Anthya’s World – Chapter 14

Anthya’s World
Oracle of Light
By Cil Gregoire

Chapter 14
It’s Twins!

Vince, still overwhelmed by baby times two, returned home alone on Saturday’s train. He was here for the weekend only, to pack trails after the big snow. Exhilarated by the freedom and release of tension that only snowmobiling in the great outdoors could bring, Vince made his way on snowmachine, to the only neighbor currently in the area, Grumpy George, who lived on the ridge across the creek from Rahlys’ place. With Maggie’s heart set on coming home the following weekend, Vince was on a mission to solicit George’s help in making that possible. Taking a couple of cigars, one labeled, “It’s a girl!” and one, “It’s a boy!” Vince hoped to make arrangements with him to start a fire in the stove and warm up the house before they arrived with the babies. Vince knew that the persona ‘Grumpy George’ was, for the most part anyway, a façade to protect his privacy. George could be counted on when the need was great, of that Vince was certain.

Crossing the creek over a precarious brush and log bridge covered with minimal snow pack was the only real challenge on the trail. Approaching the bridge, Vince slowed down to a near stop, lining up the machine’s track and skis precisely with the narrow, sagging bridge. He eased the snowmachine down onto the bridge straddling the seat a couple of feet above the cold, dark flowing creek below. Taking it easy, going slowly, he made it safely across, and with a sigh of relief, zoomed up the bank on the other side.

Soon, he connected to George’s trail and found it not only broken, but groomed! It was a joy ride from here. Trails developed a washboard effect with repeated use. It had become a custom in the area to convert old metal bed spring frames into trail drags to groom snowmachine trails. All that was needed for an old discarded metal bed frame to become useful again were a couple of crosspieces bearing some form of extra weight. When pulled behind a snowmachine, a well-constructed trail drag knocks off the high points, dropping the extra snow into the depressions, thus smoothing out the washboard effect. It wasn’t long before Vince caught glimpses of the old loner’s cabin through the bare trees.

Hearing the snowmachine approach, George met him in the front yard. “Well, hi there, neighbor! What’s the news?” he asked as soon as Vince killed the engine.

“Twins! A boy and a girl!”

“Ah, ha! ha! ha!” George roared uproariously, slapping his knee. “Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.” George could read from Vince’s radiant smile that all must have gone well. “And how’s Maggie doing?”

“Great! She’s anxious to come home.” Vince partially unzipped his snowsuit to reach the carefully protected cigars in his shirt pocket and handed them to George.

“Twins! Theon was right!”


“Yes, he predicted two babies months ago.”

“He never said anything to me.”

“Well, he didn’t want to spoil the surprise. So what did she name them?”

“Rock and Crystal.”

“Rock and Crystal!” George roared again with laughter. “Rock and Crystal, ha, ha!”

“She thought about naming them Ice and Snow, but decided that was too chilling. Maggie was already in labor when we left in the snowstorm. What a night that was! We dealt with ice and snow from the time we left here, till we arrived at the hospital. The babies were born that night.”

“Well, come on in and tell me all about it. I’ll put on a pot of coffee.”

George’s cabin wasn’t very large, so every bit of space was tightly utilized. The two small windows, shaded by trees, let in dim light. George moved books, whittling tools, and stacks of papers from the little square table to make room for them to sit. While the coffee perked, Vince gave George details of their horrendous trip to the hospital.

“On the drive down, I had to pull the car over twice to clear the windshield wipers of ice. Every time Maggie had a contraction, I was sure this was it, and I would have to deliver. I don’t know what I would have done without Melinda’s efforts to keep me calm enough to drive. Of course, Leaf slept through the whole thing. Anyway, we made it. Rock was born twenty minutes after we finally arrived at the entrance to the emergency room…and Crystal less than a minute later.”

George poured two cups of steaming ink-black coffee, and then cut them with generous additions of brandy. “So Maggie is anxious to come home? When does she want to return?”

“She would like to come home next weekend, but I hate bringing her and the babies to a cold cabin. With the trains scheduled as they are, there’s no way I can heat the place ahead of time, unless I stayed all week, but with four kids, Maggie needs my help in town. Plus, it could snow some more this week, closing the trail again.”

“Tell Maggie not to worry about a thing. I will have the house warm and the trail groomed when she arrives next weekend. All you need to worry about is carrying in the babies.”

“Thanks, I’ll make it up to you somehow.”

“No, need for that. It’s my pleasure.”


Caleeza sat cozily warm at the little table by the window, gazing out at the falling snow. Melinda and Leaf’s last visit was thirteen of this world’s quick rotations ago, she noted, adding another mark for the new day. Since then, the forest had changed its cloak from a warm golden brown to a cool lacy white. Winter had followed her south.

Caleeza didn’t like depending on the new persons for survival, but she had few options. Here, she had found awareness of her own world; the young ones could be the key to returning home. She didn’t want to leave without learning more. Melinda and Leaf had assured her they would be back, but when? She took sparingly from the supply of wood for fire that Melinda had shown her telepathically. Fortunately, because the shelter was small and so well-constructed, it didn’t take much fuel to keep it warm.

Food was a far greater concern. She strictly rationed the bags of food the children had brought, and scoured the woods trudging through snow in search of edible foods to supplement her diet, but except for the leaves and barks she brewed into teas, and the little round red fruit she occasionally found frozen on bushes bare of leaves, the white landscape had little to offer.

With time on her hands and a desire to learn to communicate, Caleeza took advantage of the comfortable shelter’s scholarly atmosphere. She quickly memorized the names of all the pictures on Leaf’s learning machine, useful words like…tree, book, chair, and train…the serpentine monster that rolled on the trail of rails. Sometimes she could hear the train in the distance when it passed by. She also learned names for some of the planet’s life forms; girl, boy, and dog…the loud creature she had encountered along the way. But there were others she never heard of…like rooster, cat, and cow. Using what she learned from these words about letter sounds, she started studying a whole book of picture words from one of the shelves of books scattered around.

There were books on many different subjects. She found picture books of Alaska, some depicting landscapes and life forms she had already encountered, books on calculation and natural forces, and books covering events and topics she knew nothing about.

A really exciting find was a chart showing the planet with Alaska on it, orbiting in space around the sun. According to the chart, she was on the third planet of eight revolving around this sun. A band of space debris orbited the sun between the fourth and fifth planet. The last four worlds, probably gaseous in nature, were considerably larger than the first four, and many lesser planets orbited far beyond those. A busy sun system to say the least!

At night, she dreamed of Sarus, alone and abandoned, in the Crystalline Landscape, the dark ragged slope of Mt. Vatre looming threateningly in the distance. In her dream, she woke from her sleep and spoke with him across the expanse of space. His image was hazy, but he seemed greatly changed, more so each time they spoke. In demeanor he had become complacently wise instead of wildly determined. He seemed content, fulfilled…and wished the same for her. Again and again he asked her not to be concerned for him. Once they had been lovers, but now he seemed emotionally unattached. “I am learning the answer,” he assured her over and over, never defining the question.

“But how do I return home?” she asked in desperation.

At first, Sarus didn’t respond. She knew there wasn’t anything he could do to help her, but she couldn’t help expressing her despair.

“I will seek a solution,” he said to her surprise…or so she thought until she woke up for real.

On the thirteenth rotation, Melinda, Leaf, and their chosen mother and father, returned to the snowy woods with two tiny new persons at the very beginning of their longevity. Caleeza could detect their fresh signatures, after the train, carrying many signatures, pulled away. Melinda reached out mentally seeking Caleeza.

Twins! A boy and a girl! Leaf and I will be over to visit when we can slip out. All right? she telepathed upon locating her.

Boy, girl, all right, Caleeza reassured her telepathically.

Rock and Crystal Bradley were oblivious to the stir they caused in the lives they touched, or the snowy woods bathed in weak sunshine. Wrapped in insulated blankets and nestled snuggly in loving protective arms, Rock in his mother’s embrace and Crystal in her father’s, they were carried home. The twins slept contentedly, rocked gently by the sway of their parents’ unhurried gait. Leaf and Melinda ran up ahead on an immaculately groomed trail that promised they would arrive at a cozily warm house. Maggie lifted the corner of the receiving blanket tent draped over her milk-swollen breast, that shielded her tiny son’s face from the cold air, and gazed down at him lovingly, touching his little cheek to reassure herself he was warm…and breathing.

“It’s so wonderful to be home,” Maggie sighed, reassured.

“You’re not home yet,” Vince said with a twinkle in his eye.

“Close enough. The woods themselves are also home.”

“You don’t know how glad I am that you feel that way.” Finding a woman willing to live in the woods can be a rare find.

George, Melinda, and Leaf were there to greet them when they finally arrived carrying the bundled infants. “Welcome home!” George shouted out. “I see you’ve brought something with you.”

“Hi, George, good to see you,” Maggie greeted warmly.

“Thanks,” Vince said simply as George opened the door wide for them to enter the overly warm house after the exertion of the hike. Vince’s stomach growled to the aromas of hot bread and savory stew waiting for them on the stove. In one corner of the room stood the crib he had built for Leaf before he was born, just as they had left it, ready and waiting for its new occupant. And right next to it a second almost identical crib stood waiting!

“Oh, it’s beautiful!” Maggie gasped when she saw it.

“Where did this come from?” she asked, strolling up to it. “Did you make it, George?” Ever so gently, she placed Rock down in it, removing some of his layers of wrappings.

“Well, I figured you would be in need of another one,” George mumbled.

“Thank you so much. This is all so wonderful!” she cried, tears blurring her vision. “And is that fresh bread I smell?”

“I baked it this morning. There’s a pot of moose stew on the stove, ready to eat, if you’re hungry.”

“I’m starved,” Maggie said. Breastfeeding seemed to keep her hungry.

“Me, too, I want to eat,” Leaf piped up, running to be first in line.

Following Maggie’s example, Vince placed Crystal in the crib he originally built for Leaf, removing excess coverings. She slept so soundly he placed a finger near her nose, reassuringly feeling her soft, warm breath against his skin. Contentment swelled his chest as he joined his family for the homecoming celebration.

It wasn’t until the third day after returning home, when life seemed to have settled into a new norm, that Melinda and Leaf risked teleporting over to the schoolhouse to visit Caleeza. In the meantime, Melinda and Caleeza communicated telepathically. She had Leaf teleport food to her, especially leftovers when they did the dishes, and some old clothes she might be able to wear. And since Caleeza was working so hard at learning their language, Melinda had Leaf send her some of his books with tapes and a battery-operated tape player, giving her mental instructions on how to use them. By the time the children appeared before her, she had memorized them all…somewhat.

“I am good to see you,” Caleeza greeted them.

It’s good to see you too, Melinda said, making the correction.

“You can talk,” Leaf said with some surprise.

“Yes, talk better. Thank you books.”

Thank you for the books. You’re welcome.

“Thank you for the eat. You welcome.”

Close enough for now, Melinda decided, and to Caleeza’s delight, she handed her the specially requested bag of potato chips.

“We have two babies,” Leaf told her with mixed emotions.

“Yes, how big they?” Caleeza asked him.

“Little like this,” Leaf demonstrated, cradling his own little arms to hold a baby. “Mommy doesn’t have time for us anymore,” he added in a sigh of resignation. “She loves the new babies now.”

Leaf, that’s not true! Melinda reassured him. Mom and Dad love us just the same. Maggie did look tired…and the babies certainly kept her busy, but she cared for them no less now than before the twins arrived. If Mom and Dad weren’t so busy with Rock and Crystal, we wouldn’t be able to sneak off to our secret hideaway, she offered as consolation.

But Leaf wasn’t sure that was a fair tradeoff.

Melinda and Leaf told Caleeza all about their trip to town, the places they went, and the things they did. Caleeza showed them all the materials she had been studying and asked questions about things she didn’t understand. When the conversation lagged some time later, Caleeza ventured a question about Droclum.

“How you know Droclum?” she asked, watching Melinda’s reaction. The mention of Droclum stirred something dark and deeply repressed within Melinda, something that struggled for release.

Droclum is dead! she spit out with a vengeance.

“Dead? What dead? Dare she believe the impressions she gleaned from Melinda’s mind?

He doesn’t exist anymore. He was destroyed by Sorceress Rahlys’ awesome powers.

Caleeza knew that Sorceress Rahlys was the Guardian of the Light and that Rahlys had acquired Sorceress Anthya’s powers through the Oracle of Light. Caleeza remembered Quaylyn had been chosen to go to Earth to help the fledgling sorceress defeat Droclum at the same time Sarus had been chosen to lead their expedition to the Devastated Continent. Now, she was learning that Droclum had been destroyed! If only their mission could have gone as well.

“You know Quaylyn?” Caleeza asked.

Melinda only knew Quaylyn for a short time. When Rahlys rescued her from Droclum’s clutches, Quaylyn had just learned that Droclum was his father. It wasn’t long after that the final battle took place, ending in Droclum’s demise.

Droclum was Quaylyn’s father, Melinda said as proof of acquaintance.

Caleeza reeled at the news. Surely, Melinda was mistaken. She and Quaylyn had grown up together in the same community. There was no way he could be Droclum’s son!


Caleeza had been left with much to think about when the children returned home. The news of Droclum’s destruction was paramount. A serious threat to both worlds had been eliminated. How did this affect the Devastated Continent? Or maybe the real question should be, did Droclum’s death change anything? Did it have anything to do with the ‘answer’ Sarus talked about? There were so many questions.

Caleeza pulled out the sun system chart, laying it out on the table to look at it. Somehow, she had crossed the galaxy to planet Earth…that was how that strange word was pronounced…the same planet Droclum had escaped to after triggering the Dark Devastation. Surely, this was an unlikely coincidence considering the vastness of space.

The issue that perplexed her the most was Melinda’s belief that Quaylyn was Droclum’s son. Such a thing didn’t seem even remotely possible, at least not to her reasoning.

Then Caleeza remembered the bag of potato chips. Smiling with anticipation, she reached for the bag and opened it. I’ll take my time eating them and relish every bite. At least, that was her intention. She placed the first chip on her tongue, savoring its saltiness. Soon, intentions were forgotten as she started devouring the chips one after another. Actually, there didn’t seem to be many chips in the bag…because soon, they were all gone.

When she finally settled into bed, Caleeza wanted to dwell on her memories of a happier time when she and Sarus were nourished by love and aspirations, but the images that came to mind were of Sarus as she had seen him last…confused, angry, yet still determined. These images haunted her mind until she drifted into sleep. Then she saw yet another Sarus, the Sarus that sometimes spoke to her in her dreams…mysteriously calm, quietly self-assured, enormously fulfilled.

“Sarus.” Her heart ached for him as he approached her, standing in the Crystalline Landscape. She knew she couldn’t really be here, but it seemed so real.

“Caleeza, you are a treasure to behold.”

“Oh, Sarus, just seeing you warms my heart. I love you so much,” she said, before she realized she was saying it. Was he still capable of loving her, she wondered?

“I have always loved you, Caleeza. I will always love you, but I am not as I was. I can never leave the Crystalline Landscape, and you must never return to it; it is far too dangerous.”

“But what about you, isn’t the Crystalline Landscape dangerous for you too?”

“Not without my human form.” The statement was so strange she didn’t know how to respond, and paused to think.

“But I can see you.”

“I am visible only in your mind.”

Caleeza let it go; she had far more important information to share with him.

“I have learned that I’m on Earth and Droclum has been destroyed by Sorceress Rahlys, the Guardian of the Light.

“Yes…,” he said, seemingly with sudden realization, “I can feel it is so.”

“You can feel it?”

“Yes, it is part of the answer.”

“Please, Sarus, help me return home,” Caleeza pleaded, not wanting to get into the ‘answer.’

“I will see what I can learn.”

She felt Sarus fade from her mind. Realizing she was still awake, Caleeza opened her eyes to the light of the full moon reflecting off of white snow. Had she really communicated with Sarus? She lay awake pondering this in the moonlight.

I was born in New Orleans, grew up in the Louisiana swamp, and then settled in Alaska as a young woman. After decades of living the Alaska dream, teaching school in the bush, commercial fishing in Bristol Bay and Norton Sound, and building a log cabin in the woods, life had provided me with plenty to write about. The years of immersion in the mystique and wonder, and challenges and struggles, of living in remote Alaska molded my heart and soul. It is that deep connection I share with my readers.