The following excerpt from “The Raven’s Fire” is Copyrighted by Dawn Ross, 2002:
Narvina examined the pages of the Djemnu Scrolls. These were one of many ancient texts which Narvina had collected over the centuries. She had already gone through several in order to find a way to stop the Brother of Death in the World Between.
Finally, she came upon the answer in the Staff of Khenet. This ancient staff was used by the Son of the Light in an era long since passed. During a time when the Brother of Death walked freely in the world of the living, the Son used this staff created by his father to imprison the Brother in the World Below.
Narvina was not certain whether she had the power to wield the Staff of Khenet, but she had to try. There was one other problem: the Staff was far away in Menkhara. Under most circumstances, Narvina would have used the World Between to travel such a far distance within a short time. But the Brother of Death was there. Until she had the Staff, she did not have the power to protect herself from him. She had to find another way.
Narvina rolled up the Djemnu Scrolls and put them back in their place. With her magic, she encased them in an airless web in order to keep the parchment from aging.
“Sister Cheris,” she said to her attendant sitting nearby. “Send for Sister Mera and have one of the girls saddle my horse.”
“You will be leaving, my Lady?” the woman asked in a worried tone.
“Yes, my child. I must.”
“As you wish.” Sister Cheris bowed her consent. Narvina never left the haven before as far as Sister Cheris knew, but she presented no argument since she understood the magnitude of the situation.
Narvina gathered the ingredients listed in the Book of Change and put them in the silver pouch. As she hung a magical green crystal around her neck, Sister Mera entered. The woman had dark gray hair pulled back in a tight bun. Her eyes were stern and her mouth in a constant frown.
“Sister Mera,” Narvina greeted. The Sister responded with a respectful bow of her head. “I need you to attend things while I’m gone.”
Before Narvina had a chance to explain, the Sister interrupted. “Gone? But you can’t leave. We need you.”
“I’m afraid my presence is urgently needed elsewhere, my child.”
Sister Mera was shocked. “But I cannot take your place, my Lady.”
“You are the only one qualified to do it,” Narvina replied.
“But if you leave, the other Sisters will panic,” Sister Mera protested.
“Then you must calm them. This is very important, dear Sister. I must leave at once.”
“For how long?”
“As long as it takes.” Sister Mera gave her a horrified look indicating she may have thought Narvina meant moons, or even years, so Narvina added, “A fortnight or two, I suppose.”
Sister Mera’s expression didn’t change, but Narvina did not have the time to soothe her. She nodded farewell to the Sister and left the chamber. Outside was a hall of stone columns entwined with climbing vines. The ceiling of the hall was made of lattice and also wrapped in vines. A warm blue sky could be seen beyond.
Narvina greeted the many Sisters in the hall as she passed. With a warm smile, she gave a quick blessing to those who desired it. Thankfully, none demanded too much of her time.
Soon, Narvina turned the corner and walked beyond the garden hall to the stables. The fragrance of the flowering vines were replaced by the musky smell of horses. A young novice waited with Narvina’s beautiful white mare, Lilaca. Nodding a thanks to the dark-haired novice, Narvina mounted and nudged the mare into a quick gallop.
The air got cooler as she ascended the stone path leading up to the third mountain of Triple Horns. About midway up this mountain was another sanctuary. Built of stone and shrouded with ivy and plants, it would be difficult for anyone who didn‘t know it was there to find. This sanctuary was reserved for the use of the most powerful Sisters who were striving to reach an even higher level of skill.
Narvina dismounted her mare at the flight of the rugged steps leading to the entrance. Using her magic, Narvina projected an image into Lilaca’s mind which told her she was free to explore the woods before going back to the stables. As Lilaca pranced back down the path, Narvina reached the great doors which looked as gnarled and as rough as the bark of an old oak tree. She gently pushed in a knot of wood and the doors slid open quietly.
Greeting her was a grand circular room which opened up to the sky. A handful of Sisters were inside practicing their skills. One had created an illusion of a white tiger which the Sister made to walk across the room. Another was using the water of the central fountain to form an image of an eagle. This Sister then used her magic to raise the liquid eagle into the air where it began to flap its watery wings. Impressive, Narvina thought to herself.
Using the magic of her mind, Narvina ordered four of the Sisters to her side. The other Sisters stopped what they were doing. The tiger disappeared and the eagle fell silently back into the fountain. The Sisters backed away in order to give the others room. Narvina dipped a cup into the fountain and added the ingredients from her silver pouch.
After drinking it down, she sat cross-legged on the floor and closed her eyes in concentration. The four Sisters stood around her, also meditating. The magic of these four women poured into the green morphing crystal Narvina wore about her neck. This concentrated magic helped Narvina change her features.
As the magic surged through her, it made a warm tingling sensation which helped to ease the pain of her transformation. Narvina spread her arms and let her skin stretch into wings. Her bones thinned and lightened. She felt her face contorting and a beak growing from her face. White feathers began to grow and cover her entire body.
Before long, the transformation was complete. Narvina was now a great white egret with a golden feathered crest which had once been her hair. She and the four Sisters collapsed in exhaustion. Two other Sisters approached and lay their healing hands upon Narvina’s feathered body. More warm magic surged through her. Soon, she was refreshed and ready to go. Leaving six worn out Sisters behind, Narvina leaped into the air and took flight.
© Dawn Ross 2002