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Outcast (Part 15)
I nudged Nightwing down to the ground. Nightflame seemed anxious at the loss of his rider. I calmed him as best I could, but he wasn’t going to be totally calm until Moonbeam was back. He had never been ridden before and a Pegasus would only have one rider all their life. If I get find Moonbeam soon, Nightflame would become wild. I don’t know what Moon Gifts, Moonbeam has, but I can see long distances. Fortunately, I was standing on a flat plain. Then again, this was the North Plains starting from the South Mountains and going all the way to the Ice Kingdom, where I came from. I looked around but saw nothing. The Plains were empty except for the two approaching riders, which I knew to be Singing Deer and Dafar. But the North Plains were cursed, always Shifting, changing. Moonbeam could be anywhere. I suddenly had an idea. I mounted Nightwing and moved closer to Singing Deer and Dafar. They watched me, waiting for my next move.
“Where is the Princess?” Singing Deer looked over my shoulder.
“She is…she’s indisposed at the moment.”
“Shall I see to her?”
I remembered what Arga had said about a Cloud Bringer in the midst of us. “No.” I looked at Dafar. He held my gaze long enough for me to see into his Memories. There was nothing incriminating. That left Singing Deer. She had dismounted. I looked at her, but she looked away nervously. I shrugged and decided to wait until later. I looked into the sky. The sun was setting. “We need to set up camp.”
Dafar and Singing Deer set about preparing a fire and cooking a meal. After the they had gone to sleep, I sat staring into flames. It was a cool night and I spread out and wished for Moonbeam’s warmth beside me.
I sat up. Something was terribly wrong. I looked around. Dafar was still asleep, as was Singing Deer. No, her eyes were open. She was staring at me with cold eyes. I couldn’t see right into her eyes, so this wasn’t the time to gaze for Memories. Then I realized what was wrong. The fire was still. There was no warmth emanating from it. No sparks flying into the air. The flames had frozen. I looked up. No stars were visible. They were covered with a low hanging cloud. I heard a movement and turned toward it. Singing Deer was standing over me with a long dagger! I stayed very still. There was a gleam in her eyes that worried me. I am not one to get scared. She was staring right into my eyes and in tapped into her Memories. I didn’t care much about her childhood, but when she turned ten, her parents had died and she was taken in by her aunt and uncle. It seemed that the aunt was a Cloud Bringer. She taught her arts to Singing Deer. This meant that Singing Deer. She was employed by the Cloud Bringer, Vlad. That was all I needed to know. Singing Deer had somehow transported Moonbeam to Vlad. I moved my hand slightly, but she saw and put the dagger to my throat.
“You’ve found me out, Moonrider. You must die.”
“Don’t say my name, Cloud Bringer. What have you done with Moonbeam?”
“She wasn’t worth anything. I sent her to King Vlad.” Singing Deer laughed. “Your princess was weak. Vlad should have already drawn out her soul.”
I stared at her. “Are you saying Vlad is a Vampire?”
“Of course. Many have tried to defeat him. But he has prevailed. He is truly the greatest man in the World.”
Moonbeam was facing her greatest enemy. Vlad wanted all the Moon Holders dead. If all Moon Holders were dead, the Cloud Bringers could carry out their evil deeds unchecked. The dagger pushed harder into my throat. I concentrated on shattering the dagger. It trembled and cracked, but it did not shatter. This caused enough distraction so that I was able to grab the knife out of my belt. I jumped at her. We both fell over. I held the dagger at her heart.
“Kill me quickly, Moon Holder. There are thousands other like me. Vlad will send others. Moonbeam is dead.”
“Tell me where you sent her!”
Singing Deer laughed cruelly and disappeared in a flash of blue light. I swore and got up. the fire had resumed crackling cheerfully and exuding warmth, but I was cold. I couldn’t save Moonbeam. I didn’t know where she was. It was said that Vlad had a secret stronghold in the Eastern Sea, but it was well hidden by the dark power of Vlad. The sun rose quickly, but I got no sleep after that. Dafar woke up and began breaking down the camp. He did not ask where Singing Deer was, or where Moonbeam was. When I asked him why he said:
“I heard and saw everything. How could I not? You were shouting.” He looked at me apologetically.
“I’m sorry we woke you.”
“If you don’t mind my saying this, my lord, but you should have killed her. She is a traitor.”
“I know. But Moonbeam is in danger. I wanted to know where she was.”
Dafar stayed silent.
“Yes, my lord?”
“Out here, we are friends. Not prince and soldier. Drop all formality until we come to a town.”
“Of course.” He didn’t say anything else as we mounted our horses. Dafar tied the extra horse to his. A blur of white streaked out of the sky and landed on the ground. It was Arga, the white falcon. She screeched and I desperately wished I could communicate with her. I assumed she was looking for Moonbeam.
“What are we going to go, your highness?”
“Moonrider. And we are going to go to the South Mountains. There might be a Moon Holder there who can find Vlad’s island. Then we will attack him.”