"She moves as stealthily as the darkness for which she was named."
White long-haired goats were grazing on the cliffs beneath the high walls of the palace. The animals darted away as Ahmanet made her way to the cliff top, and she paused to watch them. So sure footed, she thought, as they leapt from rock to rock. No fear of heights, or the sharp rocks so far below. Was it confidence or stupidity, she wondered, or a mixture of both?
Ahmanet moved past them, climbing to the highest point above the shore. Hitching up her ankle-length skirt of glistening white she sat upon a rock and gazed out to sea. There were no ships in sight, and only five vessels were drawn up on the beaches below. A score of small fishing boats were out in the bay, casting their nets.
Up here, high above the world, all seemed peaceful and serene. Ahmanet glanced towards the south. Beyond the line of mountains armies were moving, preparing for war and death, rape and murder. A brief and ghastly vision of fire and horror swept into her mind, but she ruthlessly suppressed it. Turning her gaze towards the north she saw again the images of last night’s dream, the Fortress of Eagles engulfed in flames.
Her father’s allies were lost, and soon the enemy would be crossing the straits into her homeland. From north and south the enemy would come, their armies closing like a great fist around her father’s great city.
Then the peaceful beaches below would play host to a fleet of ships so large that not a speck of sand would be seen between them. Ahmanet shivered in the bright sunshine.
A moment of brilliant doubt touched her then.
All these visions might not be true.
Slowly she pushed herself to her feet, and edged her way to stand above the awesome drop. To test the truth of them all she had to do was take a single step forward. If she fell to her death on the jagged rocks, then they were false, for there would be no time spent in America, journey to the Sacred Isle of Mist, no flight into the midday sky, no roaring thunder and the end of worlds. Her father’s kingdom might survive, and her brother live to be a great king.
Just one step . . .
Taking a deep breath she closed her eyes and stepped forward.
Rough hands grabbed her, hauling her back from the precipice.
"What are you doing?" asked a young servant boy, holding tight to her arms.
Ahmanet did not answer him. The journey to the Sacred Isle of Mist would be long – and full of perils.
. . .