Melissa’s dreams followed Ceres from world to world. She heard his promise to free the worlds from magicians, witches and sorcerers. She saw many of the oppressed join the Dark Warriors and fight at their side till their old masters were defeated or dead. She also saw that the governors appointed by Ceres exploited the people of the defeated worlds even worse than the old magician princes and kings.
In another tent on another world, Ceres sat on a divan of cushions. A dark-skinned beauty cuddled close to him. She wore a simple, white gown. Her long, dark brown curls were adorned with precious stones, and golden bracelets jingled on her arms when she took the wineglass from Ceres’ hand.
“You should conquer the home world of The One Power, darling. Lumitana is full of treasures. You could be Emperor of the Worlds of the One Power.”
Ceres leant back in the cushions. “I will be emperor of all the worlds. They will lie at my feet, even those who cannot be reached through the gates.”
“Traveling through the darkness between the worlds is dangerous.”
Ceres grabbed the chin of the beautiful woman. His strong fingers left nearly invisible bruises on her dark skin.
He did not even notice. “You will find me enough magicians to lead my Dark Warriors through the Fogs of Forgetting or …”
A tear trickled over the beautiful woman’s cheek. “There is a way you won’t need magicians for.” Her voice shook, but Ceres let go of her chin. ” High Priestess Durimeh has a magical stone. Nobody knows where it came from. With it, one can travel from world to world without using the gates.
Ceres smile made Melissa’s blood run cold.
“Did he attack the High Priestess?”
Lysande nodded. “He attacked Lumitana and laid waste to the capital. The emperor and his guard did not have a chance against his army. However, Durimeh fled severely injured to the last magical gate. Ceres followed her trail of blood. He knew she would not live much longer, and Durimeh knew it too. With her last breath, she threw herself and Korosadja into the darkness between the worlds and disappeared in the Fog of Forgetting. Ever since, the stone appeared in one world or the other. Each time, it brought a person that foiled Ceres’ plans.”
“With me, Korosadja must have been mistaken.” Melissa shifted in her saddle. “I wish we could have traveled with the dragon. He covered the whole distance in one night. It can’t be much further.”
“It’s about time,” Lysande said and rubbed her bottom. The horses had left the luxuriant green of the woods behind and climbed a narrow mountain path. Melissa hoped very much that it was the right path. Unfortunately, they had neither met unicorns in the woods nor talking trees they could have asked.
The hoof beats of the horses echoed from the opposite walls of the ravine. The sun slowly set behind the mountains. The higher they climbed, the more cave entrances they passed. None was big enough for a dragon. Melissa was about to give up and turn in for the night when she discovered the cave Leander and Reginald had taken her. Relieved, she dismounted. “We better leave the horses outside. They would only be afraid of the dragon.”
Lysande only nodded and fell from the saddle. Melissa who had made friends with the horses during the journey explained to them that they must wait for some time. She suggested to return to the woods and demonstrated the whistle with which she would call them.
“I don’t think they will understand you.” Lysande stretched and helped to unsaddle the two horses.
“It will work. After all, they are not stupid.” The animals nibbled at Melissa’s hair once again and trotted down the mountain. Tired, Melissa and Lysande carried their belongings into the cave. Melissa wondered whether she would see the little spider and the unicorn again. She looked around but the cave was empty. They had no reason to wait for me. She felt a pang of disappointment.
The cave hadn’t changed much since she had been there last time. Only one wall was charred as if the dragon had tried his fire on it. Why would he do that? No knight will ride this far through the Unicorn Wood to fight a dragon. Melissa built herself a bed with her coat as a blanket. “We’d better look around tomorrow. Considering the light, it doesn’t make a difference but I am dog-tired.”