The Natural World: Prophets of Stone – Chapter 6: Doubt
Sye traced his fingers down the golden edge of the mirror. The rest of the guest room he and Sara were assignment was bigger than anything they had ever seen. A large cabinet and dresser sat against the wall, both painted red. A painting on the wall depicted Atius soldiers rushing head first into battle. Thousands of enemy soldiers piled further up a mountain in the background. The expression on the Atius soldiers displayed determination against an army so massive that defeat was enviable, because during the time of the war, everyone in Atius thought it would be their last battle.
Sye faced the bed where Sara lied, unable to sleep. Sitting down, he spoke knowing full well she wasn’t asleep either.
Sara brushed herself out of the sheets and leaned back on the headboard. “Yes.”
“I still don’t know if I even understand what’s going on.”
Placing his head on the pillow, Sye exhaled loud and deep. A hand touched his shoulder, and he turned to find his sister staring at him.
“No matter what happens, we have to do this together.”
“How can I protect you Sara?” Sye’s eyes shake as they fill up with water. “I couldn’t even help mother.” His flowed onto the bed sheet as Sye covered his face with his hand. Sara removed his hand and wiped his tears.
“Don’t blame yourself, Sye. She’s gone. Now, we have to decide what we’re going to do without her.”
King Clandestine stood in his study. He looked above the fireplace, a portrait of his father.
“Well, father, you certainly didn’t like the way I played with magical ‘toys’. Evil creations you called them. Still, I know what they need. The ‘toys’ I enjoyed so long ago, are needed for an even bigger purpose. You would never approve, nor would you have of the way I’ve collected them over the years, but perhaps this is why I have collected them, so they could be used for a purpose.
“I wonder how you would have handled this. You would have said that if the world lived or died, it would be because of humanity, without the use of magic, but I disagree. If it can help, then we must use every resource at our disposal.”
King Clandestine exited the study and ran into his aids. The King led him through a large double door. Inside, the room was a half circle, with rows of chairs forming upward. Many people waited passionately in their chairs, while others talked among themselves. One large marble podium stood at the front. King Clandestine pointed from the front row and counted until he reached 23, the number of independent countries. He commanded Valquire to close the door.
After the King had told them everything he knew about the coming war and the comet, he and Valquire remained outside while the others discussed. Every council meeting was discussed without the host King, and the host King’s aid. Valquire stared at King Clandestine with a heavy growl.
“They don’t understand anything. Most don’t even believe the comet.”
“What do you recommend?”
“What I did to secure their vote. Bribe, threaten their families.”
“Valquire? You didn’t.”
Valquire moved his whole body as his cloak swirled over the ground. He pulled his arm in a fist toward himself. For the first time in months, King Clandestine heard his friend raise his voice against him.
“They are stupid. Internal wars when an outside one looms. If you watch the way they listen, they ignore those from countries they disagree with. They desecrate the reason our countries exist. We are independent because we caused a civil war against Octom. I won’t have war due to internal bickering and prejudice.”
King Clandestine gazed away from Valquire.
“This is why you are my aid.”
“And why I am not the King.”
Suddenly, screams rang throughout the chamber. Valquire pulled open the door, but he saw nothing but death. Every King’s aid was murdered, most fallen over their desks. Only four had a chance to run toward the door.
King Clandestine gasped. Valquire studied the back of the closet body to him, a clear stab right into the heart from behind.
“Whoever did this was a professional.”
King Clandestine stood dumfounded; he realized that everything he had tried to accomplish had been ruined. “Valquire, I can’t even begin to explain how terrifying, how tearinly bad this situation is. How will we explain this to the other countries? Not only will they think us involved in some conspiracy, but they will be less likely to listen to our talk about the coming comet, and to join us in the war.”
Valquire kneeled down and placed his fingers into the blood which trinkled out from one of the victims. “This should not have happened.” Valquire wiped the blood onto the victim’s shirt. “If only I had been here, then I could have killed that assassin.”
Sye and Sara sat in their room. Sye put down a book she was reading, bored, her mind wondering. “We didn’t see the King at all yesterday.”
“They did have an important meeting.”
Sye pounded his hand onto the desk. “Don’t be stupid Sara, you know the meeting had to be war related. What’s the reason any King would gather people from other countries?”
“Are we to be warriors?”
Sye lowered his breathing and relaxed his muscles.
“I don’t know what we are.”
“I don’t ever want to kill.”
Sye turned toward Sara, his eyes caught in her innocent frown. She had given much thought to this in the past few days..
“And what if you have to? What if someone leaves you no other choice than to die?”
Sara angled her eyebrows. “Then I will die.”
A loud knock echoed through the room. The door opened, and Valquire emerged. Valquire led them through the castle, but as they passed each room, Sye noticed most of the rooms empty.
“Where are all the guests?”
Valquire grunted. “Follow me.”
King Clandestine’s room was located on the far western edge. Silk decorated each wall. The only item out of place was the bookshelf that had been pulled away from the wall. Behind where the bookshelf used to be a crank emerged from the wall. King Clandestine pulled the crank and a small section of the wall rotated down into the ground.
Sye and Sara looked at each other, then followed the king down a spiral staircase. The staircase ended on the first floor of the building, yet had no windows to verify this to anyone walking down the stairs, where another handle extended from the wall. The King rotated the handle then told them to wait five minutes.
“Your journey will be hard, especially when it’s hard to know exactly what it is you are doing. That is why I am making sure you are well prepared.”
Sye pointed his finger at the King.
“What makes you think we will do what this rock says?”
“You must help,” said Valquire, coming down the staircase, “for no one will help us. The guests you just asked about were all murdered. This will cause internal strife throughout the region, leading to no aid, for wars, for comets, for understanding that stone. You are our only option.”
Sara pulled Sye’s hand back.
“There must be a reason for all of this Sye. It chose us.”
“Then it was fate then, that caused everyone in town to die.” Sye’s head fell toward the ground. “Our mother.”
“Everything happens for a reason Sye.”
Sye returned Valquire’s glare with astern gaze. “That’s how you want to deal with it, fine. But I don’t believe something can predict what will save the world.”
“You should ask my friend Chavis what he thinks of that,” interrupted Valquire. “He has an interesting view on predictions.”
“I don’t want to tell you you have to do this,” said King Clandestine, “but tell me, who else?” Sye didn’t answer. “Well, the lights should be powered up by now.” The King lead them many feet underground, as the walls became older and dustier. The stairs turned from metal into wood. Eventually, after a long trek downward, they arrived at the bottom; a large three story chamber.
Shelves on the left, right, and center walls held hundreds of carefully arranged items. Below each item was a small piece of paper.
“Every one of these items has some sort of magical power. Below you will find a description of its abilities. Chose two items, and chose them carefully.” Sye and Sara inspected a small gold coin.
“Chose yourself, Valquire. You will need to protect them.”
“I already know what I want.”
Valquire eyed a giant metallic disc, but instead moved toward a large staff shaped like a question mark, and pulled it forth. Valquire moved to a large staff shaped like a question mark, and pulled it forth.
With King Clandestine and Valquire gone, Sye moved toward a helmet.
“Put this on to control the dead (inactive). Why would the word inactive be on this writing.”
Sara, at almost the same time, said, “Hey, Sye, it’s on a few others, too.”
Sara spotted a small metal ball and read the inscription. She then flung the ball at the wall. Sye watched, puzzled, until the ball bounced off the wall and returned at her with the same speed with which she had throw in. He quickly leapt into her and knocked her to the ground. Sye regained his posture as the metal ball floated before them.
“Don’t worry, Sye, the least it can do is knock me unconscious.” Sara extended her hand over the ball and grasped it within her palm. “I know one thing I want now.”
Sye grabbed a red lion statue, but was interrupted before he had time to read.
“Are you always going to be coming to my rescue?”
Sye placed the statue down, but was quickly startled when he noticed the sword on the end. Reading the description, Sye held the blade. Next to the sword lay an axe, claw, shuriken, darts, a strange circular, metallic disc the size of one human laying down, a few empty slots where it look as if weapons use to be, and a quiver of arrows.
“Sara, you might want to look at this.”
Sara and Sye approached the king. A rock was stationed next to the King’s chair, and Sye was the first to ask.
“This rock looks out of place.”
Valquire wore a different pair of gloves over his hands. On them were the symbol of a red spiral. He kneeled down near the rock and slammed his fist into it. The rock shattered and Valquire’s fist entered the entire rock, leaving a small dent on the floor as well.
“Each of you have a unique item you will need to learn how to use.” Valquire grabbed his staff from behind the King’s chair and showed it to Sye and Sara. The earthly staff was seven feet tall. Three points protruded from the top. A small flat piece of plastic covered the bottom of the staff. “When Valquire removes the staff from it’s holding, and presses it to the floor, it will create earthquake like disasters, though it is self contained to the area you are in. The size and force of the earthquake depends on how long the staff touches anything that is not plastic.
“Now Sye, show me what you wish to take with you.”
Sye glanced back toward his sister, then back to the King. Sye held his arm aloft to show the King his armband. A snake encircled a white gem. “I’m sorry Sye, but only one of those arm band’s powers will work. You press the gem, and the heat from your fingers changes the color to blue. You should then fly. There is just one problem. Magic was banished from all people and the earth. Since this actually makes your body fly, it cannot, for that would be making your body magical. However, press the button again, it turns black, then you will be invisible. Try it.”
Sye pushed his finger to the gem as it changed to blue. Nothing happened. He pressed it again, and it quickly turned black before Sye faded from Sara, Valquire, and King Clandestine’s eyes.
“You see Sye, this does not make your body invisible. It refracts the light around your body so that people think you are not there. This way you are able to use it. Now, press it again, and you should fly and be invisible, but you already know what I’m going to say to that.”
Sye reappeared before them.
“Sye you should have seen it, you were invisible.”
“Strange. I didn’t feel any different.”
“This is amazing, show us what the other item you chose.” Sara pulled the sword from Sye’s back and laid it before the King. Sara’s eyes brightened. “Tell us what it does.”
Sye smiled at Sara’s playfulness, it was the first time he had seen her smile since their mother died.
“I already know what it does Sara, it’s unbreakable, and can cut through anything.”
“What do my arrows do?”
Sara pulled the quiver of arrows off her back and held them before Clandestine.
“The red arrow will create flame when it is hit with force. The blue, a huge amount of water explodes from it. The white one creates a protective bubble around the area it hits.” King Clandestine looked around Sara. “I don’t see your other weapon.”
“It’s right here.”
Sara reached into her pocket and brought forth a large steel marble.
“Simply throw it, and it will hit whatever it is you threw it at and then return exactly to the last place it was touched.”
Sara’s face suddenly lost it’s glow.
“And this will never kill anyone, correct?”
“Er, yes,” said King Clandestine, raising only one of his eyebrows.
“Is that a problem?” shouted Sye.
“You must be prepared to do anything,” said Valquire.
Sye raised his voice. “How do you even know we will kill anyone; we haven’t even agreed to do anything. Words on a rock. It sounds ridicules. Everyone is dead, the town is gone, and you just want us to abandon it.”
Sara placed her hand on Sye’s shoulder. It calmed him down and he stopped his sentence.
“I,” said Sara, intensively gazing at Sye, “am going.”
Sye looked up at the King, then back to Sara. “Are you sure?”
Sara gazed directly into Sye’s eyes. Her face displayed a stren, unyielding conviction.
Sye knelt in front of his sword. “Then I,” he said, grabbing the handle, “am going with you.”
“Then it has been decided,” said Valquire. “We will travel south to Gaia, where my friend Chavis is waiting. With his knowledge, he might be able to help us. Then, we travel south, until we can’t anymore.”
King Clandestine rose from his chair and approached the brother and sister.
“What you do now, you do for more than just us.”
King Clandestine escorted them to the front of the castle to the pillars that hold the gate. Moving a piece of the stone from the pillar, Clandestine pulled the wall down, hiding a small closet inside the castle’s front gate. Then, Clandestine pulled a wooden boat from inside the pillar and placed it at their feet.
“This is faster than any horse. But, be sure you hide it before going into a city. Valquire, one last word.”
Valquire and King Clandestine walked in between the gate and tulips which decorated the outside of the castle. Sara held the white arrow in front of her face. She turned the white-painted wood around, to examine it from other angles.
“These are so cool. I can’t believe so many people are afraid of this. There’s so much you can do.”
Sye sat on the ground and leaned against the pillar, looking at the strange boat that will somehow travel on land. Sara took a seat in the boat, staring at her brother as he gazed up at the sky. Minutes later, Valquire returned.
“Time to go.”
Sye entered the boat as Valquire tapped both oars on the ground. The boat levitated an inch into the air, but was not apparent to anyone in the boat. King Clandestine wished them luck, and to send reports to him should they discover anything important.
The boat moved slowly, so slow that Sye could still run to the castle entrance and back and the boat would not be far away. But, then the boat gained speed and the castle quickly faded from view.
“I can’t believe we left already.”
Sara leaned onto Sye. “I know, but what do we really have to look forward to back there?”
The countryside they had always known vanished, and they found themselves speeding though unknown plains, roads, and forests, heading ever faster to a future they could not predict.
You have not yet told me to quit writing Otovan. You just pace and pace.
I’m sorry, but it would appear I am not the only one watching them.
I thought there was only one of us at a time.
There is, but King Clandestine does not know all the loopholes in the current state of magic. Someone is watching Sye with his own mind. A helmet is placed over his head. Sye is in a dungeon, chained to a chair. This helmet is one of a pair. The one who wears the other can read someone else’s mind. You see, Lycious, there is much of the human brain that no one knows about. It is possible for someone to read another’s mind, , hypnotize; none of these are magical effects, yet they cannot be explained.
Someone is extracting information from Sye, in a time close to the one I have already witnessed. There is someone in the room with him.
It disturbs me, Otovan. Why would Sye be captured, and where is his sister?
I do not see her. Sye screams, Lycious, for the extraction of information from his brain creates pain all over the body, especially, when it is forced.
Who could be doing this?
Hopefully, he will be revealed to me.