Sunday, May 29, 2016

Chapter 2 - Eyes Wide Shut

New cover for Theia's Moons Eyes Wide Shut!  Thank you Brandon for the amazing cover!

Chapter One is available to read here:

And enjoy Chapter Two.  Let me know what you think.  Come by my website and catch up on what is going on with the Theia's Moons series:

After Dominique and Nedra were out of sight, she went inside her small home and returned to her room to grab her saddlebags.
As she walked past Mataya’s room she peeked inside and noticed her brown hair sticking out from beneath the blanket. She wanted her to sleep in and get a good rest, but she knew it was time to get her moving. She placed her bags by the front door and returned to Mataya’s room.
 “Mataya. Rise and shine,” Malkia coaxed, as she ran her hand through her hair.
Mataya’s eyes slowly opened and Malkia noticed how different her eyes were from her own. They were large as well, but a beautiful hazel color. They were also shaped differently. Mataya really looked nothing like her. Her cheek bones were not as high as hers. Mataya’s face was heart shaped, whereas hers was oval and long. It was a strange feeling to see Mataya as someone who might not be blood.
“It’s too early,” Mataya whined and dove further into the blankets.
Malkia stood up, “Mataya, it’s time to leave. We have to be packed and out of town by noontime. If you want to go without your things go ahead and keep sleeping.”
Mataya laid under the blankets for a minute before she slowly began squirming to free her of the web of blankets. When she did poke her head out, she appeared irritated and tired. She slowly unraveled herself and stood up from her bed.
“I really hate these people,” she muttered quietly, as she grabbed her saddlebags from the corner of the room and began packing her belongings.
“Me too,” Mataya whispered, walking out the room.
 Malkia strode outside and whistled loudly. Parowan, her winged horse, landed softly next to her. She mounted her back and tapped her softly on the neck. As they flew into the air Malkia surveyed the town below her and was filled with a love for the people in it. She knew running was the right choice. It filled her heart with sadness, but she could not bear any of her friends to be hurt by the savages. 

She guided Parowan towards Jayde’s house and landed smoothly in front of her house.
 Jayde was outside grooming her pegasus. She smiled at Malkia as she approached and patted her winged beauty.
 “Any news?” Malkia asked.
“Nothing more pressing than what we already know. Their group moved all night, but they were slow. I have not checked for a few hours. I stayed up late, watching their group and overslept. I wanted to hurry and pack up and then I was going to check again. Do you want me to check now or can I give you the news when we meet up in the pastures?”
“Get yourself packed. I will meet you in the pastures. If their progress worries you, then you know where to find me. I just wanted to stop by and make sure you got some sleep and check on their movements,” Malkia countered, giving Jayde a sideways smile.
“Don’t stress too much. We will be okay. We are all strong and we have an even stronger leader. I am not worried. I trust our path.”
“Thanks,” Malkia smiled big, “I needed to hear that. I will see you soon.”
When she returned to her home, Mataya was still in her room figuring out how to pack what was most important to her in the saddlebags. Malkia peeked in to check on her and smiled when she saw the amount of items she was attempting to squish into her bags. She quietly slipped away knowing Mataya would figure it out.
Malkia scanned her small room for anything she could have missed. Anything they could not take with them, she would have to part with. It made her heart ache, but it only took her a moment to bring herself back to the present. Now was all that mattered.
Within the next couple of hours Malkia had her bags packed and the valuables packed for the trailer. She checked on Mataya again and when she walked in she was squishing the final item in her backpack.
Just then Mataya noticed Malkia standing in the doorway and she smiled half-heartedly.
“What’s the plan?” she asked.
“As soon as we are packed up and have eaten, we will head on over to the east pastures and pack up the trailers. I need to meet with the trackers and Jayde as well. Once the rest of the town shows up, we will have a quick meeting and then head out.”
Mataya eyes teared up as the reality began to set in. Malkia put her arms around her and hugged her close.
“I know this feels like a dream and I know it is hard to grasp how important it is we move out of here, but this is our new life. Unfortunately, we have been thrown into it and life will be hard and chaotic for a while, but once we get on the other end of it all I have a feeling life will be even better for all of us,” Malkia whispered into Mataya’s ear.
Mataya nodded and slowly pulled away from Malkia.
“Thanks, Malkia. You will always be my rock. I am not sure I would make it without you.”
Malkia chuckled half-heartedly, “Sure you would. You are made from the same stuff as I am. We are tough together. I love you, baby girl.”
“Love you, too.” 

Mataya grabbed her backpack and saddle bags and followed Malkia outside to finish packing their pegasi. It was going to be a long week and Malkia could already feel the pressure on her shoulders.
As the two sisters quietly strolled towards the east pastures, Malkia thought about life before the sky people and the wars. She had been so young, but she could remember the joy she felt back then. Life had been so calm and serene. People, animals and nature lived in harmony with one another. 

Then the technology from the skies had come along and it had been a drug to people. Within a few years all the mystical creatures had withdrawn into nature and no one seemed to miss them. Malkia was just as much to blame as anyone else. The heavens had literally opened and gave them a whole new world.

Then the fighting began. People were being shot at or taken prisoners, while others were dropping bombs and leaving the people to die. Before they knew it, the war was in their own backyard. It took twelve years from the point of receiving all those amazing gifts to turn them around and destroy one another with them. 

When Malkia had woken up from that final bomb she had wanted to die. Her baby girl and the love of her life were gone and she was still here. To this day it still made her heart ache. For a time, she could barely hold herself together, but then there was Mataya. She had to survive for her.

So here she was pretending to lead when she could barely figure it out for herself and for some reason it always worked out the way she wanted it to. It was as if she was softly being led by a force far greater than anything else out there. She knew that force was God, but what she did not understand was, why her?

As they were advancing closer to the pastures, Malkia could see the town people either waiting or approaching the area as well. Curtis was rushing towards her and she could see the panic in his eyes. Whatever news he had, she knew it was not good.
“Justin just returned from the north and he brought dreadful news,” he inhaled deeply, catching his breath. “The group is closer than we thought. He was nearly apprehended, and is afraid they might have sent trackers after him. He told me he did everything he could to throw them off of his trail, but could not wait any longer to return. He says their group will reach our town as early as tomorrow morning.”
“That’s just great,” Malkia growled. “We have to hurry. Where is Justin? Where is Kendrick? He should have been back from the East before Justin.”
Curtis nodded his head. “Kendrick returned about an hour ago. He ran into Skye and she sent him home to help prepare his family for the journey. According to him, everything is clear to the southeast. Now the trick is to depart, before one of their trackers arrives and sees which direction we go.”
Malkia nodded in agreement, biting her lower lip. “Let’s round everyone up for a quick update, and then leave. Will you please inform Skye and Dario?”
“No problem. I will meet you at the far end of the pasture with everyone.”
“Thank you, Curtis,” Malkia replied, as he hurried towards the masses.
Malkia led Mataya and their pegasi towards the far end of the pastures, asking anyone she saw to join her there.
It did not take long for the rest of the town people to arrive. Within the hour they were gathered around Malkia and Parowan. She sat atop and studied the people who relied on her to make the wise decisions. She was feeling overly vulnerable, and inadequate, at this moment.
The group hushed, as she raised her bow into the air. “This is what I know. The trackers are progressing quickly, towards our town. Maybe a half a day away. However, their group is about a day behind. We will need to depart as soon as we are done talking. As we leave, we will need to cover our tracks as best we can, to avoid them catching scent of us.” She glanced around at her people, shaking her head. “I’m not positive covering our tracks will work, but it is still essential. We will travel until late tonight, going south. There is a small abandoned town we can rest and sleep for the night. In the morning, most of the group will head east, while a couple dozen of us will head south, diverting their trackers from your trail. Please do whatever you can to cover up all tracks once we separate. Do not give them any idea we have split in two. As we travel today, we will do our best to keep you updated on their progress and when we stop for the night we will make sure you are aware how much time we have before they are upon us.” She paused, placing her bow back in place. “Am I being clear? Do I need to answer any questions at this time or can we move out?”
“I have a question,” a loud voice called from the crowd.
Malkia glanced towards the sound of the voice, seeing her tall neighbor standing next to her horse, eyeing Malkia with distrust.
“Yes, Amandine,” Malkia called out, “What is your question?”
“Why are we heading south? Why can’t the larger group head east now? This plan makes no sense to me. We can all head east now and the smaller group can head south.”
“I did think of doing that at first,” Malkia responded, her brows furrowing, “however, there are a few reasons it was imperative we remained together, for now. First off, we require time to go over the plan. Second, we want to throw the savages off the larger groups trail, as much as possible. By heading south as a group, the chances of them suspecting our group splitting up, decreases. The pegasi can fly most of the way down south, making the group appear smaller. Third, going straight east from here will land you on the wrong end of a very large ravine, which would be a huge issue for our horses and trailers. We have to head south for a while anyway. In the end, this seemed to be the best plan for the whole group. If you have an improved idea, please let us know now. We are all open to a more superior solution.”
Amandine stared at Malkia for a moment, then shook her head and mounted her horse.
Malkia glanced around the crowd again, “Any other questions or suggestions?”
There were no’s and shaking heads as everyone began to mount their horses and pegasi. Malkia glanced over at her team leads, Skye, Curtis and Dario. Justin and Kendrick, along with Mataya were standing with them. She steered Parowan towards them.
“Let’s move forward. Stay with your groups as much as possible. I will send messengers your way if there is a change in our circumstances. However, we will need to use some of our traveling time to come up with a plan for when we separate. Please use the time wisely, that way we will be prepared when we divide the town.” Malkia said, pointing at her team leads.
The leads nodded, turning towards their groups. As they slowly began to move out, Malkia noticed Justin and Mataya whispering quietly to one another. She had noticed them spending more time with one another, but whenever Malkia asked her about it Mataya always said they were just friends. However, Malkia could see there was more, and why her sister was attracted to him. 

Justin was well built, dark and handsome. His light brown eyes were engaging and his black hair was full and showed off his dark brown skin. He was also one of the most compassionate men, with a quick wit and good sense of humor. Malkia would be thrilled to see those two together. She knew Justin would always take care of Mataya.
Malkia thought again how stunning Mataya was, with her long dark hair and large hazel eyes. The complete opposite, Malkia’s hair was light blonde and her eyes did not retain the mesmerizing effect Mataya’s hazel eyes had on everyone she met. Mataya had inherited their mom’s beauty, while Malkia seemed to have received nothing of either of her parents. Mataya was shorter with a curvy slender body, while Malkia was tall and thin, with the absence of curves. 

She never understood why she was so different from the rest of her family, but her mom always said she had the appearance of her great-grandmother. She just wished she had something of her mom’s looks. Every time she viewed Mataya, she was reminded of their mom. Malkia missed her more than ever now.
Skye quietly moved over to Malkia and touched her softly on the shoulder, “Are you holding up, sweetie? I know the pressure has been heavy on your heart and I wish I could assist you.”
Malkia smiled sadly, “It is the burden of being the leader. You do help me, by leading your group and streamlining the choices for the group. I really appreciate all you do for me.”
Skye leaned towards Malkia as she whispered, “You know, you really should give Dario a chance. He would do anything for you.”
“Skye, this is definitely not the time for romance.” Malkia’s eyes darted behind her, making sure they were alone. “Plus, I am not positive I could ever love anyone the way I loved Raul. He was my world. Some day we will be reunited and that is all that matters to me.”
Skye softly laughed, her black eyes dancing with the reflection of the sun, “Silly girl, Raul loved you dearly, and he would not want you to be without love in this world. I think I knew my brother well enough to know he would never want to see you lonely. Think about it, my dear.”
Malkia nodded her head, smiling softly. “Thanks. I will.”
“So after we split, what is the plan?”
“This is what I have worked out in my head.” Malkia pulled her hair back, easing it into a low bun, and sweeping the loose ends behind her ears. “You and Curtis will take your groups and half of Dario’s, and divert to the east. Justin has discovered a spot about two days northeast, where you will stop and wait for us. If we do not meet you there within a day, you are to continue on east for one more day and then deter to the north. On your travels you will encounter a few small towns. Make sure you warn their inhabitants of the savages and allow them to join you if they want to.” She paused, staring off to the horizon, her eyes glazing over.
“Anything else?” Skye asked, matching her pegasi’s steps to Parowan’s. 

Malkia glanced over at Skye, inhaling deeply. “Traveling north to the castle will take about four or five days. Justin has accompanied me there, so he will be able to lead you. Continue to have trackers sent out. Have them back track and make sure no one has followed you. If this group does catch your trail, and follows your tracks, you must devise a plan B to throw them of your path. I am leaving this up to you two to figure it out and make sure you send someone back to let us know the plan. Whatever it takes, you ensure these people make it to that castle, and request to speak to their leader, Jasper. Dominique and Nedra should reach the castle by pegasi within the next couple of days. Hopefully, they will be able to answer as many questions as they can before you arrive. Of course this is all if Dario and I do not catch up to you. If all goes well to the south, we should be able to divert the savages off of your trail and lead them on a wild goose hunt. As soon as we know they took the bait we will head back towards the meeting point.”
“I’m going with you, right?” Mataya asked, speaking on the other side of Malkia.
“Absolutely not,” both Malkia and Justin instantly replied.
Mataya’s brow furrowed, as she grumbled, “Why not? I am not a child any more, and I’m not leaving you Malkia. You will have to tie me up and force me away.”
Justin eyes narrowed to crinkled slits, and Malkia sighed. “Mataya what do you want me to do? I have to worry about everyone else. Are you informing me, if I do not listen to your tantrums, you are willing to endanger our entire group?” She leaned forward on Parowan, touching Mataya’s arm. “You will be safer with Justin, and the larger group. Please, just listen to me and let me make the decisions for the safety of our people. And no, you are not a child, but you lack experience, which will only make things more dangerous for the rest of us.”
Mataya appeared more irritated and her mouth formed into a pout, as she huffed and glanced away.
“Any other questions?” Malkia asked, frustration crinkling her eyes.
“Have you picked who will be accompanying you and Dario?” Skye asked.
Malkia observed Dario, who was tending to his group, before answering. “We have not gone over all the exact individuals who will be continuing south with us, but we have come up with a few key players. We will need Jayde, for her ability to see through the hawk’s sight. We will be asking Porter to join us, for his tracking skills and we will need Jacob for his ability to call upon the pixies.”
Mataya spoke up again, “Malkia, have you tried using your telepathy abilities? You use to be able to use it all the time before mom and dad died. Why can’t you anymore?”
Malkia’s eyes glazed over as she thought of her long lost gift. It had been a gift she had enjoyed, to automatically communicate with others, who had the same gift. Ever since the bomb hit their house, she had only been able to do it once, and it was so brief, she sometimes thought she had imagined it. She had heard the thoughts of someone young and frightened, but out of excitement, she had lost the connection before she had a chance to find out who the child was, or where she was. 

She did not know if the explosion had messed with her ability or if there were no other people left who had telepathy. She often wondered about that voice she had heard and wished she could have done something for whoever it was.

She glanced over at Mataya and shook her head. “I’ve worked at it almost every day, for the past eight years. I’m not sure I will ever have that ability again,” she inhaled deeply. “Skye, will you speak with your group, and inform Dario and Curtis, what we have spoken about?”
Skye nodded, her black curly hair bouncing as she turned her pegasus around, trotting towards the other leads. 
“Everything is going to be fine, just like you said,” Mataya said, having her pegasus match Parowan’s stride. “I am sure having the whole towns’ fate in your hands is overwhelming, but we all love you and I always feel safe when I know you are in charge. I am sorry I gave you a difficult time. The thought of not having you with me is petrifying, and I’m having a challenging time, dealing with it. But I will be brave for you, and for everyone else.”
Malkia smiled and nodded, as she anticipated the great land before her.  

Grab your own copy here:  Eyes Wide Shut

Monday, May 23, 2016

Chapter 1 - Eyes Wide Shut

It was confusing, this dream again. From a few feet away, Malkia scrutinized the strange woman who was embracing the child version of herself. Sometimes in the dream she was the child, but this time she observed the interactions, frozen in her spot off in the shadows.

The realization of being in a dream sparked her curiosity and she leaned as far forward as she was allowed, desiring to know why her heart shattered every time she saw this woman. She believed she knew her, recognizing her kind and weary eyes, but she couldn’t grasp the memory. It was there on the tip of her brain, but for some reason she was unable to reach it.  

This time the dream was vivid and more real than ever before. She knew she was in danger, but was na├»ve to the why, or from what.  

As usual, the lady spoke to the child, her tone quiet and shaking with urgency. “Malkia, we’ll be back to retrieve you as soon as we can. Please, please forgive us.”

The lady’s eyes brimmed with tears, and Malkia watched as they tumbled down her cheeks. Tugging the child close, the woman held her tight, her hands trembling. Rushing towards them, the same robust man wrapped his arms around the duo, squeezing them tight.

Malkia examined the three of them hugging and crying, not understanding why these strangers were so upset about leaving her. However the child was sobbing, and seemed overcome with grief. These people meant something to her and it was frustrating to not remember why.  

“Malkia,” the woman’s voice quivered, as she gazed down at her. “I wish we could allow you to remember us. It’s just not safe. You’ll be in my heart always and as soon as we can, we will return.”

Malkia woke with a start. It was the same every time she had this dream. As soon as the strange woman said those words, she would wake in a sweat, her pulse racing, with a dreadful feeling as if someone was watching her. She despised the dream. The mystery and sadness surrounding it created an unease inside her soul.

She perched herself up on her elbows, glancing around her room. The shadows of the outside life danced around the walls, and gave the room an eerie sensation. Sometimes they appeared as shadows of people and tonight they appeared even more so. She shook her head knowing full well it had to be the shadows of the trees outside. She slid out of her bed and tip-toed noiselessly to the large window, searching if there was really anything that alarmed her.  

It was quiet outside, aside from a slight breeze. The trees swayed softly with the wind, as Malkia watched the beautiful scene before her, enjoying the peace it brought to her heart. Theia’s beauty hung in the sky above, reminding her she was safe.

The large planet was said to be the mother of her planet, Esaki, and the other moons around her. She was always Malkia’s safety beacon. Her bright light was continuously warm and inviting and she calmed Malkia’s soul.

Remembering a time when the moon was once chaotic and confusing, she was grateful that part of her life was over. Although she lost a great deal during the chaos, she knew some day she would be reunited with the people she loved the most. As she watched the scene outside her house, her thoughts returned to that dreadful day, almost nine years ago.

“Raul, what are you doing?” Malkia screamed, as her husband ran towards her parents.

He didn’t look back as he reached Malkia’s mom and wrapped his arm around her tiny waist. As Raul and her dad lifted her up, her mother’s ankle twisted underneath her and she cried out in pain, sweat and tears streaming down her face.

Glancing out the window, Malkia’s heart skipped a beat seeing how dangerously close the fire played outside her parents’ home. The safety of the basement was about ten feet away, but felt miles from her reach. Bombs dropped, one after another and Malkia’s whole body shook as they neared their house. Even if they made it to the sublevel shelter, she feared there was no escaping.

Malkia’s eyes flashed over to the door that led to the downstairs and then back at her family. Glimpsing out the window again, her eyes focused on a bomb plummeting from the skies, exploding on the settlement across the river. The tremble rumbled towards their house, throwing Malkia, Esta and Mataya onto the floor as the entire building shook.

Leaping back onto her feet, Malkia scooped up Esta, her wails and sobs preventing her from inhaling a good breath. Malkia inspected her for injuries, soothing her with her words and touch, while glancing back at Raul, noticing they had all been knocked to the ground. The wall next to them was blown to pieces and Raul was heaving a large piece off her dad’s leg. Malkia’s brother tugged at her mom, attempting to wrench her off the ground, but her face was dripping with blood and seconds later her eyes rolled into the back of her head.

Deafening silence surrounded Malkia as she handed Esta to Mataya and stepped towards her family. Looking outside she paused, seeing the vessel through the blown out window flying towards their house. Raul glanced over at what Malkia was looking at, and then back at his wife.

“Malkia, RUN!” Raul yelled.

Malkia’s sad thoughts returned to the present as she stared at the quiet world outside. She had lived in this town her entire life and the thought of having to vacate was breaking her heart.

The tears festered, as she thought of all her childhood memories. Her town had been a happy place back before the wars and had been larger than it was now. She grew up feeling safe and happy; never thinking her life would be what it was today.

“The people from the skies changed everything,” Malkia whispered to herself, a tear escaping down her cheek.

Her whole life blew up in her face during those days and she had been running away from the memory ever since. Now she had to decide for all her people, fight again or run for their lives.

The voice of the wanderer came back to her thoughts, “They will kill your friends and family. These people are savages and they will do anything to control the towns and individuals they encounter. If I was the leader of this group I would run, and I would run fast.”

She knew their small town was defenseless against these heathens. She wanted to stay and protect the one place she had ever called home, but she knew it would end in death. There had been so much loss back when the war had erupted, and she could not face another day like that.

It had been eight long years since the warfare had concluded, which had nearly demolished all life on Esaki. The couple hundred who had survived in her town, had become a close knit community. Trusting anyone who was outside of their town, was a difficult task, but Malkia had met one group on her travels who she was positive would welcome them. They were far away by foot, but she was sending some of her people by pegasi, to prepare them for their arrival. There was safety in numbers, and the security of all her family and friends depended on running away as fast as possible, and joining up with people who would battle alongside them.

Malkia scanned the small room where she had finally found peace. Her sister and she had built this house, after the war had ended. It had become their safe haven and it was torture thinking they had to start over again.

She glided across the floor, and found the matches and candles that sat on the table next to her bed. Lighting the candles, she decided to finish packing for the long trip ahead of them. As she arranged her meager belongings, her mind wandered back to that dreadful day.

“Malkia, RUN!” she had heard her husband, Raul yell.

Malkia had frantically turned towards her sister and baby girl, as she raced towards them, clutching onto her sisters’ arm and pushing her and Esta towards the downstairs door. Moments later she had heard the explosion of the bomb, and then blackness.

When she woke, there were strangers standing over her. She had jumped up searching for her baby and husband. Her eyes had focused downward to see her sister lying on the ground, but Esta was nowhere to be seen.

“Where’s my baby?” she had screamed, her eyes flashing around at the people.

She pressed them away from her, as they tried to comfort her and check her wounds. She had screamed and cried, but no one would bring her baby to her. Her sister had been helped up and stood there peering at Malkia, with a confused look on her face.

Malkia pushed her way back to her and grabbed Mataya, screaming, “Where is Esta? What did you do with her?”

Mataya had broken down, sobbing and shaking her head. Malkia hysterically surveyed all the people gathered in her home. It was then, she realized her parents’ home was demolished. The only portion standing was the downstairs door and the wall to the sides of it. She again scanned the spot where Malkia and Mataya had been lying and realized it was the only spot where the ceiling had not smashed into the floor.

In that moment, it dawned on her, Esta and Raul, along with her parents and brother were buried under the rubble of her house.

That had been the day she lost everyone in her family, except Mataya. Her husband, her daughter, her parents and her brother were all gone, in one final swoop. She still didn’t understand how she survived, but Mataya was alive because Malkia had sheltered her with her own body. Malkia’s back was overrun with the scars of that day, but those were her only physical reminder. They had never recovered Esta’s body.

The day her family died was the last day anyone had heard the bombs and the flying crafts overhead. It had taken nearly a year for people to really believe it had ended, and another year to rebuild their large town, into a much smaller town, to accommodate their vastly smaller group.

Throughout the past years many wanderers, scavengers and intruders came through their town. Some had stayed and had become a part of their family. Others had visited and continued on their way, while many attempted or succeeded at swindling or stealing livestock, crops, their water supply and anything of value. They had learned to be accepting, but cautious and to protect their own.

However, the last wanderer who had come through had warned them of the large assemblage heading their way, and the warriors could easily overtake their small town. He had told them they would slaughter all the men, if they chose to fight, and enslave the women and children. He was pressing east in hopes of avoiding them on their travels south.

Trackers, from her group had rushed out to verify his story and confirmed the wanderers’ warning. They returned with appalling stories of women and children tied up, or locked in cages. Along with men being pulled behind horses, most likely to break them.

With those kinds of savages heading their direction, they knew it was time to depart, and it had to be soon, in order to have an extensive lead. Malkia had contemplated fighting, but with their trifling numbers her people had no chance of survival, unless they surrendered.

As Malkia packed her life into her saddlebags, she thought of the dream again and how it affected her so much. Her heart skip a beat, just by thinking about the man and woman in her dream. She felt in every fiber of her being, they were someone very dear to her, but she did not know why.

Why would someone wipe my memories? Why has this dream haunted me for as long as I can remember?

The first sun was washing its light over the valley as Malkia finished packing the remainder of her belongings. It was time to prepare and face the beginning of their new lives. She had to go speak to Jayde, needing to know the whereabouts of the savages, based on her sight through the hawks.

Malkia scrubbed and washed her hair and body in the wash basin. Knowing this was probably the last time she would get a proper cleaning, before they arrived to Domesca, she made the most out of her scrubbing. Slipping on her clothes, she viewed her image in the broken mirror and examined her scars. Her long blonde hair hit the small of her back, reminding her of the lady in her dream.

Suddenly, recognition slid over Malkia’s thoughts. The lady’s eyes were a brilliant green, just like hers. Why had this not occurred to me before?

She recalled back to the tears, and knew she was looking at the eyes she saw in the mirror. They weren’t her eyes, but they were nearly identical. The woman’s tall and slender stature, was identical to hers as well. The resemblance was uncanny.

Malkia’s mind jolted back to reality, hearing a knock at her front door. She yanked her shirt on, pulled her hair into a low ponytail and hurried to the door. When she opened it Dominique and Nedra were standing there with their pegasi behind them.

“We are leaving,” Dominique greeted, his brows furrowed. “How far away are the brutes?”

Malkia stepped out into the sunlight. “Last night they were almost three days ride north of us. They could be closer, if they traveled through the night. As soon as we have confirmation, and the people are packed up, we will be heading out of town.”

“It’s going to be a brutal ride for the group,” Dominique said, shaking his head. “I wish we could find a way for those kids to arrive to Domesca quicker.”

“I know. Traveling with the children is not going to be simple, but we will survive. Now scoot.” A wary smile surfaced on Malkia’s lips. “You two have all the fun.”

“That’s because we bring all the fun,” Nedra winked, hugging Malkia as they all laughed. “See you soon, dear.”

“See you soon,” Malkia replied. She hugged Dominique, as well and watched as they mounted their pegasi and flew away. She sent them well wishes, hoping their presence in Domesca would create the peaceful negotiations they desired.