The caress of wind whipping beneath his wings was what carried him. At such a high altitude, land become little more than dots of green, orange, and red. Fall, in the land of No’va, was magic in itself as its colors spread like fire across the treetops.
At a break in the clouds, the hawk soared through and was greeted on the other side by No’va’s only floating structure: Luxor Castle. Its gleaming alabaster stone was a symbol of strength to many, all made possible by the familiar figure waiting by the landing platform. The Grand Master’s white strip of hair against mostly dark was an instant giveaway, and the feeling of coming to a second home was welcoming. There were fond memories here, which he hoped to continue as his wings pulled into a dive. Just before reaching the platform, he pulled up, allowing the familiar sensation of shifting to engulf his body in a blue hue. As it slowly faded, it left its owner poised in true form until only the irises lit with a blaze of sapphire. It was a mere hint of power accustomed to his particular kind, the Lo-ans’rel, a Land Healer. Adjusting his landing position, he allowed his wings to hold against a high wind to keep steady before they too faded behind his back.
“I hope I haven’t inconvenienced you, Master Wisdom, as it was short notice.” Lord Gracie welcomed the albino Healer with a firm handshake, which was returned with eagerness. The Healer’s wolf-like ears pricked forward in the manner of friendship, a tuft of white fuzz at their tips that gently wavered from another brisk breeze. “Let’s head in, shall we? There’s something I’ve been meaning to share with you.”
Wisdom followed, sweeping a hand through a tangle of pallid curls to set them in place. The last time he had come, Lord Gracie had given him a portal disguised as a large, oval mirror. He was still waiting for it to show him the other portal’s location, for both were needed to locate the place of Purification – a process that cleansed all impure magic. He shivered at the thought of how everything connected, and it all led back to one individual who desired power above the rest, one whose soul now belonged to the horn – what was left of it.
“I’m sure you saw when it best suit me.” A grin while walking alongside his friend down an expansive entrance. Ornate columns held up each section of curved ceiling, one that drew attention to its fine detail.
“You know me well.” They turned down a hallway and stopped at a closed door. When Lord Gracie pulled out a key ring, Wisdom had a mind to know what was going to happen next.
“Didn’t think you wanted to walk the entire way.” At the click of lock, the door opened to an airy chamber containing the Grand Master’s collection of overflowing bookshelves. The room itself was surrounded with crowned-top windows, each with a window seat decked in red velvet cushions.
“How many ways did you make it possible to reach this room?” Wisdom familiarized himself with the central desk, and recalled when he had found the Head Master’s chamber by accident. There was no telling how many portals Lord Gracie had placed around the building, once explaining that it was easier to find ‘lost’ guests who stumbled upon them. Beneath the semi-circle desk was a large, decorative bowl of water, no doubt for his winged felines that offered their foreseeing abilities. “One would never really need to leave this place to know anything, the way you’ve set it up.”
“True.” Lord Gracie offered his guest a seat before sinking into the high-backed leather chair at his desk. “I shouldn’t have any excuses for not knowing. And yet, I made them, all the while Jenario did what he did. For that, I blame myself.”
“Jenario was under the influence of the horn,” Wisdom said sternly. “It was the horn that pushed his motives. Who knows what all it whispered in the back of his mind, manipulating his every move!”
“But Jenario’s unicorn is not like the one you have.” That generous smile vanished, leaving the Healer to ponder what he, too, currently carried within.
Placing a hand over his heart, Wisdom felt the gentle beat of life beneath the silken fabric. That was where the horn lay, both protecting and being protected from the multiple attempts the dark unicorn made for another body – his. It was something he had struggled with even as a child. Now, at age twenty, his body was a ripening fruit for the harvest. As a Land Healer, his powers tied directly to Nature, something the horn had been deprived of when Jenario created it. It needed to be One again, to reclaim pure power that a unicorn should have. Instead, it had devoured the landscape surrounding the Realm of Sapphire. No one other than Jenario’s son lived in that area, for it was his son that accepted responsibly in guarding it.
“You’re right,” Wisdom said. “What I have is not the same. The temptations of power are still there, as I’m sure they were in Jenario, but there are no false promises of security. I know the risks of having a unicorn’s horn.”
“As did I. But it wasn’t a Foreseer who first showed me.”
At the mention of ‘Foreseer’, a black and white cat jumped up on the desk. It was a clean move, for a pair of multicolored wings spread to assist in the height needed to reach the desk’s polished surface. A reflection of itself flitted over dark marble as the cat came to rest in front of its owner. Wisdom looked into those large, green orbs, reflecting on his first encounter with one. In content, the cat just perched to allow its ears to be stroked. The sound of purring grew louder.
“Were you visited by the unicorn as well?” Wisdom cocked his head in curiosity.
“Perhaps it’s best if I ‘show’ what happened.” Lord Gracie motioned to the Foreseer, which lifted its wings around so the tips nearly formed a connecting ring. “Perhaps then you’ll understand how Jenario came to lust for power…and why I’m to blame.”
Tiny sparks of electricity began gathering in a circle within the limits of the wings’ arch. Like the warm light that filtered through the windows, so too did a light begin to glow from the contained sphere. Various images materialized within this light until Wisdom realized he was staring into a vision of Lord Gracie’s past.