Anthya’s World – Chapter 20

Anthya’s World
Oracle of Light
By Cil Gregoire

Chapter 20
Across the Galaxy

“Aaaaarrrk! Aaaaarrrk!”

Trees! Snow! Blue skies! Vince and Maggie’s nest!

“Aaaaarrrk! Aaaaarrrk!” Raven squawked, elated to be home. But something was missing. Where’s Rahlys? He reached out mentally searching for her signature…but she was nowhere to be found.

“Aaaaarrrk! Aaaaarrrk!” Raven cried in despair.

Raven’s raucousness brought the whole Bradley family…with babies in arms, and Caleeza joining them…spilling out the door. “It’s Raven!” Vince said, using his limited telepathic skills to confirm it.

Welcome back old friend. Where are the others?


Raven telepathed images of Rahlys, Ilene, and Theon at the edge of a land of crystals under a pale golden sky. In addition to the pictures, they could also pick up on Raven’s concern for Rahlys’ safety, and his distress over the separation.

“How did you get back?” Vince asked vocally as well as telepathically.

Raven didn’t know how he got back, but he tried to show what happened in telepathed images. They saw Raven flying over the magnificent landscape of crystals when he spotted four men down below. Wishing to better observe the men before reporting back to Rahlys, he landed on a tall octagonal crystalline pinnacle nearby. Vince and Maggie didn’t recognize any of the faces in the images Raven shared, but Caleeza, also reading Raven’s recollections, did.

“There’s Traevus,” she cried out. “He disappeared mysteriously while we were crossing the central plains.”

In his distress over Rahlys, Raven had failed to notice the stranger among his friends, until she spoke. Responding to instinct, he flew up into a tree to put some distance between them.

Raven, this is Caleeza, a member of the lost expedition, Melinda informed him. You need not be afraid. Caleeza stepped forward on the hard packed snow.

Greetings, Raven, warrior of the sky, familiar of Sorceress Rahlys, Guardian of the Light. It is an honor to serve.

Having been duly honored and reassured, Raven responded to the group’s urges for him to continue. In an effort to explain what happened next, Raven projected an image of himself perched on the monolithic crystal under a golden sky, followed by an image of himself standing on the snow in Vince and Maggie’s yard, repeating the sequence a couple of times. One moment he was there, the next thing he knew, he was here.

“Sarus must have sent Raven home,” Caleeza said, with renewed hope. “Raven could have perched near an energy field, but then what would be the odds he would arrive right here in your backyard? Only Sarus could have gotten it so right,” she said with confidence.


After returning to the schoolhouse that evening, Caleeza decided to take care of one piece of unfinished business. Maggie had long ago found a spare pair of boots for Caleeza to wear, closer to her size, and a soft down jacket that didn’t threaten to crackle to pieces when she put it on. She had also passed down to her numerous articles of clothing. It was time for her to return the items she had borrowed to the log cabin up north. She could simply send the clothing back without returning in person, but she wanted to see the little cabin that had sheltered her from the storm one more time.

Carrying the old clothing in her arms, Caleeza recalled the site in her mind, placing herself in the protective copse of trees where she had first spotted the shelter all those months ago. Winter still had a firm grip up here; the wind blew hard and cold. She huddled down in the copse of trees, searching for presence in the little log structure that stood so stoically against the ravages of nature and time.

After confirming the cabin still remained empty, Caleeza teleported herself inside. The small interior of the shelter was cold and dark. Forming a glow globe for light, she deposited the boots back under the counter and carefully folded the coat and other items, placing them back in the cardboard boxes. Thank you, she said silently. Then, after a brief nostalgic look around, she teleported back to the little schoolhouse.

She tried to sleep, but after many sleepless hours in anticipation of Rahlys’ imminent arrival, Caleeza gave up on sleep for the night. Sarus or Rahlys, eventually, one of them was bound to help her return home.

Caleeza! Sarus reached out to her. With the crystals at his disposal, he had no difficulty reaching across the galaxy, but it was easier for Caleeza to perceive him when she was sleeping than when she was awake.


Sarus pierced her awareness.


Did the raven arrive safely?


Then I can bring you home.

Without further warning, Caleeza felt the world around her dissolve away. It was finally happening; she was going home. Soon, she was standing barefooted among the glowing crystals wearing the pale blue cotton nightgown and dark blue robe Maggie had given her. Mt. Vatre rose darkly in the near distance. All her perceptions, from the sharp hardness of crystal under her feet to the cool dryness of the spring evening, told her it was real.

“Sarus?” Caleeza called timidly.

Caleeza, you must warn the others of the danger. I will tell you what to say.

“Sarus, where are you?” There was a moment of silence, and then suddenly Sarus appeared.

“I have generated an image of my former self to make it easier for you.”

“Sarus, what has happened to you?”

How could he explain? He had lost his physical self, but had gained so much. And there was still so much to learn.

“I have become one with the crystals, and the crystals are connected with the universe…multi-universes! Caleeza, I have learned so much. Infinity is such a wondrous place!”

“Teach me…that I may also learn,” Caleeza said, taking a step closer to the mere image of a man she had once loved. If what he claimed was true, then never again would they embrace. Never again would she feel his tenderly warm touch. Still, in her heart she loved him, what little of his human nature he had left. Did he still love her? Did he remember how to love? “Sarus, I love you; I want to stay with you. You need me. Without me, you will lose touch with your human self.”

His mind overflowing with new wonders, Sarus gave little thought to the romantic relationship he and Caleeza once shared. Did he need companionship even in his new existence? Caleeza still professed undying love and a desire to be with him. But could he ask her to give up existence as she knows it…just to be with him?

Of course, the answer was no.

“That is a sacrifice I can’t let you make. The Crystalline Landscape is unsafe for humans.”

“But I would have you to protect me!” There was a long silence as she waited for him to express an emotion he was no longer subject to.

“I remember love.”

Caleeza detected a hint of sadness, even loneliness in his words. Sarus had not become completely devoid of emotion after all…at least not yet.

“I will never let you forget love, Sarus…or sadness or joy. I will be your link to humanity. Send the others away to protect them, if that is your plan, but please…let me stay to serve.” Again, there was a pause before he spoke.

“I will send those of Earth back to Earth,” Sarus told her. “The others I will return to the Community of the High Council. It will take some time before another expedition can return here. You may stay until then.”


The expedition of nine, with the loss of Zayla, Raven, and Brakalar, had been reduced to six, but the addition of Traevus, Tassyn, and Edty brought the number back up to nine. Anthya told the newcomers about the space-time warps the crystals formed and the danger of ending up somewhere unknown, or more likely, ending up in the void of outer space. She explained the use of the pebbles and how one such disaster had already been averted.

“What happens when we run out of pebbles?” Edty asked.

“Then we will come up with another plan,” Anthya said. “If everyone is rested, we need to move on.”

“You’re going deeper in there?” Tassyn asked, amazed at this point that anyone would want to continue on.

“We still know nothing of the other four members of Traevus’ expedition. Their goal was Mt. Vatre.”

“You may still know nothing of them even after you reach Mt. Vatre…assuming these pebbles help you get there. If what you just said is true, those people are more than likely gone.”

Unable to follow the discussion between Anthya and the three newcomers, Rahlys’ thoughts turned back to Raven.

After a moment, Rahlys realized her eyes were closed. Had she nodded off standing up? She opened her eyes, but all she could see was a kaleidoscope of colored light flashing by. Suddenly, cold air engulfed her and she was standing in knee-deep snow.

A cold breeze ruffled bare birch branches and dark-green spruce boughs, helping them shake off their heavy burden of fresh spring snow, sending the snow load cascading down to the ground. Ilene wobbled beside her.

“Ilene, we’re home!” Rahlys shouted and Ilene jerked to alertness.

“We’re home,” Ilene whispered, gazing around at the snowy woods and Rahlys’ cabin glowing softly in dappled sunlight. “Where’s my father?” Theon was not with them.

Rahlys reached out mentally searching for him, but it soon became clear he had not returned with them.

“He’s not here,” Rahlys confirmed, heating the air around them to cloak them in warmth, “but that doesn’t mean he isn’t safe.” Then she thought of Raven. With a heavy heart, she sent out another feeler…finding his signature!

“Raven…he’s here!” Rahlys shouted with delight. Raven felt her summons from his perch in his special tree above the bears’ favorite fishing spot along the creek.

“Aaaaarrrk! Aaaaarrrk!”

He flew off, cawing raucously all the way to her. Upon arriving, Raven circled low over the two women, assuring himself they were really there, then landed on the snow-covered roof of Rahlys’ still full woodshed.

“Aaaaarrrk! Aaaaarrrk!”

“Yes, I’m so glad to see you, too! I’m afraid I have nothing for you at the moment.” But Raven didn’t care. Having Rahlys back was better than any treat. Then Rahlys thought of Maggie, Vince, Melinda, and Leaf….

Maggie! It’s Rahlys. Ilene and I have made it back. It took Maggie a moment to absorb the news and respond.

Rahlys, where are you?

We are home. We’re coming over! Rahlys teleported Ilene with her to Vince and Maggie’s log home just a mile away as the raven flies, leaving Raven to follow on his own.

“Maggie! Vince! We’re here!” Rahlys shouted from outside as they approached the door. They could already hear Raven’s raucous approach in the distance. The door flew open with Maggie rushing out and Maggie and Rahlys shrieked into a joyful embrace.

Melinda appeared next, rushing up to Ilene to give her a hug. Ilene, welcome back.

“Melinda, it’s so good to see you,” Rahlys said, studying her carefully when Maggie finally let her go. “Looks like you’ve grown?” The frightened young girl she had rescued from Droclum’s lair just a few years ago had become a young woman.

“Rahlys! Ilene!” Vince shouted, arriving on the scene. He gave them warm hugs.

“How long have we been gone?” Ilene asked. “What’s today’s date anyway?”

“It’s April fifteenth; you made it home in time for breakup,” Maggie said.

“You’ve been gone for eight months,” Vince clarified. “Raven returned days ago, so we were hopeful you would soon follow. Where’s Theon?”

“Still in the Crystalline Landscape, on the Devastated Continent, I fear,” Ilene said. “How’s my mother? Does anyone know?”

“She’s fine,” Maggie said. “Angela had a little boy, by the way.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful! What did she name him?”

“I’m sure Elsie told me, but I forgot. You’ll have to ask her.”

“Aaaaarrrrk! Aaaarrrrk!” Raven squawked, fast approaching.

“There’s part of a muffin Leaf felt behind from breakfast on the counter,” Maggie told Melinda. Melinda rushed in to fetch the half eaten muffin, returning just as Raven landed in the yard. She tossed it to him.

“Come on in,” Vince said, holding the door open for them. An exchange of air in the house was always welcomed on a spring day.

“It’s quiet in here,” Rahlys said upon entering, “where is….” At that moment, Leaf bounded out of the children’s room into the family room. Both women gasped. Eight months had made a big difference in the pint-sized wizard, transforming him from toddler to little boy.

“You remember Rahlys and Ilene,” Maggie encouraged him.

“Rahlys and Ilene,” Leaf said, pronouncing their names perfectly. Leaf wasn’t sure if he remembered them or not, but allowed them to hug him. As though on cue, the twins woke up from their naps, a tentative cry coming from the bedroom.

“I hear a baby,” Rahlys said, grinning with anticipation. She and Ilene followed Maggie into the bedroom where two six-month old babies with fiery red hair and emerald green eyes squirmed in their cribs.

“Father was right, it’s twins!” Ilene gasped. The babies cooed with delight as Maggie opened the curtains to let in more light. Rock had already managed to flip over onto his stomach.

“Did you have a nice nap?” Maggie cooed back at them, picking up her little son. “Ready to get up and play?”

“Oh, Maggie, they’re beautiful!” Rahlys said with some regret over not being here for their birth.

“What are their names?” Ilene asked. “This is Rock,” Maggie said, handing him to her.

“Rock Bradley, what a fine name,” Rahlys said taking him. “And this is….”

“Wait!” Rahlys said quickly. “Don’t tell us; let us guess. Is the other one a girl?”

“Yes.” Maggie picked up her little daughter; her tiny lips pursed, threatening to cry. She cuddled Crystal gently against her chest. “Wake up.”

“Let’s see, we have a Leaf and a Rock. We need a name for a girl. How about Star, or Creek, or Tree?”

“We don’t know anyone by those names, do we?” Maggie whispered to the little girl nestling against her.

“It’s your turn to guess,” Rahlys said, turning to Ilene.

“Can it have more than one syllable?”

“Of course, girls are far more complex than boys,” Maggie said.

“Leaf and Rock,” Ilene said “…something to go with Rock…like Jewel, or Diamond…ahhhhh, I know what it is…Crystal! That’s it, isn’t it, Rock and Crystal!”

“What do you think of that, Crystal?” Maggie whispered in her ear, and Crystal finally erupted into wakeful tears.

The babies were changed and fed and the Bradley family and their guests gathered together in the family room, the afternoon turning into a celebration. Vince poured wine and offered to cook dinner, with Melinda volunteering to help, giving the ladies a chance to visit and play with the children. This in no way hindered Vince and Melinda from joining in the conversation, which they clearly heard from the kitchen, causing them to frequently emerge with a knife or spoon in hand to make a point.

“How’s Quaylyn? Did you give him our letter?” Maggie asked.

“Yes, and I’m sure he would have replied given the chance,” Rahlys said, explaining the circumstances of their departure.

“A member of your lost expedition was here,” Vince informed them coming out to join the conversation. Ilene and Rahlys were stunned by the news.

“Who?” they asked in near unison.

“Her name is Caleeza. She stayed in the schoolhouse.”

“I found her,” Leaf spoke up, excited about all the company and wanting to be part of the action.

“You will want to use the firewood on the right side of your woodshed first, Rahlys. The wood on the left side has been replaced with green wood,” Vince added quickly, returning to kitchen to stir his pot.

“Caleeza was second in command of the lost expedition,” Ilene said, having memorized the names of those they had searched for.

“What was she doing here? And where is she now?” Rahlys added.

“We’re not sure. Caleeza seemed to think she was in some kind of intermittent communication with another member of her expedition, Sarus, who was, supposedly, in the Crystalline Landscape,” Maggie tried to explain. “She said Sarus was trying to bring her home. Then, a couple of days ago, she vanished without a word.”

“Was this before or after Raven arrived?”

“Caleeza was here when Raven arrived. She recognized one of the men Raven saw before returning, another member of her expedition that had disappeared along the way. Did you find the rest of the lost expedition?” Maggie asked.

“We found only that one member of the lost expedition. He had been captured by the men Raven saw him with,” Rahlys said. “We also found a grave marker.”

“Dinner will be ready soon,” Vince said, refilling the ladies’ wine glasses as he and Melinda sat down to join them.

“I killed a wolf,” Leaf told the visitors proudly, stunning the crowd to silence.

“What?” Rahlys asked cautiously. She knew Leaf had started to demonstrate uncanny abilities before she left to go on the mission. He had even teleported to her house. What was Leaf capable of now?

“He saved Maggie’s life,” Vince added calmly. Rahlys could tell the subject was not an easy one for Maggie and steered the conversation to the birth of the twins. Vince, Maggie, and Melinda described the trip through a snowstorm the night the babies were born and the wonderful home coming George had arranged.

After a fabulous dinner of long-missed foods, Ilene and Rahlys took turns telling of their adventures. Ilene described the Community of the High Council and the Devastated Continent…the birth land of her father…with great fervor. And Rahlys told the story of the Rod of Destruction; its discovery in the Sooty Caves, Zayla’s death in the ruins of the Temple of Tranquility, and Brakalar’s later demise in the Crystalline Landscape. Long after the children had been put to bed, the friends…friends glad to be together again…continued to laugh and tell stories until well into the morning.


Ilene was pleasantly surprised to find the gift shop opened and her mother serving a customer. The scene helped to dispel some of the images she had harbored in her mind of her mother alone and depressed. She waited outside out of sight until the customer left before entering. Her mother looked up right away.

“Hi, Mom! I’m home!” Ilene announced, coming toward her.

“Ilene!” Elaine shook with emotion. “Ilene!” she cried, rushing to her. Elaine had never expected to see her daughter again; that she was here seemed nothing short of a miracle. Ilene embraced her mother for a long time, soothing her tremors.

“All is okay, Mom! I’m home and I won’t be leaving again for quite some time.”

Angela had her baby, a little boy she named Daniel,” Elaine said, when emotions subsided enough for her to speak. “She brought him by to visit.”

“That’s wonderful, I can’t wait to see him, and Angela, too.”

“Did…Theon return with you?” Elaine asked, using his real name.

“No,” Ilene said quietly, “he’s still there.” Ilene tried not to show her concern. “Have you kept the shop opened all winter?” she asked, focusing her attention on her mother, who seemed to have aged greatly while she was gone.

“No, the shop has been closed until this weekend,” Elaine admitted.

“We have a lot of catching up to do, Mom. What do you say I help you close up the shop and we order a pizza,” Ilene suggested.

Comfortably settled on the living room sofa, a half-eaten pizza on the coffee table, Ilene patiently answered all of her mother’s questions as she described her incredible adventures in vivid detail. Later that evening when mother and daughter were talked out, Ilene beckoned the holographic crystal from the painting still hanging on the wall. Ilene wanted to know what happened to Theon and the others after she and Rahlys returned to Earth. The glowing crystalline image darted across the room and spun around as though glad to be of service.

“Does Theon live?” Ilene asked, projecting her thoughts. She held her breath, fearful of the answer, as the ephemeral crystal blazed a sparkling path.


Ilene released an audible sigh of relief.

“Where is he?” she asked, now that she could breathe easier. The crystal zoomed about, blazing an answer across the room.


“Is he happy?” Ilene asked, a bit forlorn. It was a quick answer.


And with that, the crystal promptly returned to the painting.


Spring, a wonderful time of year! Trees leafing! New green shoots sprouting! So why don’t I feel as jubilant as I should, Rahlys wondered? May sunshine streamed in through the window, begging her to smile. Rahlys glanced at the painting in progress resting on her easel. It was not of budding leaves and boreal forest, but of a land far away with golden skies, lavender soils, zan fruit bushes, and zaota trees.

Mostly, she thought of Quaylyn and his teasing glacial blue eyes, his dimpled smile, and that boyish charm that often made her laugh. He had been through so much, yet his true nature had been re-emerging as the emotional wounds healed. A month has passed since the expedition, and still there is no news from Anthya, Rahlys fretted. Did the rest of the expedition make it safely out of the Crystalline Landscape? she wondered.

“Aaaaarrrk!” Raven called, drawing her attention. Throwing on a light jacket, she grabbed her uneaten apple slices and waltzed out into the sunshine. It felt unexpectedly warm, she thought, as Raven came in for a landing beside her.

“Nice spring day we are having here, my fine-feathered friend. What brings you for a visit?” A vision of her hand holding apple slices formed in her head.

“Here you go. You deserve them,” she said tossing the apple slices to him.


The oracle’s message resonated in her brain.

Quaylyn was coming! Suddenly, she felt flustered. How should she prepare? What should she do? Would he arrive in permanent or non-permanent physical time? Before she could give much thought to any of these considerations, Quaylyn appeared before her, casting a solid shadow in the bright sunlight.

“Aaaaarrrk!” Raven cried in startled greeting. Taking the last slice of apple with him, he flew up to the peak of the woodshed roof. Rahlys’ heart fluttered as Quaylyn took a step toward her.

“Greetings, Sorceress Rahlys, Guardian of the Light…light of my heart. It is my honor to serve,” Quaylyn greeted her, his dimpled smile lighting up blue eyes filled with love for her.

“Greetings, Warrior Quaylyn…warrior of my heart,” she whispered softly to him. “It’s a pleasure to be served.”

“I have something for you,” Quaylyn said, reaching into a large pouch that hung from his belt. He pulled out a much smaller one, made of woven zaota leaves, and handed it to her.

Rahlys opened the little pouch and poured the contents into her hand. She stared down at the star stone. It was accompanied by a note.

I promised I would give it back to you.


“How is Theon? Is he all right?”

“Theon is fine. He will probably outlive us all.”

“What about the others? Did everyone make it back safely? Did you find the rest of the lost expedition?”

“Moments after you and Ilene vanished, the rest of us arrived at the Academy gardens, bringing an abrupt end to the expedition.”

“So now the High Council has sent you to Earth on a new mission? What is your objective this time?”

“It’s a mission of the heart…and the High Council is not involved.” Quaylyn stepped closer, gently taking her hand.

Rahlys narrowed the gap between them, her heart pounding wildly, her vision blurred by tears. “Perhaps, you could tell me more about it.”

“I intend to,” Quaylyn said as their lips met, and Rahlys and Quaylyn fell into an urgent embrace.

“Aaaaarrrk!” Raven squawked in distaste and flew off over the leafing forest.

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.