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Dressed in breeches and sandals, Joie rode through the forest of his ancestors. The illuminae filtered through the trees, sketching filigrees in the mulch below.
The warrior was tall, with reddish brown skin, almond eyes and high cheekbones. Jet black hair hung loosely about his shoulders. Silver and turquoise rings dangled from his ears and wrists.
Joie was half asleep, his muscular thighs loosely gripping the mare’s flanks, for she knew the way to their favorite stream better than he did. They reached the brook and he dismounted, kneeled and splashed water upon his face and neck, finally cupping a pool in his hands to drink.
“Joseph…” He glanced around, instantly wary. The forest was teaming with supernatural life – and not all of it friendly.
Among the most dangerous were Wood Sprites – forest succubae that took the form of human women to capture men. Their victims slowly starved to death, losing all grasp of time as they languished in their captor’s embrace.
A mahogany shaded woman emerged from the grove of trees to his right. She had a wide nose, full lips and was dressed in a thigh length garment made entirely of overlapping feathers. Her kinky hair was braided atop her head. Gold ornaments hung from her ears, neck and arms.
She had the voluptuous body of a young girl. But her large dark eyes held knowledge no girl could ever possess, and she had all the earmarks of a preternatural creature – though friend or enemy, Joie couldn’t tell.
He decided not to stay and find out. In one fluid motion the warrior rose and leaped on to his horse.
“Joseph wait!” She stepped forward and spread her hands, palms outward, as a gesture of goodwill.
Despite the danger, he was curious. And she was lovely. “That’s close enough!”
Joseph is not my name. Who is he? Your dead mate? Or perhaps a favored slave?”
“I have a message for you…for who you will become leagues from this day.” Her voice was soft and melodic – like a song.
Intrigued, Joie leaned towards her, a smile playing about his lips. “Speak beautiful fortuneteller, if that’s what you are.”
“You are needed in Topaz.”
“Topaz? I have never heard of it.” Suddenly he couldn’t look away from her strange eyes… or urge his horse to a gallop. She is bewitching me! With dawning terror, Joie realized he might never leave the forest.
“The city does not exist here, in your time. But your future self knows it well, and it is to him that I speak. You must journey to find your heart’s desire, Joseph to find the one you long for.”
Now the enchantress‘s brows drew together in anger. Her voice doubled in volume echoing through the woods. “I’ve visited you before! Why have you ignored my commands? When you awake, remember my words and hark unto them! Go to Topaz, we will speak again at that time.”
She turned and disappeared into the forest.
Centuries before the Time of Legend, Sorre’s Copper citizens had been warriors and hunters. Now its inhabitants grew vegetables, and
herded sheep and goats; for Sorre was the chief supplier of crops and
animal proteins for the New World.
Joseph had lived here his entire life. His parents had taught him to grow corn, beans and peas. He’d leaned to listen to the wind to predict the weather, to put his ear to the soil to hear its heartbeat. And he learned that all creatures have a soul, no less worthy of respect than his own. These were the gifts Mata, his mother, and Lowe, his father, had given him.
His grandfather had shared these values too and other gifts as well – tales of long dead warriors and bloody battles; of evil magicians and shape shifters; and of a war between good and evil that never really ended.
Copyright 2007, 2009 Valjeanne Jeffers all rights reserved
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