Upashna tilts her wings to a forty-five degree angle and she and The Philosopher glide gently down to a grassy site on the outskirts of the Great Hall. She telepathically tells The Philosopher to climb down her left wing. He grabs their packs along with their staves and does as instructed. Then he steps away a few meters and once again experiences Upashna’s transformation only this time from a large fearless dragon into a slim beautiful, fearless woman.
Upashna, the Princess of Swansea, rushes over to The Philosopher, wraps her arms around his neck and for the first time they kiss. The kiss is sweet and tender but all too soon interrupted by approaching footsteps.
“Father, Mother. I am so glad to see you both,” says Upashna as she rushes over to greet her parents. While the three of them embrace, The Philosopher watches from a distance. He likes to observe before direct contact. This is his nature. He quickly recognizes the Wizard of Swansea from their previous encounter although the wizard appears more youthful and handsome than the man he rescued outside the library in South Port. Upashna’s mother, the Princess of Morocco, is a beautiful older vision of Upashna. She has the same colorful eyes which cause The Philosopher to wonder if she is also a dragon. Her skin is golden like Upashna’s but unlike Upashna she has all white silky hair.
They are accompanied by three other men who also appear to be wizards. All are dressed in light grey hooded robes which cover their bodies from head to toe and each carries a wooden staff similar to the ones carried by The Philosopher and Upashna. The Philosopher notices six black cats which appear to follow the wizards whenever they move. One of the cats sit perfectly still which is very much unlike a cat and does not remove its gaze from Upashna. All the cats are black except for a small white spot where their third eye would be and all appear to be from the same litter. Upashna, now released from the embrace of her parents moves toward the solitary cat.
“Hello Eno. O’ how I missed you. Have you been a good girl in my absence?” Upashna picks up the cat and rubs its face next to her own. The cat purrs with obvious delight. Upashna then turns toward The Philosopher and motions for him to join the group. He places their packs on the soft grass and gently walks toward the assembled party. The Philosopher kneels and first greets Upashna’s mother.
“Wizard Elza, Princess of Morocco, I am at your service,” says The Philosopher.
Elza smiles. “My kind man. We have no titles here but I am grateful for your show of respect. It is I who should kneel before you for you have escorted my daughter Upashna through the three labyrinths, along the Other Wind and home to the Other Realm. It is I who am at your service Sir. We watched from the Observatory how your quick action saved our daughter and you from the gravitational pull of the vortex. I am deeply and forever beholden. Please rise.”
The Philosopher stood and Elza placed a kiss upon his cheek. “Thank you my kind man.” She repeats again.
The Philosopher turned to the Wizard of Swansea and the three other wizards who were in attendance. They all nodded their acknowledgement and acceptance as the Wizard of Swansea extended his hand to the Philosopher.
“My dear man. For reasons I will explain later I did not stop to thank you for your intervention on my behalf in front of the library some years back and now I find myself doubly indebted to you for the safe conduct of our daughter Upashna back home. I want you to know you were not randomly selected for this task. I made the right choice in sending the tome to your attention.”
“Forgive me sir,” says The Philosopher. “I offered your tome to the gatekeeper Free in exchange for passage. I know the text was important but I thought I heard your voice telling me to give up the tome. I so wanted to… I am sorry Sir. I do not remember why I wanted the text.”
“It was not my voice you heard dear man. My powers only permitted me to communicate with Upashna, but still there is no reason to fret. The tome I sent you was a prop which served to gain your interest and will keep Free busy reading for some time to come. The Sacred Text of Truth remains safe in the library here in the Other Realm. I will share its content with you if you are still interested.”
“Thank you but that will not be necessary as I no longer remember why I was interested in the tome, but I appreciate your offer,” replies The Philosopher. The Philosopher has no interest in the tome any longer because he surrendered his desire for truth at the second gate of the labyrinths.
“Baldwin,” calls Elza. “Upashna and her guest have completed a long journey. We know you both have many questions but please rest first. Our scientists tell us we have until the full moon to complete the tasks at hand. So we have more time than we initially thought. Please join us for dinner this evening and we will attempt to answer all of your questions at that time, but rest first.”
“Thank you mother,” says Upashna. “I will have Eno show our guest to his quarters and escort him to the dinning chamber this evening. We will both rest until then. I am so glad to be home again.”
Upashna turns toward The Philosopher. “All is well my dear philosopher. We will meet again at dinner. I know my parents want to know more about our journey and they have much to share with us about the darkening of the sun. Please go with Eno. She is my familiar and will stay with you through the afternoon until dinner. You are safe here my philosopher. Thank you once again for sharing this journey with me. I love you.” Upashna places a soft kiss upon the lips of The Philosopher. Then turns to her mother. “Mother may I have a word with you in private please.”
First Elza speaks to Baldwin and the other wizards. “Gentlemen. Please join me in the Council Room at 4:00 this afternoon. Now that we have more time perhaps we should change our strategy for relighting the sun.”
“Yes Elza,” replies Baldwin speaking for all those present. “We will be there at 4:00.” He turns to the other three wizards and they continue their discussion.
“Upashna we can talk privately while we walk to your chambers,” says Elza as the two women leave the group followed by Elza’s familiar. Upashna gives one more glance of reassurance to the Philosopher before leaving with her mother.
The Philosopher has many questions but has learned over the years to be patient for the answers. He walks over to Eno. “Well little buddy. I guess it’s you and me. Lead the way.”
“It will be my pleasure Sir. Please follow me,” says Eno telepathically.
“Wait a minute,” says the startled philosopher. “You are speaking to me telepathically as Upashna did when she was a dragon.”
“Yes sir. As Upashna’s familiar, I can speak telepathically with her and because she asked me to be of service to you I can also speak telepathically with you for as long as I am in your service.”
“I have so much to learn about this world and its customs,” The Philosopher says to himself and he picks up his pack and staff from the grass lawn and follows Eno to his chambers.
“Excuse me sir,” calls one of the three wizards in conversation with Baldwin. “Might I ask? How did you acquire your staff?”
“O’ it was left at the front door of my grandmother’s house on my twelfth birthday,” replies The Philosopher as he hurries to catch up with Eno. Cats walk much faster than humans.
Mars, the oldest of the wizards in the group, says to the others, “Did you notice he has his father’s eyes?”