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Friday, March 31, 2017

The Specter's Staff

The next few days saw Bo and CeCe cementing their new relationship. They often would wander from the trail, for some time alone away from the gawking young ones. CeCe was getting tired of the sly smiles directed toward herself and Bo whenever they were together. Bo had made the same statement the night before as they were preparing to sleep. “How did we get to the point where our brothers are acting like small kits? If I hear snickering the next time we come back from a walk, I’m going to conk their heads together. How can you be so calm?” he asked as he lay back against his bedroll.

CeCe looked his way, before turning back to spreading her blankets. “You forget I have lived with Neko all these years. He takes immaturity to a new level at times. Every time I turn around I have become the butt of one of his jokes. I try my hardest to ignore them, but they test my patience with this game.” Satisfied with her makeshift bed, she lay down. Turning toward the male she loved, she whispered “I love you, it doesn’t matter what they do, nothing can change that.”

Bo leaned across the small distance separating them and gave her a gentle kiss. “I love you too. Good night, my love.”  Across the fire, they heard small kiss, kiss sounds as the trio of young males did their own good nights. Soon silence settled over the campsite, well except for the gentle snores, and the crackling of the wood on the fire. Unaware that they were being watched by the band of thieves who had found them.

Donny tossed and turned in his sleep; he was dreaming of an ancient mage standing outside of a mountain cave. The runes on his staff flaming bright in the descending darkness. His adversary unseen, Donny could only watch as the mage lifted the staff, his face contorted in anger.  A white veil seemed to lift from the staff heading toward the invisible foe. Donny awakened to the screams of the dying ringing in his ears. Still in a trance he rose from his bed, and began to walk into the forest. His family and friends left behind.

He followed an urgent command, “Come to me.” The night was fading with the coming sun when he stopped before the mouth of a crumbling opening in the side of the mountain. Donny shook his head, and then looked around. He heard nothing, not even the sound of the birds who should be chirping their happiness to the returning day. Donny studied the opening as remnants of his dream played across his mind. The place felt the same as had the cave opening in the dream, but it had been a large well-constructed opening, but this was nothing more than a fissure with barely enough room to squeeze inside.

Yet that is what Donny felt drawn to do. Even wide awake the siren’s call of “Come to me” rang in his ears. Stepping close he put his hand on the edge of the entrance, he felt the tingle race up his arm; it was as if the place recognized him.  He felt the same way as he stepped inside.

Back in camp the gang had started to stir, but for some reason they failed to notice Donny’s disappearance. They began rousing from their slumber unaware of the danger stealthily stalking them. The thieves lay in wait for the perfect moment to attack. “Nilla, I swear that dark one is one of our attackers. He is the one who fought as if he was Pantheri. I stand by that assumption now after watching him these last couple of days.” Bumbles explained to his leader.

“It matters not, we have a job to do and that is to bring the kit back to our master. Prepare for the attack.” Nilla stated as she went to make further plans for the coming battle. Bumbles turned back toward where the stranger’s camp was. Shaking his head, he went to armor up.

As Donny passed through the fissure opening, he found himself inside a tunnel. He reached out to touch the wall of the cave, feeling the rough stone scrap against his fur. He felt something lightly touch his ear, when he reached up he felt the gossamer strands of a spider’s web. He shivered and began to follow the tunnel deeper into the side of the mountain.

He felt the anxiety of coming close to something, yet not knowing why. The voice whispering in his ears, seemed to multiply the further in he went. He kept walking until he saw an opening larger than the one in which he had passed such a brief time ago. By now the voices were screaming at him, “COME TO ME.” So, he did.

He entered a darkened chamber. Scattered about where the remains of what had once been a living space for someone. Donny felt his eyes adjust to the lower light level, once his vision had sharpened. He scanned his surroundings. To the side of the room was a bed, tilted down on one corner where the leg had broken off. A thick coating of dust, spread like a blanket over the mildewed mattress.

What drew Donny’s attention was what sat back against the wall directly in front of him. It was a large high backed chair; almost throne-like in size. What sat upon it shocked him to his core. The skeleton that held court to the spiders and other creepy crawlies, seemed to be smiling at him.

It was dressed in ancient attire befitting a king. The muted stitching had once been gilded, now dust and the ravages of time dulled the color.  It wasn’t the clothing the skeleton wore that captured Donny’s attention. His eyes were locked on the staff still grasped in the bony claws. The voices had died away when he had entered to be replaced with an extreme compulsion. He needed to touch the staff, he wanted the staff. He stepped close and reached for the ancient wood.

As soon as his fingers grazed the gnarled wood, the runes engraved deep into the staff began to glow. As his fingers closed on the staff, he was lost in the magic infused under his grasp. Then he heard the voice, as a vision played through his mind. The mage from his dream sat before him, a smile on his lips. The years seemed to melt away as Donny was embraced by the spell.

The mage spoke to him, in a disembodied voice. “Welcome my child. The time has come to pass on my wisdom as well as my staff. You are a worthy successor, come take your prize. I am Driekor, and in times of old I was gifted this staff. It holds a great power, one which only a true guardian can wield. The time has come when once more it shall deliver justice to those who stand in your way. Guard well the Triad, it’s power will be sought. Only those of your party protect it. Only the guardians shall win the day. Take now this rod of ancient wood, engraved in circles round. To control the ghosts of those who have passed on, this power shall you have. Behold the Specter’s Staff, now come and take it away.”

The voice of Driekor returned from wherever it had come. Leaving Donny with his hand wrapped around the thing of legend. Bowing his head Donny’s placed a quiet prayer to the Goddess to guide him in his new-found knowledge. He slowly pulled the staff away from the clawed grasp of the skeleton of the old mage. The glowing runes burned away, leaving Donny once more in darkness. He turned and left the cave.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

News from the Cat's Eye Gang.

It is with deep sorrow that we announce that our friend and brother, Donny has passed over the Rainbow Bridge. He had been fighting an illness that left him exhausted, and in pain. Today he joins other members of our family running and playing in the land over the bridge. 

He was a solemn fellow, who when actually finding some energy loved to chase his brothers: Dominic and Bo Jangles. As well as his cousin Neko. His favorite pastime was chasing CeCe out of her window seat so he could soak up the warm rays of the sun thus easing some of his pain.

As of this moment The Cat's Eye Chronicles is dedicated to Donny's memory. For without his presence it might not have been born.

Donny Brasco

Friday, March 24, 2017

Requited Love

A few days later CeCe was crouched next to a meandering stream refilling the canteens for the group. She had awoken early to the sound of birds chittering in the trees. She knew the rest of her party would awaken soon so she had made her way here, a moment to herself. Which seemed a thing that rarely happened anymore? She often found eyes following her no matter what she was doing. She had finally got to the point where her not being a watched constantly became normal. Now she felt like she was back in her youth, a captive of her birthright. Always followed by guards, and adored by everyone who saw her. She found she had liked living in anonymity. She missed it now.

She finished with the canteens and sat back on her heels to watch as the sun rose to filter its light through the branches of the tall trees. At the edge of the glade a mother doe and her fawn moved closer to the water edge. CeCe stayed perfectly still, so as not to frighten the timid deer. She felt his presence before he walked up behind her. She held her hand up to warn of the gracious animal across the small stream. “Don’t spook her, I want her to feel safe.” She whispered to the silent Felis behind her.

Bo glanced toward where the small family stood drinking from the crystal-clear water. He then swept his gaze toward the mountain they now stood below. Spring was making a show, with the snow melting, to run down to them. Small buds appearing on the trees. He watched as the doe stepped away but a few feet, and began foraging for the new shoots of grass carpeting the ground. “No worries, my Queen. I just wanted some time alone with you. The little family is safe from me.”

CeCe held her hand out and Bo took hold to help her to her feet. “Stop calling me that. I am the same woman you knew before. My title means little to me. I am a queen of a haunted city. With no subjects to rule.” She went to sit on a moss-covered log. The canteens abandoned for now. “It has been awhile since we could speak alone. I miss our early morning coffee chats as we prepared to start our day. What did you want to talk about?”

Bo came over and took a seat next to her. He reached out and took her hand. “Hard to believe it was such a brief time ago when we were living a peaceful life. Nothing to make us regret going on this infernal quest.” CeCe made to question why he regretted the quest, but he placed a finger to her lips. “I know what you are going to say. If we had never gone in search for answers, then I would not have learned that I was beneath your station. I’m sure you would have been married off to some prince by now, if Mithral hadn’t fallen. So how can I speak of my feelings for you now. I missed my opportunity.” He glanced away to spy on the deer family, who still foraged for grass, the doe ever vigilant to the predators seated not far from her.

He turned back to see tears in CeCe’s eyes. With a quizzical look on his handsome face, he reached to wipe them away. “Why do you cry? What did I say to cause this?” He moved closer to her wrapping his arms around her and pulling her in for a hug. “I didn’t mean to upset you. Maybe I should go and leave you in peace? I don’t ever want to be the reason for your tears.” He started to stand as he broke the embrace. He was surprised when CeCe pulled him back and even more so when she wrapped her arms around his neck. She leaned close a placed a tender kiss upon his lips.

CeCe pulled away from the kiss, her tears drying in her fur. “I wasn’t crying because I was upset, you stooge. I was crying because you finally admitted that you have feelings for me. I was beginning to despair that you would ever share my feelings. I have loved you seems forever. When I am with you I feel like a piece of myself that was missing has clicked back into place. I don’t care what your title is. I always was given a choice in who I chose to make my consort. And if I had known you then, I think my feelings would have been the same. You, big dolt, I love you.” She then leaned forward to kiss him again.

Unbeknown to the couple, they had gained a voyeur. Azereus smiled as he heard his cousin’s words. He hadn’t had a chance to tell CeCe that it had already been decided by her mother that she would be presented to Bo. That is once he had given his approval of the Lord Borjaeis, of the House Suswen.  He was preparing to bring the young lord to meet CeCe when the attack came to Mithral He stood there watching the two glad that he had chosen right by CeCe. He turned to leave the couple their privacy. He couldn’t help the huge smile from forming on his lips, as he walked away.

“Bo kissed CeCe back, liking the feel of her lips against his own. “You never said anything. I think I fell in love with you that night you found me in the alley, I was so fevered I thought you an angel sent to lead me over the bridge of life. I was too scared to speak up because I thought you would hate me for upsetting our friendship.  I am so glad we finally spoke to each other; and you will always be my queen. The queen of my heart.” He then pulled CeCe even closer and began to show her how much he loved her in a soul shattering kiss. CeCe welcomed him with a matched enthusiasm. The canteen remained forgotten, while the family of deer melted back into the forest.

Back in camp, the twins and Neko were beginning to stir. Azereus returned to find them stumbling around as they tried to wake up. When Donny went to get some coffee, he scowled to find the pot empty. A soft growl came from him when he found the canteens missing. “Damn! What does a guy got to do to get some go-go juice in his system? I need my coffee, where is CeCe and Bo. Surely, they would have brought it back by now. I am going to go get my canteen back.” He rubbed his hand over his eyes as he searched for his boots.

Az came over to the young grump. After patting him on the shoulder to let him know he felt the same way. He mentioned that Donny might want to give them a little more time. Donny glanced up to say “why should I give them time. The sooner I get water, the sooner I have coffee in my cup.” He then caught a smile on Az’s face, once the implication sank in he grinned too. “Are you saying what I think you are saying with that look? Spill old man.”

With that statement, he gained Dom and Neo’s attention. They came to stand beside Donny. “What gives, Az? What do you know? Curiosity killed the Felis.” Neko quizzed. “Come on tell us.”
Az looked at the three sets of eyes trained fully on him. He couldn’t help the smile forming as he let them in on the secret. “I too went in search of water for my coffee, when I found Bo and CeCe in a serious discussion. A discussion that ended with a very sweet kiss. I figured they might need some more time to themselves so I came back to camp. Now you know everything I do. Why don’t we get breakfast cooking, maybe the smells will bring them back?” He then went to the pack mule, and began getting the supplies needed to begin breakfast.

“Hot damn! “Neko exclaimed. As he gave each of the twins a high five. “I was beginning to think they would never tell each other how they felt. I mean it isn’t like the rest of us haven’t known forever. I guess we will all become a real family soon. Well as real as it can be.” He grabbed each of the twins, and pulled them into a hug. “Maybe now, we can get this quest over without all the unrequited feelings flying around.” That said he disappeared to go take care of some personal business of his own.

The smell of meat wafted through the air the closer Bo and CeCe came to camp. By the time the two lovebirds broke from the tree line, they were ravenous. Five sets of eyes turned toward them as they entered the camp, carrying filled canteens of water. Donny came rushing over and relieved CeCe of her load. “Thank the mother. I was beginning to think you guys fell off the planet. Give me the water and no one gets hurt.”  This was his form of greeting the two.

Bo watched his brother race towards the fire and the bag of beans. He got the pot on the fire, and sat back to await his “aquae vitae”. He looked at the others, and how they were watching him and CeCe. “What? Why are you guys acting so strange? Did you encounter more side effects of the stone? Learn something new about the prophecy? What?” He drew out the last word in a growl.

Dominic came towards them with a big smile plastered on his handsome face. He stepped between the two, before grabbing them in a big hug. “We just missed you guys SO much. We just couldn’t think what might be holding you up. That was until Az told us a secret. Bet you would love to know what that secret is?” He cracked up laughing as he finished teasing them.

Az rushed forward, scowling at the laughing Dom. He motioned for both CeCe and Bo to follow him a bit away from the crazy antics of the young ones. “Sorry guys, I was feeling so happy by what I came upon at the stream, that I kind of spilled the beans. I know I shouldn’t have said anything, but come on. You two finally expressed what we all have known for a while now.” He hung his head bashfully, before casting his cousin a wink.

When it occurred to CeCe what he was talking about her face took on a pinkish color. “Oh, my sweet mother. You heard and saw everything? And you didn’t let us know you were there? You, cousin are a terrible Felis. I’m so embarrassed.” She hid her face in Bo’s shirt. Bo scowled at his old friend while secretly enjoying the feel of CeCe in his arms.

“That was unkind, friend. You know if you kept your mouth shut, CeCe and I would have let you all know what was happening.” He felt CeCe stiffen at this statement. “Sorry, love but I am so happy I want to shout it from the mountain top.” He bent to place a kiss on her bent head. He couldn’t believe how he had missed all these years without her in his arms. It felt right for her to be there, her head so close to his heart.

Az came close and placed a kiss on his cousin’s head, and led them toward the fire and the tempting smells of a great breakfast. Donny even gave CeCe the first cup of coffee in a welcome to the family gesture. She felt truly loved by the band of miscreants that were all now her family.

Spooks sat off to the side watching the gang congratulate the lovers. He was glad they found each other, because in the coming days they would need that connection. He felt the hourglass sands shifting as time was running out to find the Triad. He didn’t even want to contemplate the alternative.
Not far away the thieves had found the abandoned cabin. They soon found the trail left by the gang. It was only a matter of time before they crossed paths. For one group, it would be the beginning of something new, for the other, only the Goddess knew.

Friday, March 17, 2017


Amerak turned away from the window, usually the view aided in his concentration, but of late nothing seemed to help. The stars aligning had been the portent he had waited for. Now all he needed to do was get his hands on the Triad. All his machinations would be fulfilled if only he controlled the mysterious object. He looked at the portrait standing on its easel in the corner. His dark eyed daughters solemn face looked out at him as if in accusation. He had done so much to see her crowned the true Queen of Cameria. Now with her gone, he wanted the Triad to give him the power he needed to make the world pay for her loss.

One of his guards tapped on the door. After he had given his permission to enter, he watched the small thief enter ahead of the guard. He nodded at the guard to give him permission to leave, closing the door behind him. The thief weaved her way around his workroom, he made sure to watch her closely. She was after all a thief. She finally took up his abandoned post by the window. “We had the apprentice. Unfortunately, he was rescued by a couple of warriors. One of my men said one of the men looked to be Pantheri. He even said the warrior had glowed as he fought. My men are searching now to relocate the apprentice. Do you have any further orders?”

Amerak growled deep in his throat at the dreaded word. He had extinguished the life of the last Pantheri. Little knew that only the Pantheri princes had the ability to glow during battle. He had slain the prince years ago, surely the thief’s men didn’t want to admit that they had lost to more than likely a couple of worthless ruffians. “I want you to continue your search for the young mystic. And this time do not allow him to be “rescued” from your grasp. He cannot be allowed to join with the Queen’s private team. I need him here to keep his master in line.” Amerak walked over to a table set with a flagon of wine, as well as some sandwiches. After pouring himself a glass, he motioned for the thief to help herself. “Time is of the essence. We need to know where the Triad is hidden. The apprentice has that information. Find him and bring him to me. Oh, and Nilla just remember your failure means not only your life but that of your crew.”

Nilla had poured a glass of wine, and was just reaching for a sandwich, when Amerak spoke. Suddenly she no longer had much of an appetite. She knew damn well what the stakes were in this hunt. Why did the wizard have to keep reminding her every time she came to make a report? She had already watched him burn a city to ash, did he really think she did not take him seriously. She took a big gulp of wine before sitting the glass back down. “I know my orders, and they shall be obeyed, Master.” Nilla then grabbed a couple of the sandwiches, and left the room.

Meanwhile at the cabin, a lively discussion was being had. “Why should we listen to a child? How can he know where the Triad is, or what is?  I, for one vote that we continue searching for a full copy of the prophecy. Follow where it guides.” Bo paced around the small room, agitation in every bone of his body. “The Triad cannot be at Black Barrow. If it was, someone would have found it by now. All that is at that place are ghosts, and memories.”

Neko stood near the fireplace. He alternated watching over CeCe, and glaring at Bo. “I say we listen to him. He has been right so far on our so-called gifts. I say we journey with him, and along the way learn more about what has happened to us. I think you are letting the past color your decision.”

By now both men were standing face to face. “I am not letting my past interfere with my decision. I just don’t think we ought to believe a kit that you just randomly rescued off the street. If anything, I think you aren’t using your impulsive head once again. As usual you want to jump without looking to see if there are rocks at the bottom.” Bo growled at the younger Felis. “Why don’t you let the grownups make the decisions, and deal with our decision when it is made.”

The two were so busy yelling at each other, that they hadn’t noticed what the others were witnessing. Neko had begun to glow faintly, as his emotions became more volatile, the stronger the glow became. As Spooks walked into the cabin, Dominic jumped up to step in between the two combatants. “Stop! We are not enemies. We can all come to an understanding. You guys need to take a step back and calm down. Neko get a grip, and look at yourself.” Dominic pointed down at Neko’s luminescent skin. “And you, big brother need to get over yourself. This isn’t about who is older or what. We will all have a choice in the matter.” He said this while poking Bo in the chest.

Spooks stopped inside the door, watching the tableau before him. He knew of the Pantheri battle glow, but until now had never witnessed it. A trickle of fear ran down his spine, as he felt the untapped power in the young prince. The Triad would have a strong protector, that is once he learned to control his aggression. He watched as Dominic soothed the two angry Felis. “Hey now guys. You need to get a grip, and I don’t mean on each other. We’ve a job to do. The Queen is depending on us. If it means following the kit, then that is what we will do. Now go to your separate corners and calm down.” Dominic stepped between Bo and Neko pushing them in opposite directions.

The two combatants went to their respective corners, still grumbling about which was right. They grew silent when they heard an angry hiss. Two heads turned in the direction it had come from only to find CeCe in full hissy fit mode. She stood with her ears back while her claws unsheathed. “We are family. Whether by blood or not, and this bickering accomplishes nothing. As the only female, here as well as the highest rank I choose to follow the kit. So, it is settled.” As was proper both Bo and Neko lowered their head in respect for their matriarch.

Spooks took that moment to clear his voice. Six pairs of eyes focused on him. “If all has been decided, I think it is time to leave here. The hands of the clock stop for no one, our time is fast running out before we lose the Triad forever. I say we head out at first light.” Spooks took a moment for this news to register. “Yes, we only have a finite amount of time to succeed in this quest. Don’t forget there are others who search as you do.” He hoped that his sense of urgency was conveyed to the group.

Bo broke the silence that had invaded the room. “Fine, first light is fine with me. I think I am going to get some sleep. Sunrise is not far away. He headed to where is pack was. Once he had made sure everything was close at hand, he lay with his back to the others. Neko sat on his side of the room, the nimbus that had surrounded him earlier nothing but a faint trace. In hushed tones the rest of the gang prepared to resume their journey.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Band of Thieves

The stench of the burnt-out town, clung to the enclosed room in what once had been a bustling tavern. Stray beams of sunlight streaked across spots on the trash strewn floor. The cracked, and charred door opened to allow a slight, bedraggled figure to enter. The small rodents that had taken refuge within scurried for the darker corners. The figure paused to glance back outside before pulling the door shut behind them. As it headed for a blanketed portal, glimpses of burnt orange fur could be seen in the torn rags that clothed them.

Nilla mumbled under her breath, as she pulled the hood away from her face. She scanned the room, taking note of the lumps that lay in different poses of sleep. Her blue eyes turned to slits, and her tail swished furiously as she made her way to the closest one. “Get up, ya lazy fool. The time to sleep is past. We need to get our hands on the little apprentice. He must not be allowed to find the group he seeks. We also need to find the ones who dared take our brothers from us. They will pay the blood price for our fallen.”

A loud snore was answer to her; swearing under her breath, Nilla kicked him again. This time the sleeping rotund ball of fur let out a moan. He rolled over, one eye slit, as a ray of sun shone on his face. His fur was a light gold, with the area around his eyes, nose, and mouth were in the shape of a white club. Dark red stripes, streaked across his body in a swirling pattern. The white fur continued down onto his chest. Instead of being a slick fur, his was as fluffy as his figure. “Why do you always come back from seeing that crazed wizard so angry? If you hate him so why do you serve him? Brambles sat up, adjusting his tunic as he did so. “We will find the apprentice. As for the people who attacked us, I would much rather not face the dark one again.”

Nilla had moved on rousting the others who still slept. “I serve my master because I have no choice. If not for him, I as well as the rest of you would have perished in the great calamity. He asks little of us, the least we can do is find this kit, and take him to our master.” She glanced over the other members of her ragtag band of thieves. “The master says soon we will be rewarded greatly for this task. For that reason alone, I do as he asks.”

A small delicate female made her way over to the table under which Brambles had been sleeping. She opened a pack, and pulled out the fixing for a quick breakfast. Her multi-colored fur was colored in spots of black, rust, gold, and white. She had a black patch over her left eye, while the right was orange. “I say we forget the little one. I think we should hunt down those that killed my mate. Quillen deserves to be avenged. We also may yet lose Rauwyn.” Paevia looked over to where one of their group still lay. In the quiet, you could hear how raspy she was breathing. Sitting beside her was her mate Zirede. “What say you Zi, get the kit now or avenge our people?”

Nilla didn’t wait for her second in command’s answer. “It is imperative we find the apprentice. If her joins with Queen Lilith’s private quest team, it won’t matter if we avenge our fallen. They will gain control of that which my master covets. Do you really want to be the one to deliver the news to Amerak of our failure? He is insane; and if we tell him we have failed, how long do you think the rest of us will be breathing?” She gave the room a scowl, “you may not care whether you live or die. I do, we search for the apprentice first.”

Nilla moved to stand next to Zirede. She put her hand on his shoulder, and glanced to where her sister lay. She had not approved of Rauwyn mating so young, but she never doubted Zi’s love for her lookalike sister. The only difference was in their striping. Hers was a darker red, whereas Rau’s was a dull orange. “We will find her assailant, but for now we need to find the little mystic. Once he is dealt with, then we hunt.” She felt Zirede’s tension at the hold up in his flexing muscles under her hand. “You stay here and care for my sister. We will search for the apprentice. I think I have a lead on him, if we are lucky he may still be with his champions. Then we will have both our salvation, and our retribution.”

Zirede shifted from under the touch of his leader. His black face held wisdom, gained from many battles. His golden eyes moved over his beloved body, if he could have taken her place he would have. He rubbed at the white blaze that ran in between his eyes. A nervous habit, that the others speculated he wasn’t even aware of doing. He was a muscular fella that looked like he was always dressed to be presented at court. His fur jet black except for the pure white that swept down his chest ending at his waist. He also had the same white fur on his feet which looked like boots. His hands had white gloves of fur too.  He glanced over to the silent shadow in the corner. “Tell her what you saw during the fight. She needs to know all of what we witnessed to be able to inform our master. Tell her your thoughts, Diewen.”

Nilla looked in the direction that Zirede gazed. She had forgotten Diewen was even there. He never spoke, except for the rare moments. His sable colored coat blended with his well-worn leathers. The most remarkable wavy fur, made Nilla long to reach out a nuzzle against it. That and his crinkled whiskers. His most noticeable traits though were his big owl eyes, and his large rounded ears. They were like wings on his head. In his gravelly, misused voice he spoke after a moment. It was if he relished in her observing him. “I think our attacker was Pantheri. As he fought us, he glowed. I have only heard of their kind glowing when in battle rage. I fear for our group, if there are more like him in his company. If the Pantheri are awakening, this Triad must be important.”

Nilla couldn’t help herself, she began to laugh. “The Pantheri? Are you insane? They are nothing more than a myth, a tale told to kits at bedtime. Whoever this fighter was, must have some magical ability. That is all. We all know magic can be defeated. You just go in prepared. We also have magic on our side, my master will give us any assistance we might need. Diewen, I can’t believe you believe in the old tales.”

Diewen watched Nilla laugh at him. He loved to watch her face light up when she was happy. He knew she thought he was crazy. He was of the Devon tribe, and he indeed knew that the Pantheri were real. Their raiders had often come down into the camps to capture females to add new blood to their lines. As for magic, he didn’t have to worry about that. He had his own. “Think what you will mistress, but I for one will go well prepared to face what I believe him to be.” As he spoke his eyes took on a glowing effect. “No Pantheri shall ever be my master.”

Nilla pulled up short when she noticed how serious Diewen was. “Very well, I shall go and report to Amerak what you have seen. Sadly, I also must tell him that we had the apprentice; only to lose him. Bumbles, I need you to come with me. As soon as we return, we begin our search again.” She began to gather together her belongings. Bumbles gave her a disgusted look, but began gathering his stuff too. He knew not to refuse Nilla. Not when she was going to meet with the master. Amerak would indeed be very angry at their loss.

Back at the cabin, Spooks snapped out of his trance. He knew that the band of thieves that had attacked him had been sent by someone powerful. He just hadn’t expected it to be Amerak. Now he knew why his master, ShĂ©nmei had sent him to guide the Cat’s Eye gang. An old nemesis had come out of hiding. And he was after the Triad. This did not bode well, if he found the Triad, or for that matter the group on the other side of the cabin door; the whole of Cameria would be in his power. Spooks pushed open the door, and began to get them moving. They needed to get as far from the thieves as soon as they could.