Friday, January 22, 2016

Free Fiction: The Ocean Stone, Part 2

The sky remained dark when Lio shifted to attention. Something had alerted him, snapping him out of his light reverie. He'd been waiting, tucked uncomfortably into the crook of an outcropping of rocks, and had nearly dozed off. But right now, he felt incredibly alert. He'd sensed something.

A sound? He listened, but only heard the repeated movement of the water. A sight? No, all was dark and not even a glimmer of light showed yet on the horizon. A smell? He sniffed the night air, but it only smelled of brackishness and brine, the essence of the ocean.

Lio shifted out of his position and scanned around him. Then he heard something. The slow spill of water, as if pouring out of a container, and nearly indistinguishable from the overall sound of the waves reaching for the shore and then retreating. In the darkness, he found it difficult to see. Lio reached for the small knife he kept at his belt.

"Show yourself," said a voice, that of an adult man, loudly and suddenly, and Lio felt as if he almost jumped out of his own skin. "I was called here, and the one who did so need show his face to me."

Lio slithered out of his shelter and found a stable spot. "Here," he said. "I am here."

The sound of movement over the rocks and sand alerted Lio that the man came closer. "I am here as well," he said, and even though his voice still boomed, it held the faintest wisp of amusement. "I have answered the summons, and ask that you tell me more. Perhaps, who has called for me?"

"My name is Lio, son of Vierothur IV. We are in desperate times, and I need your help." Lio hoped the man had either some type of special skill or else armies at his disposal. Just one man, in the middle of the night on a beach, did not inspire confidence. Even if he seemed to have shown up in response to Lio's throwing the stone into the ocean.

"Lio?" the man sounded surprised. "You do not sound the same as I remember…."

"My grandfather was also called Lio. He gave me the stone, and told me how to use it."

"Grandfather? Has so much time passed?" A note of sadness entered the man's voice. "Is your grandfather no longer living, then? If he passed the stone to you?"

"He's been gone many years now." Lio paused, and then added, "I miss him very much." Giving such personal information away perhaps wasn't the wisest of choices, but this man seemed to have known grandfather. "You and he were friends?"

"Closer than brothers," came the reply. "I will miss him with all my being."

Lio let a moment pass in respect, and then, with anxiety beating against his chest, returned to his desperate need. "Grandfather said you could help. And we very much need it. My father is poisoned and dying, and my uncle is about to attack us, so that he might reign. Sir…."

"Jyvid. I am called Jyvid." The man drew in a sharp breath. "There is much to discuss. Is there somewhere we may go?"

"Yes. I have—" Finally, suddenly, the moon penetrated the cover of the clouds, and Lio could see the man before him. Tall, broad shouldered, with heavy, dark hair that fell down his back, and an abdomen of muscles that was covered in a fine sheen of scales like a fish, and that trailed down his thighs. Utterly naked, and not affected a bit by the brisk air, or the fact that he'd been wet, as evidenced by his damp hair, he looked every bit as impressive as his voice had indicated. Lio swallowed, suddenly unsure of what he'd started, and then continued to speak. "I have rooms. We can speak there."

"Please. Lead the way."

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