Chayse: A Short Story

Words: 1916
Pages: 8

The tunnel at the bottom of the stairs snaked its way through the cliffs banking the north side of Windy Cove Bay. Marley and Chayse loaded up a small cart, inconspicuously tucked beneath the staircase.

“I take it there’s not an animal to pull this thing?” Chayse asked in distaste, throwing his pack on top of the boxes.

“Depends on one’s definition of animal,” Marley said, tilting his head to look Chayse in the eye from beneath bushy brows. “Let’s get to this, shall we, youngster?”

With deft hands Marley fashioned two harnesses and after a couple of stop and go attempts at finding a compatible walking-pulling rhythm they made good progress.

When he called mage-light to brighten the dark tunnels Chayse asked. “Are you not afraid of
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Leave the packs until we know what we face.” Marley said as he moved back toward the entrance. “To the right, keep to the cliff’s face and watch for signs of our friends.”

They dashed out of the tunnel, hugging the cliff wall just as the sun sent watery rays through the cloud bank threatening to blot out the horizon. With each footstep, the sand slide back in on Marley’s boots making him feel like he ran in slow motion. Each step a struggle for momentum. He came to a huffing halt in a stand of sunburst locusts he spied from the tunnel. Chayse, only a step behind, stumbled past him before stopping.

“Can you shimmy yourself up that tree and have a look around about?” Marley asked, his voice felt like gravel in his throat as he whispered. “I saw no signs of their passage, but what is sticking in my craw is that I cannot sense the dragonkin’s essence or any signature of their passage. The essence of this place is changing rather quickly and everything is muddy.”

“I saw no signs either, but maybe I will spot something from up there,” Chayse said, his voice a quiet murmur as he adjusted his bow and cloak. He jumped for a low branch, swinging up onto the limb and quickly disappearing into the profusion of green
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After a few moments, he turned to Marley and said. “It is Mek. He understands what you said and confirms that one of his great-on-great circle mothers was taken by rsakmorg as a young slave and her offspring sold as a slave and so on and so on.” Chayse reached his hand out to the animal letting him sniff his fingers. Soon he scurried up Chayse’s arm, perching on his shoulder.

“What is he doing? Can he tell you anything about the Dragonkin? Are there many…” Marley stopped mid-sentence as Chayse patted the air, his eyes wide and unfocused. Mek stood on Chayse’s shoulder, his small paw touching the boy’s temple.

Unsure what the creature did to Chayse, Marley reached for his dagger. But before he could decide what to do with it, without hurting either of them the animal let go of Chayse’s head. He curled up in a small ball on the boy’s shoulder and hid his head behind the fluff of his long tail. Chayse stood with a bemused expression on his face.

Marley expelled his breath like a horse and said, “Young’uns and their strange pets these days.” A picture of Kestrel and her Yanzul, Sirrsi, when they bonded hung in his mind as he walked over to gather his packs. With a shake of his head he said, “We don’t have time for this, like you said the tide turns and half of our party is still missing. Did he have any useful