Again Kumos shook his lion-like head. “We cannot abandon this post. If we do and the enemy attacks, it will sever communication through the Tyglesean Wraithwalking Altar and your souls will be trapped here for eternity.”
Katja shuddered. “Faht’s warning…”
“Yes, our father warned you not to come here, but you did not listen. Now we are all in danger.”
“Kumos, I didn’t mean to—”
The werecat wraith held up his paw. “What is done is done. You are here now, so you must try to do what you came here to do.” He looked over his should at Sandor, who was still holding his crying mother. “Sandrie, will you go with them?”
The human wraith nodded and saluted Katja’s brother with his sunsilver saber. “Gladly, Kumos.”
“I will as well, Kumos,” a griffin said as he moved through the ranks.
Kumos smiled and bowed before turning back to his sister. “Katja, this is the legendary warrior Nach, who fought beside Queen Mother Ella and King Canuche during the Second War of Ages.”
Katja smiled and bowed with both of her paws raised to show her absolute loyalty. “And fought with Daya’lyn to defend this realm against invasion when his soul was sent here. I am honored, my sir.”
The corners of Nach’s beak turned up in what passed for griffins as a grin. “As am I, my madam, as am I. News has reached us here of so many of your exploits. I’ve been told that you even know the location of my former king’s soul!”
Katja smiled. “No doubt Daya’lyn told you that. It is true. I have met King Canuche and the experience was one of the great honors of my life.” Her expression grew serious then. “I hope to find a way to free him, if I can.”
Nach nodded as the five beings moved away from the group so that the griffin could spread out his eagle-like wings. “I feel quite certain that if anyone has the ability to free an imprisoned soul, it is you. Come now, climb on my back and let us be off. Madam Damya, will you please help keep watch for enemies?”
When the firesprite nodded, the werecat and two humans scrambled up the griffin’s tawny-furred foreleg and settled themselves between his wings. The griffin leaped into the air and, with several flaps of his magnificent feathered wings, pushed them into the vibrant sky.
Katja remembered the old stories of how Nach had lost his wings during the Battle of Eppon Gue—the first great skirmish of the Second War of Ages. He had fought valiantly without his wings throughout that war. Now in death, the griffin’s wings had been restored, and he used them to great effect transporting his charges across the mottled sky to their destination. Once aloft, they followed Edgewater as the great river curved away from the grasslands and on into rolling hills. A magnificent forest boasting trees of every size and kind grew up in the shelter of those hills.
Nach dropped from the sky to land at the beginning of the trees and then the group followed Damya into the forest—winding their way around trunks the size of boulders. Unlike the shadowed forests of Katja’s world, the Wraith Realm forest was thick with undergrowth and yet still seemed perfectly lit. Katja looked closer and discovered that light actually emanated from the plant leaves themselves. The luminescence made the whole wood feel even more enchanted than the perfectly pruned gardens and forests cultivated by the dryads on Mount Sol’ece. Katja wondered in awe if this was where the Creator had first walked in the Wraith Realm and if the path they now followed was the trail where His robe had first touched the leaves and given birth to sproutsinging magic. How she wished that Zahra could see this place!
The wraithwalker heard the sound of trickling water before she saw it. When the trees finally gave way to the Scrying Pools, Katja’s breath caught in her throat. The pools held the same luminescent beauty as the forest around them. The waters were is pure blue as any she had ever seen. Here and there, firesprites flitted over the water—their kindled bodies adding bright hues to the pools’ undulating surfaces.
“My sisters,” Damya said as the group watched the firesprites flit from leaf to leaf among the trees—touching each one with a lit hand.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s entry in the SCRAWLS Diary from my in-progress book Fireforger. We’ll pick up where we left off next week. In the meantime, I welcome your comments on what I’ve shared with you today.
As always, SCRAWLS is designed to be a public journal of my fiction and artwork as I create it. In the way of writing, you’ll see new scenes, rich characters, and, of course, enchanting worlds. In the way of art, you’ll see everything from vivid photography to intriguing drawings. As always, my goal is to bring you both finished work and the rough stuff. After all, showing you some of the behind-the-scenes scaffolding that I use to create my work allows you to truly walk the creative journey with me through all of its ups and downs.
Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
The Seared Cranium Report: An Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with enchanting fantasy fiction, deep love, and vivid art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!