C13 Khol - Ambush
How many days have I been here? Unable to fight or leave this cave? Kohl slumped as much as he could with the chains digging into his scales and now the flesh beneath. His father had left him like this for nine days. His sisters and brothers brought him food and water and cleaned his cave. Then Kohl was allowed to be unchained during the day, but guarded at all times until he was locked up.
No matter how much Kohl tried to convince his father that they needed to go to Earth because of the quasicrystals, his father refused, saying that it was too dangerous to send dragons to Earth with their superstitions and prejudices.
“How are you feeling today?” His father’s keys rattled in his talon. “Thought you and I could go hunting for supper tonight. Some boars were spotted over the ridge.”
Was his father trying to make amends? Kohl didn't care as long as he wasn't caged like an animal anymore. “Sure,” he said with an ulterior motive of returning to Earth as soon as he was able to and round up more crystals, maybe swing by Isabelle’s place and check on her. Was she doing all right? He missed her laugh, her touch, and her kisses.
After his chains were unlocked, Kohl rubbed his arms to help bring back the blood flow. No use waiting on an apology that would never come. As soon as Kohl was back in his dad's good graces, he was going back to Earth himself and wouldn't return until he had enough crystals to make a difference against their enemy. With the enemy defeated, Kohl and his family would be free to roam wherever they liked and he wanted to know more about Isabelle. Why she smelled like lilies and oranges…where she was ticklish…her fears and dreams and hopes. He had to know everything about her.
“We haven't had boar in months.” Kohl smiled and walked after his father down the narrow passageway avoiding his father’s spiked tail.
“It'll be good to hunt with you again, Kohlxchijr,” he said over his shoulder to Kohl.
They exited the labyrinth of caves to the surface. Night covered the land with the three crescent moons giving some light. “What about the Tryn, our adversaries?”
“Taurian and Zayne spotted them chasing a horde of Grendas south of here,” his father answered. “They'll alert us when the group head back this way, but we should have plenty of time to gather up enough meat for everyone.”
“Let's go then.” Kohl unfurled his wings, stretching them out. Gathering momentum, he leaped into the air beating his wings hard. He hadn't flown since arriving from Earth. Isabelle. Gods, he missed her touch and her voice. Would she like flying with him? He shook his head. No, she didn't know anything about him or that he wasn't fully human. It was best this way. A night for them to remember and cherish only.
Jagged treetops lined the land below them. The yellow soil spread out on either side of a river. Kohl and his father dipped low at a clearing, the ridge in sight.
Over two dozen boars grazed below. His father dove, snatching up three pigs in his talons. Their squeals quickly cut off when his claws dug into their flesh. Then he grabbed two more that scrambled to the woods. “What are you waiting for?” his father yelled. “Get as many as you can before they reach the trees.”
Kohl shot toward a cluster of boars and yanked up four. One dropped from his grip and limped toward the woods. Dragons were too massive and slow in the dense forest and would never catch their prey. He killed the three in his talons quickly and let them drop next to his father's kills. Then Kohl swooped low and jerked up the injured prey at the tree line, a massive tree branch scraped along his shoulder. In one crack, he broke the pig’s neck. Kohl tossed it toward the others. Then he ran ahead, flapping his swings to shoo the incoming boars back toward his father. They gathered up another dozen before his father let out a low whistle to bring Taurian and Zayne from their scouting posts to help bring in the catch.
While Kohl and his father set up piles of the dead boars for easier carrying back to the caves, Kohl thought about his mother. Did she ever come to their home planet? Was she curious about their world and culture? Was she kind and gentle and beautiful like Isabelle? He placed a talon on his father’s shoulder. “Dad, why won’t you talk about Mom…my mom?”
His father stiffened and turned his gaze to him, his scaled brow furrowed. “I've told you about your mother before,” his dad grumbled. “She was human and died before you could be born. What more do you need?”
“Didn't Earth have physicians or why didn't you bring her here to our doctors? There have been other mixed breedings and we don't have the prejudices that Earthlings, Jenierans, and a few other beings have of others.” Was his mom like Dena and loved creatures? Or did she fall in love without meaning to with his dad?
“I've told you before, she died. What more is there?” His father piled the last pig on top. “Is this because I disciplined you for going to Earth without permission?” His gaze narrowed. “We cannot afford to be brash and try—”
Shrieks vibrated the air around them. Hundreds of Tryn burst from the trees.
“Fly!” Kohl screamed to his father. “Warn the others.”
“No,” his father roared. Fire erupted in a stream from his mouth, knocking some of the Tryn back. Their black leather wings fluttering helplessly to stop their momentum. Several of their dark short fur caught on fire. But it wasn't enough as more and more spilled through onto the ridge.
Panic clamped on Kohl's heart. There were too many of them for this to be a matter of bad timing. He and his father had fallen into a trap and the Tryn would get his brother and cousin too if he did nothing. And his father...if he were captured a lot of the Renjer, their people, would lose hope. Many would surrender.
Kohl whipped his tail around and sent five boars into the approaching enemy. His father did the same, but more Tryn crashed over their fallen comrades. Their short, black leather wings unable to lift themselves more than a few feet from the ground. They were half the size of dragons and stood hunched over at about seven feet tall. Skin darker than the night and red glowing eyes as they scampered closer.
“Go!” Kohl shouted.
His father ignored him and threw another pig, then blasted the trees with his dragon fire to make them tumble and crush on top of several of the enemy.
Taurian and Zayne flew overhead, adding their fire as well. But it wouldn't be enough.
“Get Father out of here!” Kohl bellowed. “Now.” Before it's too late and they capture us all.
Several of the Tryn tossed up spears that Zayne and Taurian dodged. Soon there would be too many on the ground and hurling their poison-tipped weapons to elude.
“Come with us,” Taurian waved a talon at Kohl. “We can escape together.”
But as he whacked aside two Tryn with his tail, Kohl knew that wasn't possible. All the Tryn wanted was fresh dragon meet. He had to do something to buy Taurian and Zayne time to snatch up his stubborn father and get away.
The Tryn weren't fools. They'd figure out soon if they hadn't already that Kohl's dad was king. He couldn't let them win...not like this. Kohl closed his eyes and brought the image of his human body into his mind. Closing out his family's roars and the fighting and the Tryn’s guttural yelps. His body shrunk and his bones shortened. He gritted his teeth from the pain of his tail sinking into his flesh.
When he opened his eyes, both Taurian and Zayne stared at him from the sky. They knew the truth now. Kohl turned and every Tryn stood unmoving. Their gazes all on him. One thing their enemy loved, it was discovering new species to dominate and they would crave to figure out how he had changed form. It was the only thing Kohl could think of to distract them from the prize of seizing them all. And if they captured his father, it was only a matter of time before they figured out he was the king. No, his father’s life was worth more than Kohl’s…than all of theirs.
“Get him out of here!” Kohl yelled and then dashed perpendicular to the forest and away from both his family and the enemy. Didn't take long before the sound of hundreds of stomping feet chased him. At least everyone else would be safe.