Test of Faith (book two) part #005 Author note: Past sections referred to Nicko, the cat man. It is actually Niko. I could go back and change it, but I don't wanna.
The sun crawled toward the horizon. The group, eager to reach a destination, walked at first with a brisk pace. As time went on, it was unclear if they would reach a destination today.
It became unclear if they would reach a destination ever. The group slowed.
Renpa kicked at the sand. “Where at we going, again?”
Isis cleared her throat to speak. Samia cut in, “We are going to find the Old Ones.”
Isis forced herself to smile and said nothing.
Renpa pulled a waterskin from her belt, turned it up, found it empty, scowled, and put it back with a sigh.
Samia kept her eyes ahead as she walked, “It is written in our sacred texts. If we ever have need, we are to seek the Old Ones.”
Renpa stopped walking to fish a stone from her sandal. She looked to the other hunters for a sympathetic look. All eyes were ahead. She sighed and continued to walk.
“And were are they?”
Samia smiled. “To the east.”
Renpa paused. For a moment, Samia thought she was placated.
“How far to the east?”
Liam tapped his temple. His vision magnified. He stopped walking, gazing into the distance. He tapped his temple again. His vision magnified again. Now he could make out a mountain range in the far distance. At the base, there was a forest.
Kerr noticed Liam surveying the distance and moved beside him. He followed the borg’s gaze. He squinted his eyes to activate the LENS. As he continued to squeeze his eyes, his vision continued to extend.
“In a couple hours, we’ll reach the base of the mountain range,” said Liam.
“I can see it, too,” said Kerr. “That will be around sundown.”
Liam nodded. “And that will be a good place to stop for the night. We can climb the mountain in the morning.”
Maani raised her voice, “You heard ‘em, ladies! We’re only two hours away from making camp. Keep walking!”
Renpa grumbled, but said nothing. The group continued in silence for the remainder of the trip.
Now, the occasional vegetation could be seen. The landscape was dotted with sage brush and cactus. Now everyone could see the hazy, blue mountains and the sparse forest at the base.
Kartek was the first to speak, “We’re almost there! I can’t wait to start a fire and roast some of this boar meat. With all of the excitement, we haven’t tasted the fruits of the Hunt.”
Toses frowned. “It was for all of our sisters to enjoy in celebration of our new High Priestess. Should we be eating it?”
Ahmes laughed. “I’ll have yours. You can eat sand.”
Toses stuck her tongue out at Ahmes. The other hunter laughed again.
Kerr squinted at the mountain range. “There’s something up there.”
Liam tapped his temple twice and followed Kerr’s gaze. “You’re right. It’s some kind of castle.”
The manticore looked, too. He didn’t need any special equipment. He could naturally see for miles in the distance. He grunted as he looked at the mountains.
It was a castle.
It was foreboding.
The manticore was suddenly afraid. He was very afraid?
The sudden, intense emotion could be felt by Meri and Char.
The battle healer looked at the mountain, worry on her face. “What is wrong? Is there danger ahead?”
Char squinted, but could see nothing. He waved a hand in the air. He thought about a simple spell. Wizard Vision. It was a basic cantrip. He learned it in his youth.
It was just like last time he had used magic. The energy tumbled out of him. It past over his tongue like he had spoken the magical words.
Wizard Vision made him see as far in the distance as he needed. Wherever he looked, the vista was directly in front of him.
“That’s a regular, brick castle. There’s a ton of them in old Europe. It’s odd to see one here in South America…”
Kerr’s head whipped around. “We’re in South America? You know where we are?”
Multiple confused faces turned to look at him.
Char lifted an eyebrow. “Of course. We are in the country of Brazil.”
Kerr could hardly get the words out, “And do you know what year it is?”
Now there were audible intakes of breath. Kerr ignored them.
Now both of Char’s eyebrows were raised. His mouth was agape. “Uh… Why?”
Kerr smiled and motioned with his hands. He was eager to explain. “You saw that Portal before.”
“Gateway,” Char corrected.
Kerr shook his head. “Whatever.” He started again. “Do you know where they go?”
Char dismissed his question with a wave of his hand. “Everyone knows that. They connect to other dimensions. They let in demons.”
“Yes, yes,” said Kerr with excitement. “Do you know that they can take you to other places in this dimension? Do you know that they can take you to other times?”
Char was confused. “I don’t understand why that is important…”
Kerr held up his hands to stop him. “What. Year. Is it?”
Char blinked, “2347. What does that have to do…?”
Kerr held a hand over his mouth and stepped back. “One hundred years,” he whispered.
Amaunet looked from one face to another. “I’m sorry. What does this all mean, and why do we care?”
Suddenly, the manticore yelped. He wasn’t watching where he was going. He was too focused on the castle in the distance. His foot had lodged in a crevice.
Meri slid from his back immediately. “Is it OK?”
The manticore couldn’t answer. Meri stretched out her mind to read his surface emotions.
“Pain. It might be broken.”
Now Char slid from the creature’s back.
“What should we do?”
One of the hunter asked, “Can you heal it?”
Meri looked from the bent paw to the hunter who had spoken. “I don’t know. I’ve only healed a woman in battle. I don’t know if it will work on… animals.”
Her questioning eyes looked to Isis. Isis shrugged.
Meri stretched deeper into the mind of the manticore. She was behind the thoughts. She was in the heart. She was in the veins. Her consciousness felt to the source of the pain. The muscles were bruised. She pushed deeper. The muscles peeled away in her mind. She felt the bone. It was snapped.
Eyes closed, she spoke to any who were listening, “It is broken.”
Meri felt a hand on her shoulder. She felt the familiar energy of Isis. She was forming a Ring with her. Meri waited for a moment for Isis to become the leader. Then she realized that Isis was waiting on her to direct the chain.
Isis was powerful, but when it came to healing, Meri was the best. She smirked and then straightened her face.
It was not proper to gloat.
With the combined power of the Ring, she began to pull the netting of muscles. She drew the blood to the bones. She used raw magic to knit everything together like glue. She set the fractured bone back together.
The manticore gave another painful cry.
Meri ignored him.
Now the pieces were held together. She visualized a blanket of magic that held everything in place. It grew hot. The connective “glue” inside solidified as it baked.
The manticore grunted. He stepped backward and examined his paw. He bent it experimentally and then stepped on it.
Meri nodded in satisfaction. She could heal an animal in the same way she could heal a woman.
“Now let’s get back to the important part,” said Zahra. “Why is this ferocious beast afraid of some random castle off in the distance?”
Kerr scoffed. “That is the important bit? I can get a cure!”
All eyes turned to him again.
Niko looked up from licking his hand. He was suddenly interested. “Say Meow, now?”
Start from the beginning… Test of Faith: The Forgiven 001
Thanks for reading the latest instalment of my second book, Test of Faith. Tune in for our next exciting adventure!
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