She awoke to a sound like the sea, and opened her eyes slowly. There was little but mist to see, but a definite feeling that she was not alone.
– Are you awake, little one? came a soft voice within her head.
"Am I alive?" she asked, bewildered.
– You are certainly not dead, came the reply, with a ripple of amusement.
"Where are you?" she asked.
– You are lying within my arms, came the answer, again amused. Look up, little one.
She looked up, seeing only a vague grey shape above her in the Mists. She had the feeling that she probably ought to have been terrified – but there was nothing in either the voice or the shape to inspire terror.
– You have trouble seeing through the Mists, he said softly. You are leaning on me; look at me closer.
She swivelled round, propping herself up on one elbow. The limb against which she had been leaning was warm, the fur on it as short and smooth as a mouse's – and dark grey. She was aware of warm amusement – friendly amusement – from the creature as it watched her; a total understanding from it of the confusion within her own mind.
She turned the other way and found herself leaning up against the creature's chest – again covered with short smooth fur – and was aware of the slow pace of its breathing and its heartbeat like the subliminal beating of a distant drum.....a distant drum?.....
– "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away." Someone from your own world wrote those words, little one. It is good to remember them. Incidentally, I can Hear some – but not all – of your thoughts. Only those which will cause you no pain for me to Hear. There is an unwritten rule of ethics in empathics which limits my Hearing...as it will limit yours. Do not be afraid of me...
He lowered his head and blew softly; his breath gave the same warmth as lying in sunshine. He laid his muzzle on the opposite limb to that which she leaned on, and regarded her lazily out of the corner of his eye – the twinkle of amusement was evident. She looked at the eye.... what an amazing colour...
His laughter reached her clearly – the skin beside that massive eye crinkled.
– Not a very original reaction, little one. But I thank you.
"You're the dragon – but you're darker. I thought the dragon was silver."
– He is. My brother is silver. He is not back yet; he had... 'unfinished business', I think was his description. He will be back soon.
– ... to Bobby? He is no more. There is nothing left.
"Am I in Heaven? Is he in Hell?"
– There is no 'Hell'; there is only Death. And no, little one, you are not in Heaven. You are not even dead.
"Well where the hell am I, then? Oh, sorry – "
– No need for sorry. Don't let it worry you. You are – Somewhere Else – in the Mists. You are not alone –
"That much I can see!"
– or I should say 'we' are not alone. You are never alone; you never were.
"How come you think in English?"
YOU ARE READING
The Unknown Quest (Book One of The Horns of Elfland)Fantasy
Thousands of years ago, one of Sherath's distant ancestors refused to take on a quest. The task has to be done - it's vitally important - but nobody knows exactly what it is. Their race is dying out, and time is running out; and until Sherath comes...