The firelight danced in her eyes which were narrowed in deep concentration. The images that appeared to her from within the flames were clear, but without sound. She saw herself talking to a male gargoyle with gray skin and red-gold hair.
“I am destined to meet him,” she murmured. “The reason for the meeting is still unclear to me, but he appears to have good intentions. I will wait here for him.”
Shadows stared at the landscape before him. The ground was dry and rocky with a few trees scattered here and there. A great chasm lay before him, separating him from the land on the other side.
“The Grand Canyon,” he said. “I had heard much of it and had hoped to see it. My wish has come true. This place would be ideal for a clan to live. I will scope out a suitable place now and think of where the others are.”
Spreading his wings, he leaped into the chasm and glided down, his head moving back and forth, searching for a spot suitable for a large clan. He didn’t find one until he reached the bottom. There were several caves of various sizes. He peered inside one and saw that it had been hollowed out by nature, possibly by the wind and the river close by. However, the one he looked in was not right. It was too small.
He began to scope out the others until he came upon a pair of caves that were perfect: a large deep cave where they could hide far enough away from the entrance. At the back was a tunnel that seemed man-made. The opening was not as smooth as an opening that is naturally made.
He entered the tunnel and came out in the cave to the left of the first one. The second cave was deep, but a bit smaller. “A rookery,” he said. “This cave would be perfect for one.”
Satisfied with his choice, he went outside, gathered some wood he managed to find, and dumped it in the larger cave before climbing the canyon’s rocky face. He planned to go back to the reservation and take over Silver Moon’s care. As he climbed higher, he saw smoke curling up into the night sky.
“Are those campers?” he asked himself. “Maybe. I better go check.” Shadows released his hold on the wall and glided toward the smoke in the sky. From there, he traced it to an outcropping sticking out from the wall. He stayed far enough away from the ledge to be mistaken for a bat by humans. He could see inside the ledge, thanks to the fire. What he could make out from the fire made his heart beat faster.
He saw the silhouette of large bat wings! Was it one of the gargoyles Deer Runner spoke of? His first impulse was to hurry over, but what if his rush was construed as an attack? Obviously, a slow and cautious approach was called for. He angled his wings and headed for the ledge.
As he got closer, his excitement grew. It was a gargoyle and a female as well! She was an adult like himself but with lavender skin and bright blonde hair in a braid. A spellbook lay beside her.
“Greetings, my friend,” she said as he landed. “I am Skydancer. I had foreseen your arrival. What do you want of me?”
“Greetings, Skydancer. I am He Who Melts with Shadows. I prefer to be called just Shadows. I met Deer Runner a couple of weeks ago and he told me that I was destined to unite the gargoyles who live in the area.”
Skydancer stared at him. “Two weeks, you say? Why did you not seek us out then?”
“I was spending the time caring for the hatchling who hatched shortly after I met Deer Runner.”
His response surprised her. He had come to this land with an egg in his possession. “Where did you come from?”
“Washington State. I was the leader of a clan who were killed a few weeks ago.”
“You traveled a long ways, Shadows.”
“Yes. Fear has a way of lending wings to one’s feet.”
“Yes. I didn’t tell you. The village my clan and I were protecting killed the others and were approaching our home to kill me and the egg. I had no choice but to flee.
“You said you had foreseen my arrival. How so?”
“I possess magic powers. But I can’t access them without this book.” She patted the volume next to her. “From this book, I learned what I call Flame Vision. I can foresee events in the immediate future as well as the past. I also have basic alchemy skills.”
Shadows was impressed. She was a sorceress and a novice alchemist. Her abilities would obviously be assets to a clan. “Skydancer, I invite you to join the clan I hope to create in this land.”
Skydancer smiled. “I am honored and I accept. Have you chosen a home for us, yet?”
“Yes. A pair of caves down the river from here. I was getting ready to return to the reservation to care for the hatchling, Silver Moon.”
“May I come with you? I would like to see Deer Runner again.”
“Of course you can come. We’re a clan now.”
Skydancer extinguished the fire with a single word and followed her new leader into the sky and toward the reservation.