The wings at Audrey’s ankles fluttered excitedly as she executed graceful figure eights just on the surface of unfrozen lake. She felt really powerful for a change and smiled at the World Scepter in her right hand. Her spellbook under her left arm wasn’t even such a weight anymore. Having taken on Audrey’s body warmth, the Scepter actually seemed gentle—though she could tell it had real power.

In fact, the scepter’s power was more obvious than either the Scroll of Depths or the Mantle of the Silver Moon. The Mantle was defensive in nature and it only revealed the minimum power necessary to meet the occasion. And in spite of spending a few evenings on it Audrey still hadn’t translated the entire Scroll. In contrast, the Scepter was a weapon and radiated its power aggressively.

Audrey stopped in the middle of the cool pond and the bright sun cast her mantled shadow beneath her like a great bird. Where were Horera and Nadine? Audrey was so excited to show them the Scepter she could hardly contain herself. Pressing her left wrist into her stomach, Audrey could feel the metal of the charm bracelet that had reappeared when she entered the dream world. The book charm was Audrey’s addition, though rolling her wrist as much as her spellbook allowed she could also feel Nadine’s arrowhead and Horera’s bone.

Horera was usually the second to fall asleep, after Audrey. Taking off from the pond, Audrey flew toward Horera’s field. Swooping low she caught the sun-baked grass scent, but there was no sign of Horera yet. A quick rush upward cleared Audrey’s head with the fresh cool air and she made a bee-line for the portal platform. Either she’d catch Nadine on her way or at least see what the other two were up to.

Alighting gently on the portal platform, Audrey’s feet whispered over to the portals. Nadine’s portal was pretty dark, but it looked like Nadine and a violet-haired-little-girl were sleeping in beds in some sort of stone cell. Thunder accompanied the sudden eclipse of the sun by thick storm-clouds.

“Nice entrance,” Nadine smiled as she pulled herself up to the portal platform, “We’re not meeting at the pond this time?”

Audrey reflexively tucked the World Scepter behind her spellbook as she spun around, “Nadine! I was just anxious to see you both, so I was checking the portals.”

Nadine joined Audrey, “Yeah, sorry, long day on my end. And a lot to talk about!”

“Me too,” Audrey smiled as she and Nadine both looked to Horera’s portal to see what the dogling’s situation might be.

At first it just looked like an empty burrow of some sort, but then a battered and bloody Horera staggered in and collapsed face-first into the dirt floor.

“Horera!” Audrey and Nadine gasped in unison.

“Here,” Audrey quickly produced another pair of winged boots for Nadine, “We’ll get to her faster if you wear these too.”

“Nice!” Nadine flashed a grin, “Where did you get these?”

Audrey shrugged as Nadine swapped her boots for winged ones, “The level of magic in Fantasia is incredible. We just found them in the crypts beneath the Thunder Keep.”












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