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This is the seventh chapter in Sky of Stone and the first in part two.

Dark Omens

Once again, Geb was a witness of a nature play that he had enjoyed more than every single day since his departure. Even within Sunstone the sunset had looked great, but here, without any sign of civilization, the sight was even more breathtaking. To the left of Geb and his companions, endless grassland stretched, turning red in the light of the setting sun. Who would have thought that their journey would give them so much more than - hopefully - the salvation of the world? Already, their departure had been more than worthwhile.

"You can see the best sunsets on the sea," Sedna said, sitting behind Geb on Boulder and clutching the boy so as not to fall. She had hesitantly agreed to the ride and had not been very enthusiastic about the skin contact with Geb, but she had quickly stopped complaining. What did Iris have against her? Sedna had done nothing to them except to question their goal. But that was no reason to hate her.

"Where the water is as red as blood?" Iris asked from above. "I'd rather be here."

"If you believe in such a thing," Sedna replied. "But at least I do not need any ridiculous omens to know that the signs are of war."

"We will defeat the shadows already," assured Geb, but she did not care much.

"I'm not afraid of them. The tribes resemble them more than you might think."

He hastened to change the subject. Sedna's last sentence had too much potential to trigger a dispute between her and Iris - even if Geb was very interested in the statement. "We should still be looking for a place to sleep. How about the cave over there?"

Not far from them were a few rocks, between which was a cavity into which the elms and their companions would no doubt fit.

"Sounds good," Sedna agreed. "No one can find us so quickly."

"We've also been doing well in the open," said Iris. "Besides, I do not like caves. And what if it is already occupied or even belongs to the cave system of the ore tribe? "

"Let's just look around!" Geb had Boulder run towards the cave, where the Elmen quickly realized that it was neither occupied nor led deeper into the earth. It was perfect to spend the night, which Iris finally saw.

"We should keep watch," Sedna determined when they had descended from their companions. "For safety. I take the first guard, then I wake Iris and last is Geb's turn. Questions?"

"Yes," said Iris, her arms crossed. "Since when do you decide what to do?"

"Since I found out that you need a lot more planning and caution when you really want to achieve something. This is how most of the problems can be avoided. "

"A try is worth it," Geb nodded before Iris could answer. He smiled at them. "And if it proves to be a waste of time, let's leave it."

Iris consented reluctantly and had actually found a comfortable sleeping position relatively quickly. Sedna held guard at the entrance, and finally exhausted from the events of the day, Geb finally fell asleep.

---

Geb went with Iris and Sedna through a long tunnel. Had the cave led deeper into the earth? He was not so sure. And where were Boulder and Shimmer? Had they left the companions at the entrance of the cave? Geb did not remember that either.

Yet he was the one who led the group deeper into the tunnel. But where? What did they think they could find at their end?

The ground shook. So weak that you could barely feel it, but he shook. Or did Geb only notice the shock? As Earth-Elm he had a special sense even without his magic. He looked to his friends, who apparently had not noticed anything.

"Be careful," he warned them. "The earth is shaking."

As if nature were to give expression to his words, the quake became stronger. Sedna staggered and the petite Iris could no longer hold her footing and fell to the ground.

"Iris!" Geb shouted, trying to reach her when suddenly chunks of rock fell from the tunnel cover. He was almost near her, and the rock broke over them completely. Geb wanted to bend over Iris to protect her from the rubble, and Sedna pushed him aside. He heard the clash of large rock masses, and when he looked back at Iris, there was only stone. Countless boulders separated him from the others. Or were they even buried underneath?

"Iris!" Geb yelled again, trying to move the rocks, but this was impossible without Boulder's help. And even if the rhino had been here, he would not have had his powers under control. But he could not give up! "Iris, Sedna! Do you hear me?"

"Geb!" He heard Iris's voice. She was still alive!

"I'm here! Are you okay?"

"Geb!" She cried again, without answering. "Geb, wake up!"

What?

Suddenly he felt someone push him. It was too dark to see anything, but he had recognized her voice immediately. Iris! Just a dream, he thought, relieved. The cave was not collapsed. Everything was fine.

Right?

"What's going on?" he asked, still tired. "Have we been discovered?"

"No." Iris sighed nervously. "Everything's all right."

Geb blinked, confused as he tried not to fall asleep immediately. Since he could not even see the hand before his eyes, it had to be in the middle of the night. "That's good, isn't it? So we can go to sleep. "

"Of course that's good. And you will surely not go to sleep, for it's your turn to watch. "

"Seriously?" He yawned. "Did you wake me up for that?"

"Yup. I'm really sorry, but I told both of you immediately that the watch is time-consuming. "

"I thought you just said that because you do not like Sedna." He still could not quite understand.

"... well, that too. But I really knew right from the start that nothing would happen to us. It has worked so far, right? "

"Right. Nevertheless, I think that ... we should be a bit more careful. Sedna was not quite wrong when she said that we would certainly have problems."

"Oh yes?" Iris suddenly sounded very angry. "And why do you suddenly think that? To this day, we only slept in the open and that did not bother you a bit. And now suddenly everything is different, just because she is here? What do you like about her?"

"Nothing at all! I mean, of course, I think she's great, but that has nothing to do with it! I just don't want anything to happen to us."

"Listen, Geb." Her voice was quieter, but strict. "I know how serious the situation is and that we must find the hero of light as quickly as possible. But that doesn't mean we can't do it alone."

"What ... what does that mean?"

Iris was silent when she realized how he could have understood the sentence. "I do not know," she finally said, and Geb heard her turn away. "I really do not know."

---

The rest of the night, Geb was alone. Iris slept at a distance next to Shimmer-she had a quiet sleep, which was quite different from her conversation. And if she is right? he asked himself. They had gone on their voyage without knowing each other fully. Perhaps the first impression had been deceived and they were so different that they simply did not work together.

But that's nonsense. He liked Iris. And she liked him! Otherwise she would not have helped him to the other side of the river.

Then he noticed. I did not thank her at all! No wonder she was so angry. After Sedna's appearance, he had completely ignored Iris. She might even like Sedna-but she was so jealous she did not want to admit it. Geb just had to apologize, and then everything would be all right.

So he crept over to Iris and touched her slightly to wake her up. As soon as he had done this, she shrank and was instantly bright. She really had a light sleep!

"All good," he said quickly. "I just wanted to tell you something."

"Hopefully important."

"It really is! I just thought, and it occurred to me that- " He paused. Something was wrong.

"Yes?" Iris reminded him impatiently, but he interrupted himself.

"There's something. Someone outside the cave. I feel it in the ground. "

"Sure your magic is not going crazy again?" But she had lowered her voice, just in case, or did she really believe him?

"What are we going to do now?" asked Geb, waiting for the answer from his friend, who seemed to be thinking.

"We can not go out," she recognized. "If there is someone who is looking for us, then we would have a problem."

Geb thought. "But if we stay here, this person may come into the cave and find us."

"If only we could divert them somehow..."

"Sedna!"

There was again the angry sound in Iris's voice. "What?"

Geb gathered himself. He could not make a mistake now. "What I wanted to say to you earlier is that I'm sorry not to have thanked you when you helped me through the river. I was so distracted by Sedna, that I've completely forgotten. Honestly, I think you're great and I do not want you to be jealous because of Sedna. But now she can help us, do you understand?"

Their reply made it easier to make a general impression. "You trusted me so far, so I'll go with it for now. If you think this is the right way, we should try it out. "

"Thank you." He smiled at her again before he remembered that she could not see him. So he went to wake Sedna.

Surprisingly, the water-elmin did not have to be convinced. She was ready to face the unknown. "It is certainly no one who is after me, so I can help you."

As soon as Sedna had set out, Iris and Geb came forward. "Come on, faster! I do not want to miss anything," hissed Iris. So the two creaked as quietly as possible to the cave entrance, so as not to be noticed.

There, Geb realized that he could not see either Sedna or the other person in the dark now, so he was forced to rely solely on his hearing.

"Do not make such noise. I'm trying to sleep." That was Sedna. She was facing the other person now.

"Who is there?" Geb breathed, relieved. The person could not see in the dark, otherwise they wouldn't have asked the question. So it was not a shadow that talked to Sedna - then they would have had a rather big problem.

Sedna also sounded more confident. "A water-elmin. And hopefully you have a good reason to run around here."

"Do you have one?" The stranger - for Geb heard it was an adult man - seemed to think Sedna was also an adult. She didn't miss it by much, she was already as old as Emesh. "This is no more your territory than mine."

"I'm just passing through. But at least I'm not so dumb as to be on the road at night. "

"There is a reason for this. I'm looking for someone, you need to know. By traveling in the night I can come upon them faster, especially since my companion can see in the dark."

A hiss sounded. "Big cat," Geb whispered as he felt Iris contracting beside him. So an Earth-Elm. Really great. "Fortunately, she can not smell us because Sedna's smell is superimposed on ours."

Iris had to giggle, but Sedna, who was still smelling of fish and salt water, responded with lightning speed. She went on talking before the stranger could get the idea that someone was still with them.

"That is very interesting. Whom are you looking for?"

"An Elmin from the Tribe of Sky. She has kidnapped a member of my tribe. "

"Really?" The surprise in Sedna's voice was not played - and Geb was like it. Iris should have kidnapped him? That was absolutely ridiculous!

"Incredible, is not it? But it's true. Even her own mentor has confirmed to us that she is entitled to such an act."

"That's -" Quickly, Geb gave Iris a hand over her mouth, so she fell silent. Now they could not be noticed.

"Would not it be more appropriate to look for them somewhere else?" Sedna asked, without any sign of having heard Iris. "I do not know what a Sky Elmin should look for here."

"Neither do I. But Chief Kishar is of the opinion that one should also consider improbable ways. That's exactly why we crossed the river, which is not easy with a cat."

"The situation must really be serious," Sedna commented, but the stranger did not laugh.

"That's the way it is. If we did not find them soon, the peace treaty was short-lived."

"That means?"

"That Kishar will declare war to the Sky Elmen."

"No!"

Geb held his breath. It wasn't Sedna who was screamed.

But Iris.

Sky of Stone Chapters
 Prologue   Prologue
 One: Earth   1: Summer Solstice2: Riders of the Wind3: Light and Shadow4: Opposites5: A Strange Encounter6: Across the River
 Two: Ore   7: Dark Omens8: Underground9: His Radiance10: The Forbidden11: A Boy and His Goat12: The Story of a Tribe13: Keeper of Earth14: At the Bottom15: Changes
 Three: Sky   16: Back to the Start17: Against the Darkness18: Old Acquaintances19: Change of Plans20: Unexpected21: Sky Holes22: Wind and Water
 Epilogue   Epilogue

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