Anthya’s World – Chapter 3

Anthya’s World
Oracle of Light
By Cil Gregoire

Chapter 3
Anthya’s World

Across the great bulging center of the Milky Way galaxy, safely nestled between two of its spiraling radial arms of stars and star-making materials, a yellow sun, half again the mass of Sol, provides a wide habitable zone for its one orbiting planet. Basking in the heat of its glorious sun, the golden planet, slightly more massive than Earth, boasts of oceans, land masses, and life.

Over hundreds of thousands of Earth-years, the intelligent life-forms evolved mentally, learning to use the neurons and processing power of their brains to do work by drawing molecular energy from the elemental forces around them. Of course, ability varied, and eventually power turned to greed…until nearly twelve thousand Earth-years ago, greed led to the near destruction of their world. Like a dog scratching at unwanted fleas, the entire planet shuddered with Mt. Vatre’s violent eruptions, nearly eradicating life altogether, totally transforming one land mass now known as the Devastated Continent.

Unreachable by teleportation, the new virgin territory remained vastly unexplored for thousands of Earth-years. Descendant from the handful of human survivors of the Dark Devastation, Sarus had the honor of leading the second expedition from the now known world to the vastly unknown on the other side of the globe. The first expedition launched by the Academy to the Devastated Continent hundreds of Earth-years earlier reached inland only as far as the Crescent Mountains, sharp, unassailable peaks that curved protectively around the interior of the continent. But the goals of Sarus’ expedition had been far more aggressive. Its targeted destination had been Mt. Vatre itself, or what was left of it, far beyond the Crescent Mountains.

A dull throbbing in his head brought Sarus slowly back to awareness. He wanted to reach up and touch the spot that ached, but had not yet regained enough consciousness to make the mental connection to the muscles in his hands and arms. Increasing awareness brought increasing physical pain…followed by immense emotional sorrow and despair.

They had been seven in the expedition he led to the Devastated Continent starting out, all highly accomplished, strong, and eager to explore, but one mysterious disappearance followed another until they were only two. For rotations, he and Caleeza had struggled on, hiking, climbing, and sometimes crawling on hands and knees through a rambling landscape of jumbled crystal rocks, columns, and boulders, some the size of houses, in an attempt to reach the slopes of Mt. Vatre. And they were so close; the dark jagged peaks of Mt. Vatre had been visible before becoming shrouded in storm clouds.

Sarus opened dark, midnight blue eyes haunted by failure, and looked around. Cloudy skies above grew ominously darker, storm-threatening. He lifted his head to search for Caleeza, but a sharp stab of pain behind his eyes blinded him momentarily. When the pain subsided, he tried again, managing to sit up. Looking around, he searched for her, but she was not in sight. She had been standing right beside him before the ground quaked. So where was she now?


Shouting made his head hurt more. Gingerly, Sarus struggled to his feet, straightening his badly bruised and somewhat gaunt body; he and Caleeza had been surviving on food tablets for far too long. “Caleeza!” he called again.

The wind picked up, blowing his words away. “Caleeza, where are you? Answer me!” Sarus could not stifle the rising anger and fear in his voice. There was no answer. He was alone.

He had seen Caleeza fall forward, vanishing into oblivion when the sharp, rugged, crystalline landscape jolted him off his feet. Was her disappearance tied in with the ground quake, or was the simultaneous occurrence of the two events merely happenstance? She hadn’t vanished into an opening in the ground, or over the edge of a drop. Like Selyzar and Caponya before her, she had suddenly winked out of existence. He knew they had not simply teleported to another location because unexplained forces on the devastated continent prevented anyone from drawing on the elemental forces.

Sarus stood defiantly against the rising wind that whipped his long burnished brown hair thrashing his face and coal gray cloak entangling his legs. The whole expedition was lost. One by one, the members of his team had either lost their mind or inexplicably vanished altogether. They had been seven in number when they started out, and now he was all that was left.

Sarus took a step forward and stopped, his determination shattered. Why go on? The expedition had ventured deeply into the continent. He had been determined to reach the base of the shattered mountain, but now with the loss of Caleeza, he felt no incentive to go on. What was the point of going on…alone? Sudden pelting rain dampened the last of his forward drive, and he scrambled to find shelter.

Wrapped in his cloak for warmth and squeezed onto a crystal ledge under a crystal overhang for shelter, Sarus stared out into the pouring rain, drowning in the expedition’s long string of failures. His mission had been to explore and commune with the devastated continent and then return to the High Council and report his findings and results. There was much to report, but none of it was good. Mysterious, unknown forces were at work in the lands of the Dark Devastation, forces that prevented the members of his expedition from tapping into the elemental energy that made telepathy and telekinesis possible, forces that had taken the mind of one member of his team, and may have been responsible for the disappearance of the others. Painful grief clutched his heart; he fought to recover.

I must turn back. If he turned back now, would he make it out alive? Perhaps, on the return trip, he could find some of those who had vanished. The return of the expedition was long overdue. What if the High Council sent out another expedition to search for us? I should return and warn about the dangers.

Sarus stared listlessly out over the desolate crystalline landscape, the storm expressing his rage. Eventually, exhaustion overcame grief and despair, and the rain lulled him into a deep sleep. While Sarus slept, the storm’s energy flowed through the crystal quarry, connecting to neurons in Sarus’ brain, and he began to dream.

The storm raged on for several rotations before it spent itself out. Finally, the sky lightened and the sun broke through, sending the fragmented clouds away. Catching the sunlight, the crystals, large and small, lost their dull grayish pall to the sparkling sunshine, and they began to glow softly in ever-changing colors. The colors grew in intensity and the crystals began to hum. Sarus continued to dream in a deep sleep on the crystal ledge.


The Order of the Oracle assembled in Rahlys’ yard, prepared for departure, or there to say good-bye. The cold drizzle had stopped, and a cool breeze skittered away the last remnants of clouds. Gleaming sunshine brought out the increasing encroachment of fall color, giving the woods a festive aura. A flock of geese honked their way south in a brilliantly blue sky as the group stood around in quiet anticipation, having said their goodbyes a hundred times over.

Ilene gently wrapped her arms around Theon in an attempt to quell her feelings of sadness. Her mother had refused their invitation to see them off in the woods, but she had made peace with them and reluctantly gave them her blessings. It had been difficult to see her mother cry as they said their goodbyes. To ease the heartache, Ilene tried to picture a scene of joy upon her return, but a realization of the actual likelihood of that ever happening brought on renewed heartache.

“Are you all right?” Theon asked, patting her hand. She knew he could read her anxiety, but she nodded to him reassuringly.

For good luck, Melinda said, handing Rahlys the smooth translucently golden stone she and Raven had found in the creek. Rahlys gave her a hug.

“Thank you. What a strangely beautiful stone!” she exclaimed, looking at it closely. “Where did you find it?”

Raven spotted it in the creek; I fished it out.

“Aaaarrrk!” Raven confirmed from the woodshed roof.

“It will be a wonderful reminder of you, and of home,” Rahlys reassured her, dropping the stone into a pouch of her pack containing a lighter and a small pocket knife, habit from living in the woods, and Vince and Maggie’s letter to Quaylyn. Theon had instructed them to pack light, so like the others, Rahlys carried only a small pack with a change of clothes, toiletries, and a few personal items. The beaded pouch containing the Oracle of Light she wore from her belt.

Anthya approaches!

The oracle’s message was received by all. Waiting for Anthya’s appearance, Vince, Maggie, Melinda, and Leaf were grouped together, the picture-perfect family, until Leaf dashed after a fluttering moth in the warming sunshine. Raven paced back and forth on the woodshed roof, nearly dancing a two-step, while Rahlys paced the few steps between Maggie and Vince, and Ilene and Theon.

Then Anthya appeared standing before them, her slate blue gown shimmering in the diminishing breeze and glimmering sunlight. “Greetings Sorceress Rahlys, Guardian of the Light, and members of the Order of the Oracle. I see you are ready to travel.”

“Greetings, Councilor Anthya. Yes, we are ready. The three warriors I have chosen to accompany me are Theon, his daughter Ilene, and Raven.”

“Very good choices,” Anthya said, giving her approval. “Are there any questions before we set out?”

“I have one,” Ilene spoke up. All eyes turned toward her, but she spoke boldly, “What will it be like traveling in permanent physical time? What does it feel like? What will we see?”

“It is somewhat different for everyone,” Anthya responded carefully. “To some, arriving at their destination is like waking up from a short nap. Others experience wakefulness and see kaleidoscopic colors and zooming stars. While traveling, one’s sense of time becomes distorted. The journey may seem to last for a brief moment…or an eternity.”

“I’m ready,” Rahlys said after a quiet moment. Theon and Ilene agreed.

“Aaaaaark!” Raven cawed in sync.

“Then, it is time for us to leave. Just relax, and we will be on our way.” Rahlys took a deep breath to calm her, and with that, Anthya, Rahlys, Theon, Ilene, and Raven disappeared.

They’re gone. Maggie could feel Melinda’s sadness and placed a comforting arm around her, giving her a little hug.

“That was sort of sudden, wasn’t it? But imagine all the great stories we will have to tell when we are reunited.”

They will have great stories to tell, not us.

Maggie lifted Melinda’s chin and gazed into her tear-moist eyes. “We will have great stories to tell, too. You will see.” Melinda gave Maggie a weak smile and dried her eyes on her sleeves.

“Who wants to ride?” Vince called out. He started up the four-wheeler and Melinda and Leaf piled on.

“I’ll walk,” Maggie volunteered with a playfully conniving smile, “especially if you have the kids.” She wanted some time alone, to adjust to the idea of Rahlys being away.

“I drive,” Leaf announced, perched up on the front edge of the seat, his arms extended to reach the handlebars. Vince climbed on, maneuvering himself between Leaf in front and Melinda seated behind him.

“I’ll meet you half way. After I drop the kids off at the house, I’ll turn around and come back for you.”

Maggie smiled lovingly at her husband’s back as he headed down the trail.


Rahlys felt disembodied, void of physical substance, removed from time and space, speeding across the universe. She could see no one, only stars streaking by. She experienced no fear, no joy, no wonderment, only a state of unsubstantiated existence. She was in between nowhere and everywhere. Then she heard a voice speaking to her.

“Greetings, Sorceress Rahlys, Guardian of the Light.”

Rahlys squinted in bright hot sunshine radiating from a large golden sun that seemed to fill more sky than it should. She felt sluggish and heavy like she had put on ten pounds from holiday eating and unfamiliar perfumed scents assailed her senses. She fought a moment of lightheadedness as her eyes focused on the elegant lady of stunning presence greeting her. The lady was dressed in a light, shimmering silvery white gown of dignified beauty and stood in an unearthly exotic garden. Strongly lean and imbued with quiet aged wisdom, she appeared capable of competing victoriously in both mental and physical combat.

“I am Councilor Zayla. Welcome to our world.”

Shielding her eyes from the sun, Rahlys looked around for the others. She found Ilene, Theon, and Anthya standing close by in the vast flower garden of incredible splendor. Then, to her relief, she finally spotted Raven perched on what looked like the back of a crystal park bench.

“Greetings, Councilor Zayla. Thank you for inviting us to your world. May I introduce my warriors?”

Zayla smiled warmly, “Please do. I wish greatly to meet them.”

“This is Warrior Theon,” Rahlys said, pointing to Theon standing next to her.

“Greetings, Warrior Theon. We have a lot of catching up to do.”

“My lady,” Theon bowed graciously. “I’m surprised you remember me. It has been a long time. You couldn’t have been much older than my daughter Ilene here, last we met.”

“What happened to your ear?” Zayla asked.

“My ear…oh, yes, I had an encounter with a bear, big burly beast…bit my ear right off.” Anthya and Zayla exchanged a knowing smile. There had been no bear. Anthya had singed that ear in a carefully placed shot of energy hurled at him back when he was still a follower of Droclum.

“May I introduce my daughter, Ilene?” Theon nudged Ilene to approach the councilor, but she was immobilized by awe. The daunting presence of the dark lady with long flowing graying hair left Ilene speechless. She gazed enthralled into Zayla’s dark eyes brimming with calm wisdom.

“Greetings, Ilene, daughter of Theon.” Ilene felt a gentle mental touch, almost a caress. “You have a talent for healing. We will provide you with some training. A healer will be a valuable asset on our expedition.”

“Thank you,” Ilene whispered. That, with a little curtsy, was all she could manage.

She said ‘our expedition’ Rahlys noted. Does that mean Councilor Zayla will be accompanying us?


Everyone’s attention turned toward Raven growing increasingly uncomfortable in the hot sun and strange garden. Taking a step on the back of the crystal bench, he crouched into a launch, spreading his wings in flight, with a bit of uncertainty at first, but soon gaining altitude.

“Oh, how beautiful!” Zayla exclaimed, her eyes following Raven in wonderment and delight. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen a creature in flight.”

“Is there anything out there that can hurt him?” Rahlys asked with concern.

“There is nothing for Raven to fear,” Anthya said. “He has the sky to himself.”

As Raven flew over the unfamiliar landscape, he sent images telepathically back to Rahlys of a bright, colorful landscape of yellow, orange, rose, blue-green, and lavender foliage, stone, and crystal. The flower garden was one of many large courtyards of parks, meadows, orchards, and fields, surrounded by stone and crystal dwellings that melded into the surrounding terrain of hills and forests.

“Life forms that had the ability to fly became extinct on our world during the period of the Dark Devastation. The skies have been empty for a span of time equal to about 12,000 of your Earth-years.”

Rahlys stared at Councilor Zayla in astonishment. A life-sustaining world without birds was unimaginable. She searched the skies looking for movement to prove her wrong, but nothing stirred except for Raven. Raven circled back from his excursion, seeking shade close to Rahlys, and landed in a nearby tree with long curvy branches and large blue-green leaves with silvery serrated edges.

Wonderful! What a magnificent creature you are! Zayla praised him. Raven strutted with pride along the branch. “If you are ready, it is time to enjoy some cool shade, and meet the other members of the expedition.”

Rahlys and Ilene breathed an audible sigh of relief as they followed the rest of the group through a vine-covered arbor to a peaceful setting of crystal benches by quiet pools in dappled shade.

Rahlys spotted Quaylyn seated with another gentleman. They were both dressed in loose, lightweight pants and short-sleeved white tunics v-necked in front, and sandals on their feet. Rahlys and her warriors looked out of place in their cotton flannel shirts and denim jeans and were becoming increasingly uncomfortable in the heat.

Quaylyn stood and took a step toward her as she approached. With eyes locked on each other, she walked right up to him. She wanted to throw her arms around him in greeting, but dared not do so because of his austere demeanor.

“Greetings, Sorceress Rahlys, Guardian of the Light. I am here to serve you.”

Rahlys, stunned by the formality of his salutation with hardly a smile, took a step back. The solemn man standing before her looked like the Quaylyn she remembered, but hardly resembled the boldly optimistic, boyishly endearing adventurer warrior she once knew.

“I am very pleased to see you again, Rahlys,” Quaylyn added gently when she failed to speak.

“It is so good to see you again, Quaylyn. Are you all right?” she asked with real concern.

“Yes, of course. So you let the council talk you into this mission. Why?”

“What do you mean, why? Why are you going on this mission?” Rahlys asked with some indignation.

“It is my responsibility to right my father’s wrongs as best I can. Allow me to introduce you to another member of the expedition.” Stunned by the change in him, Rahlys did not protest when he lead her toward a stern-looking seasoned warrior.

“Sorceress Rahlys, this is Councilor Brakalar, head master of the Academy. He is also the leader of our expedition.”

“Greetings, Sorceress Rahlys. Thank you for joining us.” Rahlys glanced at hard, cold, restless eyes in a harsh, unemotional face, until a brief smile brought welcomed warm relief.

“Greetings, Councilor Brakalar. Thank you for having me.”

“Brakalar and Zayla were on the first mission to the Devastated Continent,” Quaylyn informed her, “…and found me.” Rahlys didn’t miss the emotional turmoil in Quaylyn’s tone.

Rahlys stared at Brakalar with interest. Every member of the expedition was connected in some intricate way, she mused. All of their lives were entwined. Theon had been Droclum’s closest companion, and Ilene was Theon’s daughter. Quaylyn was Droclum’s son. Anthya had been present when Quaylyn’s mother created the Oracle of Light, the crystal in Rahlys’ pouch. Raven, her familiar, found the crystal in Alaska, along the Susitna River, and brought it to her. Brakalar and Zayla found the infant Quaylyn encapsulated in suspended animation during the first expedition into the badlands. And they were all joined together here today because Droclum had, for a time, defied death.

“Sarus, the leader of the lost expedition, was Brakalar’s student and colleague,” Quaylyn said, tightening the connection.

“Won’t it be hard on the High Council and the Academy if so many of you leave to go on this expedition?” Rahlys asked.

“It will only open opportunities for others,” Brakalar said, surprised by her question. “There are always new opportunities. I am where I am meant to be, same as you. We have been chosen by the power of the Runes of the Crystal Table; our destiny is set.”

But Rahlys had chosen her three warriors. Had the Runes of the Crystal Table foreseen her choices?

“Quaylyn, my buddy,” Theon greeted with robust informality, joining them with Ilene in tow. “Good to see you again. How has life been treating you?” Theon’s animated salutations hardly sparked a response from Quaylyn’s cool demeanor.

“Greetings, Warrior Theon! May I present Councilor Brakalar?” If Quaylyn’s greeting was cool, Brakalar’s was downright cold.

“Warrior Theon,” Brakalar barely nodded in greeting. “Might I add I’m a bit surprised you decided to show your face here again?”

“Brakalar, good to see you, too!”

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.