FAREN: A Dragon's Tale and related concepts are copyright © Maher Al-Samkari, Benjamin
Wallace and MODUS Productions.  All images here (unless otherwise specified) are copyright

© Maher Al-Samkari, and may not be removed without permission .


 

"Powerful (indeed) are the winds of fate.
Powerful (also) are the winds of mischance.
Often, these two collide (in an ever repeating cycle)
of birth and destruction.  Accept this, such as it is,
such is the nature of the chords.  Sadly, however,
it seems that it is all too often the Suchinai
who are (fated to suffer the most) when these winds meet."
                                              A'kithas'elem Golorad
 

FAREN: A Dragonís Tale

Episode 2

---------------------------------------------------------------------
CAPTION

Height of the 15th century since Lur,

In a refugee tent on the outskirts the city of Lende,
a once proud scion of the frontier now bathed in fire,

A second glimpse into the future . . .

    Hysterical cries rising in a wave among countless injured are like
a singular, piercing knell as a boyís body slumps lifelessly to the floor.
As a red pool begins to expand from beneath his form, his fingers still
clutch desperately at the robes of the young ilif that has become, seemingly,
his unwary executioner. . . Around them, chaos erupts, as those who are still
able struggle to claw their way through the immobile wounded  to the exits,
only to be held at bay by guardsmen that struggle to retain some semblance of order . . .

   Wthin seconds, the paralysis-inducing effect of the horror of the situation loses
its hold . . . and the singular, numbing thought left screaming in the hapless young
girl's mind is, ironically, voiced by the captain of the local guard who stands
not 3 paces away . . .)

Captain:  WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?

Girl:   I . . . I . . . I donít . . .

     (The girl does not complete her sentence as the cold steel of a guantleted hand
grips her wrist, wrenching her away with a jolt, and hesitating little before
hurling her roughly to the floor . . . )

Captain:  (shouting) You!  Take her outside, and get rid of her!  Quickly!
                                 Seargeant, bring the doctor!

Girl:  I donít understand . .the  . . .  the blade . .. Oh Shit . . .

     (The Ilif girl is seemingly doubly dumbfounded, by both the unreality of the
current course of events, as well as the dizziness that still lingers her in the
wake of  her fall . . .It is when the sounds of men wading through the chaotic
ranks alight to her sensitive ears, however, that she finds the resolve to shake
this vertigo free . . .)

Girl:  Itís not too late!!

(To the furthered surprise of the troop captain, she rises to her knees, pulling
the dagger forcefully from the boyís chest.  Relieved of the inward pressure of
the blade, the wound begins to gush freely--erupting blood in
rhythmic spurts driven by the child's still pounding heart  . . .)

Girl:  It should not have entered!!

Captain: Get away from the child!!!

Girl:  No, wait!!

     (The girlís protest goes unnoticed as two pairs of armored hands wring her
shoulders, pulling her forcefully to her feet. . . the guards barely manage to
retain their grip, however, as the girl struggles with all her might--
writhing madly and shouting at the top of her lungs . . . )

Girl:  (screaming) LET ME GO!

Captain:  So help me, Iíll have you put down right HERE, girl!

Girl:  I can help him, I swear - I made a mistake now let me right it! IT WAS A MISTAKE!

    (Unfazed by her plea, the Captain turns to one of his subordinates--a wide-eyed
Lieutennant who, like his companions, stands partially transfixed by the situation that
has asserted itself within the last 45 seconds. . .)

Captain:  Get her out of here!  Take her to the edge of the camp and --

Girl:  Iím telling the truth!!

Captain:  Where is the Doctor?!

Girl:  LISTEN TO ME!!!

Captain:  Be QUIET!

Girl:  LET me try!!! If I donít save him you can kill me anyway!

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FAREN:  A Dragonís Tale

Episode 2:  "Burn"

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Caption:

 Eighty years ago . . .
 

     (A bright midmorning sun shines down upon a small, ramshackle cottage
on the outskirts of the city of Glenden.  The house is humble, to say the least,
marked from the rest by the decaying remnants of a windmill atop its tall roof,
little more than a pen for animals on its eastern exterior, and a small barn which
lies adjacent to keep the livestock. . . it is here, in the small sectioned-off area among the
chickens, pigs, and odd goat, that the diminutive figure of a small boy stands . . .

          The child--who is now only slightly more sensibly dressed in a drab olive
tunic and pants which are yet too big for him, watches with a strangely fixed
interest at the chickens which paw and scratch at the ground about his feet.
Though he is a relatively sizable intruder in the very center of their holding
pen, they continue to feed as if oblivious to his presence altogether;
unaware or uncaring of his odd fixation on their behavior.

    It is a feeling that this boy has become strangely comfortable with,
in the week or so since first stepping foot on Glendenium soil.

        Of all the creatures moving about the small pen there is one, though,
which remains rooted in place.  A small goat which stands a safe distance
away from the interloper, staring at him with what he can only discern as
being a pair of fearsomely fixed eyes--if the expression of such an animal
could be called such, he muses. With a sigh, the child recounts that it is
this same distance that the animal has maintained between them both for
the past hour, despite the boy's best attempts to come closer to complete
his assigned task.  Warily now, he glances down at the empty wooden bucket
hanging loosely from the fingers of his left hand--and nearly jumps out of his
skin, an instant later, at the sound of a voice from inside the house calling loudly. .  )

Aerianna:  Boy!

Boy:  . . .!

Aerianna: Boy! Did you finish getting the milk?

Boy:  I . . . havenít.

Aerianna:  not yet?? Why not?

Boy:  It . . . won't let me go near.

Aerianna:  What are you talking about?! Whoa--

        (The girl is cut off as the clatter of falling pans carries from the open window
of the cottage, immediately followed by a string of muffled curses.

        A moment later, Aerianna Goodtree's bedraggled young face appears at
the window  . . .)

Aerianna:  What do you mean it wonít let you?? you ARE trying to milk the GOAT, right??

Boy:  Your 'goat' won't let me!

     (Aerianna's head shakes once in frustration before it disappears from
the window entirely, and for a moment, the boy can hear only the sound
of the puttering livestock at his feet.  Finally, the front door of the house
opens, allowing a very impatient looking ilif to step outside.

    Turning around the east side of the structure, Aerianna roughly pulls loose
knot in the small rag holding her hair back, glaring at the boy as intently as
he remains in place, watching her chickens . . )

Aerianna:   What are you doing playing with the chickens?
                You were supposed to get the milk for today!

Boy:  It is not my fault, Aerianna!  The animal inside wonít allow me near it.

Aerianna:  (laughing)  Honestly, Boy, when I took you in last week
                                I expected you to be difficult . . . new ones always
                                are . . .but gawking at my animals
                                is a whole new level of foolishness . . .

Boy:  Why is it foolish?  I told you itís afraid of me.

Aerianna:  How can something as small as you scare Hilde?
                You didn't try to spook her, did you?

Boy: !?  No . .

             (The child starts, looking at the Ilif with surprised eyes . . .

             The girlís callousness about the subject, however, soon alludes
him to the proper way to react . .)

Boy:  what is that suppose to mean . . . ?

Aerianna:  Youíre a weird one.  Plain and simple.

Boy: . . .

---------------------------------------------------------------------

     (The rest of the morning goes on without consequence, as the ilif gathers
the rest of the ingredients for what will constitute that dayís breakfast.  Soon,
the smell of cooking bread and the hiss of an iron teakettle that has come to boil
fill the compact space of the cozy kitchen nestled in the corner of the small house.
Seated in the main room which lies adjacent, meanwhile, the stranger that the young
woman has come to refer to as, simply ,'boy', watches curiously the girl darting back
and forth between the stove and the cupboard.  He notes the particular caution
with which the ilif handles a certain spice bag; taking care to withdraw only the
most minute amount to mix into the now howling pot of tea . . .

    The interior of the house stands as a stark contrast to the somewhat  haggardly exterior:
a well furnished little hovel lies to be found within, with woven chairs and a strong oak table
occupying the largest of the three rooms.  On the walls, warm  accents such as hanging quilts
covered with blessings written in the intricate runeforms of the Ilif dialect decorate the otherwise
drab woodgrain.  Among the illuminations, an ornate, hewn bow sits mounted above the
mantleplace, its smooth surface marred by residual soot from the fireplace below, bespeaking
many years of disuse . . .

    Wincing at the heightened pitch of the teapot, Aerianna removes the kettle from its place on
the stove, causing the wail coming from its small spout to fade and fall like a dying wind.
It is only when the ringing in her ears subsides, then, that she takes notice of a familiar inquiry
coming from her young visitor . . .)

Boy:  Tell me again, what do you do in this city?

     (Frowning, the girl turns without answering. . .)

Boy:  Well?

     (Aerianna grunts, straining to reach a wooden cup on the topmost shelf near the window . .)

Aerianna:  (breathlessly) Do you have absolutely no memory whatsoever?
                                            I told you before.  Twice.  Iím a shamen. Pay attention.

Boy:  That's not very specific.

    (sighing, the girl pauses, facing the inquisitive youngster . . )

Aerianna:  Well, if you didn't know, you should have just said so.
                 "Shamen" is a southern term for a one who heals.
                 I'm well practiced with . . herbs . . roots and tonics.  Things like that.
                 It makes business easier in a city such as this, when you ascribe to
                 the terms used by the rest of the people . . .no matter how ignorant they may be.
                 Think about it.  Why did you think I was examining you in the street?

Boy:  Well . . .

---------------------------------------------------------------------
    (Meanwhile . . . in a peak high above the world, near the inner rim of the collection
of geologic spires that encircle the central peaks of the mountain known as Echelon . . . )

Nara:  My lord, you are enraged! Please, to leave now would be too brash-

Oryn:  Time is of the essence.  To hesitate would only worsen the damage already being done. . .

Nara:  He is a foolish child, yes!  But, perhaps, entitled to make a mistake at so young an-

Oryn:  Edict forbids leaving our sacred home. To consort with the Suchinai is the greater offense,
            the cost of its misdeed taught to hatchlings from the very moment they crawl from their motherís
            nests.    You know, as well as I, this is a trespass not so easily forgiven. If he is among the lower
            ones, then he has done so knowing full well the punishment his actions entail.

Nara: But he is your son . . .

Oryn:  The fact that he is my child does not render the consequences of his crime in his favor. . . Rather, the
            council may demand the contrary . . .

Nara: NO!

Oryn:  You have allowed your love for him to blind you, Wife!

Nara:  My child will NOT BE MADE AN EXAMPLE OF!

Oryn:  The decision is not mine.  It lies with Voth and the others . . .

Nara:  Of which you are one.  You reside upon the council, you can sway them to favor a more lenient action-

Oryn: ENOUGH!!

     (The shout is enough to be heard from outside the dreary, gray catacomb that is
the home of Oryn and his mate . . . subjugated once more, the female falls silent,
turning her eyes to the stone floor  . . . it is with slow, deliberate speech that Oryn presses on . . .)

Oryn:  (Darkly) Never again will you tender such thoughts, in my presence or otherwise.
                           Our law has never been so unstable as it is now . . . and you. . . you
                           beg me to offset this delicate balance even more by undermining it.  I, who resides
                           on the very council of eight planes itself?  I am more subject to our laws than any other!
                            What you propose is madness. . .
Nara: . . .

     (Not a word falls from her lips, as the larger male casts an unbroken gaze upon her. . .)

Oryn: Once  night has fallen, I shall leave.

     (Beneath the scowl of her mate, Nara finds herself compelled to do no more than nod.

    As he lumbers toward the cave exit, Oryn utters coldly to the female whose head, now,  sits humbly bowed )

Oryn:   I shall retrieve my son.

     (With these final words, the dragon disappears into the tunnel leading toward the grotto's exit . . .
Amoment passes, before Nara raises her eyes.

    She is not entirely silent, however, as she dutifully follows behind . . .
cursing her invalidity , quietly, under her own breath . . .)

---------------------------------------------------------------------
 

Boy:  Is-isnít that how people do it?!

Aerianna:   (laughing) NOT like that, boy.  I donít know where you get your info
                on the wind and the rain, but I'd be long dead before I do
                ANYTHING like that with a kid like you.  Youíre one-sixth my age for
                goddessí sake.

Boy: . . .

Aerianna:  Funny thing, that.  Usually I get a look of shock from people when I divulge my age . . .
              it's not something ilif hold in high significance, but it seems important to your people  . .usually . . .

     (He begins to speak, then thinks better of it, nodding complacently.
Aerianna wipes her eyes, finally retrieving the cups from the cupboard. . . )

Aerianna:  Look, now that that nasty bit of business is out of the way,
                do you think you can tell me your name?

Boy:  Don't have one.

Aerianna:   Do you honestly expect me to believe, in this day and age,
                  that a child of your age has no name at all?  Don't you trust me?
                  What, are you afraid I might steal your soul?

    (The child is unusually quiet, glancing from the girl, to the simmering tea that has been placed before him.

    Slapping her forhead once, Aerianna retracts . .)

Aerianna:  I'm not going to steal your soul.

Boy:  It doesn't matter, I really don't know what to tell you.

Aerianna:  You know,  I could be deaf and dumb and STILL tell you were lying. . .

Boy:  How?

Aerianna:  For one, I can tell you arenít as stupid as you claim to be.

Boy:  I don't claim to be stupid!

Aerianna:  And two, youíre too young to have been any real harm to anyone.
            You ARE naïve, and I will attest to that.

Boy:  . . .

     (The ilif sips her tea, leaning back in her seat . . )

Aerianna:  Well? We can let this little game continue, or you can  spill it. It's your choice.

Boy: spill . . it? Are you sure?

Aerianna:  If I wasnít, would I be asking you yet again?

Boy:  I guess not . . .

Aerianna:  Okay then.

Boy . .very well . . .

     (With these words, the boy upends his cup--spilling its contents on the table . . .
much to the girl's displeasure . . .)

Aerianna: HEY! That's my table!!

Boy:  You told me to "spill it!"

Aerianna:  I didnít mean your tea, boy!!  It was a figure of speech!

     (As the girl hastily mops up the liquid with a rag, she eyes the boy, shaking her head. . .)

Aerianna:  I take it back, maybe you ARE as stupid as you look!

Boy: . .

    (Yet, as the ilif descends from her chair, mumbling a string of curses under her breath
as she catches errant drops of the rogue liquid with her kerchief before they hit the floor,
she does not see the child steal a glance . . . nor  the almost sly look of relief that flashes
momentarily on his face . . . )

     (Suddenly, however, the girl freezes in place--her head rising slowly,
almost as if impelled by some unseen influence. . .)

Aerianna:  A runner?

Boy: huh . . .?

    (the girl silences the boy with a wave of her hand, turning her attention to the front door . . .)

    (It is a full moment before the child can hear it himself--the sound of a quickened
stride, muffled by the walls of the young ilif's abode. . .

    Dropping the rag to the floor, Aerianna rises to her feet, squinting  as she gazes
cautiously out the small eastern window...)

Aerianna:  (whispering) can't be a messenger . . he's going too fast, and he's not pacing himself . . .

Boy:  you were expecting someone?

Aerianna: Shh!  no . . .

    (Another moment passes.  Goodtree's expression is a mask of sheer suspicion as the
footsteps grow louder . . .

    Then, with a start, the girl seems to snap into recognition--pulling open the front door.
The shrill, sonorous metal creek that the aged portal makes as it yawns wide open is
enough to cause the boy to jump from his seat with a yelp . . .)

Voice:  (shouting) Goodtree!!  MISS GOODTREE!!

Aerianna:  Iím coming!

Voice:  Shamen, you have to help!

Aerianna: Calm down--Mr. Boyle, isn't it? Whatís happened?!

    (Unsure of the nature of this new visitor , the boy remains fixed in place,
watching carefully at the conversation that unfolds between his host and this new interloper .

    The man is young, no older than twenty and dressed in heavy cotton worker's
clothes sparsely caked with mud.  Dried bits of dirt cover his face and hands as well,
crumbling and falling off in  pieces as he rests his hands on his knees.  With several thirsty
gasps, he attempts to simultaneously catch his breath while explaining the situation to the ilif . . .)

Boyle:  (panting) Outside the town- . . .one of the farmhands . . . heís been hurt . . .
                                We were digging a ditch to irrigate the northern fields--to offset
                                the drought-- when we heard him scream . .

     (Grabbing a small bag placed beside the door with, the elfís expression becomes very, very sober)

Aerianna:  How bad is it?!

Boyle:  It was one of the traps, set out for digra.
            He tripped it while looking for one of his oxen.

    (Aerianna scowls, the young man's sense of urgency creeping into her own blood . . .)

Aerianna: (snarling) trappers and their damned snares! Let me get my things--!

    (The ilif closes the door part way, reaching for a leather satchel suspended from a
hook on the wall . . .)

Aerianna:  Okay, let's go . .

Boyle:  This way . . .

    (The girl takes one step over the threshold, before coming to a halt--shooting  a
look to the young boy still standing at the foot of the table, and announcing curtly . . )

Aerianna:  Boy!  Stay here and don't touch anything!

Boyle:  Come on . . .!

     ( The ilif affords herself one last glance before shutting the heavy wooden door behind her.

    For a few seconds, the sounds of their voices can be heard on the other side--muffled again
by the house's thick exterior. Driven curious beyond his remaining control, the child uproots
himself from the spot where he stands, stepping nimbly toward the portal even as the voices
begin to fade . . .)

---------------------------------------------------------------------
 

     (Meanwhile, upon the lofty cliffs of mount echelon  . . . betwixt the rocky spires and jutting, needle-like
formations which stab through the sky like stony spears,in the furthest reaches of a grotto not dissimilar to
the one belonging to Oryn and his mate, two occupants take refuge in the cool shade. . .

     The first is the lithe figure of a young female, her  features are not far removed
from those of  her mother, save for a vast difference of age bemeaned by the soft color of her scales. . .)

Vasha:  I hope father will not be too hard on him.

        (From behind her, another voice--that belonging to the second of the two dragons--
echoes from the darkness beyond. . .

    This one, like that of his sister, is younger than that of his elder counterpart, but at the same time,
its timbre  many years older than Vashaís . . .)

Paern:  If he is punished, it will be his own foolish actions that bring it upon him.

Vasha:  How can you say that, Paern? He is our brother . . .

Paern:  He is your clutchbrother, not mine. We share some mote of our
            father's blood, perhaps--but I doubt even that.
            Rather, it would seem that his runs thin, much  like your motherís.

Vasha:  (indignantly) Shut up . . .

     (Vasha does not budge as her brotherís Azure form emerges from
the shadows, his eyes locked calmly upon the light streaming from the entrance of the cave . . .)

Paern:  You would be wise, sister, to heed my words.

Vasha:  (sarcastic) Is that a threat?

     (Paern does not respond.  He merely gazes at his sibling, considering for a moment
what may lay beyond her unusually confrontational disposition, before lumbering toward the exit . . .)

Paern:  It is fact.  Think about it carefully, for Faren never has.  Look at what he has done already:
             taken a foolish risk in the name of . .  curiosity.

    (The dragon seems to spit this last word out like a morsel of rotten food, his voice rife with
disgust at the very concept . . . Unnerved, Vasha diverts her eyes to the cave floor . . .)

Paern: . . .You and I know what awaits him. Though . . .

Vasha: . .?

Paern:  A part of me cannot help but wonder . . . Did he speak to you, before he left?

Vasha: . . .

Paern:  As clutchmates, I would expect no less.  Did he regail you of his plan?
            Of the wonders he expected to see? Were you privy to the mad light in his eyes?

    (As Paern's tone grows more and more mocking in his discourse, Vasha finds herself
unable to keep from mentally affirming her brother's words.  Her errant sibling's
anticipation, his ideal nature . . the piercing nature of his stare . . .)

Vasha: . . .I was privy to nothing.

    (The elder dragon tries to read the girl's expression as she says this, then turns away, perhaps dissapointed . . .)

Paern:  Rubbish.

Vasha: . . .

Paern:  To be perfectly honest  . . .

Vasha:  What?

     (At the threshold of the cave, the serpent turns, wearing an eerie
smile upon his lips.  Indeed, if this did not already send a chill racing through his sisterís
heart, the way he relishes his next words, would. . .)

Paern:  I will be surprised if the council does not decide to simply take his wings, and be done with him.

Vasha:  (horrified)  How could you suggest such a thing!?

Paern: (turning away)  How could I what?   Merely state the truth? How can YOU question it?
                                        His imbicillic interest in the creatures below has gotten him into trouble before.
                                        He talks too much, questions the very statutes which govern this clan.
                                        He has even gone so far as to tap the oracle . . . a high crime, last I heard.
                                        Young or not, he has tried the tempers of his elders.  Be glad the laws stand where they do-
                                        or he would surely lose more than his wings . . .

Vasha:  . . .

Paern:  As you hope, perhaps they will be lenient . . . but likely not.  I offer you this word of warning:
            Hold your tongue and consider, for a moment, what you commit yourself to before you begin championing
            our brother's intentions.  Return to your studies of the chords, close yourself off again, and forget
            what has transpired . . .

     (The older male seems to snort apathetically, before he too exits the cave.  Far behind,
Vasha raises her eyes from ground, whispering to the shadows at her feet . . .)

Vasha:  Stupid boy . . . stupid, stupid boy . . .
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Boy:  Miss Aerianna!?

     (Meanwhile, in the very center of the everwood forest on the western reach of the Glendenium lands . . .)

Boy:  Where are you?

    (silence is all there is  to answer the child as he walks, alone, his only company the tall
trees of the wood which surround the clearing he has wandered into.   Sparse shafts of
midday light stream through breaks in the canopy overhead, casting miniscule amounts
of  illumination upon the  smaller plants and undergrowth below .

    Though he is privy to the almost symphonic milieu of bird and insect calls which
pervade such a scene, the serene nature of the woodland is somehow wasted on him,
for  his mind is occupied with the more pressing matter of the whereabouts of the ilif.

    This is something which unfortunately eludes him, for now  it seems, as he casts a
strained gaze in either direction, grunting forcefully . . .)

Boy:  (to himself)  Dammit.  How fast can someone like that  run?  I can't have lost her already . . .

     (They child is interrupted from his rumination by what seems to be, at first, the sound of a
birdcall.  It is a staccatto of clicks,  eminating from the thicket just beyond the small clearing
where the boy now stands.  These soon grow into a peculiar warble of sorts; a lengthy flutter
which lasts a full minute before growing silent. . .

    It is at this point, however, he becomes aware of another sound.  This one is separate from
the rest of the noises of the forest, seemingly hidden behind the calls in the clearing.

    It is the sound of something large lumbering through the brush . . .)

Digra:  (snarling) . . .

Boy: ?

    The  roar cuts through the air in a high, piercing shrill, not unlike the wail of bird of prey.
The form that emerges from the bush, however, is anything but--

     A  monster at least twice the height of a grown man, with scales akin to that of a lizard
tears from the underbrush in a cloud of leaves and broken branches.  Its serpentine maw
bared wide as it uncases its forcelaws, the digra's  mottled, yellow armor is covered with
horizontal stripes that conform to the muscled contour of its vaguely-humanoid figure
much like those of a tiger.

    Indeed, the creature's animal intent becomes instinctually clear to the child as it
lands in the clearing on all fours, raising its head to track as closes in on what is
about to become its next meal . . .)
 

Boy:  . . .

     (Yet, even as the  beast lumbers toward him, the boy shows no sign of fear . . . rather, it is almost
pensive tensness that builds as the predator stalks closer . . .exhaling sharply, the child clenches his
hands into tiny fists, following the creature's movements with his own . . .)

     (Glaring down at its prey, the reptile feints to the right, then the left,
crouching down with a growl buried deep in its throat . . .)

Boy:  (whispering) you ARE a Stupid thing. . .

Digra: GrrrrARG!

     (In  a blur of scales and teeth, the creature lunges -- and reverse-articulated forearms mounted with
claws capable of producing the force to shatter bone whip through the air in the blink of an eye, intent
on truncating the child's body at the lower torso . . .

    What they strike, however, is merely empty space to greet them as the boy feints the blow.
A spray of dirt is sent airborne as the bony knives strike the ground, sinking to their hilt momentarily
before being wrent from the spot with a snarl . . . )

Boy:  (whispering) Surely I'm too small to be a meal of consequence to you!!

    The childs's words appear to have no effect as the creature lunges with a second slash.
Yet, again, the claws succeed only in whistling harmlessly through the air, striking nothing
and infuriating the animal further . . .)

Boy:  (growling . . .)

     (His patience having dwindled well past the point of tolerance, child now stands his ground
as the creature takes this final opportunity,  lunging in a downward arc with a  force capable of
cleaving a man in two . . .

     With comparable swiftness, the boy brings up his arm to defend
himself, as the rapiers cut  through the air toward him . . .

     This time, they find purchase,

     but as they  rake across child's skin, there is no sound of flesh giving, no shower of blood;
there is no scream of pain, and no new meal for the opportunistic predator . . . .

    Instead, there is  the screech that fills the air that is completely out of place.

    it is a  sound not unlike the raking of stone against metal, accompanied by a blinding shower
of sparks which erupts from the point of contact . . .)

     A small pulm of smoke rises from where a breach should have rent the boy's flesh, yet no
indication of damage seems apparent. Pulling his arm away from his face, it now appears that
the child's indifferent expression has been replaced by one of pure . . . irritation.  .  .)

     (The digra roars once more, now besetting upon its weary prey with an unbridled ferocity. . .
The creature can only shriek in feral surprise, however, as the child halts its
forelimb in midswing with insurmountable strength. )

Boy:  (Snarling) There is no one watching us, creature.  I've been patient long enough . . .

    (It is with this declaration that the boy now regards the digra, mere seconds before he lifts the writhing
creature off its feet. Affording the beast little more than a dismissive leer, he then casts the six hundred-
stone predator as if it weighed nothing, hurling it beyond the edge of the clearing and into the center of
a nearby tree.

     The modest timbre shatters with the force of the impact, imploding in unto itself in a spray of splinters and
broken wood.  As the upper-half of the now compounded tree crumples into a chaotic heap, the
digraís agonized wails can be heard from beneath the tangled mass.  . .

    The child does not look back even once as he moves onward, retracing the ilif's footsteps carefully . . .)

Boy:  Now where did she go . . .?

---------------------------------------------------------------------

     (Meanwhile, at a point in the forest not 5 minutes ahead, Aerianna goodtree stops dead in her tracks.

The ilif trips over herself at the sound of a beast's distant howls . . .)

Aerianna:  (coming to a stop)  What the hell was that!?

    (Ahead of her, the young man comes to a halt, glancing over his shoulder . . .)

Boyle:  A Digra . . . sounds like it found something slow enough to eat . . .

Aerianna:  The--SHIT!  Did the boy come with us!?

Boyle:  What boy?

     (Aerianna's sense of urgency seems to increase tenfold as
she begins to backtrack , nearly dropping her provisions in the process . . .)

Aerianna:  That redheaded kid that was with me when you came!!!
               I thought I heard him behind us!!

Boyle:  Dammit!

     (The man curses himself as the ilif begins to push through the thicket again . . .)

Aerianna:  I just have to make sure!  You can go on without me, I can catch up to you!

Boyle:  Are you crazy!? Do you expect to fight a Digra alone?!

Aerianna:  I can handle myse--

     (The girl's retort is cutoff in midsentence, however, as she slams into something
emerging from the bushes directly in front of her  . . .)

Boy: Ow!

     (the impact is enough to cause the girl to fall flat on her behind, yelping in surprise as
she is born sprawling to the ground along with the thing she has run into . . . )

    (A momentary vertigo grips Goodtree, before winding away in the wake of an all-too familiar
voice exclaiming with surprise . . . )

Boy:  I found you!

    (The wave of relief that passes through Aerianna's mindset is fleeting, and for the second time
that day, the boy is privy to a string of colorful curses in the chirpish dialect of the ilif tongue. . . )

Aerianna:  Boy!  Why did you follow me?! Are you trying to give me a heart attack!?
                 I thought that demon or whatever had gotten you!

Boy:  But . . .

Boyle:  Miss Goodtree!!

    (The child's protest falls upon deaf ears, however, as the girl rises quickly to her feet,
grabbing the boy by the arm . . .)

Aerianna: (interrupting) forget it!  come on, we have to hurry!

---------------------------------------------------------------------
FAREN:  A Dragonís Tale

Episode 2:  "Burn"

---------------------------------------------------------------------

     (Moments later . . . outside a field nearly 30 minutes from the
Glenden outskirts, set at the very edge of the northern wood . . .)

Worker:  Aa . . .AAAAAARGH!!

Worker b:  Itíll be alright, Ianís gone to get the healer!

Worker:  (choking)  Arus . . . I . .c. .  canít feel my arm . . . Gods . . .oh gods I don't want to die this way . . .

Arus:  Donít talk, now!  save your strength--merciful heaven, Enru this was stupid of you!

Enru:  Gods . . . I can't feel it anymore . . .

     ( A man lies, writhing in agony in the tall grass, his friend and fellow workman
at his side.  On the ground beside them, the victimís arm lies partially severed from
his body at the shoulder, where hasty dressings of mud and cloth essay to stem
the profuse flow of blood gushing from the wound . . . broken edges of bone and muscle poke
out from beneath the sheets, glinting in the midday sunlight with an almost sickening
brilliance, like pieces of wet ceramic. . .)

Enru:  My . . My boy . . .

Arus:  (shaking)  I told you to be quiet, save your strength . .

     (at that instant, from over the rise not 50 yards distant, three figures emerge from behind the
rise where the fields meet the woodland---two in front, one trailing several paces behind. . .
all three, running as fast as they can . . . Before Arus can signal them, however, A shout from one of
the three brings him to his feet . . .)

Boyle: ARUS!  I brought the shamen!!

Arus: (shouting)  Hurry!!

     (Being the lightest on her feet, the ilif is on her knees at the manís side an entire minute
before the other two even reach him, assessing the wounds with a careful eye . . . )

Aerianna:  What did this to him?!

     (Without looking, Arus points to a tangled mess of bloodied blades jutting from beneath a
small mound of mud betwixt the grass on their right. It is a contraption whose purpose seems
twofold--to maim and immobilize, whilst causing extreme pain for whatever beast unlucky
enough to become caught in its steel jaws.)

Arus:  That.  The city elders forbade the placing of traps outside the rim
            forest, but the trappers ignore the law time and again!

Aerianna:  We can discuss the politics of the poachers another time-- Heís lost a lot of blood.
                Boyle, I want you to remove this dressing while I prepare a real one . . .

Boyle:  right . .

     (as the two hastily get to work, she becomes uncomfortably aware of the
curious eyes that watch them from behind . . .)

Boy:  What . . . What manner of beast . . . did this to him??

Aerianna:  Carelessness. The worst kind.

Boy: . . A man?

Aerianna: (quietly)  A man.

     (The child falls silent, in contemplation, as the sound of the manís
groaning grows in volume with the removal of the makeshift dressing . . .
The ilif holds back the instinct to recoil at the sight of the nearly-detached
limb, focusing instead on the task at hand . . .)

Boy:  Another of his . . of his kind . . . did this to him!?

Aerianna:  Shut up and get back, will you?

Boy: . . .

     (He takes a step back, his eyes still fixated on the writhing form below . . . when, suddenly--)

childís voice:  (screaming)  Mister Boyle!! Where is he!?  What happened!?

Boyle: Hell's teeth, not now!!

     (a childís figure emerges from the thicket just beyond the trees,
his face a mask of fear . . . Aerianna does not look up from her work as she speaks--)

Aerianna:  Who is that?

Boyle:  Thatís Enruís kid--I sent one of the laborers into town to tell his wife . . .

Aerianna:  You! Boy!

Boy: Eh-?

    (As if surprised at the girl's sudden assertiveness, the child points at himself, slightly unsure . . .)

Boy:  Me?

Aerianna:  Keep the brat back!  I canít let him see his father like this. . !

Boy:  But-

Aerianna: Just do as I tell you!!

     (without another word, the child turns to face youngster.  It is with no effort at all that
he keeps the boy at bay, his face sullen as the child cries in desperation . .)

Aerianna:  (over her shoulder)  youíre father will be alright,  but this is delicate work!!

Boyle:  Goodtree--

     (The boy futily reaches for his father, his form is obscured by the two figures
poised above him in the tall grass.  Cursing, Aerianna turns, pointing a bloodied hand
behind the older childís shoulder . .)

Aerianna:  (darkly) Get him as far away from us as you can for now!
                        I donít want him in the way! I've NO TIME for distractions!

Boy: . . .

     (complying once more, the stranger drags the boy further back, heedless of the child's
indignant cries.  When they are almost 100 feet away, however, they stop . . . as the sounds
of Aeriannaís voice, speaking in an unfamiliar tongue, are carried by the midday breeze  . . .)

Aerianna: <By The graces that be, the wind on high, in the heavens above, please, bring this man your
                warmth, and breath your blessings upon him . . . .>

    (The words are slmost melodius in their delivery, their mysterious inflections carried by
strangely soothing tones from the depths woman's throat . . . and by a strange instrument clutched tightly
in her right hand, half obscured by the folds of her robe . . .

     . . .Then, the ilif places her left upon the wound, where a growing warmth has already begun to
rise from the ragged ridges of torn tissue. . . as the girl concentrates, the sinews
and muscle begin to knead themselves--animated in an unnatural merging of flesh and bone as the
wound begins to heal with incredible speed . . .)

Boyle:  Aerianna  . . . heís not breathing . . !

Aerianna:  . . .

     (She does not answer as the warmth punctuates into an almost scalding heat -- one that
permeates the air over Enrueís unmoving body like a halo, the air over he and Aerianna wavering
with its intensity as the rite continues, her eyes screwed shut in determination  . . .)
 

---------------------------------------------------------------------

     (Meanwhile . . . the strange boy watches on with a look of incredulousness, as the girl goes about
her work uninterrupted.  The scene, while understandably perplexing in nature, brings about within him
an unnerving sort of familiarity.  One that causes him to utter quietly in disbelief at the waves of warmed
air he picks up in the wake of the ritual taking place not 100 paces away . . .)

Boy: (to himself) Can it be . . . ?

child: Who are you?!?  Let go of me!!

 Boy:  Let the girl help him.  you will only get in her way.

child:  (crying) Don't let her hurt my Dad!

Boy:  . . . I have a feeling he will be alright, you needn't worry about your father. . . . ?

     (strangely, the boy says it with an intonation of curiosity in his voice,
looking down at the child struggling to free himself from his grip . .)

     (The younger of the two stops, then, gazing up at the larger child angrily . . .)

child:  Who are you!?  What would you know??

Boy: . . . It's not of any importance.

    (Suddenly, there is a shout from ahead . . .)

Enru:  (moaning) uuuuuunh . . .

Boyle:  . . . you did it!!

Aerianna: That was quick thinking . . . with the dressing . . .

     (Breathing a cautious sigh of relief, Aerianna raises a hand to her brow,
where a cold sweat of anticipation has gathered.  The ilif wipes it away
with her wrist, avoiding touching her face with her blood-soaked fingers . . .)

Boyle:  But . . . he's going to be alright . .?

Aerianna: I think so . . .

     (Then, however . . . the one called Enru opens his eyes, gazing with slowly
clearing vision at the obscure shapes that sit over him.

     As his eyes fall to Aerianna, though, they suddenly widen . . .)

Enru:  Y . . .You!?!?

     (Though weak, the man's voice carries with it a surprising strength .  .)

Aerianna:  He's certainly awake--

Enru: (disgusted) Get . . . . get away from me . . .

Aerianna:  . . !!

Aryn:  Enru!

Boyle: Shut up, you idiot!  she just saved your worthless life!

     (Waving his good arm, Enru struggles to push the girl away,
uttering hysterically, unheeding his companion's words . .)

Enru: Dammit, you know I would rather you let me die than let one of
        these soulsuckers near me!  Of all the healers in Glenden you.. got
        THIS one!? So she can steal my spirit with her witchery!?

Aerianna:  It's not witchery.  It's herbs.  And if I were looking for souls,
                I'm certain I could do better than one as slimy as yours . . .

     (Aerianna does not budge at the man's weak attempts to push her away; indeed,
the look on the girl's face is neither one of despair, nor antipathy.

     It is an emotionless gaze, directed at Enru's  wound, and nothing more.)

Enru: What are you just sitting there for!? I said Get her away from me!!

     (Now thoroughly angered at his comradeís behavior, Boyle grabs the man's
sweat-soaked shirtcollar, shouting into his face . . )

Boyle:  Would you shut up, you idiot!

Aerianna: (interrupting) . . .  no.  stop.

Boyle: . .but--Aerianna--

Aerianna:  not another word . . .

     (Gathering herself, the ilif stands, taking several paces back . . .)

Aerianna:  (quietly)  Just let it go, Boyle, this is nothing new to me.

     (Reaching for her satchel, she pulls free a small bag of herbs,
dropping them into the man's hands . . .)

Aerianna:  He must redress the wounds with these after 2 days, or he will have a fever.

Boyle:  Please, Let me Apologize--

Aerianna:  (firmly)Forget it.  It's nothing you did.

     (Aerianna goodtree does not turn around again as she walks away,
her bloodied hands hanging at her sides, where her fingers leave red streaks on the edges
of her dress. . . as she passes by the strange boy, who still holds the child of Enru fast, she speaks flatly . .)

Aerianna:  We're going, boy. Let him go to his father so that he may learn their kind of gratitude.

     (Complying silently, the boy releases the child, who runs immediately to his father
lying in the tall grass.  It is without further word that he follows Aerianna goodtree . . .

 . . . he does, however, remain several paces behind . . .)
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Hidefumi:  This treaty thus marks a new era between the Eludrian Republic, and the Kingdom of
                Iskander, your Highness . . .

King:  Does it, Hidefumi?

Hidefumi:  If your majesty were to hear the other advisors speak of it, indeed so . . .

King:  We are far to old for this . . .

     (Meanwhile . . . in the shining jewel that is the capital city of Eludria,
on the steps of the grand entrance to the king's court . . . the aged Monarch
stands before a marble bust, erected in his likeness, set upon the promenade
above.  At his side stands another man, yet younger in years, dressed in the robes
of a grand visier . . . with exception of these two solitary figures, the great
hall is empty.  Sunlight pours in through the tall, ornamented windows that line
the east side, emerging from the glass in a medley of multicolored glowing
beams which only seem to accentuate the room's size . . .)

Hidefumi:  It has weighed heavy on your brow since you placed your mark
                upon the document little more than a week ago .  . .

king:  And why shouldn't it?  How many died for it  . . . Our proud nation is in celebration
            for the first time in decades.  Never before have we witnessed such rejoicing, for the
            war has been ended by our own hand.  But this joy is tainted.
            What price have we paid for peace?

Hidefumi:  Your court, as well as Oranion, saw it as an opportunity . . .
                Can they be blamed for it?  After all, they are young, eager.
                They do not see the true wealth that lay in their ancestral home.
                In their eyes it was a barren waste . . . a place of ruination
                and death for both our peoples. . . and they were right.
                This war has taken innumerable tolls on both kingdoms, and driven
                our nations to the very brink of destruction.

       (The man pauses regarding a well-kept doubt he has waited to reveal to the aged monarch . . . )

Hidefumi: I cannot help but wonder, however . .what of the
                people of the midland, who will be displaced in the wake of Iskander's claim?

     (It is with a tired voice that the king answers, as he brings a weary
hand to rest upon his eyelids.  . .)

King:    A trifle . .nomads and savages, and what-not . .
           Why, Hidefumi?  Were we supposed to sway our own
            advisors to the opposite recourse?  Rather, we were
            pressured into giving away our lands for the promise
            of a few more years of peace?  To assauge the wrath of
            our enemy?

Hidefumi:  Do not fault yourself, your highness . . . Yours is
                the wisest, the most worthy voice.  Your word is law.
                You weighed the cost, and the outcome, as a true leader must.
                You have our support, no matter what your decision . . .

King:  . . . be it right, or wrong.  The child-king of Iskander will no doubt grow to
          hate our land for the state of the nation he has inherited has been left in.
          It is for this reason, we fear, that this peace will be fleeting . . that this
          celebration is premature.

Hidefumi : Cast such doubts aside for now, my leige . . .Has there been any news on your wife?

    (Hidefumi smiles as the old man seems to brighten a bit as he mentions this new  prospect--)

King:  She will be returning from the south within the week . . .
            Our heart is heavy for we have missed her . . .

    (The placid joy in the man's expression seems to fade quickly, however, as a new
consideration asserts itself in his emburdened mind.)

Hidefumi:  You still seemed troubled, even by that .  . .

King:  What will she think of us, when she hears what we have done?

Hidefumi: Whatever the outcome, my Leige. . . the deed, is done.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

     (Elsewhere . . . the young ilif healer and the strange child have,
at long last, returned to her home on the outskirts of Glenden . . . the sun hangs lower
in the sky than before, their  journey having been in complete silence. Indeed, this
changes little at its end, as Aerianna washes her hands of Enru's blood at the rainwater
trough next to her decrepit windmill.

     The boy remains a safe distance behind, watching curiously, as the girl plunges her
hands again and again into the murk,  the walls of her  resolve beginning to tremble . . .)

Aerianna: . . .

     (it begins as a soft moan at first . . . a stifled shudder . . . a quick gasp . . .but  then, slowly,
it builds to a quiet sobbing. . .)

Aerianna:  (quietly) <Asshole . . .>

    (The ilif grips the edges of the trough as the tears begin to come.
It is barely audible, as she manages to retain some vestige
of control over the anger which has slipped passed her hardened defenses. . .

     As the child listens the girl's quiet, stifled cries, he wears upon his
face a look of sympathy . . . yet, also, one of confusion. Still, he does not speak . . .)

     (After a moment, the girl's breathing subsides, and the sobbing dies away.
wiping her face with her wet hand, she gazes into the water of the trough,
which has taken on a pale, red hue as it mingles with the blood shed from her
fingers. . . Aerianna acknowledges, for a moment, the reflection of the disheveled
looking young girl that stares back at her from the water's sanguinous surface. . . .
her hair matted with sweat, her face a mask of weariness, her eyes the
composition of wet glass.

     Finally, awareness of her surroundings seems to creep back into her
concious mind once more. . .)

Aerianna:  <Stupid girl . . . You're supposed to be used to this by now . . .>

     (She mutters this, then turns, eyeing the small boy deftly for a moment . . .)

Aerianna:  I'll be inside. . .

Boy:  . . .

     (he says not a word as she opens her door, carefully removing
her mud-caked shoes before stepping inside. . )

Boy:  . . .

     (For a long time, the child with no name stands rooted to his spot--looking on at the
squat little hovel which stands a silent vigil in the waning light afternoon sun.
A strong wind wafts gently through the flaps of his tunic, as his gaze trails from
the silent sails of the decaying mill, to the waters of of the raintrough where
the workman's blood still stirs.

    The look on his face is one of consideration--and his own resolve waning a bit . . .

    Finally, he seems to reach a recourse--and the boy follows the girl's footsteps
into the house with an air of determination . . .)

Boy:  Aerianna, wait . . .

    (Inside, the ilif turns as she kneels before the fireplace, where a glow has begun to
rise from where dead cinders once lingered . . .)

Aerianna:  What is it?

Boy:  Why . . why did you help him, Aerianna Goodtree?  Even though he hates your kind . . . ?

    (Sighing, the girl stands . . .)

Aerianna: . . . Certain things . . .more important that others . . .
            There are certain things I must consider, beyond petty hatred.

Boy: . . . I don't understand . . . I thought--Everyone seems so concerned
        for their own well-being.  What makes you feel differently?

Aerianna:  It is not my place to refuse somebody my help, little boy.  Even if that
                somebody hates me for what I am . . .or for these . . .

     (As if for emphasis, the girl runs her fingers through her hair, allowing her
long, slender ears to spring free . . .)

Aerianna:  . . . It is part of the credence I accepted as a Shamen.  I play a role in this community,
            even if that community is suspicious of me.  It is the only home I have.

Boy:  I see . . . that is very  .. . .

Aerianna: . . ?

Boy: . . .noble.

     (Inspite of herself, Aerianna laughs.
wiping her tired, red eyes, the girl at last turns to regard her young companion . . )

Aerianna:  Among other things . . .

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Oryn: . . .

     (meanwhile . . . on the sheer slopes on the outskirts of mount Echelon . . .)

Oryn: . . . Reveal to me, vespers, reveal to me the whereabouts of my blood . . . and carry me to him

     (a titanic, winged form streaks down from the highest peaks . . .
Traveling at hundreds of lem per hour, it whips over the crags
and treetops in a swift, blue blur born by some unnatural force--a wind stronger than any other
coursing the thermals between the mountains peaks . . .)

Oryn: . . .

     (The vespers shriekover Oryn's wings, as the ancient dragon king
tears across the landscape, his eyes locked upon the barren wastes
of the surrounding Azaar hundreds of feet below . . .

    from his lips, tumbles smoke from a growing flame deep within . . .

    while, from his eyes, comes a green glow of rage that burns many, many times fiercer . . .)

---------------------------------------------------------------------

    (Meanwhile . . . in the abode of Aerianna Goodtree, the air of solitude has grown much less prominent.
The child watches a second time as the girl sets a steaming cup of tea before her young guest,
blowing gently at the steam which rises from its simmering lip . . . )

Aerianna:  This stuff isn't usually too bad when its been reheated . .  try not to spill it this time.

Boy: . . .

Aerianna:  So . . . Do you trust me, yet?

Boy: . . . I still don't understand your intentions.

Aerianna: . . .

Boy:  I have watched you for these days . . . wondering what you hoped to
        gain from helping me.  Yet, I can  see nothing.

Aerianna: (laughing) So selflessness is new to you, too, boy?

Boy:  It was . . . not . .  what I was taught to expect from the people of the lowland.

Aerianna:  Lowland?

Boy: The lands of . . um . . . Glenden.

Aerianna:  So you're not a native of this city. . .

Boy:  Aerianna?

Aerianna: . . ?

     (The child seems to smile, brushing the hair out of his eyes once more . . .)

Boy:  my name is Faren.

Aerianna:  just "Faren?"

Faren: "Faren" . . . yes.  I have only one name.

     (Aerianna starts for a second, then laughs to herself, shaking her head)

Aerianna:  I suppose I should be grateful.  There, that wasn't so hard now, was it?

Faren: (sighing)

Aerianna:  Oh, but it's a pity, too .. .

Faren:  Why?

Aerianna:  I was just getting used to calling you my "Boy."

    (The girl winks, a subtle smile alighting her graceful features . . .)

Aerianna:  It had a regal ring to it . . .

Faren: . . .

Aerianna:  Give me a minute to change . . .I'll be right back . . .

---------------------------------------------------------------------

     (Outside, as the evening sun hangs lazily in the clear skies above, the city
of Glenden once again begins the welcome course onto the day's end.
In the marketplace, vendors usher remaining customers and onlookers
out of their shops, fruitsellers hitch their wagons to their beasts of burden,
and a number of merchants retire to the local taverns, to spend the fruit of their day's
wares.  Outside the shopping district, among the houses and businesses that
make up the bulk of the city's populace, Glendenian citizenry start for home
and hearth, taking with them the aches and pains of a day come and gone.

     As the streets fill with people once more, the noise of the bustling crowds
sends flocks of birds into the air, frightening them from their perches on ledges
and rooftops and into the screeching masses in the sky.

    Indeed, all over the city, the birds retreat to the heavens, the sounds of
their cawing echoing through all districts of Glendenium, creating an ambient
caterwauling that hangs high in the air as the sun begins its final descent
behind the hills in the horizon. . . )

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Aerianna:  What happened to your family?

Faren: (muffled) I . . . I left them.

Aerianna:  I take it they don't  live in Glenden?

Faren:  no.

     (Aerianna grunts as she pulls away the top of her dress, which is still
stained with Enru's blood. Behind her closed door, Faren stands patiently,
as she calls to him through . .)

Aerianna:  Then where are you from?

Faren: (hesitant) a . .city far outside this place.

Faren: (thinking)  Shakre, Why do I have such a hard time lying to this girl?
                         I thought this was supposed to be easy!

Aerianna:  How old are you?

Faren: I am . .um . .

Aerianna: Okay, why don't I start first?

     (The door opens, and the ilif steps out, wearing a short tunic of her own . . .)

Aerianna:  I turned 52 a couple months ago.  As you can guess, It was a solitary affair . . .

Faren: . .But . .y . .

Aerianna:  Come on, kid, don't tell me youíve never met an ilif before . .

Faren:  I have not . . .

Aerianna:  It figures . . .

Faren:  I suppose, b .. but . .

Aerianna:  If I was human, I'd probably be dead.  but my people's aging
                slows right around the time we become little men and women . . .

Faren: . . .

Aerianna:  When I saw you on the street, I thought you were about 14 or so  . . . am I right?

     (the boy's cheeks burn with embarrassment as he nods, unable to stay her gaze)

Faren: I suppose . . .

Aerianna: Ha! that's another one for me!

Faren:  Tell me about your family . . .

Aerianna:  There isn't much to tell . . .

     (Aerianna pauses, tightening the petite ribbon which now holds up
the dark locks atop her head . . .)

Aerianna:  I'm not from Glenden  . . . as you probably guessed.
                I moved here around 30 years ago . . . from a  small village
                to the northeast called the Emberwood.

Faren:  Are the people like you there . . . ?

Aerianna:  yes . . . of course. the Village is the home of my tribe of  ilif.
             They are called the Sunfi.

Faren:  You left them?

Aerianna: . . .

Faren:  . . . why?

     (Strangely, the girl shakes her head--looking at the fading twilight
through the window by the door . . .)

Aerianna:  We all have our reasons . . . You said you left your family.
                I won't question you, if you don't do the same.
                I think we'll both be the better for it.

Faren: . . .

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    (Simultaneously . . .above the deserted grasslands which lie just beyond
the stretch of the Glendenium borders . . .)

Oryn: (coldly) There . . .
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Faren:  I have another question . . .

Aerianna:  Alright . . just one more.

Faren:  Today . . when you were helping that man . . . What were you doing
            when you told me to keep the boy away?

    (The ilif is hesitant for a moment . . .)

Aerianna:  I told you before.  Herbs.

    (The child shakes his head slowly, almost unintentionally, so important is the
truth behind the girl's answer to him . . .)

Faren:  I cannot believe that . . .

Aerianna:  I don't care what you believe, kid.  I know these things . . .

    (suddenly, the young boy's eyes widen, his face contorting into a mask
of sheer horror, as he stares at Aerianna.  The look he now wears is enough to
send a chill racing down her spine, and the ilif rises . . .)

Aerianna:  What?!  What is it?? The tea isnít that bad, is it?

     (knocking his chair to the side, he stands-stumbling back
wearing the same terrified expression . . .)

Faren: I. . . I have to go!!

Aerianna:  WHAT?  Why??

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     (In the slowly dwindling sunlight, the cause for the child's concern
tears over the landscape almost 50 lem away, leaving behind it twisting
trails of vapor, so great is its speed  . . . yet it, too, somehow having sensed
the proximity of one of its kind . . .)

Oryn:  . . .

     (Hot rage mixed with cold determination are all that remain in Oryn's eyes, now,
lending only a small clue as to the fires burning deep within his heart. . . . )

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Aerianna:  (panting)  Faren!!  Wait!!  What's going on!!

Faren: . . .

Aerianna:  WHY ARE YOU RUNNING!?

     (Running through the now deserted streets of Glenden's main quarter,
The child known simply as Faren does not turn or stop at the sound of Aerianna
Goodtree's shout.  . .

     Indeed, the only voices he can hear in his mind are his own . . . screaming
in desperation for a way out of the imminent doom that approaches . . .)

Faren:  (thinking)  I don't have any more time . . !!  I can't . . .Shakre!  The ilif!!

     (This thought is enough to bring the child to a screeching stop, kicking up a small
cloud of dust in his wake. His attentions momentarily redirected, the boy spins on his
heel, holding his hand out at the girl who, in turn, halts in place . . .as the two stand
off, an ominous wind picks up, whipping through the boy's hair as he stands firm . . .

    finally, after taking a moment to catch her breath Aerianna speaks. . .)

Aerianna:  What the hells this all about!?

Faren:  Aerianna goodtree . . . you have to get out of here!

    (Faren's voice is muffled as a second breeze picks up, this one stronger than the last . . .)

Aerianna: Why?

Faren:  Go back to your home and your animals and forget you ever saw me!!

Aerianna:  What are you talking about!  What did I do!?

     (Turning his eyes to the sky, the child drops his arm,
whispering to himself with a wavering voice . . .)

Faren:  He's getting closer . . . there's no more time!!

Aerianna:  Have you gone crazy, boy?!

     (As the ilif begins to step closer, the boy turns toward
her once again with a shout . . . )

Faren:  Aerianna , I'm sorry!  You have to GET OUT OF HERE!!
            There are things going on here you don't understand!!

     (The boy is cut off, however, by a deafening roar from high above . . .)

Aerianna: GODDESS!!!

     (The ilif and child are thrown from their feet as something impossibly
huge drops from the sky, sending tremors rumbling through the landscape
for nearly a lem, and crushing several buildings beneath its massive weight.

     When Aerianna at last recovers, raising her eyes to the massive thing that has
landed before them,

     She finds she cannot scream . . .)

Oryn:  FAREN!!

     (The dragon's voice shatters windows across  the city as it sounds the
name of his son, waking horrified Glendenians from their beds with the subtlety of a hurricane . . .)

Aerianna: <By all the powers high and merciful . . .>

Faren:  (screaming) GO!!!

Aerianna: . . !

Faren: . .Run . . .

Oryn:  <How dare you! >

     (With this shout in the dragon tongue, Oryn's massive hand swings low--catching Faren's
minuscule body off guard, sending it hurtling into a merchant's cart with
the force to shatter a mountain . . .)

     Around the creature, peoples flee in mortified terror, screaming to the
heavens of demons and hellfire, begging the powers on high for deliverance.

     It is a deliverance that does not come . . .)

Oryn:  <You leave our sacred home, to cavort among these INSECTS!! >

    (The words come in the dragani tongue, with a tone that villifies the feeling of icy dread in the child's heart.
Gathering what little courage remains, the boy calls back . . .)

Faren:  <Father . . . father, please, you don't understand!! The oracle-- >

     (The child's voice sounds pitifully small as he emerges from the pile of rent
wood that was once a vendor's carriage. . . the sight of his human form only
seems to enrage his father even further, however . . .)

Aerianna: FAREN!!!

Faren: G . .GET OUT OF HERE!!

     (Finally, the ilif finds her footing . . . and raw survival instinct takes over as she runs from the creature,

      and from the boy called Faren . . .)

Oryn:  (rageous) <You even assume their shape, though it is forbidden . . . >

Faren:  . . .

Oryn:  <Pray your fate is not the same as that which you have
            brought upon the Suchinai of this place! >

Faren:  (horrified)  <NO! SPARE THEM, THEY'VE DONE NOTHING!! >

Oryn:  (roaring)

     (with another deafening bellow, the great dragon Oryn  silences his
child--engulfing him in an turbulent, red light which erupts from the palm of his
hand, the beast closes its eyes, encasing the boy in a translucent red air
of luminous force which carries him high above the head of the towering dragon  . . .)

     (Faren falls to his knees, his eyes agape as the city of Glenden fills his view below . . .

     And then, seconds later, he screams  as Oryn besets upon it . . . breathing
a maelstrom of flame upon its houses, buildings, and fleeing populace as he tears
through it with the destructive force of a cyclone. . .

    Far below, shrieks of terror fill the streets as flesh and bone are seared in the
ensuing hell-fire; the local guard long having abandoned hopes of combatting the
creature, the people of the city finding themselves at the mercy of a beast with a
heart devoid of any . . .

    Entire sections of the burg erupt as they are bathed in fire, only to be obliterated an instant
later by the angry hand of the beast itself. Prayers are offered to the void, unheeded, as the
metropolis and its people are incinerated--

all the while, high above, as the great Oryn's rampage lays waste to thousands,
Faren's eyessqueeze shut . . . and he covers his ears, in a futile attempt toclose out
the death-knell of Glenden's final moments once, and for all . . .)

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CAPTION

    The Present, Eighty Years later . . .

     (Aerianna Goodtree wipes the sweat from her brow . . . her breathing coming
in shuddering gasps as the last of the incantations begins to take effect . . . below
 her, the unconscious body of the young boy lies--the blood having long since ceased
gushing from the knife-wound to his chest, the flesh of which is still hot to the touch
from the nature of the rituals.

    Indeed, his only movements are those which accompany the strangled rasp that is his
breathing . . .)

Aerianna:  I've closed up the wound.  He should be okay . . .

     (The elfin raises a weary eye to the sword pointed at her head  . . .
then looks at the young guardsman who stands behind it . . .)

Aerianna:  I've done all I can.  You can put the saber down, now!

Guardsman:  Thank you, I'll wait until captain Reginald instructs me to.
                    Until that happens, girl, you stay right where you are.  And pray
                    this boy makes it through the night.

Aerianna: . . .

     (Cursing under her breath, the girl places a tired hand on the boy's
forehead . . . her mind filled with innumerable questions as she gazes at his face:
the familiar lines and curves exactly the same as she remembers them,
so many years ago. )

Aerianna:  (thinking) Heat brings life, as heat brings death . . .

    (Yet among the many quandaries and explanations which provoke
the young ilif's thoughts as she gazes at the child's face, one, in particular,
rises above the rest . . . )

Aerianna:  By the wind . . .What the hells are you, Faren?

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To Be Continued . . .