speculative visionscience fiction and fantasy

Air Song - Act 2 The Last Great Song Champion Part 1

Share your genre short stories with our readers and get feedback on your work.

Moderators: Bmat, Qray

    Bookmark and Share
 

Air Song - Act 2 The Last Great Song Champion Part 1

Postby Tony » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:13 am

Tiku's Tale Part One

Scene 1: The Contest

Tiku finished his final song, put down his lyre, bowed his head and waited. The crowd sat in silence as if dazed for a second or two and then they burst into cheers and applause. His mother and his brothers caught his eye when he raised his head and, with broad smiles on their faces, they raised their linked arms and began to cheer as well.

#

As he approached the dais the cheers and shouts rang out again. Tiku walked between the line of contestants and shook their hands as he passed. To win the final of ten year cycle of singing contest. It was beyond belief and it all seemed to flash past him in an instance. In what seemed like no time at all, he was back with his family showing off his medal. With the awards nearly all handed out, and Tiku's head still in a whirl, it was the moment to make the last award of the evening.

“We will now award the Keeper's Minstrel cup for best song of the decade; the song most worthy of being sung to the Keeper of Great Egg. We have deliberated long as there have been many fine songs for us to consider but we are unanimous in our decision. The honour goes to the Grey Dove Tiku for his lament to the spirits.”

Tiku climbed the steps again, in even more of a daze, accepted the award for his clan and, as befits the winner, spoke of his and all the neighbouring communities need for the gift of the Keeper's wisdom. In a moment of clarity Tiku realised how true this was. He would find the temple, he would sing to the keeper and he would bring the gift of the spirits back for everyone.

#

“Well done Tiku! You were amazing,” said his elder brother. “No one else was even close.”

“Yes, son. But why so sad?” joined in his mother. “You kept very quiet about that last song.”

“I was not sure about it. I have some work still to do on it.”

“Sing it again. I want to join in with chorus,” piped up his younger brother, Rico.

“And me!” said Siro, his sister, and Rico's twin.

“Not tonight!” said his mother, thinking that the celebrations would go on well into the night, it being the first time in many generations that his clan had got this far.

“No, tomorrow,” said Tiku. “You can help me with the chorus and I've got a few ideas for some more verses.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Not too early!” said his mother. “And don't forget, there is more feasting and celebrations to come. Then you will have to visit all the islands round about to do it all over again.”

“Don't remind me.”

“You love it,” said his elder brother, grappling him around the neck and ruffling the feathers on his head.

#

Scene 2: The Plan

Next morning, Tiku went to see his teacher to tell her of his plan. His teacher was pleased but not surprised by his success in the competition. Although she knew him well, she was greatly shocked by his decision.

“Tiku, you know the title is more symbolic than actual. You have worked hard and earned the awards and praise. You do not need to make this journey. It has been ages since any one went on the pilgrimage to the Keeper.”

“That might be why we never see any spirits or hear their song.”

“No, I do not think so” she replied. “I think you will find that the Keeper had forsaken us before we forsook him. What does your mother, Tansy, think?”

“I haven't told anyone else yet. But maybe we have let him down without knowing. I want to make amends for all of us.”

“Do not say that. No one, here, would want to see you go. This is a dangerous quest and no one has attempted it in at least two generations, and that was after many failed attempts. The way has been closed, there is no way through. The practise had to stop.”

“It could be a test and we are not even trying. The Keeper and the spirits could be waiting for us, thinking that we do not care any more!”

“No, Tiku. No! You must not do this. Promise me.”

“OK, I will do as you say” he said, grudgingly.

“We will keep this to ourselves” she said and then added “now go over that song again. The additions must be ready for feast tomorrow, in your honour.”

They sat cross legged on the floor of the music nest and Tiku sang and played the lamentation adding the extra verse and the chorus as they had discussed.

#

The week wound on and Tiku sang and feasted with the best of them. All the time the quest burned in his mind. He could not stop it, it burned like a beacon, a warning that must be taken notice of . It was his first thought when he woke up and it plagued him when he slept.

“When are you leaving?” asked his mother, over the last breakfast of the week.

“Leaving?” Tiku guiltily returned. “Where am I going?”

“For the islands, you silly boy. They are getting impatient for you to show off your beautiful voice.”

His brothers jeered. “He's so pretty and sings so cute!”

“Quiet, all of you!” Tansy gave them a furious look and they shrank visibly into their chairs.

“Can I come with you?” asked Siro.

“No, not this time” said Tiku.

“Siro, it is too far and you have school to attend” said Tansy. “Well Tiku?”

“What?”

“The trip! You are getting so dull. It's early to bed tonight. We will talk about it again tomorrow.”

#

The temple of the Great Egg lay, way over to the west of Tiku's island home, on the mainland and could be reached only after many days travel. The journey would be long and tiring if not dangerous. Tiku lay out on a branch far above his village, above even the marvellous bramble, one of the Keeper's greatest gifts to the Grey Doves and from them to all the other islanders.

Tiku lay there idly making his plans. He would have to paddle his way around the islands first and pay for his new found fame by singing and socialising. How long would that take? The islands were only half a days paddling or so from each other. Five islands, a day, maybe two, per island plus, say, three days for travelling. So eight to thirteen days. The harvest was going to be early this year, due to the fine weather, which meant he could say he was needed back at home in time to help out. He could just sing his songs, play his lyre, grab a bite to eat and move on. Sleep, when would he sleep. OK, then. Half a day to get to each island. Half a day to perform, meet people, sleep. Leave early next day. Five days with luck.

If he arranged the order so that he he was on the west side of the lake at the end of the tour, he would have a bit of a head start. He could tell his mother that he was going to spend three days on each island. That should give him an extra five days or so. Tell everyone he was going to be away around eighteen days. About thirteen days then to play with. Plenty of time to get to the temple and back. Sorted, he thought.

He felt more relaxed than he had for days and started to doze. As he slept he dreamed. In his dream, he was following a shadowy figure up a stairway, like the one in the great hall of song but made of stone. Stone, who uses stone! The stone stairs spiralled up and up what must be a narrow tower, dark like the inside of a hollow tree.

“Where am I?” He called to the figure. It started to climb the stairs faster and did not look back. Tiku increased his pace but could not get closer.

Suddenly the way was blocked by a heavy door. It was locked! He started to pound at it, shouting “Let me in.”

He heard a bolt being drawn and the door was flung open by a monstrous creature which thrust its angry face out.

“Too late! Too late!” it screamed, before pulling the the door shut and bolting it again.

“Too late,” Tiku murmured as he awoke.

#

Next morning, the Grey Doves awoke to find that Tiku had slipped away, during the night, in his canoe. His mother found a long letter saying he was going to take his song to the ascetics and the bards, who lived along the shoreline bordering the lake, before he visited the islands. There was a detailed list of the stops he would make following that detour.

His mother was thoughtful as she read the itinerary. He had written it out very carefully, in an uncharacteristically neat hand. The letter asked her to forward the itinerary to the islands on the next mail boat. Later that day, as she worked with her sister in the brew house, she voiced her concerns.

“It is so unlike him. This success has turned his head.”

“How do you mean?” asked her sister.

“It's silly I know, but … he is usually so full of life and living for the moment. I don't remember him ever making a plan.”

“Oh, he is just growing up. It's about time. Be happy, he is going to have an amazing time.”

“Maybe” Tansy said, trying to shake off her doubts. “Ignore me. Have we enough empty jars?”


#

Scene 3: The Journey

Tiku had left his island as soon as it was dark, taking only his bow, a backpack, containing a canteen, one change of clothes, a roll of bedding, a draft of his songs, his everyday lyre and a rope. To the backpack he fastened a quiver of full of arrows. Food would not be a problem, as fruit was ripening everywhere and he could hunt insects and larvae. As soon as the moon had risen, he had launched his canoe and made silently for south western shore. He shouted hallos to all the fisher boats as he passed them by. He planned to follow his itinerary to the letter, well, at least until he reached shore.

Tiku's progress was going to be slow and lonely, he knew. He would have to avoid contact with all people of the clans, except for the occasional ascetic or bard. The ascetics, followers of the spirits, spent their time compiling the songs which the bards had spent their time writing. All were involved in singing and keeping the memory of the spirits alive. He felt sure that they would support him in his quest if they deduced what he was about. At the very least, they should provide him with a bed for the night and it should not cost him more than a song or a share of the spoils of a hunt.

As the winner of the contest he would be expected to visit all those nearby, at some time, to give them a copy of the winning songs. Otherwise, Tiku would keep to the trees and rarely come down to the ground. To reach the temple, he would need to travel in tree canopy, branch by branch, so as to avoid the islands and being traced. He could not afford to be caught, should his quest be discovered before he had reached his goal. His dishonesty troubled him but he felt, surely, the ends would justify the means.

Tiku reached the shore, dragged his canoe from the water and unloaded it. He tied the paddle and his bow to the canoe's frame, shouldered the backpack, hoisted the canoe over his head before heading into the forest. When he came to the the first forest giant, he put the canoe down, took off the backpack, removed the rope and tied it to the prow thwart. Then, having re-slung the pack, he climbed the tree, unwinding the rope as he went.

He paused, hidden by the canopy, threw the end of the rope over the branch just above his head, grabbed the end again, and slowly hoisted the canoe from the ground. He then secured it out of casual sight, removed his bow and climbed higher into the tree.

It was nearly dawn so he decided to grab a little rest before he continued.


#

Tiku, lay, curled up, in the hut and dozed, watched by the song recorder Leto, from the other side of the small fire. In the bard’s hands lay Tiku’s manuscript, open at the completed version of the Lament for the Spirits. He was perplexed, very perplexed for it to be known. The Little Owl ascetic had not experienced such feelings in a long time.

“How can one so young have written this song?” he thought. “Is he a thief, a runaway? The boy does not look like a thief. He does not sing like a thief.” He looked down and flicked through the other songs and felt … what was it? “Envy? Surely not envy. No, compassion? Yes that’s what it was. And concern.”

“What were his parents thinking to let one so young travel through the wildwood alone? He needs a protector. He needs me. I will explain it to him when he wakes. I will not take no for an answer.” Leto smiled and placing the manuscript in the light of the lamp, picked up his music book and started to copy out Tiku’s songs with the skill and the speed gained from long hours spent in the company of song makers.

#

“Breakfast is ready, young bard,” said Leto, gently shaking Tiku from his slumber.

Tiku rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Light was streaming in through the open entrance. It looked and felt like mid-morning. He had not meant to sleep so long. He must have been more tired than he thought. The last three days had been harder than he had imagined. “I am so unprepared for all this. It must get easier with practice,” he thought, hopefully.

“Thank you, Leto,” he said sitting up and accepting the bowl. “I must be going on my way as soon as I have finished eating.”

“I am already packed. I will take you to see the song maker, Ullane. She has a tree house two days west of here. It is on your way. I have not seen her in a season or two and, as I have business with her, it is of no trouble to me.”

“But..”

“I am going with you. I have more questions about your songs”

“Leto, I will travel faster alone.”

“Anyone would think that you are running away from something. The going is tough, another pair of hands and eyes is always a good thing, especially when they know the way. I am getting old so you will be helping me and the company will do me good.”

“Together then,” said Tiku, avoiding Leto’s eyes.

#

The Grey Dove and the Little Owl made their way West, skirting the marsh and its reeds, slowly but steadily. Tiku’s doubts about having a companion started to submerge beneath the pleasure of Leto’s company and Leto’s knowledge of the route west. He had not realised that the terrain would change so much. He had not thought about how the water left the lake, let alone how it reached it.The lake was the lake and it was surrounded by forest that went on and on. That was all he had known, all he had felt he needed to know, when playing his lyre and singing or hunting in the trees. “So vain! So foolish! How did I think I could do this all alone?” he muttered under his breath.

He nocked an arrow, aimed his bow, and fired. The damselfly fell, spinning slowly, into a pool of open water. Leto waded into the shallow water and, pulling it the shore, despatched it painlessly. He then removed the head, wings and legs before handing them to Tiku. Tiku scraped away some of the moss at the water’s edge and solemnly buried the remains. He then took his lyre from his backpack, sat cross legged on the ground and sang a short song in honour of the damselfly. Leto listened intently as he butchered the carcass.

“Hunter of the air, flying so fast and so brave
Taking your prey with a kiss and a prayer.

I wish I could fly with you to wherever you go
From tree to flower in a flash of silver and sapphire
Then to hang like a feather as you watch all below.

Dragon of the sky, flying so far and so strong
One day our souls will fly, together, to the temple of Air”

Tiku packed away his lyre and started to collect some of the fluffy seed heads from the reeds. Using these and some dry twigs he snapped off a dead willow branch, he struck some sparks off his flint with his knife and had a small flame in no time. He fed the flame with increasingly larger twigs and soon had a cooking fire going.

“I had not heard that song before,” said Leto as he started to place the steaks in the flames of the cooking fire.

“My grandmother taught us it when we were small,” replied Tiku. “I thought everyone knew it.”

“It must be a Grey Dove song. I will make a record while the food cooks,” Leto said, as he went to get his book. When he got to the last line he turned back to Tiku. “The temple of Air? What is this?”

“I’m not sure,” he said, reluctantly, “I always thought it meant the Temple of the Great Egg.”

“Ah, it must mean the towering spire.”

“You’ve seen it? Is it as beautiful as the stories say?”

“Does it interest you?” came back Leto.

“No. Not at all,” he replied, much too abruptly, he realised.

There was a moment of quiet. Leto checked the steaks, thoughtfully. “No, I’ve never seen it, but Ullane has sketches of it. She is an artist, as well as a bard, and has travelled far. You shall see, when we get there.”

Tiku grunted noncommittally, hoping Leto would not press him further.

#

Their progress improved once they had crossed the marsh and re-entered the forest. Tiku, on his own, would not have covered as much ground in the same time. They travelled mostly at ground level, mostly hidden from view. They followed trails and tracks only frequented by the community of song makers and recorders. Tiku had not realised what a busy lot they were but it made sense. No one else was going to look after them as they had put themselves outside of the lake island communities to pursue their song making. Most islanders respected their choice but viewed them as somewhat self-indulgent and left them to it. The songs were the thing, they made the difference. Everyone was expected to bring a song to a gathering and a new song caused a thrill that spread from household to household, from village to village, from island to island and from lake to lake.

Every full moon there was a market on one island or another and ascetics and bards, in need of something they could not grow or make themselves, would come to barter like any clan member. There was an exchange of goods for songs between the islanders and the song community. Songs might be swapped in either direction, as might tools and medicines such as herbs and salves. It was the song makers who bound the communities of the many lakes together as they carried songs, their own and those of the islanders, together with news and gossip from lake to lake. The island communities on a lake met often but islanders rarely travelled between lakes as it meant journeying over land or by river. There were too many tales of monsters and ferocious tribes for all to be false.

He marvelled at Leto. He must have been making such journeys, time and again, for many years. He would watch him carefully, learn from him before they parted. Part they must, Tiku knew. He could not take Leto with him to the temple. The journey must be completed alone.

#

Night found them above ground in a simple tree house maintained by the song makers. Tiku would have missed it even though he would have been travelling through the trees. It was made of living creepers and vines, woven through the branches of a giant fig. He would have avoided it as a fruit wasps nest but now he knew what to look out for.

Inside it was little more than shelter from the rain, now falling gently. There were a couple of seating pallets, a small opening passing as a window and a coarsely woven curtain for covering the entrance. A few simple cooking pots and an iron fire pot made up the rest of the contents. A faint odour of star lamp oil pervaded everything. He mentioned this to Leto.

“That’s the star vine, it keeps away most biting flies. See there, it’s woven into the walls. The seeds are ground up and oil is extracted. That’s where you’ve smelled it before.”

“I’ve never seen it growing before,” said Tiku.

“You wouldn’t have. It only grows here on the mainland, with the willow figs.” Leto passed him his flask of wine. “We should bed down, so we can get any early start tomorrow.”

Tiku took a swig of the wine and handed it back to Leto. “Good night,” he said and curled up before the fire pot and was soon asleep.

Leto watched him sleeping for awhile, from the other side of the fire pot, and then opened his notebook. After a few moments of scratching some notes, he closed it and settled down to sleep as well.

#

Tiku was dreaming of the temple. as he often was. He was hurrying towards it. As he neared it, it started to slowly collapse in on itself, crashing to the ground in ruins. As he reached the ruins a monstrous creature climbed out of the pile of stones. When it saw him it roared and leapt at him.

Tiku woke and instantly knew something was wrong. A strong odour assailed his nostrils, stronger than the star vine. He half opened his eyes slowly. It was just approaching dawn but there was just enough light to see a dark shadowy shape was looming over Leto as he slept. Tiku had no idea what it was but all his senses were screaming “Run!”. What should he do? He felt along his belt until he found his knife and carefully drew it out.

The creature leaned forward, closer to Leto. Tiku, without thinking, slid quietly off the pallet, grabbed a pot and flung it at the shape. He then lifted the pallet with his free hand, and, using it as a shield, advanced on the animal, shouting and hollering as he did, his knife pointing forward.

Leto woke with a start and screamed. The creature struck out at him before it turned and ran, with Tiku following it. Outside the hut, it leapt to the ground and, with a bound, disappeared into the forest.

Tiku re-entered the hut. “It’s gone,” he said. Leto, hunched up on the bed, looked up, pain evident on his face. “You’re hurt. Show me.”

“It’s my arm,” Leto said as he uncurled. He had his left hand clasped around his upper right arm. A trickle of blood was oozing between his fingers.

Tiku eased Leto’s fingers away. There were a couple of scratches separated by about a distance of two fingers. “It must have just caught you. Keep the pressure on. I will get some water heating,” Tiku said, somewhat relieved. He went to the fire pot, stirred up what glowing embers he could find and fed in some dried grasses and twigs. He soon had a small fire going. He then hung one of the small cooking pots over the flames and half filled it with water. As soon as it was hot he dropped a scrap of cloth which Leto had brought for such purposes.

“Let it sit for a moment or two,” said Leto, looking pale but more relaxed.

While they waited, Tiku asked Leto what the creature was. “It was, I think, a nightcat, some call it the death cat.”

“A death cat,” replied Tiku, “my Father says you do not usually get to see one and live to tell the tale.”

“Well it’s the first time I’ve seen one. I hope we will both live to tell.”

“How do you mean?”

“If it has our scent it will be back.”

“Do you think it followed us here?”

“I am not sure. It may have come into shelter from the rain.”

“I thought they were afraid of fire.”

“So did I. Maybe we let the fire die down too far.”

“We had better leave soon and get away from this area as far as we can before nightfall,”
said Tiku. “OK, I think we are ready.”

Hooking the cloth from the water with his knife and letting it cool down, Tiku sat by Leto’s side and gently eased his hand away again. The scratches were deep but clean. Tiku cleaned them carefully and, under Leto’s direction, packed them with some of the moss growing on the walls of the hut.

“That should do,” he said. “The moss will staunch the bleeding and help the healing.”

“Where did you learn about that?” asked Tiku.

“You have to learn fast if you live away from the islands,” Leto answered. “We share what we know when we meet up.”

#

As soon as it was bright enough they left the hut as quietly as they could. With Tiku helping Leto, they lowered themselves to the ground and slipped into the undergrowth with as little disturbance as possible.

Hidden in the foliage above the hut, a shadowy figure watched them leave, flicking a forked tongue out every so often, tasting the direction they were taking. It scanned the clearing to see if an easier meal was at hand before sliding down the trunk slowly and heading West after them.

#

Scene 4: Race

Tiku heard a gasp escape from Leto up ahead as a he stumbled against a tree on the edge of a small clearing. “How much further is it to Ullane’s,” he asked.

“We should be there before nightfall,” Leto replied, leaning against the tree.

“Let’s stop for a bite to eat and I can redress your arm.”

“No, we must keep on. We can pick fruit as we go.”

“OK, but once I’ve checked your arm.” Tiku unslung his pack and took out the bedding roll. “Sit on this.” Kneeling by Leto, he undid the bandage and unpeeled the moss. The bleeding had dried up but the wounds looked angry and were hot to his touch. “I don’t like the look of these.”

Leto followed Tiku’s gaze, “See if you can find some bush mint. Lay some leaves on the scratches before you bandage them up again.”

“I think we passed some a little way back. Rest here while I get some.”

Tiku stood and followed the track back a few hundred metres. The bush mint was just past flowering but he found plenty of fresh shoots. he picked a good handful and stuffed them inside his jerkin. On his way back he spied a cane mango hanging with fruit to the side of the track. As he was cutting off a small overhanging branch, a group of squirrel birds came swinging, from the east, through the trees, shrieking their alarm call. He shouldered the branch and hurried to where he had left Leto.

Leto looked up when he appeared. “Did you find any?”

“Yes, here have some fruit while I sort you out,” Tiku answered, putting the fruit branch down and breaking off a mango which he passed to Leto. He then set about applying the mint leaves and bandaging the cuts back up. “I think we had better get moving. How are you feeling?”

“I’ll be fine.” Leto tried to stand but failed. “Just give me a minute.”

“Let’s eat first. I can give you a hand when we are ready,” Tiku said, trying to keep his concern from showing.

They ate in silence. Tiku passed his flask to Leto. Leto took a swig and passed it back. Tiku screwed the stopper back in place and put it into his backpack. Leto passed him the bed roll which he put away as well. He then shouldered the backpack. “Pass your backpack to me,” said Tiku, “I will carry it for you if you can manage the fruit.”

Leto did not argue, took it off and handed it over. Tiku looked around him and, seeing what he was after, walked off a short distance and cut a tall staff from a bamboo growing nearby. He came back to where Leto was still seated and leaned the staff against tree he was propped up against.

Tiku put Leto’s backpack over his right shoulder and reached down to help Leto to his feet. He staggered a little but managed to keep his balance. Tiku handed Leto the staff. “Keep close and grab my arm if you stumble.”

They set off along the track making slower progress. Tiku doubted that they would make it to the sanctuary of Ullane’s tree house before dark but he would make sure they tried, even if it meant leaving their backpacks up some tree.

From above, numerous eyes watched as they departed from the clearing. Their owners twittered amongst themselves before they glided off in different directions.

#

The rains had returned and Leto was looking increasingly dazed with every step they took. Evening was only a couple of hours away yet, from what Tiku could work out, they still had about four hours of hard terrain to cover.

“Leto, do you know any travellers songs?” asked Tiku.

“I have a few in my notes, why?”

“I thought you could teach me one so we can sing as we go.”

“Is that wise? We might attract attention.”

“No more than we have already. This wet is trickling down the back of my neck and I could do with being cheered up.”

“Well, OK. My singing voice is not up to your standard but I will try.” Leto tried to smile. “There is one I sing to myself when I am collecting reeds for my paper press. ‘The Firestone’ it’s called.”

“That sounds perfect.”

“You haven’t heard me yet.”

They carried on walking and, after a short while, Leto cleared his throat and started to sing in a pleasant but slightly reedy voice.

“My love, she wants a necklace of gold
set with a firestone as in tales of old.
So I must away to the southern lake
And there my heart’s fortune for to make.

The way is far and the dangers are dire
But there I must temper my heart with fire.

Long my journey took, and through many lands I travelled
until I saw the flame in the lake and marvelled.
Fear smote my breast and tears from smoke I shed.
My heart held me firm otherwise I’d fled.

The way was full of moments dark and light
But my heart and I were ready for the fight.

I worked in the mine through day and through night
to gain for my love a firestone, ruby bright.
Then with the smith a fine gold chain to make
to hang about her fair neck for my heart’s sake.

Long have I been from home but now I am near.
Wedding pipes are playing, not for me I fear.

I hear the wedding pipes now playing at her door
Hidden in silence, my heart’s tears fall to the floor.”

#

“We should rest awhile and think what’s best,” Tiku said. The tree they were beneath had kept the rain off and there was plenty of dry moss, leaves and sufficient dead wood for a fire.

Leto managed one more step, only the staff and Tikus arm stopped him from falling. He looked drained and was mumbling to himself. Tiku could see discolouration spreading out from under his bandage. “It should be fine,” he thought to himself, as he helped Leto to the ground. He had acted quickly and the scratches were clean. “Poison. It had to be.” He had to get Leto somewhere safe, no matter what. Ullane’s tree house would be best but that might be impossible. Looking out from under the tree he could see the canopy above was growing dark. He dropped the backpacks to the ground.

He felt Leto’s brow. It was cool, cold even. After the exertion they had been through it should have been warm at least. “I will get a fire going. We will leave off any decisions until you have warmed up.” Tiku collected what he needed and soon had a small fire going. While Leto huddled in front of the fire, Tiku checked out the tree. He could easily get up it but whether Leto could was another matter. He took out the water bottles and bed rolls. He unrolled the blankets and draped them around Leto’s shoulders. He then grabbed the backpacks and climbed up into the tree. He tied them out of sight. On second thought he retrieved his bow and quiver. He was not happy about leaving his lyre but leave it he must. He lowered himself back to the ground and sat next to leto, with the tree trunk behind him.

To keep Leto awake, he started to sing one of his own compositions, not one he had brought a copy along with him. Leto looked up from his huddle when he had finished. “You will have do that again when I’m feeling better,” he said.

Darkness was falling. “We are staying here tonight,” Tiku whispered to himself and then to Leto. “We should some sleep Leto.” He made Leto as comfortable as he could and readied himself for a long watch.

High in the trees, eyes were watching, shining with reflected firelight, every movement, and ears were listening for any sound.

#

Tiku kept watch fitfully, sitting upright against the tree, sleep pouncing on him whenever his attention drifted. He fed the fire constantly but could not seem to keep it burning strongly. Leto slept like the dead.

Dawn was lightening the canopy above when Tiku opened his eyes at the sound of a twig cracking. The fire was dead and slithering towards them was a large reptile, a dragon lizard. Tiku grabbed a branch from the pile he had collected and clambered to his feet. He moved to stand in front to Leto. The monster hissed but continued forward.

Tiku raised his branch and threw it at the lizard. He drew his knife from his belt and prepared to leap at it. From above his head, a small sleek form sprang to the ground and faced the creature, snarling and spitting. Tiku retreated back to the trunk, slung his bow and quiver over his left shoulder, and, grabbing Leto, dragged him up into the lower branches. From the surrounding undergrowth came another two creatures. All three slowly approached the attacker, which dwarfed them, avoiding its snapping jaws and flailing claws.

Tiku watched intently from the tree. What good was it to be up here? Whoever won out would have no problem following him here. He checked Leto. He was still asleep, unconscious most probably but breathing still. He felt like a feather in Tiku’s arms. Tiku carefully maneuvered Leto so that he could support him with his right arm and started to move through the branches to the far side of the tree. A movement from above stopped him dead.

#

Scene 5: Night Cat

A hand grabbed his collar. “Wait here!”

Tiku looked up and saw a shadowy shape with a bow. “I can help,” he said, wedging Leto into a fork in the branches and securing him with his belt.

“Follow my lead. Do not target the cats, they are mine!”

“Yours!” Tiku exclaimed. “Things are looking up,” he thought. A look in the figure’s direction confirmed his suspicions. A girl but not one to be messed with. She had a powerful bow about a third bigger than his and it was drawn back impressively.

“Aim down its gullet as soon as you get a clear shot.”

Out in the clearing, the cat creatures had forced the lizard back a few paces from under the tree canopy. A clear shot was possible except for the dancing around of the cats. The stranger hissed as a cat got in the way of her aim. She whistled a piercing note and, when she had the cats’ attention, shouted, ” Back!”

The cats retreated and the lizard surged forward, mouth gaping. The strange archer aimed and released her arrow. Tiku followed suit but missed the mouth, which had slammed shut as the other’s arrow disappeared down its maw. Tiku’s arrow found a different target, piercing the creature’s right eye. The lizard roared.

“Good shot!” the archer cried as she nocked another arrow. She fired off another shot and again scored a direct hit down its gullet. She turned to Tiku. “Hold off. The cats can finish it off.” She whistled again a different note and they surged forward.

A cat leapt upon the lizard’s back while another clamped itself around its head. The third circled the melee cautiously, avoiding the flailing tail and claws, darting in every so often to slash at the soft underbelly of the lizard when it came into view..

With a final heave the lizard tried to dislodge the cats by flinging itself on its back. The prowling cat dived in and tore open the belly. Intestines spilled out and it was all over.

“Come, I will help you down with Leto.” the archer said.

“Who are you?” asked Tiku, when they had lowered Leto to the ground.

“Later. Tell me about Leto.”

“It’s his right arm. We were attacked by a nightcat as we slept two night ago. He has gone downhill since early yesterday.”

She carefully removed the bandage. “This was caused by no nightcat. It was the dragon over there.”

“How do you know?”

“Those three out there enjoying their breakfast, they are my nightcats. The dragon, on the other hand, carries a poisonous spur. It will slash at its prey and then track it until it succombs. Once it is on a trail it will not give up without a fight. To the death, as we have witnessed.”

“Can you help Leto?”

“It is bad. All you have done would have worked but for the toxin. I will have to use spirit medicine and Leto will not thank me.”

“You are Ullane?” asked Tiku.
Last edited by Tony on Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:41 am, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
Tony
New User
New User
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:22 am
Location: Dorset, England
 

 

Re: Air Song - Act 2 The Last Great Song Champion

Postby Ariel » Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:55 pm

I was really getting into this story then it ended. LOL What happens next????
User avatar
Ariel
Resident Author
Resident Author
 
Posts: 9517
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2005 5:05 pm
Location: Rhode Island,U.S.A
Blog: View Blog (3)
 

 

Re: Air Song - Act 2 The Last Great Song Champion

Postby Tony » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:53 am

I have put up the next fragment - it still leaves a lot hanging.
User avatar
Tony
New User
New User
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:22 am
Location: Dorset, England
 

 

Re: Air Song - Act 2 The Last Great Song Champion

Postby janey man » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:42 am

We also have an Arab pony cross and it fits him well. He has wide shoulders and not much for withers also a really short back. I am in the Langley area, if you like I could bring it for you to try.
champion clothing
Last edited by janey man on Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
janey man
Just Registered
Just Registered
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:39 am
 

 

Re: Air Song - Act 2 The Last Great Song Champion

Postby Tony » Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:05 am

?
User avatar
Tony
New User
New User
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:22 am
Location: Dorset, England
 

 

Re: Air Song - Act 2 The Last Great Song Champion

Postby Tony » Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:37 am

Air Song Parts 1 and 2 (complete) are on Watpad now: http://www.wattpad.com/user/Uccello

Part 3 seems to be growing in directions I had not anticipated so no telling when that will be finished.
User avatar
Tony
New User
New User
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:22 am
Location: Dorset, England
 

 

Re: Air Song - Act 2 The Last Great Song Champion

Postby dreamez » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:42 am

Its amazing song, i like it and learn lyrics thanx
dreamez
Just Registered
Just Registered
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:40 am
 

 

Re: Air Song - Act 2 The Last Great Song Champion Part 1

Postby Tony » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:49 am

Thanks Dreamez. Let me know how it goes.
User avatar
Tony
New User
New User
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:22 am
Location: Dorset, England
 


Return to SF/F Short Stories and Novel Excerpts

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron