Monday, June 9, 2014

The Sign

(also part 1 of The Premonition)


For months the ground had shaken, at first just a rumbling here and there, then it became a regular occurrence.  Like clockwork, around 4 every afternoon you could hear a roar rolling down off the mountain.  The adults would begin to scramble about as the earth began to move.  Houses shook from their foundations, shingles falling off the roofs.  Inside, dishes fell from cabinets above.  Outside the windows, apple carts rolled over, their contents rolling along the cobblestone streets. 

Screams filled the air each afternoon, but she reacted differently.  Annie was a quiet child, reserved, but some of the adults thought her to posses an inner strength that seemed puzzling.  Every day she stood and watched pieces of her world fall apart around her.  She formed the habit of going to the town's center every afternoon to stand and watch the madness unfold.  Her blank, silent stares often met the uneasy eyes of the townspeople as their world began its daily crumble.  They would look at her with disdain, or with envy, as her head turned, absorbing the little tragedy of the day.

The elders told a story of a great dragon who lived under the mountain.  The tall, rugged mountain that hid the sun each evening as it set in the west now appeared to be the source of a great unease settling upon the town of Parrish.  Some men spoke of a different source for the disturbances.  They said the mountain was a volcano, of a volatile geology that had been reported in lands across the sea.  Little Annie knew the truth, but she spoke not a word of it.

Many dark tales had been passed down of the dreaded dragon.  Asleep he was, under the great mountain, where he had lay down generations before the people of Parrish settled the plain.  The farmland that stretched as far as the eyes could see, and the forest beyond, were once the habitat of the foul wyvern.  Tales most would say are just an ancient folklore, a myth not worthy of conversation.  Now, seeds of doubt were taking root.

A contingent of men, the town's few remaining warriors, began to plan an expedition to the great mountain, known as Winoa.  They planned to travel through caves to find the source of the earth's violent episodes.  If a dragon was there and was awakening, they planned to slay it. 

Many called the warriors fools, but their fears compelled them to give the fighter's supplies for their impending mission.  Some began to pack and head for eastern lands where they hoped they could find safety from a disaster that seemed more inevitable with each passing day.  Most could not leave, their roots were too deep.  Their lives were tied to the land and their fortunes tied to the maturing crops in the fields.  In the eyes of many in the village, there was hope that the problem would go away.  In the eyes of them all there was fear.

There was one exception, among those old enough to walk and speak, to the fear that permeated the town of Parrish and it's surrounding lands.  Young Annie had been having dreams, for as long as she could remember, of a Hero who would arrive on a great stallion and slay the terrible Dragon that also inhabited her dreams.  The Hero would ride in from the north and save the town, as it faced despair in the darkest moment imaginable.  Was that moment approaching?

For a few days, as spring tuned to summer, the ground did not shake at its regular time and a calm seemed to creep back into the village.  Around 4 in the afternoon, the people had learned to take cover and cower in a panicked fear.  With the reprieve, there came more activity and things seemed to begin returning to normal.   The warriors now sat in the afternoon drinking beer and talking of their coming trek, but they no longer were gathering provisions.  Then one day there was change.

As the sun rose over the sea to the east, a loud crash echoed across the lands.  Dirt and rock blew to the sky from the western mountain.  For a moment the ground shook so hard that noone could stand. In those few seconds some wondered if Winoa was indeed a volcano and if it had erupted.  Soon, the questions were answered by the great shadow that emerged  from the mountain, moving over the forests and across the plain.  A dragon did exist and it had awakened.  Escaping its ancient lair as the day began, the people came out to watch its massive body glide over the plain as it flew towards the helpless town. 

The dragon first circled the town to the east, blackening the rising sun.  People were running, screaming, heading for cover and looking for their loved ones.  In a matter of moments it seemed as if all hopes were lost.  And out of the shadows walked Annie.  She held in her hand a silver talisman her grandmother had given her years ago, at the time of her birth.  In her dreams she would hold the charm up to the sky and the Hero would appear.  As doom set in across the town of Parrish, one ray of hope gleamed in a child's eye.

to be continued....

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