THE FIVE GRIFFONS pushed off, then gathered in a circle high above the courtyard and began to hum—a low, rumbling sound. Kassie watched in breathless anticipation as she felt the griffons energy rise. A shimmering in the middle of the circle caught her eye and she went to lean forward. Rumal's arms locked tight around her.

'Hush,' he breathed. 'Don't move.' She complied and watched the shimmering grow more pronounced. It developed a spherical shape and grew until an obvious ball of swirling silver and blue energy hung in the air. The intensity of the hum increased and she could feel the energy crackle and twist around them.

'Hold your breath,' Rumal snapped.

Kerak gave a strong flap of his wings and dived into the swirling mass. Darkness surrounded them. She lost any sense of up and down, and couldn't even feel Rumal or Kerak. She felt a sense of panic begin to well in her chest while she continued to hold her breath. Suddenly it grew light again and she could breathe. She blinked rapidly, looking around.

'Welcome to Rhdanon, Kass,' Rumal smiled.

Kerak moved so they could watch the others come through; such a strange sight. There was no visible orb on this side but just before a griffon came through, the sound of their energy was suddenly audible. Then the griffon and riders appeared, like stepping through a doorway. It went silent again until the next came through.

LOI WATCHED THE process, fascinated and turned to smile at Kassie. Loushka came through and Cat stared wide-eyed when they came around to wait with the others. Just Phroma was left. The dark griffon came through smoothly and the gateway closed with a loud chime.

Citaan beamed at the girls and practically hopped in the saddle. 'C'mon, it'll be getting busy. Let's go!'

Everyone laughed while the girls exchanged questioning looks. They'd soon see what all the fuss was about.

THE FOREST WAS much sparser here and I could smell salt in the air. I squirmed in the saddle, trying to see more. Alek laughed at me.

'Pull Cat up to standing,' Loushka thought to us both. 'It's a good view.'

Helping me out of the stiff overcoat, Alek pulled me to my feet. I leaned back against him, looking out. What a spectacular sight. We approached what must be a city. It looked miles bigger than Gartoll and I could just make out a harbor littered with boats. I felt a rush of excitement and twisted to look up at Alek. 'Are we going to the city?'

'No, we're going to somewhere even better.'

We settled back down into the saddle and I stretched my arms out, relieved to be rid of that coat.

'Would you stop that?'

'What?' I looked up in surprise as he stared down with a bemused smile.

'I said we'd discuss your outfit later, arching your back like that isn't helpful.'

Whoops. I'd actually forgotten how low the v-neck on my sweater was.

I laughed at him. 'No-one's making you look.'

THE GRIFFONS FLEW lower and we could make out houses and people now. All of them looked up to see us. Some waved and shouted while others just gaped. The attention was funny, I frequently forgot the status of the Griffon Guard and Alek. I could see a large, make that huge, clearing coming up. It teemed with people. My jaw dropped, it had to be the largest crowd we'd seen yet. The griffons appeared to know the place well and I got a shock when Loushka dived low over the crowd and let out a screeching roar. The others followed suit and the crowd screamed back in excitement.

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