Saturday, June 24, 2017

Paperback Writer: Book One of The Princess Tara Chronicles Available on Amazon

The Reviews Are Coming In!

Five Stars! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Jonesky wrote on Smashwords:

I first learned of this book on the author's blog. I like fantasy and mythology, plus that the story is set in the Pacific NW, I thought why not? I had to read technical manuals in my job, so now that I am retired I try to only read to be entertained, and I was entertained. This book is much like the shows I like to watch: Bonekickers, the Librarian movies and the Librarians series, the Scorpion series. So Ostrogorsky, when will there be book 2?

Kimberlee wrote on Facebook:

So, I headed off to bed a bit ago,and figured I would read a chapter or two of your book. Well, needles to say, I'm still up and half way through. I would keep going but we have family pics in the morning 🌄 and I'm already going look like hell! I need sleep 💤 Thanks for the fun read!

Michael wrote on Amazon:

Michael Ostrogorsky lives in Seattle, Washington with a flock of parrots and a coffee business and apparently a very creative mind to turn out this wild and woolly (or, more appropriately, fast and feathery) yarn about meeting a parrot who turns out to be so much more than he ever imagined (that happens to most of us who turn over our lives to an avian tyrant) and leads him through several apocalyptic turns, all firmly rooted in real-life Seattle. Three, even four dimensions are not enough for him and Princess Tara, who is, of course, just a hyacinth macaw (yeah, sure), as they ramble through Vajrayana Buddhism, shamanism, and even a bit of contemporary politics. I have never tasted his coffee, but after reading this yarn, I say, "I'll have what he's having!"

Francis wrote on Smashwords:

Reinventing zombie literature. Michael Ostrogorsky has a delightfully funny and engaging writing style that breathes new life into an old genre. I took the novel to bed and I was just going to read a chapter or two. Ended up staying up half way through the night because I couldn't put the book down. If you like zombie fantasy you'll love this book. Can't wait for Book Two to come out. Will give me something to look forward to this summer.

Sandra wrote on Amazon:

Blue Tara is a fun book to read on a rainy day. It has a fast-moving, surreal and magical storyline that combines the past with the present flawlessly. I never knew the history of the Old Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. so learning of its sinister past was an added bonus. I cannot wait for Book Two!

Elizabeth wrote on The Zen Parrot blog:

The Princess Tara Chronicles is an excellent and entertaining read! Michael Ostrogorsky knows how to tell a story and has a real gift for writing. He really nails what it is like to live with an opinionated parrot (is there any other kind of parrot?). His story made me laugh so hard! I highly recommend this book!\

Wanda wrote on Facebook:

Love your writing! Funny. . . I also have been writing a series called The Bijou Chronicles. Very different from your treasure.

Available in both ebook and dead tree editions:

900 Year Old Parrot Lady Returns To Her Home

According to The Asian Age website, posted June 24, 2017, the Queen of Khajuraho, a 900 year old four foot tall exquisitely-carved sandstone sculpture depicting a scantily-clad woman immersed in conversation with her pet parrot, has been secretly transported from Delhi, India, to its original home in the Khajuraho Temple, a temple noted for its erotic statuary.

Canadian officials recovered the Parrot Lady from an antiquities collector in Toronto, who had illegally purchased the statue from an American collector. No one seems to know how the Parrot Lady got herself purloined from the Khajuraho Temple to begin with. Eventually the Parrot Lady will be displayed in new galleries planned for construction at the World Heritage Site, about 385 miles southeast of New Delhi.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Book Two of The Princess Tara Chronicles: The Princess Witch, Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight
Part One

“Nobody is going anywhere, silly man,” Blue Tara said. “We either succeed together or fail together.”

“That’s a noble sentiment,” I replied. “I’m sure Davy Crockett told George Russell the exact same thing at the Alamo.”

“This ain’t the Alamo,” Michael replied. “And that’s not the Mexican Army out there. And you better find a better analogy than Davy Crockett. I sure as hell don’t want to go into a fight with someone who thinks they’re going to be dead.”

“Anyway, going after the gagits would be too risky,” Blue Tara added. “If the Yagis discovered us we would be. . . “ Blue Tara looked at me, “What’s that analogy you like so much? We would be burnt bread?”

“Toast,” I replied. “We would be toast.”

“Please. And can we not talk about food,” Michael added. “It’s making me hungry.”

“Well then,” I said. “What are our options? We can’t stay here. We’re totally exposed. There’s no wall between us and Hamatsa.” I pointed out across the crystal plain to where we could just make out the fog rolling up over the rim.

“We move into the city,” Kinqalatlala replied. “There are still structures where we can hide.”

“What’s the point? If Hamatsa or the Yagis don’t get us first, an exploding mountain below us may just blow us to kingdom come.”

“We must stay alive so we can keep fighting,” Blue Tara said. “As long as we fight we have a chance of finding the tlogwala.”

“Is it worth it if Kinqalatlala’s people get wiped out?” I said.

“We must prevent that from happening,” Kinqalatlala replied. “Dluwulaxa can not exist without its people.”

“Then I say we go after Hamatsa and drive him off this world,” I said. “And capture the gagits while we’re at it.”

“We’d be exposed crossing the crystal plain,” Michael pointed out.

“We’re caked in crystal dust,” I observed, looking over my clothing. “That can only mean one thing.”

“We fly!” Michael exclaimed. “We’re birds.”


Margarita growled, twirled off the floor and transformed into a small black bird. The bird screeched and tumbled back to the floor, transforming back into a black cat.

“You need to flap your wings to stay airborne,” I said.

“Bit of a problem if you don’t have arms,” Michael replied. Margarita got to her feet and brushed her body against Michael’s ankles.

I put my arms out and visualized myself as a bird. My feet drifted off the floor and I found myself weightless, hanging in the air. “You did it!” Jean exclaimed.

“What do you see?” I asked.

“You look like a raptor. A hawk,” Jean replied.

Blue Tara and Red Tara stood on one leg, placed their right feet on their left knees, extended their arms and twirled. They dissolved into pulsating blue and red orbs that coalesced into macaw parrots. I looked down at Jean and Kinqalatlala. Instead I saw two large ravens.

“I’ll stay me,” Michael said, and keep Margarita company. I’ll bring the magic harpoons and the shotgun and we’ll catch up to you. Don’t start the party without us.”

Those of us who assumed the form of birds flapped our wings, climbed into the sky, and banked toward the rim of the crystal plain.


We landed undiscovered in the safety of the fog bank at the edge of the giant fungi forest on the rim of the crystal plain. I cleared my mind and visualized me.

“It worked!” Jean exclaimed. “You are you again.”

“And you are you,” I replied, throwing my arms around Jean’s shoulders and kissing her.

“There will be time for that later,” Blue Tara said, back in her Amazon goddess form. “In the meantime, be very careful where you step. One false step could be your last.”

I looked around for the others. White Tara perched on Blue Tara’s shoulder, retaining her Goffin’s cockatoo form. Red Tara flexed her longbow while she leaned against a giant mushroom. “Where’s Kinqalatlala?” I asked. She was nowhere to be seen.

“She flew with us,” Blue Tara said. “She must have alighted somewhere else. If something happened to her we most assuredly would have heard something.”

Kinqalatlala spooked the several dzonoqwa guarding the gagits when she stepped out of the fog. A couple of dzonoqwa turned and fled into the fog. One screamed as it ran the wrong way and plunged off the crystal rim to its destruction, its scream fading into the distance.

“Take me to Hamatsa!” Kinqalatlala ordered. One of the dzonoqwa pointed its club into the fog and motioned to Kinqalatlala to follow. She found Hamatsa caressing one of the pterodactyls.

“Wonderful creatures, are they not?” Hamatsa said, without looking up at Kinqalatlala. “Obedient. Never complaining. Eager to please. Are you these things my slave?”

“Yes, my master,” Kinqalatlala replied as she bowed to Hamatsa.

“You are right on schedule, just as we planned. I am pleased. You have earned the right to live another day.”

“Thank you, my master. Everything is happening as you foresaw and planned for it. The witches are gathered in the mushroom forest preparing to attack you.”

“They will be crushed by the Yagis. And then I will exterminate the vermin that inhabit this world.” Caressing the gagit, Hamatsa could not see Kinqalatlala grimace and clench her fists tightly into balls. “Then I will have an unassailable base from which to attack the world below.”

“Is it necessary to exterminate my people?” Kinqalatlala asked. A tear rolled down her cheek from her eye.

“Let’s not get sentimental,” Hamatsa replied. “The Dluwulaxa are a worthless race. They must not be allowed to interfere with my plans.”

“The Dluwulaxa only desire to live in peace. They wish to harm no one.”

“And that is precisely their problem. There is no peace in a time of war. Peace will only come when those that oppose the new order are exterminated. When those witches and the people that assist them are wiped from existence. Then we shall have peace. And you shall be my queen.”

“Thank you, my master.”

“Together we shall start a new race of warrior kings to rule over a new world. A world of masters and slaves. Of swords and chains.”

“Of course, my master. As you ordain. But are you not concerned about the ancient prophecy that foretold the destruction of Dluwulaxa should blood be shed?”

“Do you dare challenge me!” Hamatsa exclaimed, turning to glare at Kinqalatlala. “I am not interested in your fairy tales. They are not real. This is real,” he said, patting the gagit on its snout. “Get back to your witches. Soon I will release the Yagis and end this nonsense. And we can get on with our work.”

“Yes, my master,” Kinqalatlala replied as she bowed in submission.

“When my work is done bring the head of the one with the parrot to me!” Hamatsa yelled as Kinqalatlala fled into the fog.


Kinqalatlala emerged from the fog moments after Michael and Margarita found us hiding among the giant mushrooms. I whipped the 45 out of my waistband and pointed it at her head before I realized who she was. Red Tara already had an arrow nocked and pointed at her head.

“Easy,” I said, nodding at Red Tara. She relaxed her grip on the arrow. “Where have you been? We were worried about you.”

“Hamatsa is on his way to attack you,” Kinqalatlala replied. “He is preparing to release the Yagis for the final assault on Dluwulaxa.”

“What?” I said, perplexed. “How does Hamatsa even know we’re here?”

“I told him.”

“I knew it!” Jean exclaimed as she pumped shells into the barrels of her shotgun. “This witch has been working with Hamatsa all along.” I grabbed the barrels of the shotgun before Jean could raise it to shoot Kinqalatlala.

“You told him? Seriously?”

“Let your friend shoot me,” Kinqalatlala replied. “I deserve to die. I have destroyed my own world.”

“So why are you telling us this now?” I asked. “I’m totally confused.”

“I have made a grievous mistake. I need to atone for my sin.”

“Don’t believe her!” Jean insisted. “She’s lying. We’re being set up for a trap.”

“Was your mistake lying to Hamatsa? Or lying to us?” I asked.

“A long time ago I fell to Earth and Hamatsa captured me and enslaved me,” Kinqalatlala said. “He promised to return me to my world if I served him. Now I have learned the true cost of my freedom. Hamatsa aims to reward my service by destroying my people.”

“And you expect us to believe this? Why” I asked.

“I do not expect you to believe this at all. I expect and wish you to kill me.”

“You must know we will not kill you,” Blue Tara interjected. “You still hold the secret to the tlogwala.”

“Then let me help you,” Kinqalatlala replied. “If we act now we can surprise Hamatsa before he strikes you. He believes I still serve him and will not be expecting an attack.”

“It’s a trap,” Jean said. “We can’t trust her.”

“So let’s spring the trap,” I replied. “We came out here to punch Hamatsa in the face. Even if it is a trap, knowing it’s a trap gives us an advantage.”

“And if she’s telling the truth and it’s not a trap,” Michael added, “we have the opportunity to give Hamatsa a knock-out punch.”

“White Tara will fly ahead under the cover of this mushroom forest,” Blue Tara said. “She will scout out Hamatsa and his ghouls. She can warn us if an attack is coming.”

“Okay,” I said. “Let’s go.” I grabbed one of the magic harpoons from Michael. “If you’re lying to us,” I said to Kinqalatlala, "you’ll regret it.”

“You bet she will,” Jean added, patting her shotgun.


Hamatsa stood outside a gigantic crystal box that caged the Yagis. With a wave of his hand one of the four walls of the box vanished. A monstrous winged creature resembling an enormous vulture, with legs and face covered in thick red scales that gave the appearance of armor plating, and a body and wings covered in red ochre feathers, waddled out of the enclosure. The dzonoqwa serving as Hamatsa’s bodyguard stumbled backwards, growling in fright.

“Stand your ground!” Hamatsa ordered. “The Yagis will not harm you as long as you stand by me.”

White Tara darted out of the fog and alighted on the shoulder of one of the dzonoqwa. Letting out a screech, she dug her beak into the creature’s neck and jumped away. The dzonoqwa screamed. Enraged, it spun around and smashed its club into the head of the dzonoqwa standing behind it, dropping the dzonoqwa where it stood.

Several other dzonoqwa screamed and rained blows with their clubs on the head of the first dzonoqwa. An arrow smashed into the head of one of the dzonoqwa squarely between its eyes, sending it tumbling backwards. Hamatsa yelled a command, but the screams of the enraged dzonoqwa drowned it out. Emerging from the fog, Michael and I dropped to our knees and took deliberate aim with our magic harpoons at the dzonoqwa sparring with themselves. One by one we dropped them dead. The Taras stood by, ready to assist. Jean kept a close eye on Kinqalatlala.

Seeming somewhat panicked, Hamatsa called out several commands to the Yagis which I couldn’t make out over the screams of the dzonoqwa. Hamatsa finally pointed a gloved hand in our direction and the Yagis took several halting steps forward. The monstrous winged creature extended its great wings, raised its head, and opened its beak as if to let out one of its terrible screeches.

“Oh shit!” I yelled. “It’s the Yagis!”

The Yagis never managed to screech. A majestic and fearsome bird of immense size appeared in the sky above the Yagis. The gold of its body radiated a brilliant light as bright as the sun. Its white face and massive beak gave it the appearance of an eagle. An eagle with a golden crown. Its blood red wings spread across the horizon.

"Lord Garuda!” Blue Tara cried out.

Garuda stretched its enormous talons down and seized the Yagis. Slowing beating its great wings Garuda climbed into the sky with the Yagis struggling futilely in its grasp. The wind created by Garuda’s flapping wings nearly knocked me off my feet. Garuda banked into the clouds rolling up over the rim of the crystal plain and disappeared. Hamatsa stood alone, exposed on the crystal plain, surrounded by the bodies of dead dzonoqwa. He seemed stunned into silence.

Kinqalatlala stepped up to Hamatsa and handed him the fedora that had blown off his head, exposing his long black stringy hair to the wind of Garuda’s wings. “I know how much you love this hat,” she said. As Hamatsa reached for it, she dropped it at his feet. She put her hand up to her face. Her fingers turned into a narrow steel blade. Reaching out, she drew the tip of the blade across Hamatsa’s chin, leaving a line of red blood. Hamatsa stood stone-faced. “The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley,” Kinqalatlala said.

“You will pay for your deception!” Hamatsa screamed out in anger and frustration.

With the tip of her steel blade, Kinqalatlala cut a line of blood across Hamatsa’s other cheek. “Maybe so,” she replied. “But not to you. I was a fool to ever believe you would assist me.”

I heard that loud rattling noise again and the crystal plain commenced to shake. The shaking grew in intensity, becoming so violent the huge crystal box that had caged the Yagis collapsed in a cloud of crystal shards and dust. Jean and I grabbed each other for support. The others dropped to their knees or sat down on the surface to keep from getting thrown down. Only Hamatsa and Kinqalatlala continued to stand.

“You are too late,” Hamatsa said. “Your pathetic world is on the verge of destruction. You and the other witches will be destroyed along with it.”

“I thought you didn’t believe in ancient prophesies,” Kinqalatlala replied.

“You are powerless to prevent it,” Hamatsa continued. “I will find another slave to serve me as my queen. But it is unfortunate that I will lose these,” Hamatsa added, placing his gloved hands on Kinqalatlala’s breasts. Kinqalatlala stabbed the steel blade that was her hand through Hamatsa’s chest. As he collapsed to the surface, she sliced the blade through his heart.

Part Two

Another quake convulsed the world of Dluwulaxa as Kinqalatlala wiped Hamatsa’s blood off her hand on his black leather coat. Just as quickly as it started the quake rolled to a stop. The feathered tips of a gigantic blood red wing fluttered up through the clouds at the edge of the crystal plain. The great white head of an enormous eagle capped by a golden crown rose over the crystal city of Dluwulaxa.

A blue and gold macaw parrot fluttered out of the clouds rolling over the rim of the crystal plain and alighted on Blue Tara’s outstretched arm. I recognized the macaw as the parrot named Aboo, the parrot we left to guard my Ballard apartment when we first departed on this adventure, the parrot that first directed me to my fateful meeting with Princess Tara at Charlie’s Bird Store.

“Greetings Ekajati,” Aboo said to Blue Tara. “The world of the Dluwulaxa will no longer be troubled by the eruption of the mountain below it. Garuda is protecting and stabilizing Dluwulaxa with his wings and will do so until the mountain returns to its sleep.”

“Thank you Aboo,” Blue Tara  replied. “Lord Garuda’s arrival is timely once again. If I might ask, what of the Yagis?”

“Garuda has encased the Yagis in an unbreakable cage within the mountain itself, sealed by white hot magma. Rest assured, the Yagis will not trouble this world or your world any time soon.”

“What happened to my apartment?” I asked Aboo. “What happened to Seattle?”

“Your apartment suffered little damage,” Aboo replied. “A window broke, which allowed me to leave. Garuda managed to contain the violence of the eruptions to the mountain itself, and spared Seattle and other cities around the region. It may be awhile before Rainier has another glacier, but that couldn’t be helped.”

“We are ever thankful for Lord Garuda’s assistance,” Blue Tara interjected.

“Think nothing of it,” Aboo replied. “You have achieved a great victory over Hamatsa today. Of course, you realize this is not the end of Hamatsa?” Aboo added, stretching out a wing toward Hamatsa’s prone body. “Hamatsa is crippled, but not destroyed. His magic is too great.”

“This at least gives us a reprieve and a chance to rest before the day we must face Hamatsa again,” Blue Tara replied. “And to consume pizza and beer.”

“I must return to Garuda,” Aboo said. “The gagits are resting on the rim of the crystal plain, so you have the means to return to your world.”

“Thank you Aboo,” Blue Tara said, “but we still have unfinished business here on Dluwulaxa. We must find the tlogwe before we return to Seattle.”

“And so you will,” Aboo said as he jumped off Blue Tara’s arm. Flapping his wings, he disappeared into the fog on the rim of the crystal plain.

“I wish I was as confident,” I replied.

“I am confident we will not be troubled by Hamatsa anymore this day,” Blue Tara said. She grasped her battle axe in one hand and Hamatsa’s hair in the other and lopped his head off. She swung the head by its hair and sent it flying into the fog and oblivion.


Blue Tara pointed her battle axe at Kinqalatlala. “It’s time for this witch to take us to the tlogwala.”

“I can not do that,” Kinqalatlala replied.

“Why not?” I asked. “Hamatsa is dead. For now anyway. Dluwulaxa is safe.”

“For now,” Kinqalatlala said. “But we are not done with Hamatsa. Hamatsa will not give up so easily.”

“So take us to the tlogwala. Let me receive the tlogwe. Let me save your world. And my world.”

“It is not that simple,” Kinqalatlala stated.

“You keep saying that,” I replied. “But I don’t believe you. If as you say you know who the tlogwala is, it is that simple. You can just tell us!” I exclaimed. My voice dripped with exasperation.

“The person who receives the tlogwe must prove themselves worthy of the gift of the special powers.”

I could feel my face flush. “I’ve been stabbed, speared, fucked. . . “ I said, glancing to see Jean’s reaction, “ and did I mention killed? I’ve helped save you. Helped kill Hamatsa. Helped save Dluwulaxa. I’ve flown a gawddamned pterodactyl. What more do I have to do?”

“It is not for me to say,” Kinqalatlala replied. “Expecting and receiving this special gift are two different things.”

I hung my head. “I give up. Maybe we should leave and return home,” I said glumly.

“That would doom both our worlds to ultimate destruction,” Blue Tara said. “Until we find the tlogwala we must stay on Dluwulaxa. Unless. . .” Blue Tara looked at Kinqalatlala, “unless she tells us to search elsewhere.”

“Are you suggesting the tlogwala is not here afterall?” Jean asked.

“Huh?” I stammered.

“Think about it,” Jean continued. “What if the tlogwala is in Seattle instead of here on Dluwulaxa? What if this witch is still working with Hamatsa to deceive us? To keep us from the truth. If she keeps us occupied up here with some silly wild goose chase we can’t fight Hamatsa on our world.”

“We are not chasing silly wild goose,” Blue Tara interjected.

I put my hand on Blue Tara’s shoulder. “It’s a figure of speech. Ignore it. But Jean is right. We could be sitting up here starving to death chasing wild. . . ah, chasing Hamatsa, while he’s down in our world building an empire.”

“I was Hamatsa’s slave,” Kinqalatlala replied. “You knew that. It wasn’t a secret. But I am free of Hamatsa now. Here. Free to rejoin my world.”

“But you can never become Dluwulaxa again yourself,” I said, “without the magic of the tlogwe.”

“That is correct. Do not you think if I could give you the tlogwe I would, so you would possess the magic to restore me to my people?”

“That’s why she doesn’t want you to leave,” Jean said. “She wants to make you a bird person. She wants to make you Dluwulaxa. She doesn’t care about us. She doesn’t care about fighting Hamatsa. She wants you.”

“I offer you a world of peace and absolute freedom,” Kinqalatlala replied. “All of you. But one of you is special. One of you, and only one of you, has the potential to fulfill the destiny of the tlogwe. To receive the gift of special powers that the tlogwe can dispense.” Kinqalatlala took my hands in hers. “If you commit to Dluwulaxa, you could use the magic of the tlogwe to help both my world and your world.”

“Don’t fall for it!” Jean cried out. “She’s trying to trick you.”

“Your friend is correct,” Blue Tara said to me. “Your destiny lies elsewhere than here in the clouds. We have a war to fight. And if we can’t find the tlogwe here on Dluwulaxa then we need to return to our world to search for it there.”

“It’s never been my intention to become a bird person,” I replied. “It’s never been my intention to stay on Dluwulaxa.” Kinqalatlala dropped my hands and backed away from me. “But I believe her. What she says about Hamatsa. I’m willing to stay here on Dluwulaxa to search for the tlogwe if you all want to return to Seattle to search for the tlogwala there.”

“Dividing our forces is a bad tactical idea,” Michael said. “Don’t you watch Game of Thrones? We need to stay together. Either here. Or, more preferably, back in Seattle.”

“I for one am ready to go home,” Jean said. “I feel like I could sleep for a week.”

“In a real bed,” Michael added.

“I could stand a pizza and a beer. Maybe a couple of beers. You’re welcome to come back to Seattle with us,” I said to Kinqalatlala. “I’ll even buy the pizza and beer.”

“But only if she wears some real clothes, for chrissakes,” Jean said.

“You can help us search for the tlogwala in Seattle and help us deal with Hamatsa when he shows his ugly face again,” I added. “I promise you that when we find the tlogwe I will come back with your to help restore you to your people.”

“We should secure the gagits,” Michael said, “before they decide to fly off.”

“There might still be laxsa and those sasquatch things around,” Jean warned.

White Tara hopped off Blue Tara’s shoulder and flew into the fog bank toward the giant fungi forest. “White Tara will check for us,” Blue Tara said. “We seem to have accomplished everything we can accomplish here on Dluwulaxa. We should return to Seattle if the search for the tlogwala here is fruitless.

“What will it be?” I asked Kinqalatlala. “Should we go back to Seattle? Will you come with us?”

“I will come with you,” Kinqalatlala replied, “if that is what is required to secure your future assistance.”

“That would seem to be the case. Will we find the tlogwala in Seattle?”

“You will find the tlogwala wherever the search leads you. And right now it’s leading you to Seattle.”

“God I hate these riddles,” I muttered.

White Tara flew back out of the fog and alighted on Blue Tara’s shoulder. She shook her feathers fiercely. “All clear,” she said. “No laxsa. No dzonoqwa. No nontsistalal. We are free to return to Seattle.”


Thankfully we only needed to pound on Charlie’s trap door for a few minutes before the door swung open. Charlie stood above us basked in incandescent light, staring down at us in wonder.

“Lordy! Lordy!” he exclaimed. “What have we got here?”

“Drop the ladder down,” I replied.

He did so. He got down on his knees and helped each of us climb up.

“You’re a sight for sore eyes, boss,” Charlie said to me, shaking my hand. I noticed he couldn’t stop staring at Kinqalatlala.

“You got any extra clothes around?” I asked Charlie, nodding to Kinqalatlala. Charlie’s frame was slight enough I thought his clothes might fit her.

“’Course I do,” he replied. “What with all the bird shit around I always keep clean clothes handy. You really lucked out. I was just about to close up the shop for the day. Let me get some clothes for this lady. I’ll be right back,” he said as he walked to his storeroom.

I looked around the bird shop. Instead of the usual bustle and din of a bird store the place seemed unusually calm as the birds settled down for the night. Many of the birds stood perched on one foot. A few placed their beaks behind their wings.

“Here you go hon,” Charlie said, returning with a stack of clothes in one hand and a pair of flip-flops in the other. “Best I can do.” Kinqalatlala took the clothes and put them on. She looked good even in blue jeans and a flannel shirt. Charlie noticed his shotgun slung over Jean’s shoulder. “Am I glad to see that,” he said with a grin.

Jean handed Charlie his shotgun and unbelted the Smith and Wesson from her hip. “Thank you so much,” Jean said. “Saved our butts.”

“Good to hear.”

“You remember what you said about being able to take down a sasquatch with that shotgun?” Jean asked Charlie.

“You’re kidding?” Charlie replied. He whistled while he inspected the shotgun. “You’re alright in my book,” he added.

“You wouldn’t believe what we’ve been through,” I said.

Charlie took a long look at me, his eyes dropping down to my pants. “What in God’s name happened to you? Is that blood on your pants?”

“I got speared.”

“No shit.”

“Thankfully White Tara saved me.” White Tara hopped onto my shoulder and rubbed her beak against my chin. “White Tara. This is Charlie,” I said, craning my head to look at her. “White Tara’s another witch. Just like Blue Tara and Red Tara.”

“My word,” Charlie replied. “The Tara of Healing. And a Goffin’s cockatoo parrot at that.”

“We couldn’t have beaten Hamatsa without her,” I said.

“And did you?” Charlie asked. “I’m almost afraid to ask.”

“Yes we did,” I replied. “For what it’s worth,” I added, “we’re not done with Hamatsa. He has the power to travel between the worlds of the living and the dead.”

“What happened with Mount Rainier?” Michael asked.

“You heard about that?” Charlie replied.

“Heard about that? We were right on top of it!” Michael exclaimed.

“That was pretty scary,” Charlie said. “All of a sudden the mountain got active. Totally unexpected. Experts didn’t have a clue what was happening. A lot of shaking. Seattle rocked and rolled there for a while. My birds were completely freaked out. There was even talk of an evacuation order. And then the mountain suddenly got quiet and went back to sleep. Nobody could figure it out.”

“Much damage around Seattle?” I asked.

“Thank the Lord, not much at all,” Charlie replied. “Few broken windows. Some cans knocked off shelfs in some stores. Few bricks fell down around Pioneer Square. Some flooding around the mountain from the melting glacier. That was it.”

“Thank you Lord Garuda,” Blue Tara interjected.

“Lord Garuda?” Charlie asked.

“It’s a long story,” I replied.

“We don’t have time for long stories,” Blue Tara said just before she screeched. I found myself on the floor of my Ballard apartment, my hands pressed to my ears. Blue Tara helped Jean to her feet. Margarita purred and nuzzled Michael’s head as he lay on the floor on his back. Red Tara pulled Kinqalatlala to her feet. White Tara sat on Princess Tara’s play stand, one foot up with her beak behind her wing.

Blue Tara bent down, grabbed my arms, and yanked me up. Then she walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. “This is a problem,” she said. “You have no beer left.”

“While you all figure out the pizza and beer,” Jean said, “I’m going to jump in the bath. Just bring me some pizza and beer when you have it.”

“So I’ll just run across the street and pick up the pizza and beer,” I said. I looked at Blue Tara. “There’s no need to help with your time and space bend. Okay?”

“I will run across the street with you,” Blue Tara replied. “Just in case of trouble.”

“Ah, no. That would be trouble,” I insisted. “There definitely would be trouble if you joined me looking like you look.”

“You do not find me attractive?” Blue Tara asked, her face furrowed by a frown.

“Are you kidding?” I said. “It’s just that getting the pizza and beer will go a whole lot easier if I don’t have a naked crystalline blue-skinned Amazon goddess with a battle axe to explain.”

Part Three

Half an hour later I returned to the apartment with a stack of pizza boxes and a couple of cases of beer. While everyone else dove into the pizza and beer, I left a trail of dirty and tattered clothes into the bathroom to join Jean in the bath. I did take a box of pizza and a six-pack of beer into the bathroom with me. Once in the bathtub however, I had other things on my mind instead of food.

As Jean and I settled back at opposite ends of the bathtub, I popped a beer can open and stretched my legs out over Jean’s thighs. The bathroom door opened and Kinqalatlala entered.

“What the fuck!” Jean exclaimed. “Can’t you knock?”

“I need to talk with you,” Kinqalatlala replied. “Is this a bad time?” Jean and I looked at each other.

Kinqalatlala sat on the edge of the bathtub and stuck her fingers into the water, splashing the water back and forth. She ran her fingers up my leg and rested them on my thigh. Jean took Kinqalatlala’s hand and set it on the edge of the bathtub. “You don’t get to play with stuff you don’t own,” she said curtly.

“I feel we got off to a bad start,” Kinqalatlala said.

“No shit,” I replied. “Killing me would do that.”

“I want to tell you a story,” she said. “After you hear this story you can tell me to leave or stay. I will do whatever you command.”

I took a sip of my beer and handed Kinqalatlala a can. “Stories always make me thirsty,” I said.

“Okay. Here goes,” she replied. She popped the beer can open, kicked her head back and guzzled the entire can.


A being from another world, a youngster, grew up in a world without limits. This was a world of winged creatures, of freedom and flying, of sun and peace, of clouds and sky. This youngster had an accident while testing her wings before she was fully fledged. As youngsters these beings stayed close to their community until they mastered the magic of flight. Only when they became proficient fliers did they venture out to explore the wonders and mysteries of their world. They took this precaution because their world was a world apart, a world in the sky of another larger world. Venturing beyond the safety of their community before they fully fledged could easily result in their falling out of the sky. Falling to their oblivion. These occurrences thankfully were rare, but did happen on occasion. Because their numbers were small the loss of even a single member of this tightly knit world in the sky provided a severe shock to the people called the Dluwulaxa.

There was one youngster in this world who possessed a curiosity and thirst for adventure that exceeded any of her peers. In spite of admonishments to the contrary, this youngster ranged farther and farther out to the edges of her world well before she had fully mastered the magic of flight.

One day while testing her flying abilities she stumbled upon the forest of giant mushrooms hidden in the fog on the very rim of her world. While exploring the giant fungi a storm blew up and snatched her in its maw and swept her over the rim. Because this youngster possessed some limited magic of flight she did not fall to her oblivion like most caught in the grip of a storm. She fluttered and fought and flapped her wings until exhaustion overtook her. Then she fell to the earth, spent and helpless.

A tall gaunt man found her lost, hungry, and scared, cowering on a beach, exposed to the elements and on the verge of death. Paralyzed with fear and exhaustion she could not escape this creature. His glowing red eyes set in a face of pallid scalloped yellow skin burned through her soul and destroyed her will to escape. She shrank back from this loathsome creature, the antithesis of the beauty and purity of the beings of her world.

This man knew of the ancient legends his ancestors shared through the ages over lonely campfires of strange winged beings that fell to the earth. He immediately recognized this youngster for what she was. He wrapped this girl in a net and took her to his home. She was too weak to employ her flying or shapeshifting magic to try to escape.

He locked her in a cedar box and only let her out with a chain wrapped around her neck. He only let her out to feed her, just enough to keep her from starving to death. Finally, much later, this man let her out of the cedar box and did not force her to go back in. She had lost track of time, so she did not realize almost a year had passed while she had been confined to the cedar box. By then she no longer was a youngster, but fully grown. The man explained to her that she needed to take a form similar to the humans around him. If she did so, he said, he would free her from confinement in the cedar box. He failed to tell her that the humans around him were his slaves and his meals. For this man was a cannibal called Hamatsa. And the humans that surrounded him were slaves or zombies. He failed to tell her that she would become his slave. But this saved her life. Because by becoming Hamatsa’s slave, Kinqalatlala avoided the gruesome fate of the humans that Hamatsa feasted upon. To become a zombie warrior in his army of the dead.

Hamatsa took her into a large enclosure in his compound. A cell packed with human prisoners. He told her to pick one of the humans out and to visualize becoming to look like that person. She picked out a scared, naked, tall, svelte, young, dark-skinned woman, an immigrant from North Africa with long flowing black hair and a muscular body. She visualized herself as that woman. And she became that woman. When the woman saw Kinqalatlala transform herself into a spitting image of her, she screamed and fell to her knees, pleading for her life. Hamatsa drew a sword from under his black leather frock coat and stuck the point of the sword to the woman’s throat. He told Kinqalatlala to put her hand to her face. She did. He told her to visualize her hand to be a steel blade. She stared at her hand. Nothing.

Hamatsa demanded she concentrate. Focus her thoughts on the sword in his hand. Still nothing. Hamatsa angrily put the point of the sword to Kinqalatlala’s throat. She stared at her hand and the fingers transformed into a narrow steel blade. Hamatsa ordered her to cut the woman’s head off. She recoiled. He stuck the point of his sword in her breast and told her that if she did not cut the woman’s head off he would slice her up with his sword and feed her to his zombies. She swung her arm out with a strength she did not know she possessed and the woman’s head flew off her body. The body collapsed to the floor of the cell, red blood spurting out of its neck, and Hamatsa’s zombies fell on it in a frenzy of feeding. Hamatsa speared the woman’s head with his sword and held it up to Kinqalatlala. He told her if she ever disobeyed him that too would be her fate.


“Oh. My. God!” Jean exclaimed. I downed the can of beer I held in my hand through Kinqalatlala’s story.

“Hamatsa saved my life,” Kinqalatlala said, “but he didn’t warn me that taking human form would prevent me from ever rejoining my people. To repay my debt to him I became his procurer of bodies. My punishment was to bear the responsibility of picking the unfortunates that would become his victims.”

“I am so sorry,” I said. “I can’t imagine the emotional scars you must bear.”

“I did save your life, you know?” Kinqalatlala added, almost as an aside.

“What? How so?” I asked with considerable surprise. “I remember you killing me. I sure as heck don’t remember you saving me.”

“At Red Square. At your university. When we first met at the monoliths. Hamatsa ordered me to cut off your head, like I did with the woman whose likeness I bear.”

“I guess you failed,” I smirked.

“I disobeyed his order. Instead of killing you I tackled you and let you go.”

“That I remember. I dropped the crystal when you jumped me.”

“That’s when I realized Hamatsa was not omnipotent. That’s when I recognized something special about you. I saw you the way Blue Tara saw you. I recognized that Blue Tara picked you for the same reason. She recognized you had the qualities that could be deserving of the special gift of the tlogwe. The special magic that could bring me my freedom and restore me to my world.”

“It’s time for you to get out of the bathroom,” Jean said, pointing to the door.

“I could leave,” Kinqalatlala replied. She stood up and pulled off her clothing. “Or I could join you.” She stepped into the bathtub and slid down into the water next to me.


We all sat around the dining table with glasses of wine in our hands, the table stacked with empty pizza boxes and beer cans. White Tara sat perched on Princess Tara’s play stand, one foot up, her beak behind her wing. Margarita lay curled up in a furry black ball under the table at Michael’s feet, sleeping. Jean and I sat next to each other wearing matching checked terry cloth robes. Jean wrapped a towel around her hair. She leaned back in her chair and rested her legs across my thighs. Kinqalatlala sat barefooted in Charlie’s blue jeans and flannel shirt, unbuttoned two-thirds of the way down the front. I knew she wore no underwear under her clothes. Michael sat in a borrowed pair of U Dub purple and gold sweatpants, with a matching sweatshirt, the only clothes I had that would fit him. Blue Tara sat dressed as, well. . . Blue Tara. She did lean her battle axe up against the wall. Red Tara sat resplendent in her brightly colored silken skirts and shawl draped over one shoulder. I suspected there was magic involved that made her clothing seem so fresh, clean, and vibrant.

“I want to thank everyone for making me feel so welcome,” Kinqalatlala said, raising her wine glass. I noticed Jean roll her eyes.

“Hear! Hear!” Michael exclaimed.

“What’s the plan?” I asked, somewhat tentatively.

“Sleeping for a week is my plan,” Jean replied.

“Your apartment seems very crowded suddenly,” Michael observed. “Where’s everyone going to stay? Say for tonight?”

“I’ve got a couple of empty apartments in the building,” I said. “We can use those. Strangely enough, I had a bunch of tenants suddenly want to move out.”

“Can’t imagine why,” Michael smirked.

“But seriously,” I continued. “After tonight. What’s the plan?”

Blue Tara drained her wine glass. Not that I’ve had much experience with goddesses drinking, but it seemed to me she sure could put down the alcohol. I made a mental note to myself never to get into a drinking game with her. “We must continue to focus on our paramount goal,” she said.

“Yeah,” I replied. “I know. Find the tlogwe.” Blue Tara nodded. “Well, that’s a given. But what’s the plan to find the tlogwe?” I turned to look at Kinqalatlala.

Kinqalatlala looked back at me. “If you were fortunate enough to receive the gift of the tlogwe, what would you do with it?” she asked me.

“That’s easy. Save the world. Destroy Hamatsa. Return you to your world.”

“Those are fine sentiments. But how would you do that? Even the magic of the tlogwe would not allow you to simply snap your fingers and bring peace to the world.”

“It wouldn’t? That’s how they do it in those Harry Potter movies.” Kinqalatlala stared at me stonefaced. “Well, since I don’t know what the tlogwe is I couldn’t very well know what I would do with it.”

“Would you come back with me to my world? To Dluwulaxa?”

“I already said I would. To help restore you to your people.”

“What if I said that receiving the gift of the tlogwe could only be accomplished by joining with me in Dluwulaxa?” Clearly agitated, Jean noticeably and loudly dropped her feet to the floor and sat up straight in her chair.

“Then we would have to find another way to defeat Hamatsa,” I replied. “I think I was pretty clear when I said I wasn’t going to abandon my world and my friends for you and your world.”

Blue Tara leaned over and put her hand on Kinqalatlala’s shoulder. “We need to separate the issue of finding the gift of the tlogwe from the issue of helping you and your people,” she said.

“It’s not quid pro quo,” I added. Blue Tara gave me a quizzical look.

“Before we can even address the issue of helping your world,” Blue Tara said to Kinqalatlala, “you need to help direct us in our search for the tlogwala. We’ve been through the underground city. We’ve been to the ancient Indian village. We’ve been to the world of the Dluwulaxa.”

“And each time you told us we were closer to finding the tlogwala than we knew,” I interjected. “So tell us. Where do we search next?”

Kinqalatlala got to her feet, stepped over to me, put her arms across my shoulders and straddled my thighs. She bent over and licked my lips with her tongue and kissed me. “You are as close to the tlogwala as you’ve ever been,” she said coyly.

Jean jumped out of her chair, knocking it over, grabbed Kinqalatlala’s shoulders and pulled her off me, throwing her onto the floor. “That’s enough!” she cried out. “I want this game to stop. Now!”

“Once and for all,” I said, jumping up out of my chair, “please tell us where to look for the tlogwala.”

Kinqalatlala climbed to her feet. “The tlogwala stands before you,” she said. My jaw hit the floor. “I am the tlogwala.”

“No shit!” Michael exclaimed. “It wasn’t Hamatsa after all.”

I fell back into my chair, my arms hanging limp at my sides. “I don’t know whether to believe you or not,” I said. “You couldn’t tell us this before?”

“You were not ready to receive this knowledge before. I am unsure you are ready to receive this knowledge now.”

“Does Hamatsa know you are the tlogwala?” Blue Tara asked.

“No,” Kinqalatlala replied. “I kept this knowledge from him. It is not long ago that I discovered this knowledge about myself.”

“Once Hamatsa finds out you are the tlogwala he will tear Seattle down brick by brick looking for you,” Blue Tara stated.

End of Chapter Eight

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book Two of The Princess Tara Chronicles: The Princess Witch, Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven
Part One

We jogged back toward the crystal city of Dluwulaxa single file. Kinqalatlala took point and Red Tara brought up the rear, longbow at the ready. Jogging behind Kinqalatlala, I asked, “We just spilled blood. What’s going to happen to Dluwulaxa?”

“I do not know the answer. This has never happened before to my world. Legends of long ago tell of a time when Dluwulaxa was shaken by explosions from the mountain below and almost destroyed.”

“Volcanic eruptions?” That can’t be good,” I said. “Eruptions big enough to destroy this world would devastate the Seattle area.”

“Unfortunately, we will know soon enough,” Kinqalatlala replied.

“We have more immediate problems,” Red Tara cried out. We stopped jogging and turned to discern the bad news. A line of nontsistalal approached, rapidly loping across the crystal plain toward us. Tongues flopped out of their open jaws. Their huge canines glistened in the brilliant sunlight. Occasional bolts of yellow fire scorched the crystal plain. Laxsa, the zombie warriors, mounted each monster. One hand held a lance while the other hand held onto clumps of fur. Their legs bounced out to the sides almost like balance bars.

“We’ll never outrun them!” I yelled. “We need to make a stand.”

“As long as it’s not Custer’s Last Stand,” Michael replied, dropping to one knee with his magic harpoon stretched forward. Red Tara nocked an arrow in her longbow while Jean dropped to one knee next to Michael, her shotgun cocked and aimed.

“Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” I joked.

“That would not be very useful,” Blue Tara replied. “I can already see the whites of their eyes.”

“That was a joke,” I replied. “Just trying to bolster everyone’s spirits.”

“The spirits ride the nontsistalal,” Blue Tara said. “We need to kill them. Not bolster them.”

“I give up,” I responded with a shrug.

“It is too early to give up,” Blue Tara replied. “The battle has not yet begun.”

Before I could think up a witty response, White Tara leaped off Blue Tara’s shoulder and flitted into the sky. “We have help from the city,” she called out.

We turned to see a flock of enormous golden eagles flying in our direction from the crystal city. The eagles sped over our heads directly toward the charging demons. Dropping their gleaming talons they dived toward the nontsistalal. The giant eagles seized each of the laxsa and yanked them off their mounts. Furiously flapping their great wings they pulled back up into the sky and flew out beyond the edge of the crystal plain. Once clear of the plain the eagles released their prey and the laxsa tumbled toward the Earth and oblivion. The eagles circled back to the city of Dluwulaxa and disappeared.

Losing their riders, the nontsistalal faltered and their pace slowed considerably. Several of the monsters drew to a walk and fell well behind the advancing line. Jean pulled the triggers of her shotgun and two of the creatures running side by side plowed face down into the crystal plain which turned red with blood where they fell. Clouds of red crystal spray billowed into the air behind them.

Red Tara aimed her longbow and methodically began to release her arrows. One by one the nontsistalal tumbled head over hoofs to the surface of the plain with arrows pierced through their skulls.

Michael aimed his magic harpoon at the last couple of creatures charging us. One collapsed dead. The other spun on its heels and ran in the opposite direction. Red Tara nocked one more arrow and the creature tumbled to the surface dead.

We prepared to resume jogging back toward the city of Dluwulaxa when the terrible screech of the Yagis knocked me off my feet. I found myself on my knees with my hands pressed over my ears trying to block out the crushing sound. Jean and Michael both fell to the surface, hands pressed to their ears. I could see that even Blue Tara and Red Tara winced with pain.

“We must go!” Kinqalatlala commanded. I struggled to my feet as Red Tara pulled both Jean and Michael up with her four arms. “The Yagis is getting closer,” Kinqalatlala said. “We do not have much time. Make haste!”

I jogged a couple of paces and stopped. “The Yagis is the least of our problems right now!” I yelled.

“What’s the matter?” Michael asked, stopping next to me.

“Look,” I replied, pointing toward the city.

“Shit!” Michael exclaimed. I counted at least a dozen dzonoqwa standing in a pack between us and the city. Behind us, toward the rim of the crystal plain we could distinctly hear the baying and howling of the nontsistalal.

“Hamatsa is going to try to hit us from both sides,” I observed.

“We charge,” Blue Tara said as she raised her battle axe and ran toward the dzonoqwa. Red Tara ran after her while White Tara darted into the sky.

“Crap,” I said. “Run!”

We made a bee line for the dzonoqwa. As we approached the dzonoqwa fanned out in a line facing us. Waving its club over its head, one of the dzonoqwa jumped forward and commenced to scream. Without slowing, Blue Tara raised her battle axe over her head with both hands and flung it at the creature. The blade whistled as it whirled through the air, striking the creature squarely between its eyes with a sickening thud. The dzonoqwa flew backwards as if pulled by a rope. Blue Tara leaped on the dead creature’s body and gripped her battle axe to yank it out of its skull. Two other dzonoqwa raised their clubs to fall on Blue Tara. One club went flying backwards as the dzonoqwa fell on its back with an arrow sticking out of one of its eyes. Jean aimed and fired both barrels of her shotgun. The other club fell harmlessly to the surface when the creature’s head disappeared in a cloud of blood red dust. Michael brought one of the creatures down with his magic harpoon. Another dzonoqwa leaped at Blue Tara. Margarita jumped onto her hind legs and whirled. The whirling dervish Black Tara knocked the creature back, slashing its throat with her gleaming steel claws. Wobbling on unsteady legs, screaming in pain with bright red blood coating its long black fur, the dzonoqwa attempted to raise its club. Pulling her battle axe out of the skull she embedded it in, Blue Tara swung the axe blade up and severed the creature’s head. The body collapsed at her feet. The head and club fell harmlessly to the surface next to the lifeless body. The remaining dzonoqwa turned tail and ran. I leaned over and tried to pick the club up. First with one hand. Then with both hands. I could barely budge the weapon.

“Look!” Jean yelled, pointing toward the rim of the crystal plain. “They’re coming back.” We spotted another line of nontsistalal loping across the plain toward us, once again with laxsa riders mounted on their backs.

“If at first you fail. . .” I muttered.

“We’re never going to make it back to the city!” Michael cried out frantically.

“Then the city will have to come to us,” Kinqalatlala replied. We turned and stared at her.

“What do you mean by that?” I replied, somewhat bewildered.

Kinqalatalal clapped her hands. A crystal wall appeared about a hundred yards outside the city. She clapped her hands again. A second crystal wall appeared another hundred yards beyond the first one. Standing about a half mile short of the city I quickly did the math. It would take Kinqalatlala clapping about fifteen more times for the wall to reach us. Meanwhile the laxsa commenced to fling their lances at us. I could hear the spears whistle through the air and thud harmlessly into the crystal plain. But as the nontsistalal got closer to us so did the lances. It seemed problematic whether the wall or the lances would reach us first.

White Tara jumped off Blue Tara’s shoulder and flew toward the charging ghouls. She darted over the heads of the laxsa and their lances. Swinging wide of their charging line she twirled to the ground in the form of the white-skinned silken skirted Amazon goddess. She waved and whistled at the creatures galloping by. The nearest nontsistalal glanced at her and veered away from the others, dropping its pace to a slow trot in spite of the entreaties of the laxsa rider.

The nontsistalal came to a stop facing White Tara, pawing the surface with its claws, like nails dragging across tin siding. Tongues of yellow fire flicked out of its mouth as its jaws opened and closed. The creature growled and hissed at White Tara. The laxsa on its back yanked its fur and kicked it with its heels attempting to turn it back to the charge.

Seeing the first nontsistalal swing to a stop in front of the white goddess, the next monster swung around and followed suit. And the next. And the next one after that. The entire line of charging monsters swung around and loped to a stop to face White Tara. The laxsa riders tried to spur the creatures around to resume the charge. Several of the laxsa commenced beating their mounts with their lances. One of the nontsistalal bucked onto its hind legs, flinging its laxsa rider backwards onto the surface. The laxsa fell into the tongue of fire from a nearby nontsistalal and exploded into flames. Several laxsa speared the nontsistalal, only to get flung off their mounts. Frenzied bucking and roaring by the nontsistalal unseated the remaining laxsa. The laxsa that avoided becoming torches ran back toward the rim of the crystal plain.

White Tara stood on one leg, placed her right foot against her left knee, and extended her arms. She began to twirl. Faster and faster. She became a white dervish. The white dervish coalesced into a white parrot. The parrot flapped its wings and banked away from the nontsistalal to fly back to Blue Tara’s shoulder.

Kinqalatlala clapped one more time and a crystal wall appeared directly in front of us, towering into the sky.

“Wow!” I exclaimed. “I don’t know which one of you is more impressive.”

“No time for accolades,” Kinqalatlala replied. “We must go while we still can.” She waved her hand and a doorway appeared at the base of the crystal wall.

“You can always shower me with accolades,” White Tara responded, darting onto my shoulder and rubbing her beak against my chin.

The terrible screech of the Yagis hit us like a sonic wave that seemed to obliterate everything in its way. I stumbled to my knees and White Tara fluttered to the surface. We stumbled through the doorway as the screech faded. I collapsed onto my hands and knees. As we fell through the doorway Kinqalatlala waved her hand and the doorway disappeared. I raised my throbbing head to see the city of the Dluxulaxa spread out before me. We were no longer a half mile outside the city but within the city itself.

“The crystal walls should protect us from the Yagis for a while,” Kinqalatlala said.

“For some reason, I’m not reassured,” I replied as I struggled to my feet. I saw Blue Tara and Red Tara pulling Michael and Jean up off the floor.

“How did we get from out there to here?” I asked Kinqalatlala.

“The city expanded its space to meet us and contracted to its original space once we entered the city.”

“I like that. Think how much gas we could save if every city did that.”

“The oil companies would ban that,” Michael quipped.

Another terrible screech of the Yagis shook the crystal pavilion. This time the crystal walls of the city muffled the sonic blast of the screech.

“The Yagis is getting closer,” Blue Tara observed. “These walls will be breached eventually.”

“How can we defend ourselves?” Michael asked. “There’s nowhere else for us to run.”

“And I’m running out of shotgun shells,” Jean added.

“Just great,” I said, putting my arm around Jean’s shoulder. “We’ll just have to throw crystals at them.”

“How many laxsa and dzonoqwa do you suppose Hamatsa has at his service?” Michael asked.

“As many as I need,” a deep guttural voice replied.

We spun around in shock, our illusion of safety behind the crystal walls shattered like a falling chandelier. Hamatsa stood in an open doorway, his black leather garb silhouetted by the gleaming white crystal plain behind him.

“It is only a matter of time before my army of the dead overruns this city and smothers any resistance from these witches.”

“That’s because they’ve been doing such a great job so far,” I retorted, with some smug satisfaction. “No wait. I got that wrong. That’s us been doing such a great job. We’re the ones who’ve been kicking your ass. Easy to get confused.”

“I will ignore your feeble boast,” Hamatsa replied, “because before this day is over my slave will serve up your head to me on a silver platter.”

“If you’re talking about Kinqalatlala, she seems to be helping us just fine.”

“Your gullibility will be your demise,” Hamatsa said. “Kinqalatlala serves me. Everything that has happened has happened according to my plan. According to my plan to seize the worlds of the sky and the Earth.

“Ambitious much?” I replied.

“Go on. Your boasts and your swagger belie your precarious position within this city. Do you really think you can withstand the onslaught of the Yagis?”

“We seem to have done just fine so far,” I retorted with as much bravado as I could muster.

“At my command the Yagis will blow down these flimsy walls that surround you. I offer you this last chance to surrender and bow down to your master.” As Hamatsa spoke laxsa after laxsa entered the doorway and lined up against the crystal wall behind Hamatsa, lances pointed forward. Several dzonoqwa followed the laxsa into the pavilion with their clubs resting over their shoulders.

“What do we do now? I asked, turning to Kinqalatlala. “Whose side are you on? Really?”

Kinqalatlala raised her hand above her head. Hundreds of black birds flew out of the crystal buildings throughout the city and landed on the crystal floor before us. She clapped her hands and the hundreds of black birds transformed into exact duplicates of Kinqalatlala. Kinqalatlala put her hand in front of her face and her fingers morphed into a narrow steel blade. The hundreds of duplicates looked at their hands and their fingers too became steel blades.

Part Two

Jean pointed her shotgun first at Hamatsa. Then at Kinqalatlala. “What do I do?” she cried out.

I turned and faced Kinqalatlala. “Help us,” I said.

“That is my intention,” she replied.

“Bow down to your master!” Hamatsa ordered.

Kinqalatlala stepped up to Hamatsa and without saying a word stabbed her hand through his chest. His eyes bulged out of his face in surprise as he toppled over backwards. The hundreds of duplicate Kinqalatlalas charged the laxsa and dzonoqwa. Many fell to dzonoqwa clubs and laxsa lances.

The laxsa fought and died silently. The dzonoqwa died with blood-curdling cries on their lips. Those not killed by the army of Kinqalatlalas fled out the doorway in the crystal wall back onto the crystal plain. An eerie quiet fell over the crystal pavilion. The duplicate Kinqalatlalas halted, dropped their chins to their chests, looked at their feet and transformed into black birds. The birds quickly and noisily flew out the doorway.

I don’t think I twitched a muscle during the short pitched battle. I noticed the crystal floor turning red with the blood of Hamatsa’s ghouls. I heard the crystal walls begin to rattle. I looked up to try to find the source of the unusual noise. I felt the walls shaking. Then the floor below my feet. “Earthquake!” I cried out.

“Hardly,” Michael replied. “We’re not exactly on Earth.”

“Is it the Yagis?” Jean asked.

“It has begun!” Kinqalatlala exclaimed.

“What? What has begun?” I asked, confused.

“The destruction of Dluwulaxa,” she replied. “Blood has been spilled. An ancient prophecy foretold the destruction of the city once the crystal walls became stained red with blood.”

I looked down at my feet. The red stain from the blood of Hamatsa’s ghouls rapidly spread across the crystal floor.

“Mount Rainier,” Michael said.

“What about it?” I asked.

“The mountain must be erupting. It’s the volcano that’s affecting Dluwulaxa.”

“Do you know what that means for Seattle?” I replied. “We need to get back to the city.”

“We have unfinished business,” Blue Tara interjected. “And no means to return. I am not able to bend time and space from this world to your world.”

“I don’t know,” I replied, exasperated. “So we dive into the crystal pool and fly down,” 

“Do so,” Blue Tara replied, “and you may suffer the fate of the furies.”

“We’ve defeated Hamatsa,” I said. “What more is there to do?”

“Don’t be so cocky,” Kinqalatlala responded. “Hamatsa is far from defeated. He is most certainly not destroyed. We will face him again, and he will throw even greater forces against us than he has before.”

“Our track record has been pretty good so far,” I responded.

“Hamatsa has yet to unleash the Yagis against us,” Blue Tara added. “Once he does so, this city is doomed. There is not magic in this world or your world powerful enough to stop such a formidable creature.”

“We have Kinqalatlala’s people to help us,” I said. “They showed Hamatsa what they’re capable of.”

“My people are few in number,” Kinqalatlala replied. “Any loses are devastating to us and can not be replaced. Hamatsa’s forces are virtually unlimited. He can afford tremendous losses without affecting the forces he wields against us.”

The crystal walls of the city shook again. This time not from any volcanic eruption below, but from the terrible screech of the Yagis. The great bird approached. The hair on the back of my head bristled as the presence of the creature became palpable.

“Well, fuck,” I said. “So what do we do?”

“A hot bath with a cold glass of wine would feel so good, right about now,” Jean offered.

“Pizza and beer,” Blue Tara said.

“At least we’re inside the crystal city,” I suggested. “No one’s hurt. We’ve got White Tara to thank for that,” I added. I smiled as White Tara darted onto my shoulder and rubbed her beak against my chin.

“We’ve still got our weapons,” Michael said. “The magic harpoon seems to still be functioning.”

I asked Jean, “How many shells you have left in the shotgun?”

“Probably enough for a very short fire fight. But I’ve still got the 45,” she added, patting the Smith and Wesson strapped to her hip. “I haven’t fired a single round of that yet.”

I glanced over Red Tara’s shoulder. Her quiver seemed well stocked with arrows. “How is it you never seem to run out of arrows?” I asked her.

“Magic,” she replied.

“Of course it is. I should have known.”

“Can we count on the people of Dluwulaxa when Hamatsa unleashes his next assault against us?” Blue Tara asked Kinqalatlala.

“Of course,” she replied. “My people will do what we can to protect our world.”

“Being stuck in here we have no idea what’s going on out there,” I observed. “Can we send White Tara out to reconnoiter?”

“Not with the Yagis approaching,” Blue Tara replied. “It would not be safe for people or birds.”

“That’s the problem,” I noted. “We have no idea what Hamatsa is up to. And we have no way of finding out.”

“That may not be entirely true,” Kinqalatlala replied

“Is there a way to send a spy out?” I asked.

Without responding, Kinqalatlala began to melt onto the floor of the crystal pavilion.

“Of course,” Michael said. “She’s a shapeshifter.”

First Kinqalatlala’s feet turned to liquid. Then her ankles. Then her knees and hips dissolved into a thin pool of black liquid. As her upper body dissolved she waved her hand and a doorway opened at the base of the crystal wall. The shimmering black pool elongated and snaked out the doorway onto the crystal plain, rapidly disappearing from view.

“Well, that is definitely different,” I remarked.

“Now we’ve got a doorway that won’t close,” Michael observed.

I waved my hands. First my right hand. Then my left hand. The doorway remained open. I clapped my hands. The doorway remained open. “You must need an ancient gene or something to get the door to work,” I said.

“Ancient gene?” Michael replied. “What are you talking about?”

“Don’t you watch Stargate?” I replied.

Michael glared at me. “With Kinqalatlala gone, how do we call her people to help us, if Hamatsa attacks?” Michael asked.

“Oh, I think they’ll probably figure it out,” I said. “What do the Taras think we should do?”

“Nothing,” Blue Tara replied.


“We wait,” Blue Tara added. “We wait for Hamatsa. We wait for the Yagis. We wait for Kinqalatlala. We are not in a position to act. We wait for Garuda. By now Garuda most likely has heard the cry of the Yagis and will be on his way to assist us.”

“You will get no help from Garuda. Or from Kinqalatlala. Or from the Dluwulaxa,” a menacing voice responded from the open doorway. We spun around to find Hamatsa standing in the doorway, his black leather garb silhouetted by the brilliant white crystal plain behind him. Only his gleaming red eyes kept him from looking like a cardboard cutout.

“Where is my slave?” Hamatsa demanded. His booming voice echoed around the interior walls of the crystal pavilion. “. . . my slave? . . . my slave?. . . my slave?” “Bring Kingalatlala to me.”

“We don’t know where she’s at,” I replied. Which was true to a point. We really didn’t know where Kinqalatlala was at, specifically.

“You lie!” Hamatsa exclaimed. “You will pay for your insolence with your lives.”

“They do not lie, my master.”

“What the. . .” I said, spinning around.

A crystal wall appeared next to us inside the pavilion and Kinqalatlala entered through a doorway at the base of the wall. “They had no knowledge of my activities,” she added.

“Where did you come from?” I asked, confused.

“It does not matter,” she replied. “What matters is that you bow down to your master, Hamatsa.” She dropped to her knees and bending over kissed Hamatsa’s boots. Hamatsa grabbed her hair and pulled her to her feet.

“You’re not Kinqalatlala,” I insisted. “She’s helping us fight Hamatsa. She’s out scouting Hamatsa’s forces on the crystal plain right this very minute.”

“I can not be doing that when I’m standing right here talking to you.”

“You’re a duplicate. You’re not the real one.”

“You don’t think so? Let me show you.” Kinqalatlala stepped up to me, put her arms over my shoulders, and pulled me to her. She put her lips to my lips and slid her tongue into my mouth. “Does that remind you of anything?” she asked.

“That’s enough. Stop it!” Jean demanded, leveling her shotgun at Kinqalatlala’s head for emphasis. Kinqalatlala stepped back and bowed her head to Jean.

“This is all part of my master’s plan to crush the resistance,” Kinqalatlala said. She stepped to Hamatsa’s side. As she bowed down I noticed she held her hand in front of her face. Her fingers transformed into a narrow steel blade. Before her hand could move Hamatsa grabbed her throat and squeezed. I heard her neck snap. Her body fell limp and dangled in his grasp. As Hamatsa released his grasp on her neck, the body dissolved and turned into a large black bird. Before falling to the surface, the bird spread its wings and flew out the doorway.

“So you can’t tell which is real and which is Memorex,” I said to Hamatsa in a taunting tone.

“You fool,” Hamatsa replied. “None of what you see is real. This world of Dluwulaxa is an illusion. It only exists in my mind to send you on a fool’s errand. I have manipulated every experience of yours. Every action you take. Every reaction to every action. You and your witches have fallen into a trap that I have constructed in my mind. A trap that will result in your destruction.”

“Dluwulaxa is very much a real place,” Kinqalatlala said, stepping through the doorway in the interior wall. Or an exact duplicate of Kinqalatlala. I gave up trying to discern a difference. Maybe in this world someone could exist in several forms at once. “I am Kinqalatlala,” the new Kinqalatlala said. “Dluwulaxa exists. It is not a figment of anyone’s imagination. It is as real as you are. As real as I am.” That might not be the best argument in her support, I thought to myself.

“Then bow down to your master!” Hamatsa demanded. Kinqalatlala stepped up to Hamatsa and bowed. Hamatsa bent down, grabbed her throat and lifted her off her feet. I heard her neck snap as he squeezed her throat. He dropped her limp body which dissolved into another big black bird. Hamatsa tried to kick the bird, but the bird jumped out of the way, spread its wings and flew out the doorway to the crystal plain.

“I grow weary of this game,” Hamatsa said.

“You and me both buddy,” I replied. “But that puts a lie to your claim that this world is a figment of your imagination. You don’t have any more of a clue who the real players are than I do.” The way Hamatsa glared at me suggested I struck a nerve.

“I am a real player,” said Kinqalatlala, standing in the doorway to the crystal city. We all turned to stare as Kinqalatlala entered the pavilion. Walking rapidly, she stepped up to Hamatsa and before he could command her to bow to him, she transformed her hand into a narrow steel blade and stabbed it through Hamatsa’s chest. Hamatsa collapsed to the floor. His body dissolved into thin air.

“So he was right about being a figment of our imagination,” I said. “That wasn’t the real Hamatsa. Are you the real Kinqalatlala? Not that it really matters anymore.”

“That was an illusion created by Hamatsa,” Kinqalatlala replied. “A projection of his mind. But beware. As long as it existed, it was just as real as he is.”

“Just like Anubis,” I replied.

“Anubis? Oh, stop with the Stargate references already,” Michael interjected.

“Are you real?” I asked Kinqalatlala again.

“I am the real one.”

“Prove it.”

She stepped up to me, took my hands and placed them on her breasts, and leaned over to kiss me. I pushed her away.

“Unfortunately, that doesn’t prove a thing,” I said. I heard Jean chamber a couple of rounds into the barrels of her shotgun.

“But I am the real one. I just came back from my survey of the rim to assess Hamatsa’s forces.”

“What did you find?” Michael asked.

“The gagits have returned. They are ferrying more of Hamatsa’s soldiers up to the rim to attack this world. The laxsa and dzonoqwa are massing for an assault on the city.”

“If the gagits are back,” I noted, “that means we have a way off this world.”

“We wouldn’t stand a chance against the Yagis,” Blue Tara replied.

“What about the Yagis?” I asked.

“There is a monumental enclosure on the rim of the crystal plain, encased in crystal. That must be where Hamatsa has the Yagis confined.”

“That’s great!” I responded.

“It is?” Michael asked, perplexed.

“If there’s an enclosure, then maybe there’s a way to destroy it?”

“Only Lord Garuda would possess the magic necessary to accomplish such a feat,” Blue Tara replied.

“Just a thought,” I said. “But maybe, if the Yagis is confined to a crystal cage, we could try another preemptive strike? Keep Hamatsa off balance.”

“Or we could use the time we have to search for the tlogwala,” Blue Tara said. “We must not lose sight of our original mission to this world.”

“If you know who the tlogwala is,” I said to Kinqalatlala, “now would be a great time to tell us.”

“It is not that simple,” she replied.

“Yes it is that simple!” I cried out in exasperation. “By your own admission, the tlogwala is someone on this world. That’s a finite number of possibilities. You said your numbers are small. I’m willing to go out on a limb and bet that you know who the tlogwala is.”

“There are no limbs here to go out on,” Blue Tara replied. “That would be unwise and unsafe.”

“What? No, nevermind,” I replied, shaking my head. “I’ll bet a case of beer Kinqalatlala knows who the tlogwala is.”

“I will take that bet,” Blue Tara said.

“You would win that bet,” Kinqalatlala replied.

Part Three

“I knew it!” I exclaimed, stamping my foot on the crystal surface of the pavilion for added emphasis. Then I found myself on my butt. A sonic wave created by another terrible screech of the Yagis literally bowed in the crystal wall of the pavilion. Me, Jean, Michael, Kinqalatlala, and the Taras found ourselves rolling across the floor. White Tara jumped off Blue Tara’s shoulder, took flight, and flew frenzied circles over us. “We must get away!” White Tara screeched.

A shower of crystal dust rained down upon us as extensive cracks spider-webbed across the crystal wall of the pavilion. Kinqalatlala scrambled to her feet. “Hurry!” she cried out. “The wall is coming down. We need to get away.” She clapped her hand and another crystal wall appeared behind us. A wave of her hand and a doorway opened at the base of the wall. “Come!” she yelled. She pulled Jean to her feet while Blue Tara pulled me off the floor. I saw Red Tara push Michael through the new doorway.

We scrambled into the new space. Kinqalatlala waved the doorway closed just as the original crystal wall collapsed. An avalanche of crystal shards pounded the new wall like hailstones beating a windshield. A crack ripped across the new crystal wall. A sound like sheet metal tearing accompanied the rip across the wall. Smaller cracks branched off from the primary crack and spider-webbed across the wall.

“Run!” Kinqalatlala yelled. She clapped her hand and another crystal wall appeared behind us. A wave of her hand opened a doorway for us to scramble through as the previous crystal wall crumbled. Before Kinqalatlala could wave the doorway closed, I saw laxsa charging through the crystal cloud outside the wall, magic harpoons in their hands instead of lances.

“They’re coming!” I cried out. “Give me the 45!” I yelled to Jean. She handed me the pistol and pulled several extra clips out of the pockets of her cargo shorts. “How do I use this?” I asked her frantically.

“Pull the slide,” she pantomimed with her hands. “Make sure the safety’s off. Point and squeeze.”

“Got it,” I replied as I attempted to pull the slide. Damn. It was tougher that I thought. I braced the pistol between my knees and finally managed to pull back the slide.

“You only have to do that with each new clip,” she clarified. I winked at her.

Kinqalatlala clapped her hand again and another crystal wall appeared behind us. As soon as she waved the doorway open I grabbed Jean’s hand and pulled her through without waiting for someone to tell us to run through. Everyone else quickly followed and Kinqalatlala waved the doorway closed. We found we had company within this new space.

Hundreds of duplicate Kinqalatlalas stood in several rough lines facing us, holding out steel blades where their hands should have been. They stared at us stone faced as we ran into the space. Then they stared up as the sound like tearing sheet metal accompanied cracks ripping through the crystal wall.

“Get back!” Blue Tara commanded as crystal dust rained down from the wall. We ran through the lines of duplicate Kinqalatlalas. The wall collapsed in a thunderous storm of crystal shards and a great wave of crystal dust billowed out and rolled across the surface of the pavilion, lapping up at the feet of the duplicate Kinqalatlalas. Brilliant sunlight reflected every color of the rainbow through the crystal dust.

The laxsa horde emerged through the cloud of crystal dust. They stumbled clear of the dust and haze and halted upon seeing the lines of Kinqalatlalas arrayed against them. The laxsa formed a line and beat the butts of their magic harpoons on the crystal floor. More laxsa, carrying lances instead of magic harpoons, emerged through the cloud of crystal dust and formed a second line facing the Kinqalatlalas.

“This is not good,” I cautiously observed.

“Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” Blue Tara quipped. I sheepishly grinned back at her.

An arrow whistled past my ear and struck the head of a laxsa in the first line squarely between its eyes, sending it tumbling backwards. I glanced behind me to see Red Tara nock another arrow into position. “What? I can see the whites of their eyes,” she said.

White Tara darted off Blue Tara’s shoulder and raced across the space between the opposing lines. She landed on the head of a laxsa, let out an ear-popping screech, sunk her beak into its nose, and jumped away. The laxsa screamed and reflexively swung its magic harpoon.  The harpoon struck an adjacent laxsa in its head and knocked it off its feet. Flat on its back, the second laxsa pointed its magic harpoon at the first laxsa, which collapsed dead. A laxsa in the second line of ghouls impaled the prone laxsa with a lance through its heart.

Without any audible order to commence, the laxsa screamed and charged. All the hair I had left on my body bristled at the sound of the screams, like a hundred cats fighting outside your bedroom window in the middle of the night. I raised the Smith and Wesson and held my breath as I prepared to fire. The duplicate Kinqalatlalas that stood between me and the laxsa charged at the onrushing ghouls. The laxsa dropped to their knees and pointed their magic harpoons at the charging Kinqalatlalas. A score or so of the Kinqalatlalas collapsed dead and did not turn into birds.

The original Kinqalatlala standing behind me let out a bloodcurdling scream that turned the blood in my veins into ice water. My body convulsed with shivers. She pushed past me and charged toward the melee waving the steel blade that had been her hand.

Red Tara commenced rapid fire release of arrow after arrow, each striking a laxsa in its head squarely between its eyes. A laxsa raised a lance and prepared to sling it at the original Kinqalatlala. Blue Tara heaved her battle axe before the laxsa could release its lance. The battle axe whistled through the air and lopped off the laxsa’s head, then embedded itself in the skull of another laxsa.

“Come on!” I yelled at Michael and Jean. “What are we waiting for?”

Michael dropped to his knee and pointed his magic harpoon at the laxsa. I started pacing forward, firing a shot with every step, my hand jumping into the air with each recoil. It thrilled me to see that most of my shots hit their intended target, blowing the laxsa backwards. In a few instances, I saw a couple of laxsa go down from one bullet. After about ten shots I began to wonder just how many bullets these clips held. I quickly discovered that fourteen shots seemed to be the magic number.

I stopped to fiddle with the pistol when I realized Jean forgot to tell me how to change clips. As I bent over to examine the gun an excruciating pain in my thigh dropped me to my knees. I dropped the pistol. Looking down I realized a lance stuck through my thigh. I heard Jean scream behind me. Several laxsa rushed at me to administer a coup de grâce. A shotgun blast from behind me nearly punctured my eardrums and blew off the heads of two of the charging laxsa. As two other laxsa raised their lances to try to spear me, a black dervish, Black Tara, whirled past me and separated their heads from their shoulders with its flashing steel claws. Thank God for black cats I thought to myself as I suddenly felt very lightheaded. Jean dropped to her knees at my side and put her hands on my shoulders. “Try not to move,” she told me. “Everything will be okay,” she reassured me.

“Whatever you say,” I replied, as I faded out of consciousness.


I came to just as Blue Tara yanked the lance out of my thigh. She had sheared off both ends of the lance with her battle axe. Someone tied my belt around my thigh as a tourniquet. I’d be hard pressed to say which hurt worse. The lance going into my thigh. Or Blue Tara yanking the lance out of my thigh. Needless to say, I immediately passed out again.

I awoke to find Jean cradling my head in her lap. “You okay now, hon?” she asked me.

Groggy and disoriented, I reflexively ran my hands over my thigh. No lance. No tourniquet. I sat up and ripped my pants leg open. Blood soaked the pants, but I found no lance. No wound. Not even a scar.

“What the hell happened?” I asked Jean.

“White Tara fixed you up. You were lucky. The lance missed any major artery, so you didn’t bleed out.”

“Can I get up now?” I asked.

“Don’t see why not.” Jean scrambled to her feet and helped me up. Other than feeling slightly dizzy I seemed to be no worse for the wear. Better off than my pants anyway.

“Don’t mind me,” I said, as I pulled my Swiss Army knife out of my pocket, stepped out of my pants, and cut the legs off below the tear.

White Tara alighted on my shoulder and rubbed her beak on my chin. “You don’t need to undress now, sweetie,” she said. “You can thank me later when this is all over.”

“What happened?” I asked, looking around the ruins of the crystal pavilion as I pulled my pants back on. Only a line of crystal shards remained of the exterior wall. Many of the crystal structures within the city were in ruins.

“Earthquakes have been rocking Dluxulaxa,” Jean replied. “Ever since the battle ended.

“Not earthquakes,” Michael clarified. “Seattle is most likely rocking and rolling. I’m guessing Mount Rainier is erupting and shaking Dluwulaxa to its core. Don’t know how much more we can take here. Don’t know what keeps this world up here to begin with. But I’m pretty sure we need to get off this place as quick as possible.”

 I looked around for Kinqalatlala. She stood chanting a lamentation over the bodies of her dead warriors. A flock of black birds flew circles over her head.

“What did I miss?” I asked.

“We killed most of the laxsa,” Michael replied. “Or I should say Kinqalatlala’s people killed most of the laxsa. But at the cost of about half their numbers. Some of the laxsa were killed by falling crystal shards. Some escaped and ran back out onto the plain.”

“Then the earthquakes started,” Jean added. “That brought down the wall and many of the structures within the crystal city.”

Blue Tara saw me standing and walked up to me. She put her arms around me and pulled me to her. She placed her lips on my lips and kissed me. Hard. I let her. After a few moments I could hear Jean clearing her throat. Hands on my shoulders, Blue Tara stepped back and fixed her one yellow eye squarely on my face. “It pleases me to no end to see you up and well again, thanks to my sister White Tara. You gave us quite the scare. Your lady friend was very concerned for you. You are a lucky man to have such a friend.”

“Don’t I know it,” I replied. I turned to smile at Jean. “Is Hamatsa going to try to strike at us again?”

“All business,” Blue Tara responded. “I like that in a man.” She smiled. “We must be prepared for any contingency. Thanks to the laxsa we have a large arsenal of magic harpoons at our disposal now. The odds in our favor have improved dramatically.”

“Shouldn’t we be trying to get off this world before it blows apart?”

“Hamatsa controls the gagits. They are our only means to get back down to your world. But we still have to complete our mission. To leave now would doom this world to destruction. And it would doom your world to destruction.”

“Are you kidding me? In case you haven’t noticed, this world is doomed to destruction anyway. Apparently we’re realizing an ancient prophecy. If we don’t get off this world we’re going to be doomed to destruction along with it.”

Red Tara stepped up to me and put one of her four hands on my head. “Everything has a way of working out if you are patient,” she said. “Hasty action can be just as destructive to our cause as the forces of evil we face.”

Her lamentation concluded, Kinqalatlala joined us. “Your ancient prophecy seems to be coming true,” I told her. “Shouldn’t we be trying to get off your world before it’s completely destroyed?”

“My people will not abandon our home,” Kinqalatlala replied. “And neither will I.”

“Your people fought valiantly,” Blue Tara said, putting a hand on Kinqalatlala’s shoulder. “My sister Taras and I are so sorry for the losses your people suffered.”

“I thank you for your kind words,” Kinqalatlala replied, placing her arm across Blue Tara’s arm. “This world literally hangs by a thread. A crystal thread. If that thread is cut my world will be lost. And if my world is lost then your world will soon be lost as well.”

A loud rattling noise above my head caught my attention. I looked up. The others looked up. The rattling seemed to descend out of the sky and settle onto the floor of the crystal pavilion. The floor commenced to shake. First gently. Then violently. With nothing to hold onto, we all sat down on the floor to keep from falling down. Clouds of crystal dust billowed into the sky as several more crystal structures within the city collapsed.

“I don’t think we have a lot of time left,” I said. “We need to get off this world.”

“We might be able to surprise Hamatsa’s ghouls,” Red Tara said, “and capture the gagits. Hamatsa won’t be expecting an attack from us. The Yagis may not be watchful.”

“We need to try something,” I replied. “We’re doomed if we stay here.”

“I will not leave my world,” Kinqalatlala repeated. “But I will help you return to yours.”

“Before Hamatsa’s attack,” I said. “you said you knew who the tlogwala is.”

“Yes, I did say that,” Kinqalatlala replied.

“Is there still time to find the tlogwala? Or has he been killed by Hamatsa?”

“The tlogwala is still alive,” Kinqalatlala replied. “As long as this world survives there is hope to find the tlogwala.”

“Then I will stay and help you find the tlogwala. But we need to get the rest of my people back to my world while we still can.”

“What?” Jean cried out. “You can’t stay. That’s what this witch has wanted all along. You’ll be killed.”

“I have to stay. It seems to be my destiny to find the tlogwe. Isn’t that right?” I asked, looking at Blue Tara. She nodded her head.

“Then I’m staying with you,” Jean replied. “Someone needs to teach you how to use that damn 45.”

End of Chapter Seven