“I will try it now.” She took Melissa’s hand and concentrated on the beach with the roc colony.
This time, Djarret entered the world before the magician. Again, he stood on a beach. He narrowed his eyes because the sun made the sand sparkle like countless diamonds. Cautiously, he looked around. The spacious beach was enclosed by a steep, rugged cliff. Although it was deserted, Djarret felt watched. He shook the oppressive feeling and wondered where the exit from cliff could be. He searched the rock with his eyes.
A strange bird pounced on him screeching. Instinctively, he pulled his sword out and went for the gigantic claws. The giant bird climbed, turned and pounced again. Djarret fought for dear life. For the first time since he was a child, he was afraid. Sweat ran over his back, and his knees trembled. The bird rushed him again and again.
Where are my men? A second bird joined the first. On a steep cliff in the distance, Djarret could see a whole colony with more and more birds turning toward him.
Sky-blue wings knocked the sword out of his hand, and hard claws dug into his left shoulder. He screamed with pain and anger. Horrified, he felt himself lifted when the bird beat its wings to gain height. A sword hissed past him, missed his ear by inches and connected with the bird’s toe. The claw let the go of Djarret’s shoulder, and he fell to the ground.
The bird turned away, screaming with pain. Blood dripped from a wound on his foot. With ear-piercing cries the remaining birds attacked Djarret and his men. They bounced off of an invisible barrier.
Only now, Djarret noticed that he was surrounded by black leather and metal. His warriors had taken him into their midst. The magician sat in the sand with a pale face and with his arms lifted toward the sky. Djarret relaxed. His second in command knelt next to him and pulled material from the bag on his belt. He cleaned and dressed the wound as fast as possible.
“Thank you, Kugarr.” Djarret knew that a kind word at the right time increased the loyalty of his men.
“We have to go.” The magician panted. “I can’t hold the protection for much longer.”
“Over there seems to be an exit.” Kugarr pointed to footprints that lead up a sandy hill but not down.
Djarret let two of his warriors help him. Two more carried the magician on their shoulders. The group trudged up the sandy slope and squeezed through a narrow gap in the rock. Relieved, Djarret noticed that the birds couldn’t follow them because the rocks leant protectively over the narrow path. Djarret ordered the magician to cure his injured shoulder. Soon, the wound had healed and hurt only a little. Djarret jumped up and ordered, “In line!” He did not worry about the ashen face of his magician.
Proudly, he looked as the fifty men in black leather regrouped. His gaze fell on footprints that led along the ravine. To him, they looked small and female. We are on the right way. He ordered his men to march.
Melissa watched Djarret and his warriors leave.
“Why are they following me?” She turned to Lysande and was surprised at how horrified the witch looked.
“I have been mistaken. Mother of All Magical Worlds! He is the Black Shadow.” Crying, Lysande sank to her knees and buried her face in her hands. “I did everything wrong.”
Melissa could hardly understand her because Lysande shook with hysterical crying. She tried to calm the witch but didn’t get through. Finally, she slapped her.
Lysande stopped crying and stared at Melissa. “You are right to hit me, Milady. You risked your life to save my nephew, and I gave you nothing but trouble.”
Melissa blushed. “Don’t say that. I found friends, and that is more than I had at home. Now, get up and take us away from here.” She pulled the witch to her feet, and finally, Lysande seemed to notice that they were still standing on the beach. Melissa took her hand. “I’ve been here long enough”, she said. “Take us back to the castle”.