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Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I like to keep tabs on my blog's stats - that is the number of hits (views) and where they are from (and when).  Trying to figure out why I have x-number of hits is something that could help me improve my numbers.  I am looking into some other things, which sadly take time away from writing.  Once Addy is in school, I'll have that time, though.

So right now I am 7 (seven) hits SHORT of 500 for the month of April.  This is about typical for me, actually.  The most I ever got was in October, when I won the DeviantArt Daily Deviation.  I had nearly 1000 hits.  But after analyzing my data, I realize that getting the DD did not earn me a greater viewership.  Before I hit it, I reached a little over 500 hits in September.  November still had high hits, which is to be expected.  But December, with fewer posts and holiday plans, had fewer hits, and January saw the numbers return to around 500.  It has hovered around there ever since.

So what I am going to have to start doing to increase my numbers is interacting with folks.  I need to actually go to forums, tweet about normal things, take an interest in those who read my blog.  I had hoped people might comment more frequently, but I guess I will have to go to them.  Over on DA, I tend to get about 1 "llama badge" for ever 2 I give out, so I think that I just need to start interacting more.  I suppose an hour a day would help.  Let's see what this will do with my numbers.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

My wife - a free-form sonnet

There goes my wife without even a glance,
The whispers of love and the blush of romance,
Her autumn hair filling my soul as we dance.
All of it hangs on the nail of this chance.

And with her the fights that would keep us alive
Or make us both struggle, or cause us to dive
Into deepest despair.  We would reach, we would strive
For the one thing that'd keep us and let our love thrive.

The kids walk behind you; you don't even know.
They're blind to the world and they need us to show
Them what's wrong and what's good.  They'll share in our woe
But keep us together when we hit our low.

There goes my life; it's passing me by.
The only thing I need to do is say, "Hi."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ghost of the Crystal - Part 8

"You are a resourceful one, for a gelfling.  It is a shame the Emperor will not get to feed off your essence, because I am going to kill you.  Right after I kill the female.  Hhhhahhh…. Hhhhher pelt will make a fine trophy."  He turned to Morra and reached up with a long, thin arm to pull her down and inspect her.  This time, he was careful to keep clear of her legs.  "Yes, you will do nicely," he said.  Morra jerked her head away from him as best as she could with a look of disgust.
As the Hunter inspected her, Tyrin pulled up his gemshorn and pried the stop from the thick end, leaving it little more than a simple, hollow mounder horn.  Keeping one eye on the Hunter, he hung the horn from its strap and swung it to catch the shard inside.  Instead, it nudged the shard slightly and made it roll towards the pit before coming to a rest just at the edge.
Morra noticed Tyrin's attempt.  She looked back at the Hunter and scowled.  "Our friends are going to get away.  And when they do, they'll tell the Emperor what you are doing.  He is a good ruler; he will not have any dealing with you.  None of the Skeksis will."
The Hunter's breath smelled like death as he laughed at her.  "You know nothing, gelfling," he said.
"Oh?  I know the Emperor's eyes and ears, SkekNa, is probably watching you right now.  I know the castle holds many secrets.  And I know you'll discover some of them if the Emperor finds out you've been holding out on him."  Morra spoke with more conviction than Tyrin had ever heard from her.  Everything about her statement, from the tone of voice to the stone glare to the details she seemed privy of, gave Tyrin the feeling that she wasn't bluffing.  It was, however, long enough for the Hunter to give pause.
"What do you know of their ways?  Are you one of SkekNa's spies?" he demanded, shaking her.  Morra gave a soft cry, which kept the Hunter's attention on her.  He had lowered Tyrin slightly, giving him enough room to swing the horn once more towards the shard.  It glided past, catching the edge of the shard and making it teeter.  Just as it was about to fall, the horn swung back and scooped up the shard.  Tyrin quickly pulled the horn up and grabbed the shard.  The Hunter noticed the movement in the corner of his eye and pulled Tyrin higher.
"Stay still!" he warned.  In that instant, Tyrin grabbed the shard and struck the Hunter in the face with it.  The crystal let out a brilliant light and a sharp, piercing squeal like a creature that had just been injured.  The Hunter threw Tyrin away from him.  Tyrin hit the ground with a thud and rolled over to get back on his feet.  When he looked up at the Hunter, a white light was shining from his mask, following along a crack.  Two massive hands grabbed at the mask, but it was too late; it fell apart.  Both halves fell to the ground.  The Hunter as they knew him was gone.  In his place there stood a tall, dark creature of flesh and bone.  The fine furs that once hung from him were now revealed to be rotting carcasses draped over his body, with the skulls of several creatures, including gelflings, arranged like a totem on his back.  His face was narrow and he had a sharp beak which bore a scar that ran over his sightless left eye.
"Skeksis!" Morra cried in disbelief.  The Hunter let out a menacing roar and picked up the remnants of the mask, trying to fit them together in desperation.  Tyrin held the shard out in front of him as he approached.  The Hunter pulled out a knife with one of his four arms and marched up to Tyrin.  The undulating blade drew blood as it sliced along Tyrin's chest.  Without warning, one of the gelfling-sized seed pods that hung from the tree fell on the Hunter's head.  He reeled back for just a moment.  As he began to lunge forward again, a streak of beige came from the edge of the clearing and Prril appeared at the Hunter's leg, biting it.
Tyrin held one hand to his chest and looked to the edge of the clearing where something was rustling in the forest.  Minn stepped into the light.  Although his face was covered, Tyrin could tell he was smiling because of his eyes.  Next to him was a tall creature the like of which neither Tyrin nor Morra had ever seen.  It, like the Skeksis, had four arms and a narrow face.  A spiral made up of sharp bends was etched into either side of its long snout.  Slender feathers had been woven into its white hair, which flowed in braids down its back.  A heavy coat hung off its shoulders, displaying similar etched spirals as its face.  Behind it, a tail rested on the ground for stability.  In one hand it held out a bow as long as its body and as thick as its arms.  In order to pull the string, it used two hands, leaving the last to prepare an arrow from the quiver that hung at its waist.
"Minn!" Tyrin yelled with joy as his friend came closer.  The growling Skeksis had turned his attention away from him and stabbed at Prril.  The blade hit nothing.  Prril had moved like a swift spring zephyr and curled herself around Tyrin's shoulders.  But as soon as Prril moved away, the Hunter raised his knife to strike at Tyrin once more.
Minn broke into a run and dashed past the Hunter and Tyrin.  At the same moment, the four-armed archer nocked two arrows.  It began a deep, serene chant and pulled both arms away from the string in a circular motion, loosing both arrows.  The first struck another pod off the tree and caused it to fall between the Hunter and his prey.  The second sliced through the rope that held Morra above the pit.  Minn leaped at her, catching her in his arms and sending them tumbling onto the far side.
"You!" the Hunter intoned and glared at the archer.  Another pair of arrows had already been prepared and were aimed at the Skeksis.  "You wouldn't dare."

The archer pulled the string taut and began to chant once more.  Step by step, the Hunter backed away from them.  Although he soon disappeared into the darkness of the woods, the oppressive feeling of dread that always accompanied him remained.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ghost of the Crystal - Part 7

It may be a bit jarring to see a time change in a post-by-post telling of a single short story, but this marks the end of the flashback and continuation of the first part, which you can link to at the bottom of this entry.  If you are confused, use the links at the bottom to catch up to speed.

Tyrin fell to the ground with a thud.  When he looked up from the bottom of the pit, he saw the Hunter tear the pole to pieces and scatter the remains.  A few scraps of wood fell on top of Tyrin before he could get to his feet.  Then the spirit turned its ghastly face towards him and chuckled, holding out a small shard of crystal.  It sang a soft, clear tone and emanated a deep blue light.  The sound was soon joined by a second voice, then several.  Tyrin and Morra looked down to the bottom of the pit.  One by one, critters about the size of a gelfling's hand worked their way through the earthen walls and paused near Tyrin.  Their eyes reflected the deep blue of the crystal as their wings fluttered together, creating their low thrum.  In a flash, Tyrin scrambled to the far wall and got to his feet.  He counted twenty of them.  Each one moved about on four sharp legs, using strange, jerking motions.  But it was the needle-like beaks that caught his attention.
"Peymakan!" Tyrin said.  Although he pulled out his knife and brandished it at the large insects, it did not give him any sense of safety.
"Hhahhh… hahhhh!"  The Hunter moved closer to the edge of the pit.  Morra could see that Minn's crystalweave cloak now hung from his side.  "I see the young gelfling is familiar with my pets.  They'll make you sleep forever, gelfling."
One of the peymakan jumped onto Tyrin's leg and stuck him with its beak.  There was no pain.  He swatted it away with the blade and yelled at them.  Already he could feel a numbness spreading into his leg.  The peymakan backed up for a moment and vibrated their wings in unison.  The sound grew louder, more menacing.
"Haahh hahh hahhh!  Make him sleep, my pets.  But do not kill him.  He will provide essence to the Emperor."  The crystal's light changed hue, from blue to purple to red.  It, too, began to hum with the note of the insects.
Tyrin pressed his back against the wall again and looked up at Morra and the Hunter.  A feeling of despair came over him as he realized that no matter what he did, he could not get out of the situation.  The peymakan drew closer and surrounded him.
"Hmmmmmmm…"  It was Morra's silvery voice rising above the thrum, matching the tone.  The insects hesitated at the sound.
"Quiet, you!" the Hunter said and struck Morra.  Her white locks fell around her face as she swung from the blow.
The peymakan continued moving towards Tyrin.  He jabbed his knife into the wall and took his gemshorn in both hands.  After a quick breath, the instrument was pressed against his lips in a familiar kiss.  Serenity flowed forth as a soft, dulcet note hung in the air.  Instantly, the insects halted and changed their tone.  Tyrin followed their new note, then led them to another.  They followed suit.  The light of the crystal shard shifted once again, going from red to a gentle white.  Slowly, the insects backed away from Tyrin and wiggled into the earthen walls with their sharp legs, disappearing.
"No!!  My pets!  This useless crystal!  I will never trust that bent-snouted thief, again!" the Hunter cried and threw the shard to the ground.  "Then I am just going to have to save this one to eat later."  He moved away from the pit and knelt down by the trunk of the tree.  There, he began to fashion a covering for the pit with all four hands working in tandem.
Tyrin wasted no time in looking for a way out.  He'd made it this far; he knew there had to be an escape.  It only took a moment of feeling around in the loose dirt before he found more scraps of wood that had fallen into the pit with him.  It was easy enough to work into small stakes, which he stuffed into his belt
When he was ready, Tyrin jumped up to grab the spear that still stuck out from the wall.  He pulled himself up onto it and pulled two stakes from his belt.  With all his might, he drove them into the wet dirt near his midsection, followed by two more at head-height.  In this manner, he began to climb out of the pit.
The speed of the Hunter's hands was incredible.  Tyrin was only half-way up the pit wall when the Hunter started to drag the completed covering back over to where Morra hung, still and limp.  "I must check my other traps.  You will wait hhhhhere.  If they escaped, doubtless they will come for you.  Now scream, gelfling.  Bring them hhhhhahh... here."  He walked up to her and reached up to grab her leg.  Before his hand reached her, however, she kicked hard and struck him in the head.  The Hunter reeled back with a loud cry and grabbed at his face, dropping the covering on the ground.  Something had changed in the spirit.  Somehow, that unexpected blow had made him more tangible.  She could no longer see through him.  His furs no longer looked as fine.  In his hands he held a mask they hadn't seen before, which he kept tight against his unseen face.
Tyrin had no time.  He pulled himself up to his highest handholds and pushed off of them into a leap.  His fingers grasped at the edge of the pit but started to slip a little.  Drawing his legs up near his belly, Tyrin gave one final kick and jumped to the far side of the pit.  The cold ground hit him in the chest, leaving his arms free to help him clamber out of his temporary prison.  The Hunter was still hunched over, working at his mask.  Tyrin ran towards him, but his foot slipped on something small and round and he tumbled over.  When he looked down, he saw the shard of crystal laying at his feet.
The Hunter affixed the mask and turned towards his prey.  Once again, he was a full spirit.  Once again, he moved with a celerity that caught Tyrin by surprise.  The gelfling reached for his knife and let out a gasp when he realized that he had left it at the bottom of the pit.  Before he had a chance to reach for the shard, the powerful grip of the Hunter was on his leg, lifting him upside-down into the air.  The last of the stakes fell to the ground; he just managed to grab the gemshorn by its strap before it, too, fell out of reach.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ghost of the Crystal - Part 6

Every step in the dark was slow, laborious.  No one wanted to make a sound for fear of drawing the Hunter down on them.  Jag-Ben especially made sure his thick boots landed in Kleo's dainty footprints.  They weren't sure how much time had passed before the light of the campfire was but a distant memory.  The sound of fighting had also long since ceased.  Kleo stopped them short as a moonbeam reflected off a single thread along the ground.  She pointed it out to the others and let her gaze follow along the thread to a blackwood tree, where it was tied around a thin branch twice.
"A snap trap," Tyrin whispered.  "I use this kind to catch game sometimes."  He took out his knife and knelt down to cut off part of a thin vine nearby.  "I don't want Morra to stumble into this.  Give me a moment."  Jag-Ben huffed in annoyance.
"If ya do it wrong, ya might set it off," he said.  "Just hurry over and leave 'er be!"  He stepped one leg over it, letting Kleo help guide him.  His foot fell with a hard thump on the other side.
Snap!!  The sound startled all three of them, but the thread remained intact.  A shrill scream echoed through the forest.
"It's Morra!" Tyrin said.  He glanced up at the others for just a moment.  "I have to help her," was all he said before running off towards the source of the scream.
"Oh no!" Kleo said, darting after him.  In his haste to follow, Jag-Ben tripped over the thread.  It tugged on the thinnest part of the branch it had been tied to, snapping it off.  The tree reacted just like the one back In camp, recoiling the branch up and away from the ground in a single, swift motion.  A second thread had been tied to the branch and pulled on a net of thick vines that was buried nearby under a layer of dirt.  The net took Jag-Ben's feet out from under him and swept him up.  When it the trap was finished, Jag-Ben was left bouncing and swinging high off the ground.
Tyrin turned to look behind him.  "Kleo, you get him out.  I'll go help Morra!  Well find each other later."

"I promise I will not lose Jag-Ben to that monster, too," Kleo said with a mixture of pain and resolve in her voice, then ran back to Jag-Ben.  Her dark wings unfurled and she leaped gracefully to the net before pulling out her small knife.  With the first cut, the vines all writhed and contracted as if in pain, making Jag-Ben cry out briefly.  Kleo stopped cutting, then looked up at Tyrin.  "Go, now!  I'll get him out!"  With a nod, Tyrin turned on his heels and ran as fast as his legs could carry him.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I just got back from the second Ultreia INK: Write Night.  For those not in the know, it is an event for local writers to read some of their work.  Once again, I had a blast!!  Everyone was very good, even if some of them were more nervous than others.  I had the nerves until I actually got up there.  For the first time, I was not nervous while performing something!

I performed "Spin-out" and an edited version of "Haptic Malware."  I was concerned that it wouldn't get any laughs, which would mean I'd be up there with a humorous piece boring people.  But as soon as I mentioned "DragonCon" and "Brown Coats," I started to hear chuckles.  Soon people were outright laughing, and I had to pause at the line, "She probably wouldn't like him if she found out he had somehow acquired malware.  She'd like him even less if she knew which site he got it from."  There was just too much laughter!

So, to say I am pleased is an understatement.  I'm enthralled that it went so well!  And I am forging connections with other local writers and artists, and with the people who run this venue.  I am lucky enough to have been selected to read for both of their Write Nights and I hope I have something worthy for the third, whenever that is.

Some of you might be getting tired of the Dark Crystal story.  It's halfway through, about.  And remember, it is an entry into a contest; it does not wrap up everything into a neat little package.  I left strings dangling as an incentive to get the judge to want more.  Obviously that worked.
 But as soon as it is over, we will return to our regularly scheduled short stories!
In other news, I am currently editing my novel, which is fun but also challenging.  Some of the edits are substantial, but I feel necessary.  I'm trying to give myself a time limit - I want it done by the end of this year.  Let's see if I can make it.

However, after the 22nd, I will likely be taking a break from editing.  I was chosen to write some pieces for a group called Forward Movement, the company that makes those little booklets in church called "Day By Day."  They also are in charge of Lenten Madness.  I believe I have mentioned them before.  They looked at my blog and decided to ask me to write for their 2015 daily devotional!  So I will work hard to keep their deadline.  Who knew this blog would actually be useful!  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Genesis the Parable

I have a problem; I'll admit it.  From time to time, I get in debates over religion, often with atheists.  One of my best friends is an agnostic atheist (that is, he does not think there is a God, but is open to the possibility), and we would get in great conversations for hours on end.  But online it is a different beast.  The conversations are usually the same, with the same rebuttals and half-truths, the same misinformation, and the same lack of education on both sides of the argument.

Here I shall produce a defense and explanation of science.  Skip it if you like.

I am not anti-atheist.  Belief in God comes down to one thing and one thing only: faith.  Not blind faith, not faith in place of logic, just faith.  When people try to use science to argue against a religion, it never works.  Science is the pursuit of knowledge using deduction and induction by forming hypotheses to explain an observed phenomenon (or "law"), which is then verified by testing.  In other words, scientists see something, they ask why that thing is, and they test their hypothesis.  Others test it as well.  When several hypotheses all support the same principal and this principal has been tested thousands upon thousands of times (and passed each test), then it becomes a Theory (an accepted reason for certain observations - not to be confused with hypothesis).  Theories are about as close to the truth as us humans can discern; there is very little room for error.  When a theory is disproven by even one test (which is rare indeed), and they verify that this test was valid and not an error, then the theory has to be revised or altogether scrapped for a new Theory, one that still stands up to the hypotheses and tests that have been thrown at the old one.

Here I shall explain and defend religion.  Again, skip it if you like.

Religion is rather like science, but with a major different.  Instead of attempting to discern the truth by using observed phenomena, it attempts to discern the truth using what we believe has been revealed to us by God (or gods, as the case my be) or through philosophy.  This is why science will never explain, prove, or disprove it.  We don't simply make things up.  The Christian Church has been molded by a series of great thinkers which are referred to as the Doctors of the Church.  The idea of the Holy Spirit took decades to arrive at and was not made dogma in its present form until the Council of Lyons in 1274.  Other great thinkers are not usually recognized as being theologians.  Descartes, the father of the Cartesian Coordinate System, came up with "I think, therefore I am."  Most people don't know how this works or what its purpose is.  Imagine you are in The Matrix.  How can you know that anything around you is real and not simply a fabrication?  Well, there's only one thing you can be sure of - that you are doubting.  Something that doubts is something that thinks.  And there has to be some thing that is thinking, thus the concept of you exists because you doubt, because you think.  But Descartes went on.  He used some philosophical concepts invented by the ancient Greeks, that there are two ways in which things exist: in thought, and in reality.  They Greeks called these "essence" and "existence" - WHAT something is and THAT something is.  For instance, my computer has the essence of a MacBook Pro.  It is real, thus is exists.  The computer of my dreams is Hal 9000 without the evil streak, but Hal 9000 doesn't exist.  It only exists as a thought.  So what if there is something whose essence IS existence?  The mere thought of that being necessitates its existence, and through that existence all other things exist. I think I've got that right.  But that's what Descartes argued, and I'm sure there are valid counter arguments.  Even Charles Darwin argued that evolution does not negate the existence of God.  My point is that many, many great thinkers have shaped religious beliefs.

Defense of theism aside, the crux of this post is an online debate (alright, an argument) I found myself embroiled in some time ago.  Someone was telling me that, as a Christian, I have to believe everything in the Bible as literal truth and that I am not allowed to believe in science or evolution.  I do hope you can see the irony of an atheist telling someone what he is allowed to believe.  I attempted to explain that many parts in the Bible are historical accounts, that many are laws for a specific civilization, and that many are in fact parables.  And here I wished to defend the idea that the Genesis account is, quite possibly, a metaphor or parable.  This is entirely MY interpretation.

First off, Jesus often spoke in parables.  The account of Job is from an impossible point of view.  And the entire book of The Revelation to John is riddled with symbolism and metaphor.  So it is certainly not unheard of.  Let's take part of Genesis.  Say, Adam and Eve.  Did God really make everything in 7 days?  I am not the first to believe that "days" may be a symbol for "stages."  God made Eve from Adam's rib - which could easily be a symbol for equality.  Not from Adam's foot, not from his tooth, but from his side, close to his heart. Then Adam and Eve were tempted by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and ejected from paradise when they gave in.  It may be that this is part of what makes us human, and that this act is what defines them as the first humans.  The first human, whoever he or she was, made the choice to learn actively, to use that knowledge to better himself.  This is the temptation, this is what made the first human unable to return to the bliss of ignorance.  Suddenly there are responsibilities, the knowledge of death, the understanding of consequences.

So there you have it.  Surprisingly, even the Catholic Church has admitted that evolution is real, and shown how it does not, in fact, interfere with the possibility of God.  This admission also means that the Catholic Church agrees that not all the of the Bible is to be taken literally.  So what is your take?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ghost of the Crystal - Part 5

"It's him!  I can't let him take you, too!"  She was terrified as she looked around the campsite.  "We need to run."
Tyrin shook his head.  "We might get separated.  If it is the Hunter, he'll have traps ready," he whispered, pulling his knife out.
"But we canna' just stay here and wait for an attack," Jag-Ben said.
All of them were back to back now.  Even Prril had wrapped herself around Minn's shoulders and hissed at the darkness.  The breathing grew louder.  Kleo reached behind her and pulled at Jag-Ben's hairy arm.  He turned to look at her, but saw that she was pointing at the other side of the fire.
A tall, white figure slowly stepped into the light.  Most of his body was still hidden behind trees and shrubs, but as he drew nearer, some of the plants pulled their roots from the ground and scurried away from him.  His face was an indistinct, pale blur that focused around two large, black eyes and a broken line that was curled into a smile.  The more of him that was exposed to the light, the clearer they could see him.  His hunched body was easily twice as tall as even the tallest gelfling and clad in rich furs and pelts that draped in front of him.  Even from this distance, they could smell his putrid scent.  "Run, little ones," he said in a breathy voice.

They backed away from the specter.  Tyrin took Morra's hand and she gripped his firmly.  With a grunt, Jag-Ben stepped forward, putting himself between the Hunter and the others.
"Ye're not welcome here, spirit!" he commanded in the strongest voice he could muster.  "Begone!"
 The Hunter chortled.  A crossbow appeared from behind his furs and aimed for Jag-Ben.  With a melodic twang, an arrow took flight, but not from the Hunter.  Minn had quickly fashioned his instrument into a bow and was already preparing a second arrow as the first zipped in the air straight for their foe.  It struck the Hunter with a dull, wooden thwack.  However, his ethereal form had shifted to the side with grace and rapidity, so that what looked like a solid hit one moment was revealed to be a miss.  The arrow had only torn through his furs and was lodged in a thick tree.
A bemused smile cracked along the thin line of the Hunter's mouth.  "A challenge?!" he called and turned his crossbow towards Minn instead.  Prril hissed and, in a cloud of sand and light, disappeared from Minn's shoulders.  For a moment, she was little more than a beige streak along the ground before jumping onto the Hunter's crossbow and latching her fangs into his bony hand.  A long, metal bolt was released and buried itself into the ground harmlessly.
His shrill scream was the impetus the gelflings needed.  "Go, I will draw him off," Minn said with a quick jerk of his head.  He ran towards the fire that lay between them and their foe.  The Hunter grabbed Prril and tossed her away, but the distraction gave Minn enough time to pull off his crystalweave cloak and wave it in front of the fire.  The resulting light that passed through the myriad crystals blinded the Hunter.  A second crossbow pushed through his furs and launched another bolt, which struck the cloak and buried itself in the fire.
"Minn is right.  He is too strong ta fight," Jag-Ben said.  He backed away with his thick, green arms outspread, guiding the others into the darkness of the woods.
Kleo called out to Minn, but her pleas went unheeded.  As Minn fired off another ill-fated arrow, Jag-Ben pulled her away from the scene and into the underbrush.  Warm light was replaced by cold darkness.  They ran, tripping over roots and rocks.
"Wait," Tyrin said, putting a hand up.  "We're being too loud."  His voice dropped to a whisper.
"We need to gain some distance." Jag-Ben called over his shoulder.  He ducked his head as the others shushed him.
"We won't get anywhere if we fall into a trap or lead him to us," Tyrin whispered.
"Tyrin is right," Kleo said.  "We won't get anywhere if we stumble into a trap, and I don't want Minn to be risking himself for nothing."
"Then how do we the avoid traps?" Jag-Ben asked.
Tyrin nodded gravely.  "Kleo, you live in caves.  You can see in the dark, right?" he asked.
"Yes.  It is the gift of my clan."  She smiled and nodded, her dark hand taking Jag-Ben's.  "I will guide us," she said softly.  Tyrin held Jag-Ben's hand, but when he looked around for Morra, she was gone.
"Have you seen Morra?" he whispered.  Kleo only shook her head.
"Her people are good at hiding.  Perhaps it is best if we let 'er be," Jag-Ben said.

Another loud cry came form the campfire, but it was hard to tell who it came from.  "Let's go," Kleo whispered urgently and pulled them along in the dark.  "We should be just a few hours from the forest edge."

[ Link to Part 4 ] -- [ Link to Part 6 ]