“Why, if we were to march the night, we would arrive this time tomorrow.” he added winking his sap like eyes. Eyes that enchanted Nicodia ever since she saw them. Wathron as a man fascinated her. Born without the capabilities that would require her nectar he held an additional bonus point in her mind. To her frustration he seemed more interested in the Naga of the Sweetwater sea. “We need to rest, in case the bat people are as hostile as he old crone said.” the simple reminder from Venia, that, unlike the Albin, the others needed much rest, made Wathron roll his eyes. After all he had intended his remark as a joke. “Actually,” Elenora looked over shoulder at the Albin. “we could send a small group of five Albin ahead to secure a beachhead.” a shimmer of anxiety lit in the eyes of the Albin, within a moment after Venia had agreed to the idea he wandered off with four comrades, two of which were clerical wizards. They ran ahead and soon were out of sight in the tall grass.From the corner of her eyes Venia observed the old blind owls reactions to the sudden departure. Nothing unusual. “I will return shortly.” with these words she quickly coiled up her lower body and shot into the air a moment later. Elegantly her wings unfolded a few meters higher, catching the wind they lifted her even higher. From the elevated vantage point she was able to oversee the surrounding area. The figure moving parallel to them was indeed the small, bent and hodded figure that had surprised them days earlier. Curious about the old owls motives Venia swooped down, landed a meter from the old woman. “Are you shadowing us for a purpose?” “One day you will become old, and realize that everything has a purpose. People wandering in the same direction as other people, people struck by the clarity of a shroud lifted from their eyes wanting to remain that way,” she did not end her sentence intentionally, beneath the hood Venia could see her eyes, the smile the owl people only could convey with their eyes was also clearly visible. Before Venia could ask why the old woman didn’t join them closer, the old crone explained that she had always been an outcast, and thus didn’t know how to act with as many people around her. With these words she started walking again, Venia slithered next to her. Silent.”Why would the Sphinxes return be the demise of your people?” Weak chuckles came from underneath the hood. “Our creators want this world to themselves! Another creation of theirs realized that as well a long time ago. He will soon turn out in your favor.” Venia was baffled, clueless as to what te old owl was talking about she sighed. “Not your favor individually, of course. The free people of our world” still puzzled Venia continued to slither next to the old woman. “But the Bats and Owls will be a problem.” she went on, again chuckling under her hood. “I have spent the majority of my life alone, now I talk enough for the two of us.”Venia chuckled with her, however weakly. A review of how long their journey had been taking rushed by her. With an elongated sigh the old owl stopped dead in her tracks. “You have to be careful when reaching these mountains. Withdrawal from magic has made the bats savage, since our lineages parted they never had to use tools or weapons, now they are dependent on them. The presence of you and your gems allowing for magic will make them extra fierce.” staring at a long dead tree before them her eyes grew sad. “I tried staying close to you and the magic your people brought into this land, so I could see, but here is the border of where I may roam. If you encounter,” she stopped talking. Shaking her head she wished Venia luck for the mission, turned away and slowly walked away back in the direction she had come from. Baffled Venia stared after her. Only moments later she landed next to Elenora at the head of the expedition.Heavy, thick rain wettened the prairie and out lying hills. Treetops bowed in the wind gusts, shaking lose water that had collected in the branches, releasing localy a denser shower.