Chapter One: The Letter
Matthew, Karis, and Tyrell, after being corrected by Queen Sveta's guards, headed to the gate of Belinsk. It was hard to imagine tragedy had so recently struck the area, as the people were already back on their feet. Even Tyrell was in high spirits, despite the frustration he'd shown while waiting for Sveta at the castle.
That was before they met up with the rest of their friends who were waiting at the gate for them as well. The looks on their faces, especially Kraden's, told the trio that they were in for some tough news.
"We waited as long as we could," Amiti said. "Though I should really be getting back to Ayuthay."
"And that's why we were here when Kraden got the letter..." Eoleo finished.
"What letter?" Tyrell asked.
"From Isaac," Kraden said, looking at Matthew.
"Dad," Matthew said, quietly.
"Yes. I think it's best if you read it," Kraden said. "I think the others are curious, too."
"Well, the way you were acting as you read it..." Amiti said, a concerned look crossing his face. "If we weren't worried by the way you were constanly hopping about and saying 'my word,' then I don't think anything could worry us."
Kraden turned a pale shade of red. "Well... Erm... Yes. Just read it, Matthew. It's important."
Matthew nodded, taking the letter from Kraden. The others crowded around the young Earth Adept to get a look at the letter.
"Dear Kraden, I hope this letter finds you soon. Are you still traveling with Matthew and the others? I hope so. I have some... bad news.
A large Psynergy vortex has appeared just outside the cabin, and Garet and I are camping out further down the plateau. I fear the Mourning Moon is nigh upon us, but there's nothing we can do.
I warn you against coming back at this time. Something strange is happening at Mt. Aleph, too. Be careful if you're traveling in central Angara... And tell Matthew and Tyrell not to worry too much for us dads. We'll be alright. We're Warriors of Vale, after all.
I wonder... Was that strange light we saw to the east the other night the children's doing? We've heard word of the Eclipse having hit north-central Angara pretty hard. We're all right around the Goma Plateau, since Garet and I were able to protect Patcher's Place and the others nearby. Garet is terribly worried for the kids, even though I promised him I still sense that they are fine. Give them our regards.
Karis looked up from the letter and met Kraden's gaze. "Well. That certainly doesn't sound good."
"We still have to go back," Matthew said. "If Dad thinks just warning us against coming home is going to stop us, he'd dead wrong."
"Maybe that's not the best phrase to be using..." Karis chided him.
"Well, if we're going, we better get going," Tyrell said.
The rest of their party exchanged a look. Finally Himi spoke up. "But your father said it was dangerous. We can't just let you three go off on your own."
Amiti nodded. "The letter says it's going to be dangerous in central Angara... Which is where you'd have to travel to get back home, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Karis said, crossing her arms. "That's true."
"What are you suggesting?" Tyrell asked.
"Well..." Amiti said, "Maybe it would be a good idea to travel together for a bit longer. At least until you're safely home."
"Yeah," Eoleo, Himi, and Sveta said together.
Matthew and Karis shared a glance. "You guys would do that? Eoleo, you and Himi don't even have to pass through the mountains, and Sveta should stay here."
"So?" Sveta asked. "We want to. Do you mind?"
Matthew smiled at her, then looked at Karis, concerned. Karis sighed.
"No," Karis admitted. "I guess not."
"Then it's decided," Amiti beamed. "We'll take you three back to Goma Plateau and then go on to Ayuthay and the rest."
"Yeah," Rief said. "You really need to get back..." He cut himself off, remembering how devastated Amiti had been to discover his Uncle's condition.
Amiti's face darkened. "Yes. Of course. But Uncle promised he'd be alright until I came back, and I have to believe him."
"We better not waste time, then," Kraden said. "We'll pass through Bilibin and Kalay to get back. Sveta, if you're coming you'll have to conceal yourself."
"Of course," She said. "I'll just go get ready now. Eoleo, you might want to tell your crew to look after your ship."
Eoleo smiled uneasily. "Aw, they know. They'd die before letting that ship suffer... It being Dad's and all that. I guess it's mine now, though."
Everyone was quiet for a moment, remembering how Briggs had met his end.
"Anyway," Amiti said. "Best to move along."
The others all nodded, and went their separate ways for the moment.
They met back a while later, around mid-day. "We'll be in Border Town my nightfall if we get going now," Sveta said, now wearing a concealing hood.
"And from there it's a short journey to Kalay," Karis finished. "Which is just on the other side of the pass through the mountains."
"You kids must be looking forward to seeing Ivan and Jenna," Kraden grinned.
Matthew nodded, smiling happily.
"Well, the sooner we get going, the sooner we'll see them," Tyrell said.
Amiti smiled at Matthew. "Jenna's your mother, right? And Ivan's Karis's father?"
Matthew and Karis both nodded.
"I'm sure they'll be happy to see you both again as well," Kraden said.
"Hey!" Tyrell pouted.
"Oh," Kraden said. "I suppose they'll want to see you too, even if we could replace you with a pidgeon without anyone noticing the difference."
Tyrell looked down. "Not cool. Dad would notice."
Karis giggled. "Actually, even Garet agrees that you're bird-brained, Tyrell."
Tyrell turned bright red. "Shut up. What, is it dump on Tyrell day or something?"
Karis smirked. "I thought that was every day?"
Amiti and Rief both burst out laughing, though it was unusual for them. Soon Himi, Sveta, and Matthew had to join in. Tyrell turned an even darker shade of red, almost matching his hair. "Okay, okay! I get it! Enough! I'm going on, whether you are or not."
He started walking off, and when the laughter finally quieted, Karis shook her head in amazement. "Wow. He actually didn't explode. Maybe he really is getting more mature."
"I doubt it," Amiti said. "He's probably just taking it out on the wildlife."
The group shared a glance. Amiti's comment seemed to be confirmed by what sounded like a Starburst Psynergy exploding in the distance.
Sveta looked rather cross. "We should go stop him."
"Agreed," Amiti and Karis said, together.
Matthew nodded as well, and they ran off to catch up with the red-headed warrior.