When I first wrote the series, Ri hooked up with Rune. Granted, it took four books for both ridiculously stubborn people to figure it out, but they were together. And then when we failed in the final scene and I successfully killed EVERYONE - well, except Ri and Kes - all of the character dynapics shifted.
This was the first time I really glimpsed what Mires was seeing. She kept spouting off about Team Kes and I kept telling her she was insane. However, after this scene, I saw Kes as something a little more than a 1,1013 year old stuffed shirt.
Yes. He's ANCIENT! But it works with vampires. o_O
Additionall, I was able to really delve into the setting description, which I love-love-LOVE to do. So, with no more to say, other than *waves* hi!...*bows and sweeps hand* Enjoy.
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The world shifted. Lights danced across my eyes and we were walking across the air as though it were a solid thing. The roof fell away and merged into darkness.
My hand was suddenly empty and the boy before me merged with the void. I heard the beating of huge wings, felt the rush of air, the pounding of hooves.
The world of black swung and turned to pale light once more. Above me, rising with the might of will, were two moons; one large, one small. My breath caught in my throat and tears rose in my eyes. I had never seen anything like it in my life.
Wings beat close to me and I spun as a huge, black winged horse landed beside me, the silvery white horn flashing with electric blue vengeance.
I yelped and ducked out of the way of one red-tipped wing.
He tucked his wings into his body and turned to me, dipping his head, and pawing the ground with one hoof. Hello, Riley, Kes’ voice said within in my mind.
Whoa. I blinked wildly and took several steps back. “Kes?”
The horse snuffed and nodded, his long black mane swaying wildly. Jump on. There’s much to show you.
“You’re a horse.”
The view’s better up there.
“You’re a pegacorn.”
I’m well aware of that, Ri. I’ve been a pegacorn my entire life.
My head jutted forward. “That’s so—“ I started giggling. “That’s so girlie.”
He gave a very horsey sigh. It wasn’t girlie until My Little Ponies. Let me assure you that I am the most powerful magical creature in this entire land.
I snorted with laughter. “I’m sure you are, you manly flying unicorn you.”
He charged, his head lowered, his horn pointing dangerously at me.
I yelped and jumped out of the way.
But not before his horn could touch me.
My entire body stiffened, my back arching, the electric current taking hold of each muscle and holding me in its control.
He raised his head and whuffed. Am I still girlie to you now?
I fell to the ground and collapsed, the current gone. “Ow. Okay. If I promise to never call you girlie again, will you promise to never do that again?”
If we are training, as we shall be soon, then the answer is no. I will do whatever I have to in order to keep you safe.
“Even if that means electrocuting me?” I asked incredulously, splayed on the grass.
I will not kill you. His head rose and he whuffed the wind. Hurry. We must leave.
“Are we in danger?” I picked myself off the ground.
Always. He looked at me with those pale blue eyes. But if we leave now, we’ll catch the trees raising the sun.
He shifted, bringing his body toward me. Get on.
“I don’t know how to ride.”
I won’t let you fall.
“Bare back? Where’s the saddle?”
He turned his big horse head to stare at me with one large eye. I am not wearing a saddle for you. I’ll make sure you don’t fall off. Just get on.
He gave a sigh and pushed me back until my feet found what he was pushing me toward. A boulder. Practice. You just need practice.
“I’m glad you think so,” I said atop the knee high boulder. I grabbed a handful of mane and gauged the distance between his back and my feet.
His head rose, his ears twisting. We don’t have all day, Riley. Please get on.
I finally decided to just launch myself at him. I managed to make it onto his back but failed to take into account his—
Wings, Ri. Wings. Ow. Gah.
Both of us cursing, we managed to untangle his wings from my feet.
I don’t remember you ever being this clumsy.
“Well, I am so sorry.”
Just hold on.
I didn’t know what I was supposed to hold on to. I had a tight grip on his mane, fat lot of good that was going to do me. My legs clenched around his wide barrel of a chest as he took a running gallop and leapt into the sky, rising, rising, whooshing toward the fading stars, gliding toward the largest of the two moons.
The wind whipped around us, blowing my hair around my face. I’d have to condition twice and put in a leave-in conditioner tomorrow. Mountains reached all around us for as far as I could see. The moons were sinking behind them. The black of the sky morphed into dawn. The stars blinked one by one, running scattered before us.
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. It was just so beautiful, so wonderful and magnificent. I let go of Kes’ mane and held my arms out, forgetting that I should be afraid. How could I with such wonder around me?
Kes chuckled in my mind. You better hold on. He dipped and then leveled out.
But that was enough to bring my hands back to his mane.
Get ready. I could hear the grin in his voice. You’re never going to forget this.
He brought his wings in and then we were rushing toward the earth. The green became trees, and then the trees became branches with individual leaves.
I didn’t have breath enough to scream.
With a crack, his wings lashed out. A jolt rocked through each vertebra as we soared above the tree line. His wings sounded like whips as we brushed the tree tops and high rising branches.
Green disappeared in a sudden, startling line, and a rainbow hue of fuzziness ran in its place. They were miniature trees, stark white bark, fuzzy bright leaves. We swept behind the straining sunlight. They stirred as though awaking from slumber, sashaying from side to side.
The trees were singing.
Highs and rumbly lows, each voice distinctive as it crept through the air to reach my ears.
I closed my eyes unable to process anymore.
Kes gave a horse chuckle beneath me and dipped toward the earth once more, gently this time. We swept over the sea of rainbow trees and found a meadow, his wings clipping a few on his descent. The fuzz wasn’t leaves at all. They were more like moss. Rainbow Spanish moss.
His hooves found the ground and that was a bit rough. Riding the wind was so smooth. Galloping was not. His wings tucked back and then he was morphing, changing.
I slid off his back and watched in wonder as the winged horse became a young man.
He turned to me and grinned. “What’d you think?”
“That was—“ I let out a disbelieving breath. “—unbelievable.”
He tipped his head and clucked his tongue, his smile still wide. “It was supposed to make you believe.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know—“ My grin slid from my face as I turned and took in the world around me. The twin pale suns were still climbing the sky, peaking through the opaque fuzz of the singing trees. Orange bits of fluff rose and gusted with an unseen breeze. The grass glinted and sparkled at my feet. My sneakers were wet with the dew.
I wished this could be real. I did. But it was impossible.
The expression on his face was one of disappointment. He sighed, the corners of his mouth tucking in. “I brought you to this place. It’s—“ His pale blue eyes shifted across the wide expanse of the meadow.
I bit the inside of my cheek and waited.
“I used to be one of many. There were thousands of us. And then one day, a Keeper slipped across the Veil and began a war, a war we could not end on this side of the Veil.”
“Because it had been started over there.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“Our two dimensions reflect one another. This world is yours and your world is mine. We’re simply two sides of the same mirror.”
I shook my head, but bit my tongue.
“This land, this space, used to be my home. I had a wife, a colt. They were slaughtered.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “Wait. How old are you?”
He shook himself with a bare hint of a smile. “That’s what happened when one of our Keepers went rogue. After that, our Keepers started dying. And now? We have no Keeper. Your mother was our last hope.”
I licked my lips. “This doesn’t make sense.” The words came half strangled from my mouth. “You have the wrong people.”
His eyes watched the horizon. “Why did your mother leave?” he asked softly. “Why did she abandon us?”
I didn’t have an answer. She’d abandoned a lot more than just him. I smashed my lips together. “I don’t understand. What do Keepers do?”
He was quiet for a long moment. The trees’ voices were beginning to fade and the sounds of large feet permeated the air.
I watched in wonder as the trees began to move, traveling across the horizon, their large roots extending out like octopus legs.
“They’re our Guardians, Ri. Magick is this dimension’s life source. It can be tainted, twisted, molded to suit the purpose of anyone, the thoughts and emotions of an entire nation.”
I shook my head.
“A Keeper remains the single point of power within a nation, keeping the life thread steady and constant.”
Mom? Really? Seriously?
He took my wrist in one hand, the forefinger of his other morphing, sharpening to a point.
I stared at him in alarm.
His eyes were calm as he captured mine. “You need proof.”
Pain lanced across my arm.
He brought his head closer to mine, his expression intense. “Here’s your proof. This isn’t just my world, Ri. It’s yours. You belong here.” His hand reached up and cupped my cheek, forcing me to look only into his eyes. “Come back to us. Bring her back to us. We need you.”