Apdnarg picked me and Nimajneb up and held us safely in his hand as Amdnarg repeated, “You must be very afraid.”
“Where will we go? Where are you taking us?” I asked as Apdnarg and Amdnarg began striding at a rapid pace through the trees.
“We will journey to the land where our people, the Stnerapdnarg, live in peace with all the animals of creation.”
“Did you hear that, Nimajneb?”
He barked once.
As we began moving faster, I noticed Apdnarg’s eyes glowing to light our way through the forest of Eromitlab. Again I asked the name of our destination.
Amdnarg answered, “Have you never heard of Proht? It is a mighty, walled city in the land of Dnaleri.”
“We have never heard of any cities beyond the place our journey began. We are from the village of Amlaopolis in the valley of Minkundy.” I watched as Amdnarg removed the magical leaf from her leg. Her leg was completely healed.
“Do the Noil-Rotags or the Elgaes ever attack Proht?” I asked.
“No, Eniarrol Nosilla,” Apdnarg replied. “The walls are too high for Nibor the Elgae to fly over and too strong for even the mightiest of the Noil-Rotags to break through. They are built of leets and senots. Not even weapons made from nori or repap can damage them.”
“How long will it take us to reach Proht?”
“In two days we will reach the waters of Citnalta. If we can make it across, we should be safe.”
“What is there to prevent us from crossing safely?”
Apdnarg and Amdnarg looked at each other. Their eyes emitted a red glow.
“Please, tell me. I am not afraid to face any foe.”
“We might be faced with the most cunning creature known to all the Stnerapdnarg.”
I looked at Nimajneb. He barked meekly.
“Who is it?”
“He is known by the name Esuomyekcim. He and his soldiers Teert and Yehsuoh guard the banks of the Citnalta.”
“I will defeat them the way I defeated the Noil-Rotag.” I took my knife from its animal skin sheath. “I will slay Esuomyekcim and all of his soldiers.”
“No, your weapons will not work against Esuomyekcim. You must use your knowledge and cunning to defeat him.”
For two days we traveled swiftly through the forest of Eromitlab. We neither slept nor partook of any nourishment but somehow we felt energized by the flowers which hummed and partially lighted our way.
On the morning of the third day we broke through the forest. Both the sun and the red moon shone brightly and I had to cover my eyes.
“Nimajneb, are you okay?”
He answered with a wag of his tale.
Apdnarg set us on the ground and we walked forward to the edge of a cliff higher than any mountains in the entire Zartanoahan Empire. Far below I could see the waters of Citnalta pounding against the rocks. I looked ahead and could see nothing but the vast emptiness of Citnalta.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“These are the cliffs of Revod.”
“Where do we go from here?” I asked drawing my knife. “And where are Esuomyekcim and his soldiers?”
“They will face us when we least expect it,” Amdnarg answered.
“Now we must cross Citnalta,” Apdnarg said as his eyes began to glow.
“How? Where?” I asked. “There is no bridge. There is no way across and nothing to cross over to. I see nothing but an ocean.”
“You will not see until you close your eyes and use your faith,” Amdnarg whispered.
The ground began to shake and the sky began to darken.
“Esuomyekcim is summoning the Noil-Rotags. We have no time to lose. We must cross now and you, Eniarrol Nosilla, must lead the way.”
The sound I heard coming from all around us frightened me more than anything in my life.
“Why must I lead the way? I have never been to Proht in the land of Dnaleri.”
“It is the way of our people,” Amdnarg said. “We must go now!”
Suddenly, the sky was filled with Elgaes and I saw hundreds of Noil-Rotags break through the edge of the forest of Eromitlab.
“If you want to live, you must take a step of faith,” Apdnarg said. He picked up Amdnarg and Nimajneb and stood behind me.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and stepped off the cliff of Revod.