Little Cherine Book 08 - BPost064

“Come child, you look thirty or so, but I can see deeper, the centuries lie coiled within you.”

Previous: Book 08 - Post 063


Princess Cherine tried to change the subject. “Since you can see beyond what the ordinary eye sees, which way to the Blue Eyes of Death?”

“Somewhere that way.” He pointed at a mountain in the distance. “Or beyond it.”

As they toiled uphill ten days later, they were excited when they discovered more of the rocks Iziko needed. He filled his belly while they loaded the horses. He soon had to release the pressures within him and was made to stand at the edge of a cliff and shoot his flames into the air. The last thing they needed was a fire raging among the pine trees around them. The Kiards found a wild boar for them to feast on while Thorn and Aqutina brought back a buffalo for Iziko.

Jade burped with a sheepish grin. “It is amazing what a difference a good meal makes. I was starting to feel our journey is pointless, but now I feel ready to tackle the world again.”

Wendy asked, “Jade, you should have been born a man. How will you settle as a wife someday?”

“Cass and I made an agreement a long time ago. We will not allow any man to seduce us. We will wait until we find the kind of man that suits us and we shall pick him. Such a man would not expect us to stay at home.”

Wendy answered with a hint of a smile, “The two of you wish to share one man! I doubt any one man could handle the both of you.”

Dominique was excited and spoke the thought in everybody’s mind. “Princess Wendy made a joke!”

“What? Tell me, what was it. Please?” Candy pleaded. Everybody laughed, so Iziko also wanted to have the joke explained. Only the Kiards watched solemnly as always.

Though everyone seemed to enjoy humour, they were all getting tired of the kind of humour the two heads exchanged between them. They were not malicious, but they had a way of pricking the ego of each of them in turn. They never helped collect food and were always demanding. Since they were the only ones who knew in which direction to travel, they had to tolerate them.

Dark Cloud said, “I refuse to believe that it is related in any way to our Mother. It may have been a wizard, it does have many powers I do not, but it must have been a rival, envious of her.”

“Tsiess,” Thorn called out, “Where are the other wizards of olden times? Surely you are not the only one to have survived?”

“That is a tale for children only. Adults will understand and fear.”

“We fear nothing old man, tell us.” Shadow crept in closer, interested in hearing why they abandoned their land.

“Hmph! I will not tell it all, but still you will wish I’d kept my mouth shut. Know this then, Man is not the cleverest among sentient beings. Neither is he the wisest. The magical powers of Man are like those of children to others like the dragons. We would not be worthy of surviving in a land of so many superior to us, if we did not have one gift. Rarely, far too rarely, out of the loins of Man is born one who surpasses all species and becomes a true wizard.
Mankind of this land tired of fighting to survive in a land of superiors and on depending on those such as I, and they begged us to find them a land that would be theirs only, where they would be superior to all other species. We refused. Not only would it be a gigantic undertaking, we could not see any purpose to their request. What would we do? Join them in that land? Then they would not be superior to all and still depend on us, in which case, we might as well leave things as they are. Should we do as they ask, but stay here? To what purpose? See what I the glorious Tsiess have become?

One, gifted but still too young to think far ahead, took pity on the whining and pathetic creatures, defied the Council and created the barrier. She left an opening and drove all other sentient species back into this land, allowed Man to cross over to be lords of their land, and sealed the barrier.

Centuries later she came to understand how foolish she had been, but she still was no wiser. Impetuous as ever she reasoned out what she wanted and created of the shapeshifters those who call themselves her children and Humans.”

“No!” Dark Cloud screamed. “You lie!”


For once Tsiess spoke gently. “Do not close your mind to me daughter. You are from a few shapeshifters who had evolved beyond those of his kind.” He pointed at Shadow, “And, to make you in the image of Man she placed in them the lifeforce that created you, that which is the most important part of Man, flesh of our flesh and part of our spirit.”

Dark Cloud raged and then grew silent. With a cry, she jumped to the top of the mountain in the distance. Thorn followed her.

“Go away.”

“Let me speak. Dark Cloud, I know of this thing he speaks of, I have done it too. How did you think I created Candy? I took a tiny piece of flesh from another, made a body out of it, and placed her spirit in it. Don’t you see, Melia must have done the same for you, only she took the flesh and spirit from herself. You truly are her children and part of her. That she used shapeshifters to do this does not matter. You are not of them, you are of Melia.”

She was silent for a few hours. When she looked at him, he saw resignation in her eyes. “I have a pot back home that I am fond of. One of our best artists made it many years ago. The pot is not clay, it is made of the shape it has, the brilliance of his mind and his talented fingers, and has taken on a life of its own. To me it is a thing of beauty made out of the spirit of the artist. To the pot itself, it is made of clay. That is all I am Thorn, clay.”

Thorn stared into the distance. “What a beautiful world we live in. Dark Cloud, have you ever wondered, where did Man come from? And dragons and shapeshifters? Surely at some time we must have all come from the same clay?”

“And the potter gave us different shapes? You are clever Thorn and mean well.” She hesitated. “Will you make love to me?”

He knelt before her and ran his fingers lightly over her face. “You have seen that I desire you? I would have no lies between us Dark Cloud, I love another. That would not stop me from making love to you since she cannot see the spirit in me and my love for her. However, I will not have you like this. Call me to your bed as a woman would and I will come gladly and eagerly, but not as you are now, you would hate me tomorrow if I did.”

“Please leave, I need to be alone.”

She returned in the early hours before dawn and those still awake pretended not to see her as she wrapped her cloak around her and lay down.

As they ate the leftovers of the boar and drank their herbal tea, Dark Cloud sat with an air of dejection. She was surprised when Candy came and sat by her and slipped her tiny hand into hers. She bowed her head as tears filled her eyes. “You feel it too child, that we are the same?”

For the rest of the day the group was subdued, walking quietly, only speaking in warning when danger was sensed. Dark Cloud had gone back to ignoring Candy, who had returned to her place (with Dominique) on Iziko. Iziko was very unhappy about having to walk up and downhill, his body is not made for it, and he ached all over. He even got angry when Dominique’s foot accidentally hit his cheek.

The days had been growing hotter, so when they came across a dry riverbed they made no comment. Though Dark Cloud acted as if she did not care, she pointed and they dug into the sand. They were able to fill their flasks from the dirty water and then they discussed which way they should go.


“Down the riverbed.”

The next morning they saw that the river had narrowed and passed between two cliffs. There were large boulders on the riverbed so they proceeded single file. As they entered the area between the cliffs, they saw the land dip for a while and then lie comfortably flat. Cheering up a little they sped up, wishing to be out of the closed in place. Suddenly rocks rained down on them and creatures magically appeared by them, teeth and claws ripping viciously.


The creatures had planned well. As Shadow fought, he felt the ground give way beneath him. He dropped into a pit, a creature appeared above him, and it scattered a powder over him. It was a spicy herb that kept him sneezing so that he could not use magic. He managed to shapeshift into a creature that was invulnerable from above, but he could not last long, claws were digging in, reaching for his softer parts.

Iziko and Aqutina were not attacked directly, but creatures filled the air around them as interference. In poor guttural or squeaky speech, they called out that they are not attacking them. Candy was wounded and when she fell off, Iziko stood over her, but Dominique was killed within seconds, her body ripped and consumed there and then.

Swords and spears were no match for claws, teeth and magic and only Dark Cloud was not wounded within the first minute. She seemed to vanish and in her place was a fiery raging tornado that flung the monstrous bodies from around her. She sped over to the others and was able to save them before they were fatally wounded. The creatures fled, only those over Shadow, still fighting to get at him.

She hesitated for a moment and then raced over to him. None of the creatures believed an Eratosan would fight to save a shapeshifter, so they ignored her. She tore into their bodies and as they were flung away she appeared in her usual form. She called out, “Shapeshifter, change to a human so that I can pull you out.”

An eye carefully peeked up, saw her and he changed. She grabbed his arm and using magic pulled him out.

“Quick, join the others, I will not put them in danger to keep you safe.”

A few foolish creatures were still attacking, but Thorn and Jescus were now working with the warriors and they were not that easy to kill anymore. When Dark Cloud joined them and killed two of the monstrous creatures the rest fled until they were out of her range.

Iziko was gently probing and snuffling the bloody body of Candy with his snout. He called to her to get up, but she did not react. He screamed and then began a deafening keening. As the others rushed over, the sky darkened and thundered with the sound of huge wings. The dragons had heard him.

Aqutina pushed at his head that was still hanging protectively over Candy. “Make way Iziko, if she is alive maybe I can save her. Iziko, move damn it!”

He ignored the dragons calling out overhead and making way, kept his imploring eyes on his mother as he silently pleaded with her to save his tiny friend. Gently she felt for life and then tenderly cradled Candy to her, sending all her power as a healer into the battered body.

Five minutes later Aqutina opened her eyes. “She will live.”

“Can you heal her as we get out of this place? The dragons cannot fly down here and they are getting anxious.”

“I can’t. Iziko, call out to them and ask that they wait.” Without waiting she sank to the ground, her eyes closing as she concentrated on using her healing powers. Dark Cloud lightly touched Candy and Aqutina felt a flow of energy rush through the small body, helping her.

Princess Cherine had stood in a daze throughout this. She pulled Dark Cloud around. Her voice was cool, emotionless. “My daughter. You should have saved her.”

“She was dead within the first instant of the attack, I had no time to…”

“You should have saved her. You should have saved her.”

Gently Jescus touched the back of her neck and she sank to the ground in a deep sleep.


Chapter Two Hundred Thirty Three

Robert was instantly within her mind, cradling Dommi to him. Her death had been just as traumatic for her. He used the same methods Freddie had used on him and then allowed the other Dominique to enter and take over with her mother love. So few realise that our Dommi needs a mother love just as much as we do. Slowly they healed her, reminding her it had only been a game, that she is not dead.

“How long will you keep her asleep?” Alkion’s face clearly showed his grief.

“She is dreaming, healing herself. If I can, I will not awaken her before tomorrow morning.”

“This will break her, she has lost the last she had of her love. We might as well return to our homes to await the destruction those damn eyes are to bring us.”

Thorn made as if to speak, shut his mouth and then changed his mind again. “No, we must continue. To return will give her nothing to fight for. She will remain true to all she believes in once she recovers. Damn her love for a dead man - my love could have been her shield and strength if she could only feel it.”

Alkion spoke softly, “I began by despising you Thorn. I saw in you all I look down on in men. I thought you are selfish, vain or arrogant, quick to seek revenge and incapable of being loyal to your comrades. In some, I was right, but in others, I was wrong. It is a pity you are blind to what love is really all about. Perhaps that comes from reading too much. You love like a poet, not like a real man who loves a real woman.”

Thorn frowned. “I’ve been damned, but I’m not certain what I should take exception to, except for that last part. Have I not proven my love for the Princess is steadfast?”

“You have not loved her for who she is. Your love is like that of an adolescent. If you truly loved her beyond your own needs, you would have understood what a rare jewel she is and made way for her so that she remains true to herself. Unlike the others at court, she has only loved one man, remained loyal to him and ignoring the wishes of her own family, saw to it that he lived his life as he wished.”

“I never met him. What was he like? To have inspired such a love, one that remains as strong after death as it was in life, he must have been a rare man.”

Alkion frowned. “To tell you the truth I do not recall what he looked like. What I do recall was his devotion to his wife and child. Yes, that is something I recall. He treasured children and told all who would listen to him that we are judged according to the way we treat children. He hated appearing in public, for he was basically a shy man. Yet, all the court remarked on it, while at an official function, he was told his daughter was upset because he had not wished her a good night and he left the table to go to her even though the king was still seated. A strange man and not one you’d think suited to our brave Princess, but then I understand very little of what love is all about.”

Princess Wendy spoke. “I see Candy is stirring. That woman is remarkable! With healing powers like hers, I’d have expected her fame to have reached the court. Alkion, whatever else our Princess, my sister as she calls me, is, she is also blind in her way. To her love is worth any pain. She insisted we continue so that I could heal and recall my love for her brother. It is happening and I am not certain that it is not cruel to remind me of such a love now that it is gone. My heart was numb, but now it hurts. Her quest on my behalf has cost her, her child. Is it not irony that the death of the child has done more to bring my heart to life than all the words I’ve heard? How must I live my life with this pain?”

“As she will. My Princess, may a common man, a soldier, give you advice?”

“Please do.”

“If we return with a successful end to this mission, stay only as long as you need to be there to help our Princess. After that, return home. As long as you are by her side you will not dare to love again and life without love is not as it should be. You must have your life, husband and children.”


The dragons had settled on the tops of the cliffs and through Iziko they listened, trying to understand what had happened. Their presence ensured the safety of those below, so they had the time they needed for Aqutina to heal all who’d been wounded. Wearily they sank to the ground and slept the night away.

“Do we awaken her now, or once we have left this dreadful place?”


Princess Cherine woke with eyes clear and focussed. “He spoke to me, told me our daughter waits with him.” Despite her words, she was listless and returning to the sanctuary of memories, she stared at the ground.

The sky was cloudy and soon a light rain fell. Iziko gently nudged Aqutina. “The great mother says we must leave here, danger comes.”

Complacent and lost in her thoughts, Princess Cherine allowed them to seat her on one of their remaining horses and they made their way out of the pass. Warily they searched for the safest route down the sharp incline and made their way to land smooth with dried grass and the odd thyme bush. Their goal, the mountain, was behind them and no longer in sight. Thorn, the ever-suspicious one, asked Tsiess in which direction they should ride. He pointed across the flat land towards the distant beach. Thorn lost his temper and shouted at the wizard. He only stared back, making no effort to defend himself.

Jescus calmed Thorn. “Old man, you said our direction was towards the mountain, now you point away from it. Tell us the truth, do you know where the Blue Eyes of Death are?”

“I’ve never heard of them before, how could I know where they are?”

“Why did you lie and set us on a false course?”

“Did I lie? If none know where they are, is not any direction better than none?”

“Weeks lost, the death of our Mother and all her coming promised us and all because we foolishly believed a crazy old man!” Rosemary looked as if she were ready to strike the old wizard with her balled up fists. At that moment the dragons chose to land by them.

The matriarch nodded her head in greeting. “Tsiess, Chir, time still waits for you?”

“Greetings Marianth. Your eggs have all hatched well?”

“Any little female ones?” Chir asked hopefully.

“Old one, you still playing your games? I must speak to another first and then we’ll talk.”

“She needs you, go to her.”

“Sorcerer, you are presumptuous as always!” She turned to Princess Cherine. “I sense a great loss. Your child?”

Tears welled up in her eyes. “Yes, my daughter.”

“Yes, that is worse, daughters are more valuable. You also lost your mate and have no one to lose now but yourself?”


“If you do, you will lose the cycle of true life and never see them again. You will also have betrayed yourself and them. Grieve, as is fitting, but finish what you started, or else all losses will have been in vain.”

Jade asked, “You have no words of comfort, only of duty?”


“Duty is her comfort now. Do I speak truly?” Princess Cherine nodded. “As long as you are strong, the others will also be strong. Remember that in all your lives.” She turned to Iziko. “Little one, go speak to your brothers and sisters so that you learn some of the ways of dragons before you continue your journey with your friends. Tsiess, why do you travel with them? Have you not tired of your tests?”

“You know me too well. What else is left for us old ones?”

“What tests?” Jescus asked.

“It is his way. Did you ask help of him?”

“Only for direction should he know where the Blue Eyes of Death are. He has sorely misled us.”

“Tsiess has never misled any but fools.”

Tsiess sighed. “They are impetuous like children Marianth. Where are those of our youth who knew how to organise and plan for danger and battle? They search for that which they are not ready to find.”

“But you know where it is?”

“One other does, but he cannot speak yet, for a healing must first be fulfilled. A greater purpose must be served before the lovely eyes they seek are stared into.”

“The prophecy is true, that all sentient life will be extinguished?”

“In this world. It will not be a loss. You, child, Princess Cherine,” she looked at him, “there has been no loss, you shall have all, even more than you yearn for, but first you must do as the lovely Marianth asked of you.”

“I do not know what to do.”

“That has not stopped you up to now.” Tsiess laughed. “Despite yourselves you serve a higher purpose and the healing is happening.” He stood up and walking over to Marianth, stopped by Candy. “Little one, you did well when you made Iziko a friend of yours. You are very wise for your age. How old are you?”

“Five and a half.”

He chuckled and walked on. “Marianth, take me with you. Let us sit by your home and talk awhile.”

“Only if you promise Chir will not try to corrupt our young ones.” He chuckled and surprised everyone by agilely leaping onto her neck.

“Your journey is nearly over. It does not matter in which direction you travel, you will find the Blue Eyes you seek.” He waved as Marianth ran and took off into the air.

As they stood watching the dragons disappear, they heard sounds of thunder in the distance. Looking back they saw dark clouds and lightning back the way they had come.

“Rain. It might be a good way for us to collect water and wash ourselves without water creatures threatening us.”

As they prepared they heard another noise and then through the gap they had recently passed through water came frothing out. They quickly moved away from the riverbed. When they saw it was not overrunning the riverbanks anymore, they quickly collected all the water they could even as the rain poured over them.

“Where to now?”

“If Thorn and Aqutina could bring us some food, it would be welcomed.”

“How could we cook it, everything is wet!”

“We’ll find something for Iziko first, his stomach is rumbling up another storm.”

When they returned, even Iziko was stunned. They had returned with a mastodon, but what shook them up was that it was alive and feeling belligerent.


“It is time you learn to hunt for your own food. Do you think you can handle it?”

“How do I kill it mother?”

“Oh! I’m stupid! I guess they learn from watching their mothers. What do I do?”

Jescus called out, “Whatever it is you decide, please decide before it attacks us.”

Thorn quickly stripped off his shirt and asking a Kiard for his spear, he walked out alone. As he faced the beast, atavistic feelings made him decide to use cunning and muscle without magic. It would be man against beast and he found it thrilling.

The mastodon had given its warning with threatening gestures and was preparing to walk away when it saw Thorn approaching. Angered it threatened again and when he did not stop it charged. At the last moment Thorn nimbly jumped aside and thrust the spear into its side. He had not expected the skin to be so tough and it barely pierced the hide. On his toes, waiting for it to charge again he prepared to jump and thrust. As the mastodon came racing by it swung its head, a tusk caught him in the chest, and swinging up tossed him into the air.

Instantly the Kiards rushed the beast as it was about to return and trample Thorn and within minutes the beast lay dead on the ground. Aqutina and Dark Cloud rushed over to Thorn. As Aqutina sent in her healing power, not really believing it could repair such massive damage, Dark Cloud touched Thorn and she felt how it strengthened his body and helped her own powers repair him faster.

Thorn awoke to the sight of Candy’s little face staring solemnly down at him. For a moment he stared into her eyes and then groaned.

“Stop acting like a woman and stand up, you have been healed.” For a few seconds his eyes met those of Rosemary angrily and then he laughed.

“Damn but it was fast! Who saved me?”

“The Kiards. Also Aqutina and Dark Cloud.”

As he got up he bowed his head to Aqutina in thanks and then stared at Dark Cloud. She turned her back on him. He smiled and went to the Kiards to thank them and then stood over the mastodon.

“Iziko, after all that, just don’t tell us you are not hungry. Sylvestro, we should cut off some of the meat for us to feed on.”

Soon the scent of blood brought many other creatures, but none of them, sentient or not, were foolish enough to challenge a feeding dragon. With snarls and growls, they waited for him to finish.

“Something does not make sense about this land. I am sorely puzzled.” Princess Cherine hardly bothered to look at Jescus for she is used to him being puzzled about everything, but the others looked with a question in their eyes. “This creature you brought is of impressive size, but it had no magic. Nor did the other animals you hunted for us. How can the non-sentient survive among so many vicious killers that have equally effective armament with magic in addition? They should all be extinct by now.”

“Wild game defenceless to magic is bountiful in this land. In all the areas we saw such animals, we did not sense even one creature that possessed magical powers. I obviously was nervous about encountering any, so I sensitised myself to feel their presence, hopefully before they felt ours. It is strange Jescus, the only places I have sensed users of magic is at the point we entered this land, at the city of Dark Cloud and along the trail we travelled. If there are no other substantial pockets of magical creatures elsewhere, then I must presume they are declining in numbers and will soon be extinct.”

“It does not make sense. They all seem to be flesh eaters. Why would they ignore the large numbers of defenceless animals and concentrate on devouring each other and us?"

They made their way to the beach, Bitsy allowed to run around freely. It was not a beach made beautiful by lush vegetation. Its beauty was stark and almost threatening. The sand was pure black in certain places and the three sorcerers walked to such a patch.


“It emits an energy!” Dark Cloud raised her hand. “I sense it could be healing if not over-indulged.”

“I don’t think it is a magical energy.”

“I agree. Your land Dark Cloud, is full of puzzles.”

“You too are a puzzle Thorn, are you also dangerous if over-indulged?”

“Very.” He laughed and for a moment she rewarded him with a smile, but her eyes were like coals, glowing. Fascinated he stared at her and then, shaking himself, he looked away. Jescus pretended not to notice and walked away, leaving the two of them with some rare privacy.

“Tonight Thorn?”

He glanced over at Princess Cherine. “I do not wish to hurt her, she has enough grief in her heart.”

She laughed. “You still flatter yourself that she will love you? There is not much of her clinging to this world Thorn, she will hardly notice. Surely two sorcerers like us can ensure our privacy?”

“Despite her grief, she notices everything, why do you think I love her? She has the most amazing mind and is always aware of all that happens around her. Dark Cloud, tonight, when they all sleep, I will take you elsewhere. Will you trust me?”

“No Thorn, I shall never trust you, but I will come.”

Another moment of importance was being formed back within the group. Candy had left Iziko and was wandering among the adults, her eyes thoughtful and deep in colour, with just a hint of fear showing. She seemed to find herself by Princess Wendy by happenstance and with a look into her eyes, she sat facing her.

“What is it child, why are you staring at me like that?”

“I want you to teach me to sing like you.”

“Like me?” Her eyes widened and then narrowed in thought. “You already do, as I did at your age.”

“But you are so much better!”

“I think the music is within you, all you have to do is learn to find it, to let it speak to you. To become more than you are now will take a great deal of patience and effort. Have you got the self discipline?”

“Yes.” Her face lit up. “You will teach me.”

“I hope the music inside you is mostly happy, not like mine.”

The moon was in the sky during the afternoon and by the time they all lay down to sleep (apart from those on guard), it was ready to set in the West. Thorn waited for the change in breathing of those around him and for the moon to set. Quietly he stood up and using his powers to cloak his movements, he went to Dark Cloud and hunched over her. She was staring up, waiting for him. Softly he touched her and jumped.

“Where are we? Is this your land?”

“No, I dare not use magic to cross the barrier. We are safe here.”

“The moon has risen again! Your magic is more powerful than I thought.”

He gave a disparaging laugh. “Not really, I brought us to a land far to the west of where we were.”

“I was not aware that travelling changes the position of the moon.”

“Dark Cloud, why have you chosen me?”


“Perhaps it is because you ask so many questions, even when you do not speak. Perhaps it is for other reasons. What does it matter, since it is just for this night?”

He nodded. “I can feel the attraction between us and it is a fire that demands, but there is no softness, no possibility of love. I wonder why.”

“Because I am not truly human?”

“Nonsense. You are just as human as I am. You are also a beautiful woman.” His hands touched her shoulders and then he pulled at her blouse. “I need to see you before the moon sets.”

He stared at her slim beauty, her skin seeming to glow in the moonlight and then he quickly rid himself of his own clothing. After she too saw him, he leant over and trailed his lips over her breast and as he sucked in her nipple, their bodies met and they sank to the ground.

Their lovemaking was fierce, a fiery explosion which had been building in both of them for some time. Though there had been nothing of love in their joining, Thorn was oddly tender afterwards. He did not seem to mind that she was not, seemed to expect it of her. Suddenly he grinned.

“So, your people got what they asked for. Are you to have my child?”

“No. I can control the possibility and I did not want a child.”

“A pity, born of you and I it would have been special. Funny, I never wanted a child before.”

“You are not fond of children, I see that in you.”

He shrugged his shoulder. “Oh, I’m fond of them, but do not want one in my life right now.”

She turned to her side, her back to him. “You have realised that when I return to the city it will be the end of my people? The spark that keeps us fighting and growing will die with my knowledge.”

“Then do not tell them.”

“We are not as you. They will see the knowledge in me. I have changed too much.”

“Then return with us to our land.”

“What for? The world is to end for all of us soon.”

“There are no Blue Eyes of Death. The prophecy is false.”

She sat up, her eyes angry. “Melia was never false to us. Be careful Thorn, even if your intentions are kindly.”

“We better return.” He chuckled. “Dark Cloud, I have reason to be grateful to you apart from the obvious one. I was afraid to tell you before. Tonight was the first time I have lain with a woman.”

“A pity.”

“You wished to know from before?”

“No. I meant it was a pity for now no other woman will ever truly satisfy you. Your first time was the best one you’ll ever experience.”

He wanted to laugh at her conceited answer, but kept his amusement hidden. “You may be right.”

“Shadow, why are there no creatures of magic pursuing us anymore?”

“The few that are intelligent are waiting out of sight. They will choose the moment when we are vulnerable to attack. Perhaps that will be when the lady from the city is no longer with us. The rest are busy feeding, they have not seen this much easy prey for a long time.”

A while later Jescus approached Shadow. “Apart from the plans that you are secretly hatching, what else occupies your mind?”


“Plan? I have no secret plans my lord wizard. To tell the truth, I am fascinated by all of you. So many things we believed about Man, the Eratosans, the Dragons, they are wrong. In some ways, you are less evil than we thought, but you are also more cunning. Most species do not organise and plan for the morrow, you do. That makes you more dangerous. There is also one other important aspect, but I do not know whether you realise it yourselves.”

“And that is?”

“You are lucky.”

“Lucky!” Jescus thought about it. “I do not see how you can say that, not after our losses and all we have been through.”

“What would you have done if the dragon had not joined you? Thorn has saved all of you a number of times and yet he should be your enemy. What about that strange breed, the Kiards, why did they offer to help you? The First Daughter of Melia intercedes on your behalf, joins your group and saves us all. Are not all these things a matter of luck?”

“To an extent. I think you missed out on two other points of luck. The coming of the child and yourself.”

“You consider yourselves lucky to have me with you? How swiftly things change! Why the child, she is but an additional burden.”

“No burden. She has helped keep our hearts open, but more importantly, she is helping to accomplish what our Prince wished for, though we have not found what was torn from her.”

“We are alike in some ways, your species and mine.” He wobbled with amusement at the look on the face of Jescus, “We also find joy in our young, rarely as it happens. I wonder, is it true for the people of the dark lady?”

“Odd! Now that you mention it, I did not see any children in the city.”

“That is easily explained.” Dark Cloud said. “Should children run around freely they will incur debts on behalf of their parents. Children are closely supervised until they have understood such matters.”

Two Kiards had gone ahead to scout and they now returned. “The land turns inwards. The water lies in it calm as a lake.”

“Good. It might be suitable for a short rest if there are more fruit and herbs to collect there. We also need water, did you see a stream?”

“We could not see much of the land in there.”

When they could see the land, they all groaned in dismay. It was swampy and dangerous ahead, they would have to cut inland again. On the positive side, they found a lot more to eat and a multitude of smaller creatures that were far tastier than the buck Thorn and Aqutina continued to provide them with.

“If we could cut across that neck of swampy ground, we would save ourselves a long walk.”

“We can’t.” Aqutina said. “Iziko would sink.”
“Can’t Thorn take him to the other side?”

Princess Cherine spoke for the first time that day. “No. We will not risk it, we will have to walk around the swamp.”

“What risk my lady? He has carried far heavier creatures.”

“And if he took him elsewhere? Where is our protection then? We trust Thorn while he is bound to us only. Why not trust him to Shadow if you are to be so trusting.”

Thorn’s face was white with anger, but he decided the best answer would be to show her how senseless she was being. Before anyone could stop him he touched Iziko and jumped. With shock they saw the two of them appear on a rising on the opposite side. Nobody said anything as they made their way through the swamp and insects and the Princess walked with her head held high and her face a tight mask.

Next [Book 08] - Post 065

I hope you enjoy reading this story of fantasy, adventure and love - and should some of it be true for our reality, I hope you will love our Cherine.

Αλέξανδρος Ζήνον Ευσταθίου
(Alexander Zenon Eustace)

16th February, 2020

  • posted: 16th February, 2020

    If you wish to read from an earlier book, from Book 01 to Book 07, use this link button to open the LC Book Index:

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Hello @arthur-grafo8, thank you for sharing this creative work! We just stopped by to say that you've been upvoted by the @creativecrypto magazine. The Creative Crypto is all about art on the blockchain and learning from creatives like you. Looking forward to crossing paths again soon. Steem on!

Thank you and nice to see you again.

I do not know if you ever read my replies, but wanted to let you know that I am almost at the end of Book 08 and will then move to my next account ( @arthur.grafo13 )for books 9 to 12 (or 13).

Thank you again for your support.