The travelers ran past the Gabriella Passage, a Mountain Range extended to the north. They followed the clouds above the river valley to the east. Clouds in the moonlight were the most amazing place to run.
Sam saw the river delta beneath the clouds. He wasn’t afraid of falling through. He squeezed his Sajilo, or easy Stone for comfort. His strength increased and he caught up with Sylvia.
“We got this,” he said with a huge smile.
She smiled back. “Yes. Of course, you do,” she responded in return. “You’re going to love the place I’m taking you, Sam. I’m certain. It’s quite different than where you’ve been. There’s more magic out there.”
Sam stayed with Sylvia and the two continued running together.
Marty ran to Kassara’s side. “Do you like it here?” he asked her.
Kassara smiled at him. “I keep wanting to understand how it’s all possible. I mean the physics of all this. I suppose it doesn’t matter since it’s working, and I can trust it. That’s the way I like to explain things. It’s different here working with energy and magic. Ivy taught me to trust my instincts. It’s still hard to get used.”
“You’re doing alright Kassara,” Marty said as he nodded and smiled. I assure you we’ll need all your skills. I’m grateful you have them. That’s why you are here certainly.”
“Thank you,” Kassara said. She sprinted forward, taking the lead. It felt good to run full out and experience her strength in this unusual environment. She hadn’t run for the pure joy of it in a long time. She felt revitalized and fresh to be among the clouds.
Marty caught up with her. “You’re fast, even the first time on clouds.”
She picked up the pace even more. Marty kept up.
“It feels so good, so free,” Kassara said.
Now Marty and Kassara led. Shantini, the young wolf, stayed with Kassara every step of the way.
Tahendra and Jaime stayed together, their wolves on either side. They matched strides as they so many times in their lives. It started as a game and then became a habit.
The travelers and their companions arrived on the Outer Plateaus, just as the moons began to set and the clouds dissipated. High plateaus greeted them in an arid desert like environment. It was noticeably drier here than in the Gabriella Passage.
Kelne and Beacon gathered the travelers and the sages of the Outer Plateaus. The Moon Bridge cloud channel dissipated. The water far down in the valley beneath this plateau was visible for the first time. All was still.
Sunrise so soon? Tahendra thought. A glimmer of light was coming up, a blush on the horizon.
They had cut it very close; she knew. Something about this landscape was familiar. This time she knew with confidence she wasn’t imagining it. Tahendra remembered holding Kelne’s hand here when she was six years old. He was worried but assured her everything was fine, that they were just taking a trip for a little while, that she would have a good time. She was happy to return to this place, reunited with her granduncle Kelne.