Oracle of Light
By Cil Gregoire
Alaska Sci-Fi Queen
Ilene and Aaron hardly spoke to one another on the train ride back to town. After they disembarked and collected their baggage, Aaron headed off with his pack. “See you,” he mumbled, without so much as a glance.
Ilene glared at his retreating back. “What about the painting?” she shouted out to him, possessively eyeing the carefully packed bundle leaning against the pack at her feet.
“Keep it,” he said, and continued walking away without looking back.
Why is he so irritated all the time? Ilene wondered. We’re so good together, he should be happy. Aaron couldn’t even enjoy the camping trip, always fretting over one thing after another. She collected her pack and the painting and headed for the apartment over the gallery. The painting was hers, but as a precaution, she thought it best that her mother didn’t see it. Catching a glimpse of her mother downstairs in the gallery through the glass in the door, Ilene dashed by instead of going in to say hello, and hurried upstairs. Quickly she dropped her pack on the floor in her bedroom and slid the painting under her bed. Then catching a horrified glance at herself in the mirror, she rushed to the bathroom and washed her hands and face before making her way back downstairs to the gift shop.
“Well, there you are! How was the camping trip?” her mother greeted her when she entered the gallery/gift shop.
“It was great, but the mosquitoes were getting pretty bad at the end. They didn’t really bother me, but they nearly ate Aaron alive. How has business been?” she asked, changing the topic.
“Oh, slow, but steady. Are you ready to take a shift tomorrow? I need to go into town for some things.”
“Sure,” Ilene said agreeably. “Stay overnight if you want.”
Her mother gave her a questioning look. “Sounds like the camping trip was a good break.”
After a quiet mother-and-daughter evening of dinner at home and a movie, her mother left for town early the next day, leaving Ilene plenty of time to think while she tended the shop. It was easy enough to believe that Half Ear was actually Theon from another world, and Rahlys a powerful sorceress… while in the woods. The woods seemed to exude a magic of their own. It was not so easy to believe in magic under the heavy reality burden of town. Here magic and other worlds existed only in fantasy novels. Then she thought of the painting hidden under her bed, a painting too strangely unusual to leave exposed on the wall. She couldn’t risk her mother seeing the crystal leave the painting. It would raise too many questions she couldn’t answer.
All day Ilene watched for Aaron, hoping he would stop in at the shop. She was ready to forgive him for not telling her about Rahlys… and for not being liked by the crystal…but Aaron didn’t show up.
That evening, alone in the apartment, Ilene pulled out the painting from under her bed and brought it into the living room where she propped it up on a chair. As she stepped back, the crystal floated out into the room. “But I haven’t even called you out yet,” Ilene said. As though reprimanded, the hologram jumped back into two-dimensional space. But when she turned her back to it, the crystal left the painting again, drifting around aimlessly while Ilene settled comfortably on the sofa.
Would you like for me to ask more questions? Ilene asked. She was getting used to the idea of communicating with thought. At least she couldn’t be overheard.
‘YES,’ the crystal blazed in light across the room.
Let’s see, can you predict the future? Ilene asked, a little frightened by the thought.
‘NO,’ the crystal wrote.
Well, that was a bit of a relief. At least she didn’t have to worry about receiving bad news before it happened. Is Theon really from another world?
‘YES,’ it answered and on a second flyby underscored it as though sensing my doubt.
So Rahlys is a sorceress?
The holographic crystal zoomed up and down, back and forth, blazing words across the room. ‘RAHLYS POSSESSES ANTHYA’S POWERS.’ Ilene watched pensively as the words faded away.
Theon an alien, Rahlys a sorceress, could it be true, and just how far did the crystal’s knowledge go? There was one very important question she wanted to ask, the question that had remained unanswered all her life…but Ilene hesitated. Was she afraid of the answer? How would the crystal know anyway? Yet somehow she sensed it did.
The space on her birth certificate where a father’s name should have been written, had been left blank. Her mother told her he was dead, but she suspected he may still be alive. If he were dead she reasoned, her mother wouldn’t be so reluctant to reveal his identity. She tried asking about him numerous times, but whenever she brought up the topic, her mother snapped at her for no reason, so she always dropped the subject.
Would the crystal know the answer? It was worth a try. All she wanted was a name. At least she should have that much. Minutes passed while Ilene worked at building up her courage. Finally, staring at the softly twirling light, she took a deep breath.
Who is my father? She asked, bracing herself for the answer.
Quickly the crystal etched his name in light before her eyes. The letters blazed across the room, suspended in air, slow to dissipate.
Ilene’s heart raced as she absorbed the shock. Surely this was a mistake! Theon…Half Ear…If so, that meant that she…had… why it was simply unthinkable!
Is Elaine my real mother then?
Does Mother know Half Ear is Theon? She asked in shock.
A sudden knock on the door jarred the silence, causing her to jump.
In the blink of an eye, the crystal was back in the painting. Ilene hurried off with it, slipping it back under the bed. Forcing herself into a calm state, she went to the door. “Who is it?” she called out.
“It’s me, Aaron.”
Although she had looked for him all day, she wished now he hadn’t shown up. Still reeling over the crystal’s answer to the unanswerable question of her life, she opened the door.
“What do you want?” she asked rather abruptly.
“Can’t I come in?” Aaron looked surprised by the cool reception.
“Come in,” she said, trying to sound casual as she moved away from the door.
“Where’s your mother?”
“And the painting?” he asked looking around.
“Hidden in my room.”
“Look, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Rahlys. There’s nothing between us anymore,” he said, assuming her coolness was because she was still angry with him over this.
“Apology accepted. Anything else?”
That was easy enough, he thought. “So do you want to watch a movie?”
“No, I’m sorry, not tonight, I promised Mother I would spend some quality time with her.”
“But you said she’s in Anchorage.”
“Well, she is…or was, but I’m expecting her back any minute now.
Look, maybe tomorrow night. I have a lot to do right now before Mother gets back, okay?”
“Okay,” he said reluctantly and stepped into her, kissing her hungrily on the lips, his tongue probing her mouth. “But think about what you will be missing.” Then he turned and left, closing the door softly behind him. A part of her wanted to call him back. Instead, she went into the kitchen and fixed herself a drink.
Why had her mother kept her father’s identity a secret? Was it because she was ashamed to admit she had a child by Half Ear? Had he raped her? Her mind flashed back to the night of her high school graduation. Half Ear had come to her rescue when her date had tried to rape her. Had he used magic to watch over her? Perhaps he had been watching over her all her life.
Then a lightning-bolt thought hit her. I am half alien!
Suddenly Ilene felt weak with shock. And where was Theon…her father…now? He was going to offer Rahlys his help in defeating Droclum. He could be in great danger, she realized. It was possible she would never see him again.
Magically shrouded against the misty, cold rain, Theon stood on a deserted beach encircled by mountains, their tops clipped low by clouds. A few feet from him, a creek washed over the rocks on its way to the inlet. Hidden perched in tall alders that strangled the little creek, Raven sent back images. Dusk was closing in on the cloud shrouded bay as Theon pulled the dark medallion out of his pouch, its silvery runes glowing eerily. He shuddered over what he was about to do. Steeling his nerves, he focused upon the cold disc…cold despite its glow. Slowly, the medallion rose from his hand. Suspended in air, it began to turn, the silvery runes etched on its surface shimmering in the fading light. Theon focused on Droclum’s signature, seeking contact.
Rahlys, Vince, and Quaylyn watched Theon through the raven’s eyes from the safety of Rahlys’ front porch. Tightening her projection as wrenching-tight as she could, Rahlys sought Melinda’s signature, and found her sleeping soundly in her bunk on the Taku. The boat had not moved. Could she snatch Melinda out of there without even waking her? With extreme concentration, she focused on the crystal, waiting for the most opportune moment to make her move.
Then something was beginning to happen. A dark phantom, darker than the approaching night, permeated the air above Theon. He could feel the horror of Droclum’s presence, but stood firm in his resolve, as Droclum’s foulness swirled around him, stirring the air and rustling the nearby trees.
“So you search for me, Theon.” The resonating voice of the phantom filled the air.
“Greetings, Droclum, Master of Darkness! It is indeed I, Theon, your loyal and most trusted follower, Great One,” Theon said reverently, and took a little bow, “I am here to serve.”
Now! Rahlys commanded the crystal. With wrenching force Rahlys teleported to the Taku, defying earth’s mass, and breaking through magical barriers. With the aid of the crystal, Quaylyn followed her mentally, to help her pull away, if necessary.
Then Droclum bellowed as though mortally wounded. “Traitor!” he roared, detecting the ruse. Before Theon could react, a stunning blow caused the world to wink out, and he and the medallion dropped to the ground. With hideous speed the dark phantom was gone.
As Rahlys reached the Taku, a tremendous force struck her broadside, sending her spiraling down into pain. Bracing for a fall, she landed hard on the deck of the Taku, the impact intensifying the agony. Pain, instead of substance, made up her being. Quaylyn, help me! Rahlys struggled to remain conscious, struggled to gain control of the pain.
“I’ve lost contact with her!” Quaylyn cried in sudden anguish. Droclum had already barred shut the trap door.
Leaving the sanctuary of the alders, Raven flew to Theon, lying prone on the beach. Taking Vince with him, Quaylyn quickly teleported to Theon’s unmoving form on the drizzly cold beach. Still listening and searching mentally for Rahlys, he helped Vince to carefully roll Theon over and check for vitals.
“He’s still alive,” Quaylyn said. With Theon in tow, he teleported them back to Rahlys’ cabin.
After the others were gone, Raven waddled over to the dark medallion left behind on the deserted beach. The silvery runes etched upon it still held a low phosphorous glow as it lay on the pebbly shore. Raven gave it a perfunctory peck. There was no response. Then he pecked at it again. Still nothing. After staring at the disc for some time, Raven picked up the medallion with his beak…just as Quaylyn teleported him home. Arriving in the tree above the bears’ favorite picnic site on Rahlys’ creek, Raven dropped the dark disc into the empty nest…for safe keeping.
Vince and Quaylyn settled Theon as comfortably as they could on the daybed downstairs. “Shouldn’t we take him to a hospital?” Vince asked.
“No, your doctors wouldn’t know what to do for him, and if tested, his genetic makeup could raise serious questions. We must do for him what we can. Regrettably, I am not a healer.”
Quaylyn and Vince sat by Theon and waited. The hours passed tortuously slow, without change. There was no sign of Rahlys and all efforts to reach her telepathically failed. By early morning Theon still had not moved…and Rahlys still had not returned. Exhausted, Vince teleported, with Quaylyn’s help, home to Maggie and woke her to give her the bad news. Assuming the worse, Maggie sobbed brokenheartedly overcome with grief.
Quaylyn watched diligently over the unmoving form of Theon, formerly an inhabitant of his own world. Theon had lived during the legendary time of the great Sorceress Anthya and Droclum…before the Dark Devastation…when their world had been greatly populated and held great wonders. What had caused a man like Theon to follow an evil master like Droclum, Quaylyn couldn’t help but wonder.
Vince and Maggie arrived by four-wheeler at Rahlys’ cabin as another gray day loomed, ragged with grief. “Rahlys is not dead,” Quaylyn assured them. When magicians die, their current spells die with them. I can still detect the protective shield that surrounds us; therefore, Rahlys still lives.”
“Quaylyn is right,” They heard a weak, whispery voice from the direction of the daybed. “Rahlys is alive.” Theon opened his eyes, turning his head to face them.
“She’s still alive!” Clutching Vince’s shirtsleeve, joy leapt to Maggie’s heart, brightening her sorrowful face. Quaylyn quickly brought Theon water as they gathered around him.
“How are you feeling?” Vince asked.
Vince held Theon’s head up while Quaylyn brought the cup to his lips so he could drink. “Thank you,” Theon said when he laid his head back down.
“How do we find Rahlys?” Vince asked. “Do you have any ideas?”
“Where is my pouch?” Theon asked. Vince reached for it, hanging on a chair, and handed it to him. With feeble hands, Theon reached inside, and pulled out a tiny, thin, plain box, made of an unknown substance, and handed it to Quaylyn. “This belongs to you,” he said still clutching his pouch. “I feared I wouldn’t live to return it to you.”
Decidedly puzzled, Quaylyn took the little box without comment and attempted to open it, his large fingers fumbling with the miniscule latch. Failing that, he held it out in his hand and opened it magically. The tiny lid lifted up on its even tinier hinges and fell open. Quaylyn reached in and pulled out a delicate golden chain, and studied it intently in silence. A tiny silvery rune hung from the chain…glowing ghostly from his touch. “I do not recognize this as mine,” he said finally, still obviously confused.
Ignoring Quaylyn’s denial of ownership, Theon continued on, his voice becoming stronger with the need to explain. “It was given to you by your mother. You were wearing it when your father stole you away from her.”
Quaylyn gasped in horror, “I am certain my chosen father did no such thing!”
“You do not have a chosen father…or a chosen mother. You are the illicit son of Sorceress Anthya and Droclum!”
The gasps that then filled the room were emitted from the throats of Maggie and Vince. Quaylyn stood silent, too stunned to speak. He stared unseeing at the golden chain and rune entwined in his fingers, his head exploding with lack of comprehension. Looking as though he would fall, Maggie eased him into a chair. “How can Droclum and Anthya be Quaylyn’s parents?” she asked.
“I can tell you only as much as I know.” Theon closed his eyes as though keeping them open required too much effort. “Droclum and Anthya were the most talented magicians the Academy had seen since the creation of the Crystal Table. They entered the Academy around the same time. Droclum was infatuated with Anthya from the start, but she would have little to do with him. Even then she must have sensed that his ambitions were evilly dangerous. But Droclum couldn’t handle rejection, and ultimately committed an unthinkable act. You were the result,” Theon said, straining to look at Quaylyn, but Quaylyn didn’t lift his gaze from the tangle of gold chain. Theon closed his eyes in a strength-gathering pause, then opened them again and continued.
“Of course, Droclum was expelled from the Academy. Actually, he simply walked out; the formal expulsion came later. For her protection probably, Anthya was assigned her First Mission by the High Council to the Temple of Tranquility. It was there that you were eventually born.” Theon strained to look at Quaylyn, this time he got a response.
“It’s not true,” Quaylyn said defiantly. The tiny rune symbol brightened in his hand in protest, causing Quaylyn’s voice to quaver. “How would you know this?”
“Because I was there.” Theon’s voice rasped dryly. Vince reached for the cup and holding Theon up with one arm, helped him drink. Then Theon cleared his throat and continued on.
“I first met Droclum soon after his expulsion from the Academy. Not as talented as he, I became caught up in his quest for power, and we bonded together quickly. I had already become defiant toward current social values because of my own shortcomings, and Droclum promised great things. Having shirked all sense of responsibility, we entertained ourselves by wreaking havoc, and stole all that we wanted. Soon there was a band of us, and Droclum being the most talented, became our leader. It was a jolly, adventurous time,” Theon reminisced wistfully, “but it didn’t last long. Droclum’s power was great, and so was his ambition.” Theon’s eyes looked dreamy and distant…when you could see them at all.
“As Droclum became maliciously more formidable, he sought out Anthya, hoping to impress her with his strength and power…and notoriety. It couldn’t have been easy for Droclum to break through the magic that protected the temple, but eventually he did so, and when he finally found her…he also found you.” Again Theon struggled to look at Quaylyn. “Of course, Anthya still disdained him totally, but Droclum found a new interest…his son.”
“How did Droclum,” he couldn’t say the words ‘my father,’ “steal me from my mother?” Quaylyn’s curiosity was a first stage of acceptance of facts.
Theon sighed softly. “The Temple of Tranquility should have been impregnable, but inexplicably, Droclum managed to transport us to the side of your crib. It was I who lifted you out of the crib, because of the necklace he dared not touch you.” Theon leaned toward Quaylyn, then in exhaustion let his head fall back on the pillow.
“When we arrived back at our hideout, Droclum had me lay you in a strange capsule, padded inside, that he had prepared, and commanded me to remove the rune from around your neck…which I did. But still, he never touched you. Not once did he caress your soft downy head, or brush a finger against your smooth cheeks. He made no attempt to hold you in his arms. Not once.” Theon turned toward Quaylyn again. “What happened to you after that, I don’t rightly know, for suddenly the capsule sealed shut, and then you and the capsule were gone.”
“What about my mother? Didn’t she look for me?” Quaylyn asked.
“As the galaxies expand in the universe, your mother searched for you, but you were never found. Failing at that, she turned her focus on destroying your father, making it her life ambition.” Theon’s eyes caught another glimpse of light from the rune hanging on the chain in Quaylyn’s hand.
“Droclum instructed me to get rid of the little chain and rune, but instead of destroying it, I kept it in safe keeping. I was never quite able to part with it.” Theon paused. “You can’t imagine my surprise when I found you here. You are nowhere near as old as you should be, but your signature is undeniable.”
“If Anthya created the magic in the necklace, and she is dead, why does the rune still glow when Quaylyn touches it?” Maggie asked. “Shouldn’t her current spells have died with her?”
“Some spells are designed to outlive their creator, or creators, usually with an object involved to hold the magic, in the same way Anthya’s magic was transferred to Rahlys via the crystal Oracle.” Drained from the prolonged effort, and in need of rest, Theon fell back into his pillow, his eyes shut.
Melinda was awakened by a loud thud as something hit the deck hard. To her surprise, the Taku swayed and rocked, tugging violently at its anchor. Surely there were no storms underground! She heard something that sounded like wind, and sensed the cloying evil that was Droclum. Struggling out of the bedding with flashlight in hand, she staggered to the control panel in the wheelhouse, hit the engine start button, and switched on the running lights. Tendrils of wispy blackness swirled away from the Taku, fleeing the light’s feeble effort to beat back the darkness. The usually tranquil water of the flooded cavern frothed with agitation, and hideous laughter echoed like thunder through the cavern.
Struggling to maintain balance in the pitching boat, her heart pounding madly, Melinda ran to the door of the cabin, flinging it open. Sprawled on the deck lay the unmoving figure of a woman, whom she assumed had to be the sorceress Rahlys. Melinda crawled to her, nudging her frantically.
Sorceress Rahlys, wake up! Please! She didn’t know if the honorific was necessary, but didn’t want to take the chance of maybe angering the sorceress by not addressing her properly.
“I have you now, Sorceress Rahlys, Guardian of the Light!” the voice of evil boomed. Hideous laughter echoed through the chamber, reverberating off the walls of the cavern…and then Droclum was gone. The agitated sea relaxed, the air calmed, and the Taku stopped its frantic tossing about, all quietly dark once again, except for the hum of the motor and the pale illumination from the running lights.
Rahlys tried to focus her mind as pain racked her body. Where was she? It took all her might to deal with the pain as she lay unmoving, no strength left to open her eyes. She could sense someone nearby, jabbing the pain. It was Melinda’s signature.
Wake up, please! He was here. He’ll come back.
Rahlys moaned as she tried to move.
Wake up! Wake up! Melinda cried fervently, shaking Rahlys harder with greater determination to rouse her.
Melinda, I’m awake. Just give me a moment. The painful jabbing and shaking stopped. Then without warning, a great wave of water curled over the stern of the boat, and cascaded frigidly over them. Drenched, Rahlys shivered alert, opening her eyes. With Melinda offering support, Rahlys worked to get her elbows and knees under her. Then gritting her teeth, she stood with Melinda’s help, certain she would have been down on the deck again if it were not for Melinda’s guiding hands placing her own on convenient handholds. Rahlys held on to the handrail as she fought to gain stability and control of the unceasing pain. The sea became rough again, and the Taku bucked in agitation. Tendrils of darkness stirred the air around them and Droclum’s hideous essence seeped into their senses.
What are we going to do? Melinda cried, as Droclum’s noxious presence choked and gagged them.
“I’m not sure. Maybe you should go inside.” Melinda did not move. Droclum’s voice rumbled like an angry storm, drowning out the sound of the engine.
“Surrender now, Rahlys, and I’ll let your little friend go!” his gruesome laughter chilling their blood to ice water.
No, don’t! Melinda cried telepathically. Rahlys realized that Melinda had yet to speak vocally. Was the child mute?
“Listen to the girl. You cannot escape. Give me the crystal, and I’ll give you the girl.”
“Never!” Rahlys bellowed into the wind, grabbing Melinda. She could see the interior of the boat through the porthole window, and gathering her strength, teleported them inside before the next, larger wave broke over the deck. The Taku shuddered and reeled, and the anchor line snapped sending the boat spinning undecidedly in unanchored freedom.
We’re moving! Melinda shouted mentally as the Taku dipped and rose in the maelstrom as it resumed its journey forward. Instinctively, Rahlys grabbed the wheel, but it was a fruitless effort. Then there was a low, foreboding rumble underscoring the sound of the engine, the turbulence, and Droclum’s hideous cackle. At first it was difficult to tell where it was coming from, until boulders came crashing down into the water around them.
“It’s an earthquake!” Rahlys shouted above the din.
“Move back,” the oracle warned.
Rahlys pulled Melinda against the door just as a boulder dropped on the bow and front of the wheelhouse, shattering the windows, and smashing through the roof. Boulders dropped like guillotines, piercing the deck behind them.
“Give me the crystal!” the booming voice demanded again as rocks showered around them, their impact adding to the turmoil of the water. Rahlys searched for an avenue of escape, but Droclum’s trap enclosed them…except below…where there was only stone and water. Drawing on the molecular power around her, Rahlys deflected falling boulders that threatened to strike them.
We’re taking on water, Melinda cried out silently, pointing frantically at the swirling water that could be seen in the bilge through the gash in the cabin floor. Complacently the bilge pump kicked on.
It’s not going to matter, Rahlys telepathed back. Look! Melinda stared where Rahlys pointed in horror. Ahead of them, as though someone had pulled the plug out of the bathtub, a giant whirlpool filled the cavern, spiraling down…and they were headed right for it.
“Last chance to save the girl,” the swirling darkness echoed above them. Melinda stood paralyzed with fear.
Melinda, listen to me, Rahlys clutched the girl’s arms. We’re going to be alright. I have a plan, she telepathed tightly to the terrified child.
What is it? Melinda looked around doubtfully. Oh, no! We are going to go down the whirlpool.
It’s going to be alright.
No, Melinda said again, still not convinced.
“Melinda, listen to me. I need you to be brave.” Rahlys shook the frightened girl gently, trying to get her focused attention. “I need you to hold on to me tightly, and don’t let go, no matter what.”
“So am I,” Rahlys answered honestly.
The Taku reached the fringes of the whirlpool, and started to circle around its huge sucking gullet. There was no beach to escape to, no protrusions to grab on to…nowhere else to go, for Rahlys detected Droclum’s spells all around them…except down. As the boat whirled around the outer perimeter of the whirlpool, it listed to starboard, picking up speed. Suddenly, the engine died and the lights went out. All went dark, and quiet, except for the sucking sound of the whirlpool. Droclum’s evil presence oozed around them in the darkness, relishing their demise.
In terror, Melinda clung to Rahlys as they made their way through the darkness on what remained of the deck of the Taku, hugging close to the cabin while hanging on to the railing, until they reached the starboard side of the boat. By now, the Taku was riding low in the water. Hold on to me, Rahlys stressed again, although she doubted she could pry the girl loose if she wanted to. When I say jump, we jump.
We’re going to drown, Melinda whimpered fearfully.
No, we’re not, but you have to trust me.
Rahlys focused tightly on the crystal, snug in the pouch she wore around her neck. Take us safely through the whirlpool, providing us with air, she said, weaving her spell. And find us a safe passage out of here, Rahlys directed the crystal. Then drawing on her strength of will and determination, she hugged Melinda to her and gave the command. Quickly Rahlys cast a spell of concealment.
They didn’t so much jump, as Rahlys teleported them into the water. It was shockingly cold. If Droclum’s trap didn’t extend underground beneath the hidden sea, it was possible they could escape through a hole under the fence. Without resurfacing, they sped downward, an aura of breathable air surrounding their faces. Rahlys cast a spell of warmth around them. As the water and the crystal pulled them downward, they no longer felt Droclum’s presence as his magic receded in the distance above them.
She could feel Melinda holding on to her for dear life, but after several breaths of air…instead of water, Melinda’s panic subsided a little. Rahlys conjured the crystal out of its pouch.
Light, she said, and felt Melinda’s gasp as the crystal lit the way in front of them. Magic pulled them rapidly along through a channel of swirling, tumbling water, the river of water weaving its way through rock, branching and bending in its course. Their progress was rapid, and before too long, they landed in a shallow underground river flowing between rocky shores.
Immediately Rahlys cast another protective shield against detection. She and Melinda crawled out of the water onto the rocks, the crystal still hovering over them, providing them with light.
Had they escaped Droclum’s trap, Rahlys wondered. Perhaps the cage had only been over them, and not under. Hopefully they had covered enough lateral distance to clear it. Carefully, Rahlys probed for Droclum’s magical barriers, but she detected nothing. The crystal continued to hover nearby providing light, as Rahlys magically dried them out. She could read Melinda’s astonishment over all that had happened.
Awesome! Melinda smiled, amazed at being warm and dry…and having light…not to mention a companion! It felt good to smile again. For Melinda, Rahlys’ presence did as much to dispel the darkness as the light of the crystal. She had been scared and alone for such a long time.
“Are you alright?”
Unable to detect anything threatening, Rahlys made up her mind.
“Melinda, take my hand. We are going to get out of here,” she said standing up. Eagerly Melinda stood and placed her hand in hers. Then Rahlys closed her eyes and drawing on the elemental forces around her, she envisioned home…the porch, the creek, and the summer green of the forest.
The next moment they were there, standing in front of her log cabin in the woods, the crystal hovering nearby. As though in greeting, the rain stopped and the clouds torn asunder, releasing the sun to paint a rainbow across the sky. Abounding with joy, Rahlys turned to Melinda.
Oh, Melinda sighed, her eyes tearing at her first sight of sunlight in over two months. Living green grass, trees, and blooming flowers filled the space surrounding her. A gentle breeze blew fresh air into her tearstained face as vanishing clouds unveiled more blue sky, and the heat of the sun caressed her face. With wonderment in her eyes, Melinda turned to Rahlys who grabbed her up in her arms.
“Ah ha!” Rahlys cried jubilantly, swinging Melinda around in triumph. Soon the cabin door opened, and people tumbled out.
“RAHLYS!” Maggie cried running to her with Vince close behind. They fell upon her, overcome with joy. Melinda stepped back shyly. “Oh, Rahlys, you made it, you’re back.” Maggie hugged her, laughing through her tears. Quaylyn stepped out on the porch, but he neither spoke nor approached her in greeting.
Then Rahlys reached for her shy young companion, and stood behind her. “Everyone, this is Melinda!”