The Run for Freedom: The Life and Times of Lemuel Xandiver – Part 9

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Lem forced himself not to panic. After living with dragons for over a month, he knew better than to make any sudden moves. A drop of nervous sweat traced its way down from his forehead and dripped off his chin. He felt a chill as the night air fanned his face. Glancing around slowly, Lem wracked his brain trying to think of a plan, but he came up with nothing. His mind was empty except for the vision of those red and black eyes so intently focused on him.

The largest of the beasts slowly began to creep forward. Then, following their leader, the others advanced. That’s when Lem noticed it. One of the dragons walked with a limp. Lem knew that limp. He knew that dragon. It was the first one Lem had ever met, the one from the school yard. The question was did the dragon know Lem. He had spent some time with the creature in the hidden village but not much. Not much at all. He tried to remember its name. It started with an “A.” Ahote, that was it!

“Ahote,” Lem called to the dragon. “Here, Ahote.” The dragons stopped, and Ahote cocked his head and looked curiously at Lem. Lem slowly reached into his pouch and pulled out some of the thick jerky he had packed to eat on the trip. He held it out to the dragon. “Do you want something to eat?” With his focus on the injured pet, Lem almost didn’t see the alpha dragon until it was too late. Apparently, he wanted the jerky too and was willing to take Lem’s hand off to get it. Lem quickly threw the meat to the side when the big beast pounced on it. He reached back in his pouch and grabbed the rest of the treat tossing it as far from himself as he could. They all rushed after it, and Lem got up and took off in the other direction. He realized he was lucky that they had lived with people long enough to prefer prepared food to human flesh, but he knew that if he didn’t hurry away, he might just be next on the menu.

Lem tore through the forest without even bothering to try and cover his tracks. He knew that his only chance of escape was speed. When he originally made his plan, he had hoped that his absence wouldn’t be discovered until the next morning, but with the guard hearing him leave, he suspected that time was not on his side. Luckily, the moonlight was bright enough that he could see his way. He only had to stop once to remove his makeshift kneepads as they slid down his legs. Stuffing them in his pouch, he kept running.

Lem clutched at the pain in his side as he stumbled along. He felt like someone had stuck a knife in him, but he didn’t dare stop. He didn’t have much night left. Once the sun rose, it would be much easier for the guards to track him, so he had to put as much distance between them as he could. It would have been so easy to give up. His life in the village hadn’t been bad after all. Everyone had been very friendly with him, and his side and head did hurt so. Maybe he could risk sitting down for just a few minutes. Besides, he was so tired. A short nap couldn’t hurt. He had been up all night. As Lem’s body began to grow heavier and heavier, he almost gave in to the temptation but, fighting against the very persuasive voices in his head, he staggered on.

Just when he felt that he couldn’t go any further, Lem saw a strange blue glow through the trees. At first, he thought his exhaustion was causing him to hallucinate, or he had collapsed and was experiencing some strange dream. He pinched himself, and still the blue glow remained. His natural curiosity was piqued, and the wonder of it shot through his body giving him new energy.  As he made his way closer to the strange glow, the trees thinned and he began to hear the sound of waves rushing against the shore. The blue light grew more intense, and he could see that it came from the water. It formed what appeared to be a ring outlining the shore, a ring made of small glowing, moving pieces. Lem hurried forward taking a nervous glance behind. He realized it wasn’t wise to stand on the exposed beach, but he just had to see what this was.

Moving closer, he recognized the small creatures. They were squid, glow-in-the-dark squid. He’d never seen anything like this before. It was beautiful. A thick line of them ran down the length of the beach as far as he could see illuminating the night in a blue ethereal glow. Exhausted, sore, injured, and hungry, Lem stood there soaking in the beauty of the scene.

He didn’t hear the silent footsteps come up behind him, but somehow he suddenly felt that he wasn’t alone. Lem sighed. So, they’d found him. He was almost too tired to care. Tearing his eyes from the wonderful sight in front of him, he slowly turned around and saw Running Wolf standing there staring out at the sea.

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