The Dark Empire, Page 13-16 by Wolfenshire ()
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The Dark Empire, Page 13-16
Grath did like all the attention he had been getting over the last several weeks, but they hadn’t been able to do the selection ceremony yet because of the rival Clan that had attacked and made them leave the farm. He had liked the farm and missed it. Grath nudged Larie, the most likely choice to select for his new Rider. Larie was the biggest of the kids, but he was a little bit of a bully and never wanted to play the games Grath wanted to play. But, he would be a strong Rider and able to fight good when they were older.
Larie mumbled. “What is it, Grath?”
“I got to go potty,” whispered Grath.
“Hold it until morning,” grumbled Larie.
“But I got to go now,” said Grath.
“Stop being a baby and go back to sleep,” said Larie.
Grath waited until Larie’s breathing was steady again and stepped over him, and then over one of his brothers. Another of the Rider candidates was sleeping on the other side of Sareth. Grath was the youngest of the tigers, Sareth was the second youngest. Grath nudged Saem, almost as big as Larie and Grath’s second choice for a new Rider.
Grath nudged Saem. “I got to go potty,” said Grath.
Saem only mumbled in his sleep, but wouldn’t wake up. The situation was getting urgent now and Grath jumped across two of his sisters and tried to wake Hasael, and then Renur, also two of the candidates to be his new Rider – neither of the boys would wake up. Grath was prancing now and getting worried, if he had an accident inside the sleeping place, everyone would be mad at him, but he wasn’t allowed to leave the train alone.
He thought about going back and waking his sister, but Tomaes was just a few feet away now and sleeping with his back pressed up against the wall. Grath didn’t really consider Tomaes a very good candidate for a Rider, Tomaes was small for his age, and not a very good fighter, but he was always nice to Grath. Nobody expected Tomaes to be chosen, not even Tomaes.
Grath hurried to Tomaes and nudged him. “I got to go potty.”
Tomaes was awake in second and sat up. The boy looked at Grath and nodded. “You’re prancing, come on, let’s hurry.”
Grath followed Tomaes to the door. Tomaes pushed the door open and Grath fled outside and down the stairs. Tomaes followed. Grath found a spot and looked back at Tomaes. The boy didn’t tease him, but instead turned around to give him privacy. Grath relieved himself with a satisfied sigh.
“Thank you,” said Grath, coming to Tomaes. “I thought I was going to have an accident.”
“Hey, it’s no problem, you can wake me up anytime, I don’t mind,” said Tomaes.
“Are you mad? Asked Grath.
“No, I’m serious, if you need to wake me up, it’s fine.”
“I mean because…” Grath began, but didn’t want to say it.
“Oh, because you’re not going to choose me to be your Rider. No, I’m not mad. Larie is a good choice, he’s going to be a great Rider, I’m sure of it. I can help in other ways, my dad was a carpenter and taught me lots of stuff. I can make spears, and arrows, and all kinds of stuff for everyone. You know, anything I can do to help is fine.”
Grath looked back at the trees. “That little creek is right over there that way. Can we go get a drink of water?”
Tomaes grinned. “You want to fill back up?”
Grath grinned back. “I got to, I’m empty now.”
“Okay,” said Tomaes with a laugh.
Grath bounded off and Tomaes chased after him. The moon illuminated the island in a tropical soft glow, and a warm breeze blew in off the ocean. The island wasn’t large, only perhaps a quarter mile wide by a half-mile long. The small tiger stopped at the little creek fed by a spring of fresh water bubbling up from somewhere deep in the planet. The water was clear and cold, and Grath lapped at the water until he had his fill. Tomaes knelt and cupped his hands and drank also.
“Let’s explore,” said Grath.
“We probably should get back,” said Tomaes.
Grath play pounced at Tomaes. “We can’t get lost, the island is too small, and they didn’t say we couldn’t go outside. They just that we couldn’t go alone.”
Tomaes shrugged. “Sure, why not, we’re already awake.”
Grath led the way and Tomaes followed. They made their way back to the trench the train had made when it landed. The trench was only about four feet deep and they slid down the sandy bank and onto the tracks. Tomaes balanced on a track with his arms out to balance himself while Grath hopped from one wood railroad tie to the next. The tracks ended about thirty feet or so from the back of the train. Grath ran, enjoying being able to stretch his legs.
They reached the beginning of the trench where the train had first impacted and climbed out. It was only a short distance from there to the beach. Grath ran down to the water and looked back at Tomaes standing in the trees.
“What’s wrong?” asked Grath.
“Darai don’t get near the ocean,” said Tomaes. “It’s bad enough we’re on an island, I don’t want to go out there where the ocean is.”
“How come you don’t like the ocean?”
Tomaes thought about it for a second, thinking of a way to explain to the small tiger, then replied. “An evil wizard came to my world once, he made the ocean rise up against us. A tidal wave swept inland for over two-hundred miles and wiped out thousands of towns; millions of Darai drowned.”
“That’s awful, why did the wizard do it?”
“We don’t know, but we built a wall where the water stopped. Nobody goes past that wall, and really, we don’t even like any water now, not even lakes or rivers.”
“What was the wizard’s name?”
“If I ever see Jon Black I’ll rip him apart.” Grath bared his teeth and shook his head with a roar.
Grath ran back up to the trees and the two cut across the woods in search of something interesting to see. Tomaes was running behind Grath perhaps twenty feet when the small tiger disappeared with a cry. Tomaes ran to where the small tiger disappeared, and almost fell in the hole himself. Tomaes got on his hands and knees and looked down into the darkness.
“Grath, are you okay?”
“I think I fell in a hole, I can’t see anything.”
“Can you climb out?”
Tomaes heard the small tiger trying to jump.
“I don’t think so, it’s too deep.”
“Okay, I’ll go get help, you just hang on.”
“No, don’t leave me, it’s dark, I’m scared.”
“It’ll only take a few minutes, I’ll be right back.”
“Please don’t leave me, please.”
Tomaes heard the small tiger start crying. “Okay, I won’t leave you. Get back against the edge, I’m coming down.” Tomaes sat on the ground and threw his legs over the edge, then jumped down into the hole. It wasn’t far, a Darai could fall a long way without getting hurt, but in the dark without being about to see the ground, it still jarred his bones. “Where are you?” Tomaes felt something push against him.
“Right here,” said Grath.
Tomaes sat down and put his arms around the small tiger. “I’m here, it’ll be okay.”
“How are we going to get out?” asked Grath.
“It’ll be morning in a few hours and they’ll realize we’re missing,” said Tomaes. “It’s a very small island and when we hear them shouting, we’ll shout back and they’ll throw us down a rope. We’re not in any danger, okay.”
“Okay,” said Grath with a sniffle and put his head down on Tomaes’ lap. “Thank you for not leaving me.”
“It’s no big deal,” said Tomaes. “My dad used to say, stuff happens. We’re going to be fine.”