Pravus was seated in an ebony throne in a moist chamber
made of stone. His eyes were rolled back and he was in a deep trance.
"Ach veninah yehbar treech." He spoke in a strange
guttural language that sounded as if he were gnashing his teeth. The grace of
most of the old languages was absent as the harsh words spilled from his throat.
"Grithach zarint ruarct abdryth." The cadence
of the chant increased and Pravus began to shake as the callous speech racked
The ground began to shake and the walls trembled.
The candle on the table sputtered and went out as a fierce wind shrieked through
the cavern. The wind was accompanied by an unearthly wailing.
A streak of red appeared in one wall and grew
until the stone split. Pravus had to shield his eyes from the intensity of the
beam issuing from the fissure. Two dark shapes emerged silhouetted against the
"You called, My Lord," said a deep cruel voice
that rumbled out from the void. "Yes, you have come at last." A demonic smile
curled across Pravus's lips. "The time has come at long last."
Morgan cried out as a searing pain shot through
his arm. He struggled for a few seconds, but his movements ceased as darkness
clouded his vision.
"Is he going to be alright?" asked Cassie worriedly
as she watched Morgan twitch in his uneasy sleep. The cry he had uttered when
Isilme's fangs had entered his skin had shaken her up a little.
"He will be fine when he awakesssss," said Isilme,
"I did not give him a lethal dosssse."
Morgan was spinning wildly through a black void.
Disjointed images whorled past him as he tumbled recklessly though space. Stormy
grey eyes flashed and storms raged. He saw a red fissure spilt the earth and
emitted hoards of hideous creatures.
He saw Cassie facing a black void and being
pulled into it. As he watched he saw the small sliver figure crumple and lay
motionless on the cold ground.
He shuddered and watched more visions swirl
past him. A dense forest. A barren wasteland. Emrallis as it must have looked
when it reined in its former glory. Agrestis was revealing its secrets to him.
"Something's happening," Cassie said tensely.
Morgan had begun to thrash around violently. He was moaning and making sharp
harsh animal like noises.
"Do not worry. Agessstiss iss ssshowing itssself
Cassie gently stroked his paw worriedly watching
him writhe. It was frightening to see someone who, moments ago had been strong
and healthy, and who now lay moaning as spasms racked his frame.
Suddenly, the thrashing stopped as did the moaning.
Morgan lay still for a few moments before groaning and opening his eyes. He
looked confused for a second, but then recognition dawned in his eyes.
"If anyone ever suggests something like that
again, I will kill them before they can say anything else," he said trying to
grin, but only producing a grimace. Everyone laughed. He was undoubtedly going
to be alright.
Morgan told them all about the dream and the
images he had seen. He told them about everything except for the scene involving
Cassie and the black void. That still disturbed him too much. Besides, it was
only a feverish delusion induced by magtile venom. He hoped.
They all went to sleep after that, exhausted
after the long night. Sometime during the course of their slumbering, Lana awoke,
for in the morning, they found her up and about. She was still quite pale, but
she stood with her usual upright stance, and her eyes were no longer feverishly
This heartened all of them and they proceeded
to eat a good breakfast. After watching Lana for awhile, Anshi decided that
she was well enough to travel, as long as she rested frequently and didn't push
herself too hard. Lana retorted that the only hard pushing she would be doing
would involve Anshi if he tried to slow her down.
The day's trip began in high spirits as everyone
was glad to see both Morgan and Lana were doing fine. They stopped for lunch
at midday and were glad to hear from Anshi that they would reach Hutan Rawa
The rest of the trek was uneventful, climaxing
when Morgan tripped on a tree root and landed in some rather foul smelling muck.
This of course led to something of a war, which was only ended when Isilme threatened
to bite the next person who touched the vile mud because a glob had barely missed
hitting her face.
True to Anshi's word, they reached the edge
of the swamp as the sun began sinking behind the hills. They stepped onto a
wooden walkway and Anshi gestured for them to stop. He then gave out a long
haunting call that sounded like some strange exotic bird. Moments later a massive
island Eyrie glided down and landed in front of them and landed with a soft
His broad shoulders gave way to massive bronze
wings which had just settled back into place against his tanned sides. The crest
around his neck had been woven with wooden ornaments and tattoos covered the
rest of his massive body. He had fierce golden eyes that looked around at them
daring anyone to speak.
"Bahadur, wise one. We request entrance into
Hutan Rawa." Anshi looked respectfully away from the massive Eyrie.
Bahadur looked the little Kyrii over carefully
and then said, "It's been a long time since you have called me that little one."
Anshi looked up startled. He had not expected anyone to remember him.
"I didn't wish to live in a place where I was
constantly being pitied. I could not stand being a charity case."
"We know that little bocah. Or at least we do
now." The Eyrie smiled down at him and asked, "Why have you decided to come
"I have been traveling with Cassie and her friends
and they needed to get here. I was the only one who knew the way."
Bahadur looked at Cassie for the first time.
His eyes flashed with surprise as he looked at her.
"Pardon me for staring, but you have the eyes
of a storm. I believe that I have been wrongly introduced to you."
"Yes," said Cassie meekly, "I have been called
Caesius or Storm Eyes," Cassie said this uncertainly for she was still unused
to being recognized by those whom she had never set eyes in before.
"You say this with hesitation in your voice.
Do not be doubtful for only the one foretold could have eyes such as yours."
Cassie smiled at the imposing figure before
her. He had a grandfatherly air about him, despite his intimidating appearance.
He reminded her of her own grandfather who had died a few years back.
He had been a frightening brown Zafara who,
once you got to know him, was one of the kindest friends one could find. It
had torn her apart when he had died of Neopox leaving her alone in the world.
She shook herself out of her past and returned
to the present. Bahadur was leading them along the boardwalk into the heart
of the swamp.
They followed him along the twisting path through
a maze of vines and mash. Insects buzzed in their ears as they walked along
and Morgan caught a glimpse of a dark bird sitting perched in one of the ancient
The swamp was obviously very old. The trees
were thick and gnarled, covered in hanging bunched of grayish moss. Some of
the trees had steps cut into hem that led up to platforms. These, Bahadur explained
were watch towers.
Cassie had to duck as a black bird flew over
her head. The swamp was teeming with life.
They soon reached the village and were greeted
by the sight of hundreds of walkways an ladders leading into the trees and up
to houses that were built on stilts. Torches lined the paths and some were nailed
outside the doors next to mailboxes. The huge trees towered overhead giving
Cassie the feeling that she was looking at a city that had been built underneath
"Welcome to Kariah."
The crokabek had been flying without rest for
quite some time now, and was grateful to have finally reached its destination.
He flew in through a narrow opening in the side of the massive fortress and
winged over to a throne made of cast iron. He perched on a stand made of a similar
material and waited for his master to finish speaking to the two massive creatures
standing in front of him.
Leave me now. I will give you more instructions later." Pravus shooed the monstrous
forms away with a wave of his hoof, then he turned to his scout. "You have news?"
"Yes milord. Your quarry is in the swampland.
She is headed towards the center, a village called Kariah," the dark bird croaked.
"Are you sure it was them?" Pravus inquired.
"Yes milord. I flew down for a closer look to
make sure. She was a silver Zafara with odd eyes like you told me."
"Good. I have acquired new minions from elsewhere.
I will send them to the swamp and see what kind of work they do." Pravus looked
at the bird; his cold eyes making it flinch slightly. "Good work. I shall send
for you when I require your work. Be off." The crokabek nodded, bowed and flew
Pravus laughed quietly to himself. The Eye of
he Storm would be no match for his new warriors. Nothing would stand in his
way after she was eliminated.
A cold mirthless laugh echoed through the fortress
and out across the barren wasteland that it sat on. Pravus was coming.
To be continued…