Kalera and Molly ride for three moons stopping only twice to rest.
“Hold.” Yells Molly.
Both meres stop near a tall gate.
“Here we are.” She announces.
“Where are we?” Kalera asks.
“Bram.” Replies Molly.
“Bram?” Kalera repeats.
Looking above they see three archers.
“State your business.” They command.
“I am Molly of Toan. Wife of Lord Hiddard Larks. I need to see Lord Donegal.”
“Open the gates!” Shouts one of the men.
The women move inside pacing slowly while looking down upon the people. Many of them were shoveling snow while others were preparing fresh kills for meals. Some of the men and women were dueling as to prepare for a battle of some kind. A tall man approaches.
“You will leave your meres here, and I will take you to Lord Donegal. He is expecting you.”
“The condor.” Kalera figures.
They walk a bit before reaching the castle. It is on flat ground and made of a very dark stone blanketed with snow. In the distance, Kalera gazes upon a woman in a white dress made of leather and pelt approaching them.
“Molly, it is good to see you.” She says.
“And you, my Lady. Kakera this is Lady Shelleann Donegal.”
“Very nice to meet you Lady.” Kalera responds.
“Molly, Kalera this way to the chamber.” She announces.
Lady Shelleann hands them torches as they enter a tunnel. Visibility is slight and the air is stale. Shelleann and Molly make light conversation while Kalera thinks of why Xavgon is not communicating and why Musfall’s spell won’t lift. Thinking of Musfall reminds her that she was holding Rome when she fell into the portal for she remembers exactly what happened in those moments. What must Zoran and Musfall be going through? Wherever Rome is, he is a long way from her now. After turning left, they come upon an ivory door. Lady Shelleann welcomes them to the Cour chamber.
Upon entering, men in all black-draped in animal pelts stand around a circular table whispering. Lady Shelleann walks over to one of them. He is dressed as the others but his pelt is different. It is leathery, scaly, and red. Upon looking at his face, Kalera is baffled.
“This is my husband Tomas Donegal.” Lady Shelleann announces to Kalera.
“It is good to see you again my Lord.” Spoke Molly.
“Good to see you.” He responds.
“My Lord this is Kalera.” Speaks Shelleann.
He examines her with his eyes as Kalera’s swell.
“Are you okay?” He asks.
“Yes, I am just tired. But it is good to see I mean meet you.” She replies as her voice cracks.
“Am I familiar to you?” He asks.
“You are.” She responds.
“I should be. It was I who saved your life. He so boldly states.
Turning to Molly, I thought your husband saved me.
Molly explains Hiddard and his children had only seen Kalera. But it was Lord Donegal who pulled her from the powder. Not only had he pulled her to freedom, but he also alerted Hiddard of the dragon symbol.
Kalera finds Molly’s explanation lacking for she does not believe Kalera is a Dawn. Even more troubling Molly has no memory of her friend, and now Tomas, who died in the great battle saving Zaylen from the Facers and Ager stands before her alive and knows her not.
“Come.” He beckons.
Tomas walks both women to the table as the men whisper and stare. Tomas turns to them and immediately to Kalera. Forgive their manners. People of your complexion have not been this far north in hundreds of moons.
“So I am sitting around a table with a bunch of bigots. Great!” Kalera mumbles.
The stares become harder as if they were piercing her soul. Molly stands and exits the room. The men now appear to be looking beyond her. She has seen those looks before. They begin to speak in Upar, Dragon’s Tongue. Their voices echos the room as Kalera slowly turns around.
A man with red hair and a long beard lit her ablaze. She screams as her body smolders. Everyone in the room watches as she drops to the stone floor rolling around and around trying to put herself out. Skin begins to fall, and the smell of burning flesh fills the air. “Please.” She cries out, but the men including Tomas are still. With her last will, she stands to her feet.
Molly reenters sobbing as she sees Kalera’s burning body. The men look towards the floor as Donegal shouts.
The men and Molly cry out.
In agony, Kalera cries out to Xavgon and tries to focus her mind. As she does the thought of her friends enters as she falls to the ground.
Musfall places his left hand on Zoran’s back as he stares at the floor of the jeep. Their search has begun in Huayna Picchu. Huayna Picchu is a mountain of ancient Incan ruins near the lost city of Incas. If anywhere contains a clue to Gros Cave it would be the lost city.
The driver takes them both far as he can.
“Okay guys, from here you will have to go on foot.” He explains.
“Thank you.” Musfall responds.
“From here Zoran we will head to the top of the mountain where the high priest and his virgins once lived.” Announces Musfall.
“How do you know?” Zoran asks.
“I was fortunate to learn most of my craft from the Master of Knowledge. He was well versed in the ways of the Incas. Believing they brought on more magical powers than the ancient Africans. We start there.” Musfall insist.
Walking along a cable that leads them upwards for a few miles, they hike. According to the guide, they should take the route along the cable to help steady them during the northern journey. Nearing the top, they catch up to a group of tourists as Musfall believed this end would be vacant. None the less they will do what they are here for.
Zoran’s thoughts turn to Kalera. Where is she? Is she safe or even alive? His mind is tormented by the very thought of her being dead. Some hope is placed in Xavgon, but he was in necessary captivity. After a little over an hour, Zoran is snapped back to reality by a whistle. They made it to the peak of the mountain.
“So Musfall, where from here?” He asks.
Musfall closes his eyes and begins to hum. From his pocket, he reveals a golden rattle.
“Blood of my blood. The flesh of my flesh. Lead me to where the souls rest!” He shouts.
The mountain quakes as pieces of stone fall. Zoran yells out, but Musfall is in a trance, so Zoran turns towards the tourist. Whatever is happening has no effect on them. They were standing and speaking as if nothing is amiss. But something extraordinary happens.
A being rises from stones. It is as white as snow. And it moves towards Musfall. He lifts his hands to receive it, but the being lowers its hand and touches Musfall’s forehead. He begins to shake violently, but Zoran is afraid to interfere. Musfall falls to the ground, and Zoran runs towards him. The being watched as he checks for signs of life.
His eyes open and he whispers but Zoran can only make out one part of what he is saying. I see your Kalera. As Zoran turns back, the being explodes. The white powder as snow falls where its body stood. Musfall arises to his knees and crawls towards the powder. He beckons for Zoran to come and help him.
“What are we doing?” Zoran asks.
“We need to find his core. You just witnessed Icu, god of the Incas.” Musfall whispers.
“That thing was a god?” Zoran asks.
“Now, we must find his core.” Musfall whispers again.
“Are you sure it is here?” Zoran asks.
“I am sure.” Musfall claims.
Musfall and Zoran stir the snow all around. They switch it back and forth, up and down, until the thickness begins to wither away. At the center was a carving of a tree. Underneath it a circle of frozen stone Zoran tries to lift.
“Hey, it won’t budge; it is too cold.” He mutters.
Musfall pulls from his left inner jacket pocket a pouch and gloves. The gloves allow Zoran to remove the stone with ease placing it inside of the pouch. It begins to smoke and glow, so he removes it. The stone locks his attention. Staring into it, Zoran sees New Orleans, but not just any part of the city. He sees Kalera’s home. When Musfall comes closer, the vision ceases.
“What did he show you?” Musfall asks.
” Kalera’s house.” Zoran whispers.
The vision angers Zoran for they must go backward.
“You brought us here. Kalera is gone and now this thing, god wants us to go back!” He shouts.
“Without this stone, we would be no closer.” Musfall whispers.
Zoran stares beyond the peak as his face is crimson.
Placing the stone inside of Musfall’s pouch, Zoran makes a promise to himself to do whatever it takes to find the woman he loves. No matter the cost. Musfall limps and Zoran grabs his arm placing it around his neck for balance.
Dawnies, this is just a reminder that the chapters uploaded are drafts. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments about the chapter. The revised version will be available this summer when the book is launched. Currently, the manuscript is in the hands of my copy editor.