PROLOGUE


            In the middle of the colorful forest by the river bank through a cloud of white mist, was the birth of a young boy.  There were only three to bear witness to such the occasion, and only one to take him home.

 

            “He has such a spirit this one,” said the copper complexioned woman holding the baby in her naked arms, her long dark hair disheveled for once. 

 

            “Yes.  Just like his Papa,” beamed the lean burly man dressed in a hemp loin cloth; who after touching both the woman’s and the baby’s face, quickly jumped to his feet to do a little jig.

 

            “His birth has been a long time coming,” said another woman as she smiled down at the happy family.  “Are you sure you don’t want to keep him with you?” she asked.

 

            “If only we could.  He will be safer with you.  He’ll be a happy boy, he has such spirit.” The first woman smiled.

 

            She slowly got up and placed her son in a wicker basket.  Within the folds of the blanket, she placed her favorite pearl handled hair brush and a lock of her black silky hair.  The man placed a twig from his favorite branch and a leather pouch with a long string.  Within the pouch, his and his son’s secret alone it was to share.

 

            The father and mother signed a note on a piece of paper made of leather saying:

 

            Dear Son,

 

                        Happy was the joyous day of your birth.  We will forever keep it with us.  Though we may not have you physically now, we have you always.  Love is you.  Take us with you wherever you go, in your heart and in your thoughts as we do you also.  Someday soon we will be reunited and when the time comes our son, you will solidify your place beside us.  Words cannot express the sorrow of letting you go, but you are in great, trusted, capable hands.  Love her as we love her.

 

                        See you soon our baby.

 

                                                Love, Momma & Papa

 

            They folded up the note, the mother kissed it, and they placed it in his basket also.  They kissed him on the forehead one at a time, blessed him, and bid him adieu.

 

            “Ma’Zelle, take care of our boy.  No one must know who he is or where he comes from,” said the mother.

 

            “His safety and well being is in your hands,” said the father.

 

            “I promise to raise him as my own and protect him as my own.  He will not want for anything but the two of you, and one day soon I’ll make that come true for him too,” said Ma’Zelle.

 

            “We know that you will,” they said in monotone unison.

 

            The three adults embraced as they said farewell.  Ma’Zelle bent over and picked up the basket with the baby, then waved a final goodbye to his parents.  She walked slowly out of the enchanted forest.  Who’s to say when she would be able to enjoy this place again; this land she called home.

 

            “Sweet Caroni,” she sighed.

 

            She made her way out of the forest and back to her home and she noticed her lights were on.  As she got closer to the lovely cottage surrounded by trees, bushes and bright colorful flowers; she could hear the voices of men and women chattering.  She smiled to herself.

 

            Opening her front door, she walked through the living room straight back to her living quarters and deposited the basket.  She cast a sleeper spell over the baby and covered him up with one of her widely knitted throws.  She walked back out of her room, gently closing the door behind her.

 

            She jumped as she turned around to walk to the kitchen flinging a foreign object across the room that was no object.

 

            “Ow Ma’Zelle.  Damn.  Did you have to do that?” said the short stout gentleman dressed in a black dashiki ornately embroidered in deep purple threading.

 

            “I’m sorry Imbar.  Don’t sneak behind me in my house then.”

 

            “Yes well, I saw you as you came in going straight back to your room with a peculiar package.  What’s in the basket?”  He asked as he got up and made his way back over to her, peeping over her shoulder at her bedroom door.

 

            “Nothing of your concern,” she said, turning him around and leading him to the kitchen.  “just a going away present for myself.”

 

            Before her room completely disappeared out of her sight, she cast a barrier spell on the door so no one, especially Imbar, could open it.  Eleven of her most talented trusted and good hearted witches and warlocks were gathered around her kitchen table; Radiis, Imbar, Newlie, Gadar, Tangora, Cyrus, Ketara, Relbyna, Brenton, Hargro, Primus, and Ma’Zelle made Twelve.

 

            In the center of her kitchen table laid a map of the earth.  There were twelve large, colorful dots on it that each one was assigned to.  They pulled their assignments anonymously so no one else knew where the other was going.  On each assignment were directions to a power source for their new home.  They all were assigned to make a new realm; a new world of sorts to where they guide and assist other beings gifted as themselves, as well as in other ways.

 

            At the table there was only one that new the exact location of all the power sources.  Her job was to give the map to the leader of the colony in Caroni, only the map.  Her memories of where the power sources were as well as everyone’s knowledge of what they’d seen on the map was to be erased that eve.  Newlie passed out twelve small cups with a smoking concoction, very thick, very sweet and silver.  It was to erase the memories they all shared of the twelve realms.  All they had after that was a parchment of paper with written direction addressed to them alone, not to be shared with anyone of where they were going, where they were leaving, and what they were going to do.

 

            Prior to drinking the concoction, Ma’Zelle had in hand a memory stone.  She passed her memories to the stone and left it in her pocket.  There was someone else who was being sneaky at the table.  They did not use a memory stone, but prior to drinking as well, they slipped a bark wrapped in a little purple leaf into their mouth with a small cough.  The bark with the leaf was used to weaken the strength of the memory brew and to bring the memories back over time.  Why was it done?  They don’t even know, but they felt it might be information they could use later on.

 

            “Everyone, we have one bit of business to do before we leave Caroni.  It will take all of us and we must all be ready to leave tonight.”

 

            “Another mystery, ay Ma?” asked Cyrus.

 

            “Yes, another mystery,” chuckled Ma’Zelle, “and we have to leave tonight for good.”

 

            “It’s so soon,” sighed Cyrus.

 

            “I know I’m not ready to go yet,” said Gadar.

 

            “ Yes, but we must go.  So it has been told.” Said Brenton

 

            “I think it’s exciting! “ Beamed Tangora

 

            “Me too; our own new world.” mooned Imbar.

 

            “That’s all well and good, but no more Caroni.  Are you willing to give that up?” asked Ketara

 

            “My realm will be just like Caroni.  I will always have it with me.”

 

            "You shouldn’t get so attached to things in this always changing world,” replied Imbar

 

            “We should go now and get our affairs in order,” said Radiis rising from the table.

 

            “Before you go everyone,” Ma’Zelle said, also rising, “meet me at the river’s edge in the enchanted forest when the moon is highest in the sky.”

 

            More chairs slid back from the table as more people rose.

 

            “We don’t have much time, so we best be on our way,” said Ketara.

 

            “Soon and very soon,” said Primus to Ma’Zelle as he clasped her on the shoulder before walking down the corridor to the front door.

 

            “We didn’t even get to eat,” whined Imbar

 

            They all shared a laugh as they continued to exit, making way to their own destinations.  Ma’Zelle too had someplace to go.  Her destination was James, the leader of Caroni.  She rolled up the map and placed a seal on it so that it will only be opened when necessary.  Wanting to pack up so many things in her house, she decided to take the whole thing.  After feeding the baby, she cast him under another spell to keep him content and still during their journeys.  She also took the memory stone out of her pocket.  While forgetting its significance she put the stone in the baby’s pouch his father had placed in his basket.

 

            Stepping out to the front of her house, she placed her hands in the air as a music conductor would.  She directed the space in front of her shrinking her home and its contents to a miniature version of itself.  She walked over to the shrunken house and picked it up placing it in an ornately carved silver box that was then placed in her bag next to the map.

 

            James met Ma’Zelle at the entrance to the cave behind the waterfall called ‘God’s Mouth.

 

            “I got your message and came alone.”

 

            “You swear you have told no one, not even your brother,” Ma’Zelle inquired looking around.

 

            “You swear?  What is the meaning of this really?”

 

            “It is time for us to go.  We have things to do in different locations, but before we go, I have to give you something.”

 

            “What is it?”

 

            “Here but don’t open it until the day come that you need it;” she said taking the map out of her bag and handing it to him.

 

            “How will I know? When it’s time I mean?”

 

            “It has been said there will come a time when the places where we are going will need this map during a time of civil unrest.  It is coming James.  I need you to be prepared, but don’t tell anyone, especially about this map.  You need to guard it with your life.”

 

            “I trust your words and I hear you, though I do not understand.  I will guard this map and be as prepared as I can, but I will need to tell people of my preparations so they will know why they do what they do.”

 

            “If you wish, but keep your circle small. The less to know the better.  No one must be told of the map James, remember that.  I must go.  I hope to see you again one day my friend,” said Ma’Zelle reaching out a hand to cup James’ shoulder. 

 

             “Likewise Ma’Zelle. I can only hope for Caroni to stay peaceful as it is today.”

 

             “Listen for the still peace James.  The quiet.  Once all is calm enough to hear a pin drop, the flood gates are going to open and those nearest and dearest to you may be in the flood.”

 

             “There’s always a lot to digest when I meet with you. Safe journeys my friend.”

 

             “Thank you James.  Goodbye for now,” she said then vanished as she floated around the waterfall.

James just looked at the space where she was standing then back at the map.

 

             “For Caroni’s sake Ma’Zelle, I hope this one time you’re wrong,” he said somberly as he walked back to his home stashing the map in his ruby silken robe embroidered with gold threading and brilliant gems.

Ma’Zelle wasn’t the first to arrive at the river’s bank, nor was she the last.

 

             “Alright Ma’Zelle, we’re all here," said Primus as the final member of their party arrived.

 

             “Yes, thank you all for doing this.  There is no one else who can," said Ma'Zelle

 

             “Where are we going?” asked Relbyna.

 

             “There is a neighboring island, enchanted in secrecy a few miles out to sea.  We need to go there tonight and refortify the islands spells, making it stronger against the dark forces.  GiGi is waiting for us there.”

 

             There was a ripple of whispering running through the crowd.

 

             “GiGi?” asked Brenton.

 

             “I thought she was dead,” said Gadar

 

             “What happened to her?” asked Hargro.

 

             “Yes, how did she end up there?” asked Imbar.

 

             “She was blown over there,” Ma’Zelle chuckled

 

             “Damn it Ma’Zelle, be serious,” said Cyrus.

 

             “I am, and she was.  Do you remember a few years past there was a wild, vicious storm with great winds that was not too far from here?”

 

They shook their heads in agreement.

 

            “Well GiGi was flying back home that same night from one of her usual outings.  She thought she could handle the winds, but they handled her instead and blew her safely to the island where we are going tonight.”

 

           “That is funny. Amazing, but funny,” said Imbar.

 

          “How did you find out about it?” asked Radiis.

 

          “She sent me a message.  The messengers know the way.  They are one of the few that know the way.

 

          “How are we getting over there?  I don’t see any boats,” inquired Cyrus.

 

         “That’s because we’re not taking boats.”

 

         “Well, what are we talking?” asked Gadar.

 

         “Those,” said Ma’Zelle, pointing to the water’s edge at twelve large green lily pads with twelve large white lotus flowers trimmed in purple at the guiding head.

 

         “What about our stuff?” screeched Tangora.

 

         “I suggest shrinking them, or leave them behind.  The choice is yours,” said Ma’Zelle patting her single bag.

 

         “I don’t know if I can do all of this Ma’Zelle,” said Newlie sweeping her hand to the mountain of leather trunks behind her.

 

         “Wow Newlie!  Did you put the whole East Village in your luggage?” laughed Cyrus.

 

         “I think she took the west side too,” laughed Hargro.

 

         “No, I did not.  I didn’t know what to bring, so I brought a little of everything,” replied Newlie.

 

         “Well shrink that pile and stick it in your hand bag,” said Ma’Zelle.

 

         “Everyone consolidate.  These trunks and luggage pieces are not going to fit on these pads.  Levitate them above you, drag them along in the water below you, or stick them in a single bag or your pocket,” said Radiis.

 

         There were whirls of colorful dust fragments as witch after witch and warlock after warlock stood in front of their piles and conducted the space in front of them; shrinking the contents to doll house size pieces.

 

         After collecting their belongings, they each stepped on a lily pad.  With Ma’Zelle taking the point, flanked by Radiis and Ketara, everyone else fell in behind.

 

         “Off to Cacara,” said Ma’Zelle tapping her foot on the pad.

 

         “Off to Cacara,” the others repeated following her lead.

 

         And they floated off across the top of the water standing on their lily pads into the smoky horizon with only the moon lighting their way.

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