Alain Harper and his companions arrive as Keely the Cougar’s guests and face off against Aven the Eagle, while Nicholas finds and masters the Genesis Ring.

On the Sea we run and ride, Realms and dreams that cannot hide. She fell broken on her side, sailing ‘gainst the Dragon Tide…

******

A flash of green yellow-light exploded into the dense jungle and Amethyst Bellatrix stumbled forward out of it. Slate Rockmire, Amethyst’s husband, followed, and after them Alain Harper and his wife the former Enoshi Princess Ashrey Chellenifer, renamed Autumn Harvest Selene when she abdicated her throne and became a Lightchild.

Autumn groaned softly. Not the kind of world either Alain or I like very much, this one. The humidity alone’s a killer, and the average temperature’s probably higher than usual for a terrestrial world.

Hilo Whitemoon, Alain’s other chief lieutenant besides Slate, wasn’t with them. The party had returned home from Midnight City only to learn that Nicholas Blackthorn hadn’t returned to the Covenant Realm. Alain decided to chase down the Disciple of Chaos and changed his team dynamics to suit the mission. Autumn was glad she would be included this time; she wanted to be near him.

“Whoa, easy there, Cat,” Slate said as he helped Amethyst up from the jungle floor.

“Well, that doesn’t usually happen. We should’ve arrived right next to Blackthorn.”

“Are you sure you followed his ring correctly?” Autumn asked.

“Of course I did. You know I can’t do otherwise given my powers, unless something pretty powerful rebuffs them. Something must have, because we’re miles off-target. We should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Nicholas now.”

“If you’d let me try the Locus’ Ring,” Alain said mildly, “then we almost certainly would be.”

“You’ve just learned how to use that part of its power, Commodore, with all due respect…”

“Your point being…?” Alain couldn’t help but laugh a bit at Amethyst’s discomfiture.

“You did insist, Cat,” Slate added with a cheerful smirk.

“So sue me when we get home. Meanwhile, would we have detected the counter-spell if we hadn’t come here my way?”

“Probably not,” Alain admitted.

“Could Edwin be responsible?” Autumn asked.

“No, I don’t detect him here at all.”

“So only Old Nick is here.” Slate smirked. “All by himself.” The Disciple of Strength punched a fist into his own palm.

“So we may have a unique opportunity, but I still want to proceed with caution.” Alain stated as he tried to get his bearings. “Raphael, is it my imagination, or is both the humidity and the air pressure very high here?”

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