Here is how it looks to those of us who can't see past the Antarctic Cottonwood cloaking:
It's how Maggie, Melody, Elizabeth, and Yaeko saw it for years.
And then Melody met her new geometry teacher, and everything changed.
Below is the moment Maggie saw the Kathlin Rory Carrick Castle for the first time.
Tachyon gave a wind-washed chime, then began his descent. Maggie brought her gaze forward just as the sea horse dipped into a puffy white cloud, surrounding her with a heavenly glow for a second or two, before bursting through the other side. The king’s mount angled left and down towards the
, the one farthest
out to sea, and she completely forgot about the ships and port and buildings. North
For the North Island had transformed ... she gaped ... into a tremendous stone castle. Made of the same milk-white stone of the buildings lining the port, the castle seemed to have grown out of the North Coronados Island like a living thing, from the very core of the island itself, shaped in such a way as to utilize the island’s long, ridged, mountainous shape to its greatest advantage. It made immediate sense to her mind, as beautiful designs seem to make automatic, even obvious sense, and it was then that she knew that when she took leave of the island later she would no longer be able to picture it any other way.
The castle’s dramatic architecture reminded her of Vanerrincourt, of the buildings she saw there, but not completely, not overpoweringly: the towers and spires and parapets and walls and windows had been crafted by an expert hand that had brought many other styles (Maggie guessed: Nine, perhaps?) into the mix seamlessly, beautifully.
As Tachyon slowed, she noted the presence of the same large trees that sheltered the sprawling port on the South Island. The trees were cottonwoods. Huge cottonwood trees. All over and around the castle.
She looked right, over the sea. There were more Saeire Insu ships out there. They were of a new design, one she hadn’t seen before, sleek and small; they patrolled the turquoise waters around this great structure, their sails full.
But—how? She hadn’t spotted them before she left the estuary; and they were easily large enough and numerous enough that missing them would’ve been impossible. How could they be there now? How could this castle?
She flew past a tremendous windowed tower, one so tall its top was hidden in clouds, and then over a beautiful bridge that spanned the island’s ridge and was connected to two smaller towers, one on each side of the ridge. She was angling gently down towards a beautiful courtyard in the fortress’ approximate middle, one surrounded by more of those towering cottonwoods. She thought of the great cottonwood tree in the front yard of her childhood home in Goodland, Kansas. These looked just like that one. Eighty or even a hundred feet tall, with huge, gnarled trunks, heart-shaped green leaves wide as a big man’s hand, and thick, rough, gray-brown boughs that spread high overhead.
The courtyard was easily large enough to receive her and the four other sea horses, which had assumed positions thirty feet above her and were following her down. There was a single man down there leaning on a cane and smiling proudly up at her.
Senor Luis Arroyo.
“His Excellency” waved up to her. Maggie waved unsurely back, feeling genuinely odd, realizing that this was in fact the first time she had ever met him in the flesh. Tachyon further slowed his descent, came to a hovering halt. The Kumiyaay settled around her and dismounted, floating placidly out of their saddles to the courtyard floor. They all looked expectantly up at her.“Welcome to Kathlin Rory Carrick Castle, Margarita,” called Luis. “How was your first trip on a sea horse?”