‘But if something goes wrong I
could lose you both,’ said Gilster.
‘It’s a risk we have to
‘You haven’t done this before,
‘No, but I’ve seen it done and
because I know Daria so well it should be easier for me to reach
her, I must at least try. Wish me luck.’
‘Luck, my friend,’ said
Gilster. ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’
‘No, just keep us safe, once I
go in to Daria’s mind I won’t be much help to you if anything
happens out here. Ready?’
‘Ready as I’ll ever be,’ said
Gilster, ‘I’ll see you soon.’
Daria hadHaven had seen enough. Walking
slowly slipped away during the past days. She had been having
waking dreams and visions; not wanting to upset Haven and Gilster
she had kept them to herself but they had become progressively
worse until she had closed herself off completely, and now, for all
intents and purposes she was gone. How could Elder Timus do the
things he was doing? Poor Elder Dolmay had been tortured along with
others from the temple who had escaped the fire. People she had
known and loved her whole life had become butchers at a word from
Timus. She had visions of blood and death, she felt pain and
torment, heard people screaming and begging for mercy; it was as if
she was there, experiencing everything herself. She saw Elder
Dolmay clearly, her face covered with blood, her arm broken,
hanging uselessly at her side. Where her foot had once been was now
only a bloody, raw stump, her foot had been chopped off to stop her
from escaping. She was screaming in agony,
run Daria, you must escape.
mind had begun to close down. Unable to process what it was
experiencing, it was trying to save her from the worst of the
visions and in the process had cut her off from reality.
towards Daria he spoke softly.
‘Daria . . . come to me, I’m
here to help you.’
She stood amongst the carnage,
dead and dying lying heaped around her feet. In her vision she had
tried to help and her hands were covered in blood.
‘You are not here Daria,’
continued Haven, ‘you are with Gilster and me . . . in the forest
near Hawthorn, remember? We are looking for the portal and we need
you.’ He reached her, wrapping his arms tightly around her body.
‘This is in your mind Daria, listen to me, you can do nothing here,
you must come back.’
Daria pulled away from him,
looking around at the bodies she began to sob, ‘this is all my
fault Haven, if only I’d kept my mouth shut none of this would have
‘You’re wrong Daria, none of
this is your fault. Do you understand?’ he shook her slightly to
get her attention. ‘Look at me, have I ever lied to you?’ She
raised her tear stained face to his. He knew he was winning the
battle, he had her attention. ‘I want you to concentrate all your
thoughts on Gilster and me and come back to us, do you hear
She nodded, ‘I’m trying Haven,
but I’m so frightened, please don’t leave me.’
‘Never, as long as you need me
I will remain, we can do this together, just you and me. But
Gilster is waiting for us and he is worried, we must get back to
She closed her eyes, wrapped
her arms around Haven and buried her head in his chest. She
concentrated. Remaining silent, she dug her fingers into Haven’s
back. Haven noticed the figures around them beginning to shimmer
and blur, it was working. Slowly the bodies disappeared, bit by bit
the scenery changed, the screaming ceased until all that was left
were Haven and Daria standing in a black nothingness.
‘You did it Daria, they’ve
gone, I’m very proud of you.’
‘We did it together,’ said
Daria, ‘if you hadn’t come for me I think I would have been lost
Haven smiled, ‘are you ready to
wake up now?’ he asked.
‘Good, we’ll do it together
then, ready? One. . . two. . . three.’
Haven opened his eyes. The
first thing he saw was Gilster’s concerned face hovering above
‘You’re back, thank Minerva and
Apollo, I was beginning to worry, you’ve been gone for hours. How
‘See for yourself,’ said Haven
pointing over to Daria.
Gilster turned, just in time to
see Daria sitting up and rubbing her eyes as if waking from a deep
sleep. He moved closer, squatted down and took her hands in his,
‘is everything alright? How do you feel? I was so worried about
Daria smiled. ‘I’m sorry I put
you both through that, I’m fine now, really. Thank you Haven for
what you did, I know how dangerous it is to do that. I’ll never
forget the images I saw though, they were a nightmare I thought I’d
never wake up from, but they have made me more determined than ever
to finish this journey.’ She stood up, brushed the leaves from her
cloak and straightened her clothes. ‘I suppose we should start up
the mountain, the sun will be up soon.’
‘Now that’s the Daria we know
and love,’ said Haven.
The sun rose weak and watery
from behind the mountain; a damp mist began to form as the sodden
ground warmed, cloaking the forest in an eerie shroud.
‘We won’t be seen in this
mist,’ whispered Haven, ‘but if anyone is following, we’re leaving
a very clear trail behind us, look?’ He pointed to the ground they
had just walked over; deep footprints stood out clearly in the mud.
‘Rather than try to hide our trail I think it’s better if we go for
speed and reach the portal as quickly as possible. Even though we
don’t know where it is,’ he added.
‘Let’s hope no one is waiting
for us at the portal,’ said Gilster.
‘Is that possible?’ said Daria
trudging along behind Haven, each step sucking at her boots. She
was much like her old self but the memory of the nightmare images
was still etched on her face, ‘I don’t think they know where it is
any more than we do. Minerva said only a Chosen can open the
‘Speed it is then,’ said
Gilster, ‘as soon as I pull my boot from the mud.’
They continued climbing until
they reached the edge of the tree-line around noon. The mist was
burning off as the day warmed. Continuing on up, they passed the
last of the trees they had been using for cover, if anyone from the
village looked up at the mountain it would now be possible to see
them as they made their way higher up the mountain-side. The path
was very narrow, but with the mist lifting they had a clearer
picture of their surroundings. Haven picked up the pace.
‘Did Minerva give you any clue
as to where on the mountain the portal might be?’ asked Haven.
‘It’s a big mountain, we could be climbing for days and not find
‘No . . . no clues,’ said Daria
puffing, ‘all she said . . . was, follow the path.’
They continued on for another
hour or so; no one spoke, the effort of climbing taking all their
concentration and willpower. The higher they went the thinner the
air became, causing Daria and Gilster to puff and pant. Haven, on
the other hand seemed to relish in the physical exertion,
constantly stopping to wait for the other two to catch up.
Despite the fact the
temperature was dropping, the exertion of the climb was causing
them to sweat profusely. Daria removed her cloak and coat, tying
them in a bundle which she slung on her back. Gilster, who was
fairing only slightly better than Daria, stopped for a break and
pulled a bag of nuts from his pack offering them around; Haven
grabbed a handful and continued on, Daria shook her head, not
wanting to do anything other concentrate on climbing. The path
became narrower the higher they went until eventually it was
nothing more than a mountain-goat track, strewn with large boulders
that needed climbing over and small, treacherous pebbles that
threatened to roll under their feet taking them swiftly back down
the mountainside. Haven had to stop constantly to help Daria and
Gilster over the boulders or pull them up a particularly steep part
of the path; after stopping for the umpteenth time Haven couldn’t
‘Remind me never to take you
two hiking, you’re definitely not the outdoors type.’
A little further along the
track Haven suddenly stopped and tilted his head to one side.
‘I know that look,’ panted
Gilster leaning forward, his hands resting on his knees while he
gulped in air, ‘he’s heard something telepathically.’
‘Shhh,’ said Haven, ‘I need to
listen.’ Daria and Gilster dropped to the ground, grateful for the
‘How very strange,’ said Haven,
finally. ‘I can hear the thoughts of a woman, but they’re like
nothing I’ve ever heard before.’ He tilted his head to the other
side. ‘She’s thinking about things that make no sense . . . her
“car” needs fixing, don’t forget to buy food for the “cats”. What
is she talking about?’ he said more to himself than the
‘Perhaps she’s something to do
with the portal,’ said Daria, ‘did you get her name?’
‘I think her name is Max? Yes .
. . it is Max; what a strange name. Let me follow her thoughts,
they’re getting stronger the further up the trail we go.’
They carried on, getting higher
and higher, Haven was racing along the goat-track getting very
excited, like an animal following a scent.
‘I think I’m really close
Gilster and Daria were falling
further and further behind.
‘Wait!’ shouted Daria, ‘you’re
getting too far ahead, we might lose you.’
Haven skidded to a sudden
‘What do you mean, “she’s
here”, there’s nobody here but us,’ said Daria panting.
Gilster who had just caught up
was wandering around looking at the area, he called out, ‘over
here, I think I’ve found something.’ He was peering into a small,
dark cave off to the left of the main track they had been
following. ‘Think this might be something?’
‘I don’t know,’ said Daria,
‘let’s have a look.’ She wriggled into the small opening, closely
followed by Gilster. ‘I think it might be a bit of a tight fit for
you Haven,’ she laughed.
With a bit of grunting and
groaning and with Gilster and Daria pulling him, Haven managed to
squeeze himself into the tiny opening. As they made their way along
the tunnel-like path a feeling of great energy surrounded them. ‘I
think we may have just found the portal,’ said Daria excitedly. The
tunnel opened up into a large chamber; light pulsated along the
walls, as if leading the friends forward, into the chamber. They
stood, waiting anxiously for something to happen.
‘I can feel something,’ said
Haven. A light began to pulse around the three. ‘Something is
pulling me from the inside out, this must be it.’
A sound like the roar of the
ocean filled the cave and swirling lights and wind encircled the
three friends, almost pulling them off their feet.
‘Hang on,’ shouted Daria above
the noise as she battled to stand, ‘grab hold of each other before
we get blown away.’ The sound became louder working its way up in
pitch until the shriek became unbearable; the wind blew stronger as
the lights pulsated faster and faster. They gripped each other
tightly. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed through the cave and
then . . . silence. The cave was empty.
Chapter 2 Earth
Maxine Baxter was a pretty,
young woman with corkscrew blonde hair, sparkly, blue eyes, a
smattering of tiny freckles on her nose and a dimple in her cheek
which appeared whenever she smiled. But lately her smile had not
been so forth-coming; a lack of sleep and the disturbing dreams
were taking their toll. She was beginning to feel as if she was
paranoid. Not only was she experiencing the constant nightmares but
now she was starting to feel she was being watched and maybe even
followed, not a feeling she liked. To take her mind off things she
thought about the coming weekend and meeting up with her old
friends to catch up on all their news.
Max—as she preferred to be
called--was a nurse at the local hospital, which, like most
hospitals was chronically understaffed, and extremely over-worked.
Except this weekend she was escaping from it all. It was her first
full weekend off in months and she was not about to waste one
minute. This weekend was the annual festival of healing, psychics
and all things esoteric. People came from all over the state and
even the country to get together and give free sessions to the
public in their chosen field; but what Max loved the most was
catching up with old friends. She had little time for friends in
her hectic daily life because not only was she a nurse, but she
also practiced reiki, so any time spent with the few friends she
had was greatly cherished.
As much as she loved her work,
she sometimes found it a little draining listening to people talk
about their illnesses and ailments all day. So she was looking
forward to just relaxing with a few glasses of wine, talking to
close friends and unwinding. Perhaps that was why she was having
the bad dreams and paranoid feelings; she desperately needed a
break, or better still, a holiday.
Max was getting ready to head
out to the local parkland, which was adjacent to the foreshore. The
festival was held in the same place every year, it was a relaxing
spot with the sound of waves washing the nearby beach; all things
considered, it was the perfect place to hold such a festival.
Pulling on a short cotton skirt
and loose fitting top, she listened to the radio and heard the
announcer say how it was a beautiful day and people were coming
from far and wide to the festival; it sounded like it was going to
be a great weekend. She would be helping people with her reiki,
which always made her feel good, and then, when it was all over,
off to the pub to relax with friends; what more could a girl ask