CHAPTER FOUR: DREAMS AND DEATH
“Silverwind, the Water Flampade army have entered our territory past the Silmara River!” the young, recently promoted battle-leader, Cloudscale, quickly recited to the brand new soresta. The Tournament of the New Soresta had only been held four days ago.
“Gather your warriors! Tell the other eight to prepare for war, and bring Mistscale to me!” Silverwind ordered the white-coated battle-leader, looking into his excited eyes. He could almost see the adrenaline rushing behind them at the prospect of his first war while commanding a group of 100 warriors.
“Yes sir!” Cloudscale said, and cantered across the grazed down grasslands to inform the other nine battle-leaders of Silverwind’s orders.
“Silverwind!” Mistscale nickered as she galloped towards Silverwind.
“Mistcloud! Pick eight others from your ranks and meet back round at the Bileal Tree! We are to spy on these invaders before battle.”
“Yes, Silverwind. Good plan,” the dapple grey mare said, before shaking out her dark grey mane and following Silverwind’s orders. Her scales, starting out a bright, sunrise pink and fading to a soft, misty grey, caught the light of the sun, reflecting it blindly into Silverwind’s eyes. He had not yet chosen his close-one, and Mistscale, whose name would change back to Miststrider if he chose her, would be an excellent choice, with her natural charisma, clever ideas, problem solving, battle skills, leadership, incredible flight abilities, some of the best in even Air Flampade, who were the best fliers in Hellagon, and, he had to say, her looks…
With just one flap of her wings, which were the reverse colour pattern of her scales, she lifted gracefully into the air to pick her spies for the short mission on which Silverwind was soon to commence. His eyes filled with her beauty and how much he wanted her. He had only just realized now his unbroken adoration for the fierce warrior mare. Silverwind decided he would ask her to lead Air Flampade by his side, to be his most beloved, trusted confident, and overall, close-one, after their mission, and possibly the battle that might lead on from whatever they saw while spying.
Silverwind cantered a few strides, and then lifted off, which was pretty good since Sielfaci aren’t generally the best at take-offs, and so Mistscale was really something special, since she could become airborne from a stand-still. She was especially something special in Silverwind’s eyes… he loved her. Loved her loved her loved her. And it would shatter his heart into a million pieces if she refused his offer to be his close-one.
Up in the air, the wind was warm and gently blew south-east - the direction Silverwind was traveling. The humongous Bileal Tree was just visible from where he was, as it was closest to the Season of Ice grazing grounds. It’s hazy blue leaves shimmered and shuffled in the soft breeze, beckoning their magical abilities to all who could see. A truly fabulous landmark it was in Hellagon, with it’s marvellous healing qualities. Qualities you’d need if you were ever to face one of the tiny terrorizing squirrels that are hidden between the thickly woven branches until you get too close and they leap out and latch agonizingly onto your face.
He started to soar lower and lower, slowly though, so his landing would be nice and neat. Mistscale wouldn’t quite be there yet, though she was probably close on his tail. If he was in her view, he wanted to make a good impression on the love of his life. Silverwind flared his wings wider, arching them in the middle, harnessing the wind so that the air molecules could group beneath his dark silver wings and create drag, which would slow his descent and let his landing be light on his delicate dapple grey legs.
Floating like a feather to the undisturbed, thin line of snow, that laced the short-cropped grassland around the Bileal Tree during the current Season of Ice, he waited for Mistscale and her eight chosen spies. His hoofsteps created obvious marks in the snow, so if he had to run Mistscale would be able to track him. The small section of their territory surrounding the Bileal Tree was flat and bare for miles. The grass was always dry and brown like a cicada skin, and there was no source of water.
None of these dangers mattered if you could get possession of just one of the Bileal Tree’s powerful magic healing leaves, but with those squirrels guarding them… that was unlikely. And the squirrels weren’t the only danger. Around the tree, strange magic twirled invisibly in the air, creating all kinds of havoc and crazy threats. It wasn’t safe to stay around the Bileal Tree for long.
Suddenly, a pleasant whinny broke Silverwind’s thoughts. Mistscale had arrived.
“Right. Shall we get moving then?” the mare asked straight away.
“Yes. We’ll head right away to the small copse of pines by the Silmara River, where the Water Flampade army is lurking,” Silverwind informed the attentive Silefaci. “Mistscale, would you care to lead the formation?”
Without a word the dreamy mare lifted of and rose to the clouds while Silverwind and the other eight ate her dust, unable to take flight so effortlessly. As they flew the short journey, Silverwind assessed their predicament.
So the entire Water Flampade army had entered their territory south-east on the southern side of the Silmara River. Water Flampade was most vulnerable in the Season of Ice, since they couldn’t swim when the Methrefa Lake was iced over, and the mountains were dangerous with all the avalanches of overpiled snow, which often cut off their water sources. Their territory being the coldest place in Hellagon, the snow didn’t easily melt, and eating snow was certain death to a Sielfaci, as only when the substance was in it’s liquid form could their bodies process it. Water Flampade must have run out of drinking supply and come to battle Air Flampade for their fresh flowing water!
“I know why-” Silverwind started to tell the others of his discovery, but he was cut off by Mistscale’s panicked cry.
“Silverwind, watch out!”
Too late though, and dizzying pain split his forehead as he was clubbed by a lashing Water Flampade tail. They were under attack! Silverwind spun quickly around to face the warrior who was challenging him, and kicked the stallion hard in the shoulder, sending him thudding painstakingly to the snow-lined earth. One down… about 1000 to go. And only ten warriors to match Water Flampade’s hugh ranks.
“Silverwind! Go back to the rest of Air Flampade. The army are assembled, get them to come! I’ll hold them for as long as I can!” Mistscale screamed.
“No! I can’t leave you here alone!” Silverwind bellowed in reply.
“As highest ranking battle-leader-” she paused to ram a stallion in the chest so hard he was picked clean out of the air, and landed hard and awkward, instantly breaking his neck. “It is my duty to protect my Flampade at the cost of my life! You must go back to them!”
Whipping a mare in the face with his tail and receiving a painful blow to the shin that buckled his legs and threw him off balance, Silverwind cried for the eight warriors to get the army. Just as he was about to slice a deep cut just under a small mare’s shoulder, a heart-breaking, shrill whinny pierced the clouds, stopping the whole, extremely one-sided battle for a second.
“Mistscale!” Silverwind screamed, nose diving towards the snow where Mistcloud was tumbling. He had just seen what had sent her diving so rapidly - a death kick between her wings, the most vulnerable, sensitive part of a Sielfaci. “No!”
The mare lay, gasping for air, her eyes wild with pain. Her time was almost up. Far too soon… Silverwind felt all his hopes, dreams, and joy shatter into one, dull grey pile of dust, Mistscale… Miststrider… his one and only love, the happiness in his life, the difference between the bright colours of the world and the gloomy darkness.
“No… Miststrider…” he breathed.
“Silverwind,” she managed to croak. Now was his last and only chance to say how he felt about the dying Miststrider.
“I-I love you,” he said, his voice cracking with grief as he watched her life, and his purpose, drain out of her before his very eyes.
“I love you too.”
“Miststrider!” Silverwind gasped as he awoke from his terrible dream. Luckily he didn’t awake any other Sielfaci at this time of night. He sighed sadly, remembering his beloved Miststrider. He had Flowerpetal, who he also loved dearly, but Miststrider… his heart was missing it’s very core, and always would be until he joined her among the Sanfrose.
And those last words she had spoken… he had told no one, no one, those words. They were the only thing that kept him from nose diving onto sharp rocks and not spreading his wings to catch himself. Those words… they were the last traces of his happiness.