Sumayah, Free Chapters

Mesha, only a vision of Shion's dreams?

And only the poet

With wings to his brain

Can mount him and ride him

Without any rein,

The stallion of heaven,

The steed of the skies,

The horse of the singer

Who sings as he flies.

~ Eleanor Farjeon

 

 

PREFACE

 

          I must confess that when I was writing book one, I never thought there would be a book two. But in finishing up book one, I soon realized there was a much bigger plan at work here. I thought I was done speaking my truth in book one, but lo and behold, I have much more “truth” to tell. I don’t write for the commercial aspect of it. I write as my responsibility to the world, joining other like-minded authors in the new age of writing consciously. We write under a new genre, which is called Visionary Fiction.

          Many lessons and messages are woven in the storyline, a story rich with emotion and beauty, a fairy tale in an enchanted realm.

          Love is the main ingredient in my saga—how the heroine must sacrifice all to save those she has never met! Most humans have yet to experience the truest form of love, for I believe if they had, our world would be a much different world. I like to think we would still be living on the lost continent of Lemuria, our lost Garden of Eden, our utopian society.

          One can only surmise as to what happened to our ancient and spiritually evolved lost civilizations. But my theory for Lemuria and Agartha is that they are still here, but in a much higher dimension than where mankind has chosen to live.

          I had the best time writing this book; it was a journey of self-discovery, an awakening. Is that not what life is truly about, reaching for our next level of learning and growth?

In book two, I have gone back to Shion’s past life as a young girl struggling to become a priestess of Lemuria. Her life in Lemuria is more complex, and she realizes it is not her own, that she has come to the blue planet, which they lovingly call Mother Earth, to help humankind, who has been led astray.

          We learn how the dragonhorse was created, and we go into lost worlds only thought of as legend or myth. I will bring the realms of Lemuria and Agartha to you like you have never read before. I pick up where Jules Verne left off, but in keeping with the magic and wonder of this gypsy fairy tale: the love affair between a Lemurian priestess and her Fae, her dragons, and her horses.

          If you loved book one of this saga, I promise you will love Sumayah as much as I do. You might even find yourself reading book one again, right after you read the last word of Sumayah.

          For those of you who have not read Dragonhorse and the Seeker of the Forgotten Knowledge, I recommend you do so before reading Sumayah.

 

 

Chapter 1

Dragon Scent

 

          The earth throbbed. The beat, quick and continuous, was a dead giveaway to what Sumayah knew approached. Holding her breath, she squinted and focused on the early-morning horizon in anticipation, waiting and watching as the growing, pale cloud of dust rolled right toward them. A tingling sensation coursed through her whole being, and her skin prickled. These beings had a hold on her, always had, but she knew not what the connection was.

          Riva fidgeted noisily behind her. Sumayah jerked her head in the direction of the big-boned girl, narrowing her deep, sapphire-blue eyes in warning, and Riva obliged.

          Sumayah turned her attention back to the approaching cloud. A hand tenderly sneaked its way into hers, and she smiled, knowing it was Jaylan.

          “Is this what Mergus spoke of?” Jaylan whispered, barely audible over the thundering sound.

          The question snapped Sumayah’s thoughts back to the wizard’s classroom so fast, she thought she felt her neck pop.

 

          The tall wizard stroked a lock of his cascading white beard, a perfect match to his waist-length head of hair. He walked a few feet in one direction, spun on his silent booted heel, then seemingly floated in the opposite direction. His gray-blue eyes sparkled knowingly as he gazed at the two crystal pillars that towered fifty feet in the air as sentries to the gates of Lemuria. Twin dragons held fast to each pillar, long golden talons gripping the luminous obelisks as if only death would lessen their hold.

          His gaze averted, he cleared his throat. Sumayah shifted nervously on the soft woven carpet beneath her backside as the wizard chose her to rest his sights on. A slight twinge to his lips hinted of a smile.

          The wizard cleared his throat again and spoke. “They came long ago—in the beginning—one of only a few species allowed to come to Mother Earth along with us, from the realm of Arcturus. They had passed the Grand Inquisition and were allowed entrance, along with the phoenix, our most sacred bird. But be forewarned before you try to conquer these great beings, for they will test you. This will be the final and hardest test that you will be given before you can continue on to the teachings of the Goddess…”

 

          “Oh, I pick that one,” said Riva, pointing her long finger over Sumayah’s shoulder, yanking her from Mergus’s classroom.

          “We can pick all we want, but it is up to them to choose us,” said Sumayah, her words forced out between pursed lips of annoyance.Jaylan’s grip on her hand tightened, and she turned to look into the pale sapphire eyes, then down to the slight smile on the girl’s overly plump, pale-pink lips.

          “They are beautiful,” Jaylan said in a breathy whisper.

          The rhythmic beat to the earth slowed, and the billowing cloud of dust began to clear as the massive herd slowed one by one to stop a few feet away from the treelined edge of the lake. The leader snorted at the tempting waters, making sure it was safe to drink—that no hidden dangers would suddenly spring from the glistening depths to clamp its massive jaws on her slender neck.

          The girls knew what dangers lurked. Lemuria, a floating island secluded from the outside realm of the human race, was beautiful beyond words, but it harbored the most ferocious flesh-eating beasts one could only imagine. Lemurians, a gentle, highly spiritual race foreign to Earth, had come as a rescue mission over three thousand years ago to help the humans. They, the guardians of the skies who kept their ever-watchful eye on the evolution of man, had made the agonizing decision to intervene, even though it was decided prior to the birth of man to never interfere with its goings-on. The human was to be left alone with a will of its own, to create as it wished, but the unauthorized influx of the Reps, a violent, self-seeking race, had plunged the course of man into a downward spiral of self-destruction and planetary destruction.

          Suddenly the leader of the herd snorted, then reared into the air, forcing a loud scream from her lungs. The whole herd flinched and turned, an instinctive response ingrained within them from a thousand years of being preyed upon. They did not wait to see what overshadowed them, and with a flurry of hooves grinding the earth, they tore with lightning speed under the cover of the gigantic weep trees. The trees, with their tendrils of silvery-green, slender limbs caressing the ground in the gentle breeze, made a natural cover for the herd.

          Sumayah saw the shadow too, and her first instinct was to run, but she found that legs turned to stone did not move so well, unable to respond to her command as momentary panic overtook her. She felt Jaylan’s fingernails dig deeply into her palm. She tried to pull her hand away, but a surprising and sudden jolt to her body sent her and Jaylan to the ground. Jaylan landed heavily on Sumayah’s face, pushing it into the moist soil. The pungent smell of dampness and rotting leaves filled her nose. With her mouth and nose now full of earth’s flesh, she could not speak. Her mind screamed, I’m going to be eaten!

          Feeling another push of her face into the earth, she caught a glimpse of a plump ankle before the soil once again blocked her vision. Gathering her remaining strength, Sumayah rolled to the left, unsettling Jaylan, which in turn sent Riva onto her nose.

          “Riva!” Shion yelled, digging dirt from her front teeth and nostrils and quickly scanning the sky for what had spooked the herd.

          The ominous, black form collapsed at the edge of the lake. Sumayah’s breath caught in her throat as she struggled for words. She grabbed Jaylan and yanked her close, then pointed to the figure and put her finger to her lips, shushing any comments that might startle it. She breathed in as a tiny breeze carried the scent of what she could only describe as a mixture of musk and lemons. The smell was unmistakably dragon scent.

          All three girls squatted behind the cover of a hibiscus bush with flowers the size of their heads. The heavy, sweet aroma of flower now masked the scent of dragon.

“I saw it first!” rasped Riva, pulling one flower head to her nose.

          “Well, why in the name of the Goddess did you jump on us?” Sumayah fired back, trying to keep her anger under control.

          Just then the raven-black dragon lowered its long neck into the lake, plunging its head into the glistening waters. After a brief moment, it lifted its head out, sending the water cascading noisily back to the lake. It suddenly let out an earsplitting roar, making the girls cover their ears. They had never heard a dragon vocalize in such a manner before.

          Sumayah’s vision suddenly went blank, replaced with a veil of red light.

“It’s wounded,” she whispered. An uncontrollable urge freed her legs of stone, and she took one step toward the dragon. Two hands grabbed at her shoulders, forcing her around.

          “You cannot go near a wounded dragon,” pleaded Jaylan. “This one must be an outcast—a loner.”

          “Hush, the Goddess has given me vision; I must heed her urgings and go to it.”

          “Sumayah, I’m scared. Don’t leave us here alone,” whispered Riva, wavering a bit on her shaking legs.

          “Riva, don’t you dare faint!” ordered Sumayah, putting out a hand to steady her.

          The dragon belched out another agonizing roar and collapsed at the lake’s edge with a loud thud, sending up a wide spray of water as its head disappeared under the lake.

          “Oh, it will drown! Come on, we have to save it!” ordered Sumayah, running to the beast and dragging the girls with her. They half struggled against Sumayah, but the excitement of possibly healing a dragon surpassed their fears.

          They reached the lake’s edge. The herd, still under the shelter of the weep trees, watched with wary but curious eyes.

          Bubbles gurgled to the surface of the water and popped.

“It still lives, but not for long if we don’t drag that head out,” said Sumayah as they crept cautiously toward their patient.

          They maneuvered to the front of it, Jaylan and Riva hugging on to her like a wet cloak. Sumayah slowly reached her shaking hand out to rest on the glistening black-green scales. It surprisingly was not hard or rough, but smooth and yielding under her hand, and as she rubbed harder, dragon scent wafted to her nose. Braver, she poked at it, which sent up more bubbles from the bottom of the lake. Suddenly realizing the urgency, she splashed into the water. Searching with her hands, she followed the neck until she reached the head.

          “Help me, girls!” she groaned, yanking at the boulder-size head. It gave slightly, and she tried again with a grunt. Suddenly the heavy load became lighter as Jaylan and Riva each grabbed a hunk of dragon flesh.

          “Together, girls, on the count of three! One, two, three!” ordered Sumayah. The head came out, and they struggled with the weight, bending it to the warm sand of the lake’s edge; it landed with a heavy thud. The jolt of the landing sent water pouring from its mouth, and it made an eerie gurgling sound. This frightened Riva and Jaylan, sending them scrambling away on all fours to hide behind a red standing stone.

          Sumayah scanned the dragon. She had been this close before. She loved to visit Drakaous the dragon lord that lived in Crystal Cove right outside of Lemuria. He was a wise and kind dragon and loved to tell her stories of his journeys on Earth. But this dragon seemed different. Besides the obvious, something about this one made her heart feel different. She couldn’t put her finger on it. When she stepped closer, something glinted and flashed, blocking her sight for a second. Changing her position brought it into sight. It was a long-sword, belonging to humans. What would a human sword be doing in this dragon so far away? She knew from Drakaous that human men had begun to hunt dragon flesh. As to why, he could not tell her, but those young, loner dragons that left the island of Lemuria never returned.

          “This one must have been to the realm of men,” she explained to the girls still camped behind the boulder. “It has a long-sword behind its shoulder. I really should pull it out. You two look for comfrey and yarrow.” She turned her sapphire eyes on the two. “And be quick about it!”

          I wonder if I even have the strength to pull the sword from its wound, and worse yet, will it be so angry and hurt that it will awaken and eat me?

“Goddess, help me,” she said aloud and tried three hand grips on the sword before she felt she had the right combination to yank it out, hopefully without awakening the large beast. A small bead of sweat ran down the side of her face. She ignored it and slowly, steadily, began tugging on the sword. Oh, come out, please come out. Then, with a strange squeaking sound, it slid out an inch, releasing the flow of dragon blood. Oh, no—no, don’t do that.

          “Please hurry with the yarrow, he’s bleeding badly.” Once again she pulled on the sword, and this time it gave much easier. She backed away from the dragon until the sword dislodged completely. Another bead of sweat ran down her face to pool at the corner of her lip. She licked at it, tasting the salt.

          Riva came panting with exertion, shoved a large handful of herbs into her hands, and then quickly spun on her heel and dove behind the stone.

          “Some priestess you will be,” Sumayah chanted over her shoulder as she carefully packed the green medicine into the gaping sword wound. Not knowing what else to do, she backed away from the dragon to the shelter of the rock.

          “I think we should send it healing…Do you think we have the power to do it?” asked Jaylan, looking down at her hands.

          But before the question could be further explored, the winged beast shifted its weight.

          The sound of a gasp reached Sumayah’s ears, and she realized it was her own, for Riva was lying in a heap behind her, with Jaylan kneeling at her side.

          Oh, Riva! Sumayah smirked, then watched as the dragon shifted again, then rolled slowly to a half-sitting position. It turned its massive head to look directly at her, then beyond her. Its large crimson-rimmed nostrils sucked in the air from her direction. The expression in its deep amber-orange eyes changed from wonder to recognition and widened, exposing white rims as panic set in. It struggled to its hindquarters and let out a long hiss.

          Sumayah’s heart filled with sorrow, for she did not feel danger from the beast but only fear. She knew it wanted to put as much distance between her and itself as it could. What happened to you? What did the humans do to make you so fearful—well, besides running you through?

          A whistle behind her alerted her. It was Mesha; he had come to check on them. The whistle startled the dragon all the more. It limped along the lakeshore, gaining speed, huffing and puffing as if to conjure more strength with its fiery breath. Then with a mighty groan, it went airborne, catching and riding the late-morning breeze into the blinding rays of sunlight.

          Mesha was upon them in an instant. Jaylan ran to him, panting. “Did you see it?”

          Mesha frowned down at the raven-haired girl. “You were supposed to be letting the herd get used to your scent. Not mingling scents with a dragon.”

          “Mesha, we were watching the herd when the dragon practically fell out of the sky onto them.” Sumayah pointed into the weep trees. “See, they are hidden there still.”

          Sumayah watched as he dismounted from his white stallion. She remembered the day he had stumbled half dead into Lemuria almost two hundred years ago. He had been her constant companion ever since. To this day no one knew of his plight, for he would not speak of it. Though she had tried many a time, he would not “go there.” His black hair glinted like freshly polished onyx, and his brown eyes bore into her, sending a slight shiver through her body. He was the catch of Lemuria; all upcoming priestesses wanted him, though Sumayah did not know why. Maybe it was his mysterious past? Or maybe the strange sensation she felt in her stomach when he was near was felt by all the young women in Lemuria.

          His voice brought her from her thoughts. “Tell me of this dragon…”

          “It had a man sword in its—its side,” interrupted Riva, brushing sage from her crumpled skirt.

          “I pulled it out, Mesha—it did not harm me,” said Sumayah. “It was more scared of us than we were of it! What would terrify a dragon in such a manner?”

          “Reps.” Mesha spit the word. “I have heard from the Fae that Reps have a bounty on all dragon flesh. They have the humans killing every one that comes to their land. I fear once they have them eradicated there, they will leave their lands to look for more…and come here.”

          “Why on this Earth would they want the dragons dead?” asked Sumayah. “I don’t understand such thinking.”

          “I do not have an answer, but I do know the lord of the Fae is very worried and seeks council with the king—your king.”

          Sumayah could not stop the excitement in her voice at Mesha’s statement.

“Lord Fallonay is coming! Will—will he be bringing his son, Ryven?” Immediately she put her hand to her mouth. Speaking the name Ryven in front of Mesha always seemed to make him simmer inside…as it was doing right now. Wanting to take the scowl off his face, she quickly added, “I bet Princess Elspeth will attend also.”

          The last sentence only made his scowl grow all the more, until his right nostril flared into the most unappealing manner.

“Come, enough of the Fae…you were sent here to mingle your scent with the king’s herd. Have you picked any yet?” he asked, bending to look in the forest of trees.

          “We were afraid to get too close…we didn’t want them to dimension shift,” replied Jaylan, also bending to look into the forest. “You know how easily they do that.”

          “Well, if you were up on your studies, you would shift right with them, wouldn’t you?” Mesha said in exchange.

          Sumayah interrupted. “Mesha, you know we are not yet ready for such a magic task. Why, even Mergus shifts only for dire circumstances and not just to follow a herd of horses.”

          “Well, do what you must or mustn’t, but for you girls to pass into the level of priestess, you must bring a horse.”

          “I don’t really like horses all that much,” Riva chimed in. “They make me sneeze.”

          “Riva, you know that the horse is the only being that can project your true inner self, expressing outwardly your—what’s the right word I’m looking for—readiness,” lectured Sumayah. “And it is the only being that will allow your companionship if you can raise your level of vibration to its own, a level needed to be reached in order to become priestess,” she continued, reciting the words of her mother, Lhayan, a master at horsemanship who had several companion horses of her own.

          Sumayah puffed out her chest. “I will go first. I have been practicing—it cannot be that difficult. Why, just look at Mesha and his stallion. If he can do it, I can do it.”

          Mesha snorted at her statement. “Well, get on with it, little priestess-to-be.” He grabbed her by the shoulders and shoved her toward the trees where the herd watched contentedly, chewing on sweet grass.

          Jaylan stepped forward with her, but Mesha stayed her with his arm. “Let her go first…would be best if one at a time went.”

          Sumayah took a deep breath. Think like Mergus—think priest, but in my case, think priestess. Yes, I’m raising my level of vibration now…I can feel it. She stepped forward once, than stepped forward again. Maybe if I whistle a nice tune, they won’t shift. She puckered up her lips and blew. Nothing. She blew again much harder. The sound was not sweet and lulling. It came out loud, long, and raspy like a beast snort, which in turn sent the herd deeper into the trees.

She felt her determination wane; she could feel the stares of Mesha, Jaylan, and Riva searing her back. She had to move forward, had to keep pushing on. Forget the whistle, that was stupid. What would Mother do? Taking another step, then another, brought her closer to the herd. She saw many pairs of golden-brown eyes peering through the cover of leaves at her. One of them stomped its foot. She froze in her tracks.

A bead of sweat ran down the side of her face. She ignored the temptation to wipe it away. But it was strong. The sweat traveled farther and farther down, tickling all the way. The urge to wipe was much stronger now, and it tickled. No, don’t do it, don’t put that hand up, she screamed within herself! Ah, but too late. The temptation became too strong, and up went her hand. And as she had figured, in the blink of her eye, the herd shifted into the next dimension.

          “Mind control, Sumayah, and today you did not exhibit the control over mind that was needed,” lectured Mesha. “If you cannot stop your body parts from flailing needlessly, you will never move up to priestess.”

          Sumayah heard none of Mesha’s bantering. A vision of Ryven, his waist-length, chocolate-black hair, and piercing, crystal-green eyes flooded her mind. She had only seen him one other time. But that was all it took to forever etch the young Fae into her mind and heart.

 

Chapter 2

Ryven

 

          “Who are you watching, Ryven?”

          Ryven, startled, felt his heart beat in his chest. Thump, thump, thump.

“Elspeth, why do you insist on sneaking around? I could have run you through. It’s not like the old days, you know!”

          The elegant Fae stepped from behind him to see what had his attention. “Ah, I see…she is sprouting like a well-tended rose, is she not?” she teased.

          Not wanting his sister to see his blush, he did not look at her when he spoke. “I was watching Mesha.” Than it dawned on him what she might be doing here, and he spun to face her.

“Why, Elspeth, what might you be looking at? Might it be the handsome, raven-like creature with them?” He let out a chuckle, knowing he had her this time.

          “Ryven, whatever do you mean? We know that Sumayah is promised to him. So why would I waste my time?” She ended her sentence by flicking an invisible speck from her luminous gown.

          He knew all too well whom Sumayah was promised to. But today, watching the two of them interact made it all too real. Besides, he knew his father, Lord Fallonay, would never consent to a communion between a Fae and a Lemurian, even though she could live for another nine hundred years or more. He sighed and looked at his sister.

“I was tracking a loner—a big male. He must have wandered to the realm of men.” He paused a moment, watching Sumayah and her entourage leave. “It was badly wounded and even very fearful of the Lemurians. I fear his dealings with the humans did not bode well.”

          Elspeth rested her hand on his arm. “As would be expected. I cannot believe he made it back to our island. What happened? Where did he go?”

          Ryven couldn’t suppress his grin as he recounted how the girls had administered to it.

“Sumayah did display a great show of courage when she pulled the long-sword from its shoulder. Once the sword was dislodged, it gathered enough strength to fly.”

          Elspeth frowned in concern. “Come, brother, Lord Fallonay awaits your presence. The dragon will most likely make its way to Mergus and Drakaous, or he could be in Faeria right now.”

          Ryven turned to see Black waiting patiently for him. Ryven patted the big horse lovingly, then swung himself on his back. Elspeth whistled to her mount, which was grazing quietly. The pearl-white mare nickered in answer and trotted to Elspeth.

          “I just don’t understand why you chose a unicorn. They are so independent, Elspeth.”

          Elspeth chuckled softly at his comment. “Ryven, it takes a female touch to acquire a unicorn. Yes, they can be as unpredictable—as a woman. We understand each other. And besides—she picked me.”

          The mare nodded her head at Elspeth, whose pure-white, silken tresses flowed in motion almost to her knee.

          Ryven patted Black. “Black and I have an understanding too. Let’s go, boy,” he urged, and all four took off at a healthy, ground-eating canter.

 

          Faeria was within the realm of Lemuria; the Lemurians and the Fae harmoniously shared the island. You knew when you arrived in Faeria by the change in atmosphere and landscape. Faeria was the mecca of three-hundred-foot-tall willow trees…unlike the weep trees, the willow trunks were doubly wide, with far-reaching, intertwining roots that came above, then went below in the soft green earth like some elemental work of art. Some of the Fae lived within the trunks of the trees and the weavings of the gray-brown, intricately carved-out roots and limbs. Some even chose to live fifty feet or higher in the swaying coolness of the enormous and thickly leaved canopy. The leafy limbs interlocked in such a way, they became a perfect roof for the inhabitants.

The climate, though temperate, had been known to bring sudden weather changes that could be unpleasantly wet. The forest and its dwellers were also protected by the Faerian Ridge, the northern end of the mountains of Lemuria, raggedly sharp, jutting skyward as barrier to the often-savage and relentless beating the island took from the waves of the endless ocean that stretched beyond the island, separating them from the realm of man.

          Ryven loved his home and could not suppress a smile as the ever-present smell of jasmine flowers sensuously swaddling the feminine curves and lines of the willows filled his nostrils with a heady sweetness. It naturally calmed him as he and Elspeth entered the city.

          Tial, a winged elemental was there to meet them. Ryven swiped at her lavender and pale-yellow iridescent wings as they fluttered too close to his face. She easily avoided his halfhearted movement and closed one bright aqua eye in a quick wink.

Pushing a strand of white-blond hair behind her ear, she said, “Welcome back, Ryven and Elspeth. The lord is waiting for you. He instructed me to watch for your return and bring you to him without delay.”

          “Why, thank you, Tial,” replied Elspeth as she dismounted, letting the unicorn amble away.

          A short while later, Ryven and his sister stood before the council of Lord Fallonay. Lord Fallonay was a proud, striking man. His jet-black hair, braided with eye-catching strands of ribbon, hung thick and heavy to his waist over his elegant robe of iridescent green and black. The sleeves were long and deep, his hands gathered at his solar plexus in a white-knuckle grip.

          Ryven gulped, noticing the ever-present twitch of Lord Fallonay’s left cheek. He knew he had inherited the same telltale sign, warning everyone how serious or urgent the matter at hand was. Elspeth pressed her warm hand in his. This comforted him, and together they stood in front of the stern, yet compassionate ruler of Faeria.

          “I am so very honored that you two took time from your day to grace me with your presence.” He winked at them, his meticulously groomed left eyebrow arching downward.

          Must be very important since all of the Faerian court has been summoned, Ryven thought. He looked about the room as his father addressed the throngs of beautiful beings who stood hanging on his every word. Each one dressed much the same as the lord, some in a lighter shade of green or a deep orange gold. Some choose to plait their untouched, never-cut locks of hair, and some let them hang in a long continuous wave of glistening mane.

          Those who were too short to watch this most important gathering, hovered silently as if they were standing on an invisible strand of hair, extended from one end of the courtyard to the next. It was quite a spectacle of brightly colored wings, in every hue imaginable. The constant flutter reminded Ryven of the hummingbirds that lived near the honeysuckle and jasmine. Just the thought filled his nose once again with the sweet musk of jasmine.

          Lord Fallonay motioned for his two most prized possessions to sit next to him on ornately carved and polished stools of oak wood.

          There was a sudden hush as attendees of the meeting began to separate, leaving a long and wide opening to the courtyard. What is Drakaous doing here? He hasn’t been seen in court for many years. Ryven watched the dragon, even with his great size, nimbly come forward, making sure to keep his enormous silver-black wings tucked in and out of the way. Drakaous’s large blood-orange eyes spied Ryven, and he gave him a slight nod. Ryven could not stop the feeling of his hair trying to crawl off his head as the grand beast proudly walked by. Dragons always had this strange effect on him. Something about the communing of energies, he was once told. Not only did the presence of the dragon make his hair prickle, but dragon scent was also unmistakable. He admitted he did enjoy the smell.

          “Drakaous, it has been much too long!” Lord Fallonay said, walking up to the towering dragon. He held out his hand to give him an affectionate pat.

          “I know why you have summoned me,” Drakaous replied, his proud stance softening a bit. “Times are changing, Fallonay. T’is not the same. Too many beings have conjured their way to the realm of Earth, even though uninvited. All of the careful designing and planning now means nothing.”

          Lord Fallonay patted the strongly molded flesh. “Drakaous, don’t look so defeated. We knew from the very beginning there would always be a chance that it would not go as planned. We must make the best of what comes our way—and if it be bad—so be it. I am ready for a good challenge!”

          The silent courtyard became alive with chatter. Lord Fallonay stood listening for a moment, then held up his hand.

“Please, please, our times have not yet become so desperate. This is why I have summoned Drakaous.” Slowly he turned his head, scanning the gathering.

“We must remember who we are—and why we have come to dwell upon this chosen realm. We have been here from the very beginning, for we are the air, as sylphs that flutter in the breeze of our breath. We are the earth, as gnomes that bring body and foundation. We are the fire, as salamanders of the creative flames that we live and learn by. We are water, as undines, the tides of emotion that rock to and fro. We know that we are what holds our Earth from separating into nonexistence. We are the elements that have created her! Without the elements there is nothing. But how do you make a human understand this? Their minds have been shut by the self-seeking tutoring’s of the Reps…”

His last words trailed off as he stood in deep contemplation. His hand went up, and his finger smoothed his thin right brow.

          “Fallonay, the Reps have control over the humans, though the humans are in the belief that they are in control,” explained Drakaous with a heavy sigh. “Their illusion of life will surely bring them to an end, and all will be lost!”

          Ryven did not like what he was hearing, and a vision of the wounded dragon filled his mind. He rose from his wooden stool and turned to his father.

“What part do the Lemurians have in this?”

          Drakaous’s slumped form straightened once again to his enormous stature. His nostrils flared as he looked at Ryven, and then took in a deep, long breath. His gesture unnerved everyone, and most took a few tentative steps back. The dragon could not help but let his lip curl up into a grin.

“Master Ryven, they now have a great part in this. Even though they had come only as a scouting party in the beginning…” The dragon’s voice trailed off, and he stared into the distance.

          This is new information, and noteworthy, thought Ryven. Can I use this information to my advantage somehow? After watching Sumayah today, all he could think about was finding a way to get to closer her, to know more about her.

          “There was an accident…,” Drakaous began again. “It was most tragic, and something had transpired, though I must confess I do not have knowledge of what that was, but those left behind after the accident were told they must now become part of the ‘scheme of things, the goings-on of Earth.”

          Lord Fallonay turned to Ryven. “Then we must have council with the Lemurians. Whether they wanted it or not, they are part of this world now, and must take their role in the original design.”

 

Chapter 3

The Vision

 

            The sudden rapid pounding of hooves awoke her with a jolt. Feeling dizzy, she scrambled up the slippery, hot rocks, hurriedly gathering her scattered clothing. A curse escaped her lips as she tripped, trying to get her foot into the opening of her skirt. The rider had come upon them so fast, she could only yank up her skirt and hold her tunic in front of her. The wolf growled loudly as the horseman approached, giving her only a slight sense of protection. She noticed with a frown that the knife kept in her skirt pocket had fallen out and was halfway down the rocks.

          Seeing the wolf and half-naked girl, the muscular, black horse came to a sliding halt, his deep, red nostrils flared.

          “Steady there, my friend. I do doubt this half-naked waif can harm us,” soothed the young rider. The great horse spun; the raven-haired young man craned his neck around. His crystal-green eyes locked on her. His thick, dark brow came together as he studied her and her wolf.

          “Are you not afraid of the ghosties?” the young man asked, a slight grin spreading across his face. The black steed reared, pawing the air. “There, there, Black, tis rude not to stop and chat when you come upon a true and lovely faerie of the woods!”

          So he thinks he is charming, she thought. Sticking her nose in the air to peer at him sideways, she replied, “I have no reason to fear the spirits at this place. I have been coming here since I was a wee girl.” She could feel the heat in her face rise from the fluttering sensations of attraction. Besides his elfish—yes, that’s the word—elfish good looks, she had never seen a man handle a horse in such a controlling, yet gentle manner. That intrigued her more than his appearance—granted, he did have great appeal sitting so confidently upon his stallion, but it was his horsemanship that made her forget she was half dressed. She was so lost in her self-banter, she was startled when he spoke to her.

          “Well, my lady,” he said, then let out a loud laugh, “I will carry on and leave you to your—endeavors. Might I give you a warning first?” He flashed a toothy smile, his eyes expressing the enjoyment of her manner of undress. “I would cover yourself…you just never know who you might meet in these woods. Not all are as honorable as I.” With that said, he clucked to his black steed, and they loudly cantered off. He managed to turn his head to take one last look before he disappeared into the tag alders…

          Sirius took that moment to land with a flapping flurry next to Sumayah as she lay in her altered state. The slap of the feathery wings on her face wrenched her from her vision.

“Sirius!” she hollered at the golden-red phoenix staring at her intently. Sitting up, she stroked the raptor, loving the silky softness of her gold-tipped hackles. “If you would have given me just a short while longer, I would know who this mysterious horseman is,” she said, planting a light kiss on the large raptor’s head. The raptor, loving the attention, nuzzled closer.

          Just who is this horseman that keeps appearing in my visions? He seems so very familiar to me. I must talk with Mergus about this. He will help me. But, her thoughts were taken away by a shrill whinny off in the distance. Standing quickly, she searched the shadows beneath the weep trees. The usual rhythmic pounding of hooves on soil could not be heard. This one is alone. But why? This could work to my advantage. Her eyes watered as she concentrated on the shadows. She blinked once and then blinked again. Her vision soon returned, and she saw a filly standing at the lake’s edge.

          Sumayah sucked in her breath at the beauty before her. She had never seen such a color. Gold was as close as she could describe it, but a pale gold—not yellow, but an iridescent white gold. The filly was young—three, she guessed. But she was exquisite, with a snakelike neck attached to a well-balanced frame and the longest, finest legs Sumayah had ever witnessed on a horse. Who was your mama? The king would be most pleased to see you!

          The filly must have spotted Sumayah, because she jerked her head up, ears twitching to catch any sound. She let out a snort. Her tail raised, and she spun. But instead of running off into another dimension, she relaxed and turned. Her large, soft eyes connected with Sumayah.

          Sumayah held her breath and walked out from the cover of the house-size fern. It brushed at her cheek as she walked past. She tried to recollect Mergus’s instruction. Something about matching energy…or more like matching one’s level of frequency or vibration to the other. She knew from listening to her father that horses were very sensitive. They can hear a sound coming from far, far away. They can even hear your heartbeat, so you must always maintain a steady, calm beat. Her heart pounded uncontrollably. Steady, steady there, Sumayah. Take a deep breath and will your heart to slow. To her amazement it worked. Her heart calmed, and she took one step closer, then another. By this time Sirius had become bored and had flown off to find something else to bother.

          The filly stood as if mesmerized by Sumayah’s approach. Her delicately molded lips played with the air as if to catch a scent of the nearing Lemurian.

          Just a few more steps, and I will have you in my grasp. Sumayah’s hand itched to feel the softness of the filly, and she took another step, but something suddenly changed. The filly snorted and reared straight into the air. Not wanting to lose her, Sumayah ran the last few steps, sending her right under the filly. The filly’s flailing front legs came down with a heavy thud. Sumayah grunted as one sharp hoof landed squarely on her right shoulder. The impact sent Sumayah face-first into the soft soil. Oh, dirt tastes awful. The filly whinnied again and circled Sumayah twice.

          Something else was here, and Sumayah twisted her body; her flesh prickled in warning. Panic rose, and she feared looking up at what it might be. The filly ran around her as if trying to protect her. Then a hair-raising, hideous scream pierced the air, ending in a toothy hiss. The filly bolted and dimension shifted clear out of sight.

          The foul smell, the scream, and the hiss told Sumayah exactly what she needed to know. She braced as she slowly came to her knees and looked over her left shoulder. The twitching of the tail gave up its hiding spot. Her mind raced. Long-tooth cat, brought to our world by the Reps. I have no protection. I cannot dimension shift like the filly yet. I don’t have the learned powers yet. I am too young, too young for power, too young to die. Why, I am only three hundred years old!

          The horse-sized cat crouched behind the overgrown wild roses, twitching with the anticipation of a kill. Claws extended and dug into the moist soil. The strong scent of musk and foul breath made its way to Sumayah, unnerving her all the more. Her heart pummeled her chest painfully. Her body convulsed, and her teeth chattered loudly as she prepared to leave this lifetime. Mergus will be so disappointed in me.

          The cat once again let out a low growl that ended in a hiss. It took two steps, exposing itself fully. Muscle on muscle twitched and bulged. Its upper lip quivered, two dagger-like teeth protruded from its mouth. It took another step closer to her and crouched lower.

          Sumayah felt her stomach roll and threaten to come up her throat. She knew the cat would be on her now. She held her arms in front of her, hoping to hold off the gigantic beast as it leaped so easily, so gracefully, right at her. Her eyes automatically closed in defense…

          Suddenly a great whoosh of air hit her—well, she thought it was air, until it knocked her to the ground. A clump of dirt hit her square in the face and splattered into her peeking eyes. She blinked the dirt away, listening to the horrendous sounds of guttural growls, snarls, and a sort of bellowing that ensued around her.

          Desperate to see, she wiped at the dirt, glimpsing bits and pieces of the carnage before her. Never in her life did she think she would witness a battle between a dragon and a cat. She knew this one would be till death.

          The silver-black tail of the dragon lashed out and slammed into the cat and sent it airborne. It wildly grappled for something to hold on to as it landed heavily. Its enormous claws desperately clung to soil as the dragon latched on to it, dragging it backward. It let out a hideous cry and twisted toward its attacker. The black beast clamped its massive jaws around the neck of the cat and chomped down. The sickening crunch of yielding flesh and bone sent shivers through Sumayah. She stood frozen, not sure what to do. Her palm pulsated with energy in response to the battered creature that stood only a few feet away.

          The cat was dead silent. The dragon pushed at it one last time, then lifted its head to gaze at Sumayah. Trails of blood ran down the fresh wounds near its large blood-orange eyes. A stench of rotting flesh filled the air, and with a mournful cry, it hefted itself into the air and flew into the amber glow of the setting sun.

          It still lives, but by the smell of it, not for long. But why on Mother Earth did it save me, it seemed so afraid the last time it saw me? Her hand still pulsated with energy. It might be alive now, but that smell meant trouble. She knew the old sword wound needed more tending to. Grateful for what it had done for her, she felt strongly compelled to search for it, to help it. But how do you follow something that flies, just like how do you follow a filly that can dimension shift?

          She noticed the sun sinking farther into the horizon, and that was her sign to get back home. Carefully she tiptoed up to the mangled cat and gave it a good kick. The muscles twitched in response, which sent her into a run. She would explain to her father that they must search for the dragon, the dragon that saved her life.

 

          As she neared the crystal pillars at the city gates, Mesha ran out to meet her. His handsome, dark face was etched with worry, his heavy brows were knitted into a deep frown.

          “Don’t look in such a manner, or your face could stay that way,” she said to him with a laugh.

          “Where have you been?” He grabbed at her arm and stopped her to give her the once-over. “By the looks of you, you got yourself into trouble again.”

          “How am I to become a full-fledged priestess if everyone is always so concerned about my whereabouts? If you must know, I was looking for the herd. And I found the one. Oh, you should just see her. She is magnificent, exquisite. Father will be so pleased!”

          Mesha let go of her arm and began wiping away the soil still smeared under her eye. “You do not look like a priestess with all this dirt.”

          She pushed away his hand and stomped her foot. “Well, Mesha, not only did I find the one, but I was attacked by a long-tooth!”

          Mesha’s jaw dropped, contorting his handsome face once again. A strand of silken black hair fell in front of his bulging eyes. He roughly turned her around one way, then the other.

“I see no wounds. Are you hurt? What—how?” He grabbed her to him in a snakelike embrace.

          Sumayah let him hold her for a moment. It felt safe. He felt strong, and he smelled pretty darned good, like lavender and rosemary after a fresh rain.

          “Mesha, it was that dragon again,” she mumbled into his chest. “It killed the long-tooth!” She pulled from his crushing embrace and looked into his deep-set black eyes. “It is not mending from the sword wound. I want to look for it, to see if I can help it.” She studied his expression and what little she saw made her wonder. He was hard to read.

          “Sumayah, it is a loner. It came from the realm of man. It is not like the dragons here on Lemuria. It could be a rogue.”

          What is he talking about? Rouge? If it was a rogue, why did it save me? This was the first she had ever heard about rogue dragons. Somewhat angered, she turned and walked into the inner city without a word.

          Mesha followed her, and they walked through the glistening city of pearl-white buildings. Each home had its own smaller crystal pillars, which gave the city its energy. It was pure and clean. Between each home ran a sparkling stream of fresh water, which also helped control the atmosphere in the city. The air was not dry and harsh, but temperate and soft upon the skin. Dust and grime were unheard of. The Lemurians fit their city, for they were as beautiful as their city.

          Mergus lived on the outskirts nearer to the sea; he wanted to keep clear of the “commotion” of city life. His home was humble; some say it was a mix between a tree dwelling in Faeria and a Lemurian home. He liked to dwell closer to the trees—said they were the best and fastest route of information past and present, with a little future thrown in.

          “Why must you bother Mergus with this, Sumayah?” Mesha ran in front of her, giving her one of his “looks,” raising his eyebrow in disapproval.

          “He knows the dragons the best. He councils with Drakaous and his brothers and knows all there is to know about them.”

          Mesha put out a hand to try to slow her, but she pushed past it. “You know he does not like unannounced visitations.”

          This time Sumayah stopped. She looked questioningly at Mesha. Why does he not want me to talk to Mergus?

“It is getting late, Mesha. Do not slow me any longer, for I will not be able to see the wizard…or is that what you intend?” She gave him a long look, then spun and walked even faster toward the wizard’s dwelling.

          “Then I leave you to your endeavors,” was all he said and let her go the rest of the way alone.

          She paid him no mind. She had had two encounters with this one dragon and knew there was magic behind it. I wonder if the old wizard will tell me of this dragon. He must surely know something.

          Seashells dangled from a thin cord hung in a tree on the path just before the wizard’s door. Sumayah gave them a flick, and they bounced off one another with a merry little tune, alerting the magician within.

          Sumayah stood waiting for him to come out and was rewarded by his twinkling eye and knowing smile.

“Ah, Sumayah, always so good to have your company. I was just playing my flute,” he said, holding up the hand-honed, polished wood instrument. He put it to his lips, and his fingers expertly touched each hole, bringing forth a sweet melodic sound not unlike the shells she had just passed. He did not play long and abruptly pulled it out of his mouth. His one eyes narrowed in thought.

“You have come for answers, and I am afraid I will not have those answers that you seek.”

          How did he know what I am going to ask? But then again, maybe he does not know what I will be asking. She hoped for the latter and walked forward to receive his embrace.

          The old wizard smelled of sea spray and nettle water.

          Sirius pulled another impromptu appearance and landed on the tree holding the seashell chimes. She plucked at it until it tinkled sweetly.

          “See, Mergus, even she knows how to announce her presence.” She walked to the raptor and stroked the long black feathers that sprung out of the top of her head just above her black-rimmed eyes. “Where have you been, sweetie?”

          “She has been with the black one. The one you seek answers about.” He smiled, and winked then said, “Sirius just told me.”

“We must find the dragon. It is dying—I must find it and save its life like it saved mine.” The words tumbled quickly out of her mouth, hoping he would not just send her away.

          His somber expression changed when she mentioned it had saved her life.

“Child, tell me what happened.” He motioned for her to come and sit by him on a small wooden bench.

          She recounted the story, and when she finished, she sat watching him closely. His only expression was that of his left eye narrowing. She knew that he was pulling up memories or conjurations from somewhere in the deep and ancient recesses of his mind.

          “I knew a dragon long, long, ago. His name was…” The wizard paused and lowered his head and gave her a slight smile, then said, “Nero was his name, but this could not possibly be the same dragon.”

 

 

 

          Ryven’s heart quickened. He knew what that meant. “Will we be going then? Will I go too?” he asked.

          Lord Fallonay’s eyes narrowed at his son in thought. “Yes, both of my children will accompany me to Lemuria.”

          Before Lord Fallonay could utter another word, Ryven blurted out, “I watched the king’s daughters today!” He felt the questioning eyes upon him; he knew they all wondered why he would be watching the Lemurian priestesses. Speaking quickly to appease their stares, he said, “I was on the trail of a loner. It was wounded—had a long-sword stuck in its shoulder. Sumayah tended to it!”

          Drakaous, finding Ryven’s blurting’s most interesting, stepped closer to him and put one long, black talon on his shoulder.

“Tell me of this loner.”

          “The king’s daughters were shadowing the king’s herd in hopes of gaining trust. The dragon literally dropped out of the sky—almost on the herd! It would have drowned had not Sumayah and her sisters pulled his head from the bottom of the lake!”

          “It must have gone to the realm of man. Impudent, young fool! Did he not know what he would find there?” Drakaous spat out angrily, his blood-orange eyes rolling wildly.

          Ryven had never seen the dragon so upset. The big guy was always most amicable and much more soft-spoken.

“Once Sumayah pulled the sword free, the dragon soon awoke and took flight—to where, I do not know.”

          “And what of the girls?” the dragon asked, leaning in closer, his hot breath settling on Ryven.

          Elspeth stood from her stool and took the few short steps to the conversation.

“I found Ryven still watching as the herd dimension shifted. Once the herd was gone, the girls left. But Ryven spoke of the dragon’s great fear of Sumayah. Why would that be?” she asked.

          “Because he had gone to the realm of man!” answered Lord Fallonay, now pacing the front of the courtyard. “Does this mean they come closer?” he asked, stopping in front of Drakaous.

          “That is precisely why I have come. They have been spotted in boats nearing our shores. I fear the Reps are behind this.”

          Tial took this moment to flutter close to Fallonay and interjected, “We have heard they cut and burn the great living forests. Some of our relations who must tend to the four elements in the realm of man have come back to us with many harrowing stories…” Tial paused and took a deep sigh before she began again. “The worst that has been reported is…is that most humans no longer gather or grow their food—they have turned to eating flesh.”

The last word sent the room into a moment of shocked silence. A few gasps could be heard, and one Fae woman even fell to the earth in a dead faint.

          The winged Fae left their respectful distance and now hovered near the lord. Their voices droned on about the many atrocities.

          “Drakaous is right. If we do not take note of what is happening, our world will collapse around us,” added Tial. “I fear my relations will soon leave their homes. If they do, we know what will happen to the lands. We know what terrors will ensue from the imbalance.”

          Drakaous stepped toward the crowd. “We do know what will ensue. The great Earth Mother will begin to pull apart, with us hanging on for one hell of a ride. A ride I fear I do not want to partake of.” He turned his head to Fallonay. “I leave for Lemuria. I will prepare the king for your arrival.

          Lord Fallonay put his hand to Drakaous. “Make sure he does not bring…her,” he whispered.

 

Okay, thats all folks! Sumayah, more epic scenes, and a little more romance, with plenty of magic.