CHAPTER THREE: THE TALE OF MOONRAY:
“Did I ever tell you the tale of Moonray?” Ashfall asked the excited scallings.
“No! No!” they echoed throughout the group, hopping from hoof to hoof, tails curling and uncurling, wings flared as hyper Sielfaci do. The season-old Storm Sielfaci were anticipating the young warrior’s next marvellous tale as they usually did every few evenings.
Ashfall knew almost every myth, folklore, famous battle and legendary Sielfaci that ever happened in Hellagon, which thrilled the story-hungry scallings and newlings. The ashlings were always too busy with their Asherguards for stories like his, and the newlings were too little and vulnerable for his bloodier, more dramatic battle tales.
The story he was about to tell the assembled scallings was not full of blood-lust, but a younger audience would not be fitting, as it was… a very deep tale, he could say. It was not just Ashfall’s knowledge of the history of Hellagon that the youthful Sielfaci loved, it was his storytelling abilities - the description, the tones of his voice, just the way he told the dramatic and intriguing tales.
“Well then. I’ll begin.” There was utter silence from the small crowd. Most were lying down, though a few were sitting on their haunches, a stance common for Sielfaci.
“Which Flampade was Moonray from?” one of the scallings piped up. The others shushed her, but Ashfall was happy to answer the filly’s question.
“From Storm Flampade,” Ashfall replied, a glint in his deep brown eyes. The scallings gasped. Most often his stories were of Sielfaci from the other four Flampades, and so a tale from their midst was especially interesting.
“Is she the Legendary Sielfaci for Storm Flampade?” a colt squeaked.
“Yes, didn’t you guys know?” Ashfall questioned, confused.
He had owned that knowledge in the first week of his life, and these colts and fillies had all lived over a season, 80 days.
“Anyway, I’ll begin." Ashfall cleared his throat for emphasis. "Moonray was always different. Well, for a filly born to our mighty Flampade at least. You see, a Storm Sielfaci can never be black, can it? All the other Flampades can have a steed born black, and Earth Sielfaci can be older than you guys and still have a black coat, but no, not us. We must never be born black.”
“And this was why Moonray was so different. She was born as dark as a moonless night, with a large white star on her forehead. Her scales were a colour that consisted of both purple and dark blue in a galaxy style, and her wings faded from deep purple to almost navy. She was very beautiful, yet to her Flampade she was a disgrace; and outcast.”
“Moonray’s father wanted her killed on the spot. ‘She had to be a bad omen,’ he had said. ‘Her coat colour is a warning from the Sanfrose that she can not be trusted. She will bring war to the five Flampades of Hellagon!’ he had said. But Moonray’s mother stood up for her. ‘Why wouldn’t the Sanfrose just have her born dead if she was so dangerous?’”
“Poor Moonray. Her family torn apart over something as silly as the colour of her coat. Yet six hundred years ago, when Moonray walked the ancient lands of Hellagon, the Flampades were incredibly fragile. And like she had stepped on thin ice over a deep pond, the Storm Sielfaci cracked and plunged into turmoil.”
“But at least Moonray had her brave mother, you think. Well, she did for her first 80 passings of the moon and sun at least. Because, you see, the Soresta of Storm Flampade back then, all those centuries ago, was a very considerate mare. She believed that life should be fair. She hated it when newlings, scallings and ashlings soared to gallop with the Sanfrose, despising the way that their chance at life was snatched away too quickly. And so the Soresta had agreed to execute the unfortunate Moonray the day she became a scalling.”
“Of course, though, her mother could not bear to lose her dear filly. But no matter how courageous and protective Moonray’s mother was, her hooves were not the sharpest in the battle. Instead of hiding herself and Moonray somewhere, she instead chose to stick up for Moonray on that unfortunate day of her execution.”
“And so when the Soresta was about to land the deathblow, the steed tackled her to the ground. The two mares fought evenly for a few minutes, but soon Moonray’s mother was bleeding heavily from many wounds, while the Soresta only had a few scraps dealt to her body. Remember, this mare had won the Tournament of the New Soresta.”
“Moonray’s mother was rapidly tiring. Then, pinned to the ground but a deadly sharp hoof on her blood-smeared scales, the Soresta reared up and delivered the killing strike originally meant for Moonray.”
“And yet Moonray still had one friend. While her father loathed her, one of his oldest friends had agreed to help Moonray if her mother ever… fell. But why, yous ask? Because this steed had always fancied Moonray’s mother. Since they were ashlings, so the stories say. Even though it meant breaking his friendship with Moonray’s father, Lightningstorm had promised Moonray’s now deceased mother to save the filly, and the promise would remain to the grave.”
“The two had always been good friends, and so even though she was blinded by grief, Moonray trusted Lightningstorm. Especially after he convinced the Soresta that enough death had happened today - it was not the Tournament of the New Soresta, he had said, so why was there fighting and killing between the Storm Sielfaci?”
“Saying that he had a good point, the Soresta sighed and stated that Moonray could live for a season longer. Moonray had cheated death twice now, quickly dodged his cruel attacks. But for how long? The question haunted the black-coated filly every night when she closed her eyes, tiptoed through her dreams, her everyday thoughts. With her mother gone, she only had Lightningstorm to protect her from dangers inside her own Flampade.”
“But one day, Lightningstorm-”
“Ashfall! Come quickly! A foreign Sielfaci has been spotted in our territory, near the current grazing and hunting grounds!” Rainscale barked. The battle leader didn’t appreciate the time he spent story-telling with the young steeds of Storm Flampade.
“Sorry, gotta go!” he whinnied over his shoulder to the scallings as he cantered away.
“But we never got to finish the story!” one whined.
“Ashfall, NOW!” Rainscale hollered. The adrenaline rush of the possible battle rushing through his young veins, he followed after his commander. She speedily lined up her set of 100 warrior mares and stallions and they took off into the clouds. And Ashfall never got to finish his story.