This novella will only be available in print at the back of ‘The Priestess’ when it is released in February.
“What are you planning to do this time?” Lothran gasped, as he entered his friend’s home to find him packing his harps. Gaylon never took his floor harp anywhere.
Gaylon finished placing a stasis spell on his favorite instrument then watched as it shrunk enough to give him room to finish packing the rest of his belongings. He wasn’t about to leave his harp behind when he had no intention of ever returning. He grinned at Lothran as he answered, “I am leaving and this time it is for good.”
“Where are you going this time?” Lothran asked.
“To be honest, I have no idea,” Gaylon answered. “I can’t explain but I have an urge to move on that I don’t seem to be able to push aside.”
“No notice, no destination, just get up and leave?” Lothran asked, “That isn’t like you.”
“I know how it sounds, but it feels right,” Gaylon answered. He had given this idea a lot of thought before deciding to see where it would take him.
Lothran didn’t say anything, as he sat back and continued to watch Gaylon pack his belongings and head for the door. His friend was serious, this was actually happening. Gaylon had been saying he was going to leave for the last three thousand years, but what gave this action credence was that he had packed his harp. It was the sole reason he knew his friend was about to walk away and never return.
“Would you like company for the first leg of your trip?” Lothran asked.
“That depends how morose you are going to be,” Gaylon teased.
“How about if I promise not to cry when I kiss you goodbye at the other end?” Lothran teased right back. He was going to miss his friend. Despite not having met his Life Mate, Gaylon had always managed to maintain a light-hearted demeanor. Not all of their friends had, although they seemed happy enough. Of all the Elves he knew, Gaylon had been the only Elf that never managed to find a woman to suit him. All things considered, he wasn’t a young Elf anymore, not that five thousand years was ancient to an Elf.
Gaylon knew Lothran was wishing him well but believed this was another forage he was making to fulfill an impossible dream. This time, he knew he would never be coming back to his birth home. A voice had spoken to him in the dead of night, telling him to pack his belongings and follow his dream. He had then slept deeply while a vision came to him.
In his sleep state, he had wandered aimlessly through a forest until he came to the mouth of a cave nearly hidden completely by vines and bushes. It looked as if no one had traveled in this direction in millennia. He remembered clearing the entrance, so others would know it was there, and then being consumed by a curiosity to where it led. He traveled for several days before he got to the other end, where he found himself surrounded by another forest.
The urge to continue onward grew stronger and although the weather seemed unseasonably cold, he resumed his travels. He conjured a warm cloak and entered the forest. Something was calling to him and he needed to find out who or what. His instincts were telling him that if he turned his back on this feeling, he would regret the decision for the rest of his life.
It was at this point that Gaylon had woken from his slumbers. He didn’t give the matter a second thought. The message from the Fates was clear. It was time for him to travel to the outside world to meet his mate. She was yearning for him and he had ignored her call long enough.
Lothran helped Gaylon load his two horses with everything he owned, not that it amounted to much. Neither would be heavily laden. Gaylon had lived simply during his lifetime in the Empire. When everything had been accounted for, the two friends mounted their steeds and set off at a sedate pace.
“Did your voices tell you what to expect when you get to the other end?” Lothran wondered. They were heading for a part of the forest few but tree Elves and Tratchars ventured into.
“Do the voices ever tell us things like that?” Gaylon asked.
“Figured as much,” Lothran admitted, then shrugged the question off. He didn’t mind spending time with Gaylon and he was sure his Life Mate would understand. To be sure she knew he wouldn’t be gone too long, he reached out to tell her where he was headed. She asked where they were going, then laughed when she received the same answer from him as he had from Gaylon. She assured him everything was under control and she would see him when he returned.
It took them two days to get to the place Gaylon dreamed he had found the entrance to the cave. As in the vision, it was hidden from sight behind a veil of hanging plants and shrubs. It was a place Lothran immediately recognized from his studies. He helped his friend clear the opening and then stared in awe before he commented, “The archives mention this tunnel. I thought the location had been lost to us in the war after the raising of the new boundary because it was never mentioned again.”
“The Fates don’t tell us everything,” Gaylon replied.
“I noticed,” Lothran responded with a frown. “Sometimes I think they do that to challenge us.”
“Do you think it is working?” Gaylon teased. It wasn’t anything he particularly cared about. He wasn’t the thinker Lothran was.
“I find the more they leave for us to question, the more we do to solve the riddles they send us,” Lothran answered.
“So speaks a High Elven scholar,” Gaylon teased, then reached out his hand to his friend and added, “May you always live in the light.”
Lothran accepted the wish as he responded, “May your journey be all you dreamed. Be happy, my friend.”
Moments later, Gaylon guided his horse into the tunnel, leading the second one behind him. This was going to take time. He was determined to make sure they were ready to face whatever challenges they were presented on the other side, for he was certain he was about to face a new chapter in his life.