he fills his canteen with the last of his stored water, shoulders the leather satchel and heads into the woods.

With purpose he strides forth, feeling contentment for the first time since he had to flee. He has a purpose, to find a sanctuary, a place where he can live free of abuse and threats from others. Caleb begins to sing, oblivious, for he knew there was no ear to listen to his voice. In truth it gave him courage.

Which was good and bad, for little did he know that by night fall, Garby and three others would be pulling upon the very shores where his raft lay. Their search for him was to begin again.

Carefully walking upon the uneven ground, Caleb darts around fallen trees and knobby roots protruding out of the damp soil. The sharp smell of coniferous trees awakened his senses. By noon he comes across a waterfall, flowing into a river, cutting through a canyon.

Sitting on a large boulder at the water’s edge, Caleb nibbles on the last of his food. It was time to find out exactly where he was going. Unrolling the parchment from the satchel, he gazes upon the brown stained paper, it was blank. There was no map, no words, no directions. No Haven.

His brain goes blank, chased from his home, running for his life, alone and now this. It was too much. Caleb gave a primal scream, cocked his arm back and was in the process of hurtling the parchment into the water. When a voice, deep yet hollow, like his fathers, echoed among the cavern walls.

“Please, do not throw trash into my waters.”

Turning around, towards the voice, there was nothing but shadow and rock.

“Who’s there?”

A warm breeze smelling of lilac and rose washes over him. Stuffing the parchment back in the satchel, Caleb picks up a rock ready to hurl it at the intruder. A soft laugh reverberates in the air, slowly the side of the canyon wall shimmers, like waves of heat rising off a cobble stone street. In one movement the illusion of rock became a dragon, his scaled hide was a myriad of colors, rippling within the shadows and light.

Rearing up on hind legs, the dragon spread his leathery wings, opening his mouth. Caleb stares into the burning eyes of his nightmare. Stumbling back, he trips and falls into the water. He thrashes about, cold liquid fills his mouth as he tries to scream. Great taloned claws wrap around him, raising him up and out, gently placing him on the ground. Coughing, struggling to fill his lungs with air, Caleb’s brain feels equally waterlogged.

“Little man, I had not realized you wished to bathe so badly, although in all honesty I am glad you did. I smelled you when you were still a great distance away.”

Struggling to his feet, Caleb was at a loss, his tiny body began to shake and shiver. Tears flowing freely. “Are you going to eat me?”

Cocking his head, the beast replies. “Why, are you tasty?”

Caleb stutters. “I…I don’t think so.”

“Then, I guess I am not going to eat you.”

Shaking his head, Caleb whispers. “This isn’t real.”

The dragon’s eyes take on a look of concern. “I am sorry, of course you must be frightened and you are soaked.” With that the creature blew gently on Caleb, a warm breeze washes over his wet body and in moments he is warm and dry.

“Now, tell me young sir, what is it you were about to throw into my waters?”

His reply is one word. “Lies.”

“Lies, how can you cast away a lie?”

Confusion crosses the child’s face. “I wasn’t throwing away a lie, I was throwing away the object of a lie.”

“Ahh.” The Dragon pondered.” That does not clear anything up at all.”

Dumping the contents of the satchel onto the ground, he surveys his wet possession. Realizing everything he has in this world is now laying at his feet. Unrolling the parchment to dry off and debating what to do with it. Absently he answers the creature’s statement. “No, I guess it doesn’t clear anything up, but I don’t have an answer to your question or to anything else.”

“Okay, then let me ask you a different question, "Humans do not normally come this way. What brings you here ?”

Given all that Caleb had been through, stumbling onto a dragon did not seem so out of place, and for reasons he could not explain, he was not afraid anymore. There was something soothing about the creature’s mannerism that made him feel relaxed and suddenly he did not feel alone. Without hesitation he told the entire story, from the night with voices in the dark, to the moment he now finds himself in.

The dragon never interrupted, only nodding, and adding the odd huff. When the story was complete, he asks one more question. “So, what will you do?”

“I don’t know, I guess I have no choice but to…”

Before he can finish the dragon cut him off. “Did you come alone?”

“Yes, I told you that.”

The dragon takes a deep breath, “There are people coming, they are not far.”

Caleb scrambles to his feet when he hears voices. Before he can flee, Garby steps out of the forest and into the rocky clearing.

“What do we do?” Caleb turns, there is no answer and no dragon.

“Hey boyz, looks what weez find.”

Caleb tries to run but his feet refuse to move. “Leave me alone, Garby.”

“My da is dead becuze o youz. Wer'z ya ma, we heard ya talk’n?”

Truthfully, he answers, “She isn’t here.”

“Don’t lie ta me, I’m gonna gut ya like a fish.” Turning to his companions he snarls. “Bring em to me.”

Stars spin in Caleb’s head. His vision narrows into a tunnel. He hears his heart pumping. Then all goes quiet, he can no longer hear sounds that surround him, he breathes in deeply, a flash of light blinds him, then all goes black.

When Caleb came too, the dragon was back, and staring toward the forest, its fringes now charred. Four blackened lumps lay curled by the water’s edge.

“What did you do?” He heard himself say.

A deep voice calmly replies. “Nothing.”

“Nothing, it sure doesn’t look like nothing, they’re dead.”

“I can see that, but I did not do this.”

Caleb approaches the dragon. In a far-off voice, he asks already knowing the answer. “Who did?”

Turning to the child, in a sad voice, he answers. “You did. I do not think they gave you a choice. “

In a trance, Caleb begins to walk away suddenly the dragon speaks again. "Look, your parchment, it’s no longer blank.”

Caleb walks over to the scroll, now full of words and images.

The hollow voice, like his father speaks up. “I think we know where we are going now.”

Holding the paper in his hand, Caleb says. “It is unfinished, this is just part of the journey…wait did you say, we?”

“Yes, we.”

"But, you abandoned me when I needed you."

The dragon solemnly replies. "Know this, I may not always appear by your side, but I shall never abandon you."

Caleb whispers. "Besides, who wants to be with me."

A soft but deep voices echoes off the canyon walls. "Even in the harshest soil a flower may bloom."

"What ...what did you say?"

With a shrug the dragon continues. “I have been having these dreams, you and I are supposed to do this journey together. If so, then introductions are in order.”

With what could only be a smile, the dragon bows. “I am Parr'-linii, and you are?”

Staring at the stained brown paper in his hand. Caleb thinks of his father, his mother, and replies. “Haven, my name is Haven.”

I would like to thank you for reading my story.

I would also like to thank my wife, Linda for reading and re-reading this with me. Her input is truly appreciated.

If you liked it, please click on the little heart, and subscribe as a reader. (There is no junk mail attached when you subscribe).



About the Creator


I have enjoyed writing for most of my life, never professionally.

I wish to now share my stories with others, lets see where it goes.

Born and raised on the Canadian Prairies, I currently reside on the West Coast. I call both places home.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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Comments (15)

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  • Dana Crandell20 days ago

    Imaginative and full of great imagery. Well done!

  • Anfas Mohammed27 days ago


  • Wow, this deserves more attention. Great job!!

  • The Invisible Writerabout a month ago

    You are really good at description. Very good story

  • Donna Foxabout a month ago

    Such an amazing story and a great read!

  • Emily Marie Concannonabout a month ago

    Wow, Jason such an underrated story!! Deserves way more hearts :) So good :)

  • Tom Jardine2 months ago

    Again, I like your work Jason. Keep 'em coming!

  • Novel Allen2 months ago

    I though this was a Haiku. A great plot. Second time reading. Subscribed and hearted.

  • Morgana Miller4 months ago

    I love the little word-pictures you paint in the scene transitions, it makes the story feel so cinematic and visual, and brought the world & setting to life in this subtle, atmospheric way. You have a unique voice that I quite enjoy, too. There's this pleasant sparseness to it in places, and then it's balanced by these vivid details, and I can't really think of anyone I'd compare it to. This was a really wonderful read!

  • Cathy holmes4 months ago

    Jason, this is a beautiful take on the prompt. Poetic and action packed. Great job.

  • I love the poetic beginning which quickly leads to a lot of swift action and tense emotion. Well written. Good job!

  • Heather Hubler4 months ago

    A wonderful story! I was so sad when his mom didn't make it too, but I'm so glad he met up with the dragon. I really liked the dream connection as well. Great work :)

  • Jordan Twiss4 months ago

    This was a good little tale. It can be challenging to start a story with an intense action sequence, but you did a good job of making the reader care about Caleb and his mother, so it worked. I think you've setup a story and world with good potential for continuation!

  • Gal Mux4 months ago

    I like how the boy chose to let go of the past for a new beginning...

  • Arpad Nagy4 months ago

    Very nice. Great dialect writing.

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