A Shadow of All Night Falling - Part 2: Hunters of Worlds

Interlude VII: Regions of Sorrow

© 2006 by E. Liddell

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"If the Cardians don't become more successful, we are going to die."

He wouldn't say such things if she were with him--the girl who was his sister, his lover... his everything. But at the moment, he was alone, sitting on a branch of the dying tree, turning his flute over and over in his hands, and plotting.

We need a... a more concentrated source of energy, I suppose. Even draining dozens of humans didn't seem to provide the Doom Tree with enough. But there had to be something out there, something...

I'll try another search, he decides. Earlier that day, he had thought he felt something promising, but it had evaporated before he could focus in on it. Perhaps he would be able to find it, this time.

He raised the flute to his lips. It wasn't entirely necessary that he play it during an exercise like this, of course, but he found that it helped him to concentrate. Energy, he thought, as the familiar melody flowed from the instrument. What is a good source of energy? He concentrated fiercely on the question, waiting for the answer to appear inside him as it always had before.

He wasn't disappointed.

The image that formed in his mind's eye was that of a human boy perhaps eleven or twelve years old--or was he human? The green-skinned youth perched on the branch had never before seen one of the creatures who looked so fragile, or one whose eyes didn't match. But the feeling of energy radiating from that frail body... yes. There was enough there to sustain the Doom Tree, and the two who relied upon it for their survival, for months, if not years. Good. Excellent.

And then the boy was gone.

The flute-player frowned and laid his instrument aside. Gone? Just like that? It was almost as though he had stepped behind some barrier which hid him from the other's inner vision, if such a thing could possibly exist.

It hadn't occurred to him, before, to ask why the boy had that extra reservoir of power inside. Could he make use of it, as the children of the Doom Tree could? It would be something to keep in mind.

He couldn't send a Cardian out to harvest this one without any kind of guidance or backup. He would have to go with it and watch, to make certain that nothing went wrong. But that wouldn't be possible until the boy resurfaced, and he didn't know when that would be.

He swung down from his perch to the next lowest branch, which he straddled, leaning back against the trunk of the tree and raising the flute to his lips once again. He would wait for a little while. His sister/love would be home soon. Once she arrived, they would be able to decide together exactly how advisable this venture was. In the meanwhile, he would play the old, old song, and hope that the whispers he had heard as a tiny child, about how it soothed and strengthened the tree, were true.

If they couldn't find the boy again, his musical talents might represent their only chance of surviving until they could find a better source of energy.

Goto Chapter 29

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