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About the Author


Dog/Animal lover, Nature Lover, Garden Commando, Avid reader of
Fantasy and Science Fiction, Antique bargain hunter, Video gamer,
Concealed Pistol License holder, Target pistol shooting enthusiast, Amateur
weight trainer, CNC Mill Machinist / CAD Programmer, Christian, Fantasy
Writer.
Husband and father who lives in Bellville, Michigan, USA.
spencer-smith-xhsk.squarespace.com

Spencer R. Smith

THE FIRST PORTAL


(Book 1 of The Earth Mother Series)

Copyright Spencer R. Smith (2015)


The right of Spencer R. Smith to be identified as author of this work
has been asserted by him in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
without the prior permission of the publishers.
Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this
publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for
damages.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British
Library.

ISBN 978 1 78455 699 0 (paperback)


978 1 78455 701 0 (hardback)

www.austinmacauley.com
First Published (2015)
Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd.
25 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London
E14 5LB

Printed and bound in Great Britain

Acknowledgments
For Pam my Wife
Without her encouragement this book would never have come to be.
Avid Fan, Cheerful Muse, Patient Editor, Loving Wife.
And
My Dog Duke
Who kept both my feet and my heart warm while I wrote this.
Rest In Peace Old Friend.
Special Thanks to all the talented artists whose work appears within this
book.
Tze Fong, (aka Joe Pee) for the Elan, Melia, Argus, Silas, Jubia, Jenra,
Myrrah and Otto illustrations.
William Black for the graphic art of Morva, The Judge, Shiver Bog, The
Aulkyn,
Veesta Illusion, and Veesta True Form.

PROLOGUE
Shiver Bog

The small brackish pond was nearly ten feet around and was elevated by a dark
muddy mound of black slime, thirty feet around and ten feet high. Not quite tall
enough to be called a hill, the mound of ground leaked, oozed, and burbled
around gnarled, twisted black trees and roots. Three hundred feet all around the
mound, the forest was black and devoid of life. Of course many names were
given to it over the years; evil, black, desolate, the only one that ever stuck was
Shiver.
Shiver Bog stuck, because when anyone had the courage to come close
enough to see it, or spoke of it, they did so with an uncontrollable shiver.
It was located in the south-west corner of the forest near the industrialized
area. All the factory owners denied any knowledge of its creation and its
existence.
Everyone tried to deny its existence.
Around thirty years ago the British government sent a team of hazmat
specialists to investigate it. They were supposed to determine its origin and
exactly what it was. Three big semi-trucks came with all the latest hi-tech
equipment, fancy suits, and everything you could imagine. One day after they
arrived, they were gone. A week later a military team showed up in some
different kinds of suits and put a ten-foot high barb wire fence around it with a
bunch of signs saying, KEEP OUT TOXIC AREA.
Within two weeks you could tell the mound was slowly swallowing the
fence, two months later it was gone. If you were able to get close enough, you
could see it intertwined with the trees and roots around the mound. No one came
to replace it and everyone tried to deny its existence. The scientists from the
hazmat team sent to investigate it, moved away, far away.

Chapter One
The Fox, the Frog, and the Hummingbird

This will do nicely Edward, thank you very much, the white-haired women
told the cab driver.
The driver slowed down and looked around, seeing nothing but huge old
growth trees all around the English country road he looked into his rear view
mirror and asked, Are you sure, mam?
Yes, quite, right here will do nicely please, the woman replied.
She is a curious one, the driver thought, must have been quite a beauty
in her day. Hair white as snow but still a youthful look about her, and the
deepest, brightest green eyes hed ever seen. Although not part of the service
he felt obligated to jump out and open the door for her. Well I guess thats all
then, he said as she stepped out.
Yes, thank you, Edward, that will be all, she replied as she held out her
hand offering payment as he automatically opened his own by reflex. As
agreed, she said as she dropped a sunflower-sized seed into his opened hand.
As agreed, he replied, then almost robotically got back into his cab and
drove away. As he rounded the corner and she passed from view he couldnt
help thinking he did not remember when he had told her his name. He shrugged
as he reached over to reset his meter, realizing he had never turned it on. It was
then he opened his hand to look at his payment, to discover it was a solid gold
nugget the exact shape and size of a sunflower seed. Immediately he stopped his
cab to inspect it further, authenticating it as genuine. On reflex, he looked up
into his rear view mirror only to discover that there was no forest or even a road.
He was still in the city parked in front of the court house, with a solid gold
sunflower seed in his hand, and a memory of the deepest, brightest green eyes
hed ever seen.
Immediately as the yellow cab drove away an orange and black fox
appeared in front of the white-haired woman, as if from air. She was quite a
handsome specimen for her kind. Perfectly proportioned black boots on each of
her legs, black half-moons on the tips of each ear and a black tip on her tail just
large enough to make itself un-over-looked. Her eyes were large and round, and
the same orange color as her fur. The woman greeted her with a warm friendly
smile saying, Thank you for greeting me, Faith.
Something good to report, my lady? inquired the fox.
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Ill share the days events when brother and sister are present, Faith,
replied the old woman. As the woman turned to start walking, the forest opened
creating a path where there was none, and her appearance slowly changed, age
beginning to fade away. Her hair changed into a golden strawberry blonde,
wrinkles replaced with a youthful creamy complexion of a twenty-five year old
beauty. Only her eyes stayed the same because they had never changed.
They began walking deeper into the forest and it automatically opened
before them and closed behind. The fox studied the womans face as they
walked trying to discern any possible clues, finding none she dropped her head
and mumbled, Its just . . . you said.
The woman stopped and looked down at the fox asking, What was that?
Looking up at the woman the fox said, Before you left, you said the time
had come to pass for the Evil One to be defeated or the forest will be lost.
Really? the woman replied half scolding, half questioning.
The fox turned her head slightly to lose eye contact and mumbled, Thats
what you said.
The woman began walking again her irritation noticeable in her steps, in
response to her emotion the forest seemed to loom darker around their path.
After some time without pausing she replied harshly, What I said, her green
eyes glowing like hot coals as she spoke. The fox turned her head and flattened
her ears as if struck. Seeing this from the corner of her eye the woman paused
and took a deep breath as her expression softened. She knelt down, shook her
head slightly, smiled softly then gently took the foxs head in her hands and
kissed her on the nose.
Very well, she said, patiently, perhaps we should talk a bit. As if by
command vines came from the forest and roots from the ground forming a chair
for the woman to sit in. She sat down then repeated much softer this time, what
I said, as her green eyes sparkled, just for a brief moment, as if to make sure
she had the foxs complete attention. MY time has come, to defeat the Evil One
or THIS forest will be lost.
With a confused and worried look the fox asked, Then the report is not
good?
With an I already told you look, the woman repeated, Ill share the days
events when brother and sister are present. Curious now, the fox sat and waited
to see what it was the woman meant by talk a bit. The woman looked at the fox
for several moments saying nothing. Then said, The fox, both hunter and
hunted, quicker than the bear, smarter than the wolf, craftier then the hound.
She paused, smiled, then continued, Because when you hunt you must keep one
eye on your prey and the other one on what might be hunting you.
Looking ashamed the fox stammered, But you know, my lady, I dont
hunt.
The woman smiled and asked, Did you ever wonder why your gift
manifested itself as stealth?
The fox just looked at the woman with a not really shrug. With a deep
sigh, and an I cant believe I have to explain this to you expression, the Lady
said, what better ability could there be for both hunter and hunted?
The fox dropped her head and repeated, But I dont hunt.
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The woman lifted the foxs head in her hands and with her face inches
away said, Faith, you cannot run, hide, or deny your true nature any longer. Im
afraid its in your genes, dear friend.
From the side a deep gravely Scottish voice croaked, Far be it from me to
doubt your abilities, my lady, but I dont think even your magic can change this
vegetarian fox into a meat eater.
The woman turned her head and smiled at the large frog saying, Arthur,
how nice of you to join us.
The fox, however, growled, I dont know, suddenly I have the urge to try
frog legs at least. Unafraid the frog leapt 15 feet onto the foxs head, then
immediately onto the womans lap. Safely in the womans lap the frog stuck out
his tongue inches from the foxs nose. Which the fox snapped at barely missing.
Dont start, the woman said sternly as if chastising children. Properly
reprimanded the fox and frog gave the woman their complete attention.
The frog was rather large for his species, with a body the size of a small
cat. Quite handsome actually, for a frog that is. His body was a brilliant green
with a ridged back that was dark gold and with greenish gold legs. Not a single
wart or blemish on his body and large turquoise blue eyes.
With your permission, my lady, I can answer that question easy enough,
the frog croaked.
Fair enough Arthur, perhaps you can help with your sisters insight,
responded the woman. Please tell me why you think you were given the ability
of Daydream Metamorphosis.
Because I would never want to be in love with some thick ugly human
woman, replied the frog. Present company excluded of course, my lady, he
quickly added with a wink.
Of course, replied the woman with a small smirk.
Looking at the woman the fox said, This is supposed to help me?
The woman acknowledged the fox and said, Arthur, could you please
explain further for Faith?
The frog sighed and gave the fox an impatient look and told the woman,
Of course, my lady. The frog looked at the fox and said, When I morph, it is
to do the task, because the task must be done, and I do WHATEVER I have to
do, to do the task.
Faith looked away, looking a little guilty and asked, So youre saying we
should only use our abilities when its to help the cause?
The frog and the woman looked at each other and sighed. Then the frog
said, I am afraid its hopeless. The woman looked at the frog, her expression
becoming distant for a moment as her eyes softly glowed briefly and said, as
long as the Great Tree Spirit exists, and there is one with a heart pure enough to
embrace it, there is always hope. The woman focused on the frog now and
asked, Nevertheless, what about your current task, Arthur?
Caught off guard the frog said, Ah, yes, my task. The frog replied
squirming uncomfortably under the womans gaze. The task you asked me two
nights ago, you mean of course?
That would be the one, the woman replied impatiently.

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Suddenly from above came a confident high pitched tomboyish girl like
voice saying, I know. Then from the left, I know. Then from behind, I
know.
Hello, Gertrude, said the woman as she held out her index finger. A blue
multi-hued humming bird materialized on the womans finger. Jumping up and
down she kept saying, I know, I know, I know.
OK, OK, said the woman smiling, what do you know, Gertrude? The
hummingbird stopped jumping, took a deep breath and said, I know how to
explain Arthurs answer to Faith.
By all means, Gertrude, please do so, replied the woman.
The little humming bird cleared her throat and fluffed her feathers in
preparation, and then began.
The task is whatever our lady asks of us or the Great Tree needs. Those
are the only reasons Arthur chooses to use his morph ability, solely to do the
task given, because we alone are my ladys chosen companions. The tasks are
our duty, and therefore we must do WHATEVER it takes to do our duty.
So, the fox said thoughtfully; even though he hates having to
romantically manipulate human women, he does it because it is the only way to
accomplish his duties. The fox looked at the woman with fearful concern and
asked, Have I failed you, my lady?
No, Faith, never, replied the woman and the fox was relieved. A moment
passed and with a serious glare the woman added Yet . . . That one simple
word was like a kick in the stomach to the fox. Several seconds passed before
she could think clearly or even attempt to speak. Slowly she regained her
composure then stood up, and looking boldly into the womans eyes she said,
As long as there is breath in this body, I will not fail you. I made you an oath
when I became your companion and I WILL keep it!
Unimpressed the woman continued to glare at the fox and said, You were
first chosen of the companions, yet because you have never fully embraced your
gift you are far behind the other two in being worthy enough to receive a
second.
Second gifts! Faith thought, completely stunned, but did not reply.
Instead her eyes narrowed as she concentrated trying to fit all the pieces of this
conversation together. Ah yes, the woman said as she leaned in closer to the
fox, I see that clever mind of yours working now.
Truth is, the woman paused for several seconds. Then looking very sad
continued, Truth is I think it may have doomed us all.
Simultaneously all three companions gasped, MY LADY! She looked at
each one for several moments. The fox last, smiling sadly, saying nothing. Then
suddenly as if nothing had been said, her mood lifted and she said, Gertrude,
you have something to show us? Surprised by the sudden mood shift Trudy did
not reply right away. Then as if realizing the lady had spoken to her she
mumbled, My lady?
You have something to show us? The Lady asked again, patiently.
Oh, yes, now? Trudy replied hesitantly.
You have mastered it? the woman asked.
Umm, mastered, no, Trudy replied.
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You CAN do it though? the woman asked with a raised eyebrow.


Nodding confidently Trudy replied I can, my lady.
Delighted the woman replied, Excellent, please show us, glancing at the
fox on the word us.
Trudy pointed at a dish-sized piece of tree bark with her beak lying on the
ground and asked, If you please, my lady?
I would be honored, replied the woman who then picked up the piece of
bark and held it over her head with two hands. The hummingbird moved about
five feet away from the bark and hovered there a few moments focusing; she
took a deep breath. Then with a blink she was five feet on the other side, leaving
a hummingbird-sized hole in the center of the bark. With delight, the woman
dropped the piece of bark saying excellent, excellent, as she clapped her hands
applauding. Then cupping her hands in front of her welcomed the hummingbird
back to her. The hummingbird obliged landing deftly within the safety of the
womans hands. Then ever so gently the woman lifted the hummingbird to her
face and kissed her on top of the head. Then she said, My sweet, sweet Trudy, I
knew you would not disappoint me. As she lifted her head and returned her
hands to her lap she again gave the fox a momentary glance.
The frog cleared his throat loudly and asked, This is new, my lady?
Yes, of course, Arthur, replied the woman, absolutely, positively new.
Then asked the frog, You didnt see it?
All I saw was Trudy blinking from one place to another like she always
has, replied Arthur.
What about you Faith? The woman asked. The fox did not hear her
though, because she was staring at the bark very deep in thought. Faith! The
woman repeated loud enough to get the foxs attention.
Yes, my Lady, replied Faith.
The women leaned slightly closer and repeated, what did you see?
If I may trouble you, Trudy, do you think you could do it one more time?
Faith asked.
Noticeably irritated the woman said, you-may-not.
Head slightly cocked the fox looked at the woman a few seconds and
replied, very well. Paused for a few more moments and said, Yes, I do
believe I saw it. We are all familiar with Trudys blink ability, which is really
warping space. She can momentarily fold space like a blanket, enabling her to
travel distances up to fifty feet in a fraction of a second. While doing this, her
body appears to dematerialize and re-materializes similar to teleportation. The
main differences being Trudy must be moving and she has a set distance
parameter. Thus appearing to teleport, but in reality teleportation is a lot
different. Fact is shes jumping through space, moving so fast time stops for her.
Because she has mastered this ability she can pass through some objects as long
as their structural integrity is fairly weak.
Umm, excuse me, the little hummingbird interrupted, its fifty-three and
a half feet, Trudy said correcting Faith on her distance.
Ahh, very well, I stand corrected, its fifty three and a half feet, the fox
said with a friendly smile and a bow to the hummingbird.

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The frog cleared his throat loudly and croaked rudely, My Lady did not
ask for a history lesson.
Faith glared at Arthur a moment then continued while looking at the
woman. Whenever Trudy blinks her shadow always disappears, no matter the
light source, her shadow always disappears. I believe it is because she
momentarily does not exist in time, therefore cannot occupy the same physical
space around her. Is that all? The woman asked.
No, also, even though Ive seen Trudy punch holes through bark before
instead of passing through; Ive never seen her punch through bark that thick
before, not without it hurting her anyway, replied Faith.
So, the woman said, all you are saying then, is you know she did not
blink? At this the fox got up and walked over to the bark and began smelling it.
Very carefully the fox smelled the bark, all around the edges and the hole, too.
Faith looked at the woman and said, Somehow she blasted through it.
In a stern tone the woman said sharply, That is unacceptable, Faith.
Immediately the frog and foxs eyes looked at the womans. The woman
reached down and grabbed the fox under its chin softly but securely. Nose to
nose, eye to eye, she said with serious formality, Everything you cherish in this
world depends on you being able to solve riddles like this, everything.
All right, FINE, replied the fox defiantly, who was getting tired of being
the one on the hot seat since the woman returned.
Faith looked the woman directly in the eye and said, She learned some
form of shield manipulation.
Nope, sorry, Faith, thats not right, Trudy said.
Then the only other explanation is she has some form of temporary
invulnerability, Faith said. Combining these two gifts together, and timing
them just right, could theoretically, turn her into a living bullet. Quite
impressive, Trudy, Faith complimented the little bird. Then asked, How long
does it last?
Only one second right now, Trudy replied.
Faith looked at the one inch hole in the bark thinking, Traveling at her
speed, one second is plenty of time. The woman said nothing as if still waiting,
but as she held the foxs eye for eye stare, she slowly raised one eyebrow.
Knowing the gestures meaning the fox continued, Since this
complements her blink ability . . . The fox paused in thought then continued, .
. . Receiving the second gift is only possible through complete mastery of the
first gift, at least thats what you think.
With that, the womans other eye brow raised to join the other. Ever defiant
the fox said softly but clearly, Think what you like, say what you like, but I
have mastered my gift. As to why a second gift has been given to Trudy and
Arthur I cannot say, but I have mastered my gift.
Finally the woman broke her silence saying, I truly, truly hope you are
right. Pausing as if she suddenly remembered something she looked at each of
her companions again. Slowly her composure softened and showed the great
love she had for each one. She sighed deeply, stood up, and said softly, time
grows short and there is still much to do. Trudy, would you please stay with

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