“Here he is,” Carina said. Avi was in a daze, having found and lost Zariah for the second time in a week.
“Avi of Sundar?” A powerful voice said as Avi tried to get his eyes to focus. He found a celestial standing before him.
“I am Avi of Sundar, Sir.” Avi eyed the creature from head to toe. He had seen a celestial before, but it was not common. His appearance differed from that of the shepherds. Though his skin shone brightly, it also displayed a reflective quality like polished bronze. He was more enormous than any man Avi had ever seen. He outmatched Bhoora’s size by a double portion. He was, by all known definitions, not a man at all.
“Greetings,” the royal messenger said. His booming voice sounded like it could crush rock. “I am Zath. I am here on behalf of Low King Hans of Tamesh. He has requested your presence at the palace.”
“You want to bring us to the King?” Avi asked, feeling as if there must be some mistake.
“I came for you alone. However, your uncle and your sister are welcome to accompany,” Zath said.
“We have a flight to catch,” Rachit interrupted, now standing next to Avi. “If we go see the King, we'll miss our flight.”
It baffled Avi. He could hardly believe that Rachit would consider opposing the instructions of a celestial messenger, as was his implication. Avi turned to Rachit.
“For me—uh—I plan to obey the call,” Avi said to his Uncle. Though at the moment, all Avi wanted was to abandon the whole affair and set off to find Zariah.
“Zath—uh—is it possible—do you know how to get to the—or I mean—could you give us directions to the King’s palace?” Avi asked. He was trying to control his breathing. There was too much happening all at once.
“I shall bring you there,” Zath said. Now Carina was standing, ready to follow. “Place your hand in mine.” He reached out his glowing palm for Avi to accept. Zath’s hand was the size of a shovel. It seemed strange to Avi. Were they going to walk hand in hand all the way to the palace? Despite its weirdness, Avi did as he was told and placed his little hand in the glowing giant’s.
“If your friends wish to come, they must join hands,” he explained. This is peculiar, Avi thought. They would look quite silly, walking to the palace holding hands. Once the four of them were all holding on to each other, Zath said, “This will feel strange.”
With a grand flash of light, the sky port dissolved, and for a split second, a blazing white surrounded them. It took a moment for their eyes to adjust, but they were no longer standing where they had been. The sky port was gone and replaced by a room with tall impressive walls draped with beautiful hanging tapestries of purple. Avi, Carina, and Rachit were standing alone, holding hands. Rachit was the first to let go.
“Wow! What was that?” Avi asked.
“Some type of time-space transport,” Carina said. “It would take an immense quantity of quantum energy to accomplish.”
“That is how the angelic travel,” Rachit said, spinning in place to look at the room where they arrived.
“The shepherds of Sundar have never mentioned—” Carina argued.
“Just because it hasn’t been revealed to you, doesn’t mean it’s untrue,” Rachit said. She didn’t argue with that, plus her attention had turned to the surrounding room. “It looks like we’re in the palace.”
Zath was no longer with them. The room was so large it could have had its own climate. Grand colorful paintings reached to the peak of each wall. Artful statues stood sentinel around the perimeter of the space.
“We’re in the palace?” Carina echoed.
“Weren't you paying attention?” Rachit said. As they took in the courtly architecture, he said once more, “You will definitely miss your flight.”
“Bhoora!” Avi exclaimed. His mind raced, trying to remember the last time he had seen his companion bear.
“Where did you see him last?” Carina asked. “I remember him sniffing around that pastry shop.” They stood silently for a moment, searching their memories.
“The flower stand,” Avi said.
“Yeah, that’s right.” Carina agreed. “I don’t remember him being with us after that. He must be near the flower stand.”
“Where was that?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Rachit said.
“It matters to me!” Avi barked.
“Are you going to leave and go find him right now?”
“Well,” Avi paused. “No, but—”
“So, it doesn’t matter,” Rachit said but then added. “Not right now. I’m sure he will be fine. What’s the worst that could happen?”
“Welcome, welcome, welcome,” came the words from a rich voice. The massive double doors swung wide at the far end of the enormous chamber. Light spilled in as a luminous person emerged. A dozen others, some angelic, some glorified humans, and others who were mere mortals flanked and followed him. The glowing entourage filled the room with light. “I’ve looked forward to your arrival. I am Hans, Low King of the province of Tamesh.” The impressive individual looked around as if he were expecting more. “I expected four. Where is your fury companion? I was told you travel with a grizzly.”
“Yes, Sir.—He’s uh—Well—We got separated in town. Actually—I’m quite worried for him—” Avi was saying, but Hans comforted him at once.
“Sophia, please go into town and see if you can locate—” Hans paused, waiting for the name.
“His name is Bhoora,” Avi said.
“See if you can locate Bhoora, and bring him here to reunite him with our guests,” Hans instructed. One attendant linked hands with another, and they vanished into thin air with a flash. “Don't worry, Avi, Sophia is Tameshi's finest expert on companion animal issues.” He cleared his throat and began again. “Now, where was I. Ah, yes. I am Hans, very pleased to meet all of you.”