1 Chapter one

Ambrias Kingdom of the Elven territories; Queen Melodious sits at her desk going through paper work. Kanda, a spellcaster and member of her counsel leans over providing aid. She updates her on events from her recent travels with her ward, Karma. Lounging on a nearby settee Karma's eyes roam the ceiling. Her gaze lands upon a globe inspiring a fun idea.

Sneaking over to the globe and double checking the two are occupied takes out her runic stones. Taking in a long breath and drags out an exhale feels energy course from her heart and her mind. Concentrated to her hands generates magenta and green streams of energies; charging the stones she uses her magic to make them float around the sphere while simultaneously making it spin.

"Karma." Stones clatter and the globe slows to a screeching halt.

"Karma," Reprimands her mentor, "do not play with your magic that way, it is not a toy."

"Yes ma'am." She replies conjuring her stones back into her bag. "I couldn't help it I'm bored."

"Well find something else to do then. Review your elemental spells or something."

"Um, if I may make a suggestion," said Melodious "If you would like something to do you could feed the birds. I have a tin on the sill."

"Yes, I mean thank you your majesty." She went over and laid seeds out. Minutes later several bird species came up. Entertained by them Kanda and Melodious resume their discussion.

Kanda continues her earlier points of notes. "Now, as for the gala, it is our turn this year and could be a good way to gain some more rapport among other kingdoms. It will be the first during your reign so in a way it is like a bridge for us to meet new diplomats."

"I agree," says Melodious, her pen scrawls over parchment. "and hopeful building a friendship with the Ka'Lunic republic. Since Lord Makune is a distant relative of the Marn'lone family which were once allies of ours. You know before the incident." The last part said as she glances at an old picture. Of a younger her with fancy gala dress. Sat next to her was a princess her age that was the from the original goblin kingdom of Ka'lunaic taken over by the Amviar and Or'lande clans years ago. Kanda places a hand on her shoulder. "It was tragic what happened."

"I sometimes feel like I could have done more."

"Do not put that on yourself again, there was nothing that could have been done."

Placing the picture back Melodious solemnly reminces. "But, its hard not to feel like we should have suspected something. The turbulence with the Marn'lone and the Or'Laundes was always preverlent."

***

"Your majesty," a small voice spoke, an apprentice messenger, Julia stands in the doorway. "I have a message from Jino."

"Yes, please come in."

"He only says he needs you in the crystal room right away."

Jino, Melodious' friend and assistant paces around a giant orb which glows green and blue. Periodically he hiccups triggered by stress. Nervously he combs his fingers through his hair. It was minutes ago that he saw a soft glow as he passed by and prayed it wasn't what he thought it was, but it was.

'Why? Why now after all of these years?' He hiccups again just when he hears footsteps approach. Jino turn to see Melodious, Kanda, and Karma.

"Jino," asks his friend, an expression of disbelief, "am I seeing what I think I'm seeing?"

"Yes, after so long one decides to open."

"Can you tell where?"

"Afraid I do not possess that ability."

"Karma does; she excels well in divination arts."

Stepping up to the orb extends her arm; hands on either side of her. Breathing deeply Karma incites, "As I focus my mind's eye let me expand beyond my physical sight. Allow me far sight to where this portal be. Let me see where this portal connects our old home, earth."

As she repeats the lines with clear intent the magic once again swirls around her arms and within the orb. The lights of the orb mixes with her magic and up her arms. Her vision changes from the white light of the orb's center to the forests of Ambien, then over fields, hills, and other kingdoms. All those sights lead to the Willow's grove a small glen of willow trees that are a common perch for a black bird slight bigger than a raven, red eyes, and long black tail feathers. A large, circular portal with a soft blue light opens. Most fly away, but one flies into it.

"Oh, my...this is bad."

"What is it?"

"Um, well, a portal opened," Karma pauses to find the best wording, "It is closed though" She looks at each person in turn. All leaning forward, eager to hear her news. All is silent until Jino hiccups once more. She deeply breathes in and on the exhale says, "but not before a red-eyed bird flew into it."

Hic, "What, oh no that is worse." Cup.

"Your trusty assistant has worried himself into hiccups again."

"Jino," Melodious said, "I need you to inform the rest of the counsel of an emergency meeting today by twelve bells." -Hic- "Yes ma'am." After he leaves she turns her attention to the two spell casters. "Would you two please have someone watch this; I would like updates whenever a new one opens if one does. If you could find someone to provide more information about them that would be helpful."

They respond in unison. "Yes your majesty."

"One more thing, until further notice we might not need to tell anyone else right now unless you find one."

"Understood."

***

Jino does a fast walk through winding corridors. He knows which Court Agent to head to first. After another hiccup he knocks on the door of his apartment. An elder elf answers the call; He stood tall and strong, but his fine lines reveal a long life and his grey eyes reflect years of learning. The elf wore a smock over plain clothes and goggles on his forehead. His thin lips widen to a grin as he greets the Queen's assistant.

"Mornin lad, what brings you by so early?" He beckons him inside, softly closing the door. The man's eyes roam his visitor frowning he asks, "Jino what is the matter? Come, Sit, have some tea. I just brewed a pot of furgular root tea." He motions to the group of chairs in the center. Jino grimace at the smell of the bitter tea which sits before him. "Come now Jino, not the face today. I know it is not your favorite but Furgular root has relaxing properties." He sits across from him taking a generous sip of his tea.

Jino declines, "I am sorry Felix but I have no time for tea today. I have a message for you."

"A message huh, must be important for you to be as shaky as you are; surprised your hiccups are in check." On cue a loud -HICCUP- With a chuckle he nudges the tea cup forward, "Drink, the news can wait a bit." Jino resigns and begins to sip his bitter tea. Over his cup he spies Felix pouring a third cup. In the corner of his eye he sees a portal appear on the third chair. A figure climbs through it. A man whose coloring is mostly red and black perches on the sofa. His long duo-colored hair curtains his face. The newcomer's origins and abilities are a mystery. They know for sure he is not of Avaboya origin. His name is Ben, given by Felix who is like a father to him and to Felix a son. He slightly tilts his head towards Jino and nods, Jino nods in turn. Gingerly Ben picks up the cup with his hands cradling the tea cup. His long nails softly clinks the porcelain.

One tea cup later Felix and Ben stares at Jino, his head lolled back, eyes glaze over, and a calm over his face. Even his hiccups quiet.

"Well Ben," Felix goes around to nudge their guest, "Seems like Jino finally calmed down some. Hmm, I suppose I may have made the tea too strong." He nudges Jino more. "Lad, snap out of it." He said pulling a vial out of an inner pocket. Briefly it is passed under his nostrils. Jino perks up and wrinkles his nose.

Felix returns to his seat, "Now is time for the news." Ben leans towards Jino eager to hear more.

"Yes well Melodious sent me to relay a message that there will be an emergency meeting starting at the twelfth bell of the twelfth hour today. The meeting concerns that the event of a portal opening resulting in a red-eyed bird flying through and potentially exposing us. She plans to converge about possible solutions for this situation." Jino look between the two, silence for a few beats.

Felix gives a smile, "Jino, it may look like it now, but this could lead to a good beginning. This could be a good opportunity to introduce a new invention."

"Good, we will be exposed."

"I believe what done is done," He moves to stand up. "Come lad, be off now, we have much to prepare in the few hours we have."

***

Out in the Southern court a robust man, Brunk, sets up targets for new guardian recruits. Joining in training sessions will be star pupils; Anabel, Gabriel, and Matrinus. They are Senior apprentices and nick named Queen's Defender Trio. All of the trainees are family to him and he couldn't be prouder of their progress. Today they would be tutoring several new recruits in knife throwing. Which soon enter the court yard and stand in line. Brunk instructs them about the uses and advantage of knife throwing in fights. The trio demonstrates their skills. He paces up and down the line as he speaks. Just beyond his students he spies Jino walking over to him. His first thoughts about seeing him,

-What is he doing out here? - Brunk doesn't pay mind at the moment. As Jino paces at the edge of the court Brunk finishes off his lesson. Instructing the Seniors to take over training and excusing himself. His long strides reach the fidgeting Senior Messenger who looks up at the captain of the Guards towering over him.

"What brings you out here?" He inquiries. Jino collects himself for the moment.

"A message direct from the Queen." Jino look past to spy the students, looking back up at him relays the message. Brunk's eyes widening of every word.

"Ah, a challenging predicament. I cannot wait for the meeting. Is that all Jino?"

"Yes." At that Brunk turns and heads back to his class. Jino runs back inside. Fast walking through halls to complete his mission he nearly collides with Kanda and Karma. They have their traveling robes on and satchels hung over their shoulders. His eyes shift to each of them. His spectacles nearly slipping when jostled by the near collision; Jino slips them up.

His eyebrows furrow question, "Wha-What, why are you dressed for departure. Aren't you..." Kanda interrupts with a raised hand.

"Melodious sent us on a mission as well. Fare not we shall not be late just mind your task and step aside."

With a sigh he allows them to pass.

***

It takes another while for him to complete his task and the meeting wouldn't start till another couple of hours. That was time for him to work with Melodious in the meantime. From the moment since the portal opened the Bird emerges through and into the other world; the small town it flew into was Greenville. It was early eve and quiet of human activity. The woods it arrives in was priming with the song of wildlife.

The bird glides through the night air its deep black feathers blend in the night. Its red eyes a streak against the dark black drop of the wood's tree line. A man which sat on a back porch spies the streak of blood red. Curious the man leans over the railings to watch where it went. The bird flies a way towards the old settlement of the town. The only remnants were an old church and graveyard. A weathered worn stone is where it perches. It is where the man quietly steps up with his phone and poises for a few shots. He forgot to shut off the shutter which alerts the bird of his presence. The camera takes in its movement as his head turns. The eye in full view; now that the subject is still and up close, he sees it wasn't a trick of the light. A big black bird with long tail feathers and a red eye instead of the usual black beady ones birds have. His head tilts to the side curious and unafraid of the onlooker.

He stares back at its blood gaze for some time. His phone still in the air but halted taking pictures. What an odd behavior the bird displays to not be so weary of humans like many animals were. Something so unsettling about the creature that appears out of thin air before. Its appearance doesn't match any known bird species in the area, its behavior so peculiar. Eventually, after some time the bird tires of the man's presence. Spreading it wings and standing at full height it juts his head forward with his beak wide open. He stumbles back at the sight of teeth in his beak. The fall accidentally activates the camera and takes several blurry pictures of the bird.

He stumbles back up and fumbles forward as he runs away from it. The bird remains perched to the crooked stone. Its head tilts this way and that taking it the new sounds of hoot owls and scurries of mice. None the less it felt no different being surrounded by a death field just like its actual home. The bird lifts a wing and preens its feathers like nothing happens. The bird could not tell or care of any consequence of its presence.