Where there's a Weewoo, there's a way Circulation: 177,588,188 Issue: 185 | 8th day of Eating, Y7
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Prophecy of the Equinox: Part One


by laurelinden

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When beneath full moon an egg is laid,

    Raised with song of star and sun,

    When hatched in deepest dark of night

    There shall be born the only one

    Whose choice will sway the fate to come

    In battle, when moon’s equal to sun,

    Ten years past first crack of egg,

    Shall arise this blessed one.

    --Prophecy of the Equinox

    ***

The Darigan Draik called Velor forced himself to meet the red glow of Lord Dusken’s glaring eyes. “You called for me, my lord?” he asked.

    The Lord Commander of the Draik Forces, a massive Mutant Draik, nodded slowly, menacingly. “I did, General. You know already that the prophecy is to begin on this day, the winter solstice, ‘deepest dark of night,’ and I have chosen you to carry out the first step. Bring the egg to me, and you shall be handsomely rewarded. I trust you do not wish to consider failure.”

    “No, my lord,” replied General Velor quickly, pressing a fist to his heart in earnest. “The egg shall be yours by midnight, you may be assured.”

    Lord Dusken nodded, as if satisfied. “Very good, General. It is my suggestion that you leave immediately.”

    ***

    From inside the warm moisture of her unhatched egg, a tiny Draik curled her lips up in a smile. Around her swirled snatches of music, woven of the beauty of unborn dreams, and from behind closed lids her eyes saw the glow of light from another world. I shall hatch soon, she decided. The Outside is almost ready. My family sings for me to join them.

    She could scarcely wait to break her way through the thin shell of her egg, to experience the wonders of the Outside. Her family was favored by the Fountain Faerie, so upon birth the girls transformed into Faerie Draiks; she’d learned this from her parents’ songs. She had been afraid of the outside world at first, and glad of the surrounding and protective shell, but after weeks of hearing the sweet song of her mother and the strong, proud voice of her father, curiosity stirred inside her. Her mother had once sung of warmth and light and slow growth, but now she could hear the song expand beyond, singing soft, pleasant chords of beauties lying beyond her imagination. The unhatched Draik began to scratch at the shell, and peck at it with her nose. Tap, tap. The surrounding song grew louder, almost as if her parents knew her mind. Tap, tap, tap.

    She could hear her mother’s voice rise in pitch, beckoning to her. Come to us! Leave your shell! Break away, break away, my little daughter Aloren! We wait for you!

    Aloren. A lovely sound, and it meant her. Grinning with joy that they loved her enough to give her this name, she tapped faster and faster, wishing to prove that she deserved it.

    Just as she was sure the shell would yield beneath her beaked nose, the surrounding song ended abruptly, and Aloren could feel dread thick in the pressing silence. She paused, holding perfectly still within her egg, listening with all of her might past the warm fluid and shell into the Outside.

    Her mother’s voice screeched suddenly in a wail of terror and anguish, and she heard her father’s cry trumpeting in rage. The ground vibrated with heavy footsteps, metal jingling with each crash of their feet upon it. Her father cried out sharply, then, as if in pain, and tumbled to the ground near where Aloren’s egg rested. Sobs of her mother echoed in her small, wet world, and the metallic jingles grew ever closer.

    Aloren’s egg moved. She felt the ground lurch away beneath her, and knew she was rising up, up into that light, weightless world that had once been in her parent’s song. Her heart raced as she tried to tell if it was her parents snatching her away or if the intruders had taken her, but there were no sounds to inform her---just the deadened silence and the whoosh of air passing the shell walls.

    When her egg finally came to a rest, Aloren was shivering with cold and could tell that there was none of the inviting light in this new place. Her parents had always kept her near to them, warming her with the heat of their bodies, singing encouragingly for her to swell within her egg until she could burst out of it to meet them at last. Even the darkness had held no fear for her then, but had been a cozy, sleepy time where they would curl around her so that she was nestled safely between them.

    But now the liquid in her egg was clammy and chill from lack of care, and she knew that she must leave it soon, though now much of her desire to see the Outside had waned. The feeding membrane that had nourished her for weeks was depleted, and for the first time her stomach rumbled in a new feeling: hunger.

    She pecked at the thin shell quickly, determinedly, until finally it broke before the sharpness of her baby tooth. Pressing her head against the weak place she planted her forefeet down and extended her spine upwards. It gave with a sharp crackling, and Aloren’s head erupted from the egg and into the Outside. As she emerged, Aloren felt her scales stiffen and shift, and Faerie wings emerge from her shoulders.

    At first, her open eyes saw nothing. But as her newly used pupils dilated, absorbing the dim light in the room, she saw that there were black brick walls standing starkly around in a small square with only one heavy door, and beneath her was a sprinkling of prickly yellow hay. So this is the Outside that my parents have sung to me about, she thought in dismay. This is what gave them their songs. Better I had stayed in my egg. The song of the Fountain Faerie had been true, but the descriptions of the Outside world’s beauty was far from the dark room she saw now.

    The single door swung suddenly open, crashing against the wall, and a bulky shape strode into her room. Aloren blinked, gazing at the newcomer intently, for he was the first living creature that she had ever seen. In the dim light she could see the smooth purple of his scales, shining dully, and the glint of cruel eyes. His bearing and gait were both confident and bold, and his body was protected with thick metal armor which jingled as he stepped, just like---

    No, no, no! Aloren screamed inside her mind. He’s the one who took me from my parents! He has captured me, and I cannot escape. Will I never lay eyes upon them?

    “I am Velor, General of the Draik Forces,” growled the stranger in a voice that seemed strangely clear after the mumblings she’d heard from inside her shell, “But you are to call me ‘Sir.’ You are ours, Draikling; do not ever think otherwise. You are under our control and will obey us explicitly. Do you understand?

    Aloren paused as she stared up at him from within her egg, unsure of what to say. Should she say no, that she wants only to return to her parents? Or should she say yes, so that she would not die of starvation?

    If they do not feed me now, I will never see my parents again anyway, she decided. My only hope lies with surviving until I can escape. “Yes,” she said quietly.

    The General reached out with frightening speed, wrenching her from her egg. His powerful fingers pressed against the sides of her neck as he held her in his palm, and his lips were a thin line of fury. With eyes wide with surprise and terror she trembled, not knowing what she had done.

    “Yes, Sir,” he growled in a soft and deadly voice.

    “Yes, Sir,” she whispered. “I understand, Sir.”

    He released her suddenly, and threw a scrap of food at her. “Good. Your real training begins on the morrow.”

    Slamming the door so hard that it shook dust from the ceiling, he stormed out. After he was gone, the cell seemed strangely empty. Aloren reached out her long, slender neck to sniff at the tidbit he had dropped, and it smelled good. She ate it in one snapping bite.

    ***

    The General smiled triumphantly as he stood before the Lord Commander. “My lord, the mission has been a success. The creature prophesized to be the most powerful Draik in a century is in our cell, and has proven herself to be malleable. She will be ours completely in little time.”

    Lord Dusken nodded solemnly, the redness of his eyes flickering dimly. “She has never seen her parents, no?”

    “No, my lord, she has not. She’s only hatched just now, and I have received her imprinting. It will not be long before she forgets them completely.”

    “Good,” replied the Mutant Draik. “Very good, General. As a reward, you are to personally oversee the training of the waif, and form her into the soldier that I expect her to be. Ten years from now, on the Spring Equinox, when moon and sun are equal, we shall attack.”

    “It is an honor, my lord, that you would consider me for this vital task,” replied General Velor, bowing deeply. “I have one concern, however. There will come a day when she will have to fight against her very kin, her family, and even if she does not remember them, she will know she doesn’t look the same. Should we not paint her so that she will look differently, and separate herself from them completely? Might her heart override her training?”

    Lord Dusken’s red eyes gazed distantly as he thought. “No, we must keep the element of surprise. She will be more able to infiltrate them if she looks as they do.” His mouth twitched with pleasure as he pictured it. “And you need not worry about your second point,” he assured Velor, “for she will have no heart.”

To be continued...

 
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