I’m still amazed that I’ve barely done any teasers for Legends of Windemere: Path of the Traitors. Starting to wonder if there’s something up with the search function for my posts. This is a section that takes place when Queen Trinity, Quail, and their friends are traveling cloud paths high above the ground. You’ll quickly recognize their allies and get a much bigger sense of the title. Enjoy!
“For the last time, my magic isn’t making it across the gap,” Trinity says, her head aching due to a buzzing in her skull. She hurls a lightning bolt that dies after three feet, which is at least fifty feet short of the other side. “Does the map say anything? I doubt the winged elves ever came this far since it isn’t near any twisters. Unless they travel here to get fish from the ocean down there.”
Quail scratches his head and uses his spyglass to examine the far side of the gap, but it is impossible to tell if the clouds were once attached. With Trinity holding his hand, the mapper looks at the ground and notices a path of trees that are shorter than the rest. At first, the chaos elf thinks they have been pushed into the ground, but eventually realizes that they are simply younger than the rest of the pine forest. Getting an idea, he rapidly snaps his fingers and looks out to the ocean where he spots water funnels on the horizon. Quail ignores the impatient grumbling behind him and takes his time searching for a way across or a clue as to what has happened. He stops at the sight of strange, white objects bobbing in the mist that covers the coast, but he is unable to discern exactly what they are.
“My best guess is that a large hurricane made landfall here many years ago and caused irreparable damage to the path,” the mapper explains while checking the crest map. Grinding his teeth in frustration, he sees that the directions demand that they continue forward and give no hint as to how they can cross the gap. “One thing that bothers me is that the clouds should have reformed. I keep seeing the wind add little bits to the edges, but something repeatedly damages this one spot. The bridge will never return.”
“A magical storm that created a zone of hindered magic,” the Lich says with an amused cackle. He forces Nimby to the edge and stretches out to touch the numbing void that has impeded their magic. “These are rare, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying. I will have to focus my energy on keeping Vile in one piece and myself in the ring. Either of us getting ejected in there would be lethal. Best that we carry the paralyzed General.”
“Always a good sign when the ghosts are afraid of dying,” Nimby jokes, his fleshy hand juggling Quail’s spyglass. The mapper moves to take it back, but the thief easily keeps it out of reach. “Calm down. I only want to take a look around. Helps to get another pair of eyes on the problem, especially when the other set is used to looking for details. Besides, I saw you pause at something and I’m curious.”
Everyone stops when Trinity creates a beam of energy that tests the magic-diffusing area for weak points. The rounded spell pounds at the sides to see if there is a limit to its height, but it dissipates when it gets too thin to have much of an impact. Gathering the magic into a ball, she tosses it into the ocean and is surprised to hear a chorus of screeches erupt from below. She reaches for the spyglass, but Nimby ducks under her arm to take a look for himself. With a shrug, Trinity enhances her eyesight to imitate the device and stares at the waves. Whatever she disturbed has already gone back into the depths, but the white figures near the coast are now moving from side to side within the thickening mist.
Nimby taps the channeler on the arm and points at the ocean, his finger making a zigzag motion to signify lightning. Using the spyglass, he carefully moves her hand to the spot where he saw the movements of what he thinks are hundreds of creatures. The bolt lances out and loses most of its power when it skirts the edge of the magic-dissipating zone. She does her best to add energy to the weakened spell as it plunges into the ocean and stirs the animals below. A crackling light ripples among the waves before slender eels burst from the water. Their wriggling, powerful muscles launch them high enough to reach the cloud paths. Sparks fly from the bug-eyed animals as they look around for the storm that they expected to use as a breeding ground. The bolt eels continue leaping into the sky and twisting around in search of a hurricane, their dark blue bodies flattening in order to safely float back into the water.
A cacophony of bird calls erupts from the shore and the white forms reveal themselves to be giant birds. Their huge wings stretch as they snap their beaks and the fleshy pouch on their throats jiggle with every movement. Clearing the mist as they take flight, the enormous pelicans head out to sea for a few miles and veer back to hunt for bolt eels. Half of the flock soars low to stir the fish with the help of the pulsing tip of their beak, which their prey mistakes for lightning. The others glide high and spiral around the gap in the path before diving into the mass of food that bursts from the ocean. Within a few minutes, the sky is filled with wriggling eels and soaring pelicans that give little attention to the travelers.
“You have got to be kidding,” Quail says when he sees Trinity and Nimby get near the edge of the clouds. His mouth goes dry at the thought of leaping from one animal to another, the flock appearing to have no discernable a pattern. “We could end up getting tossed into the ocean or plummet to solid earth. What if we land on one that goes into a dive and has its fill? There has to be another way across this that’s more dependable.”
“Take my hand and I’ll help you,” Trinity promises, the sweat on her brow revealing her own doubts.