Chapter 10: Threat




      Four days had passed. Sunlight beat down on Sara as she struggled to lift her left leg through the Barren Lands. She was moving slower than the previous days. Valquire placed his hand in front of her and told them that they needed to rest, otherwise Sara would collapse. Chavis, however, said they should keep going. They had not eaten since their boat was destroyed. Sara was persistent, however, and said they had to keep going or everyone would starve.

      Sye asked Sara if she was alright to walk, and she said, “Yes.” Later, however, it was apparent she was not, for she collapsed behind Sye.

      Frantic, Sye screamed for his sister and ran to her side. He moved her body over and shook her, but she didn’t wake up. Chavis pointed toward a small smoke puff in the distance.

      “Someone has to live there.”

      Valquire lifted Sara onto his back as Sye watched with a disturbed eye, but he just breathed harder then turned around. Leaving the others behind him, Sye ran toward the smoke.

      After the stone creature incident, everyone had agreed that taking the path would be a death wish if there were more of them. However, since they had barely left Gaia before their boat was trashed, they had a long walk ahead of them. They survived on various berries and the occasional apple and pear tree along the way, but there was no natural food after entering the Barren Lands. After a few days, they ran out of food, and then, the last 4 have been without any sustenance. The Barren Lands were also slowly transforming into a desert, but this was the only way to move forward safely.

      Sye arrived at a house near the smoke, where a little girl was walking. This girl held her head down and moved forward in a small, sluggish manner. She did not acknowledge Sye’s presence when he arrived.

      “Is there a doctor? My sister is sick.”

      The girl shuffled in a straight path, ignoring him. Sye grabbed the girl’s shoulders and shook her.

      “You must know something? Tell me.”

      The girl was unfazed. Her gaze stared at the ground. She tried walking despite the fact Sye blocked her path. Sye pushed her back, but she kept walking. Sye shoved her out of the way and ran into a house.

      An elderly woman sat in her chair, rocking. The house was bare. Except for a small rug in the middle of the floor, there was no decoration or furniture.

      “I need a bed, please. My sister is dying.”

      The woman stood from her chair and staggered toward their room. Sye followed the woman in, where she placed her hands over the mattress and pulled it closer to the door.

      “I just need a bed. Stop that.”

      The woman dropped the bed, walked back into the living room, then sat in her chair and rocked. Sye stared at her as she rocked, but her eyes never glanced his direction.

      Valquire appeared at the door, holding Sara. Sye snapped out of his trance and told them to follow him into the bedroom. Valquire laid Sara on the bed. Sye returned to the woman and asked if she could get them some water. She left, then minutes later returned with a bucket of water. After putting the water down, the woman returned to her chair.

      Sye brought the bucket in and filled his hands with water, which he then poured onto Sara’s mouth. After five splashes, Sara coughed, appeared startled, then fell asleep.

      “Let her sleep. She has never been pushed this hard before, I assume. With enough rest, food, and water, she will be fine.”

      “Something is wrong,” said Valquire. “This isn’t Gaul.”

      “Gaul is huge, I’ve been there once before. This isn’t it,” said Sye.

      Valquire walked toward the door then turned his face into the room.

      “Watch over her Sye. I’m going to look around.”

      Valquire walked through the town, but there were only twelve cabins. They were poorly constructed, too. Some of the wood stuck out further than it should. Door and window sills were not aligned correctly. Six people were constructing a new cabin, but they moved so slow that it would take many weeks to finish.

      Behind the construction workers, a boy stood with his hands behind his back. Valquire called to the boy, but he did not respond. Valquire assumed he was like the others as he approached him, but the boy responded to Valquire getting close with a roundhouse kick. His leg made no impact, stopped by Valquire’s grasp. Startled, the boy froze.

      “What are you doing?”

      The boy did not respond. He fell to the ground and yelled out.

      “Attack him my slaves.”

      The construction workers dropped the logs and tools they held. One even dropped a hammer of his foot, but did not feel it. The workers approached Valquire like zombies, moving slow, but posing no threat, especially not with one of Valquire’s background.

      Valquire punched the first man in the stomach and knocked him to the ground. He smashed the heads of two of them together, the swung one of the workers into the last one. All this took place in less than twenty seconds.

      The boy of the ground moved away from Valquire, but Valquire was angry. He gripped the boy by the neck.

      “I want answers,” he said, squeezing the boys neck tighter, “now!”

      The boy sprung a needle from his arm and stabbed it into Valuire’s shoulder. Valquire threw the boy to the ground. The boy simply turned and smiled. Valquire clenched his fists to prepare to execute the boy, but then he felt his hand grow numb. He looked at the needle the boy held in his hand.

      “You, bas…..”

      Valquire moved forward one more step, then collapsed in front of the boy’s feet.


      *       *       *      




      Sara awoke hours later, asking for food. They now had apples, carrots, and beets.

      “We made it to Gaul?”

      “Not exactly.”

      Sara saw Chaivs smile as she looked at him, but then she realized Valquire was not present.

      “He’s been missing for hours,” said Chavis. “But until he returns, how about I tell you a few jokes?”

      Chavis told jokes for the next hour. Sye and Sara laughed, but during one particular joke, they did not notice Valquire enter. He didn’t speak a word. He didn’t walk like one who was proud, he walked like one who was hungover, yet still able to move forward in a straight line.

      He grabbed Sara by the neck and held a knife by her throat.

      “Valquire, what are you doing?”

      Sye pulled Valquire’s arm away from Sara, but Valquire’s arm was twice his size, and a contest of strength was already decided before it began . Sye found himself on the floor in pain. Valquire lifted Sara up and dragged her feet along the floor. Chavis staked his staff on the ground and arose from his chair.

      “Valquire, what are you doing?”

      Valquire did not speak, he only continued to drag Sara away. Sye pushed his hands on the floor and rose himself up. His eyes burned. Sye grabbed his sword and followed Valquire outside. Chavis looked at Sye and shook his head. Sye nodded in response and showed three of his fingers to Chavis. He moved one finger down, then quickly dropped the other two, at which point they both charged Valquire from behind. They pushed him off Sara, but he quickly moved between them and pounded their backs. As they fell to the ground, Valquire lifted Sara up again.

      Sye pulled the sword and pointed it at Valquire.

      “If you harm my sister, I’ll kill you.”

      Sye was too enraged to notice the woman from inside the house walk outside. The little girl from earlier, the construction workers, and four other people marched into view. They stopped in front of Sye.

      “Fight me,” said Sye. “Fight me.”

      Valquire tossed Sara to the ground and drew a sword. It was not his sword, but the one Sara had recently acquired. Sye slung his sword through the air, expecting Valquire’s sword to crack and break from his magical sword, but he was met with a metal clang. Sye, bewildered, drew back.

      Valquire swung, but Sye managed to be far enough away. Sye swung overhead to take Valquire’s life.

      Unknown to him, the boy had approached Sara and placed a knife over her throat. Still week from exhaustion, Sara was unable to move and retaliate. Sye noticed this out of the corner of his eye and ran toward the man, avoiding Valquire.

      The boy stuck Sara with the blade. A small tinkle of blood tinkled down her neck.

      “Stop fighting.”

      Valquire lowered his sword.

      “You’re a hypnotist, aren’t you?” stated Chavis.

      “Very perceptive historian, but I suggest you all leave now, and leave me your strong friend.”

      “Leave? Where are we?” Sye checked behind him to make sure Valquire was, indeed, still standing still.

      “This is my town. One by one I’ll make Gaul my own. I’ll have them all under my control.”

      “Fifteen followers,” said Chavis, inspecting one of the hypnotized men who stood frozen, “I can see you will definitely make one of the best rulers of all time.”

      “Leave here,” said the boy. “Sunlight beat down on Sara as she struggled to lift her left leg through the barren lands. She was moving slower than the previous days. Valquire placed his hand in front of her and told them that they needed to rest, otherwise Sara would collapse. Chavis, however, said they should keep going. They had not eaten since their boat was destroyed. Sara was persistent, however, and said they had to keep going or everyone would starve.
Everyone’s mouth salvated. The world seemed ready to drag them down, as they movements converted from pacing to struggle. Sye asked Sara if she was alright to walk, and she said, “Yes.” Later, however, it was apparent she was not. Sara collapsed behind Sye, he face pounding into the sandy plain. Your strong friend and the girl will stay, but if you leave now I’ll not kill you.”

      “I’m not leaving without my sister.”

      Sye stared into the boy’s eyes. Sara tilted her neck back, still trying to escape the blade. Chavis whispered into Valquire’s ear. Valquire moved his head to the left, then the right.

      “What are you doing old man?”

      The boy stuck his arm forward, and Sara took the opportunity to bite his bicep. The boy screamed and dropped the dagger. Sara rolled away as Sye hacked the boys arm off. Blood drained onto the grass.

      “I told you,” said Sye, raisng the sword behind him, “I’m not leaving without my sister.” The sword slashed forward. Blood spat on Sye’s cheek. The boy fell back, blood still dripping from his neck.

      Sara looked at Sye, then held him. She moved his bloody sword from her view. But, no sooner did he try to move Sara that he realized she had passed out. He dropped the sword to the ground, lifted his sister in his arms, and carried her back to the bed.

      Later that night, Sara awoke.

      “What happened?”

      “The people here are sleeping. I will awaken them from their hypnosis in the morning the way I did Valquire; just tell them to stop being hypnotized. It seems the boy was just a beginner, and was not able to teach them to obey only one specific person yet.” Chavis stood up. “But I can see you still need rest. When you are ready, we will finally make it to Gaul.”

      Valquire stood over them. “I’m proud of you Sye, you acted like a true warrior.”

      “I almost killed you.”

      Valquire smirked. It was the first time Sye had seen him smile.

      “If I can survive a duel with Magnard, I doubt my end will be by a kid like you.” Valquire suddenly turned his face away from Sye and held his chin. “Hmm. Once we arrive, Sye, we will stay awhile, for you both need to train, and, we need to plan.”

      Chavis and Valquire left the room, leaving Sye sitting on the bed next to his sister. Sara looked at Sye, but Sye lowered his head.

      “I already know what you’re going to ask me.”

      Sara sat up and covered her knees with her arms.

      “I just want to know how you feel.”

      “I want to say bad. But, the truth is Sara, I killed a man,” Sye turned to face his sister with unwavering eyes. “And I don’t feel guilty at all.”


      *       *       *      




      How is the government run in Odisious? I have…

      Lycious, Atius will be destroyed. As will the rest of the independent countries. I do not see this, but I feel it is inevitable. None have any armies. They thought the civil war ended and that was that, but that is further from the truth.

      Octom was a very large country, covering ¼ of the continent. But, it got too big to run effiecently. Many people who were hired to oversee that the main rules were being followed, relied less and less on those rules. The people hired, called mayors, were to report any rule breakers to the main Octom government in the capital. However, many mayors threatened people into thinking that if they didn’t obey, they would turn them over to the Octom government. Octom had a very large rumor of torturing its rule breakers. No one wanted to be turned into the Octom government, so they obeyed. But, many people secretly planned rebellion. Ten years after magic was banished, the civil war occurred.

      The Government, being in one large central area, could not cope with multiple attacks from everywhere in its country. In the end, thousands of people rejected the rule, and Octom was forced to let it’s people roam their lands and establish their own rule. The people that fled stared their own city and their own system of government, such as Gaia, while others simply lived in towns already constructed by the Octom empire, such as Gaul, and adjusted to a rule of their own creation.

      As spread out as most of the cities were, no one wanted them under one rule, for they saw how hard it was to control such a rule from Octom’s mistakes. Instead, they formed a League which would meet every six months to discuss matters of importance to all of the independent countries.

      However, in their new-found happiness, most of the defecting countries have ignored Octom, but the next generation wants to succeed where it’s fathers had failed. They train to unite Octom into the largest country in the world once again, and they will succeed unless help is sought elsewhere. No real army exists in any of the 23 independent countries. Even a combination of all their forces would be destroyed in less than an hour.

      Don’t you see any hope?

      I have seen neither hope nor death. I cannot stand watching without interpreting. I see neither of these, but all evidence of what I see points to Octom wining control, but, it that is true, why have I not seen into Octom at all?

      I thought I was the one with all the questions.

      Sometimes, Lycious, I wish you were.

Return To “Chapter 9: Traveler”                         Continue To “Chapter 11: Praise”

Chapter 9: Traveler




          Sara nudged Sye with her elbow. Sye awakened with a loud scream. His heart raced as he calmed his breathing. His head swayed from side to side.

          “A nightmare?”

          Sye nodded.

          “It was about mom.” Sye turned to Sara with painful eyes. “What if we are meant to fail.”

          “Don’t ever say that Sye, we have to win.”

          “How can I live up to this expectation of being some hero?” of being some hero?” Sye stared at the wall, paralyzed in movement. “I can’t do anything.”

          Sara dropped her head into Sye’s lap.

          “Don’t say that Sye, please.”

          Valquire, awake, walked over to them.

          “You refuse to accept the way things are Sye, that is a very, dangerous, flaw. Your mother is dead, and you must move on.”

          “Move on?” Sye yelled. “You speak of it so coldly. What about the people in Gaia that lost their relatives to you. Are they just moving on?”

          Valquire walked away from Sye, choosing not to answer. He went into the forest as Chavis opened his eyes.

          “Sye,” he said. “You both have been tossed into something that is hard to comprehend, and you both are finding it hard to deal with. I expect as much, but Valquire has lost his patience over the years, please forgive him.”

          Chavis rolled over and retuned to sleep. His sleep was short lived, and he found Valquire shaking him as if he were already asleep.

          “Wake up. Something is watching us.”

          From the tree above a large man dropped onto Valquire and crushed him body beneath his feet. Valquire could be heard moaning in pain. As the man stood up, it was apparent that this was not a man at all. All the features; ear, eye, eyebrows, fingernails, were there, but they were molded and carved into a granite stone. This body was covered in chips, dents, and the decay of the weather, where rain had eroded small areas of his body over the years.

          Despite this, Sye jumped for the stone man’s feet and shoved him to the ground. Chavis rose only to feel stone hands grab him from behind, while a 3rd stone being, carved to look exactly like the others, punched Sye into the ground, allowing all three creatures to rise above their captured party.

          “Run, Sara. Get out of here.” Sara was almost too scared to run, but she saw Valquire on the ground, Chavis choking, and Sye lifted into the air by an unnatural hand.

“Run!”

          Hearing her brother a second time, she ran.

          One of the statues spoke. It’s mouth moved in unison with the words as if it were a living creature. The voice was monotone, as was every stone creature that spoke.

          “She is of no consequence. Only the object matters.”

          One of the statues left. Shortly, Sye and Chavis heard wood breaking, but they knew the wood was not from a tree.

          Sye slid out of the statues hands and shoved the creature out of the way. He ran toward the boat, but it was in pieces, and all the items were gone. Sye stared at the boat, but this left him open for a stone creature to approach. His forehead collided with stone, then dirt.

          Sara ran faster than she ever had before, trying to escape the creatures, but after awhile, she lost her breath. She panted and dropped her hands onto her knees. She looked back. The forest was quiet. No stone creatures. No Sye. Sara quickly turned away and ran out of the forest. Once she arrived into the plains, she fell down and cried.

          “I couldn’t do…anything.”

          Hours passed. Sarah shuffled along the road until she saw a carriage. Yet, the carriage was five miles away. With no mountains in this region, up to 30 miles were available from a distance. Sara sat in the middle of the road, and waited. The wagon’s driver slowed down and stopped just barely in front of her. The carriage rider was surprised to see her.

          “What are you doing?”

          “I need your help, my brother, he’s…he’s been captured, by some things.”

          “Calm down girl. Who could be around here?”

          The driver yelled into the tube that flowed into the stagecoach.

          “Master, we have a situation.”

          Inside the tinted windows, Sara could see nothing, but she could hear the voice.
“Who is it?”

          “Please, I need your help. These stone men, they have my brother. Help me please.”

          The man inside the stagecoach did not respond.

          “How can you not help? They could be dead any moment.”

          “I’m sorry, I cannot help you. I cannot interfere.”

          “What? I don’t understand.”

          “You cannot understand. I cannot be seen yet.”

          “Are you disfigured? I don’t care. Give me a sword, explosions, anything.” Sara pulled on the stagecoach door. “I will not leave my brother to die.” She pulled and pulled until the door snapped off.

          Inside, the man stood from his booth and yelled out. “You have no idea the damage you could cause.” Hidden behind a drape, the carriage owner calmed his voice and glanced at Sara. “Do not enter, and I will help you.”

          Sara looked within the stagecoach, waiting.

          A hand emerged from the cloth, holding a sword.

          “This sword is very dangerous, Sara. It can cut through anything. Very capable with creatures made of stone, which you say you saw.”

          “But, I know this sword.”

          Sara studied the hilt and the blade. It was an exact copy of the sword Sye possessed.

          “How did you get this?”

          “You can stand here and ask me questions all day, or you can save your brother.”

          Sara gripped the sword. She ran from the stagecoach and ran toward the forest without hesitation. But, she then remembered she had never told the man her name. Sara gazed toward the stagecoach, looked at the sword, then ran off toward the forest.

          Sara quietly walked through the forest, barely touching the grass and mud beneath her feet. Birds chirped. Sara had wished they would stop so she could listen to any cries for help. She looked for footprints, but she had never tracked anything before. Then, in a small mud pile, she saw the shape of a foot without toes and traveled the direction it pointed.

          Deeper in the forest, Sye, Chavis, and Valquire had their hands tied, and those tied hands hung from a tree. Valquire slowly woke up, and the stone men immediately interrogated all of them.

          “Now that all our awake, you will answer us,” the monotone voice said.

          “I saw your magic in Gaia. We know you have magic items.” The stone creature pointed to another tree where the items were stashed. “We need only one. A book. Have you any magic books in your possession?”

          “No,” said Sye, “only what was in that boat.

          “What magic book?” asked Valquire. “Why have you a need for it?”

          Sara had arrived at the scene. She grabbed a large rock and threw it up in the air. The rock fell right down in front of her.

          “Check it out,” one ordered.

          One of the stone creatures left. Sara hid behind a tree, listening. The foot of the stone man ripped through briar patches and moved closer. Sara closed her eyes as the rustling of grass approached closer and closer. She gripped the sword, then heard the grass move next to her feet. She swung the sword out at the creature and split it in two from the stomach. The fingers still moved, as did the rest of the creature; somehow still functioning. She screamed and hacked uncontrollably at the pieces again and again. Off went the shoulder, the arm, the leg, the knee. She whacked away, over and over, until the stone creature lay in pieces. None of the pieces moved ever again.

          Sara sweat. Her breathing was rapid and fast. All she could do was listen to the other creatures demand answers from her friends and wonder what the noise from the forest was. She ran at the other two creatures in rage, screaming. The first creature turned, and brought it’s arm to protect the blade, but the blade sliced the arm off.

          The creature then lost it’s legs and fell to the ground. As Sara turned to the other creature, it had already fled. She ran after it, forgetting the reason she was here. Sye tried to call her back, but all she saw was another enemy to attack.

          “Sara, help us.”

          The other stone creature, though footless, was moving toward the tree where her friends were tied. Sara sliced the rest of it to pieces. Sara’s body moved up and down with her fast breathing. Her eyes were wide and focused as she held the sword other the stone creature, her body arched over the debris.

          “Sara.”

          Sara’s face turned back into the one Sye remembered. She cut the branch everyone hung on, then untied their ropes.

          “Sara, that was incredible.”

          Sara looked at the pieces of the stone creatures and wrapped herself around Sye.

          “Oh god, Sye. What is they were human? What is they had been human?”

          Sara leaned on Sye’s chest, lowering her eyes.

          “But you didn’t Sara, they weren’t human.” Sye tipped his sister’s head up. “You did the right thing.”

          “I didn’t want them to hurt you.”

          Valquire approached her and placed his arm of her shoulder.

          “I’ll make sure you never harm anything human.”

          Valquire interrupts them. “If you wish to not be able to harm them, you will need to learn power and control, how to fight and disarm.

          “These creatures, I have seen them before,” said Chavis. Sara moved out from Sye’s body as they all guided their eyes to Chavis.


*           *           *




          Magnard II removed the helmet from Sara and laughed at her. In the same room he had tortured Sye, he now held Sara.

          “Your morality is quite touching dear. I never expected one so young to take on three of them, but you outdid yourself. Yet I wonder.”

          Magnard II unchained Sara’s arms and placed a dagger on her lap.

          “Go ahead girl. All you have to do is stab me and you will be free.”

          Sara didn’t even look at the dagger. Her head screamed out in pain. There was no hesitation. As soon as it dropped in her lap, she grabbed the dagger and stabbed Magnard II. His body stopped; he was surprised by the attack. Magnard II, unfazed, could only laugh.

          “I, had not expected. But then, I don’t know the girl you are now.”

          Magnard II grabbed Sara’s hand and pulled the dagger from his chest. There was no evidence of blood, a hole, or even a scratch. Magnard II pushed Sara into the chair and chained her left arm, while her right shoved his face and attempted to rip it off. Magnard II grabbed the other arm and tied it down. He then pushed the button as the door behind the chair opened. The chair moved into the door, dragging Sara, who yelled in anger as she struggled to break the chain, chains which dug deep into her skin.

Return To “Chapter 8: Hatred”                         Continue To “Chapter 10: Threat”

Chapter 8: Hatred






      “Oof”

      Sye found himself poked with Valquire’s staff. Everyone else was already up.

      “Wake up; there are screams.”

      Sye opened the door outside, but could only see a few trees.

      “Are these trees coming to get me?”

      “Don’t be foolish, look over there.”

      In line with Valquire’s finger, nothing stood where a house once was. Another house or two was also gone, with only crumbled dust covering the square shaped dead grass. A man stood in front of his house, more curious than disturbed at the moment.

      “What happened here?”

      “I, I have no idea,” said the man, grabbing Sye’s shirt. “My house is gone. It’s gone, and I don’t know how it happened.”

      The man stumbled into the ground. Chavis suddenly dropped his jaw. “Sye, we must leave now. I know what happened.” In the woods behind Sye a clashing of hundreds of small metal sounds mixed with the chirping of crickets approached. “Sye, run.”

      Sye turned into the direction of the sounds. Before he could react, thousands of small metal objects rushed out of the forest and into the air. Sye stumbled over into the ground, barely avoiding them. When the creatures arrived at the top of the sky, they flew to the nearest house and consumed it. They started with the roof as a brown fog covered the small metal creatures and the house. As the dust settled, no house was visible, nor were the people within. Then, they spotted Sye getting up from the ground.

      The croaking screech they created echoed across Gaia. The creatures flew down on Sye, but they found themselves colliding with a large white barrier. Sye felt the white bubble around him as the small creatures continually rammed the barrier and fell down, screeching. These creatures had the metal body of a mouse, yet contained sharp multilayer teeth, along with two layers of wings that were as thin as a dragonflies, yet somehow they still flew. Sye spotted the white arrow on the ground. He checked himself, but realized he didn’t have his sword, but how could he use it inside the barrier?

      The metal creatures flew higher, continually crashing into the bubble as one large ramming force, only to be deflected again. Many fall to the ground and never get up. A few more of the townspeople emerged from their homes and witnessed the event.

      After more of the metal creatures fell, the rest of the large hive squealed and retreated into the forest. Once the last one vanished, Sye pulled up the arrow. He ran to his sister, who ran to him, and they grabbed each other.

      “Thank you, Sara.”

      Sara had shed a tear from her left eye. Sarah immediately pushed Sye away. “You idiot. I’m not going to lose you too.”

      The group of townspeople that had gathered stood in silence, until one spoke up; the owner from the hotel they had stayed.

      “Did you see that? They must have brought those creatures here.”

      Sye and Sara widened their eyes and looked at Valquire.

      “Damn,” shouted Valquire. Valquire looked at Chavis, and they both nodded. They walked slowly to Sye and Sara. The hotel owner continued to point at them.

      “That white thing, I saw that girl use it.”

      “Are you insane,” shouted Sye, “they attacked us.”

      His words were not heard, and the voices of the villagers echoed their fears.

      “Hans was in that house.”

      “You killed them.”

      “You brought it here.”

      One man picked up a rock and threw it at the group, but it could not reach them. Others began to throw rocks as well. The eyes behind the townspeople were not normal. They had suddenly lost themselves.

      “Sye, Sara,” said Valquire, “Run.”

      Sye and Sara ran toward the gate, then heard a loud rumbling. They turned behind to find Valquire using his staff. The vibration from the shake toppled some of the people as they fell back onto others. Valquire and Chavis caught up to them, as all ran as fast as they could to their boat. The clouds darkened, and the rain came.

      Valquire shoved the tree stumps from the boat while Sye brushed aside various branches. Valquire quickly tapped the oar to the ground, but the villagers had caught up to them.

      “There they are.”

      “Kill the abomination.”

      With everyone in the boat, it started to move forward, but that was the problem, it had only started to move.

      “There isn’t enough time.”

      Valquire removed the holding from his staff and placed it onto the ground. The staff dragged along the ground, creating a large vibration. The villagers were only five feet from the boat, until a large cracking of the earth split the land. The crack extended outward as a few people fell into the hole.

      The boat built up enough speed to get away, but Sye had seen the people fall. As the boat left the forest, Sye let go his rage and tackled Valquire out of the boat. Chavis stopped the boat before it moved even faster.

      “What have you done?”

      Sye attempted to punch Valquire, but Valquire caught Sye’s punch.

      “I saved all our lives.”

      “But you killed them. They hadn’t done anything.”

      Sye felt the rain drenching his clothes and sticking to his body. Valquire stood up.

      “They would have killed us Sye. They would not have listened to any explanation.”

      “How can any of that be justified?”

      “We no longer live for our own survival alone.”

      Lightening flashed behind Valquire. Sara and Chavis remained in the boat. Sye walked past Valquire without a reply and arrived in the boat next to his sister.

      “It’s wrong, Sye, because I wanted them dead, too.” Lightning flashed as Valquire tapped the oar to the ground. The boat sped forward through the rain as the thunder crackled.


      *       *       *




      Lycious, I see the enemy.

      The one who captured Sye?

      Yes. Magnard’s life is where I should begin. He lived in luxury, the son of a wealthy man, but, the more wealth his father gave him, the more he was never satisfied. Magnard studied magic as a boy until Deric found him one day and tempered with magical skills.

      Deric is considered the most evil wizard in all of history. Near the end, Magnard disagreed with Deric’s methods, stating that they should rule mankind, not destroy it. Magnard left Deric to fight the chosen heroes fifty years ago. He then fled to Voltare and had a tower constructed. He killed everyone in Voltare and surrounded it in a mysterious fog. No one has traveled to Voltare in years, and the superstitions that one person on the planet can still use magic frightens everyone who hears it. Who could stop such a man, if he were the only one with such power?

      Can he use magic?

      That is what I must find out. It contradicts the spell if he does, and could signal the undoing of the spell itself. But, he might just be using rumors to spread his power.

      If Magnard is so powerful, why has he not acted in 50 years.

      A good question. Most people think he is dead. I see a man in Barda, claiming to be the son of Magnard. He claims that all rights to Voltare are his since his father is dead, regardless of how it came to be his father’s country. Nicholas Barda rules Barda, and was amassing a small army to travel into Voltare and burn the tower to the ground, but Magnard II said he had no legal right, and that he would seek alliances with other countries if he invaded. Nicholas knew that everyone in Voltare was either dead or living in Barda, and with increased security on his country to protect it from outside invasion, the assignment to destroy Magnard’s tower was abandoned. Nothing had come from Voltare in almost fifty years, it was not a high priority threat. And so, four years ago, Magnard II entered Voltare and claimed his father’s tower.

      Four years?

      I saw the date on Magnard’s will. Magnard II signed it four years ago. He went to Barda because he knew they were planning an attack, and deceived them by saying he was collaborating with Barda’s enemies. But now, I see Magnard II wearing a helmet. Sye is chained, as a helmet extracts more information from him.


      *       *       *




      “So you witnessed that thief Valquire kill for the first time. What a pity. But how is it you knew to come here eventually. There was no indication of my name on this stone, and yet you assume I have answers.”

      Sye gathered all his strength to ask with a stern expression. “Don’t you?”

      “You have been deceived if you believed anyone can force a comet. Not even when magic existed was that possible. Magic can only extend its power across this planet. Only when it was banished did it flee.”

      Sye coughed. His head felt as if his brain was boiling.

      “Why are you doing this?”

      “Because, Sye. I will soon become a god, but I must know if somewhere on the rock or in your travels you discovered a way to defeat me.”

      Magnard pushed a button on the wall. The stone door behind folded to the left.

      “Time to interview your lovely sister.”

      Magnard II cracked a smile, as Sye screamed. “I’ll kill you.” Sye’s chair flung backwards along a track into the hole and the door slammed.


      *       *       *




      He mentioned Valquire killing the townspeople. He is seeing what you do.

      Not quite. He is limited to what they have seen; whereas I can see across many people and times. Yet, this Magnard disturbs me. I have seen no indication of Magnard except that of 50 years ago. What happened to father and son between those 50 years?

Return To “Chapter 7: Gathering”                    Continue To “Chapter 9: Traveler”

Chapter 7: Gathering




      Sara and Sye chattered their teeth as the boat traveled fast through a path at a speed they had never experienced. Sye sheltered Sara in a blanket as the bitter winds blew by. Sye called out to Valquire, to ask them when they would stop, but they were traveling too fast for any audible voice to reach his ear. Valquire stood tall at the front of the boat, his hand on the oar, watching the road ahead.

      Sye awoke later to find the boat had stopped. He rubbed his shoulders to try and warm up his body. If Valquire felt the cold as much as they did, he did not show it. Valquire told Sye to gather the large blanket in the back of the boat and cover it. The blanket wrapped over the boat, and they staked the edge so it wouldn’t blow away. Sara, still half-asleep, watched them before sitting down and falling asleep again.

      “Sara,” nudged Sye. “Wake up, there’s a town up ahead.”

      Valquire, however, was not done hiding the boat. Removing the plastic barrier from his staff, he struck a tree until it vibrated and cracked, falling to the ground. After performing the same feat on more trees, Valquire placed the trunks and branches around the boat until none of it was visable.

      “You must always take every precaution.”

      Arriving at the entrance of Gaia, Sye noticed the differences from Atius immediately. It was not a large city, but a town of small houses. No building appeared more than two stories high except for the hotels. There were a few business at the entrance, such as hotels, a grocery, and a trading post for fur and liquor. The majority of businesses were hotels, as Gaia was never a place to visit, but a stopping point. A major independent country was in ever compass direction from Gaia, and so travelers were frequent. Gaia was one of the few independent countries without a ruler, as the economy of the city relied on visitors; the ones in power were those that owned the hotels.

      Valquire entered the first hotel he saw, which was also the one that looked the cheapest. Inside, the owner was sitting behind a counter, reading. He didn’t realize he had visitors until Valquire spoke.

      “We need a room.”

      The owner was so startled by Valquire that he fell back off his chair and landed on the ground with a thud. He quickly stood up and pretended the whole incident didn’t happen.

      “How many nights?”

      “Just one.”

      “Oh no,” said Sye. “We don’t have any money. All of our money was lost in the fire.”

      “Don’t worry,” Valquire said, turning to them both and reassuring them with a bag from inside his pocket, “Clandestine gave me enough for our journey.”

      “Clandestine? You know the King? What are you doing here?”

      “We are looking for Chavis. And we are here on official business. You need not know more than that.”

      The owner looked away from Valquire, doing his best to avoid his gaze.

      “Chavis has a room upstairs. He told me to send up anyone who asked for him. Room E2”

      “We have lucked out,” said Valquire, “the search is done.”

      Valquire marched up the stairs, but as they rose higher, Sye was troubled by Valquire.

      “Did you have to intimidate him like that? He was just curious.”

      “Best to stop him before he starts asking too many questions.”

      Not speaking of anything else, Valquire went to room E2 and opened the door.

      Leaning against a dresser was a walking stick. The dresser had a book and a spyglass upon it. A large red bag on the bed was unzipped. A man stood looking out the window, then turned around to greet them.

      “Valquire.”

      “Chavis, old friend.” Valquire and Chavis shook hands then leaned in and pat each other on the back. It was the first time Sye had seen Valquire so open and informal. “It’s been too long.” Valquire’s stance was less apprehensive and hard.

      “Quite right. So these are the chosen ones?”

      Sye glared at Chavis. “Please don’t say that.”

      “Come with me.”

      Chavis led the others to the entrance of the town, where a small, wooden gate was. Chavis climbed the pillar on the left of the gate, and pointed toward the forest.

      “You see Sye, the rock is not what you believe. It does not predict the future. Instead, think of it as an advanced mathematical formula. It can search out every one on the land it is attached to, and predict the right combination of people to stop a certain situation. It is not a 100% this-will-definitely-happen spell. It’s a prediction of the right amount of variables upon a given situation.”

      “I don’t understand what you’re talking about,” said Sara.

      “Chavis jumped off the fence and landed on the ground, his feet bent. Valquire smiled and shook his head.

      “Still the same old Chavis. Almost forty five years old and you still act like you have the body of a twenty year old.”

      “Yes, whereas you have changed the most. How has the rule of Atius gone. I’ve heard nothing but great things of your and King Clandestine’s rule.” Valquire tiled his head down to avoid Chavis. He did not speak. “It’s the fire isn’t it?”

      “I did not tell you that in the letter.”

      “No, I saw it with my own eyes.”

      Chavis placed his hand on Valquire’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. I can’t imagine how it must feel to create a kingdom, only to watch it end so suddenly.”

      “Atius is not at an end, it will be rebuilt. But it might be rebuilt only to be destroyed again.”

      Looking up the path ahead, a stagecoach approached the gate.

      “We had better return to the room. Don’t want any ears to catch our conversation.”

      Back in Chavis’ room, Sye sat down and leaned on the wall. Sara sat on the bed, while Valquire stood. Chavis took a chair, turned it backwards, and sat on it the opposite direction.

      “Quests. Adventure. Magic. All this ended long ago. It should have. I don’t see how comets could be the enemy. Usually it’s someone powerful. I think it’s the war that breads northwest in Octom, but that is my theory.”

      “Do you know anything about the names on this list?”

      Sye pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, but Valquire quickly snatched it from his hand. Sye, surprised, slouched his eyes.

      “This isn’t important at the moment.”

      Chavis looked at Valquire; he knew his friend well enough to know when he was lying.

      “What are you trying to hide from me?”

      “I can’t hide it from you. It will come shortly, but for right now, I don’t want you to read this list. You might have get a false sense of hope.”

      Chavis stood up and paced over to the bed. “I trust your judgment, Valquire, but the names on that list, I don’t think we should seek them out. If this spell works how it should, they should come to us.”

      “Why us?” asked Sye. “Out of everyone in this world, why us?”

      “I already told you, it must see potential in you two, and the two of us.

      “But Valquire isn’t on the list.”

      “I’m only helping you get far enough until you can handle yourself.”

      Chavis stepped into his bed.

      “Now, I’ve had a long journey, and now I’m a part of the quests I’ve often told as one in my profession does. But, we only travel south, that’s it? So let’s go directly south until we hit something. Discussion ended. I’m going to sleep. You will find your rooms on the same floor; E1 and E3.”

      Chavis pulled the blanket over him as Sye and Sara stood up and wondered what to do. Valquire escorted them out.

      The next day, Valquire led Chavis to the hidden boat.

      “This can outrun anything?”

      Valquire nodded then punched a tree with his fist.

      “I had no idea you had such supernatural strength,” he said laughing.

      “I don’t,” said Valquire, lifting up his glove and displaying the spiral symbol.

      “Amazing, you have an enchanted item.”

      Chavis removed the glove from Valquire’s hand. Valquire did not respond, as Chavis’ reaction to artifacts like this were nothing new to him.

      “Where did you get these, King Clandestine’s hidden vault?”

      Sye sat up. “How do you know about that?

      “Valquire and I are, very old friends.”

      “You carry more of these items, amazing.” Chavis had regressed to a child, finding every magical item more intriguing than the next.

      “You really enjoy these don’t you,” asked Sye.

      “Come now Sye,” said Valquire. “He is a historian, haven’t you guessed his specialization.”

      Sye smiled, as it was hard to keep a straight face as Chavis inspected every item as if he had never seen one before. He threw Sara’s ball and caught it on the return. Valquire showed him how to break a tree with his staff.

      Sara approached Sye while Chavis told Valquire the exact reason the magic from each object still existed.

      “This guy is a historian?”

      I know, I usually expect them to be more serious.”

      “We have these things, Sye, as weapons, but he treats them like toys.”

      “I’ve never seen someone so fascinated with magic. Most people in town, if I asked them if they ever remembered what it was like when magic existed, they would tell me it was a ‘bad time for all’ or something absurd like that.”

      “I wonder what it would be like if magic did exist, how different life would be.”

      “For us, Sara, it does still exist.”

Return To “Chapter 6: Doubt”                         Continue To “Chapter 8: Hatred”

Chapter 1: Brimstone




      Sweat poured from Sye’s forehead as burnt wood filled his lungs. He sprung from his bed as his eyes opened to opaque, black clouds swirled above, created from the light of flame dancing upon the wooden ceiling. He diverted his gaze toward the window to find his house was not the only one ablaze. Screams rung out across Atius; burning bodies, panic, death. His window was also a leap out of his room. Sye stared out into the burning city before him, then backed away from the window.

      He jumped over his bed and forced his hand onto the door handle before quickly pulling it back. He flicked the doorknob with his finger, gripped it tight, then flung the door open.

      The living room was in flames. Looking from the walkway above, Sye witnessed the last moments of his home. The table below was scattered with bits of wood falling from the ceiling. Couches burned as flame glided through the air with particles of wool. From the burning ceiling, ash fluttered. The fire scattered and consumed another beam in the ceiling, while above the front door the flames pecked away at the side of a beam, popping, hissing, cackling.

      Sye should have had one direction available to him; left across the wooden walkway past his sister Sara’s room, then down the stairs. However, a large beam blocked his path, ablaze and creeping across the floor, while flaming debris had nearly consumed the stairs, trapping Sara from any escape into the floor below. Spurred flame rose higher and lashed toward Sye to pull him into their warm embrace.

      Below, Sye’s mother opened a door and noticed the destruction. They both sigh in relief as they find the other unharmed, but then jerk their eyes to Sara’s door, which has yet to be opened. The fire hissed from the stairs.

      Sye’s mother climbed onto the table as sparks singed her hair. With a leap forward she grabbed the balcony and grappled above the railing. She lifted herself onto the floor without a breath, then slammed her fists onto Sara’s door. However, no voice replied.

      Sye jumped off the walkway, but as he landed the ground greeted his ankle. Sye muttered a small cry of frustration and tumbled over into the table. With a hand over his bleeding forehead, Sye called out to his mother, but she was determined to break down that door. With a slight limp, Sye wobbled to the front door, ignoring the hot nails which embed themselves in his hair.

      Above the front door was a sword with a swirled handle. The bottom base of the hilt had a red ‘V’ underneath, which stood for the name on the plaque, “Victor Whaley.” Sye pulled open the door but failed to notice a beam lose its left holding, and so the beam swung back and forth directly above his head. Through the door more burning homes came into view: an entire city screaming in an orange and red panic. Joseph’s telescope in the horizon shined like a pharos with the intense heat melting its metallic body.

      Sye tore the framed picture off the wall and smashed it against the wall. The glass scattered across the floor along with the sword. He pulled the sword, then almost tumbled backwards; a large piece of glass embedded itself in his foot. He ripped the glass out, teeth clenched.

      Sye approached his mother as best as he could with his right ankle burned, his left foot dragging blood across the floor. The beam blocking Sye’s path had stretched across the whole landing and now feasted on his door. Sye lifted the sword up to his mother, who gripped the handle tight before swinging the sword against Sara’s door. The sword assaulted the door whack after whack as splinters flew. A large piece of the door sprang forth and protruded upward. Sye’s mother forced herself through the hole where her daughter lay unconscious under a beam, which luckily, was not ablaze. The beam had strong hands lift it upward and toss it out the window. Sara was safely carried out as the flames above frantically sought out consumption.

      Sye’s mother lowered Sara down to Sye, who held his younger sibling and ran to the front door. The ceiling cringed as boards fell and grinded into each other. Fire stretched across the table as he passed, it’s weight slanting as its legs were eaten away.

      Sye’s mother slid under the railing, turned around, grabbed the walkway floorboard, then let go and fell to the ground. As Sye neared the front door he twisted his ankle and fell, dropping Sara, unaware of the pillar swinging above him. His muscles tightened as he forced her up, but no later did he succeed that his body was knocked outside. He landed on top of Sara, colliding his head on her shoulder. Rolling over, Sye faced the front entrance, expecting his mother behind him, but the entrance has covered with debris. Sye immediately ran forward, but his hands burned as he touched the wood. He fell back screaming.

      Sye punched the ground with his fist. He gazed at the doorway, waiting for his mother to lift the beams out of the way and step into the open, but minutes passed without this dream coming to fruition. His eyes remained on entrance, waiting, watching, until he heard a cackling sound nearby. The leaves upon the tree which Sara lay caught fire, and was slowly working their way to the bark. Sye scooped Sara up then turned one last time to the front door, before quickly looking down at the ground, shuffling away from his home.

      The smell of burnt wood and flesh filled the nostrils. Sye coughed as he placed Sara in a large field that belonged to a neighbor. There were no trees or structures for 30 yards. He stood watch over Sara all night as the flames annihilated every building around them.

      Five hours later, Sara awoke to find her brother standing far away. She wiped her eyes then saw the remains of her city. She ran to Sye, who stood over the entrance of their house, but Sara had yet to realize this. The only remnants of their home were a few sections left of the wall, but none rose more than two feet. Sara panted behind him. Sye moved his foot forward before pulling it back out. He could have stepped on the remains of his mother. He saw an lump under the debris then turned and clutched Sara as tears fell.

      “What’s going on?” Sarah looked at the inside and gasped. “Where’s mom?”

      Sye moved his head forward with painful eyes. Sara backed away.

      “No.”

      She flailed her arms about. “How could she be gone?” She swung at Sye’s chest multiple time. “She can’t be gone.” She clutched Sye’s shoulders as his shirt collected both their tears.

      Then, a horn echoed. They looked toward the sound, but they could only see the 60 foot wall that surrounded their whole city. Both know the sound from childhood emergency drills. In any emergency, one followed the sound of the horn. Sye looked over at his house, but the sun bounced off something in the ash. Brushing the ash away revealed the father’s sword. The blade was unscathed, but the handle was charred. Sye lay the sword in front of his home.

      “We’ll be back for you.”

      In a daze they followed the horn to Atius’ entrance; the only exit in their entire city. Following past that they went to an area far above a hill, from which one could see Atius Castle. Atius Castle was built into a small hill, with it’s towers able to see in every direction. The horn came again, and led them to a large field covered with tents. Guards handed out tents and clothes while cooks stirred pots of soup over a fire. The tents spread far across the plains. A man dressed in a red outfit noticed them approach.

      “Bring food and water. We have more survivors.”

      Sye and Sara were brought to an empty tent. The red man handed them bread and jugs of water before disappearing just as fast to help others. Sye and Sara heard voices from the other tents, but they looked at each other with weak eyes. They ate their food then fell asleep.


     *      *      *




      King Clandestine signed the last of his letters. Clandestine was well loved by his people, and he made frequent visits into town to shop with those he ruled to find out about their daily life. What most people felt afraid to say to a normal King, people had no trouble saying to him. His rule was built on listening to his people, and transferring their ideas into laws. He was so loved that Atius citizens arrived in front of the castle on Clandestine’s 40th birthday to sing him a song of celebration.

      King Clandestine folded the letters and placed them inside envelopes. He sealed them with wax then exited the castle. Behind him was Castle Atius, consisting of only three floors. The left and right towers had a dome shape, and two more towers were built onto the hilltop itself so that nothing was out of sight. The Castle was in no way original or different, being comprised of mortar and stone, but the extra towers on the top of the mountain gave everyone a sense of protection; that someone was watching out for them all the time.

      King Clandestine approached four guards, handing each a letter. Each guard wore red outfits. The letter ‘A’ was predominate on the shoulders and belt within a black circle. The people considered their town the first true paradis after they escaped, and so it was named with the first letter in the alphabet.. The rest of the uniform split into an A shape from the neck down. The guards rose to their horses, then rode south. The King supplied much of what he stored in the castle; food, meals, tents—to his people for the current disaster. Most of the guards remained at the castle, as many guests had arrived for an important meeting on the war effort that Clandestine had kept from his people, but Clandestine knew something much more dangerous than a war was coming for them. Valquire, the King’s advisor and second-in-command, appeared from behind. At more than six feet tall he was very imposing. Each step he made displayed his confidence and assurance. His black cloak moved with him as his long hair blew along with the breeze.

      “Atius is gone. Some of the guests wonder if they are safe.”
Clandestine looked toward the tents below.

      “When this meeting is over, they will move here, inside the castle.”
Valquire removed his gloves and placed them inside his pocket.

      “We can’t fit that many.”

      “I won’t have them living in those tents for the next few months.”

      Valquire tapped his fingers against the wall of the castle. “We forgot about the stone.”

      Clandestine saddled up a nearby horse then climbed aboard. “I believe it now more than ever. Take me there.”

      Valquire led the King through the plains until they reached the forest. After a two mile journey, they arrived. A cloth draped over the twelve foot stone prevented anyone from gazing upon it. The stone stretched twelve feet wide as well, which led to more than 40 different ropes securing the cloth. The ropes were tied to trees and into the ground across the cloth.

      “A little secure isn’t it?”

      “We don’t know what it will say.”

      Valquire calmly put on his gloves, pulled out his sword, cut the ropes, then pulled back the cloth.


     *      *      *




      Sara and Sye were surrounded by the new cemetery. People hastily dug graves and covered them just as fast. Most of the dead had no family to bury them. Some bodies were horribly scarred, the skin melted beyond identification. A few people finish what the fire started, burning their loved ones to ash.

      Below them a body was covered in a sleeping bag. They had gotten a few guards to retrieve their mother from the debris and cover her up so they wouldn’t have to see her body. Sye shoved a shovel into the ground. After uplifting dirt, Sara placed her hands over his.

      “I want to help bury her, too.”

      Sye handed Sara the shovel and they took turns building the grave. When the hole was finished, they looked at the bag, then each other. They approached the bag slowly. Cautiously, they pulled her body down the slope they had dug. Sye threw a patch of dirt into the grave, but Sara grabbed his hand. She looked down at her mother, then let go of Sye. Sara paced as Sye continued covering their mother. After they had finished locking their mother into the earth, Sye fell to his knees.

      “She saved our lives, Sara,” he said, wiping his eyes. “She pushed us to safety.”

      Sara clung to her brother.

      “Thank you mom.”

      Sara touched the ground and moved her palm across. It was as if she was remembering the way her mother once held, brushed, and bathed her. She pushed her hand into the ground. Sye gently held Sara’s hand and pulled it up.

      “She’s gone, Sara.”

      Sye lifted their father’s sword and staked it into the ground.

      “This is all we have of dad,” said Sye. “At least a part of him will be with you.”

      “I want her back.”

      “I do, too.”

      Birds chirped. Pollen blew through the wind. Deer ran through the field. The sun floated behind the hills.

      “Goodbye, mom. We’ll miss you.”

      “And,” Sara said, her head facing the grave, streaks of water on her chin, “we love you.”

      As the siblings strode toward their tent, their arms stretched around the other’s shoulder, clinging tight to the other.

Return To “Author’s Message”                        Continue To “Chapter 2: Storyteller”