1997 - 2006 G. Dallman
March 14, 1997 Version 3.0
Revision Date: 05/21/2006
Across the Sundering Sea Of Stars
As mist spread from warm air pouring through the new Portal, Howard took one faltering step forward, before slowly sinking to his knees and dropping prone. Andrew wanted desperately to go to him, but Aarrl still held his hand in a crushing grip.
“He lives. Let him be.”
With a final, agonizing surge of effort, Howard rose to hands and knees, struggling painfully to crawl the remaining distance to the Portal, only to collapse again after another meter.
“Behold!” Shouted Aarrl.
Peering though the roiling mist, Andrew could see back-lit shapes moving within. The first beings through the Portal were six Lupine Watchers, in full battle gear. Immediately, they took positions to either side of the Portal, weapons at the ready. A few seconds later, they were followed by a female Gashka about a half a head shorter than Aarrl.
As the Ursine approached, Aarrl released Andrew’s hand as though he’d suddenly forgotten the Human’s existence. With astonishing volume, he threw his head back and roared, his fangs gleaming wetly in the adamantine standard-light. As Aarrl’s roar echoed across the mountainside, the entire Company of Watchers raised their muzzles and, with a single voice, cried out in a long, wolven howl. Even in his agitated state, Andrew couldn’t help but be transfixed by the primal, savage beauty of the moment.
Unmindful of the welcome, the Gashka took two quick steps, bringing it to stand above the fallen Human. Kneeling, she gently turned Howard onto his back while cradling his head in a huge clawed hand. Rising, the Gashka lifted Howard in her arms as though he were weightless, carrying him toward the spot where Andrew and Aarrl stood. As she approached to within a meter of Aarrl, she stopped. Wordless communication passed between them.
When the Ursine turned to face Andrew, he found himself involuntarily taking a half-step back, such was the intensity of that being’s stare. In a Human, its expression would indicate murderous protectiveness. But this creature was not Human!
Aarrl turned to Andrew, “Princess Orrunn, Eldest daughter of Tirrnn, commands that you return with her. The Chosen requires aid, now. The effort of the Forging has near slain him.”
Immediately, the two Gashka turned and strode through the Portal. In a mental fog, Andrew followed. Lost in his concern for his son, Andrew knew he was missing something important.
Though Andrew‘s memories of the time following Howard’s collapse were confused, he vividly remembered walking through the Portal. As he passed through, an arch of static discharge outlined its circumference. The periphery of the Portal, when observed edge-on, thinned to nothingness. The sensation of passage was no different than walking through a door separating the cold, dark outside from a warm, bright room. As he emerged from the mist swirling about the Earth side of the Portal, the scene before him was of an elaborate garden, with ornately trimmed trees and shrubs. In the distance was the black stone obelisk of ‘Drremm’s Triumph’. Andrew could clearly discern a relief carving of an Ursine head on the side facing the Portal.
Only later did Andrew learn of the vast significance of his first view of Taahas, as it was one his son had visited, via The Dream, every night for eleven years.
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