You are the moon and my moonlight
Staying in inns are a rare occurrence for their ragtag group. Rayla insisted they stay in the forest at all costs, lest humans discover the chirping baby dragon and the Moonshadow elf accompanying them. Ezran took it in stride and never complains. Callum would roll his eyes a few times, but he kept his mouth shut. She’s grateful the brothers could see the bigger picture about not takings risks. They learned that lesson back at the Banther Lodge…
Still, there were times taking risks was the only choice they could make.
It’s down pouring when they stop to rest. Ezran’s sopping wet with a grumpy Bait in his arms, shivering to the bone from the sudden chill. Callum’s arguing with Rayla about going into town, Zym cowering in Ez’s bag to avoid the rain. The older prince holds his bag over his head and yells over the pounding, insisting Ezran wouldn’t last the night in this weather.
“So what?! We walk into town and risk exposing ourselves again?!” Rayla throws back, her dark hood sticking to her sodden hair. She feels her ears lower in her anger and Callum’s still arguing.
“Does he look like he wants to sleep in the rain?” he gestures to his brother with a wet, waving hand. “Be realistic, Rayla! Humans aren’t as adapt as elves are with this kind of stuff!”
Ezran listens in miserable silence. Bait turns a dark purple and croaks irritably, lighting up in Ez’s arms to provide some much needed light.
“What if someone sees me or Zym?!” Gods be damned but she’s desperate now. One could only take the hateful, lip curling stares she always gets. “I’m not letting you walk us into another ambush —“
Being amongst the foliage gave her comfort. She’s been unable to sleep for the past two days now, dreaming of horrible things that left the poor elf in tears every night. Rayla shouldered the pain and does her best to get through it. Interacting with vindictive humans would only make things worse for her.
“One night. We stay one night so Ez won’t get sick. Is that really too much to ask?” His green eyes shine from Bait’s glow, hardened and firmly holding Rayla’s gaze.
Her heart pounds. “I…”
There’s a tug on her arm. She looks down at a pleading Ezran. “Please, Rayla? I’m cold.” He begs her and it’s breaks her in two. “Zym doesn’t like the rain either and Bait’s getting really cranky…”
“Rargh…” Bait bellows as if agreeing with the prince.
Rayla wants to say no. She could scream out her frustration if it took convincing both of them. But Ez’s round blue eyes plead with her even more.
It’s surprisingly easy to smuggle a very rare, very sought after baby dragon that was the hope of bringing stability to both kingdoms into their room. Rayla waits outside with Azymondias in her arms, balanced on the rooftop underneath the waning crescent moon. She inhales the night air and yearns for a full moon, to feel the power Runaan trained her to use that helps her feel less vulnerable being amongst humans.
Luckily the rain and the dark keep her hidden. Ezran told Zym to stay quiet and wait, and the baby sky dragon obeyed without hesitating.
Zym nudges at her wrist, whining softly.
“Easy now. It won’t be much longer.” She assures him, holding him closer to her. He nuzzles her chest and sighs, shutting his eyes comfortably.
“Rayla!” She picks up Callum’s hushed call with a twitch of her ears. Leaning over the edge, she sees him hanging out a window looking right up at her. “All clear! You can come down!”
Grateful to get out of the rain, she lithely descends onto the windowsill below. Callum takes Zym from her and she leaps in, the window shutting behind her.
“You made it!” Ezran greets cheerfully, wrapped in a thick blanket and sitting on the bed by the door. He grins at a wet, irritated Rayla with Bait poking his head out by his side. The glow toad was pink of all colors.
Zym wriggles from Callum’s arms and the prince kneels down to let him onto the floor. He bounces, tripping again, to a laughing Ezran waiting for him on the other side of the room.
“One night only,” Rayla says, pulling down her hood and glaring right at Callum. “If anything happens I’m blaming you.”
“Nothing is going to happen... We just keep Zym inside and hope for the best!” He grins awkwardly.
Rayla isn’t convinced.They spend the rest of the night entertaining a happy Zym, who trots around the tiny room with his nose in everything. Rayla’s mood lifts when he wanders over to her, flashing his tiny teeth in some weird version of a smile. She’s taken the empty bed by the window, changed in her spare set of clothes (after threatening a reddening Callum and a sniggering Ezran to keep their eyes shut while doing so) and her back pressed against the wooden wall.
Zym chirps loudly below, causing Callum to look back with a frown. He’s occupying the rickety table in the corner of the room, tracing runes in his damp sketchbook with some frustration.
“He wants you to hold him!” Ez tells her, chewing on some leftover bread. Bait’s still bundled under the blankets nearby, glowing once again despite lit candles warming the room with a soft orange.
“You and being held all the time…” she smiles and scoops him up. “Is this payment for taking my binding off?” Her arm still aches sometimes, but she’s regained most of her mobility without any striking pain doing so.
“He said yes.” Ezran laughs. Rayla strokes Zym’s head after he settles down in her lap.
Things quiet down after Ez falls asleep, his arm curled around Bait who gradually stops lighting up as he dozes off as well. Rayla remains on her bed, watching droplets slide down the glass pane of the window.
“You’re not going to sleep?” Callum spoke up quietly.
“I don’t need it.” She’s lying through her teeth. The Moonshadow elf was so exhausted and wanted nothing more than to shut her eyes.
But if she did, Runaan’s accusing screams would come right back. He’d come to her, battered and with a bloody stump where his arm once was. Accusing her of abandoning all he’d ever taught her, turning her back on their people when they needed her the most… Her parents, faceless and blurry, calling her name… Each time she’d get closer and closer until their cries jolted her awake…
I can’t go through this anymore. Even with Zym in her lap, Rayla wants to cry. Such things were forbidden among her people… One could not show any weakness at all. Whether it be fear or emotion.
Hastily, she brushes the wetness from her eyes. “Why aren’t you sleeping?” Rayla demands shakily.
“Too much on my mind.” Scratch, scratch, scratch. His pencil flies across the paper and she wonders what he’s drawing this time.
“You know that’s bad for your eyes.”
They fall into silence again. It’s only Ez’s light snoring and Callum’s pencil that fill the room. Rayla sits and watches him, hoping Callum could distract her from all these sorrowful thoughts.
I’m so tired. “Callum?” she starts, her voice breaking.
He looks back. “Yeah?”
I have to trust him. He was her friend after all.
“Can I ask you something?”
The brown haired teen shuts his book and turns in his chair to face her. “Of course.”
“What do you do if you… have constant nightmares?” Rayla asks him desperately. “The kind that never go away?”
His face is shadowed. “Is that why you’ve been so distant lately?”
Rayla nods miserably. She watches Callum rise from the chair, his feet padding quietly across the wooden floor. He sits down on the bed across from her, careful not to wake up Ez or Bait.
Green meets lavender. “I guess… I would go find my mom. Crawl into bed with her and she’d hold me until I fell asleep.” He looks at her with concern. “What’s been keeping you up?”
She tells him about Runaan and her shadowed parents. How much it hurt her to keep seeing these hellish images that wouldn’t leave her be. “I don’t even remember what my mom or dad look like… and Runaan’s always bleeding because one of his arms is gone.”
Callum pales a bit. “Like… the whole thing?”
Rayla nods again. “I just want to sleep without seeing them again… but I can’t, Callum. I’ve hardly slept at all these past few nights.” The Moonshadow elf shrinks away.
He’s quiet for a moment. “I think I may have an idea…” he starts carefully.
Her ears perk up.
Not long after, both beds are pushed closer together. Ezran, always a heavy sleeper, snores away as it moves. Bait’s watching them crossly until they’re done. Zym’s sprawled out on his back, his round stomach lifting with every wheezy breath he makes.
Rayla lays down while Callum occupied the empty spot next to his little brother. Moving onto his stomach, he’s close enough so that he’s facing the elf across from him. Flushing a bit, he extends an arm out to the elf.
She takes his hand without hesitating.
“It’s not exactly what I did with my mom… But I always felt better holding onto her. Maybe it will help you too.” He explains softly.
“You and your weird ideas…” Rayla rolls her eyes, pretending she didn’t find his touch comforting. Callum smiles awkwardly, but he tightens his grip to assure her he’s serious.
Rayla lets exhaustion take over, her last thought of how warm Callum’s hand felt. She’s so, so tired… But it works in the end. Human and elf keep their hands locked for the rest of the night and don’t let go.