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Monthly Writing Prompt
For this month's writing prompt write a scene using the following sentence to start;

The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?

Writing Tip
Our monthly writing tips are written by our very own TerishD. You can read more in Terish's Blog located in "The Abstractions" area of the forum.

Look Back

When not able to write ahead, it helps to look back. In my case I had written a paragraph ahead of the story. What I needed to do was add a section of exposition (talking) presenting some facts. In going back, I realized that I could insert a section where a 'tour' of the surroundings could be done. This allowed for character interaction, story development, and other things that enabled me to present the facts in an entertaining manner.

One should not face a writer's block with the mentality of bursting through it. I have found in my own experience that a writer's block is usually due to my mind indicating that it has a problem in 'channeling' the story. One reason might be a re-imagining of certain story points. Another reason however is that there is a problem in where you are at in the story, so you need to look back and find out the problem with the 'journey' that prevents the tale from advancing.

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 To Know Black and White - Part 3 (11-15A)

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TerishD

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TerishD

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PostSubject: To Know Black and White - Part 3 (11-15A)   To Know Black and White - Part 3 (11-15A) Icon_minitimeJune 14th 2019, 6:57 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Eleven – Part One

(Hallith)

I really did not require much sleep, so the hours I had only had me wanting more, but not needing it.  After drinking some coffee while listening to Terish update me, I set myself to spending my time on watch not feeling that there would be any problem.  After doing a patrol, I found myself leaning against a tree and contemplating where I could take Ayither.  Friends, yes, that was good, but I wanted to go places where I could just spend time with her.  I however did not know the omniverse the way Terish did.  I guess that I ended up spending more time than I should have thinking of what to ask about places to take the lady in my life.

The sound of Retarund gasping had me look around nervously for problems.  He however got up slowly without any indication of actually being attacked.  Wondering if there was a psychic problem, I moved close as he rose from his blankets.

He looked to me, then said, "Hallith of the Quartermasters."  I nodded.  "I've heard of you.  Never could really determine whether you were white or black."

I felt that I knew enough to say, "I obey my god, so I guess that I am white."

"You ever disobey him?"

"Was never certain, until I finally met him.  He said that he was proud of me, and that settled my mind.  Been back a few times, and was welcomed each time.  All I need to know."

"How about you and Ayither?  Are you going to marry her?"

I did wonder about why he was asking the question, but did not see any reason not to answer.  "Sounds like a good idea.  I was just then thinking of places I could take her."

"Besides your bed, you mean."

"Hate to say it, but she worships a male deity.  He is a little protective of her, and I don't fault him none for it.  I will do things right by her."  Hoping to talk about something that might actually be his business, I asked, "How did you sleep?"

"Oh, well enough, I guess.  I would prefer a bed."

"As big as I am, the beds are usually too small or the stuff inside the mattress not substantial enough.  I do better on the ground."  Just wondering, I asked, "You want to take over the watch?"

"What are you watching for?"

"Trouble.  When you travel through the places we have, you really do not put your trust in everything being peaceful through the night."

"Well, how long have you known Terish and Straekin?"

I really did not expect that question, but again I had no reason not to answer.  "Terish, known him going on two hundred years."

"Two hundred years?  How old is he?"

I hoped the man did not expect any accuracy as I replied, "I believe close to three hundred."

"How old are you?"

"I believe close to five hundred."

"Is Ayither so old?"

I thought he should have been told not to ask the age of a woman.  "No.  Why are you asking these questions?"

He did not smile at me.  I probably would have gotten mad at him if he smiled.  Instead he gave me an expression that matched his answer.

"It's what I do, Hallith.  I'm white.  I want, expect, demand that everything is done properly.  Some would say that I am fishing for problems.  I however say that I am just assuring that things are going as they should."

"And what would you do if I wasn't doing things as I should?  What if I was planning to get Ayither into my bed?"

This time the expression from him was cold as he said, "Terish asked me the same thing."

"Yes, he is a paranoid crazy imp.  I knew him before Straekin got her hands on him, so I saw him at his best.  There were four of us Quartermasters, and he could take on the battles himself and allow us to rest.  Now, what was your answer to him?"

He pointed to Menasha as he answered, "He told me to talk to her."

I could only laugh at that.  I knew the centaurs.  I had known each of the centaurs.  They were wonderful ladies, but they served Terish for a reason.  Away from their world, they were really nothing more than a mount.  They however were all intelligent with a focus beyond simply getting him from place to place.  Anerth found that out quick when he decided to speak to Raedell about something, and ended up being lectured to in a manner that had all the rest of us Quartermasters simply stunned.  Wondering if Terish explained things to Retarund, I softly laughed before saying something in return.

"Yes, she is a wonderful person. Talking to her will be an experience you will ever remember."

The champion of white did not seem to get the message as he replied, "We don't have centaurs on this world.  How about yours?"

"Not like her."

We both turned as another gasped.  Hearing the sound from Ayither caused me much more concern than when I heard it from Retarund.  What she said had me gasp as I assured myself of my weapons.

"We got trouble.  Typhorsh just told me."

Realizing that I did not have my bow, I asked, "Bats?"

"Not Typhorsh's world."

Not wanting to lose the respect of a certain paranoid crazy imp, I stressed the name, "Terish."

The gasp was more from Straekin snuggled up next to her husband, but she started moving as well when he said, "Snakes."

I spoke the reason for suddenly feeling relief.  "Good, as I won't need my bow."

Neither he nor Ayither were actually dressed for combat.  I however trusted each to know how to protect themselves.  As Terish pointed in the direction that trouble would be coming from, I spoke to Retarund.

"Do what you can to protect Dalinth, or simply get him up so he can protect himself."

Maybe he said something, but I did not pause to listen.  I saw the snakes.  They were big.  They were not vipers, although a lack of poison I knew meant they had other defenses.  The fact that they were black did not really bother me, as I knew of large dark-colored snakes.  As one began wrapping around me, I realized how futile it would be to simply attack with my sword.  I however remembered the earlier battle, grabbed my canteen, then poured water over my blade before having it attack again.  This time the snake suffered damage.  I did not pause in looking for another snake as I jumped away from the coils of the one I killed.

"I AM STORM!"

It actually brought me pleasure to hear Ayither.  Setting myself on another snake had me wanting to proclaim my own statement, but centuries of not doing that had me silent.  I however poured the water and attacked feeling that I could enjoy a future of hearing Ayither.

Suddenly, a large explosion sounded to which I heard Terish say, "Yes, you don't mess with my centaur.  Fire works as well!"

A voice I did not immediately identify exclaimed, "What? Fire?"

Retarund exclaimed more than asked those statements while running to our campfire.  He had a problem however in that I had not been keeping it active.  I had enough coffee, and had not thought others would be up to drink any.  I saw a snake heading to the champion of white, then found myself looking to Ayither.  I pointed to another snake, and she smiled before running to take it on as I stepped up pouring water on my blade to attack the one coming toward Retarund.

I smiled seeing mine die along with hearing Ayither's usual proclamation, then looked to the champion of white to say, "We got this, but afterward there will be questions for you."

He exclaimed, "We don't have snakes like this.  There are rules!"

"Looks like black is not the only ones breaking them.  I would say that you have problems."

Might have stayed to chat, but there was another snake.  I thus poured more water and again made a strong attack with my sword.  With it going into its death throes, I looked around for another snake, but instead found the others ready to chat.

Straekin was looking at one of the papery-thin remains as she asked, "Retarund, can you make sense of this?"

"NO, I CAN'T!"

Another voice of one I was not familiar with said, "Uh, what – What in the – Wow!  So this is what you were talking about."

Dalinth had come awake, then crawled from his blankets to look at the remains of a snake.  As with the bats, the skin turned into a thin brittle material.  He looked at the remains of the snake, then moved to look over another before making a conclusion.

"These snakes had the white removed."

"YOU DON'T REMOVE THE WHITE!" Retarund defiantly exclaimed.  "You cannot remove the white.  You cannot remove the black.  People are not made of black and white.  They do not become more white by obeying the laws, or black when they break the laws.  We take on those aspects.  We are purified into representing those aspects.  You did not have the white removed from you, and I did not have the black removed from me."

"Then how do you explain this?"

"The same way you do.  Something is wrong.  Something needs to be set right.  That is my job.  I will do it.  Damn you, Dalinth!  Why were you given this mission?  This is not a job for black.  I will solve this.  I will solve this properly, and everything will be set right."

"Honestly, Retarund, I will not stop you.  If you need help, I'm here."

The champion of white spun to point at the champion of black to declare, "If you help me, you better do things properly!"

"Sure, as long as you make certain that Frowick is given his due.  He is the one that sent me."

"Why would I deny Frowick?"

"I don't know, but Frowick had the priest turn to me instead of you.  Hate to say it, Retarund, but I believe he expected you to do something wrong."

_________________
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.


Last edited by TerishD on July 9th 2019, 6:40 am; edited 4 times in total
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PostSubject: Chapter Eleven - Part Two   To Know Black and White - Part 3 (11-15A) Icon_minitimeJune 19th 2019, 6:44 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Eleven – Part Two

(Hallith)

The battle had us all awake. As we men studied the remains of the monsters, the ladies spoke of going ahead and preparing themselves for the day. Of course I included Menasha in the group of females, but as she moved with Straekin and Ayither Retarund approached her.

"You, centaur!" Menasha calmly turned to look at him. "What is your purpose in this group?"

"Terish Dozzrine came to my world to face a great evil. While he came to work with the humans, finding them lacking the real capabilities he turned to us non-humans. We worked with him. He led us to victory, and saved our world from complete devastation. In honor of him taking us into a better future, I will take him to wherever he wants to go."

"So, he what? Rides you?"

"As far as I am concerned, he should never walk."

Retarund advanced on her while saying, "Not having success in having him see things your way."

"It is an honor that I allow him to ride me. Not a curse. Also, when he is not riding me, I often get the honor of seeing him help others, like those of your world, possibly even saving them from devastation. If I did have success in having him see my way, your world might be doomed. Now tell me, why should I feel slighted?"

The champion of white almost froze. I assumed that he was attempting to come up with a response. Retarund showed that he was not frozen by looking around him, then turned upon the champion of black.

"What are you smiling about?"

Dalinth replied, "Oh, I have put you down before, but she made it look so – easy."

Terish said, "She's a lawyer."

Retarund exclaimed, "A lawyer?"

Menasha said, "I was still in training when I was offered this life. Since then I have had opportunities to finish my studies. I am now a fully certified lawyer."

Dalinth smiled widely as he said, "A champion of white put down by a lawyer. Now, that is something I am going to have to talk about."

Retarund screamed out, "THERE IS SOMETHING VERY WRONG HERE!"

Ayither returned, "It is down in that hole! Let us go freshen up. Start some breakfast. We will be going down in there."

The champion of black advanced on Terish. "Can you tell me anything about this?"

"Yes. It is not just the hole. What these snakes, and the bats from yesterday, tell us is that the barrier goes around, possibly in a sphere. The hole is just the access. What those animals present is that the magic of the barrier is seeping into the local ecology. Normal animals are being affected and changed."

I found Dalinth to have the better head, as he quickly focused upon seeking a solution. "How soon can we get down into that hole?"

"We could go now, but I recommend that we get ourselves prepared with a good breakfast."

"Sounds sensible. Okay, yeah. So, okay. That all right with you, Retarund?"

The champion of white was down sitting on his feet and rocking as he answered, "This is so not right. There are no rules for this. No laws. This should not be happening."

Dalinth moved to put a hand on a shoulder of the champion of white while saying, "Well, this is happening. Now talk to me. You study the laws. We are dealing with Frowick. What the animals represent is that there is an infestation, a disease of some type. How are we supposed to respond to that?"

"Purify, sanctify, glorify."

While a hand stayed on the shoulder, Dalinth spoke as if to speak to all of us. "We are stuck at step one. I would assume in this case the need to remove the sphere. Cannot do that until we know exactly what it is. As we have already agreed, we will go once we have prepared ourselves."

I decided to ask, "Any steps toward sanctification? Anything that would make any of us unholy?"

Retarund replied, "With a champion of black in the group, we are unholy."

Dalinth said, "That's harsh, Retarund, and you know it. Now lying is against the laws. Answer the man."

"Yes, sorry. No, the area is automatically unholy, because it is against the ways of the gods. Sanctifying is not just to reclaim the land, but those who went to deal with the problem. That is one of the blessings of those of black. As long as their solution actually helps, they can end up being returned to the fold."

Terish said, "I think we can all deal with that. Hallith, how about some water?"

Thinking coffee was a wonderful idea, I grabbed a pitcher and headed to the stream. There was no need for me to challenge the modesty of the ladies. They were down in a basin, and I could get the water in a stream that came down the slope. Thinking about the barrier causing other problems than just with the animals, I performed a prayer over the water. Anerth could do things like this a lot better than I, but after leaving the Quartermasters to work more independently with Zetrullid I had learned some of the priestly talents. What I felt revealed concerned me, so when I returned with the water for the coffee I also felt a need to speak to Terish.

"There's water over there." I guess that I sounded like a simpleton, but at least I gained Terish's attention. "I am water. The sphere is in the mountain here. There is water on this mountain as well. It doesn't just flow over there, but through the rock."

Terish replied, "That would probably explain the bats on the way up, Hallith, but not the snakes up here."

Dalinth said, "And our plan to remove the sphere would solve that problem from developing further, and the sanctification afterward should remove it outright."

I had to explain, "No, what I am talking about is an alternative. It could happen that we find the reason for the barrier, and agree that it needs to stay. If that happens, we do not shake hands and speak to the authorities. We need to account for the residue."

"Okay, but that would still be a concern for Frowick. I mean, Retarund can possibly do something for the immediate short term, but what you are saying is that an actual ongoing problem will remain. We will need to involve the priesthood."

"What is the problem with that?"

"Retarund, explain to the man."

The champion of white said, "The rule is the Serenity of the Masses. What it means is that an ongoing problem is not a solution. As long as the problem is present, the people will be concerned. It is the best and only state for leaders to assure that the masses have nothing real to worry about."

Dalinth then explained, "I operate to assure that a general rule does not create problems of its own. An actual problem will need the rule protecting it challenged. A good rule somehow complicating a particular situation can be ignored to resolve the dilemma, although the rule itself will need to be maintained. Whatever the reason this sphere exists, it is now a bad thing. Period."

I turned hearing Menasha say, "I am glad to hear it, as we ladies came to the same decision."

Terish replied, "Ah, but we got our native champions to explain why."

As Straekin went to kiss her husband, I saw a young female form rush around to hug my neck. I did appreciate the affection. My relationship with Ayither was not advanced enough that I would attempt the same actions as Terish and Straekin, although I found myself hoping that the blessings would come.

Ayither asked, "You have not started cooking breakfast?"

I replied, "The snakes had no meat to prepare. I guess it is just jerky and stale bread."

Straekin went, "Hallith, you," then her voice calmed as she said, "yes, I remember that you have been with the Quartermasters. Terish and I have some things, but we are running low as well."

Dalinth said, "Retarund brought me food. I have cheese and some preserved fruits. You share with me and I will share with you."

I believe all of us were used to limited meals. Even Retarund did not say anything bad about the food. We all laughed at the numerous prayers said over the meal, then ate with the acceptance that everything had to be spiced with blessings.

None of us told Straekin to wait with Menasha. The major conversation was actually with Retarund who spoke of his pain being on the bottom of the hole. Ayither again stressed about there being no true bottom, but none of us could assure the champion of white that he would not be discomforted should he move through to the inside of the sphere. He finally decided to wait on the ropes, and only come down depending on what Dalinth said. It was at that time that Straekin mentioned she would not go down, but wait with Menasha should some rescue possibly be needed.

I knew that Ayither could fly, or at least be propelled through the air. While she had not shown off yesterday, she did this morning. Coming to the hole, as Terish and Dalinth began to descend on the ropes Ayither simply dropped down while calling on her god. She slowed down to float near the bottom, then after proclaiming that she was storm a wind rushed down that somehow removed the barrier. She then slowly dropped down through the air.

Knowing what was at the bottom, I then just dropped. The water from the stream again accumulated to have me safely splash to the ground below. When I lit a lamp to better illuminate things, Dalinth yelled down if I could assure him a safe landing at the bottom.

I replied, "You have Terish with you, but if you don't mind getting wet, come on."

I did have some water ready as the two descended from the ropes. I suspected that Terish would safely see them to the bottom, so really did not expect to need to soften the landing for Dalinth. I should have known there was a reason for mentioning a precaution. While Terish might not have been certain about things with this world, he still surely sensed something. As the two descended from the ropes, suddenly the cavern lit up with Dalinth being enclosed in a magical sphere.

What sounded like an official authoritative voice asked, "Champion of black, are you ready to render a verdict?"

I turned along with Ayither as from the depths came a cackle before a strange, high-pitched male voice said, "Not that it matters, because I made the decision myself."

As the voice returned to a cackling type of insane laugh, Terish landed next to me and said, "Be ready, because I believe we are in serious trouble."

_________________
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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PostSubject: Chapter Twelve   To Know Black and White - Part 3 (11-15A) Icon_minitimeJune 24th 2019, 6:51 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Twelve

(Dalinth)

I felt wonderful. The sensations that flooded through my body were fantastic. While I had perfect health, I now felt stronger, wiser, and much better than I ever remembered being.

Not only did I hear the voice, but Terish's whispered words to his companions. That surprised me, because I usually was not the best at listening. I tended to focus on my objective, and ignore any people around me. Considering that I was black, what I heard usually was not positive for my self-esteem. It did help my opinion of these otherworldly heroes to hear them speak of protecting me,

Wanting to also confront whoever was speaking, I tried to leave the bubble that surrounded me. I did know how to fight. While white could trust in the established enforcement agencies for support, those of us black usually had to do things on our own. Considering the wonderful sensations of my physical body, I felt more than able to confront whoever was approaching Terish, Hallith, and Ayither, but I found myself unable to move from the bubble.

The strange voice said, "Normal people? What are normal people doing here?"

While Terish replied, "Doing what we can to help," I saw the figure come into view. He walked like a small man, but one arm was not only long, but was used like a crutch. My eyesight easily focused on the man below me. I felt that my vision was much improved, so had to assume it was something in the humidity of the room that prevented a clear image. He was dressed in a brown robe that appeared to be a deer hide, or a number of deer hides. There was bulk to the form, which I assumed was fat from the way his body seemed to shift as it moved. I felt him to be a minor concern, but appreciated that he turned to look up to me instead of dealing with Terish.

He said, "Oh, good, they came with a champion of black. I guess things are going according to plan."

Terish whispered, "Take him."

It was really horrible having to only watch the fight below. I could have gained victory very easily. I was feeling wonderful. Terish and his two companions had weapons, while all I would need were my bare hands to win the fight.

The way those below me fought made no sense whatsoever. I found them striking at places I definitely would not consider wise. The fact that their blows seemed to somehow connect to a part of the small man surprised me. While I somehow realized they were seeing something I did not, the only truth I could accept was that the bubble around me was distorting my perception. If I could have dropped below, I would make much better strikes on the enemy.

I looked up hearing Retarund scream. He had landed on what to me appeared as a clear surface. My eyesight had improved to where I could make out the barrier attempting to prevent the passing of white. The bubble I was in had been created as a way of enabling us black to check on what was sealed away from the world at large. Straekin had cast some spell to enable passage. I could clearly see that regular people and creatures could pass, but the essence of those white would be absorbed. Retarund sought to regain the rope and get away, which I thought was wise considering that I could easily do more than him.

When Ayither gained the back of the small man, I finally realized that there was much more to his presence than I had been able to perceive. She was not a large thing, but the enemy had not appeared to have much size to him either. The bulk of the opponent I began to see was a manifestation of a much larger body. The reason for the direction of the attacks of Terish and Hallith became apparent as Ayither moved along a back much larger than the small man could have had.

The rumble could be heard clearly. I saw the men react and call to Ayither. While I could tell something wrong was happening below, the thought that I could have finished the fight stayed with me. With a rumble the small man and all the great size that I slowly became aware of faded from view.

Ayither slammed her fist on the ground and exclaimed, "Could we not have beat him?"

Terish answered, "No, as we really were not fighting him. He could have waited until we had his form completely destroyed, then passed back to where he came from. The fact that he left when he did is a warning, as it means he is not stupid, headstrong, or anything else that could make success easy."

I had to yell down, "I could have finished him!"

Hallith asked, "Could he have?"

Terish answered, "I believe he definitely thinks so."

Ayither commented, "He's a fool."

"Yes, but I believe we need him. Straek, we are passing on! Are you going to come or stay?"

She yelled back, "Are you going to get Menasha mad at you?"

Retarund sounded out his own question, "How about me?"

Terish returned, "You cannot come! Stay with Straek! If I need to send for Menasha, Straek will know how to bring you as well."

"DAMN!"

I then had to ask, "So, you are bringing me?"

Terish answered, "Actually, I have to. If I am going to solve this, I need someone who can unlock certain secrets."

"Well, yes, I can assure you that I can out-perform all of you."

Ayither said, "He was not so bold in speech when above."

Hallith replied, "It's black in here, and he's black."

Terish spoke loudly I believe to explain to Retarund and not just Ayither and me. "It should not be black in here. As we have heard from Dalinth and Retarund, black and white are not opposing forces like the elemental ones we are familiar with. The problem is that this place, I believe, was to hold a creature of earth. They however did not know what to do with it, so did what they could. If you noticed, we are using elemental forces to work against these threats. That is something not true to this world, and is responsible for the danger."

The large man asked, "What problems will we have bringing Dalinth?"

I yelled out my own answer to that, "NOTHING! In fact, I will solve your problems."

Terish said, "Well, we will have to listen to him, and keep ourselves from laughing at what he might do."

Hallith replied, "Dealt with worse."

Ayither spoke her agreement. Terish told Hallith to prepare for my fall. I could not imagine why he was worried. The distance did not look far at all. My legs could easily handle the force of meeting the ground. Still, I was in agreement that I should join those below, so accepted their concern for me.

More than the force of water stopping my fall came over me. I felt so weak. Thoughts that I had considered problems easily solved could no longer be grasped. I came from the water to feel the soft gust of wind helping to dry me off, and found myself glad to be seeing friends.

I had to ask, "What is this place?"

Terish said, "It would help if you see what you can do to answer that question."

"Why me?"

"Because if we just go after this thing and kill it, we might end up actually not accomplishing anything. This is your world, and you have a knowledge of how it works. Your opinion is thus important."

Ayither said, "Up there you said that you could do it yourself."

I answered, "Up there I felt I could. I... I never felt like that before."

Hallith said, "If you felt it up there, the feeling should be stronger here."

"No, it shouldn't." I looked to Terish as I asked, "Is that what white feels like? Is that why Retarund is such a jerk?"

It did not feel bad to hear them laugh. The fact that they understood my question actually brought me comfort in itself. I saw Terish shake his head, but I waited for him to stop laughing to fully answer the question.

"I don't think that is it. Anyway, we are looking to you for answers. Get to work."

I asked, "What am I looking for?"

"Well, one, does this place have anything to do with black or white? While you are at it, figure out which one even built this place. Two, who exactly, or even what exactly, was this place built to hold. Three, it would be nice to gain an estimation of how old is this place. Four, well four and up, whatever other questions you might consider important."

Looking around what seemed to me to be simply a hole in the ground, I asked, "Is all that information here?"

Ayither said, "Terish told you that we are looking to you for the answers. Get to work."

I nodded, but looked to Hallith to ask, "You want to marry her?"

He answered, "The urge is building. She definitely is something to look at, and I am actually liking having her around."

"It seems to me that she can get bossy."

"As big of a guy as I am, she might need that."

Ayither seemed to like that answer, as she rushed upon Hallith to kiss him. Intimate relationships were one thing I gave up becoming a champion of black. I still wanted ladies to be happy, even in a sexual way, but not with me. My drive, my conviction, had to be of higher matters than the physical cravings. Most people could not understand an answer like that, which was basically why most people did not become champions of either black or white.

I began moving around, and as I climbed up a slope I made a comment, "The dirt is strange."

Terish replied, "Yes, it is."

"Anything you know about it?"

"Yes, it is normal dirt."

I actually did not like people who would give answers like that, so found myself glad that Ayither came up, although her answer did not satisfy me either. "Gesaha." When I glared at her she explained, "No rock. Just dirt. This is for gardens and small plants, not for trees."

That response actually made sense to me. She was correct that the dirt appeared to be lacking in any substantial materials. Hoping to continue to get sensible responses, I asked what I hoped was another basic question.

"Could anything grow in here?"

She looked around then answered, "No." I saw her continue to move her eyes about, then she mumbled, "Air passes, water passes, fire passes, but –" She scooped up a handful of dirt then slung it toward the barrier. "I see what Terish was saying. This was originally pure earth."

"Pure earth?"

Terish said, "I would say either a lot of elementals, or one really big one. Maybe a lot, but definitely one really big one."

Ayither simply turned her torso to look at Terish as she replied, "Elementals do not die."

"You can kill them."

"But if they could kill them, why make this place."

It was Hallith that answered, "That creature we fought killed it."

Terish spoke to support that conclusion. "Oh, we are probably going to have a fight on our hands when we go after it. We need Dalinth to supply us with more information however, for us to truly solve this problem."

Ayither looked to me and said, "Good observation. Now, get back to work."

I felt that I had no other choice except to reply, "Yes, ma'am."

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Thirteen   To Know Black and White - Part 3 (11-15A) Icon_minitimeJune 29th 2019, 6:59 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Thirteen

(Hallith)

Dalinth did move about checking out the hollow. Terish did as well. Honestly, I expected Ayither to also move about. Of the three, I did not expect her to notice anything, but I could not help but admit she was smart. I tried to move about and see what I could notice as well, but became distracted seeing Ayither staying in place.

She did turn to notice me as I moved to her. That did not bother me at all. I liked looking at her face, and seeing it smile as I moved to her caused me to feel good.

"Listen," I said after coming close, "do you need to do something?"

"Do something?" She looked at me strangely, then said, "No. I'm good. This is so not calm."

"Well, yes, I'd agree, but I did get concerned not seeing you move around."

"This isn't my world at all, Hallith. Is traveling with Terish usually like this?"

"Not from what I hear." I felt bad, but admitted the truth. "I really only know Terish from the times he came to us, I mean the Quartermasters. There were no breaks from what we did. You know. I took you. It is just one drastic situation after another. Terish has a home. It's called Thiminy. I... I have never been."

I really felt bad, but went ahead and kept talking. "I could have over the last few decades, but I went home. Kierle was there. There were children there. The king needed me, and I had Kierle and the children, and I went there. Honestly, Ayither, I don't want to go there. It was nice, but I did have friends like Terish. Somehow over those centuries of going from major threat to major threat I gained friends. I feel bad that I have not visited. I need to go to Thiminy."

From a distance came the voice of Terish. "Sorry to tell you, Hallith, but Straek and I are planning on moving from Thiminy. Ferrigote moved back to his home world. I don't have one of those, but Straek does. We are planning to build there."

"Davelda? You never talked well about Davelda."

"Well, that is because they never talked well about me. Things have changed. You really should keep in touch, Hallith."

I looked back to Ayither to say, "I couldn't do that with Kierle. I feel that I can with you." She did not say anything, so I kept talking. "They say Terish reads a lot. He is really smart, so I accept that he does. I know what he did when he was with us Quartermasters, and he really did read. We could well come upon him again and just find him reading. Boring, I know, but at least we will be able to stay aware of changes in his life."

She finally spoke. "It sounds good, Hallith."

"Uh, well – good. I was just worried about you."

I heard her laugh, then she rushed upon me to kiss me on a cheek. "I have had many men try and get me into bed. I really never had one try and get me into their life. I definitely did not have one offering me a life like this."

Her actions and words really improved my mood, so I said, "Well, good. Listen, I know to give you time, but seeing you just standing around I became worried about you."

"You keep trying to make me a part of your life, and you could find me there one day. I do have issues, Hallith. Thus, keep working on me."

"Listen, if Typhorsh has a problem with you – I mean me, I don't know what I can do about it. I have a god in control of my life as well. Actually, two, I guess, as I went to your world on behalf of Aslerrida."

"Hallith, if there is one thing you should know about me, it is that me and Typhorsh get along. Yes, making this decision will demand his authorization, but you work on me and I will keep my focus on you. I'm glad that you are doing this, Hallith."

She then yelled out, "Terish, how long did you and Straekin date?"

He replied, "That is actually a hard question to answer. It all depends on how you determine when we were actually married. There is a –"

Suddenly Dalinth yelled out, "Terish!" Truthfully, Terish did not need to move, as Dalinth rushed to him, although Ayither and I ran to them to hear what would be said. "Terish, what is this?"

All I could make out was a strange pouch of what appeared to be glassy foil, although Terish spoke as if recognizing it immediately. "Well, look at you, Dalinth. Most people search all their lives for simply evidence of that existing, and you find some right off."

"So, what is it?"

"Philosopher's Stone."

Ayither said, "If what you said is true, Terish, this was all Philospher's Stone at one time."

"Pure earth, yes, but Philosopher's Stone usually applies to a reactive primal form of earth. One can control, or hope to control, the actions of Philosopher's Stone. Getting an elemental that is pure earth is possible, but it still is of normal matter. Destroy the life force controlling the volume of pure earth, and you do have pure earth left behind. It will react to the other elements around it to make the substances we all know. If you have Philosopher's Stone, you can make it do things to assure that precious or exotic substances are made."

Dalinth said, "So what you are saying is someone can take this stuff and turn lead into gold?"

"Yes, and with what Ayither said we could have a reason for this place being valuable to someone. Potentially, you could have an entire volume of Philosopher's Stone. Okay, so the pure earth has mixed, but it is still a lot purer than what you find outside. While still not an easy process, the success rate could be much better in here."

I heard what was said, although found myself still stuck on what I felt was an obvious issue. "How did the person doing this get in or out?"

Ayither supplied the answer, "The same way we did. Unless you are a champion of this world, or an earth elemental, you have nothing to fear from this cavern."

Terish supported her claim. "Since this world does not support elemental magic, the seal should be foolproof. I however am what I am due to my study of the omniverse. I can pull my power from other universes. Straekin studied with me, so basically does her magic the same way. As for you two, you are divine champions with gods that fully support you. You both thus have active connections to elemental forces."

"So, what about the person here? Would he also be a divine champion?"

I had to speak my own conclusion. "No. I mean, I guess it is possible to have a nasty, money-hungry divine champion, but I really doubt this is one. Also, I don't remember anything Terish said about him that stated a devotion to a deity."

Terish said, "I however do believe that he is crafty." I saw him smile, then ask, "Do you want to see me do some magic?"

Ayither said, "If a storm can follow."

"I believe it has a possibility."

Honestly, there was not much to whatever magic Terish did. He knew the forces he worked too well to need to put on a show. He also was too paranoid to allow his opponents much opportunity to counter his stunts. While he did concentrate, mumble some sounds, and do something with his hands, the actions to work the magic were quick without any overt movements.

Another abnormal thing about Terish was that his arcane tricks had very noticeable results. A flash of lightning suddenly had a long, sinewy dragon looking creature in our presence. I felt that I recognized it as the creature we fought earlier, although during that battle it was attempting to disguise itself. Terish obviously pulled it through whatever portal it was using to spy on us.

Ayither made her usual yell while using her divine abilities to again place her on the back of the creature. I did not have my sword at the ready, and it took a moment to move such a large weapon. Terish simply paused, possibly working another magic spell although he did place himself to protect Dalinth that moved back. In the moments when only Ayither was making an attack, our opponent had the ground provide substance for some elemental minions.

As I now advanced, I saw the lengthy body shake before disappearing. I paused to assure that Ayither had not been taken. Seeing her safely dropping to the ground, I began attacking the elementals. Between Ayither, Terish, and me, the elementals were soon again nothing but dirt. She however then advanced upon Terish with a very harshly stated question.

"Why did you pause after summoning it? Were you not ready?"

He answered, "I was being nice. From our first battle with it, watching us begin to figure things out, then realizing that I could detect and summon it, that whatever-it-was should have realized that we were not some simpleton heroes. It should have sought terms."

Her voice lost its accusatory tones as she said, "Yes, it should have sought terms. Also, I should have expected a friend of Hallith's to be nice."

Terish looked to me while commenting, "I believe that was a compliment."

I replied, "To both of us."

"Good. Thank you, Ayither. Next time, it will die."

She said, "Let's go after it."

"We certainly can. However, first, have any of you noticed something else that might provide a clue of something we don't know, which is still a lot?"

I knew Terish, so asked, "Have you noticed anything?"

"Only the obvious. It tells me how to attack, but not really any information."

Dalinth asked, "Do we really need any information? Let's just solve this problem."

Terish answered, "Dalinth, someone built this. I would say someone of your world. It has a lot of problems, most of which have been stated. What or who we happen to be going up against did not need to be as crafty as would be required on most worlds, but something this size still demanded someone with knowledge of things. I would thus say that this is not an isolated incident."

"I don't know of any other places like this."

"As a champion of black, would anyone tell you?"

He paused clearly thinking, then spoke with his voice carefully sounding out his words. "No. Let us move on and learn as much as we can."

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Fourteen   To Know Black and White - Part 3 (11-15A) Icon_minitimeJuly 4th 2019, 6:41 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Fourteen

(Straekin)

I dispelled the magic that was illuminating the bottom of the hole and providing the method of keeping the seal open. Retarund however exclaimed as if the return of the barrier was a bad thing. His words he screamed up to me clearly stated that he felt keeping the seal open to be a good thing.

"What are we supposed to do now?"

I calmly replied, "I know what I would do, but if you have a better idea I would be willing to listen to it."

Retarund spoke of needing my help to climb back up. Almost all the champions of deities that I knew were rather heroic figures. Gods tended to make use of those that claimed their honor, which tended to have them ever capable to handle situations themselves. Retarund however did not display any particular physical skills beyond those of a regular person, and I found him panting while thanking me upon climbing out of the hole.

"Okay," he said between gasps of air, "what would you do?"

"Go into town and learn what we can of this place."

"They won't know anything."

"They knew enough to direct us here. This isn't our world, and the clues to this place were rather vague. You heard what Terish told you of how he learned about this hole. Those in the town did know something, which is how we got here." I then thought to add, "They should at least be willing to sell us some supplies."

He stood while saying, "Yes, that's true. Will the centaur go with us?"

"No, I will go with her. If she does not go, I'm staying here." I then yelled out, "Menasha, we are going into town."

She trotted up, then asked while I gathered the ropes, "How long does Terish plan on being?"

"He plans on moving on to wherever things take him. You know the things he gets involved in. If it gets to where he is just traveling, he will call for you."

"What was down there?"

"What they fought previously was an insect-like creature. What they just fought was something else. I suspect that Terish is just unsure of things, and you know how paranoid he is when everything is not making sense."

She turned while saying, "I will help you break camp."

I set the ropes in a way to carry them, then said to Retarund, "I will take care of Hallith's and Ayither's things, because I do consider them friends. I hope that you consider Dalinth your friend."

He started walking with me while saying, "Uh, yeah, he is. Listen, you do this a lot?"

"My husband does this a lot, and I enjoy being with him. I accepted it as my life when I married him."

"Okay, but what did you do before then?"

"Basically the same thing I do now. I am the Empress of Davelda. When I ran off with Terish, my world did not force me to relinquish my throne. I still officially rule. That has always been a problem in my relationship with Terish, and it is still a problem as we plan on actually moving back to that world. Still, home is home, and things will adjust."

I stopped what I was doing as Retarund spoke with a sense of not believing what I said. "Empress of Davelda?"

Traveling did not allow me to wear clothes according to certain fashions. That really was not a problem with me, as after a number of centuries I had seen a number of designs go out of style then come back into being the proper way to dress. Decades of traveling with my husband and seeing a multitude of worlds had enabled me to piece together a number of outfits. I dressed as a lady with a skirt about my waist and thighs, and tended to wear bright colors with lace or other feminine details. I had long ago stopped wondering if I was in fashion, but only if I looked good.

On my attire were a number of items of jewelry. Some were ostentatious, but most actually had some reason. Those on my person tended to have enchantments to give me enough protection to survive an unexpected attack. Those in my hair helped to manage and give some fashion to my rather lengthy locks. I pointed out to Retarund those medallions that stated my status as Queen of Thiminy, Empress of Davelda, and a few other titles. I also directed him to icons of my Goddess. His response however made me mad in that it sounded as if he only noticed the glitter of gems and the shine of gold.

"How rich are you?"

I set myself to doing the things I needed to do while I coldly replied, "Rich. Historically, I do get a salary with a large portion not really needed to maintain my lifestyle. As empress, I could make use of imperial funds, but that is one complaint my opponents never could use against me. Still, on Davelda we no longer require money, but I have done things to assure myself with means of exchange. Terish however probably has more wealth than even that of my world. As his wife, I could claim every coin my husband's dragon guards, but I actually like Sauton. I would rather spend time talking with him than shopping."

I thought that I would have to talk some more when Retarund said, "Dragon?" but then he commented, "And here I was wondering how Terish got a centaur."

That statement set Menasha to talking. I was able to finish putting away the things about camp and loading the horses while she let Retarund know the history behind her service to my husband. I had heard the story before, but actually enjoyed the tale. Listening to Menasha's version of the history did provide some entertainment while I went about my work.

Retarund had not really given me the impression that he would learn anything, but I found myself feeling that the centaur had again worked her magic when the man said, "Listen, what you are saying is not right. Just you being here is not right. However, that hole is also not right. Dalinth probably does not have clue about what to do, right or wrong. Yes, if the people in town know anything, we need to hear it."

I smiled while saying, "And at the worst we should be able to gain some supplies."

"Yes. I'm sorry, but I was not doing what I needed to do. Give me some minutes, and I will have mine and Dalinth's things packed."

Menasha was not a beast of burden, but she would help take care of the horses. Honestly, it did become a job requirement in those situations where she was merely my husband's mount. In desperate situations she had no choice but to be counted among the animals while Terish and others fought whatever threat presented itself. For her own protection, and simply to assure that the animals did not do anything that might risk their lives, Menasha had learned to work with the other beasts of burden.

We entered town with people asking about the others that had traveled with us. I mentioned that they were busy, but we had come down for supplies. Retarund went to what was clearly an important building, and I assumed started interrogating people. I moved with Menasha about the town seeing what there was to buy.

One lad helping his mother with a sack of potatoes asked a question that I suspected others in town were whispering among themselves. "Lady, if the other men are busy, why did you bring their horses down with you?"

I answered, "Because we don't know anything about that hole. I felt there was a possibility it might come out somewhere down here."

"No." He then looked to his mother, who shrugged, which seemed to give the lad the courage to say, "Well, maybe that is what has happened around to the north."

Seeing the mother, I tried not to suggest anything that would involve her boy. "Any roads to where you are speaking about?"

My years of traveling with Terish had given me an understanding of local directions. My world was one of high science. There I would use a map to pinpoint places. In looking for a new home with my husband, we would get satellite and survey pictures of any property along with a regular road map to assure we knew how to arrive at an edge of the area we were considering. I however listened to what the lad said understanding his simple spoken directions.

As I was considering another vendor, Retarund came up to say, "The hole is over a hundred years old. Could be older, but there is a solid report of it a hundred twelve years ago. There were some names and such in the report that I plan on checking out."

I replied, "While you do that, I was told of a cave to the north."

"What? You're going to check that place out?"

Wondering what other facts he had been told, but was going to ignore, I said, "I told you that I was the ruler of a world. I don't know your philosophy on ruling, but I do take the concerns of my people seriously. Probably one of the reasons that I have stayed in power."

"Can you handle it?"

"I would remind you who my husband is. Not only have I had to put up with him, but the children I have had with him. I have held my own. I feel that I can certainly manage to check out this cave."

He paused in a manner of thinking over things, then said, "Okay. I felt going all the way to Adkeir would not met your approval."

I replied, "I would not have argued with you. Honestly, however, I would not feel that we have the time. I am actually surprised that Terish has not already contacted me."

"Okay, I guess it might be a better use of our time to go to this cave."

"Well, I have some more shopping to do. Once finished, assuming my husband has not by then contacted me with different instructions, then we can head out."

"Anything you want me to do?"

I was actually surprised at the question, although I did have an answer. "I assume that you spoke with officials." I waited for his nod. "Now go speak to the soldiers. They are the one who actually have to deal with the people and handle all the daily issues. If there is anyone who would know about any troubles, it would be them."

As he walked away, a laborer working to polish down a statue already roughly carved by what I would supposed to be the master craftsman, said, "You just gave orders to a champion of white?"

I smiled while saying, "He might be an asshole, but he is not a stupid asshole."

Everyone laughed, and I found the prices for items to drop. With everyone being a lot more friendly, I sought what more facts I could gain on the hole and the cave. Of course, the people had their own topics they preferred to speak about. My time dealing with a variety of communities and all manner of people had given me plenty of experience to usually relate to whatever was being discussed. Not all of them interested me, but I could show my lack of appreciation for the subject and not just a determination to speak on my concerns. Moving about loading the animals with supplies I gained enough extra information that I found my time in town to actually be worthwhile.

_________________
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PostSubject: Chapter Fifteen - Part One   To Know Black and White - Part 3 (11-15A) Icon_minitimeJuly 9th 2019, 6:44 am

To Know Black and White
Chapter Fifteen – Part One

(Hallith)

I saw Terish smile at me before he activated the portal. He had just spent time telling us of the situation we would be entering. He discussed the type of monsters we would be facing and the layout of the surroundings. I had gone for over four hundred years having to handle things as I found them without any forewarning about the actual threat or terrain. Terish knew that he had just given me a whole lot of information that I really did not feel I needed, and I smiled back at him letting him know that I accepted his apology.

The only weak member of our group was Dalinth. Knowing that we would be fighting monsters with breath weapons, Terish put a number of enchantments upon him, although also warned him to just find cover. With him speaking of accepting the advice, the portal was opened. As a group, we stepped into danger.

For over four hundred years I went from deadly encounter to serious challenges. All of us Quartermasters used serious weapons. One of the conversations I would now have with my old companions was how we were having to adjust our style of fighting in dealing with normal opponents. Coming into a situation with large, deadly monsters however was a challenge I knew well and had the weapon to take it on.

In my time with Ayither I learned that she was also comfortable in a major conflict. Her world did have magic and monsters, so she took to the battle without any fear of the situation. I tried to work with her, but the size of our opponents and their deadly nature forced us to have to trust in the ability of each other to make it on our own. I however could only smile when I heard Ayither scream out her usual phrase.

I heard the voice of Terish from somewhere nearby ask, "Aren't you getting tired of that?"

"Oh, no," I replied.

"Okay, so tell me that she does not have you thinking of Pesloe."

That statement took me by surprise. Pesloe was my princess, and a fellow Quartermaster, but I had never held her as a romantic figure in my mind. Terish had. I knew that he and Pesloe had a serious relationship, and it was because of that she turned to him when Cornispe proposed to her. My opinion was that it would be Terish to equate Ayither with Pesloe. It however still bothered me that there could be a connection. While both were not afraid of a serious conflict, they did not look alike or even fight in a similar manner. I finally had to ask about the statement Terish made.

"Why would she have me think of Pesloe?"

There was strength in Terish’s voice as he replied, "You better damn well not be thinking of her as Pesloe. You take that girl and love her. She is not with you to be your companion, Hallith, but hopefully your wife."

"Oh."

Terish had me on that one. The situations in which I had taken Ayither were those similar to the periods I had spent with Pesloe. In the back of my mind I did not think of the two ladies as being the same, but I had to accept that they might take on a similar role. Terish was correct that my relationship with Ayither was not the same as Pesloe, and my future for the champion of storm would hopefully be something a lot more intimate than just an eternal fellow warrior.

I replied, "I can accept that, Terish, but I believe that is where my time with Kierle helped. I can actually think of a lady as a wife. Ayither is definitely not Pesloe, and I can say Ayither is filling a place in my heart I would say I had sealed up."

Once again we heard Ayither yell out that she was storm, and we both laughed with Terish saying, "You will probably even have to deal with your children screaming that out."

I replied, "I promise you, Terish, that I won't get tired of it."

"Then, as your friend, let me say that I am willing to get used to it as well." There was a pause, then Terish added, "I think we got this, Hallith. Let's finish it."

There had been two dragons. One was breathing acid and the other lightning. Both were just as potentially deadly to the multitude of scaly humanoid opponents also facing us and the surrounding structure as they would be to us should we not have had defenses. That kept both dragons from actually using their breaths, which made them just really big opponents. I had a large sword that went through the dragon-like humanoids and deep into the actual dragons. Ayither also used a sword. While not as grand as mine, she would use both hands to have the blade cut in just as deadly of an attack as my own. Of course Terish had a sword. Its slightly long, thin blade was so heavily enchanted that even with one hand it could slice through almost anything as if going through butter. When he made that previous statement, I guess that he saw his opening on the final dragon, as suddenly that opponent screamed and spewed acid in a manner that I knew it had been fatally struck.

I took on what remained of the half-dragons while Ayither and Terish went about the circumference of the chamber assuring that none of our opponents were hiding or that no traps had been set. Those fighting me really had no training. They did show some skill in defending themselves, so were surviving, but not really managing to hurt me even with their superior numbers. I however knew that the fight was over when Ayither rushed behind a couple and powered an attack with her sword that ended the life of them both.

She said, "You were acting like calm, Hallith. Just methodically going through your combat routines without concern for the battle itself."

I knew to be insulted, so replied, "All right, Ayither, I was enjoying myself. Also, it does help to every now and then perfect certain attack styles. I will admit that this was the sequence I saw Slidell using, but I saw no reason not to check it out with opponents that really seemed unable to hurt me."

Her eyes went up and down looking me over, then she said, "They weren't hurting you."

I killed my last opponent, then stepped up to her to look over her wonderful form before saying, "I believe that I see a few cuts on you."

"I took on the dragons."

"And I didn't stop you. Hope you had fun. I found myself with these whatever-they-are and decided to test out a different attack style than my usual one. I might not have been as deadly as you, but I kept these things off you and freed you up to take on those dragons."

She smiled, letting me know that things were really all right with her as she said, "Dragons are more fun to fight."

"Anything different can be fun, at least for a time. I was having fun."

"How about magic? Terish uses magic."

"Never got to where I could use it. I know a lot about it. I have been up against a number of magic using opponents. There are things I know to do when around magic, but never figured out how to use it myself."

She just looked at me for a time, and all I could do was wait for some evidence of what she was thinking. "I saw you do things with water."

"I am water. Zetrullid, my god, is a water god. I can thus do things with water or around water. Same with you and air." Thinking about what Terish had spoken to me about, I decided to add, "Should we marry and you bless me with children, I will probably teach them to scream out 'I am water' the way you scream out 'I am storm.'"

"As long as they don't go around screaming out 'I am calm.'"

I chuckled, then did bellow out, "I AM CALM!" Before she could reply, I said, "I don't think that works."

She laughed, then came close to kiss me. This was not just a peck on a cheek or a short sign of affection, but a period of close contact and warmth. I enjoyed the experience doing my best to extend the kiss as long as I could.

Terish approached to say, "We need to be moving. Sometimes proving yourself against those who are supposed to be protecting an area only makes those in charge put up better defenses."

I replied, "I would hope that he would parlay. That happened a few times during my centuries as a Quartermaster. They seldom had an effect on things, but it was nice sometimes to know things about your enemy."

"And this one is not necessarily our enemy."

"Yes. All those centuries I knew that I was being sent upon serious threats. This time, well, not exactly certain what we are up against. I mean, you are supposed to be calm, Terish."

He laughed, then said, "I am like Ayither. I enjoyed fighting the dragons. Finding more would not have me feel bad at all. Of course, that same philosophy actually had the dragons around Thiminy realize that it was better to avoid my land and even come to me to discuss things instead of attacking. Not really certain how quick those here will be to change their tactics."

Ayither commented, "I don't see gold in this room."

"I don't see any base metal either. One would suspect that a work area would be near the portal, but I know that having things work out conveniently sometimes requires more work than we would want. Stay alert, as there could be more resistance to us unraveling this mystery."

I followed the two interested in my surroundings as being the home for dragons. I really never considered them as architects or users of furniture. Terish never spoke of his dragon as desiring more than a cave filled with gold, so I looked at the surroundings wondering about these creatures that had spent time and possibly money to construct the building surrounding us.

Terish and Ayither were in front of what was clearly a couple of decorated panels sealing a doorway. I did not know why they stopped, but I paused to admire the red filigree and blue designs set against a dark-green coating over the surface that I felt to be stone. I did not surprise me to hear that Terish saw more than I did in the sealed portal.

"There is enchantment on the doors. I however am wondering why. I really cannot feel that whoever we are chasing actually expected us to overcome those he set in the room."

Dalinth came up behind me panting. Seeing him unable to cope with just one fight, much less the extended battles that I knew the rest of us would consider something to enjoy, I had to agree with Terish. The one that had been working in the sphere should have been expecting champions like Dalinth, so should have trusted that those we met in the room would have been more than capable of resisting any incursion.

He calmed his heavy breathing enough to ask, "Why have we stopped?"

Ayither answered, "There is an enchantment on the door."

"White or black?"

Terish replied, "I was wondering if you would ask that. The ward is similar to the seal, but made to drain off the power of black. Elemental forces helped us get through the seal, but I was wondering how it might affect you, or if you had some method of discharging it."

He advanced while saying, "I was annoyed at the seal, because I could not overcome it. It was however pleasant to find Retarund truly bothered by it." I noticed him chuckling as he looked over the seal, and was clearly in a happy mood when he concluded, "Yes, I can overcome this. This is the type of ward that we are taught to overcome."

Without asking for advice or warning us of his actions, he pulled out a gem. With it clasped in his left fist while the hand was stretched out away from his body, he held out his right hand toward the doorway. A haze I had not perceived became obvious as the gem began to glow. I then felt like he should have asked for advice when a strong, deep voice spoke through the portal.

"I have you now."

_________________
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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