Clyde B. Northrup

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Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 15, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on October 12, 2018 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

12 October 2018


We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, the conversation continues until our heroes reach the northerners’ fortress. . . .


Chapter 15, Part 2

 

“I’m only saying that the individual elements of the word,” Klaybear replied, “the roots, if you like, are words that refer to marriage, herds, and sacred things. What they mean together . . . ,” he paused and shrugged, “I have no clue.” He looked from Rola to Keth, who had been silent while they spoke, and began speaking in rapid ancient. Keth answered in the same language; Klaybear interrupted several times as Keth tried to explain. Both finally fell silent, turning again to Rola.

“Well?” she prompted Klaybear.

Klaybear shook his head slowly as he answered. “I believe he means, if I reduce it to its simplest form, that you are not married, but marriage among his people is nothing like it is among ours. I will need to gather more information on their social structure before I can say more.”

Rola frowned. “And why should that prevent him from walking beside me?” she asked after thinking about it.

Klaybear laughed. “It is not proper,” he told her, which only increased her frustration, her anger boiling over when she noticed Keth nodding vigorously at her.

“This whole situation is absurd!” she snapped. “Why are we still here? Shouldn’t we be doing something to solve our own problems without trying to understand his?” she finished, stabbing a pointing finger at Keth, whose grin slid off his face in an instant; she regretted having allowed her anger to burst forth and causing her to speak as she had. Keth turned away, muttering angrily and returning to his place at the head of his detachment. He barked several commands, and the soldiers around them straightened up and strode toward the front gate of the sparkling city.

“You really should stop offending our host, Rola,” Klaybear noted drily as the ranks closed tighter around them, one of them prodding Klaybear with his spear. He seems to be quite taken with you, Rola, his thought came to her, and we would be wise to use it to our advantage.

I won’t! she thought back fiercely. I won’t use him as a pawn for your ends!

Really, he thought back, and she sensed irony, that explains much.

Her brow furrowed. I don’t understand what you mean, she thought back, sending him her confusion, but before he could answer, Keth growled back at Klaybear.

“Sista!” Keth spat, and Rola had learned enough of his language to know what it meant; she stopped trying to communicate in thought with Klaybear, turning her attention to the walls and gate they moved toward.

“Does the city have a name, Keth?” Rola asked, making her voice as pleasant as possible.

Keth glanced over his shoulder, shooting her a single glare before returning to his stiff, upright stride, a proud gait, as if he we performing for an audience. “Norto Yegolo,” he hissed, and she guessed he must have had his teeth clenched. “Be silent!” he added, drawing her eyes forward to the gate of the city where, after shading her eyes, she could just make out figures standing on the battlements over the gate, facing toward them.

Keeping her eyes firmly fixed forward, on the gate, she thought, What does it mean?

You refer, I suppose, Master Klaybear thought back, to the name of the city? The first element is easy, north; the second is more problematic: I think it means, literally, someone who bustles about on the ice, or a servant of the ice, neither of which makes much sense.

Rola waited, thinking there must be more, her eyes still on the walls of the shining city. When no new thought came to her from Master Klaybear, she thought, That makes no sense!

No, it doesn’t, he returned, but most of this culture and its language are beyond us.

For a time, the only sounds were those of their escort, crunching across the hard-packed snow which formed the main way into this strange city, and Rola was left to herself to continue her examination of the walls, battlements, and gate, all curved and with the same strange face, a beautiful female, carved into the apex, a face that was both hard and distant. All looked formidable, and she did not relish the thought of leading a seklesi army against such a city. If this place was indeed the source of the cold, then she reasoned it would have to be destroyed, and to do that, one would have to first deal with the forces inside. As they drew closer to the gate, and she could see past the barrier and the guards, she saw what looked like barracks and groups of people, well-armed, passing to and fro inside.

It’s possible, Master Klaybear’s thought came again into her mind, that the second element refers to, instead of a servant, the axis of a sphere, which could then mean, the northern center of ice, a reference to the sphere atop the highest tower that seems to be. . . .

What Master Klaybear meant, she could not say, for his thought was cut-off before he finished. She glanced briefly over her shoulder to look at him and saw that his face had turned pale, his eyes widening slightly. Looking forward again, she saw a new figure standing over the gate, a wetha, who pointed down at Master Klaybear. She glanced back again, seeking an answer, and saw him give the slightest shake of his head. She concentrated again on the figure over the gate and saw that she was richly dressed in a white fur cloak and hood that covered her head but left her alabaster face visible. She was tall and stately, and Rola guessed that this new figure was someone of authority.

Keth raised one hand, and their escort halted, standing at attention before the gate. Rola now noticed there were two wethem standing on either side of the figure over the gate, these two, shorter that the wetha, were broader, wearing fur cloaks of some darker animal, with the hoods down, both with golden hair, hanging straight past their shoulders. Without looking to the side and maintaining her haughty disdain for Keth and his soldiers, the wetha spoke something to the wethi on her right; this one stepped forward, placing both hands on the parapet, and speaking in a loud, gravelly voice in ancient. Keth answered, and she knew that he spoke of her, for the eyes of the haughty wetha stared directly at her. The eyes paused on her briefly before moving on, as Keth continued what must have been a report of them, anger twisting the beautiful face as her eyes fell on Rola’s master. The wethi over the gate, who had been speaking, hissed angrily, and Rola heard a thud and a grunt behind her. She looked back and saw that one of the soldiers had struck Master Klaybear with the butt of his spear, doubling her master over.

 

Next time, the party passes into the fortress and into the citadel proper, meeting the powerful wetham who rule this people with iron hands. Until then, get our ebooks, or printed books, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here, and please share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 15, Part 1

Posted by gwermon on October 10, 2018 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

9 October 2018

 

We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, as we begin a new chapter, rejoining Rola, and Master Klaybear, as their northern captors reach their heretofore unknown fortress. . . .


Chapter 15, Part 1

Rola gasped, her eyes fixed on the shining city before them, a city of brilliant colors, a city none of her people knew existed. They had been traveling northward through the broken, icy landscape for two weeks without seeing anything or anyone. Rola could feel her twin brother’s frustration, ordered by Master Klaybear simply to follow and do nothing. She had been treated well, although a prisoner, while her master had been treated like an animal, tied and prodded forward, but otherwise ignored. Each day they started early, long before the sun rose, and they continued walking until long after the sun had set, going by the ruddy light of torches leading and following their formation. The nights were long, and the days short, and the cold was ever-present, seeping into her bones, causing her to shiver whenever they stopped to rest.

Rola watched as the shining city grew ahead, noticing that the walls were oddly shaped, not square but curved, like the prow of a ship but city-sized. When they reached the city, Rola’s eyes were drawn up, to the city’s highest tower, and she saw a huge, blue-glowing sphere, from which issued lines of blue force, going in all directions, and she suddenly understood the blue glow, sometimes visible during the brief days, always visible at night, that streaked across the sky overhead. She glanced back at Master Klaybear, who walked several files behind her, and saw his eyes fixed upon the glowing sphere. She could almost hear his thoughts, knowing that he looked at the source of the elemental forces controlling the weather.

Her eyes were drawn forward, where she saw Keth looking at her, his expression one that she recognized as expectant; she frowned, not knowing what she should say, so she pointed to the city toward which they trudged through the icy snow.

“Is that your home, Keth?” she asked him.

His eyes narrowed, and he shook his head. “It is . . . ,” he began, his accent thick, “how do you say it, korberg . . . ?” he went on, glancing back to where her master walked.

“Korberg?” Master Klaybear repeated, thought for a moment, and said, “fortress, perhaps?”

“Why perhaps?” Rola asked.

“It is formed from elements that mean war and hill,” Klaybear answered, “so I’m guessing fortress.”

“Our home is in the south,” Keth added, still looking at her expectantly.

She shot him a confused look, still surprised by the fact that Keth had begun speaking to her in her language only a few days before.

“How do you like it?” Keth asked.

“Like it?” she retorted. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Why does it . . . sparkle?” she hesitated, searching for a word.

“It is made of ice,” Keth replied.

“Ice?” she repeated. “Doesn’t it melt in the sun?” she asked, noting again the strange change that had befallen Keth over the last week. He had tried to teach her his language, giving up when her frustration infected him, and beginning to speak her language, although with a thick accent. Something about the change in his attitude toward her language troubled her; he continued to treat her like a queen, behaving at times as if he were a dog prancing for his master and expecting some treat.

Keth laughed at her, saying something in his language that made the others laugh with him. “It is made of ice by maga,” he told her, “mixing the ice with stone.”

“Maga?” she said. “What’s that?”

“He means teka,” Klaybear noted quietly, “or using elemental forces, in this case, ice and earth, to form the buildings, so he could be talking about maghem building it.”

As usual, Keth ignored Master Klaybear when he spoke, except for when he needed a word translated. “But, do you like it?” he repeated.

Rola was puzzled by his repetition, wondering why he asked again what she had answered. She glanced toward Master Klaybear, throwing him a questioning look, but he still stared up at the giant, blue-glowing orb on the city’s tallest tower.

“Yes,” she replied, “it is quite beautiful,” she added, wondering again at how it sparkled in the light, reflecting every color in the rainbow, “although strangely shaped.” Her eyes moved back to Keth, who had stopped and waited for her to catch up to him, and then he fell in beside her as they continued north toward the sparkling city.

“You are pleased, yes?” Keth asked, walking just behind and beside her right shoulder.

She nodded, wondering again why he did not walk directly beside her, but always stayed a quarter-step behind her; this action irritated her, for it forced her to turn and look at him when he spoke, so she could see his mouth, causing her to stumble often on the uneven ground.

“Why won’t you walk beside me, Keth?” she snapped, not for the first time. “I’m getting a pain in my neck!” she added, rubbing the left side of her neck for emphasis. “And I fear I will trip and fall,” she went on.

Keth shook his head. “It’s not proper,” he told her for what must have been the hundredth time, “for one not part of your gemeraki.”

This declaration was new, and Rola had no idea what he was talking about; she turned to look at Master Klaybear. “Do you understand what he’s talking about?” she asked.

Klaybear shook his head. “Not clearly,” he admitted.

“What do you mean?” Rola persisted, surprised that Master Klaybear didn’t understand.

“I think,” he began carefully, and it was clear to Rola that he was speculating, “that the word has something to do with marriage, and gathering flocks, or herds, but it sounds like a sacred herd or flock, or one that is considered holy.”

These words stunned Rola. “Are you saying they marry their animal herds?” she asked, and then snorted, as she could hardly believe what she had said.


Next time, this conversation continues until the party prepares to enter the northerners’ fortress. Until then, get our ebooks, or printed books, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">here, and please share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 14, Part 6

Posted by gwermon on October 5, 2018 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

5 October 2018


Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration. Today, we conclude this chapter as Kesa continues to search Baki’s memories for answers. . . .


Chapter 14, Part 6

Images flashed to life around them, returning them to Karle and the thuro’s office, but as soon as they began to return, they winked out, back into darkness.

Try going forward, Thalamar thought, to the point after you entered Master Maki’s office.

An image flashed again, and image of a gray-haired wethi, the badge of his office hanging on a chain around his neck, but the scene was static, like a painting, and it winked out as quickly as it had come. This flashing happened several times, but always static, as if something were blocking Baki’s recollection of the memory. Finally, Baki gasped and they were again plunged into emptiness.

“I know I went to his office,” Baki hissed, “I can remember going in, but I cannot recall what happened!” he finished, his voice filled with frustration.

We know you argued with Master Maki, Thalamar thought, so try moving us forward, to the time after you were ejected from the office, as you wandered toward the market.

I’ll try, Baki thought, and the scene around them reformed, back on the main street, and they again followed him toward the market, but the moment they reached it, the scene faded again into blankness. It’s gone, he thought, all of it! I cannot remember anything, not even going to see Nela a second time!

Master, Kesa thought, what’s happening?

There is an empty space in his mind, Thalamar thought back, where the memory used to be.

Used to be? Kesa thought. How is that even possible? If a memory is removed, it would leave a trace of itself. . . .

Indeed, Thalamar thought as her thought trailed into silence, and if he were suppressing it, the memory would still be there, although covered. There is nothing covering the memory, nothing to indicate tampering, simply an empty space where the memory used to be.

But . . .! she thought, but his thought interrupted her.

Try something else, a different memory, like the moment he left the stable with Jakadi and Master Koro.

I don’t understand, Baki’s thought came, and Kesa turned her attention back to him, seeing that his aura was pulsing more strongly with a washed-out yellow light, overwhelming feelings of doubt.

Nor do we, Baki, she thought, smiling reassuringly. Do as our master suggested: think of the time after you saddled Master Koro’s horse, as you escorted him onto the field.

Baki nodded once, closing his mental eyes as he concentrated. The image of the stable grew around them, and she saw the memory of Baki leading a tall stallion, with what must have been Master Koro seated on the saddle, toward the stable doors. She saw a glimpse of the other initiates in the stable, Jakadi pushing open the stable doors even as Baki led the master’s horse out. As he reached the wide doors, the scene again went blank, the mental space void. She looked up at Baki and saw him frowning, closing his eyes again as he tried to make the memory reappear, but all she saw was the memory replaying from where it had started–with Baki leading the stallion toward the door, and Jakadi pushing the doors open, over and over again, winking out at the same point.

Can you recall the moment before Master Koro began his charge? Thalamar’s thought came to her, and Baki shook his head.

What’s happened, master? Kesa thought.

The answer was slow in coming. The same–an empty space where the memory used to be, Thalamar answered in thought.

What does it mean? Baki’s thought came, his aura fading in color as his doubt increased.

I don’t know, Baki, Master Thalamar answered.

Kesa watched Baki, wondering what they could do now. The kortexi initiate collapsed again, sinking onto his cot, which suddenly appeared beneath him, even as the cell grew into being around them. She looked carefully at him, trying to think of a way to help him, to comfort him. She sat beside him on the cot, taking him into her arms. She could feel him shaking with suppressed sobs.

“We’ll find some answer, Baki,” she told him, hearing her voice echo hollowly and suddenly realizing that they were still in his mind. She drew a sharp breath, and felt him sit up and stiffen. Her eyes found his, and she saw they were wide, as if he saw something that surprised him. His aura pulsed with a multitude of colors, so many and so quickly that she could not discern one from another. “Baki? What’s happened?” she asked, trying to ignore the empty echo of her voice in his private mental space.

His mouth opened, but no words came out, but his mental voice suddenly filled her mind, making her cringe. You . . . no! NO! I love Nela! his voice shouted in her mind, and he suddenly thrust her away, and something powerful hit her chest, knocking her further away and snuffing her out. She fell into a dark abyss, hearing his voice repeat over and over again, I love Nela!

 

Next time, we will begin a new chapter, joining Rola as she reaches the fortress of these strange northerners. Until then, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">get our ebooks here and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 14, Part 5

Posted by gwermon on October 3, 2018 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

2 October 2018

 

Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration. Today, Kesa delves deeper into Baki’s memories, searching for anything that will aid their investigation. . . .


Chapter 14, Part 5

Sorry, again, master, she returned, and with an effort, shut away her feelings. She turned her mental vision to their surroundings, as they entered the city proper, looking for anyone who might have seen Baki, someone who might help place him here during this time, but all the faces were turned away without noticing him pass. The memory Baki turned toward the wealthy part of town, and began to wind his way toward Master Maki’s house and Nela. When they followed him past the fence–they simply walked through it, which caused the current Baki to shake his head–they stopped to watch as he climbed the vines up to Nela’s room.

Do we need to go up and see what we said to each other? Baki thought, his eyes on her instead on himself climbing up the wall. His eyes widened a moment before she could respond, and he sent another thought to her. Why are you surrounded by smoke?

I . . . , uh, smoke? her thought stammered, her mind wondering what he meant by smoke.

Recall the difference between males and females in this realm, Thalamar’s thought cut in to her mind, and she saw Baki’s eyes glanced around and knew he must have heard the voice, too.

Difference? Baki thought, his mental image frowning, and she further noticed that the memory in which they were had stopped, the figure of Baki climbing the wall frozen in place.

Yes, we see everything here more sharply, Thalamar thought, but devoid of color; they see less clearly but in color, at least, the emotions of an individual a colored aura around them.

Her master’s thought startled Kesa, for she had taken for granted that the memory was for her in brilliant color, and the people surrounded by colorful auras. Her mental eyes traveled up to Baki-frozen-on-the-wall, and saw him surrounded by purple light, although she caught glimpses of yellow streaks shooting through the purple, meaning he felt love for Nela, which consumed him, except for a small dose of fear, perhaps from climbing the wall. Now the Baki beside her was surrounded by a conglomeration of colors, yellow, purple, and red anger, likely from the memory of what happened after this moment, with Nela’s father.

I wondered why everything looked gray, Baki thought, interrupting her reflections, and now I can see the smoke–the aura, he corrected himself, around her changing, although it still looks gray.

And how does his look to you, Kesa? Thalamar thought.

I see many colors, dominated by fear, Kesa thought back, but with doses of passion and anger; the Baki climbing the wall pulses mostly with passion, although there are streaks of fear, probably from his precarious perch on the wall.

The image of Baki beside her frowned. How does that help us? he thought back.

It helps you to understand what you are seeing, Thalamar returned, but how it will help exonerate you remains to be seen; you must focus again on the memory to get things moving again.

Do we need to witness the conversation I had with Nela? Baki thought back. I already reported what I said.

We should listen to it again, just in case, Thalamar’s thought came, and Baki turned to look at himself climbing the wall. As soon as he did, the figure on the wall started to move, and he rose, with Kesa beside, into the air to hover before the window.

The conversation proceeded as he had before reported, and Kesa saw that one aura–Baki’s–was entirely purple, while Nela’s alternated between purple and yellow, showing Kesa that she was truly afraid for Baki.

The Baki figure started to climb down, and they followed him as he returned the way he had come, back to the main street between citadel and town, before turning another direction to go toward the thuro’s office. As they reached the door, the scene around them faded into blackness, the only thing visible in the darkness was Baki.

“What happened?” Baki asked, his voice sounding hollow and tinny in this empty mental space.

“I don’t know, Baki,” Kesa replied, not liking the sound of her voice in this mental void. “Have you lost focus on the memory?”

Baki’s brow wrinkled for a moment before he shook his head.

“What are you concentrating on?” she asked.

He still sees himself going through the door and entering the office, Thalamar’s thought came to Kesa.

Why don’t we see it? she thought back, including Baki in her thought.


Next time, we will conclude this chapter as they continue to search his memories for anything that will help them prove his innocence of murder. Until then, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">get our ebooks here and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 14, Part 4

Posted by gwermon on September 28, 2018 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

28 September 2018

 

Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration. Today, Master Thalamar explains further what they hope to accomplish by entering Baki’s mind. . . .

 

Chapter 14, Part 4

 

“What happened?” Baki asked, his eyes traveling around the stark cell.

“You lost focus, Baki,” Thalamar said, “and slipped out of the mental plane and back to your cell, not unusual for a novice in mentalics.”

Silence fell, and for a time, no one spoke. Kesa watched Baki, guessing that he must be trying to understand what they had been teaching him. She waited patiently for him to speak, to decide, all the time watching him. After several slow minutes, Baki inhaled deeply and sat up, his eyes going at once to hers, and she felt herself blushing under his scrutiny.

“Will I be able to see what you find?” he asked her.

“I . . . ,” Kesa hesitated, looking to her master, “I don’t know, Baki,” she added, still looking at her master, hoping the question in her eyes would lead him to respond.

Thalamar frowned. “You will be able to see and recall all that Kesa finds,” he spoke slowly, carefully, “including all that she thinks as you make this mental journey together, more than she wants you to know, if she is not very careful,” he finished, emphasizing his final words.

Kesa was puzzled by this last bit, now frowning in turn. “What do you mean, master?” she asked.

“What we have already discussed, Kesa,” he answered, “that all your feelings and thoughts will be open to him as you make this journey.”

“Except for what I lock away, master,” she said, now feeling afraid of what she intended to do.

Thalamar did not reply to her statement. “I want you both to realize that this mental exercise could be uncomfortable to you both,” he said, “and that I am opposed to this attempt. You would be better off letting events follow their natural course, for we will extract Baki from Karle, whatever is decided.”

Kesa stared at her master, now more frightened than before; she wondered what he was hinting at, more than that she would reveal her emotions to Baki. The kortexi initiate’s hoarse voice interrupted her thoughts.

“I have to know what happened, master,” Baki said. “I have to know what happened, and why I cannot remember.”

“You may not learn why, Baki,” Thalamar said, his voice quiet, soft, “or you may learn that you are guilty, and that you, yourself, have suppressed your memories of what happened.”

“I must know the truth,” Baki replied, his eyes going to Kesa, and his look again making her blush. She looked away quickly, less sure of herself and her purpose.

Thalamar nodded. “Yes, I suppose you do,” he agreed, “and I can see no other way, short of someone coming forward with new information, that we can learn the truth.” His eyes traveled from Kesa, to Baki, and back again. “Prepare yourself,” he ordered, and then added, “I will be monitoring from a distance, in case something goes wrong.”

Kesa turned to face Baki, swallowing hard and holding out her hands. “Take my hands, Baki,” she said, and when the flush began creeping up her neck, she went on, “it will help us maintain mental contact.” He looked at her, pausing before reaching out to take her hands, his touch making her hands tremble. “Now relax, Baki, and we will enter your mind and memory together.”

Kesa shifted her awareness to the mental, feeling her master do the same. Now think back to the night you went to see Master Maki, she thought, and imagine yourself leaving the citadel. She could tell at once it had worked, for Baki’s mind opened, and she found herself beside him as he walked past the statues lining the road. Her eyes traveled to the one representing her master, standing twenty feet high and looking imperious, and she smiled to herself, thinking that she had never seen him wearing such an expression.

Stay focused, Kesa! her master’s voice came sharply.

Sorry, master, she thought back, turning her attention back to Baki as she walked beside the Baki now in the cell. Together, they followed the figure of Baki in the memory as he walked under the arch and past the second set of statues.

This is strange! Baki’s thought came to her, along with confuses feelings. Walking behind myself. . . .

Relax, Baki, she thought back, since this is a memory, we are shadows, not visible to anyone else, least of all your earlier self.

Kesa realized then that she still held one of Baki’s hands, a fact he did not notice, but she noticed how warm and pleasant it was to walk beside him holding his hand. This thought made her blush and look away from him, but this action did not help, for then her eyes fell on the object of this exercise, the memory Baki, walking into Karle to meet with the father of his intended to ask him for her hand. This realization made her flush turn to anger, an anger she could not explain or understand.

You are losing focus, Kesa! her master’s voice echoed in her mind. I warned you against this; you must lock away your feelings for Baki, lest they disrupt his recollection!


Next time, Kesa and Baki travel deeper into Baki’s mind, reviewing the events that have direct bearing on proving his innocence of murder. Until then, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">get our ebooks here and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 14, Part 3

Posted by gwermon on September 25, 2018 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

25 September 2018

 

Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration. Today, the teaching concludes and Kesa tests Baki’s mental defenses. . . .


Chapter 14, Part 3

 

“Yes, master,” Baki said, “I have closed and locked the chest, hiding the key. Now what?”

“Now imagine yourself standing guard in front of the chest,” Thalamar continued. “You will warn away anyone who tries to approach, but be careful, the harm you inflict on those who try to approach will be permanent, and can cripple them in the physical world.”

“Harm?” Baki asked, his tone unsure. “How can I hurt someone in my mind?”

“The mental plane is as real as the physical plane,” Thal replied, “what you do in one affects the other, as you will soon discover, for Kesa is now going to enter the mental realm and approach you. Be wary, and careful.”

Kesa acted on her master’s words, shifting her awareness to the mental, glancing around and seeing Baki in the distance. He had not seen her, so she moved cautiously sideways, guessing that his inexperience in this realm would make him vulnerable from the rear. She circled, quietly, moving closer to where she could see Baki standing in front of his chest, guarding the contents. She saw that the space looked like his initiate’s cell upstairs, with both beds, a table at the head between the beds, chests at the foot of the beds, and desks between the chests and the door out of the room. She smiled to herself, knowing that as he had constructed the space resembling his room, he would assume that the only entrance was through the door, which was where he faced. She could see the hazy outlines of walls, the outer wall at the head of the beds pierced by a window whose panes were smoky, but did not block her view. She moved up behind Baki, passing through the wall and bed as if neither was there, and then standing on the chest.

“Baki,” she whispered, and would have gone on, but when she said his name he whipped around, as fast as a snake striking, lashing out at her with his arms. She fell back, landing on his bed, surprised at his swift response. She heard a quiet, disembodied laughter, and knew her master was watching. She got to her feet, angry at herself for having allowed him to hit her, her eyes scanning the space around her for the source of the laughter.

Baki stood frozen, looking at her and his own hand, as surprised as she was at the speed and force of his response. “I’m sorry . . . I didn’t mean to hurt you,” he apologized.

She opened her mouth to reply, to tell him it was nothing, when her master’s voice spoke.

“You both underestimated each other,” Thalamar laughed, “and so you both surprised each other.”

“But . . . I don’t understand?” Baki complained and pointed at Kesa. “How did she get in here? I didn’t see her come through the door!”

Thalamar laughed, and Kesa could not help but join him. “An elementary mistake, Baki,” her master said, “assuming that because you have placed yourself in an image of your room, the walls will keep others out, but in this plane, nothing is firm; any wall you build is only as strong as your focus upon it. Once you had built the walls, your focus turned to the door, through which you believed Kesa would come, and in that moment, the walls you constructed became ephemeral, illusions only, that anyone can penetrate, as Kesa did.

Kesa saw Baki’s forehead wrinkling, his mouth frowning. “But then, how do I protect myself, and this chest, from intrusion?”

“You mean, I guess,” Kesa began, “beyond the lock and key?”

“Show him, Kesa,” Master Thalamar’s voice said, and she turned toward it, seeing her master coming toward them.

“I can create a key, Baki,” Kesa said, moving off the bed and around to where Baki stood before his chest; she stopped in front of him, holding out her hand, palm up, and the key she had conjured, “but it is unlikely that this key will work. Only if I had seen your key, or knew what it looked like, would I be able to access this chest. However, given time and patience, I might be able to conjure a key that would work. If I had the skill of a thief to pick the lock, I might also be able to open it, given time, but thieves are unlikely to enter anyone’s mental space.”

“Step aside, Baki,” Thalamar said, stopping beside Kesa, “and let her try the lock.”

Kesa watched Baki frown before stepping aside; she stuck the key into the lock on the chest, and tried to turn it. Nothing happened.

“You see,” Kesa said, “I cannot open the lock without your key.” She smiled at him as she straightened up, what she meant to be a reassuring smile, but her master spoke before he could respond.

“You can further protect the chest and its contents by placing it somewhere secret,” Thalamar said, “a place known only to you, not like this one, an obvious place.”

Baki continued to frown. “That’s not what I meant,” he said. “I wanted to know how to protect it when I’m not in this strange place,” he went on, looking around. Their surroundings altered, and the construct of his initiate’s room wavered and faded, but the chest remained.

“None can enter this space but you, Baki,” Kesa said, “and, should they try, you can banish them with a single thought.”

This answer did not help, for the furrows on Baki’s brow deepened. “But you’re here,” he said, looking from Kesa to Thalamar.

“We’re here, Baki,” Thalamar said in a soft voice, “because you invited us.”

Again, Baki did not understand. “I invited you? When? How?” he shot back.

“When we undertook this exercise,” Thalamar answered. “Our intent was to show you how to protect thoughts and memories you would not want anyone else to see as Kesa enters your mind to help you remember what happened during those times when masters were killed.”

“I hope this remembering will lead us to others who will help us exonerate you,” Kesa added.

Her words caused Baki to shrink, as if he were collapsing in on himself; he vanished from the mental plane, and Kesa found herself sitting on his cot back in his cell. She saw Baki sitting beside her on the cot, his arms wrapped around his drawn-up knees, his head down. He slowly raised his head, his eyes bloodshot, dark circles beneath them, his face losing all color.

 

Next time, Thalamar explains further what Kesa plans, and how it might help them prove Baki’s innocence. Until then, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">get our ebooks here and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 14, Part 2

Posted by gwermon on September 22, 2018 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

21 September 2018


Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration. Today, Kesa and Master Thalamar teach Baki a method for hiding thoughts that one wishes to keep private. . . .


Chapter 14, Part 2

Kesa sat cross-legged on the end of Baki’s cot, the kortexi initiate sitting beside her, his forehead wrinkled as he struggled to understand what Master Thalamar was telling him. Kesa smiled to herself, thinking there was a time in the not too distant past when her reaction would have been similar to Baki’s. Master Thalamar sat in the cell’s only chair, a straight-backed hardwood chair, chosen for functionality rather than comfort, a spartan chair that looked to have been hacked from a block of wood rather than carved; its uneven feet caused the chair to shift suddenly, if its occupant moved, but this fact did not trouble her master. He continued to speak in a calm, even voice, unruffled by the fact that Baki did not understand.

“It’s quite simple, Baki,” Thalamar repeated, “just think of a box, like the chest in which you keep all your things, resting at the end of your bed. A chest that can be locked, and you hold the only key.”

“It could be the same chest now sitting in your room, filled with your clothes, and other personal items,” Kesa inserted.

“Keep focused, Kesa,” Thalamar noted sharply.

“The chest in my room, upstairs,” Baki repeated, his eyes traveling up to the ceiling of his cell.

“Keep your eyes closed, Baki,” Thalamar went on, “and think only of the chest. Can you see it clearly in your mind? Can you see the texture of the grain running through the would, imagine how it would feel to touch? Can you see the iron bands, the lock, and its hasp glittering in the light?”

“Yes, master,” Baki said, “I can see the chest, but how will this chest . . . ?” he went on, and Thalamar stopped him.

“Think only of the chest,” Thalamar cut him off. “Let no other thought intrude; keep your mind on the chest,” he paused.

Kesa thought of her own box, resting at the end of her bed in her initiate’s quarters back in Melar; she could see the polished oak, the iron bands flashing in the light gently illuminating her room.

“Now imagine it opening,” Thalamar went on, “see the lid rise and reveal the contents of the chest. What do you see inside?”

Kesa clamped her mouth shut, knowing that she was to keep silent while her master worked. The chest in her mind opened and she began to rifle through it, pushing aside clothes and books, reaching into the bottom of the chest to see what lay hidden there.

“I see my clothes, master,” Baki said.

“Are they folded, or crumpled because you threw them in haphazardly?” Thalamar asked.

“What . . . they’re clothes, I don’t know. . . ,” Baki went on, but her master again interrupted him.

“You have to see them in every detail, Baki,” Thalamar said, “their color, their fabric, neatly folded or wadded into a ball, now looking crumpled?”

“But I don’t see . . . ,” Baki tried again, and was again cut off.

“In order for us to proceed, you have to imagine every detail,” Thalamar interrupted, “think only of the clothes inside your chest. How many are there? And what are they made from, the fabric?”

“Mostly cotton,” Baki replied, “sturdy work clothes, for the most part, in browns and whites, but the white ones are old, faded, looking gray.”

“Good, keep focused on the clothes,” Thalamar went on, “are there pants and shirts, tunic and hose, socks, small clothes?”

“Yes, some of all those,” Baki answered.

“Any belts?” Thalamar asked. “Or gloves? Shoes?”

“Two belts, and several gloves, most worn and with holes in the fingers,” Baki said.

“Good,” Thalamar said. “Now, I want you to think of all the letters Nela sent you. . . .”

“But I burned them,” Baki inserted.

“I know you did, Baki,” Thalamar returned, “but I want you to remember each one of them, how the parchment felt in your hand as you read them, all the emotions you felt, the color of the ink, and the contents. Recall each one clearly, and then imagine each one of them going into the chest, fluttering slowly down from your hand and landing on the collection of clothes, belts, gloves, covering the clothes and filling the top of the chest.”

For her part, Kesa thought of the fellow maghi initiate for which she had feelings when both were much younger; she had grown out of her crush, but now she recalled all those feelings, their exchanges, how she had tried to lead him into secluded corners for experiments, and how he had rejected and embarrassed her. She felt her cheeks flushing at the memory, stuffing all ruthlessly into her chest. As silence had fallen on Baki’s small cell, she recalled other memories that she wouldn’t want Baki to see, and realized many of them were similar to those she had already shoved into her chest, but these were more recent, in the last week, feelings she refused to acknowledge, for they had to do with Baki and her efforts to exonerate him. A few of these recent memories were dreams, visions in the night that made her ears burn, for most of them were graphic, involving scenes and actions inappropriate for any pursuing one of the higher orders, particularly for those who were unwed. Once these had all been stowed in her box, she slammed the lid shut, turned the key, and hid the key in her robes. Her focused shifted back to her master and Baki.

“Now that you have them inside your chest,” Thalamar was saying, “close the lid, lock the chest, and put the key somewhere safe,” he added, and Kesa saw that his eyes glanced in her direction.


Next time, the teaching concludes and Kesa tests Baki’s mental defenses. Until then, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">get our ebooks here and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 14, Part 1

Posted by gwermon on September 19, 2018 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

18 September 2018


Welcome back to another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration. Today we begin a new chapter, returning to Karle as Kesa struggles to find evidence to exonerate Initiate Baki. . . .


Chapter 14, Part 1

 

Kesa woke with a smile on her face and a new feeling of hope, a feeling she could not explain. When she had gone to sleep late the previous night, after reviewing all that they had learned, she could see no way to prove that Baki was innocent of the crimes for which he was incarcerated. Her dreams must have been positive, or her subconscious had come up with a solution, for she felt renewed hope, an unaccountable positive feeling that she was close to solving this dilemma. She stood and stretched, feeling energy surge throughout her entire body, a slight flush filling her cheeks as a flash of what she must have dreamed surfaced for an instant. She did not recognize the scene, but something about it made her uncomfortable; she frowned and pushed the feeling aside, focusing instead on the problem of Baki.

She got dressed, mulling over the problem, trying to determine the source of her hope. She returned to the conversation of the past night, as she sat with Master Thalamar, and their discussion of the facts, or perhaps the lack of facts, and her desire to enter Baki’s mind and find the truth.

“Even should you succeed, Kesa,” Master Thalamar, “and find all the answers you seek, do you honestly think Master Belmo will accept any of it, given the kortexi prejudice against teka?”

“Master, I don’t think so,” she admitted, “but that is not my purpose.”

Master Thalamar’s eyebrows rose, threatening to disappear beyond his hairline. “Isn’t it?” he replied skeptically. “What is it you hope to find by rooting around in his memory?”

“What actually happened, master,” she answered, “but not to show to Master Belmo; rather, I hope to find out something that will lead us to real evidence to exonerate Baki.”

Master Thalamar shook his head slowly, his eyes fixed on hers, which made her squirm. “What you propose is dangerous, and inadvisable,” he noted in a quiet voice, “and it will leave your mind as open as his. He will be able to see all your inmost secrets, all your hopes and fears; you will hand him a weapon that he could use against you, a weapon for which there is no defense.”

She opened her mouth to speak, to say that she had nothing to hide, but he spoke over her.

“It is not worth the risk,” he went on, “and unnecessary, since we will take Baki away, regardless of what Master Belmo decides.”

She frowned at this statement, still not penetrating his purpose. “Then why, master, are we here?” she asked. “Why don’t we simply take him away now and dispense with this tedious and fruitless search for evidence?”

He smiled, a knowing smile. “Because Baki needs to understand that he is innocent of the crimes,” he told her, and this statement further puzzled her.

“I thought he did,” she said.

“He doubts himself, Kesa,” Master Thalamar said, “and you cannot hope to succeed if he doubts. Do you not recall the story of the uwonti, and their miraculous preservation through a battle that cost many of the best soldiers their lives? All because they believed in themselves.”

Kesa chuckled. “Surely, master, that story is a legend,” she laughed, “one that has grown over time with every retelling of the tale!”

He smiled again, that same knowing smile, then spoke in a soft, barely audible voice. “Kesa, I was there,” he whispered. “I saw it.”

She was taken aback, reminded again that her master had lived for centuries, and was one of the legendary heroes of the Great Year. She considered what to say next, running through several possibilities, finally deciding on caution.

“What do you fear will happen, should I attempt to enter Baki’s memories?” she asked.

Now he frowned. “I have already answered that question, Kesa,” he replied.

“Then I did not make clear what I am trying to understand, master,” she went on. “You, who have more experience than anyone living, surely there must be away to protect us both against what you fear?”

He sighed, as if he were thinking of what to say, letting the breath escape slowly to give himself more time. “There is a way you might protect yourself,” he finally said, “but I do not think one such as Baki has the mental capacity to employ this technique.”

“You don’t think him smart enough?” she pressed.

He shook his head, folding his arms across his chest. “No, that is not what I think, but that he lacks any training in mentalics, and we do not have the time to train him.”

“I think you do him a disservice, master,” she said carefully, her eyes fixed upon him as she spoke. “I have looked at the surface of his mind, and I think him capable of much more.”

He frowned, pulling his arms tighter around himself and turning away to stare out into the night. He stood this way for a time before dropping his arms to his sides and turning back to face her; he was smiling. “I often underestimated his ancestor, Sir Blakstar, and he still surprises me with what he can do, although with more training and experience than Baki. I will try to teach you both the technique, but do not expect any miraculous results; if he cannot succeed, then your attempt to enter his memory will fail.”

With those words, he had bid her goodnight, and sent her back to her room. She had mulled over it again and again as she fell asleep, and when she awakened, feeling hope, she had to attribute it to her subconscious belief that Baki would succeed, and she would find the information that would tip the balance. She left her room to seek her master, believing they would not fail.


Next time, Kesa, with the aid of Master Thalamar, begin teaching Baki a technique for conealing the thoughts and memories he wishes to remain private. Until then, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">get our ebooks here and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 13, Part 5

Posted by gwermon on September 14, 2018 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

14 September 2018

 

Good day to all! We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, as Telor awakens to find his tree under attack, trying to recall the name of the creature, and getting it wrong. . . .

 

Chapter 13, Part 5

 

Telor jerked awake, looking around, suddenly glad that he had secured himself to the tree, for he had been thrashing around. The hissing sound still filled his ears, and his eyes sought the source of the sound he had believed to be Kefi’s voice. Below him, he saw the strange, blob-like creatures, of elemental fire and earth, winding their way through the rocks, looking like some of the smaller stones moving from where they had fallen. What did Kefi call them? Pur-something, or was it pru? Prusan, or pursan, he wondered, and decided that was incorrect, for either lacked the proper ending. Pursani for one, pursanem for a group, except that he thought there might be a letter, or two, missing. He shrugged to himself, his eyes going again to watch the progress of the pursanem as they moved around below him. Ice poured into him as he realized that one of them was following the path he had taken, forward between the smoldering rocks, before turning back and climbing this tree. He hesitated, wondering how that could be possible, for in their previous encounters with these creatures, none had shown any glimmer of intelligence. He stared, horrified, as the single creature moved forward to the point where he had stopped and retreated, and then turned to the side to climb the tree. He drew a sharp breath, suddenly realizing that if the creature touched the tree he hid in, it would burst again into flames, and he would be barbecued where he clung to the trunk. He did not have time to climb down before the creature reached his tree. Panicked, he cast his eyes around looking for a way to escape. A nearby tree caught his eye, a tree that still smoldered, thin wisps of smoke still trailing into the clouds above this tree. Without thinking, he tore the coiled cord from his belt, along with a small grappling hook, which he attached to the end of the line. Paying out what he thought was sufficient cord to reach the tree, he whirled the hook and line around before hurling it toward the closest branches. With the luck of his race, the hook landed over one of the larger branches. Sweat trickling down his forehead, he glanced down and saw that the pursani had nearly reached the trunk of his tree; he pulled the cord taut, the hook catching on the branch. He stood, trying to orient himself so that he would swing past the trunk of the next tree and up into the branches on the other side. The branch beneath his feet shuddered, and he knew without looking that the creature had reached his tree. He heard sudden crackling, and loud popping, and a cloud of smoke and heat surged up, burning his eyes and causing him to cough. He reached as high as he could and wrapped the cord around one wrist, and then leaped forward, swinging down and away from the now burning tree. It cracked loudly as he swung down, the trunk burned through by the pursani, the tree now falling behind him. He prayed one of the branches would not catch or strike him, knowing there was no help and nowhere to go should he fall to the ground, and from this height, he would likely break an ankle and be unable to flee on foot. As he reached the bottom of his swing, he lifted his feet, feeling his toes brush the ground, and feeling a branch slide across his back, but his momentum carried him away and up into the tree. He reached out with one hand, wrapping his arm around the larger branch he crashed into, holding tight even as breath was forced from his lungs.

For a time, he could do nothing but cling to the branch, struggling to breathe. When he finally caught his breath, he noticed the cord and hook dangling from his wrist. With great effort he managed to pull himself onto the charred branch, getting quickly to his feet and coiling his cord, preparing to throw again, his eyes looking for another close tree. Below and behind him, the creature had somehow realized its prey had escaped; it followed, heading straight toward the trunk of the tree Telor now occupied. Desperate to escape, he saw another tree, threw his hook and cord, leaping down and swinging again, and up into the next tree, this time landing on the branch. Releasing the tension on his cord, the spring-loaded hook came free of the branch, and the awemi coiled it again for another throw. The creature reached the previous tree, crashing into the trunk and setting it at once on fire. Moments later the tree toppled, and the creature moved toward the next tree, but Telor moved faster this time, already swinging into the next tree. He coiled his line, searching for the next tree, throwing and swinging away, up into another tree, but this time, the charred wood of the branch did not let the hook come free; it stuck there, no matter how Telor whipped his cord around trying to free it. He glanced down, fearing that the creature would again catch him up the tree, but he saw it moving away, back to some preordained patrol circuit, apparently satisfied with driving him away.

Telor sat down on the branch, catching his breath; that had been too close and proved he was growing careless, making novice mistakes that nearly cost him his life. As he sat on the branch, he tried several more times to free his hook but to no avail. Finally, he gave up, pulling more cord from his belt and dropping it over the branch so he could lower himself to the ground. He landed on the blackened ground, scanning for the creatures before removing the remainder of the coil from his belt, easily tossing it over the branch; it slithered over the branch and to the ground, sending up a tiny puff of ash and dust. Telor retrieved it, his eyes still wary, and began to coil it carefully as he moved without a sound back to the tree where the hook was trapped. Standing beneath the branch where the hook had caught, he tossed the coiled cord over the branch, thinking that if he pulled on the hook from the other direction it might come free. Otherwise, he would have to climb the tree and retrieve his hook, too valuable to leave behind. One swift tug on the cord freed his hook, and he dodged to the side to avoid the falling hook, beginning again to coil his cord, replacing it on his belt after detaching the hook and replacing it. He glanced around, wondering what he should do next, concluding that he should wait for the others to catch up, not a pleasant prospect, for it meant admitting that he had failed, but what else could he do? He lacked the tools to get past the pursanem, nor could he think of a way to pass through the extreme heat emanating from the cooling chunks of magma, too recently hurled from the depths of the Glufater. Resigned, he moved back to the road he had followed north, thinking he would not have long to wait before the others caught up, with their long legs.


Next time, we begin a new chapter, returning to Kesa, who has a new plan to save Baki. Until then, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">get our ebooks here and share them with your friends! Good reading!

Arena of the Ice Queen, Chapter 13, Part 4

Posted by gwermon on September 11, 2018 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

11 September 2018


Good day to all! May we never forget that the freedoms we enjoy come with a cost that must be paid by every generation! We return with another installment from the forthcoming Arena of the Ice Queen: Book 1 of The Restoration, Telor heads south on his own, stopping because of the foul air, and rests in a tree. A strange dream troubles his rest. . . .

 

Chapter 13, Part 4


Telor shrugged but did not stop, breaking into a jog. “I can take care of myself!” he called over his shoulder, irritated by Kefi’s comment. He sped up to a run, wanting to put as much distance between himself and the others before they began to follow; he needed to be alone, and he needed to think. This fool’s quest was costing him money; for each day he was away from his home base, he was not trading, talking his way into greater profits, and always succeeding. Being stuck out here, on this island where no one lived, forced to follow those two who claimed to be the heroes of legend, cost him tons of gold. Worse still, every time Kovaine asked him to do something, to follow along, to be nice to Kefi, his will melted, his resolve fled, and he found himself smiling and doing whatever she asked. She had some strange power over him, and he had to find some way to counter it. He had tried anger, but he found it impossible to stay angry at her for long enough to escape her wiles. He slowed to a jog, taking note of his surroundings, finding that the trees were no longer green and standing, and the grass and shrubs lining the road had been replaced by gritty, gray ash. He could feel it grinding under his bare feet, reckoning it would not be long before it pierced the thick soles of his feet. He halted, rummaged through his pack, and dragged out a pair of leather sandals, made for his feet, the soles made of thick hides stretched over walnut, into which were pounded a number of short, flat-headed nails. He strapped these heavy sandals in place, slung his pack over his shoulders, and jogged on, the hollow slapping of his sandals echoing strangely in the close, thick air, sending up puffs of ash that spattered his legs.

He loped on through the ash and acrid smoke billowing up from the crack ahead. A sudden, rumbling sound caused him to slide to a halt and begin dancing drunkenly in place until the shuddering wave had passed. As soon as it did, he started forward again, realizing the flaw in his plan: what would he do when Kovaine’s orthek expired? How would he breathe? His steps faltered, and then steadied, deciding it didn’t really matter, since the others would catch up to him before that happened, unless something terrible happened to all of them. This thought amused him, and he smiled to himself as he jogged on, now seeing that the trees still standing were stripped of all leaves and bark, most of them charred, a few of them sending up wisps of smoke that mixed with the clouds already billowing over the ground. As the clouds moved around and past him, allowing him to see further ahead, he noticed formations of black rock, in a multitude of sizes and shapes, littering the bare ground all around him. A few of them still smoked, and some of these showed orange light glowing from a multitude of cracks, giving the smoke a strange, ocherous luminosity, a color that made his stomach churn. He slowed his pace to a fast walk, noticing that the air was hotter, making it harder to breathe. Ahead of him, he saw the road now interrupted by a large black mass, filled with cracks and glowing brightly, pulsing with heat, all his exposed skin suddenly on fire. He swerved to the side and dashed away from this glowing boulder, finding another, and another, and another, no matter where he turned. He pulled up short and back pedaled, turning as quickly as he could, sprinting back the way he had come. When he felt the air around him cool, he halted, turning back. He could still see the orange glow from the many rocks ahead, blocking his way forward.

Telor shaded his eyes, the clouds thinning enough to let the sun shine through, scanning the way ahead; he began moving sideways, lowering his arm as the acrid clouds renewed themselves, blocking out the sun. The other two had manage to pass through to view the Glufater, surely he could find the path they used. Close by he saw a tree, charred but no longer smoldering, that he could climb to get a better view of the way ahead. He moved to the tree, reaching out to grab a branch at his height; the char crunched beneath his fingers, causing him to shudder and jerk his hand away. He turned it over and found it was covered with soot. He shook his hand, trying to remove the char and sighed when he realized he was going to get dirty. He grabbed the branch again and began climbing up the remains of the tree, moving up a dozen yards before the next branch he grabbed cracked ominously. The tree and branches were brittle from burning, and even his slight weight now made the branches creak. He carefully moved around so he could look south, waiting for the clouds to clear and give him a glimpse of the way ahead.

He had several opportunities, as the acrid smoke billowed and surged, to look ahead without seeing any path through the scattered blobs of cooling lava, not without coming too close to them. He maneuvered around the tree, cringing at each creak of a branch threatening to break, to look to the east and west for any possible path, but even when the smoke thinned, he could see little farther than the area directly around him. He eased his way down the trunk to a more comfortable, and larger, branch where he could wait and watch, perhaps finding a way through that he had not seen. Again, he pondered upon his situation, but as he had no way to return home, save by the others, unless he wanted to return to Oinosto and steal the ship, sailing it home alone, which would be difficult, not considering how he would get down the cliff to the water. He did not think himself foolish enough simply to dive from the cliff. After traveling this logical circle for some time, he finally concluded that he was stuck, and would have to make the best of a bad situation. This conclusion irritated him as much as the kortexi; he shook his head, giving the whole exercise up. After making himself secure to the tree, he allowed himself to doze off.

He dreamed of the nefali and his eyes glaring at him, his voice a hissing whisper, calling him a child and threatening to spank him for running away. The rational part of his mind knew that this dream was stupid, a reflection of the anger he felt toward Kefi, but it did not stop his feet from running, trying to escape those glaring eyes, that hissing voice. In whatever direction he ran–and he had no idea where he was, his entire dreamscape covered with clouds–Kefi was there before him, stopping him in his tracks, forcing him to run in another direction. Over and over again, he ran, Kefi found him, and he ran again, never escaping those eyes, that hissing voice . . . hissing?


Next time, we will finish this chapter as Telor awakens and find the tree he is in under attack. Until then, https://www.amazon.com/author/clydenorthrup" target="_blank">get our ebooks here and share them with your friends! Good reading!


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