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The Quest For Truth and Hope Part 1

Altheia Summers

 

                The room filled with white, bright, light. As far as Altheia could tell, there was nothing in the room. The room filled with a white fog so it was hard to tell where she was going. The girl felt her feet move forward. She was not sure where she was going. She never been here before. She didnt even now where here was.  In the distance, she saw a dark shape in the white surroundings. She didnt know who it was but she just kept moving forward. The dark shape grew lighter and the fog diminished so that the Nino Oro could see the figure clearly now. In front of her stood a man but then it didnt like quite like a man but a woman. She walked forward until she stood twelve inches from the figure. Allie noticed that the figure was both a man and a woman. Hello Altheia. the mans voice spoke. I am so glad you could come, spoke the female voice.

Who are you? How do you know my name? Where are we?

My name is.....Nadara. replied the voices. The magess took a look at the figure. Both faces had long red hair and blue eyes. The figure wore white pants and a white tunic for the male and white halter top for the female. Both of the outfits looked like they were made out of silk. The magess bowed in respect. The figure smiled. Where are we?  inquired the magess.

We are in the dream world. I know who you are Altheia Summers. I am the deity of skills and talents. Since a mage takes both skill and talent, both of my faces appear before you. I have come to tell you of your destiny. You are a Chosen One Altheia. The elven girl listened to the deitys speech with politeness. Pardon me, but I already know I am a Chosen One.  I had my unicorn for the past year.

You know and you have? asked the deity.

The girl nodded. I still dont understand what a Chosen One means though. Could you explain it to me, please?

The deity rotated its body so the female half faced the girl. A Chosen One is a special type of mage.  A type of mage that has unique powers. There less than 100 Chosen Ones in this land. That makes you unique and you are meant to do great things. As the female deity spoke, a figure emerged from the fog. An elven girl with light blonde hair and blue eyes, dressed in the same red uniform as Allie, applied before them. Allie! shouted the voice.

Stephanie? What are you doing here?

She is here for the same reason you are here Altheia. You are both Chosen Ones. Also, very soon you are to embark on a great adventure to test your abilities. It will happen very soon in the future. Both girls looked nervous. Do not be frightened. We feel you are ready. Just use what you know. Now it is time for both of you to wake up. The next thing Allie heard was a knock at her door. She opened her eyes and looked around.  She was back in her room in her own bed. The knock at the door came again. The girl got up and answered the door. Out in the hall stood a page. Excuse me miss, Headmaster Mikeal would like to see you right away.  He says to bring any weapons you have plus any spell books and a backpack with you.

All right, tell the headmaster I am on my way.

Very good, miss. The boy bowed, turned around and walked back the way he came. Allie closed the door. She dressed as quickly as she could. She did not want to keep the headmaster waiting. She put her daggers, spellbook, and money pouch into her backpack.  Lastly, she grabbed her quarterstaff and headed for the headmasters office. She was curious why the headmaster wanted to speak to her.

                The golden-skinned mage knocked on the headmasters door. Come in. cam the voice. She opened the door and saw she wasnt the only one there. Stephanie and Tristan were there as well. Ah Altheia, good you are here. Now we just have to wait for one other person.

One other person? Who are we waiting for and what is this all about?  The headmaster smiled, We are waiting for Mithrull. He is a wizard from a neighboring school of magic. He will be with us on a trial basis. I been thinking of expanding the school of magic to include wizards as well. As soon as he gets here, I will explain why we are here.  A deep voice announced from behind them, I am already here headmaster Mikeal. Everyone turned around to see a human male about sixteen. He had straight, short brown hair and eyes. He stood about six foot-one with a slim build. He wore a long green robe and carried a long staff. Stephanie thought him quite handsome for a human. Ah Mithrull, glad you could come. Everyone this is Mithrull from OKeils School of Magic from the kingdom of Teardrop Li. This is Altheia. The headmaster indicated a girl with hair, blue eyes wearing a red uniform. This is Stephanie.  He indicated a girl that looked to be elven with long, pale blonde hair and blue eyes also wearing a red mage uniform.  He found her to be quite  attractive for a  elf. Lastly but not leastly, Tristan. The man named Tristan had short, wavy brown hair and brown eyes a little shorter than Mithrull. He and the red-headed girl had the same skin tone so they were either related or the same race. OK, now that we are all acquainted, lets get down to business. replied the headmaster. You are all here because your abilities are advanced enough to go on a quest.

A quest? We are going on a quest? asked Stephanie excitedly.

Yes, a quest of divine proportions. You will need to locate four gemstones red, yellow, black, and green. You will find these gemstones in various places. You will be encountering the gods themselves. You need to retrieve these gemstones and bring them back here to Queen Constance.  You will be provided with a map, supplies, and you will be allowed to have your unicorns with you. This quest will take you a few months. This adventure will test your skills and how you work as a team. Are there any questions?  The adventure party looked dumbfounded.  Finally Altheia found her voice, You want us to go up against the gods? With all respect headmaster, are you insane? The headmaster chuckled. No I am not insane. I never said you had to fight them. That would be insane. You need to find a way to retrieve the gemstones. Everything is explained further in this note.  He handed the golden elf a piece of parchment. If you have no further questions, you will find your unicorns are outside and ready and everything is packed. Good luck to you all.  Still dazed, the group left the office. Do you believe this? asked Tristan.

No, this sounds like it is some strange dream. I had a dream last night that we would be going on a quest. I didnt think it would be this soon. explained Altheia.

You too? asked Stephanie. Tristan stopped walking. You both had the same dream?

Yes. They answered at the same time. They reached Where Diamond and Violet, the girls unicorns, were standing. Hello. spoke Diamond. Ready to go?

Did you two know about this? asked Stephanie.

You mean the quest? No, not until last night.

I guess we better find out where we are going. replied Altheia. She unfolded the note.

It read: Greetings, You need to seek Alora, Goddess of the Dead. To get to her domain, you must find the black mountains. One of them is in the form of a volcano. When you reach it, burn a bush that is not a bush, and the mountain will open. That is all I can tell you.

Well that is a weird note. commented Mithrull. Lets check the map. Where is it?

Check the pack on my back. replied Violet. The human wizard went over and fished through the pack until he found the map. He opened it and saw a red, blinking dot. We must be here. he pointed. Another blinking dot appeared near the area that must be the black mountains. We need to go there.  It looks far.  Stephanie came over and looked at the map. It doesnt look like it is in Avalon.  

Well we best be off. replied Tristan. He and Altheia hopped on her unicorns back. Stephanie and Mithrull got onto Violets back and they were off to find the black mountains. 

                As the group moved along, the blue mountains disappeared for black mountains. They had traveled for about two weeks. According to the map, they still had a long way to go.  It was getting dark. I think we should stop and break for camp. suggested Mithrull.  The party stopped. The gold-skinned girl scanned for a spot to camp. How about over there by those trees. There is a clearing. Tristan swung off of Diamonds back. Perfect. Lets unload.  The party unloaded the equipment. Altheia and Stephanie set up camp while the guys went to look for firewood. Allie?

Hmmm?

What do you think of Mithrull? Allie rummaged about in the pack for the stakes to the tent. He is okay for a human. I dont know many humans to make a judgment. Why?

Oh, I dont know. He seems kind of cute, for a human.

You like him dont you? Stephanie blushed. I just met him.

Then why are you blushing? the Nino Oro asked. 

I could say the same thing about you and Tristan. I see the way he looks at you.

There is nothing going on with me and Tristan, Steph.  I have a boyfriend already.

A boyfriend who is in jail.

That is not his fault, Stephanie!  She took the stakes and a mallet and started banging it into the ground. Allie, all I am saying is that life goes on. Who knows when Grai will be out. It could be a long time. I hate for you to be so miserable. The two girls finished putting up the tent when the guys got back with firewood. Stephanie and Altheia cooked some rationed mutton for dinner. The golden-skinned mage turned her head to see what Tristan was doing. It looked like he was carving something out of wood. She turned her head back to the food. When she turned to look at him again. He was watching her with those deep brown eyes of his. -He does have nice eyes.- she thought. -He has nice silky hair too. I wonder how it feels. OK stop that. Stop daydreaming.-

She looked back again. Tristan was still watching her. What is going on with her? asked the wizard. He and the elven mage were sitting on a tree branch together. The elven mage smiled. Tristan  likes her and she doesnt want to admit it.  The wizard coughed. Well sometimes, it is hard for a guy to tell a girl his feelings.

Sometimes it is hard for a girl to be patient enough for the guy to come around and say it. There was a long silence then suddenly both spoke at once. Mithrull? Stephanie?  Mithrull smiled sheepishly. You first.

The elven mage took a deep breath. This is going to sound silly. I like you Mithrull, really like you. I want us to....

Be a little more than just friends? finished Mithrull. She nodded her head. I must admit that when we first met I felt something for you too Stephanie. I was too shy to say anything. I am not experienced with women. The girl smiled, I am not very experienced with men. I had a very bad experience with my uncle. He..he....forced himself on me. I keep thinking it is my fault. If I did things differently. I was punished earlier that night for breaking a dish. I just thought that I was still being punished. The elven girls eyes swelled up in tears as she remembered. The wizard put his arm around the girls shoulder. It isnt your fault Stephanie. I would never hurt you. That is a promise. He took her hand in his. We can take it slow, if that make you feel more comfortable. She nodded her head and leaned against him with her head on his shoulder. 

                About an hour before dawn, everyone slept except for Tristan who stood guard. Each person had taken turns as guard. Now it was Tristans turn. Things had been fairly quiet in the wee early morning hours. He had walked up and down the camp keeping his eyes open for anything unusual. He had just sat down to rest when he heard a twig snap. He looked up and listened closely to see if he could hear it again. The only thing that answered the bard was silence.

The bard got up and walked another round of the camp. He didnt see anything out of the ordinary so he walked a bit farther towards the direction of the noise. Tristan came around a corner and he heard noises and saw goblins. The goblins did not see him. There were about five feet tall with dark green, slimy skin.  They wore metal chainmail and each carried a shortsword. The young bard heard one of them say something incomprehensible probably their native tongue. He checked how far they were away from him and the camp. He calculated that they wasnt enough time for him to do anything but he can warn the others. He ran back to camp and headed for the tent he shared with Mithrull. Pssst, Mithrull, wake up. Tristan shook the human wizard awake. Wh-What is it? Whats wrong? The human wizard opened his eyes to see Tristan bending over him. Whats up Tris? Tristan put a finger to his lips. SHHH! The goblins will hear you. The humans eyes went big and round. Goblins? Where?

Up the path a bit a ways. I heard a twig snap and went to investigate. I saw six of them in armor armed with shortswords. We need to wake up the girls before they come upon the camp. Mithrull got dressed quickly in his green robe and boots. He went to wake up the girls while Tristan kept lookout. Within a few minutes, Allie and Stephanie joined the guys. Where are they? whispered the Nino Oro mage to the bard. They are about fifty paces from us.

What are we going to do? asked the elven girl.

Let me think. replied the bard. I can put them to sleep but they might put all of us to sleep.

Too risky. replied the human wizard. I can root them and radiate them for two minutes. That would give them a shock. The goblins moved closer so now they could hear their grumbling voices. Here they come. We stand and fight. replied Allie.

                As one of the goblins came along the bend, Mithrull rooted him to the ground and radiated him with the OKeifs Radiation spell(named after its creator). The radiation shocked the goblin and stunned him. This little surprise broke up the pack. They broke off and it was a one on one fight. The mages put up defensive walls as each goblin took a swing and missed. Stephanie sent a fireball burning the her goblins arm. He caught on fire and let out an ear-piercing scream, hopped around to try to put it out. The Nino Oro mage was busy blocking her goblins hits with her quarterstaff. She swung and knocked the goblin senseless. The goblin went down in one forceful hit. Meanwhile, Mithrulls spell had worn off and the goblin ran straight at the human wizard. Now he had two to deal with. He took of his staff and parried the goblins advances. He hit one hard in the arm. The goblin yelped in pain. The goblins moved to either side of him. The wizard impaled a double hit with both ends of his staff. The goblins got hit in the stomach, knocking the wind out of them. Mithrull did a one hundred eighty degree turn and hit them both in the back of the head, knocking the two unconscious. Three were down, one was still hopping around trying to get the fire out. One goblin was on Tristan. The bard swung at the goblin. The goblin swung at him but missed. Tristan hit him across the chest with his magical staff. This staff did five times the damage as a normal staff. Tristan threw a blow to the goblin. The green, little man went flying into the goblin Altheia was fighting. The second goblin got knocked off his feet and both tumbled to the ground. Mithrull rooted them to the ground while Stephanie knocked them unconscious. The one that caught fire had gotten away. Good work everyone. Altheia congratulated as she stood panting from the fight. She looked around to see Diamond and Violet standing there. Hey guys, you missed all the excitement.

You couldnt think to come get us? snorted Diamond. She walked up to her unicorn and patted him on the back. Sorry, there was no time. Next time, I promise you will get a piece of the pie.

That wasnt much of a challenge. the elven mage mused as she went around and stripped the dead bodies of their valuables. She found three hundred gold pieces on the bodies along with their armor and shortswords. We can probably sell these in the next town we reach. Stephanie stooped down to examine the last body. There was more armor and one shortsword. She examined the dead body and found an official looking note in his pocket. Hey guys, look at this. called Steph. The party crowded around the elven mage. What did you find? asked Mithrull.

Not sure, it is in some sort of funny writing. Can anyone speak languages?

I can. Mithrull spoke up. Let me see the parchment. She handed the parchment over to him. He studied it for several minutes. They saw his eyes grow wide. It is in goblin. Here I will read it: Head to Avalon border. Stand ready and attack at summer solitice. Three hundred gold pieces now, five hundred when job is done.  Sincerely, Prince Jalen Nightshadow

Darkshire Kingdom

Who and why would want to attack Avalon? For what purpose? cried the elven mage.

I dont know. Apparently this Prince Jalen Nightshadow. replied the golden-skinned mage.

I heard of him and I hope to never hear of his name again. Tristan sighed. The others looked at him in amazement. You have heard of him? inquired Allie. He nodded and took a deep sigh. I am from this kingdom. It was here that I was imprisoned, sold, then shipped off to Avalon.  The prince is the cruelest of men that you will ever meet.  The party stared at his in disbelief. Altheia was the first to speak. You lived in this kingdom? The bard in training nodded again. Yes, my lady. I never said I was from Avalon. You never asked so I never thought to bring it up. Just then Diamond snorted. I dont mean to break up the conversation but dont you think we should inform the queen of this invasion and possibly move on before any more of those goblins come back? The golden-skinned girl blushed as red as her hair. Sorry Diamond, I forgot you were there. The white unicorn snorted. Of course, you are right. We need to report this to the queen.

Bring the note over here so I can pass a mental image on to Sapphire. commanded his mage. The wizard handed it over to the Nino Oro mage who in turn, showed it to her pet. Diamond studied it then his eyes went blank and he grew still. It seemed to drag on forever. Finally, his eyes came back into focus. Sapphire has informed Queen Constance and she will start preparing for it. She conveys his thanks and gratitude to you all for bringing this matter to her attention. The girl thought over the message of the parchment. She felt something didnt seem right and she could not put her finger on it. She spoke her obvious suspicions to the rest of the group. Could this be a trap? Everyone looked at her and it dawned to them what she was thinking. Violet spoke slowly, Yes, ....there is always that possibility however if it is even remotely true we are prewarned. Tristan looked around the camp. I think we should head out as soon as it is possible. They set to work packing up the camp and made sure they left no traces of the night before. When everything was packed and ready, the party mounted up and were off in the direction the goblins had come from.

                It was about midday when the small group reached the first village they seen in two weeks. The village was rather large in size. Wooden houses stood in a neat row with stores and shops sprinkled in the middle. The sign simply read: You now entered Dragons Liar. I wonder how the place got THAT name? quipped Stephanie.  The other girl shivered from the possibilities. I dont think I want to find out. Mithrull glanced around the village. It was fairly busy for this time of day.  People hustled and bustled about their business. What was odd was that the village square was silent. No one yelled, or screamed or even talked to one another. The people looked straight ahead as if they were afraid of their own shadows. The only exchange these people made were the weird looks they gave Altheia and Tristan. You would think they never saw a Nino Oro before much less an elf. spoke the golden-skinned bard. The human wizard took a closer look at the people that walked past them. All these people are human. I doubt they seen an elf much less someone of your race, Allie. Lets see if the natives are friendly.  He walked over to a young man and tapped him on the shoulder. From the mans reaction, one would think the wizard has set off a fireball. The man moved and turned around so fast, he nearly fell over. Sorry friend, I didnt mean to scare you. Could you tell me where the nearest inn and blacksmith? The young mans eyes darted from one person to the other then he pointed to the two, gray buildings standing across the street from them. One had wooden sign with an anvil on it. To the left of the blacksmith shop stood a red brick building with two ale mugs on the wooden sign. The wizard looked to where the man pointed. Thanks, nice talking to you. Their guide walked briskly away from them as if the party had a disease. Friendly chap, isnt he? remarked the golden-skinned mage. Where should we try first, the inn or the blacksmith? She watched the people still give her dirty looks. I dont think Tristan or I should go in. I dont think we would be welcome. The wizard nodded his head in agreement. I agree. I think I will go in. The people here might be more willing to talk to me seeing as I am their own kind. No offense to you guys. I think I will try the blacksmith first. Wait for me by the entrance with Diamond and Violet. I shouldnt be too long. Stephanie handed the goods of their last battle over to Mithrull. The wizard entered the blacksmith shop. The group waited by the fence for their wizard friend. Five minutes went by, ten then twenty. Finally, the wizard stepped out of the buildings with a brown sack and parcel on each arm. What happened in there? asked Tristan. The human wizard put the brown parcel and small sack in the pack on Diamonds saddle. Whats in the brown packages? asked the unicorn.

A months ration of food and money for some fast bargaining. It was murder just to get what we got. I could only manage 300 gold pieces for the shortswords and armor. People here are so suspicious. The innkeeper gave me the third degree on who I was and where we were going.

Who did you tell them we were? inquired Allie. Her heart raced in fear and expectation of the wizards answer.

Dont worry friend mage. I merely said we were passing through from another village. I gave him some made-up name of the village and he seemed to accept the explanation. I did find out why the people here were acting so weird. It seems that one of their gods has been taking revenge on this village for the last six months. Apparently, there really is going to be a war. They call him Naboroc, the Evil One. It sounds to be like he is there God of War. Some of this gods priest come down and harass the villagers into giving donations to their god or so I heard some people say while I was in the tavern.  Tristan looked about the village nervously. I suggest we leave as soon as we possibly can. This place gives me the creeps. They quickly mounted their magical steeds and took off like a rocket(if such things existed in this world). They rode fast and hard for about a good twenty minutes then stopped to check their location on the map. The two mage girls bent over the map. The red dot still blinked at the spot on the black mountains. The second blinking dot was now green with the words: You are here in the same green color as the dot. It looks like we are not that far. We only need to go fifty feet up this road and we shall see the black mountain we are looking for. We might have to break for camp before we get there. mused Tristan.

                The next morning, the group had arrived at the mountain that looked like a volcano. Like all the mountains around them, this mountain was black with a jagged edge and connected with another mountain giving it the appearance of a volcano. Looks like we found it. replied Stephanie. Mithrull looked around him to see if he could find the bush they were supposed to light. Wheres the bush?  The golden mage scanned the perimeters and spotted a scrawny looking, green bush a foot or so from the base of the mountain. I believe that is our bush. she said and pointed it out so everyone could see. In less than an eye blink, they reached the bush. Mithrull examined the bush. It was a small little evergreen with prickly little thistles. Tiny berries grew on each branch. It looks like an ordinary branch to me. He felt the bush. It was fake. The bush was made out of wood and the berries were made of some sort of strange, thin substance.  Hey! shout Mithrull, This isnt real!

Are you sure? asked Tristan. He walked over to the bush and examined it. He felt the bush and berries. You are right. Its not real. Has anyone got a torch? Stephanie rummaged through one of the sacks and handed him a torch. He took the torch from her and lit it. There was a sizzle and a popping sound then the torch lit with a yellow, glowing flame. He bent down and lit the wooden bush. The flame took to the wooden bush immediately bursting into flame. At the same time, there was a sound of a rusty hinge as the black mountain opened to reveal a hidden passage. The passage looked dark and gloomy. It was as black as night and how far it went was uncertain. Well, that is unexpected. replied Mithrull. Shall we?  Tristan went ahead first because he had the light source. Next followed Altheia, then Stephanie with Mithrull bringing up the rear with the unicorns behind him.

                The inside was still dark even with the light source. The passage was damp, moldy and it smelled like it. Sounds of little rodents scurrying around could be heard. The passage went on for what seemed like eons. The party walked until they reached a fork in the road pointing to the left and right of them. Which way do we go? wondered Stephanie.

We split up into two groups and each chose a direction. suggested Mithrull.

I dont think that would be such a good idea. I think we should stick together. remarked Violet as she looked around the uneasy surroundings. Lets try the right fork first and see where it goes then we can try the other one. suggested Altheia. They turned down the right fork first. It looked pretty much the same as the previous passage. It didnt take very long for them to reach the end of the passage which led to a dead end. Now where do we go? asked Mithrull. Altheia went up to the wall and touched it with her hand. She stood very still. It seemed as if she was feeling the wall. Mithrull watched her for a few minutes before asking, What are you doing?

I am checking for hidden passages or doors or anything magical. He thought about that for a minute. Do you sense anything? The girl shook her head. Nothing here.  Lets head back the other way. The party turned around and went down back the passage. When they came to the fork in the road, they went straight. This corridor was darker than the other one. Even with the bright light, they could barely see in front of them. Soon the girls heard someone breathing down their necks. Diamond, stop breathing on me. Diamond snorted. It is not me. The girl turned around. She tapped Stephanie on the shoulder hard. Stephanie winced in pain. Ouch, what was that for.. The elven girl turned around to see what Altheia was looking at. Uh guys, we have company. The guys stopped, turned around and saw what the girls saw. Standing in front of them were two guards with rapiers dressed in old gray uniforms. At least they thought the things they saw were guards. The figures looked a little transparent. One stood with his rapier ready to strike. He took a swing at The golden mage and missed. Guys, how do we fight things that arent solid? she called out. The other guard went after Tristan. He armored himself with magical armor and resistance. The ghostly guard aimed at him but missed. Tristan swung his staff and aimed straight for the guards chest but his staff went right through the guard. I realize this is bad timing, but can anyone turn these things solid? he yelled.  Mithrull was having the same problem trying to hit these apparitions. You ask that now? Mithrull shouted back. I do have an idea. Mithrull muttered some words in an incomprehensible language. A bright flash of light appeared in front of the guard blinding the ghost. The ghost, scared by the light, turned away and fled. What did you do? asked Stephanie

That was OKeifs Radiation. replied Mithrull.

Do it again so we can get rid of the other one. The wizard muttered a second set of incomprehensible words. Another flash of light appeared right in front of the second spirit. Like the first one, this spirit ran or floated as the case my be, off in the other direction. Stephanie let out a sigh of relief. Remind me to thank OKief if I ever met him. Mithrull smiled at the elven girl. That would be hard to do Steph. He is dead.

Oh.

                They continued down the passage now that the ghostly duo had gone. In no time, they reached a dead end. Not again! cried Tristan. Altheia stepped up to the wall. She something shiny on the floor. Hey whats this? She picked it up and turned it around in her hand.  It looked to be a silver necklace with little red rubies all around it. They all crowded around. What is it? asked Stephanie.

Its a necklace. Not sure who it belongs to though.

Why dont you keep it? suggested the elven girl. The mage put it in the pouch of her backpack. She then turned her attention to the wall. She touched the wall like she did on the other side. There is a door here. she announced. She pushed on it and the wall pushed back to reveal a wooden door. Wow, that is impressive. commented Mithrull. Everyone ready?

                They entered through the door not into a room but into a whole different world. If Heaven existed, this would be the place.  The sky was a clear sapphire blue. Deep green grasses and trees were everywhere. The temperature was warm with a nice, cold breeze. They stepped from the gloomy passage into the bright sunlight. Where are we? asked Mithrull as he looked around at the new surroundings. The magesses gaped in wonder and awe for they could only be in one place and that place was thought not to exist. This is Astar. We are in Astar. whispered the golden magess. Tristan now realized where he was too being Nino Oro. Wow, I thought this place was only a dream. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever ended up here.

                n the distance two figures walked towards them. One was a woman and a woman. They both had golden skin which made them Nino Oros. The man stood 59 with shaggy blonde, shoulder-length hair and blue eyes. He was dressed in a dark blue tunic and black trousers. The woman had long red hair and wore a red, mages robe. As they grew closer, it dawned on the young Nino Oro who they were. She ran to them and they ran to her which ended in a hug. Mommy! Daddy! She hugged her parents tight, not wanting to let go. I missed you so much.

Hello darling. replied her mother. Her father lifted her up in a big bear hug. The girl started to cry. The tears rolling down her checks until she could no longer see. There, there, replied her mother Why the tears? The girl spoke between sobs. It is my fault you are dead. I couldnt wake you up and save you from the fire. It is all my fault.

Nonsense, you did no such thing. her father assured her. We are so proud of you Allie. We just wanted to see you and tell you how proud we are of you.

You arent mad at me? sniffled the girl. Her father let out a jolly laugh. Goodness, no. How could we be. You are following in your mothers footsteps as she knew you would some day.

Allie dear, spoke her mother. We cant stay too long. We just wanted to see you so much.

You cant leave! cried the sobbing girl. You just got here!

We must sweetie. Dont worry, you can see us any time you want. All you have to do is remeber us and you will have us with you always.

                They disappeared with the landscape of Astar. In its place was a throne room. It was dark again but not as dark as the passage. Candles stood in holders on the wall. The walls were all gray. In front of them stood a red throne. On the throne sat a woman with a slim build. She had long, purple hair with wear eyes. She wore a red halter top, miniskirt and leather go-go boots. Welcome, spoke a soft voice. I have been expecting you. I am Alora, Goddess of the Underworld. The two mages and the bard bowed before the goddess. The goddess waved their genuflect away. That isnt necessary. Time is short. I know why you come. Before I give you my red ruby, you need to do a task for me.

What kind of task? The goddess took a deep sigh and looked at them one by one. You all have been so brave to come here. I lost something a long time ago and I would like you to retrieve it. You see I lost my silver necklace. It is important I get it back because it is the essence of my power. The golden magess thought back to the passage. A silver necklace? It cant be the one I found, could it? Excuse me your godlessness, does your necklace have rubies around it?

Yes, how do you know? The girl fished around in her pack until she found the necklace and handed it to the goddess. Is that it? The goddesss eyes grew round with surprise then she smiled. Yes! This is it. Where did you find it? I am in your debt for finding it. The girl blushed and bowed again. I found it in the dark passage. The goddess was so pleased she snapped her fingers and a glowing red ruby appeared. Here, take this ruby back with you. You have earned and deserved it. For my gratitude and thanks I will give each of you a special gift. She walked forward to stand closer to the group. Allie, I bestow on you the power of Acceleration. She touched the top of the Nino Oros head and a warm, tingling flow of energy went through the girls body. She bowed and thanked the goddess. In the same manner, she bestowed magical gifts upon the others. Stephanie received Invisibility, Tristan, the power of telekinesis, Mithrull, the gift of Unseen Servant. Excuse me goddess, what does Unseen Servant do? asked Mithrull

Unseen Servant is a creature you can summon who is invisible and do your bidding for you. All you need to do is tell it what you want done. I bestow upon you all the ability to use your gifts at full and maximum capacity. Now, you must go. Before you do, I need to give you this. She handed a faded yellow parchment to Allie. The parchment was the same one that headmaster Mikeal handed given them at the start of this journey. That will help you find the next deity and get the next ruby gemstone. I wish you all good luck. With a flash of light, the goddess and the throne room were gone.

 

 

 

 

 

Avalon

Avalon Publication (April 2002)