In a land where magic is dying out, King Jasper uses his magical ambassadors wisely. He has a trustworthy conjurer by his side who is able to converse with the spirits in the other world. From this, King Jasper is able to learn about and influence future events in his kingdom, giving him the advantage to rule with longevity and peace. However an unexpected event occurs when the Royal Conjurer, Sab, and his Protector, Xander, receive a life-changing call to visit Sacred Valley; a valley which lives up to its name as being the most sacred and dangerous of all spiritual summons. The spirits’ message, once unfolded, will not be a kind one and King Jasper will find his life may be altered forever.
They must find the girl.
Upon the drape of a speckled sky, the omnipotent moon shone with opalescent brilliance. His silver beams prevailed his kingdom below, summoning the shadows to patrol the forest floor. At the height of the valley, pine trees stood guard jet black against the night sky. The bear constellation was beginning to rise from behind the mountains, ready to navigate the lost souls sailing across Far End Sea. It had not been long since the sanguine sun had been squatting on the horizon. A veil of Darkness had extinguished most of the last light of Day; only a smudge of crimson was left of her to cower in the corner of the West. Yes, thought the moon, all is as it should be here in Sacred Valley. For indeed, all seemed as it should be. Not a bird sang nor a butterfly flew. Not a flower bloomed nor the wind blew. Satisfied and smug, the moon retired behind a cloak of a mist.
Unbeknown the the moon, however, Sacred Valley was not as it should be. Deep beneath the thick shrubbery of the evergreen trees, two men made haste. Both men wore rich cerulean cloaks which fluttered and rolled in their wakes. The first man, holding a long staff, leaped and bounded across the forest roots. The second man, younger and more precarious, followed his companion with determination etched in his face. It was not long until they reached the open clearing; it was the very heart of Sacred Valley. The man with the staff was first to reach the clearing, halting abruptly to wait for his companion. Once the second man joined him, he released his sword from its sheath in mastered silence. The men’s gazes cascaded across the opening before they edged out of hiding, both remaining tense and on guard. The moonlight spilled over the grass, casting an enchanting soft aqua glow.
“All clear, Xander,” declared the first, relaxing his shoulders as he turned to face his companion.
“It appears so, Sab,” replied the young man, Xander, “yet I cannot shake the feeling that someone or something is watching us.”
And just as Xander had finished his sentence, he felt the tip of a sword pressed into his back.
“Lay down your weapons,” a male’s voice ordered sternly. Xander, without turning to see his offender, grudgingly raised his hands and released the grip from his sword, allowing it to hit the ground with a dull thud. Sab slowly crouched down and laid his staff on the ground before rising with his hands also in the air. By the look of Sab’s astonished expression, Xander knew the stranger behind him was not one to easily challenge.
“What business do you have here?”, the voice interrogated sharply. “We are ambassadors of King Jasper. We were invited here by residents,” Sab confirmed cryptically. He was not ready to trust the stranger yet. “Ah?”, the voice importuned, pressing the tip into Xander’s back further causing Xander to wince. “We were invited by the Sacred Ones,” Sab replied quickly, warily catching Xander’s expression. “They sent us the message: when the moon meets the highest peak,” Sab’s voice, though irksome, did not quaver. The tip of the sword left Xander’s back. Xander released a breath he did not realise he was holding. “I see,” the voice was less astringent than before and recited, “when the moon meets the highest peak, it shall shine the light on the mark you seek,”. To Xander’s and Sab’s surprise, the stranger too appeared to have received the message. Xander, feeling no longer in danger, shifted round to face the stranger and was immediately stricken with both awe and fear. Before him stood a Draened. The Draened was precisely how Xander imagined from the stories his father told him as a child; he was the exemplar of elegance. His pearly hair fell softly upon his shoulders, glowing nacreous beneath the shimmers of the moonlight. His hair, neatly tucked behind two pointed ears, revealed the descending traits of the elf blood-line. Only a single strand of hair betrayed the Draened’s impeccability, falling before his piercing grey-blue eyes, in which a stormy ocean roared and thrashed. He was dressed in midnight blue, the fabric of the tunic embellished by threads of gold which weaved between each other like climbing branches. Golden leaves decorated the collars and cuffs. The Draened was indeed handsome, majestic, imposing and formidable all at once.
The Draened’s eyes captured Xander’s gaze, “now this is an interesting meet indeed,” the Draened mused, with an undertone of intrigue. Beneath his gaze, Xander felt a strange tingling feeling dance all over his body. A discordant buzzing sound droned distantly in his ears. Xander could anxiously feel all of his thoughts and emotions being purloined away from him as though they were scooped up by a fishing net out of an ocean; his mind was being scrutinised and brutally stripped down. He felt vulnerable standing before the Draened, exposed naked beneath his keen enigmatic eye. Just as quickly as Xander had been bewitched, the Draened tore his gaze away and Xander suddenly snapped back into the present. Xander glimpsed at Sab, who had the same look of confusion as he. He felt as though the Draened had not only read his mind, but every vein and pulse in his body. Sab cleared his throat, “we do not mean to intrude,” he said, shifting his feet awkwardly trying to shake off the Draened’s own intrusion.
“Intrude?”, the Draened questioned incredulously, “this is not my territory! I have travelled far from the West, where the light still burns blood red. It has been a while since I have met with the ordinary folk. The last, whom I recall Xanderos Deirthox, was none other than your father.” To Xander’s relief, the Draened’s gaze this time did not feel any discomfort. But what? His father had met with this very Draened! And how did the Draened know who he was?
“Then you are a friend? And you shall aid us in this message?”, Xander responded amiably yet cautiously, placing the questions to the back of his mind.
“I shall assist in the summon for this is sacred ground as ordered by my kind,” the Draened replied, flatly. Xander could not help notice the Draened avoided the term ‘friend’. The Draened’s expression fell solemn, “I must say, my mind is troubled. A Sacred Call like this has never been made in my time”. The buzzing in Xander’s ears suddenly began again, an unease filled his senses.
“We honour the call and are not troubled by it,” Sab announced without hesitation. Xander trusted Sab and honoured his King but he could not suppress his sense of dread.
“Then I observe obedience and fortitude in you both. Please, call me Farrow and I shall assist you in your requirements,” the Draened dipped his chin to bow slightly, “I was sent by the vision to come here. I am no summoner of the Spirit Kingdom but now I realise my purpose in this setting. I cannot deny to you my doubt. I fear why the Spirits have made us pair together as though we are merely fruit for their appetite. What games do they have for us to play, I wonder?”
As though to answer Farrow’s ponder, a powerful moonbeam shot down onto the ground from the sky above, like a descending rainbow, only white in colour. The moonbeam had formed a perfect circle to show the mark that they sought, just steps away from where they stood now. When the moon meets the highest peak, it shall shine the light on the mark you seek.
“I suppose we should get started,” Sab announced, impressed by the dazzle of the beam.
“I shall be over there, observing the current air,” Farrow noted, alternatively unimpressed by the beam, and without any further explanation he departed with one impish leap.
“I shall watch over you,” Xander placed a hand on Sab’s shoulder and smiled encouragingly. The beam sparkled and hummed gently as though alive, content to be in their presence.
“I trust in you always, my friend,” Sab replied, returning the smile. He stooped over to pick his staff from the ground before turning to approach the circle.
Xander watched for a moment as Sab slowly stepped towards the singular moonbeam. Sab held his chin high, with his shoulders set as he walked, the staff aiding his balance. As Sab stepped into the light, he looked a divine, superior being; it was as though he did not belong to the ordinary world. His usual dark brown hair which was tied back from his chiselled features, shone a glorious gold. His beard, usually streaked with grey and tied with a blue bead, was now also gold and rested on his chest like an emblem. Years of wisdom and kindness was etched in his face, and his low brow expressed strength and magnificence. Xander owed everything to his dear friend who stood before him. Sab was the one who discovered he had a special magical gift named the ‘Shield’, a gift which forms a magical layer in the world and protects people from harm. Sab on the other hand, has the gift to receive messages from the spirit world, enabling him to envision future events that will aid their King, Jasper. Therefore his own gift and Sab’s gift aid King Jasper in keeping peace within his realm. Not only has Sab taught Xander how to control his gift, but he also provided Xander with something he valued most of all. Friendship.
Xander perched himself amongst the nearby shrubbery, cursing at the thistles that invaded his attire and pierced his skin. Despite the discomfort, Sab was clearly in his sight and he would be able to Shield him well from here. Sab was now preparing the summoning circle. His staff had a variety of cloths tied to it, each representing the summoners before him. The cerulean cloth matching that of his cloak, was closest to the top of the staff, and represented Sab’s current status as the Royal Conjurer. Xander noticed in the eye of the moonbeam, the cloths on the staff floated in the air slowly and gracefully, as though under water, and Sab’s hair and cloak floated also. Using the staff, Sab marked the perimeter of the circle, muttering archaic words that were incoherent to Xander’s ears. The perimeter began to glow in response to the chant and the light began to blur as is span, gaining energy. This was the signal for Xander to set up his Shield. With Sab’s outline last in view, Xander closed his eyes and focused on his magical ability. In the darkness of his sight, Xander retained the image of Sab, forming an imaginary circle around him. He then commanded his Shield to protect Sab from any harm. Xander held his palms out towards Sab and channelled his magical energy towards him. The energy soared and ignited inside Xander’s mind. He could feel the magic bubbling through his veins in excitement, streaming out of his fingertips effortlessly. Feeling vigorously alive and heightened in his senses, Xander stretched his abilities beyond the ordinary world and reached out to Sab’s mind.
Is all okay? Xander Mind Spoke.
Yes, I am ready. Sab replied. The bond was strong, resonating harmoniously between them. Xander’s eyes remained closed but he could feel the energy of the summoning by Sab. An array of bright colours flooded into Xander’s mind, from yellow to green to orange. The presence of the spirit realm could be felt and he could faintly hear the conversation between the spirits and his dear friend Sab, as he usually did during the summons. For some time, the bond appeared steady. Unexpectedly, a prickling sensation entered Xander’s mind, wavering his concentration. It was as though there were a number of birds’ feet patting down on his head repetitively. He tried to shake the feeling off and strengthened his Shield in case Sab could feel the same. The prickling sensation however only increased, pressing harder and harder. Confounded, Xander tried to strengthen his Shield again, straining his finger tips to open his palms further to release the energy. But to his greatest despair, the prickling had now travelled down to his fingertips and his energy began to fluctuate. The colours had now turned to shades of reds and purples, and they swirled uncontrollably, flashing before his eyes.
Is everything okay? Xander reached out to Sab, panicking. There was no response. It was as though a wall of poisonous thorns had been placed between them, black and thick as though made of dark magic. The prickling now felt like sharp stabbing, and pain began to shoot through Xander’s entire body. Convulsed, he tried with all of his might not to cry aloud. He strengthened his Shield even more causing sweat to drip from his temple as a pool of sweat further gathered around his lower back. SAB! Xander called through their Mind Bond in desperation. There was still no response. SAB! Xander tried again to strengthen his Shield but a jolt of pain shot through his entire body like a strike of lightning. Xander could contain it no longer and released an external agonising scream. A hand grasped his shoulder and shook him violently, forcing him to open his eyes and to witness the chilling horror that lay before him.
Sab was stood in the circle, his hands thrown up in the air with his head held back and his mouth open crying out an eternal scream. His body was blackened and burnt by ferocious flames which slid along and licked the surface of his skin. Blood streaked from his forehead and his hands. Skin was revoltingly peeling from his body, curling like ribbon before dropping to the floor. The ground surrounding him was charred; the glowing grass which was once blue, was now red as it steamed and fuelled the fire. A howling wind had risen. It whisked around Sab, joining with the fire to encage its prisoner: attacking him, whipping him; devouring his flesh rabidly and hungrily. Xander in desperation tried again to enhance his Shield, yet the Shield only seemed to feed the flames more and cause greater pain for Sab. The tortured screams by Sab filled Xander’s ears as though Xander was screaming perpetually himself.
“Xander! Let down the Shield!”, bellowed Farrow, who was the one who had shaken Xander and had now knelt by his side, attempting to restrain his arms.
“No! I must protect him!”, Xander cried in shock, confused by what was happening. Xander maintained his position, stretching his palms wider.
“You are not protecting Sab! You are destroying him!”, shouted Farrow.
“No,” murmured Xander in disbelief. Though Farrow’s words rang true. Xander, with all of his might, tore himself out of his trance and released the Shield. Immediately, the wind dropped and the flames extinguished around Sab. Sab sank to his knees, swaying slightly before he fell to the ground. Shocked and horrified, Xander and Farrow rushed forwards and crouched down beside him. Sab’s skin was almost entirely melted. Blood trickled to the floor, unwholesomely steaming and hissing as it fell.
“Sab! Sab! Answer me!”, cried Xander. He leaned forwards to shake his friend gently without trying to hurt him. However, as soon as he made contact with Sab’s skin, his own hand was scorched; a source of dark energy expelled from Sab, forcing both Xander and Farrow to be flung into the air before falling to the ground, entering them both into the blackness of the unconscious world.
The image of a girl entered Xander’s mind. A pale glow surrounded her as she walked towards him, tranquil and serene, yet she did not appear to get any closer. Her chestnut hair flowed behind her like the mane of a wild horse running in a prevailing breeze. She was looking at him expectantly. She was waiting. Waiting for something. Someone. She was waiting… to be found? Xander tried to call out to her but he found he could not speak. As he tried to walk towards her, he seemed to make no ground. She remained distant. Xander then felt that it was not only he that was watching her but others were watching her too. Figured shadows with incandescent eyes blinked and watched her intently, tracing her every move. In a sudden movement, the girl’s face was now finally close to his and he could observe every freckle on her cheeks. Her eyes were dark brown. They appeared to be hiding a secret. Her full lips remained unmoved until she was so close that he thought he could almost kiss her. And then, she spoke. “Find me”.
The image snapped out of his mind as he opened his eyes. Confused and bewildered, Xander turned to face Farrow who appeared to have also awoken after having the same vision. Farrow’s face was pale, he was perturbed by the spirit’s message. Xander shook his senses and turned his attention back to Sab, and stumbled back to his friend’s side. An outline of where Xander had placed his hand remained on Sab’s shoulder, oozing with bright red and glowing blood.
“Go,” Sab whispered hoarsely, “Now! Find the girl!”.
“You saw the girl too? What does it mean? We cannot leave you!”, Xander cried, “we will not leave you!”.
“They are coming,” Sab sighed slumping back to the ground in resignation. And with that, an arrow soared through the air and pierced Sab in the heart.
Another arrow followed swiftly, piercing Sab again in the chest, Sab wheezed, struggling to now breathe. Xander shrieked with rage and madness. His own blood boiled at the sign of his friend’s suffering. He stood on his feet in attempt to charge in the direction of the arrows, for he would kill whoever did this. Farrow was one step ahead. He grabbed Xander roughly by the arm and pulled him away from the clearing into the forest.
“Let go of me you fool!”, spat Xander, trying to pull away. But Farrow’s grip was strong and Xander was weak from exhausting his gift. Farrow, somehow knowing where he needed to run, said nothing and pulled Xander along with him. Another arrow flew close to Xander’s ear and pierced the tree beside him. Farrow increased the pace, focusing on what was ahead rather than what was behind them. More than once, Xander stumbled and fell to the ground. His inflamed fury clouded his vision. He wanted to return to Sab, to defend him and save him. Farrow had to lift Xander up again and again before running again and again. Each time Xander fell and shut his eyes, the image of the girl would flash before him. Find me. The sound of Sab’s voice filtered through. Find the girl! Their Mind Bond was still present, the pain of Sab’s wounds could be felt all over Xander’s body. His heart felt suffocated and entangled. He fell again. Two more arrows soared past them.
“Focus Xander!”, barked Farrow as he hauled him up once more. Together they scrambled across the forest floor in desperation to hide their trail and to avoid the arrows. Eventually they reached the hidden cave in which Xander and Sab had camped with their horses. Farrow almost threw Xander into the hiding and tumbled in after him. They both collapsed to the floor, hoping whoever was chasing them had not seen them enter. For a while, they lay there without uttering a word, breathing heavily. Their primitive senses were alert for any intrusion. After some time, neither could stay awake any more and they both fell into the depths of exhaustion, resigned to whatever was their fate.
During his deep sleep, Xander found himself walking along a meadow with Sab by his side. Sab wore a loose shirt and his hair was wild and untied, blowing gently in a summer’s breeze. His face was no longer tired or wary and his smile twinkled in his eyes. He was talking to Xander but the conversation was inaudible. There was no evidence of pain or burnt skin. Then, thick clouds urgently tumbled and charged across the sky. Arrows flew towards Xander and Sab but halted and spun around them in a circle, faster and faster until they blurred together. A heavy gale picked up and torrential rain thrashed down onto the ground, causing Xander’s and Sab’s feet to sink into the mud so that they could not escape from the storm. In the midst of the storm, a shadow of a girl on a horse galloped towards them. As she came closer, her face was stricken with anger as she charged. She released a battle cry with her sword held high in her left arm. Before the girl could reach them, the moon shone with great brilliance and blinded Xander. And then, he could feel the Mind Bond between he and Sab being ripped apart, their souls now separated by two different worlds. Xander felt his heart tear away and there was nothing left but a gaping hole in his chest.
Xander bolted upright, drenched with sweat. A hazy ray of sunlight filtered through the gap of the cave. It took a moment for him to reflect upon what had happened last night and where he was. He was safe. Yet the images of Sab flashed before him all too quickly and he his safety was soon unimportant. He was overwhelmed by grief and exhaustion. He head throbbed and his legs ached tremendously. It took some time to realise he was wrapped in a fur cloak and his right arm had been bandaged. He did not even remember injuring his arm. He rolled on his side, wincing at the pain in his ribs, to see Farrow sat by a small fire with a pot of broth brewing above it. Farrow, who had been staring vacantly into the flames, registered Xander’s awakening. Relief filled his countenance as Farrow said, “I did not think you would see through the night,”. A long silence followed. Neither of them knew what to say. Xander felt numb and his head spun. He could feel the emptiness of the death of the Mind Bond he and Sab had shared. The loss was like no other grief.
“How did you find our hideout?”, asked Xander, trying to shake off the heartache he was not ready to face.
“Sab showed me the way through his thoughts,” confirmed Farrow, to Xander’s surprised, “before he… I am sorry he is no longer with us”.
“Did you see the vision of the girl?”, Xander diverted.
“Yes,” Farrow answered him with understanding. His brow furrowed, “though I fear whoever shot the arrows also saw it.”
“What do you think the vision meant?”, questioned Xander.
“I think”, said Farrow, pausing to pour some broth for Xander as well as for himself, “I think we need to find the girl. Whatever her destiny or story is in this, we must find her before the Arrow Flyers find her.”
Although this disconcerted Xander, he agreed the girl must be found. Despite being in shock, there were endless questions at the forefront of his mind. Who was the girl? Why did his magic hurt Sab? Who flew the arrows? Self-blame suddenly set in. His ability had tortured his dear friend. He took a sip of broth but could taste nothing but bitterness.
“Do not blame yourself,” said Farrow, appearing to read Xander’s thoughts, “there is darker magic at work here.”
Xander appreciated Farrow’s attempt to console him but his guilt could not be sated. “The next question is,” Xander said, trying to remain distant from his self-destructive thoughts, “how do we find the girl?”.
“I know someone who can help,” answered Farrow, “I can Mind Speak to him now”.
“Then we should leave this place,” Xander confirmed, subsidising his pain and exhaustion. Both of them knew this was a time where time would not wait. Xander winced as he stood up, but Sab’s words echoed through his mind, find the girl. For Sab, he will find the girl. He will find the girl and then he will find the Arrow Flyers. He will get revenge.
Farrow took the lead and told Xander he was going to scout the area to ensure the Arrow Flyers were no where to be seen. He then ordered Xander to pack the things and ensure the horses were ready to leave by the time he returned. Xander was happy to take orders. His mind was listless and drained. He walked over to where the horses stood in the corner of the cave. Sab’s horse, Magnus, whinnied and stamped his hoof in distress.
“I know how you feel Magnus. I miss Sab too. But we have to do this,” Xander sighed, trying to comfort the horse. Tears brimmed in Xander’s eyes. After a few failed attempts in settling Magnus, Xander abandoned his task and focused instead on packing the sacks on his own horse, Torch. Torch appeared to be in deep sorrow and he hung his head low, in empathy with Xander’s pain. Xander took a moment to stroke his horse’s mane, and hugged him gently, allowing a tear to escape. He then gathered himself and focused once again on the task at hand. Once Xander had finished tying the items to Torch, Farrow appeared. Farrow confirmed, to his relief, that there was no sign of any enemy.
Farrow hesitated. “But, I have brought you this”, he approached Xander with care, holding Sab’s staff gently in his hands. Xander swallowed his anguish as he received the staff from Farrow. He could not find any words as his throat had begun to clog. Farrow diplomatically saved him from having to respond by turning his attention to Magnus. Farrow approached Magnus slowly, whispering some words in what Xander assumed, was Draenyan. Gently, Farrow stroked Magnus’ nose and allowed Magnus to rest his head on his shoulder while he continued whispering to him mellifluously like honey, as though his words provided medicinal effect. Magnus appeared to settle and allowed Xander to then tie the rest of the sacks to him.
“We should not ride the horses until we leave the forest,” Farrow advised, now stroking Magnus’ mane. Farrow’s expression had softened significantly while attending to Magnus. It surprised Xander how fond of animals Farrow appeared to be; he was fond of the horses more so than people. After a final run-through of checking their items, Farrow led the way and they began to make their way out of Sacred Valley.
The sky was painted pink by the sunrise. Hazy rays filtered through the light cloud that blanketed across the sky in between the gaps of the pine trees. Farrow and Xander erred on the side of caution as they both traversed through the forest. Magnus and Torch both had their ears pricked up, alert. They obeyed their companions, remaining silent and careful in their tread. A pleasant smell of petrichor rose from the earth sequential to the rainstorm that must have fallen in the night in Xander’s dreams. Drops of water rested on the jumbo green leaves that covered the valley floor, some of which trickled down to the floor melodiously splashing into the puddles below. Beautiful it may seem, but to Xander, the valley was nothing but a rotten pit of tragedy and death.
They reached the edge of the valley by the time the sun was high in the midday sky. Before them lay a field of bright blinding yellow. The sky was now a pale blue and the clouds were far and few. For a moment, Xander felt the relief of the fresh air and the freedom. He closed his eyes and allowed the sun to kiss his face, vainly in hope that it could help him forget the devastation of the night before. Farrow scanned the horizon as though expecting someone to greet them, and he released a low whistle into the breeze. Xander, unsure of what or who they were waiting for, opened his eyes and scanned the horizon aimlessly. Within a moment, from across the meadow, a low whistle echoed Farrow’s call.
“Our help is here”, Farrow stated, before urging Magnus into a sprightly canter. Xander encouraged Torch followed suit, eager to know who was waiting to meet them. They cantered Eastward through the yellow meadow, the tall stalks of the flowers whipping their legs as they cut through. Xander soon saw that they were approaching a small creature on the other side of the meadow. The creature was chestnut red with a with a large bushy tail, its tip was dipped in white.
“A fox is our help?”, asked Xander, bewildered, raising his eyebrows. They slowed their horses to a walk as they approached the fox, who sat there bold yet patient, attending to one of his paws by licking it fervently.
“Greetings, Tyriss,” called Farrow.
The fox paused and peered up at them, his wide emerald eyes warm yet calculating. A hint of mischievousness and geniality briefly flickered within his gaze.
“Greetings,” the fox answered, his voice deep and low. He turned to Xander and cocked his head inquisitively, “it has been a while since I have been this close to a human. It is a pleasure, young sir to be of your acquaintance.”
Xander nearly fell from his horse.“Pleasure, sir,” was all he could concoct.
The fox, or Tyriss, grinned in an almost human-like manner at Xander’s reaction. But his expression soon sobered, “I am grieved by what I saw in the vision, Hara Farrow and Xander.”
“Can you lead us to the girl?”, Xander pleaded with unswerving hope.
“I do indeed know where she settles,” the fox confirmed to both of their relief, “however we must act swiftly. The Arrow Flyers are making pace.”
“That is grave news,” Farrow noted, “then you must show us the way – and fast.”
Farrow invited Tyriss the fox to jump onto the saddle behind him before urging Magnus into another canter. Xander and Torch remained stationary, as Xander tried to collect his pensive thoughts and absorb the strange greeting. Amazed, grieved and unable to process the events that were unfolding, he watched as the Draened rode Sab’s horse, with a red fox perched on the back of the saddle. How did this unsettling journey arise? He knew nothing of the Draened or the fox, he knew nothing of the vision and what it meant. Xander could not help but feel the sense of grief take over yet again, wishing Sab was by his side. Why did Sab have to die? Xander bit back his tears, confused and agonised by the pain of Sab’s absence. Find the girl. Sab’s voice scattered in the breeze. Find the girl. The sound of Sab’s whispered echoes gave Xander a new wave of strength. Courage filled his heart. Torch began to scrape the ground with his hoof, eager and restless.
“Can you do this for me Torch? For Sab?” Xander questioned his horse friend.
Torch neighed in response, rising mightily on his hind two legs before falling into a canter. Together they soared across the meadow with the wind at their tail, with only a shadow in their wake. Find the girl.