Let her be. Give her time. He had anticipated her departure. She had wanted his honesty. He had given it to her because she deserved to know. Karina had received it too well – too self-composed. She was definitely in shock. She had yet to grasp her situation fully. So, he let her go. Later, he would realize too late that he had misjudged the impact of his news.
Arturion did not follow her. Karina would not take it kindly if she discovered he was shadowing her. He remained in the kitchen and entered into a trance. It was part of his training to discipline the mind and enable him to endure the harshest circumstances. Almost at once, his Higher Self separated from the limits of his physical awareness and his consciousness expanded outward. He felt other creatures’ life force and…Karina’s. Immediately, he cut off his connection. He would not intrude on her privacy.
There were still a number of rooms left to explore on the upper level. Sleeping quarters awaited him. One of these belonged to his mother. The traditional bed consisted of a futon, a bolster, and blankets. In his mother’s room, however, stood a low bed frame with intricately carved whorls on the headboard, a mattress, pillows and a covering.
He resumed the use of his extended senses. A whiff of lavender permeated the air. Karina must have used it on a number of occasions. He thought of his house in the third dimension. The furniture and fixtures were almost the same, apart from how the humans generated energy to power their technology. She must have been homesick.
Arturion sat at the edge of the bed, allowing the scent to soothe him. He nearly overlooked the papers hidden underneath the bed covers. Moving it to the other side of the bed, he lay on his back. His eyelids fluttered open once, twice; finally, closing as he succumbed to exhaustion.
Dusk had fallen when Arturion woke to the sound of his name being called downstairs. The voice was Kala’s. Why would she be looking for him, when she should be with Karina at this hour? Anxiety pulled him to his feet.
He rushed towards the door and would have collided against Kala as the girl walked in. A glow globe hovered inside, extinguishing the shadows of the gathering darkness.
Kala looked at Arturion, took in the crumpled sheets of the bed, and came back to him. Her eyes were guarded, forbidding him from asking about Karina’s well-being.
“There is an urgent meeting at Dur na Valed. They are waiting for you,” she said.
A completed version of the Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, the Dur na Valed, the Ring of Stones, has been a sacred site to all peoples of their land. The monument symbolized the Peace Pacts in Merleina and other races that followed after the fall of Atlantis. Dur na Valed continued to be a gathering place for the populace. Weapons were strictly prohibited. A force field enforced the rule. To gain entry, one must leave any tool of destruction outside the area.
Arturion and Sara’s apprentice reached the site without saying a word to each other. Before they entered the barrier, he had already taken notice of the presence of a visitor from the smell of wood smoke.
Inside, Sola, Sara, and a Sentry stood within the center. Kala took her place by the high priestess’ side while he positioned himself between Sola and the guest. The Sentry had been sent directly from the Devarian palace to relay the message of the human girl’s stay at Kelor-dan’s for an indefinite period. She would receive the treatment worthy of her status during her sojourn. A select few would escort the mortal upon her return.
In turn, Sara gave him a summary detail of Karina’s current condition. The Devata was not particularly troubled and assured them that the Forest Folk would see to the young woman’s wellbeing. The conversation turned to other matters concerning both Merleinans and Devatas.
The Veil separating the dimensions, particularly Merleina, Karina’s world, and the Devarian realm had thinned since the winter solstice last 21st of December, 2012. Sightings of intergalactic beings, the reappearance of creatures long thought to be extinct, the emergence of new species, and the new planetary energies as Mother Earth ascends to the fourth-dimensional plane have become more prevalent. Moreover, the wars of the Peace Corps, the Galactic Federation and Lightworkers (people fighting and working independently for peace) against the Cabal with other dark forces, whose purpose is to acquire dominance and exploit the planet’s natural resources and its inhabitants, were intensifying.
The Black Guard Commander should have been requested to join them, however, prickly the relationship between the Guards and the Sentries have become. Both parties have a long track record of tricking each other into cooperation to complete a mission or a similar job.
The meeting concluded. Arturion followed the Devata to the thickest part of the forest, where a mare stood waiting for her rider.
“Better get on with it, Halfling. It will be too late when I get on my horse,” the Sentry said in jest.
“Is she truly well?”
“A few scrapes when she decided to be reacquainted with the earth. No permanent harm has befallen her. Although,” he paused then taunted, “I cannot guarantee the state of her heart, heartbroken as it is.”
The Sentry glanced sidelong at the Gate Keeper.
“From your lack of reaction, I assume you are responsible for the mortal’s flight to the forest and into the arms of my prince – rather, into the jaws of a chimera,” the Devata mocked.
Arturion paled at the creature’s name.
“I can see it now. The shock, the concern, and the guilt. So human.”
“You said she’s unharmed,” Arturion said sharply.
“Are you implying that I have lied?” The Sentry’s eyes narrowed ominously. His hand, which had been feeding the horse with an apple, dropped to his side. A hush came over the forest.
“I meant no offense.” His arms raised in a placatory gesture. “I only wish to know what had happened.”
“You should have said so in the first place.”
“Captain, please,” a breeze carried the whisper of a tree spirit. “Stop tormenting him.”
The Captain stared past Arturion. A dryad had come to the defense of the Gate Keeper – a Halfling, half-Merleinan and half-human being. The latter had also turned to the origin of the voice.
They know each other, the Sentry thought.
“Pellinor, please,” she implored.
He had never spoken to a Gate Keeper before. Sentries kept well away from this Order. They were too serious unlike their counterparts, the Black Guards. The Merleinans presumed that the Guards and the Sentries disliked each other. He continued to encourage the belief to sustain the reputation built around them. They weren’t supposed to work with other Orders in Merleina, not if the Forest Folk were not directly involved.
Seeing a female shed tears was nothing new. It was just human emotion. But every tree and spirit had felt her and a cry of a Liyanna had never gone unheeded. Kelor-dan had extricated himself from the duties of running a kingdom to aid her.
The route Pellinor’s Sentries had taken were days away from the palace courtyard. He was slightly annoyed when the forest shifted beneath them and discovered the reason behind it. The arrow he loosed was a warning shot against the beast to move back.
The Captain and his fellow riders had been away when Kelor-dan hosted a welcoming celebration for the young woman. The whispers of trees about the existence of a Liyanna had reached them in the western borders they safeguarded from unwanted visitors. It had been centuries since he last heard of an outsider be appointed that status.
When he asked the mortal for her name, he had assumed that it was an ordinary human name and apparently lost her way in the forest. His offer to return her to the dwelling place of the Merleinans was declined and her familiarity with the prince irritated him. Then, she refused to play his game.
In one day, he had been denied twice of his enjoyment. It was a record-breaking event in his life. This realization amused him that Pellinor finally capitulated to the tree spirit’s plea.
He shrugged nonchalantly.
After relating the incident to the Halfling, he mounted his horse preparing to leave.
“Can I come with you?” Arturion asked. He had not moved from where he stood.
“To the borders?” Pellinor feigned ignorance.
The Gate Keeper’s expression was frozen in place.
“That’s the problem with your Order. You take yourselves too seriously,” he muttered under his breath. Loudly, he said: “As much as I would like to, I could not take you to her. It would fail the purpose of granting her refuge in our land; that is, keeping your people away from her.”
Gate Keeper or not, this one was unnaturally still. One would have mistaken him for a stone statue, Pellinor observed. He swallowed his exasperation with the Halfling.
“What’s your name, Keeper?”
“Hear me, Arturion.” The mare fidgeted under him, impatient to be off as he was. “Do not be deceived by the delicate form of a flower. Liyannas are stronger than they look.”
Satisfied with the reaction it elicited when he inadvertently let slip Karina’s position in their realm, Pellinor nudged his horse toward Kelor-dan’s palace. He could still feel Arturion’s eyes boring holes into his back until darkness swallowed horse and rider.
The current Liyanna was amusing with her display of affection for the prince. Mortals tended to fawn over Kelor-dan’s human form, but the woman remained blissfully unaware of his charms. He admired her intelligence for staying her ground before a chimera and for having the common sense to avoid uttering the abused human phrase of expressing gratitude to one of the Forest Folk. No doubt, she would overcome her depression in a span of days.
The Keeper, on the other hand, was demonstrating a little more than his profession demanded. Most likely, Arturion was still unaware of this fact. It wouldn’t be the first time nor the last.
The Liyanna and her keeper, he chuckled at the thought.
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©MC Babasa 2014
A/N: Feel free to post your feedback as this is the first book. Your comments and suggestions may influence the story as it progresses up to the second book.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.