The Guardians: Chapter 2

WizardofOwls

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Haven't read chapter 1 yet? Here is a link:

Chapter 1: http://www.thefantasyforum.com/showthread.php?t=9577

I'd love to hear your thoughts on my story so far! Any comments? Like it? Dislike it? Let me know, okay?

The Guardians: CHAPTER 2
Copyright © Allen R. Alderman 2006

Jonathan Croweyes was Dreaming again. It was the third time this week he'd had the Flying Dream and he was finally learning how to control the strange, feathered body in which he had found himself. He knew he was only Dreaming, but somehow it seemed all too real. The feel of the wind in his feathers, the sweet taste of the corn as he pierced each kernel with his beak - every sensation felt so much more real here than in any other dream he'd ever had before. He loved every moment of it. He wheeled and soared on the wings of the wind, banking and climbing, then diving to rise again.

In the real world Jonathan was a mechanic, and an excellent one at that. He was a pure-blooded Native American, born and raised on the Wolf Creek Indian Reservation which was just to the north of the city of Wytheville. His long, straight hair was as blue-black as the feathers of his namesake, and his nose, though not overly long, had a decidedly beak-like hook to it. He was tall, well-built, and considered handsome by the ladies of his tribe. Many had vied for his affections, but Jonathan wasn't interested in settling down just yet. At the young age of 24, he figured he would have plenty of time to worry about things like that later.

Jonathan owned his own garage on the reservation, which he had inherited when his grandfather died just over a year ago. While he was not rich, his reputation as an excellent mechanic insured that he had a steady flow of business. Even some of the Anglos from the city would bring their vehicles up to have them worked on at his garage, which was just fine with him. The more the merrier.

Jonathan was a Wakani, and intensely proud of his heritage. The Wakani were a very secretive tribe of Native Americans who had, at one time, inhabited the caverns below the city of Wytheville. Referred to as the Undercity these days, no one outside of his tribe had ever visited the underground cavern-city and lived to tell the tale. Several expeditions had been mounted, attempting to explore the Undercity, but all had ended abruptly in disaster and failure. It was thought by many that the modern Wakani were sabotaging these expeditions, but the few survivors always described odd, supernatural events which they credited as the cause of their failures. Other than denying any part in the failures, the Wakani elders had remained curiously silent on the subject. For his part, Jonathan had never known why his people had left the city, how they had survived down there, why they had lived there in the first place, or what was dooming the Anglos’ expeditions. Only the tribal elders knew the answers to those questions, and they weren't telling.

Centuries ago, after abandoning their subterranean dwelling place, the Wakani - for some inexplicable reason - had integrated themselves among the other local tribes and had successfully remained hidden, undiscovered by the rest of the world until only about ten years ago. Now that their secret was out, though, the publicity was becoming a real bother. It had brought new business to his garage, however, so he felt that he shouldn't complain too much.

It was about a month ago that Jonathan had the first of his Flying Dreams. These were not just common, everyday dreams. They seemed much too real for that. Then there were the Dreams of his grandfather. Michael Talldeer had been a village elder, and he had taught Jonathan everything he knew about mechanics. Just before he died, he had even begun training him in the ways of Shamanism, and his death had not ended the lessons - it had merely postponed them. Now his Dreams alternated every other night. One night he was flying, the next sitting at the campfire with his grandfather learning his people's ways. Jonathan was soaking up every moment of it.

But tonight seemed different somehow. Typically in his Flying Dreams he had a companion - a strong, tough old crow that taught Jonathan by example. An intelligent glimmer in the old bird’s eyes had told Jonathan from the very beginning that this was no ordinary crow. He had learned quickly from it. In all of his time learning, though, not once had the bird ever failed to show up for one of Jonathan’s flying lessons. This was the first time he had ever been alone.

Something else besides his solitude seemed strange about the Dreaming tonight. There was also a strong feeling he couldn't name, a strange desire to be somewhere else. For a time, he had considered ignoring the call, but the feeling was overwhelming, and accompanied by a sense of urgency. So Jonathan started flying. He had no idea where he was being pulled to or why he was going, he only knew that he was needed elsewhere, and that time was of the essence.

As he flew, the sun began to sink beneath the horizon. That was not unusual here. Typical real-world crows slept at night, but Jonathan had found that, in the Dreaming, he could fly any time, day or night. He had flown in the darkness before with no problems. In the real-world, crows did not have night sight, but here in the Dreaming the earth glowed beneath him, making navigation a breeze. So on he flew.

It seemed as though he had flown for hours when suddenly all light was extinguished around him. He was engulfed in sheer, total darkness. For a moment panic set in. He was high above the earth in an unfamiliar body. What if he started flying too low and hit the ground? What if he flew into a tall tree or hill?

He tried to regain control over his thoughts and emotions. Think logically, he thought. Panic won't help, it will just make matters worse. Keep flying at an even level. Maybe this darkness won't last very long. But then again, it seemed like it had already lasted an eternity. He had heard once that if you died in a dream, you would die in reality as well. He really didn’t want to find out whether or not the old adage was true. He just wanted to wake up...

He thought he saw something flickering far off in the distance. Was it real or just an illusion conjured up by his desperate imagination? As he drew closer he realized that it was indeed light. A distant, shimmering ball of it in the midst of the darkness. He flew toward it, not knowing what to expect. At least it was something to aim for.

As he drew closer, he saw that it was a lamppost. In its light stood a young Anglo woman he had never seen before. She was small and slim - almost boyishly so - with pale skin, and short flaming red hair. She was wearing faded jeans and a white t-shirt with something written on it, but he was too far away to read it. The woman was obviously quite frightened. She stood frozen in the patch of light with arms outstretched, something gripped tightly in her hands. Her gaze was transfixed on something out in the darkness. He flew in closer, hoping to able to see what was wrong.

Suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, he felt himself falling. It was as though his wings had simply stopped working and the power of gravity had multiplied by the thousands. He was falling fast. Once again, he panicked. But his fear was short-lived.

He hit the ground with a bone-jarring thud.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Erin was stunned by what she saw. With an audible popping sound, a full-grown man appeared out of nothingness and fell five feet to the ground in front of her. He was not moving. Frightened, she made her way slowly over to him, desperately trying to keep an eye on both him and the dark shapes. They seemed just as startled at the man's sudden appearance as she was. A small group of them had made their way over to where his body lay, still remaining outside the circle of light, but getting as close as they could otherwise.

He appeared to be unconscious - he was breathing at least. He was a Native American, and was wearing nothing but a pair of pajama pants. How odd. She had to laugh at that thought. She was trapped beneath a lamppost by eerie black creatures that seemed to have walked straight out of someone’s worst nightmare, a man had popped out of thin air, had fallen to the ground in front of her, and she found the fact that he was wearing nothing but pajama pants odd. When the grim reality of her situation settled back in, however, her good humor quickly dissipated.

Erin didn't know what to do. She was frightened and alone. She couldn't just let him lay there, not knowing for sure what was wrong with him. He could be badly injured. There was no blood that she could see, but there could be internal injuries. Or worse, he could be dying. She couldn’t allow that to happen. Cautiously she reached out a trembling hand and tried to shake him.

She prayed that she wasn’t making a huge mistake...
 
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