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Chapter 1
Interlude 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4


     page 40     

Again 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.

“Fortunately,” he continued in a coarse whisper, “they have not yet tamed the shantilla.”

This 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.

Evidently, 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...”

“Yeah, dinosaurs.”

“True, 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.”

“Don’t they eat people, Papa?”

“The shantilla?  No.”  He hesitated and in a low, raspy voice barely above a whisper, “Not them.”

He 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?”

Grandpa 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, no!  Papa, please.  Tell me the rest.”

Endvar’s 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 pieces.

Talon 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.”

“Hush.  You already know too much to clutter your little mind.  We must go inside.”

Talon 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 Salmonil.

Endvar 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.  


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