Episode 13 - The Lake of Ways
As I am flying over the grass, I watch the wolves running on the hills. Living Skvaders hop to their burrows, attempting to escape them. Seeing several wolves catch them, I fly lower and discuss with the Alpha that they should be left alone, such that they don’t join our enemies. My Kentaurs are running in the lead of the group, on the road between the hills. The groups appear to be searching for anything that might be dangerous, so I fly down to two wolves and shout for them to check the Lake of Ways. Though we Catmen have a strong dislike for water, this lake is special.
There are many tales about it, but there is a belief among all creatures that it is a portal to Heaven. Each time someone has entered the lake, they have not returned. You cannot return from Heaven… nor from death. They say that if your heart is not clean, you cannot go to the Wing Wolves. Year after year, the king punishes thieves by throwing them into the lake. Should they die, it is due to their wrongdoings… but if their soul was clean, they may go to the Wing Wolves praying for yet another life. Many dead occupy the waters.
Looking past the lake, I can see something in the middle of the road. Dead Catmen… and another creature the same size, that appears to be taking something from them. The creature turns towards me.
What is she doing? Her hands raise towards me, Yellow Magic glowing. Light gets brighter as it comes closer. I am surrounded by this yellow magic, seeing a scene in the wall of its light like that vision in which I was the Furless. I now know that had been some kind of a vision.
In this vision, I am the Furless once again, standing before the now living Catmen, and I believe I am in the past. One of them, a female, speaks…
"You are truly my High Princess."
Then she kneels before the living Cat-cat that is around the Furless all the time.
As I am the Furless, I speak to them…
"We need to stop the Yellow Bird from reaching the city, as the attack on the city could occur at any moment."
I summon a Yellow Magic sword with the spelling word 'Sværd' pointing it towards the Yellow Bird that comes flying, fighting off the Catmens’ horses as I prepare for battle. The horses bolt into the forest. I raise my sword saying…
The two Catmen step away cautiously. The bird is closing in and white magic flows out of that Cat-cat of hers.
The Yellow light is overwhelming. I can see a small pearl of blue light coming from one of the dead Catmen alongside Trolling, who is holding the light with his tail. Deep within, my inner Sorceress tells my eyes to close; Clearly the light comes from inside me, forming the face of a Cat-cat’s soul, the soul of the dead Catmen. I open my eyes again and all illusions are broken. I sit up on my Ebony and take a deep breath. I think I can hear Trolling.
“Welcome back my Princess!”
“Thanks, Trolling… Woah!”
As I become more aware, I notice that my own paw has specks of brown fur. In the sky a white shadow flows beside me. The shadow clears, becoming a Wing Wolf, who speaks to me…
"The wish of the Princess Masaw from the fish city to the north, is now being granted."
"What is her wish?"
"To be a part of the truly High Princess"
Again I understand the words being spoken, but the meaning of it, I do not. The Wing wolf flows away to the Lake of Ways.
I close my eyes again to see a smiling soul, sensing a Princess soul who will guide me as a real Princess.
I look down to the Furless. Was that her past? How are we connected? My Kentaurs have run up to her to speak and I observe for a moment before I feel Trolling tense on my shoulder. We are passing the lake.
“What is happening, my Meow?”
“The Lake of Ways is down there… but something doesn’t seem right.”
Two wolves are howling at me, and we circle closer, aiming to land beside them.
“What is it?”
“The water, my Princess.”
I look out over the water, becoming entranced by the silent shimmering of sunlight on the deep blue waters. The waters are clear of all imperfections… eerie only because it should be full of dead thieves. I look at the Alpha wolf.
"Where have they all gone?"
“We don’t know where they’ve gone.”
All the dead just disappeared? Do the Wing Wolves have something to do with that? I shall remember to ask if I see one again. Maybe I should create a shield around the lake until I know more.
I summon my White Staff and enchant a spell…
Ebony flys me along the lake’s edge, allowing me to spread my magic around it. Others won’t be able to pass through.
“That will do until we gain information. Let’s continue on.”
A short time later, we landed on the road, not far from the front gates to the city with my Kentaurs and the dead Catmen. The Furless is gone. I turn to Ken for information.
“She is running to town…”
“... you shall meet her in…”
I smile as Taur takes over and they finish each other’s words in their little idiosyncratic way.
“... Fungus Milkbar.”
“Thank you, Ken, Taur. Who are these Catmen?”
I take note of them, taking a moment to consider who they may have been as my Kentaurs begin to tell me. One has orange fur… and the other a very fluffy tail. A Princess. Taur starts speaking…
"... One was the Princess of the Milk-Swamp”
The Milk-Swamp is on the other side of the city, wedged between it and the mountains. If I have that Princess soul in me now, perhaps I can receive some help when I arrive at the Milk-Swamp too.
“Can you two meet me on the other side of the city, at the beginning of the Milk-Swamp?”
Following the departure of the Kentaurs, Ebony and I fly closer to the gates, where we meet with my two wolves who are inspecting the gates. The other wolves are waiting for a command.
I look at my own little army of wolves, full of pride as I go to speak with them.
"I have seen your fighting skills. I have seen your guard skills. I could not be prouder of you all. I need to enter the city here so please wait for my return within the Milk-Swamp."
They howl and run to the north to go around the city. They cannot go around to the south, because the sea is blocking the path.
“We will meet you on the other side of the city, Princess,” the other wolf says.
“Wait. I need you to come into the city with me.”
“Wolves are not allowed in the city.”
“You are with me. It will be allowed.”
I feel regal as I make the statement. My knowledge has grown in leaps and bounds since gaining the authority of a Princess. It shall be useful throughout the journey, if only for the freedom I am granted.
I move from Ebony to stand upon the ground, unsure what to do with the large creature. As if sensing my quandary, it opens its beak, Blue Magic glowing gently. A wisp of the magic dances in the air, solidifying upon my belt. Between two elixirs, there now sits a whistle. I nod to Ebony. I shall call when I need assistance again. With a loud noise like a thunderclap, it disappears into the sky. I turn to the gates.
They are large, closed gates with smaller doors embedded within. The doors are all different sizes, some with a beam of wood to reach them. The Monkeymen use big doors and the cat-flaps, I remember that Kitties love to jump through, they are still there. I take to one of the smaller doors towards the ground, one I could get through on all fours. I tap my staff against the door beside mine and let my will flow through it, giving admission to the city for the wolves on my behalf. Trolling takes the smallest red door in the red corner, as it is known as the Fairy door.
Entering the city, we find ourselves on the path to the centre, a large, round square in the middle of the city with another huge, round gate - The incredible gate built by the great Mages.
Inside the book:
That will by chapters art by Azifri and character pictures by Sarah.Mørch