He was getting close. Each time Zar focused into his second sight he could see the magic of the land was streaming uphill, toward what, he did not know. But what had started as small currents occasionally trickling in the same direction had turned into large currents rushing together.
Using his reins he nudged Swift slightly to the right, he was just riding the southern border and did not want to stray over it.
Many times Zar had heard the stories of the trees here, seeing them himself, it was easy to understand why men called this the Fairies’ domain. Trees this big certainly could only be possible through magic. But clear to his eyes only, the trees dripped magic from between their craggy bark. They were not grown by magic, but the source of it.
A voice peaked Zar’s ears. He reined in Swift and dismounted quietly. “Stay here,” he told his horse.
Swift immediately started foraging in the fallen leaves for fresh greenery.
Zar crept forward in a low crouch, up the rise of a hill toward the voices and, checking quickly in his second sight, the cumulation of the magic flow.
The voices were louder now, he could nearly make them out, Zar dropped to a knee behind one of the massive trees and listened.
“What if we both tried at the same time?” It was a man’s voice.
“It’s worth a try, but you’ll have to give me a minute, I’ve got to regain my strength.” It was a second man, he was nasally like he’d broken his nose.
Zar crept forward, needing to see what they were talking about before they attempted anything. The two men stood in a clearing between the massive trees. He changed his vision and he could see the magic streaming in thick cables toward... a window.
Like a sheet of glass held up by nothing, tinted blue like the magic feeding it, was a window through which Zar could see a large house. Though the house was unlike any he had ever seen, it was likely white, but the color was hard to tell. It was tall, with bushes and flowers along the front of it.
Zar ducked back behind his tree with wide eyes. This was a window into another world. And these men were trying to open it. Though Zar was certain if it could be opened, he held the key.
Somehow Zar’s eyes widened further, and everything snapped into place. The swordmaiden would come from the south. This is why the vision of his grandfather had sent him here.
Zar fingered the hilt of his father’s sword contemplating his next move. He would have to open that window. On the other side of it...Stars...
He fell back on his rump and rested his elbows on his knees. Everything just changed. His future suddenly became so clear. The next moments were pivotal.
“I’m ready.” The nasally voice said.
Zar jumped to his feet. He couldn’t let them harm the window in any way.
“Greetings friends,” he said and stepped out around the tree.
Both of the men whipped around to face him.
Zar tried to relax, becoming non-threatening, but they were clearly suspicious anyway.
“Who are you?” the first man said, he was the taller and thicker of the two, and a full dark beard coated his face.
“I’m just a traveler, I noticed the magic pull and decided to investigate,” he stayed where he was, willing the men to relax. He didn’t want to fight them, but if they instigated it he was ready.
“You a wielder then?” the nasally man asked. This one had deep red hair, and indeed his nose was very crooked.
Zar nodded once.
The two men looked at each other, then back to Zar.
“Scuzz off,” the bearded man said.
“What are you doing anyway?” Zar asked cordially, ignoring the animosity.
“Come on Geffin, he might help us, threes better than two.” broken nose said.
Geffin’s eyes narrowed at Zar, ”scuzz off,” he said again, more insistent.
Zar shrugged nonchalantly. “Do you know it’s a window, maybe even a door?”
“What do you know?” Geffin started toward him.
Zar put his hands up apologetically. “I can see magic.”
Geffin froze in his tracks, ”See?”
Zar nodded once, waiting for Geffin to make the first move. He was clearly on the verge of fighting.
“So you can see through a window of magic?” the redhead said, clearly smarter than he looked.
Again, Zar nodded.
“What do you see through it?” broken-nose asked.
With a hand gesture, Zar asked if he could step closer. Geffin nodded and stood aside, but his eyes were still narrow.
Standing just before the table-sized window Zar could see the house in greater detail, and the land surrounding it, and a girl was riding a horse, brown curly hair streamed behind her, a grin on her face. As he watched the horse’s galloping form blurred.
Zar swore his heart stopped. It washer.
“Well, what see ya?” the nasally man asked.
“I see a house,” Zar said. “It’s clearly not Kathardrean.”
“Just a house?” Geffin sounded disappointed.
“Maybe they’ve got riches?” the nasally man said. “Does it look like they’ve got riches?”
“I see no sign of riches,” Zar said, thinking quickly. By his own standards whoever lived in this house had to be wealthy beyond measure.
Zar was still watching the girl on her horse, she rode out of sight and he turned his back to the window, feeling rather protective of it.
“You see any people?” Geffin asked.
“No,” Zar lied coolly.
“We should go have a look then,” the redhead said. “I bet we can open it all together.”
Zar glanced over his shoulder at the window. He wasn’t about to go through it. Who knew what would happen if he did. But these men seemed rather eager. If he let them go first...
“What would you do if you did see someone?” he asked.
“Just talk,” Geffin said at once. “I don’t want to hurt anyone. I thought I’d be able to harness the power here, but this changes things, perhaps we can-,” he clamped his mouth shut, remembering that he was talking to a stranger.
“I think we should bring someone back here,” the redhead said.
Zar and Geffin both stared at him.
“What?” he asked defensively. “We bring someone back and we can find out everything we need to know about...about... the other side.”
“I can open this for you, if you swear to harm and take no one,” Zar said sternly.
“I swear,” Geffin said at once.
“I swear I won’t hurt anyone there,” the redhead said in a mocking tone.
Zar frowned and questioned himself. Would it really be better to open this window for these men or should he try himself? There was no telling what would happen when he tried to open it, he might not even be able to. It might kill anyone who stepped through.
But there would be no getting rid of these men, unless he killed them. It would likely be better to let them go about their business, while he went about his.
Zar raised his hand and gathered his magic. He could feel and see the magic cords flowing into the window synchronize with his own immediately. Without conscious thought Zar twisted the magic in the window, it blasted outward, washing over him and the two wielders standing with him.
“Stars, you’re mighty strong,” the redhead said.
Zar grunted in response, staring at the window he had just opened. It was different now, it was no longer a swirling blue surface, but a clear one, the colors on the other side true and pronounced. The house was indeed white.
“It’s already closing,” Zar said noticing the blue that blurred the edges was creeping toward the center. “I don’t think it will stay open long.”
“Now what?” Geffin asked, waving his hand toward the open window. The moment his hand made contact with the magic his entire body was hurled forward and he fell to his knees on the other side.
“Oi!” cried out the red-haired man, grabbing at Zar. Zar shoved him off and watched Geffiin panicking on the other side. The man stumbled backward and fell back through the window at Zar’s feet.
“It’s just like he said! There is a house and all! It’s huge!” he scrambled to his feet and took a step away from the window.
So it was safe.
“I wanna see!” the broken-nosed man said, holding up his hands like a blind man, he stumbled forward through the window.
Unlike Geffin, this man did not panic. He spun in a slow circle, looking around in wonderment.
Geffing, apparently having overcome his fear, took a step forward and through the doorway once more.
Zar watched passively while the two men gesticulated around, apparently having an argument he could not hear. A frown spread on Zar’s face as he watched.
The redhead led the way to the door of the house, he knocked on it rapidly and the pair waited in silence.
The door was opened by a small boy, he must’ve been around nine years old.
Zar tensed, finding his hand fisted in his hair. This wasn’t going well. The two men were talking to the boy, but he looked confused and afraid, the boy started to close the door when the redhead slammed the door open and grabbed the boy.
"Stars,” Zar breathed. The redhead threw the startled boy over his shoulder and started back toward Zar.
Zar took several steps away from the window and pulled his sword from its sheath.