This is a major new event in the Standard of Honor series and universe and I hope you will love it as much as I am enjoying writing it.
Luxuriating in the feeling of a full stomach, the atmosphere in the room changed radically when many of the Hidden Folk straightened in alarm.
Zhanna asked, “What is it? What’s wrong?”
Stefan had risen to his feet and turned toward the door as soon as he had seen the reaction of the Hidden Folk. He knew their hearing was better than his and reacted automatically to the alarm that they had raised. Quickly, he positioned himself to see who was approaching the house, while still concealing his body from anyone on the outside.
At first, the mercenary didn’t see anything unusual. Then, he noticed activity at the edge of the front fence. Rushing toward the gate, a middle-aged man in the robes of a practicing Witch became visible in the fading light. Rather than a sedate walk, the man was running toward them.
Stefan’s sharply indrawn breath warned the rest of the room that there was indeed a problem. Instantly, Mikhail joined the older man at the doorway, positioning himself so that he was partially hidden by the opposite doorjamb.
Zhanna moved to support them, standing slightly to the left. Both mercenaries flashed her quick smiles of approval, a testament to how the young Witch had incorporated the fighting lessons that they had been teaching.
The young Witch could feel her Familiar at her side and noticed the comforting heat on her shoulder when the Flamechild that lived in the stove came to help. Zhanna could hear Jack quietly directing the children to a more protected position. She dismissed her concern for them, knowing that the battle-wise cat would protect them with his life.
Iskar whispered into the Witch’s ear, “A Witch and what feels like a Familiar are approaching. The Familiar is an Air Elemental Master, and they both come at rapid speed.”
Just then Zhanna heard Dascha over their bond exclaiming, << It is Glenfrey and Henley! I wonder what on Earth is wrong. >>
Quickly, Zhanna explained to the rest of the group that the people approaching were known. The young Witch saw a look of relief pass over her grandmother’s face at her words. There was something off about the Seer’s expression, but there was no time to investigate it now. As she moved toward the door, Zhanna promised herself to talk to her grandmother about that when things quieted down.
The young woman met Henley at the base of the stairs, saying, “Henley, it’s nice to see you. However, you are not looking happy, and your headlong speed indicates a problem. What is the matter?”
The man was out of breath, and both distraught and dust-covered. He was carrying a travel bag and visibly trembling when he reached Zhanna. Dropping the suitcase onto the ground, he leaned on the porch rail for a moment. Trying to catch his breath enough to speak, all he could do was gasp for a few seconds.
“Gasp… Gasp… Sorry for the surprise, Zhanna, but I have come from the Seer of the Plains to tell you that you and your companions are urgently needed at some place called The Badger Hole. She said to tell you that it is a True Vision and that is utterly urgent for you to go right away. She also told me that I have to go with you.”
Just then, the huge golden eagle, Glenfrey, swooped down to land beside his Witch. Shaking his feathers to settle his wings, the Familiar first looked at his companion with concern before turning to Zhanna and adding, << She was extremely agitated and made sure that we understood the urgency of the matter. We stopped only long enough to grab some items and then ported over here. That type of spell is very draining and hard to cast. Henley and I are both exhausted and shaky.>>
Dascha’s mental tone was confused, asking, <<Henley, would not Zhanna’s grandmother have had that vision also? I know that Seers frequently get different views of the same situation if it is a True Vision.>>
<<Dascha, she did not say. She rushed us into motion and practically pushed us out the door, frantic for us to get here. You need to grab some basic items and your companions. The Seer was quite specific that you need to take companions with you. Then we need to be on our way. I have never heard a Seer be so serious. >>
Henley nodded his head, reinforcing what his Familiar had said, “Yes, she was very serious. But even more alarming, she was frightened.”
Stay tuned! Down to the last chapter and editing! Then back to my Unfettered Mage!