The Last Tale of Yajikali

Chapter XXIV - City of Trees

by Charles Matthias

Cover | Contents | Prologue | Book I | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Interlude I
Book II | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | Interlude II
Book III | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | Interlude III
Book IV | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65
66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | Epilogue

As promised, it took ten full days before they left the Dwema-tåi Road. After Kayla dispatched the Scuttleclaw their journey proceeded without further incident. The empty faces of buildings housed the occasional wild animal, but they only ever saw fleeting glimpses of bears or solitary wolves. None would dare approach a party of eight, especially one whose mingled scents were very confusing.

But after the ten days had passed, the Dwema-tåi Road opened out into a broad defile at the edge of a mountain slope. Beyond stood towering trees each of which was at least three feet across. Warm, diffuse light radiated across the slope, and the brisk scent of pine, moss, and water filled their noses. It was so inviting, that Abafouq had to shout at them several times to keep back.

“It is too soon!” the Binoq cried, his face red from the effort. “You’ll go blind if you go outside now!”

“We’ve been in these tunnels forever!” James complained. “I want to get out in the sun again.”

“Abafouq is right,” Andares said softly. “Let us remain here for a short time while our eyes adjust. We can see the forest ahead. There are things you should know about these woods before you venture within their demesnes. The Åelfwood is a strange and magical place. Even we Åelves do not understand all her secrets, and we call her home.”

Charles laid out a bedroll and then climbed atop it. It was the easiest way to keep his body from slipping into the stone floor. He was joined a moment later by Kayla and Habakkuk seeking food. “If we are to sit and wait, we should eat,” the kangaroo suggested.

“I agree,” Kayla said, tugging one of the packs from the quadrupedal rat. “So you say there are things we should know about the forest? Like what?”

“First, distribute the food,” Andares said as he settled down against the rock. He saw Jessica gazing back the way they had come. “We have no need to fear any monsters here, good mage. Join our repast.”

The hawk reluctantly abandoned her post, but after turning her attention to the remains of the food supplies, worries of monsters or other interlopers vanished. The end of the tunnel was in sight, and soon they’d be someplace warm.

It took only a minute for Charles and Habakkuk to pass out enough food for everyone. Charles watched them eat while he reorganized the paltry sum that was left. Enough for a few days more, that was all. They’d have to find more food very soon, and if what he remembered about the Åelfwood was true, it was not safe to hunt there.

“So,” Lindsey said between bites, “what do we need to know about the Åelfwood.”

Andares slowly chewed a bit of bread. “The Åelfwood is the oldest living forest in all the world. When my race was young, the Åelfwood was here; tall, powerful, unyielding, and utterly ancient. This land was also one of the last for my people to explore and live. When we came under its boughs, we were reverent, and beseeching. We sought to live within the forest, but we always knew we would only be guests. And so all that we have built has been like unto what an itinerant would build – if needed, all that we have built could be torn down and the forest would appear as pristine as if we had never been there.”

Incredulously, Charles stared at the Åelf. “You have been living in these woods for over ten thousand years, and yet what you have built you say you could tear back down again?”

“Yes, and it is true.” Andares swallowed another morsel of bread. “For Åelves, time flows differently. Amongst my people, a season is no more than a day. What you may consider a permanent structure may differ from our people.”

He paused, but had no more food to eat. “Because the forest is so old, there are many dangers that would not be apparent to your eyes. Do not hunt in the woods. The animals that are allowed to live there are protected by the woods, and are not to be harmed. Nor should you ever harm any of the trees. They are the true lords and masters of the Åelfwood, and they possess a strange and powerful magic that my people do not fully understand.”

“We’re almost out of food,” Lindsey pointed out. “What will we do then?”

“We shall not run out of food,” Andares confidently announced. “If we treat the forest with respect and kindness, it will welcome us as guests and see that we receive all its hospitality.”

“Is there anything else we should know?” James asked. The donkey’s eyes kept straying back to the small window of light at the passage’s end.

Andares’s smile was faint. “Not all that lives within the Åelfwood is of flesh and blood. Do not be alarmed. You will never have need to draw your weapons.”

“That would be a pleasant surprise,” Lindsey muttered darkly into his bread.

An hour after they had stopped for lunch, Abafouq felt it was safe enough for them to venture into the light at last. The Binoq shielded his eyes and bade the others do the same when they finally set foot outside the underground for the first time in nearly two weeks. Only seconds after being bathed in the sun’s warm radiance, all the others apart from Charles, who as stone did not need to worry about such things, followed the Binoq’s lead.

Jessica stretched her free wing out to its full extent. “It is good to be above ground again. Maybe I’ll be able to take flight soon.”

“I would not suggest it,” Andares said gently. “We should not get separated here. The forest does not always appear the same.”

“How so?” she asked.

“It is difficult to explain,” Andares admitted. For a moment he seemed at a loss for words. Finally a smile emerged upon his pearl-gray skin. “If you could see the rising of the sun, it will always rise in the East, but if you walk towards it, you may not head East. The woods send you where they wish you to go, not the other way around.”

“So,” Charles asked as his metal ice shoes clanked on the rocky defile, “where do we want to go?”

Andares nodded to the rat. “Follow me.” So saying, the Åelf began to walk at an angle down the defile. The others looked at each other for a moment and then trailed after their companion. The defile rested on the slope of a low mountain whose summit had been conquered by the forest. Although they could not see any further North, the higher peaks of the Barrier Range were close, as they could feel the soft chill of ice in the air with every breeze that came down from the mount.

The defile itself spilled out onto a small plateau that slowly fell away down a long forested hill. The trees were thick with verdant boughs that kept them from seeing far in any direction. Soft light permeated those branches, but it was still bright enough that they could no longer see Jessica’s witchlights. In her enthusiasm for the daylight, the hawk had forgotten they were still there.

Once past the tunnel opening, they could see that the entrance to the Dwema-tåi Road was marked by an elaborate low arch. Inset in the keystone was what appeared to be a stonecutter’s pickaxe. No other symbols adorned the arch, and no decoration existed in the mountain face beyond it. Compared to the interior of the road, it was stark and rudimentary. And until they reached the base of the defile, they saw no other visible structure.

The plateau was mostly level, though they could see through the sparse underbrush that it would likely be the last level ground they experience for some time. Near where the slope began to drop, a stone marker had been erected. It was tall like a man, but bore lines like a tree’s bark around the column through which leafy vines had grown. The top piece was shaped to resemble tree branches, but instead of leaves there were small crystal like lattices. Their eyes widened in awe as they beheld such a delicate craft.

“What is this?” Kayla murmured as she neared, lifting one paw to touch. “It is so beautiful.”

“It is a marker for the road,” Andares replied. He raised his hand and laid it atop her paw. He gently pushed it back down. “It is very old, and has not felt the touch of any but the wood since it was first fashioned.”

Kayla nodded and drew her tail closer. “A marker. Is there anything your people make that is not ancient and forbidden?”

The Åelf’s smile was faintly melancholy. “Some things.”

He said no more as they passed the marker. The forest grew dense fairly quickly as they started down the slope. Tree roots protruded from the ground, holding tight to the earth like claws hooked into flesh. The underbrush consisted of various bushes, moss and lichen clutching rocks that jutted from the ground, and a copious supply of fallen pine needles and mushrooms. Somewhere in the distance they could hear the bright singing of birds.

There was no visible trail, though Andares never seemed to have doubts about their course. The ground was undisturbed, and the forest immense above them. The further downhill they went, the thicker the trees became. The sun was somewhere far overhead, but they had no hope of glimpsing it. Already the trees were wider at their base than any one of them was tall. All any of them could do was marvel at the magnificent beauty of the Åelfwood.

As they continued to walk, Andares ever following the slope downwards through myriad hills and creases, each of them felt as if time itself was meaningless here. Seconds, minutes, none of them made any sense any more. In fact, by the time that they encountered the second stone marker, not a one of them could have said how long it took to reach it. A reassuring sense of mystery surrounded them. It was something none of them could deny, nor could they complain. In fact, as they walked deeper and deeper into the folds of the woods and hills, none of them could remember when they had felt as peaceful.

At some point – it may have been minutes or even hours – Andares turned them up a gentle incline. At its summit stood a massive oak tree whose roots extended a good fifty feet from its twelve foot thick trunk. Large leafy boughs reached down to the ground as if asking supplicants to climb into its branches. At its base, nestled amongst the tangled roots stood the next stone marker. All around the forest ebbed, descending into a notable quiet; not even branches moved with the wind.

As they navigated the labyrinth between the gargantuan oak’s toes, they saw the wind drawing up old leaves and needles. They seemed to caper across the marker like a thousand flies moving in concert. As they emerged from beneath a small hole where one of the roots rose above the earth, Andares motioned for them to wait. The figures in the wind left the marker, and for a moment they could see the Åelf’s face reflected in the swirl of dead leaves.

“What?” James asked, his voice almost vile to hear.

Andares waved the donkey silent. His voice was a whisper that seemed alarmingly loud amidst the silent wood. “These are the Wind Children. It is they who sing and dance the forest into life. They will be curious, but do not be afraid. They do no harm to those who do no harm to this wood.”

He then turned his attention back upon the swirl of leaves and needles. It was moving, dancing across the ground. A mushroom cap joined the merry panoply, and then was held in place for a moment at the nose of a face that looked remarkably liked Kayla. The skunk stepped back, blushing a bit in her ears. It gave her a sly wink and then distant laughter echoed in their ears.

Andares motioned the rest of them to come forward. They stepped into the small clearing between the roots where the marker stood. There was only one way out, through another hole beneath one of the oak’s roots, but none of them was looking for it. All eyes were upon the Wind Children.

Like a miniature tornado they approached the travellers. Jessica tried to reach out for them, and they gladly slid across her wings and draped her back like a cape. She laughed brightly, “That tickles!” They were not alarmed by her voice, hovering there for several more moments before dancing away and over to Lindsey.

Lindsey took a step back and stood as stiff as he could while they circled his form for a few seconds. They paused warily at the axe slung over his shoulders, but then danced away and made a smiling face to him. Deposited in the crook between his axe and shoulder blade was a small flower. A quiet laugh began to echo, as well as snatches of some song.

They converged upon James next. The donkey’s ears flitted up and down as the leaves and pine needles swam before him, taking on his own semblance. He opened his mouth and the creatures did the same. Before he could do anything else, they lost interest in him and danced over to Abafouq who regarded them with wide apprehensive eyes. They twirled around his head like a crown, and then settled at his feet for a moment, before flying away in a rush.

Habakkuk genuflected when they approached him. They coalesced into a mirror of the kangaroo and returned the gesture. “We whom you honour are grateful and will respect your home.” His voice was clear, and seemed to resound in the small alcove amidst the oak roots. The burbling sound of song and laughter intensified for a moment, and the mirror kangaroo leaned forward to plant a kiss on Habakkuk’s snout. The prophet blushed and bent his ears back perplexed.

Charles chuckled lightly, and the Wind Children began to spiral around his body, poking and prodding at his stony flesh. He held up his paws defensively, feeling a certain warmth as they investigated their final guest. They did not make any faces at him, but seemed terribly interested nevertheless. Charles stood as still as he could, but his long tail lashed back and forth, brushing against the tree root with each swing.

He expected the Wind Children to lose interest in him and go dancing away as they had with the others. But for what must have been several minutes they continued to explore, poking and inspecting every bit of his granite flesh. Charles even felt a couple nudges at his eyes, and for once he was grateful for the curse that had made him rock as he could not suffer any pain that way.

When they finally left they scattered away towards the marker, and then for a moment took on the shape of the rat; all six limbs were on display in a striking pose. And then the winds subtly shifted and with one last laugh, the needles and leaves blew apart to softly rain across the packed earth.

“Well, that was interesting,” Lindsey said, plucking the flower from behind his shoulder. He sniffed it and his eyes began to water. “Tart.” He stuck the flower in between the folds of his tunic, allowing the bright yellow petals to peek out.

“I suppose we should continue,” Charles gestured towards the opening and then noticed the way that James was staring at him. “What?”

“There’s something on your back,” the donkey said, pointing.

Charles tried to turn about to see, but couldn’t find anything untoward. “What is it?”

All eyes were on him now, but it was James who approached and rubbed at something along his lower back where his lower torso met the upper. “It’s a vine,” the donkey said, his voice braying in surprise. “It looks like it’s growing out of your back.”

Charles blinked and tried once more to see. “I have a vine growing out of my back? Can you pull it free?”

“Do not do that,” Andares cautioned. “Remember, you should not harm anything in the Åelfwood. The Wind Children have marked you, Charles Matthias. They have made something of this wood grow upon you. It is a gift more priceless than words can convey.”

Charles and James looked at each other, and then to the Åelf. “So what happens when I leave? I don’t plan on staying here you know.”

But Andares could only shrug his shoulders. “I do not know. Now come, there is still far to go.”

Charles grunted to his friend who stared at him apologetically. “Great, not only am I living stone, but now I’ve got a vine growing on me. If anybody says I’ll look good in a garden I’m going to box their ears in.”

Habakkuk, standing right behind him, was forced to suppress a laugh.

The remainder of the day was uneventful. While they did see a few deer and other wildlife, there was nothing as exotic as the Wind Children. They bedded down for the night next to a massive pine, relying on the shelf mushrooms that spanned a good ten feet for shelter. Charles bade Kayla hold her silver katana at his back so that he might use it as a mirror to inspect the vine that had sprouted from his stony flesh. It was small and green, with a few leaves already sprouting from its sinew.

Unable to do anything more than examine it, Charles left it alone and kept watch throughout the night while his friends slept. The forest was awash in deep twilight blue as the silvery light of the moon penetrated the upper boughs. The songs of owls, frogs, crickets, and the rustling underbrush echoed around him. He could even hear faint voices in his sleep, singing ancient songs that nearly made his stony heart ache in melancholy.

In many ways, it was so very familiar to the rat. He’d been to the Åelfwood once before. But then he’d been a man and not a rat. It was so long ago, that it seemed as if it had all happened to somebody else. But slowly, the songs, the scents, all that he recalled from his brief sojourn in these enchanted woods, was coming back to him. With increasing languor, the rat let his ears move to follow the music.

When morning came, Charles was as close to sleep as he could come. James had to shake his shoulder three times before he stirred. The others were all very well rested, and looked in better shape than Charles had seen since they’d all set out from Metamor nearly three months ago. Kayla was even trying to whistle a jolly tune!

Andares led them deeper into the Åelfwood. The constant roll of hills began to fade, and by the second day’s end, the slopes were all gradual enough that the only rises they faced were the mounds that hid tree roots. The markers led them across several small rivers, but all of them had been shallow enough that a series of stepping stones served to bring the travellers across.

Their sleep must have rejuvinated them all, because by the time the sun was setting, they were all still up to walking another few hours or more. But Andares brought them to a small hollow within the roots of a tree that they could sleep in for the night. The singing was louder this time, and the rat found his voice yearning to join in the harmony all the night long.

By morning, the rat discovered that the vine the Wind Children had imbedded into his back was still growing. It had spread its ivy tendrils upwards several inches, and back along his lower torso the same amount. He had to be careful positioning the packs lest he uproot the plant. At first it had been something he could ignore. Now that is was growing it was becoming increasingly bothersome.

Andares assured him that it would do him no harm, but the rat was less certain. Still, such negative thoughts could barely stay in his mind as they progressed through the utterly enchanting forest. The stone markers were growing more and more decorative as they passed. Their stony faces were now brightened by facets of intricately carved ivory. Strange inhuman faces peered out of the blocks, each a mixture of sombre reflection and buoyant cheer.

And then, shortly after the passing of noon, the forest opened up into a clearing through which a sizeable river ran. For a moment, the colourful pinions, and opalescent towers seemed just one more part of the forest. But after they could clearly see the pearl bridges and cascading light that filled the clearing, they realized it was actually a city that they had finally come upon. They each gasped, except for Andares who’s smile was one of relief, yet sorrow. “Ava-shavåis. My home.”

Slowly, as their eyes adjusted, they recognized the alabaster towers that appeared to be built around mighty trees for what they were. Branches sprouted from the tower walls and spread leafy boughs to catch the sun. Colourful banners were strung between the branches so thickly that they formed small tents in the air. Below them on the ground stood more of the stone markers, each one elegantly etched into stone inlaid with ivory. The bridges were so delicate – composed entirely of stone lacework woven into intricate filigree – that Charles wondered if they would support his weight now.

Lastly, they noticed the people. Many had stopped what they were doing to stare at the motley assortment that had just entered their demesnes. The travellers could only stare back in shock.

“Where did this come from?” Kayla finally managed to ask.

Andares’s laugh was simple. “The power of the Åelfwood keeps it hidden except to those who know how to find it. Do not fear my people. Our coming is already known to them.”

“Then why are they staring at us?” Lindsey asked.

“It is rare for them to see humans, let alone a Binoq and animals that walk and talk like men.” Andares gestured towards one of the bridges. Either side an elk’s head had been woven from wood and ivory blended together. The Åelf who stood on the bridge left it quickly but so gracefully that each of them felt their steps were the ungrateful tracks left by children wearing muddy shoes.

Beyond the bridge more Åelf were gathered. A large pavilion had been erected with the colourful bolts of cloth. Brilliant lights sparkled beyond, but they could not see what was there. To one side of the pavilion, sitting upon his haunches, was a very familiar figure.

“Guernef!” Abafouq cried, rushing towards the white Nauh-kaee. Charles and the rest were quick to follow after the Binoq. It seemed a lifetime since they had seen the monstrous gryphon!

Guernef inclined his head in greeting to Abafouq. He said nothing, and after his exclamation, neither did the Binoq. Abafouq stood there clutching at Guernef’s foreleg, holding tightly to him.

“It is good to see you again, Kakikagiget,” Habakkuk intoned with a slight bow of his head. “How long have you been here?”

The Nauh-kaee lifted its gaze from the elaborate flower garden that occupied the base of the pavilion. Brilliant purples and pinks were blended with yellows and browns to create an explosion of hue. The Nuah-kaee had been regarding it in the same way its golden eyes regarded everything else – with intense scrutiny.

“Three days.” For a moment the gryphon said nothing more. And then: “You must see the Lord of Colours.”

“Lord of Colours?” Jessica asked, her wings pressed closely against her back. “Who is that?”

“My master,” Andares said. “Come.”

Charles smiled at all that he saw. It was coming back, slowly, piece by piece. He had been in this city once, and had learned the names of many Åelf. Andares himself was unfamiliar, but the rat knew who the Lord of Colours was. He’d been the one Åelf who had shown him true kindness in his brief sojourn. Now that they were to meet again, he tried to recall the words that he’d been taught to say. What had they been he wondered.

They crossed a second river, with more and more Åelf watching their progress, but none daring to step in the way. Many were dressed in bright blue armour bearing weapons whose designs were unfamiliar to most of them. They did nothing but watch the travellers, though a few made gestures of greeting and welcome to Andares who returned them in kind. They did not return any of the greetings made by the Keepers.

Though only Charles and Andares had ever been to this city before, their destination soon became plain to the rest of them. Even more immense than all the other towers, it stood like a monolith reaching for the sky. Its brilliant surface was covered in delicate filigree through which vines climbed and branches emerged. The base was anchored deep into the earth with massive stone blocks larger than any found in Metamor. Graceful stairs led up to a pointed archway with globes of bright light set in sconces on either side. They could see a silhouette of a man-like figure standing in the archway behind the lights.

“And this is a temporary structure?” Lindsey asked incredulously.

Several other Åelf began to flank the tower, and Charles smiled softly. “Tyliå-nou.” He nodded towards one of the older men, one whose hair had gone white with silver strands. His smooth face nevertheless managed to be hard. Dark eyes scanned them unpleasantly. “He’s as cheerful as I remember.”

“As you what?” Kayla asked, turning back to face him.

“Behold,” Andares interrupted, his voice filled with adoration, “the Lord of Colours! Qan-af-årael!”

They lifted their gaze as the figure in the archway stepped out before the light. His hair was white and held back behind his neck. Luminescent robes that shimmered with eery hue of the rainbow held to his body both gracefully, and with immeasurable dignity. The sense of majesty that he held as he stood at the top of the stairs was overpowering. Benevolently, Qan-af-åreal smiled upon them.

Andares bowed his head low and declared. “Lord of Colours, I have brought to you those prophesied since the day of your birth.”

“Good. The groaning of the world will soon cease,” Qan-af-årael passed his eyes over each. He paused for a moment when he came to Charles, and the rat felt something begin to burble out of his throat.

The words were like crystal fire upon his stony tongue, but he could not hold them back any longer. “Elyanaro, olluniscen ya wereyo, notåla rengala. Ven darago cun seleth ådama Qan-af-årael. Jidimiya judumo illyarån.”

Many of the Åelf audibly gasped at the words. Tyliå-nou and the other elders visibly blanched, many of them taking a step back in apparent horror. Even Andares looked shaken, his eyes wide. He was so disturbed by the words that he turned and stared with dumbstruck eyes at the rat. Quite suddenly, Charles felt very small indeed.

His eyes found Qan-af-årael at the top of the stairs. The ancient one remained still. Slowly, subtly, he began to smile and nod in approval.

“There, now meditate upon the story of Yahshua waiting in the garden for the soldiers,” Father Hough instructed his young acolyte. To say that Ramad was younger than the Patildor priest was to say that which on its face seemed provably false. Hough appeared no more than a child of ten, and Ramad was clearly a young man nearly ready to accept a man’s responsibilities.

But this was Metamor, and the normal rules no longer applied.

Father Hough had once been a man in his thirties with authority of the Ecclesia church in Ellcaran. He had taken it upon himself to minister to the small Follower community at Metamor Keep a few years back, but early the previous year he had been taken captive by a traitorous noble and held prisoner until the curses had made him the child he now was. The Ecclesia had seen fit to officially transfer him and establish a parish at Metamor for him to oversee a short time later.

As for Ramad, he was indeed a lad of fifteen, but only two years before he’d been a young girl seeking admittance to the Lothanasi faith. When the curses rendered Ramad a boy, he had sought out the Ecclesia instead. Hough often wondered about his motives, but graciously welcomed him just the same. But before he could advance beyond the role of an acolyte, he would need to learn a great deal more about their faith.

“Thank you, Father,” Ramad said with a pleasant smile. “I don’t understand the story, but I will try.”

Hough smiled and patted the kneeling young man on the shoulder with one hand. “I am sure you will understand it in time. Meditate and pray upon this passage for an hour.”

As the youth left to do as instructed, Hough caught sight of another figure lurking in the shadows of the Cathedral. Once Hough had discharged his task, the figure stepped into the light from the clerestory windows, and the boy saw that it was Misha Brightleaf. Hough felt a lightness in his heart for but a moment, then saw the look of concern on Misha’s face.

Misha was a Rebuilder, a heretical sect that had broken away from the Ecclesia and claimed to have authority to interpret the Canticles for themselves. There were many differences of opinion between Rebuilders, which was part of the reason that Marigund, one of the centres of the Rebuilder faith, had outlawed proselytizing for many years. Regardless, Hough considered Misha a good friend, and always welcomed him into his home. From time to time, Misha even came to Hough’s services.

Though he had never personally seen it, Hough had heard of the fox’s raging temper. Things were destroyed and people died when Misha Brightleaf became angry. But he did not know what happened when the feared fox was worried.

“Is something wrong, Misha?” Hough asked as the fox came near.

“I don’t know,” Misha admitted, his one good ear folding back in uncertainty. “I haven’t been able to find Madog this last week. Have you seen him at all? I know how much he enjoys your company.”

Even the thought of the mechanical fox was enough to make Hough break into a childish grin. They had spent many hours together playing as a boy and his dog, or was it as a dog and his boy? With those two, it never really seemed to matter.

The reverie was fleeting, and afterwards, Hough shook his head. “I’m sorry, Misha, I haven’t seen him in some time myself. Has he ever gone missing like this?”

“No,” Misha admitted with a low growl. “Well, I guess I should keep looking. If you do see him, tell him his Poppa is worried about him.” Poppa was what Madog always called Misha, for it was Misha who rebuilt him and restored him to life.

“Of course,” Hough replied. “I will keep an eye out for him. But Madog is not like us. If he has gone somewhere, then he has good reason to have left. When whatever he seeks is found, he will return.”

“I hope you are right, Father,” Misha groused. “Eli be with you.”

“And may Eli go with you, Misha Brightleaf.” Hough kept his smile in place as the fox headed for the Cathedral doors. When they shut, he began to frown. “Madog. Where could you have gone?”

But the walls did not answer him.

Cover | Contents | Prologue | Book I | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Interlude I
Book II | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | Interlude II
Book III | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | Interlude III
Book IV | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65
66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | Epilogue

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