This is an excerpt from “The Six and the Magic Circles.” It’s in first draft as the book is in progress. It should be published by mid-winter. “God willing and the creek don’t rise” as the old saying goes. I’d appreciate any comments, corrections, or suggestions.
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The next morning, tense and watchful, the Six and their pals moved quickly through the rocky foothills. The two dragons helped the effort to hurry. Taking turns riding kept the kids fresh and rested. The kids in the air were flying reconnaissance at all times. That was a word Grant used meaning watching for danger. All the kids were afraid the big cats would return and were very attentive.
The morning passed without incidence. At one point, the kids in the air spotted movement quite far away. From that distance it looked like it could be a horse.
“There are no horses in this realm,” said Anusha. “It’s likely a unicorn, though they’re more common in the foothills on the other side of the mountain.”
“No horses! What a shame,” said Garrett. But just the thought of a unicorn in the same area they were traveling cheered the kids and put more spring in their steps. Maybe they’d get to see one!
After a lunch of flower flour cakes, Grant and Mady were aboard the dragons while Leyton and Griff were also aloft. Flying was still a novelty for all of them, so they were doing a few air acrobatics and generally goofing around. But they continued to be alert.
Suddenly Grant spotted something. Catching the attention of the other fliers, he pointed ahead. Heads nodded. Yep. They saw something, too. Projecting as hard as she could, Mady thought to Will. “~Alert, Will! There’s something ahead! Looks big. Right on the path you’re on! Heading your direction~.”
“~What is it?~” Will, bathed in a golden glow, answered in mind-speak.
“~Looks like a cross between a Yeti and a grizzly,~” projected Grant.
“An urscade!” exclaimed Anusha when Will told her what they saw. “We do not want to run up against an urscade! We must get off the trail and try to conceal ourselves and our scent.”
“How will we do that?” asked Gray. “I mean, we can hide behind boulders, but how will we hide our scent.”
“Good question,” said Anusha. “In the forest, we elves scamper up and walk among the tree tops. No trees here, though.”
“Wouldn’t matter. We humans are more likely to get killed trying to scamper among the tree tops than we are in a stand off with a bear,” Gray shook his head and pressed his lip together.
“Don’t be so sure. You don’t know how fierce an urscade can be!”
Will had been listening to both the conversation on the ground and the mind-speak from the fliers. Now he spoke to the group on the ground, “We have some time to prepare. The creature is quite far ahead and seems to be ambling, walking slow. I would guess he doesn’t know we are here.”
“Let’s scramble over these rocks to the left. Looks like a lot of large boulders good for hiding over there,” said Anusha.
“Will it help to be hidden? How good is an urscade’s sense of smell?” asked Grayson.
“We can try hiding, but you’re right. The urscade is not likely to miss our scent on the path, and if it is interested, will have no trouble nosing us out.” Anusha looked frustrated, as she peered around trying to think of another solution.
Gray rubbed his face thoughtfully, looking unhappy.
“I could drop a shield,” said Garrett, “but I don’t think it work too well among the boulders and rocks.”
“You’re right. I think it’d perch crookedly on the uneven rocks and the creature could tip it over or crawl under it.”
Garrett said, “Well, what if we hide and then have the dragons and Griff pee on our tracks?”
“Garrett, be serious!”
Anusha brightened. “No, it might just work! At the least, it is better than just giving up or sitting behind a wobbly shield.”
So Will, surrounded by a golden glow, projected his mind-speak to the group aloft. The animals agreed to the plan and soon everyone was giggling. Even the animals seemed amused.
Quickly, the kids scurried to hide among the boulders. The three animals did their part and flew up to continue their reconnaissance.
Soon the urscade came to the spot where the kids had left the path to go hide. But he disappeared, following the scent on the back track. Just as the kids began to relax and think they were home free, the urscade reappeared, now following the scent up the trail.
This time he came off the trail toward the boulders where they were hiding until he got to the dragon and griffin urine. Then he snorted and blew and carried on, looking around in all directions. Spotting the kids and creatures flying in the sky, he bellowed. The kids could feel the vibration from the bellow throughout their bodies. It was fearsome! And that enraged animal was after them!
Carefully sniffing around, the urscade accidentally picked up the scent of the kids again. Making noises that suspiciously sounded like “Yum, yum,” he approached the hidden kids. They shivered.
From above, Mady rubbed her ring. Blue rays streaked down as she flung the urscade against a boulder. That succeeded in making the creature more angry! But now the urscade’s attention was divided between its prey on the ground and the danger from the sky.
More blue streaks! Another push by Mady! The animal flew against a boulder again! Shaking its head, the urscade now concentrated its attention on the pests in the sky.
Grant, still riding Parmaka, coaxed the dragon to the ground, landing within sight but out of reach of the urscade. The urscade shook its head. Angry, it lumbered toward the offending dragon, growling. It came close, almost within reach! Parmaka took to the air.
Meanwhile, Mady on Ardopla landed within sight but out of reach. Spotting them, the urscade bellowed, turned, and lumbered toward them!
“Ardopla!” Mady yelled. “Fly! It’s closing fast!”
Ardopla flew up, barely avoiding the urscade’s claws.
Now Griff got into the act. All three taunted the urscade. They had him angrily charging in all directions. Soon the creature was exhausted.
Mady made one more great effort. More blue streaks. Again she heaved the creature against a boulder. The urscade got to its feet again, but was wobbly and obviously defeated. It shook its head and made mewling sounds. Mewling! From such a huge creature. It was ludicrous, or would have been if the kids weren’t so scared. The creature had had enough, though, and lumbered off.
The kids on the ground stayed behind the boulders until the fliers told them the urscade was a long way off. Although it looked back and shook its head now and then, it kept shuffling away, no longer noticing the kids aloft.