Many millennia ago Laud asked for a volunteer to live on the planet of Dracwald and guard the Prophecy of Solsyl. Jeremiah Holyfield, immortal member of the Conscientia volunteered and for many years lives as the Reverend in a small village. The Prophecy of Solsyl tells of the demise of Narciss, the demon dragon who rules Tartarus. When Narciss learns of its existence he declares he will not stop hunting the Guardian until he has the Prophecy in his possession. When Reverend Jeremiah Holyfield’s village is burned to the ground by Narciss, he must traverse half the planet of Dracwald to protect the Prophecy of Solsyl. Along the way he discovers the value of friendship, forgiveness and love.
Shadow launched into the sky like a blow-dart.
“This is not a good idea,” Lucy whispered.
“We’ve come this far—she did save us from the storm and dragon.” I glanced out at the still raging storm. In the close distance, a flare of fire proved the dragon’s search continued. Continued searching for me.
I followed the girl inside the tree. Once inside, the door shut. A loud click as though a lock had been sprung echoed throughout the space. I wondered if Lucy might be right. Had I gotten us deeper into trouble? But another part of my mind questioned whether a tree could even have a locking door, so I disregarded it and followed her further into the tree. As we progressed down a black corridor, gas lights flared long enough for us to pass then blacked out again, leaving the path before and aft in complete darkness. Although a bit unnerving, I had trusted her thus far. I saw no reason to back out now. Even if I could.
Passing beneath another arched doorway, we entered a round room with gas lights evenly spaced on the walls and a high, domed ceiling. I surmised we had passed through a small tree and were now inside an even larger one than where we entered.
“Are all of the trees connected somehow into a—I don’t know—community of some sort?” I turned slowly to survey the round smooth inner bark walls. The room featured a roaring fireplace built of stone. Furniture, constructed of woven grasses and smoothed wooden discs or bent branch framework, lined the walls.
“This is Glithmeera,” she said softly, pointing to a table and chair. “It is our home. Please sit. I shall bring food and drink.”
The chair of woven rushes wrapped me like a second skin floating, somehow, above the pine needle floor. A polished disc of wood with a narrow-diameter wooden pedestal sat beside the chair. Rich golden lamplight glinted off the incredibly beautiful graining and glossy surface of the table.
“My name is Jeremiah Holyfield.”
She placed a clay cup filled with thick amber liquid on the table. Beside this, she set a polished wooden disc covered with slices of various fruits and bread with a hunk of white cheese.
“I know. I am called Remira.”
As the sweet liquid eased past my lips, they curved into a smile. “I love mead.” The fermented honey slid down my throat, thrilling my senses. So much tastier than burned fish or dried out bearlish meat. I spread a bit of cheese on a chunk of bread and with eyes shut, savored the mellow creamy flavor.
“She said she knew your name. How is that possible? Jeremiah, this is beyond frightening.” Lucy’s concern bounced around in my mind. Seduced by the comfort and food, I ignored her warning.
“What do you make cheese from around here?” I asked through mouthfuls of sweet red and blue berries I couldn’t identify.
“We collect milk from Andergryphs. They live on an island in the Bluquor Sea but come here for milking once a week.” She sat down opposite, watching me eat with iridescent purple slanted eyes. Her features looked odd. With large, slanted eyes inside a small, heart-shaped face, pointed ears that stuck out through brilliant red hair hanging to her waist, I wondered if she was a Majikal. She had to be. I’d never seen a normal person with ears like hers. Or purple eyes at such an upward slant.
“What are Andergryphs? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one.” I spread more cheese. Although full, it had been so long since I’d eaten this well, stopping now wasn’t an option. Apparently my appetite had returned, as well.
“They are hard to describe as they possess attributes from several species of creatures,” she said, popping a red berry into her small pink mouth. “They are large with a furred wide body, short strong rear legs, very large feathered wings, beaked head, and front legs of a large predatory bird.”
“I’ve never seen one of those for sure. Are they friendly?”
“If your heart is good. But if they don’t like your aura they will ignore you. They can also be vicious in a battle.”
“When are they due to return? I would love to see one of these creatures.” The last drop of mead slid down my throat followed by a loud burp. The room titled momentarily before straightening again.
Remira grinned, showing small even teeth with sharp tips. I realized it was the first time she’d smiled showing teeth. The contrast of her petite features against such malicious teeth was jarring. My smile slid away like butter off hot toast.
“Everything taste good?”
I nodded, looking around the room. I didn’t like thinking about the purpose of pointed teeth in such an innocent face. And now that I thought about it, her tone was sickeningly sweet. Like there was something she didn’t want me to notice or think about.
“Thank you. I was hungrier than I thought.” My eyes roved the walls, searching for the arched opening we’d come through. I couldn’t see it. Shadows danced along the walls between each lamp, which threw out barely any light at all. Fog seemed to settle across my thoughts—haze across my vision. Lucy had been right. We should have chanced the dragon. Like trudging through thick mud, my eyes dragged from the shadows to focus momentarily on the elf’s face again.
“The Andergryphs are due back in a couple of days. Perhaps you could rest, see one in person,” she smiled and again I stared at the jagged teeth.
“I knew something was wrong.” Lucy sighed.
“I suppose a day’s rest might help.” My speech slurred, even to my own ears. “Must have had too much mead.” As I stood to leave, the ground rose and smacked my face.