silence; accept for the breeze blowing through the forest trees.
The last curve of Berea had quietly set beyond the mountains and
darkness came in as a cold blanket.
he continued in a coarse whisper, “they have not yet tamed the
gave Talon a shudder that lasted the rest of the night, partly because
of the growing cold and partly because of the chilling tale. The shantilla are subject of stories told by those who want
to scare little kids.
his grandfather saw Talon’s reaction, hesitated but continued.
“The shantilla are not the monsters you have been told about.
They are large reptilian-like creatures of ancient blood...”
but these are more birdlike than reptilian and stand a height and a half
as tall as a man on large, powerful legs.
Long ago the Knights of Shinang chose the shantilla as their
steeds over the boraks, the large burden bearing behemoths of the
Khangil highlands. They
chose the shantilla because they could outrun a horse both in a sprint
and in an endurance race. But
they could only tame a few.”
they eat people, Papa?”
He hesitated and in a low, raspy voice barely above a whisper,
said this in such a way that made Talon think that the Salmonil tamed a
more dreadful creature. “But
why did they start attacking us?”
looked out again towards the horizon.
He sighed. “Berea
has gone to bed. It is time
for us to join her.” He
grabbed the few remaining game pieces.
no! Papa, please. Tell me the rest.”
face, now cooled by the evening breeze and perhaps a little more scary in
the twilight, turned towards Talon. “Such
things should not be talked about after dark, especially to little boys
with too many questions.” His
grandpa looked small now. Almost
cowering against safety porch wall, whatever little safety it offered. Then suddenly, he straightened up startling Talon.
“We must go in now,” he insisted and finished picking up the
leaned over and put his hand on his grandfathers.
“Papa, we don’t get to talk like this much. Now’s a good time to finish the story.”
You already know too much to clutter your little mind.
We must go inside.”
hesitated, looked around, then obeyed.
Well, I’m not scared,
he thought to himself. I am almost nine years old, almost grown up, and I should know about the
did not talk about the Salmonil again, and the look on his face over the
next few weeks told Talon that he would be wise not to bring it up.