The wendills bore down on them, but before a stroke could be made or an arrow released, there was a great flash of bright light and they were momentarily blinded. Blinking rapidly, they saw a line of robed figures between themselves and the wendills. Bolts of powerful energy flew from the figures' fingers as wendill after wendill fell, consumed by the flames, until all that was left were piles of ashes that blew away in the wind. The figures then turned their eyes from the smouldering battlefield to the skies. The gerrins, however, true to their nature had fled as soon as the tide of the battle had begun to turn. The figures then turned and faced the shocked but relieved company that Diane, Feils, Des and Kirria had now become.
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"Blain!" they cried out in delight, recognising the mage among all the other wise, old, benevolent faces.
"Talk about pitching up in the nick of time." remarked Des, "Just an English expression." he explained as everyone shot him a quizzical glance.
"Ah, I see." said Blain nodding his head. "There is clearly much we have to learn of your world. However that will have to wait. Time is short and we have much to do. It is most fortunate for you that news of your plight reached us and that our business caused us to pass this way. The consequences otherwise would have been terrible, and all our work in vain. We will escort you to the borders of this land and there we must leave you for we are already behind schedule. We will talk while we travel and you can tell us of your quest thus far.".
It took the best part of several hours to reach the borders of Jennin's lands. In that time they learnt that the men and women accompanying Blain were his fellow magi. They were making their way to Malinor, their home, an island to the East. It was to be there they would make ready for the final decisive battle against Jennin and Linward. Blain left them with these words.
"Beyond the borders of her own lands, Jennin power is considerably weakened. However, her minions' power is not. Her ways are devious and many. So conduct yourselves with extreme caution. Especially you Feils, you were very careless to allow yourselves to be caught in the first place." he said reproachfully. "Don't underestimate her power again." Feils, looking very shamefaced, merely nodded to signal his acceptance of this rebuke. Blain continued,
"Now we have to leave you. Go with our blessing and with our hope." The magi then joined hands to form a circle around them and started chanting in low voices while swaying. They glowed with a fluorescent blue light that grew brighter and brighter. The chanting pitched higher and higher until it reached a crescendo, and they all felt a sensation like an electric shock, but far more pleasant, shoot through them. The chanting stopped suddenly as if it had been turned off. They all blinked and the magi were gone. They all stood for a moment, then shook themselves as if waking from a dream. Wordlessly, they gathered their things and resumed their journey.
A few miles on, they stopped to rest for a few hours. They planned on keeping watch in pairs, so as to get about three hours sleep each. Diane and Kirria, who were getting on very well took first watch. Des and Feils gratefully drifted off into a deep and dreamless sleep. It seemed only moments later that the girls woke them up. Soon they girls were breathing in the deep, even rhythm of sleep. Des turned to Feils who was staring fixedly into space and had not spoken since they awoke.
"Penny for them?" he asked, and then added quickly "I mean what are you thinking about?"
"Kirria." came the short reply after a brief pause.
"You like her don't you?" Feils nodded.
"I still don't trust her." he said, "I wish I could." he finished wistfully.
"Give it time." suggested Des. "With most people trust needs to be earned. You'll find out soon enough."
"Maybe." They fell silent for the rest of their watch, lost in their own thoughts.
Dawn broke with a beautiful sunrise heralding what they hoped would be a lovely day. They woke the girls and prepared to continue on their journey. As promised by the sunrise the day that greeted them was lovely and bright with air that was fresh and chillingly sharp. There were a few wisps of cloud in an otherwise cloudless sky. The mountains were clearly visible on the horizon. They looked massive and majestic even at that great distance. With a flush of shame, it occurred to Des that he had yet to thank Kirria for helping them. Taking her by both hands and planting a kiss on her cheek, he said,
"Thanks Kirria, we owe you one. Dunno how we'll ever repay you."
"You already have." she said mysteriously. As Des was trying to figure this cryptic reply, Feils came up to her and grudgingly offered his thanks.
"I...I can feel that maybe you do not trust me." she said. She held up a hand to stop his protests and continued. "No it's true, though I do not know why. However I do know that it makes me very sad and I hope one day, soon, you will trust me as I have trusted all of you." Feils stood speechless and Des decided that this would be a good moment to continue their journey.
They walked for days, the days turning into weeks. The terrain seldom changing, a flat endless plain with the odd tree dotted here, the mountains never seeming any nearer. It did not make for very interesting journey. Their diet now consisted mainly of small fowl. They were also introduced to rodent-like creatures called wules. Des and Diane were at first, understandably, revolted and disgusted at the thought of having to eat anything even vaguely resembling a rat. However they were pleasantly surprised at the agreeability of the wule meat. They soon acquired a taste for the small rodent. During this time, Feils slowly started to warm to Kirria. They spent a great deal of time together talking, laughing and generally having a good time. He taught her the ways of the wild, the names of different plants and animals, how to use a bow, at which she became surprisingly adept and other practical aspects of life and survival. She taught him to read, introducing him to literature, simple algebra, and basic etiquette and generally attempted to smooth out his rough edges. It was very amusing when she picked up on his less than gentlemanly habits and tried to reform them. As with most people when faced with a disagreeable truth about them, Feils would go on the defensive. He would put up one hell of a fight before admitting she was right and consenting to be reformed.
Des was really happy for them though a little sad that Feils still did not fully trust her as had become apparent from the now frequent, male-bonding, heart to hearts that they had. He reflected on how long it had taken him to eventually trust Diane. She had been really patient and understanding. Not for the first or last time, a wonderful feeling of warmth and reassurance, born of his love for this beautiful person, washed over him. He thought, for the umpteenth time, just how lucky he was to have her. Despite his reservations, he felt that given time Feils would come round. Or perhaps an occasion might rise where Kirria would be able to show her loyalty beyond doubt. He was later proved right.
"There are many worlds other than one we inhabit. Some are like ours others are very different. Nonetheless there is one universal constant, the need for cosmic balance" - Blain Olturan, 1392SDA (Second Dark Age)