The last light of the day was rapidly leaving the sky as we flew from the city of Tardon, and although we were gaining altitude and concentrating on our escape, something rising up in the center of the market place caught my eye. Warily checking for more archers, I swooped down hoping to get a better look – and I did. But the sudden shocking sight before my eyes was enough to cause me to stop flying. Plummeting a few feet I quickly recovered and began to once more stroke my wings.
Sticking high above the square in a roped off section of the market were five long pikes; as I looked with ever widening eyes through the rapidly falling darkness, I could clearly see that affixed to four of them were the severed heads of the boys who’d found me and brought me to General Zakaria. Jammed onto the fifth pike was the head of the man who had killed the dog. His mouth was now open in an ugly and permanent grimace. What was left of the blood that had flowed out from it at the time of his execution was now nothing more then a large dark dried clot-like slab that hung off of his chin. Looking closer, I could see that his tongue, now lolling from the side of his mouth, had already become swollen and bloated. For a second time since I had looked into his face this day I caught a glimpse of his yellow and rotten teeth, although this time they were flecked with dried blood.
My stomach churned. I felt dizzy and choked back the bile bubbling up from my stomach. Repulsed and sickened, I turned away and beat my wings with a strength and determination that surprised me. In a matter of seconds I had quickly climbed to my previous height and caught up to Nic and Luc. Flying as fast as I could, my mind reeled at what I’d just seen. Had Zakaria and his men done this? From what I’d just experienced at the hands of the General it didn’t seem like this was his method of operation. I hadn’t encountered any sense of evil or cruelty when I was in his direct presence, or when our minds briefly touched. Yet here I was, confronted by a completely vicious and senseless act.
The man had certainly been a vile creature and deserved some type of punishment, but beheading? And why kill the young boys? There was nothing they’d done that warranted this kind of draconian punishment. All in all, I was greatly troubled, and even more worried. Leaving the grisly scene behind me, I flew on as my head became crammed with an ever-confusing jumble of thoughts and emotions – not the least of which was fear. Why had this been done? How much danger was I in? What kind of world had I awoken into? Instead of answers, I found that I was now more confused then ever.
At first my anxious thoughts, mixed with the gruesome images I’d just encountered, crowded my head as they fought for attention within my brain. But as I flew on I began to realize not only the desire, but also the necessity of clearing them from my mind and directing all my focus on the task at hand – that of keeping up with Nic.
It was then, using what to me seemed like a small bit of concentration, that I discovered I was able push all of the disturbing sights and thoughts of the past few hours out of my mind. Indeed, it took such little effort that for a second time since I’d taken to the air; I found that I was once more beginning to lose altitude as I marveled inwardly on my apparent ability to accomplish such a remarkable feat. Once more I beat my wings furiously as I climbed back to my original altitude, but the overriding fact dominating my consciousness was that while I was glad to clear my mind, I was most definitely surprised at my skillfulness in performing the task so easily.
It was also becoming more evident to me that the longer I flew; the more I seemed to remember how to fly. At first I was relieved just to have escaped being killed in the fall immediately after leaping from the palace balcony, but somehow my wings and instincts took over, and remarkably I found myself in the air. Once I was over the initial shock of realizing I actually could fly, I began awkwardly maneuvering, trying to gain altitude and keep up with Nic and Luc. But as time went on, my confidence and ability grew, and by the time we were out of the city, my memory of the art and technique of flying had become much clearer and my skill and proficiency grew in leaps and bounds.
But although my ability to fly improved with each passing minute, the rest of my memory was a hopeless blank. Occasionally I would to try and tap into my memories, trying to remember any details and facts of my life, but try as I might, my conscious mind seemed to always meet a high and dark wall that yielded no information no matter how hard I tried to climb over it. It was like throwing a bucket down a deep well hoping for a cold refreshing drink only to hear a “thud” as it hit dry earth instead of the refreshing splash of water. After countless attempts, I knew there was nothing I could do and I realized I’d have to place my trust in the boy who’d rescued me and follow him to wherever he was taking me.
With that thought, my mind turned to my savior. As I looked ahead, I could see him tightly holding Luc as he flew with determined resolve. First there was the fact that he had risked his own life to save me. The odds were poor at best, yet from the time he’d begun his attack until our escape, all his efforts, strength, and concern had been for me – I’d felt it from the very beginning when I looked into the deep green pools of his eyes. He was determined to save me or die trying.
Then there was the fact that I loved him, and he loved me. It made no sense at the moment, having no memory of him, but the simple fact remained that I knew I was hopelessly and completely in love with the angel boy who was now flying ahead of me. And this love hadn’t come from his dramatic rescue attempt, but something much deeper and more important. I sensed a bond between us, but how it had come about and why it existed were a mystery to me.
Finally, there was his agreement with my demand that he rescue Luc. He’d been under no obligation to snatch up and carry a poor servant boy based solely on my stubborn insistence, yet he’d rescued him without serious opposition or argument. Although he’d initially protested, out of his concern for my safety, as soon as he saw my resolve he simply picked up the little boy and brought him along. In my heart I knew that while a brave and determined person might rescue someone he loved, only a remarkable one would put himself in danger for someone he didn’t know.
I’d been so lost in my own thoughts that when I eventually broke clear of them it took me a moment to realize that we’d finally left behind the outskirts of the city. Looking ahead into the ever-darkening sky, I saw we were approaching a large forest. At first I wasn’t sure if it was indeed our destination; but as we got closer Nic, who was still firmly holding onto Luc, begin to dip down toward the treetops. Taking his lead, I quickly followed behind.
As soon as it became clear to me that we were going to land, a new feeling of fear welled up inside me. It was now almost completely dark and we were descending into a forest that most likely contained creatures that would love to dine on boys like us, but Nic seemed unconcerned and continued to lead the way as I joined him in his slow and spiraling decent.
As we got closer to the ground, I glimpsed a light shining up from the forest floor below us. Once we got lower and closer to it I could see that the light was actually coming from a fire and that we were descending into an open clearing that appeared to be a camp. Finally, when we were directly over the site, Nic paused, hovered for a few seconds, and then landed gently on his feet. Following his example I did the same, landing a few feet behind him.
I stood there for a few seconds trying to comprehend everything that had happened to me in the past few hours. First waking up in a strange place, then enduring capture by a band of now executed thugs, and finally my rescue and escape thanks to a boy who supposedly knew me, but of whom I still had no memory. Not to mention the fact that I was still a bit in shock at the realization that I had actually flown. But flown I had, using my very own wings… me… Jamie… and yes that was my name! I remembered it; along with a few other random thoughts I’d gathered after I’d been drawn into Nic’s mind when he forced me to look into his eyes and concentrate.
Once we were on the ground, Nic carefully put Luc down. The boy just stood there frozen, in a state of shock from the events that had recently beset us. Out of concern I moved toward him, but was stopped as Nic slowly turned around to look at me. His gaze was steady as his green eyes carefully studied me. Then he smiled broadly and took a few steps forward so that he was now standing directly in front of me. He put out his hand and rested it on my shoulder. Then, still smiling, he bent down and lightly kissed my forehead. From my forehead his lips moved to my right cheek and finally to my lips, giving me a warm and loving kiss. A second later he was holding me tightly in his arms.
“Jamie, are you really alright?” he said. “I was so worried – no, more then worried. After the essence of the orb attacked you and you vanished, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see you again and if I did what kind of state I might find you in.”
“Yes. I’m fine,” I said still a bit flushed from the warmth of the kiss lingering on my lips. “I don’t understand what’s happening, but I’m fine. At least I’m fine physically, but I am very confused and I really don’t remember anything from before I woke up in the street this morning.”
“Don’t worry Jamie,” Nic said as he continued to hold me. “From what you told me before the orb smashed, it’s just one of the side effects. In time hopefully it will all become clear again.”
As Nic held me, I could feel the love and compassion flowing to me from the boy in whose arms I rested. Somehow I knew that here was someone who loved me completely and without reservation. What’s more, as I lay my head on his shoulder and accepted his embrace, I knew without a doubt that I also had the same feelings toward him. Standing there with him, even though my memory was still too clouded to clearly remember, I knew again that somehow we were connected.
After a few more seconds Nic released me from his arms, and bent down once more to kiss me on the forehead, but then he suddenly stopped as a soft and muffled choking sound reached our ears. We both turned our heads in the direction of the noise and I was startled see Luc now kneeling on the ground. His head was bowed and his hands covered his face as he cried into them, and I could see him shaking with each sob that rose up from the depth of his small thin body. I felt my face rapidly flush with shame as I realized that in my self-absorbed moment of basking in Nic’s attention, I’d completely forgotten the little boy whom I demanded that he save.
Nic quickly turned from me and without hesitation went to Luc, knelt down beside him and put an arm around him. He took the boy’s hands in his and gently pulled them from his face. I could see the young boy’s red, puffy eyes and tear streaked face. Then as he’d embraced me, Nic released his grasp of Luc’s hands and opened his arms. Luc leapt forward to meet Nic’s embrace. Once he was locked in Nic’s arms, he began to sob with abandon, his heartrending wails of pain bespeaking the depths of his despair and loss. Nic continued to hold him, silently rocking him in his arms; after long minutes of comfort given and received, the sound of his crying became muffled and decreased until he was silent. Nic slowly stood, helped the little boy to his feet, and guided him over to me.
With Luc now standing before me I suddenly found myself becoming shy. Here was a boy who just hours before had seen his brother killed before his eyes, then was torn from the life he’d known – bleak as it may have been. Now he found himself among strange creatures in a dark and possibly dangerous forest. I looked down at him, not really knowing what to say, when suddenly he lifted his head and simply looked into my eyes. For a few seconds he continued to stare at me, and then he reached out his hand and took mine into his. As his small fingers wrapped around mine and I felt them squeeze my hand, a faint, tired smile came to his face.
“You saved me, my lord,” he quietly said.
Once more I could feel a flush come to my face as my own eyes blurred with tears. And while no words of comfort could convey my deep sorrow over his grief, I did the only thing I could think of. I bent down, wrapped my arms around him and embraced him tightly. Holding Luc for a minute or two helped to calm us both, but while I was very sad and deeply moved to see Luc’s grief, I was also warmed by the compassion Nic had shown the boy when he realized how deeply he was suffering. He’d never hesitated for one second to go to him and comfort him and I was starting to think that maybe this sweet and loving boy who had rescued me truly was an angel.
I’d been focusing all my attention on Luc, when suddenly I heard the loud snap of a twig immediately behind me. I quickly spun around in the direction of the sound to see a figure emerge from the now darkened forest. I cautiously took a step backward while lowering my head in an attempt to get a better look at what ever or who ever was approaching the light of the camp fire. Worried, I looked over at Nic who now had his hand on Luc’s shoulder, and I noticed that contrary to being alarmed, he appeared rather calm and almost at ease. He returned my look with another of his warm and loving smiles and turned back toward the figure that was by now in the open clearing, standing directly in front of us.
My eyes widened. Standing before us was a boy who appeared to be about 15 years old. He was just slightly shorter then me. He had short brown hair, big brown eyes and the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen. He wore a short white and blue tunic tied with a light blue sash. From his back emerged a beautiful set of wings. They looked strong, yet ethereal, with the slightest silver and blue tipped highlights.
To say that he appeared to be a sunny boy would have been an understatement. At the sight of Nic, his mouth turned up into a broad and friendly smile. At the same time his eyes almost twinkled in joy. The sight of his smile and warm open appearance made me think of what it’s like to be under a dark and dull sky, when suddenly there’s an opening in the clouds and the sun breaks through, shining its light across the land and warming everything its rays fall on.
At first he stood silently looking at Nic, Luc and I for a few seconds, then he approached Nic and when he was as almost directly in front of him, he knelt on one knee and bowed his head. His face took on a slightly serious look, but only slightly. As I looked closer at him I began to guess that smiling just came naturally to him and even when he tried to be serious it was impossible for him to hide his warm and bright personality.
“Your Highness, I see that you were able to find him,” the boy said, his head remaining bowed.
Nic gently put his hand on the young angels shoulder. “Yes I was Cody, and we’ll tell you all about it.”
Then Nic reached out his hand took the boy by the arm and helped him to his feet.
“Please get up Cody, we all have to eat, then we’re going to try to get some rest and prepare for tomorrow. If what we suspect is correct we’ll be paying a visit to the Abbey soon. We have to make sure that Jamie is ready. I know I’ll need him.”
Upon hearing my name the young angel turned and looked in my direction. Once more I could see him unsuccessfully suppress a smile. He slowly began to approach me, then stopped when he was still a distance away. While he’d freely given Nic a broad open smile, as soon as he faced me I could see that he quickly adopted a pleased though somewhat more reserved look that seemed to convey happiness, respect and concern almost simultaneously.
Almost without thinking my mind began to reach out to his, but as soon as I made contact with his thoughts, his smile faded slightly, and the color drained from his face. I quickly backed away from his mind and the boy’s face relaxed a bit. Our eyes made contact for a second and I once more saw a twinkle come to them, then just as he’d done when approaching Nic, he went down on one knee, and bowed his head.
“Your Grace, I’m very glad King Niklas found you. Are you all right? Is there anything you need? Is there anything I can help you with?”
I couldn’t get over his words. Back in the city of Tardon I had been called a lord. Now this boy was referring to me as Your Grace!
I walked over to the young angel. I opened my hand and gently touched his face. As I did he looked up at me and once again smiled his warm and sunny smile.
“It’s Cody, right?” I asked. Then I continued, “Please, I am no one’s lord, or grace, or anything.”
He turned to Nic, and his smile dipped a bit as he gave him a puzzled look.
“It’s ok Cody, he doesn’t remember for now. It was the red orb. From what he told us earlier I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that, since it was the snake, it didn’t kill him. Remember it was the first one he absorbed and he didn’t have any others to help balance the effect. He apparently got the strongest dose first, but other then his memory he seems no worse off then before. We’ll sort it all out in a bit, but I may need your help when the time comes.”
“Yes Your Highness, I’ll do whatever you command.” The boy said with a slight bow of his head.
Nic smiled broadly, strode over to him, and kissed the beautiful angel boy on the top of his head.
“I know you will, but you don’t have to be so formal. We’re all friends, Cody. I am always Nic. And besides, we don’t even know if there really is a kingdom.”
Cody blushed and looked at Nic, but his smile never faded.
“But Your Highness, I am just trying…”
“I know what you are doing Cody, but for now it’s just Nic and this is just Jamie. Understand?”
“Yes Your High… I mean Nic. I understand.”
I was now totally confused. Highness? Grace? The red orb? The snake? What was going on here?
As I looked over to Nic, I could see that he was pondering something. He looked down and frowned, but then turned to me and smiled.
“Jamie, we’ll sort all of this out soon enough, but it’s been a long, hard day. First let’s eat, then I think we all need a good night’s sleep. In the morning we’ll begin to help you make some sense of this. But we will have to act quickly, because we may have a very important prize to rescue.”
By now I was even more confused, but the look on Nic’s face combined with the feelings I had for him told me that everything would be taken care of, and I knew that I could believe him.
“Yes Nikki, I trust you. I’ll follow your orders.”
While I had spoken the words innocently enough, I was unprepared for what happened next. First Nic threw me an amused look, then he raised his eyebrows and gave the same look to Cody. Then he suddenly began to laugh – at first he started with a chuckle, which rather quickly turned into a long, sustained laughing fit. I noticed that tears had come to his eyes as he howled, his laughter filling the fire lit clearing. Cody wore a beaming smile and chuckled a bit.
I just stood there, looking at them laughing. I must have been wearing a very confused and puzzled expression, because after an additional minute of laughter Nic turned and looked at me, and I could see him willing himself to stop while at the same time wiping tears of laughter from his eyes. And although he was no longer laughing, I could see the after effects of his mirth in the sly and humorous smile he flashed me as he approached.
“Well Jamie, this will be the first time you ever followed any orders from me, and I am going to enjoy it while you’re still without your full memory.”
I continued to stand there puzzled and confused, not knowing how to react. But then Nic, still trying hard to rein in his laughter, walked over and hugged me.
“I know you’re very confused right now, but I’m hoping that everything will soon become clear again. I’m just taking advantage of your situation. I’ll probably never have this chance again, so I admit that I’m enjoying it at your expense.”
“Well… ok, but I really don’t understand.”
“You don’t have to for now. For the moment it’s important that we all eat and then get some rest.”
With that he swept me up in his arms, hugged me again and gave me a big kiss. I swore I saw stars and comets. He put me down and I was dizzy.
“Now lets get something to eat,” he said, still smiling broadly at me as he wiped one final tear from his eye.
Within a few minutes, Cody had some food prepared and we were all sitting around the fire eating in silence. I was next to Nic, and Luc was sitting very close to Cody. Every so often he would just look at Cody’s beautiful wings. For one brief second he put his hand out and carefully touched some of the feathers on Cody’s blue tipped wings. Cody looked at him and smiled, but the young servant boy remained silent.
We ate most of our meal in silence, but as we were finishing I looked up into the night sky. The forest was dark and quiet, the sky clear with bright and brilliant stars twinkling in the blackened canopy above us. Directly above my head I could see two moons, one large and one small, suspended in the star filled sky. Both moons were full and shone with a bright and steady glow. The large moon had a dark reddish glow while the smaller one had a light greenish cast to it. From where I was sitting it seemed as if the larger moon was chasing the smaller one.
“Argon and Ajax,” a soft voice said.
I looked down and saw that it was Luc who had spoken.
“What did you say Luc?” I asked the small boy.
I was more then a bit surprised. Although he’d spoken a few words to me after we’d arrived at the camp, it seemed by the tone of his voice he was interested in joining with us in conversation.
“The moons,” he continued, “Argon and Ajax, you were looking at them?”
“Yes I was. Can you tell me which one is which?”
“Argon, the prince of power, is the larger moon. Ajax, the prince of tranquility, is his little brother – the smaller moon”
I suddenly became heartened to hear his voice. While I couldn’t bring back the brother who’d been so horribly and violently ripped from his life, maybe I could help him with his grief by engaging him in the reality he now unexpectedly found himself in.
“It looks as if the larger moon circles the smaller instead of the other way around,” I said.
“Yes that’s true,” Luc softly replied. “The older brother Argon was given the task of always protecting his younger brother Ajax.”
“Tell me please,” I said, giving him a smile and what I hoped was a look of interest and curiosity.
“Argon and Ajax were the sons of Ganos, the first king to rule the world after it was created by the gods. Ganos was given great power by the gods, who let him rule as he wished as long as he followed one rule given to him by Minos, king of the gods. Ganos was, as were all mortal men, forbidden to drink from the Cup of Caron. The Cup of Caron was magical. It was always brimming with the sweetest wine of the gods. Anytime one of the gods drank from it, it would instantly refill. The wine is what gave the gods many of their magical powers, and they feared what might happen if any mortal should drink from it.
“One day, Ganos was invited by Minos to a banquet in the great hall of the gods. He’d learned about the Cup of Caron and thought that if he could find it and drink from its contents, he would become like the gods. During the banquet he excused himself from the table, saying that he’d drunk too much wine and needed to go outside and clear his head in the fresh air.
“After leaving the banquet hall, instead of going outside he began to search the castle of the gods in order to find the cup. After some searching he came upon a room with a golden door. Opening it, he saw the Cup of Caron sitting on a table. Excited by his luck, he ran over to the cup and peered into it Looking back at him was his face, reflected on the surface of the wine that filled the cup to the rim. Ganos reached out to the cup, preparing to drink of it, but it was then that Minos and his guards found him. They killed Ganos on the spot. Then Minos ordered the death of Ganos’ entire family and all of his heirs.”
“Somehow, word of Ganos’ crime and Minos’ decree reached the two young princes. Argon gathered up his little brother and fled to the mountains with him. Argon, who was sixteen, promised his brother Ajax, who was only ten, that he would protect him and would never allow any harm to come to him.”
“After days of searching the mountains, Minos and his troops found the cave the boys here hiding in. As soon as they approached the entrance of the cave and dismounted from their horses, Argon bravely strode from the cave. He stood before Minos and told him that he had sworn his life to protect his little brother and that if the king of the gods spared Ajax he would gladly surrender and die as Minos had decreed. He also said that if Minos would not agree, then he would fight unto his own death to preserve his brother.”
“As angered as Minos had been at the treachery of the father, so was he touched by the love and courage of the son. He cast a spell on the two boys and placed them forever in the heavens as a sign to all of their love for each other and the noble sacrifice one was willing to make for the other.”
I looked over at the young boy who was now silent.
“Thank you for telling me the story Luc.” I said. “It was very beautiful. I guess the love of a brother must be a great thing.”
As soon as the words left my mouth I wanted to slap myself. Luc had finally come out of his stupor only to have me remind him of his loss. I watched as the boy bowed his head and stared at his small bare feet. The silence around the campfire was heavy and oppressive.
After a few more minutes of awkward silence, a thought suddenly jumped into my head. It came to me when I began to reflect about what had happened back in the city when we escaped from the soldiers who were pursuing us. As I recalled the events leading up to the lightening bolt flashing from my outstretched hand, I began notice my hands getting warm. The more I thought about the event, and the lightening bolt in particular, the warmer my hands became until they began to tingle. But although I could feel a change coming over me as I sat there, it seemed that it wasn’t apparent to anyone else.
In an effort to change the somber tone the night had taken and partly out of natural curiosity I turned to Nic and asked, “Did I ever do what I did this afternoon before?”
“Do what Jamie? What are you talking about?
“When I threw that lightening bolt at the soldiers as we were fleeing? Did I ever do that before?”
“No, and it was a bit of a shock to see it.” He said. “Do you know what happened? Did you make it happen?”
“I really don’t know Nic, but I can tell you that as I’ve been sitting here thinking about it, I’ve started to get some strange feelings.”
As I continued to talk to Nic I noticed that the sensation had decreased a bit, but then when I began to once again focus my concentration on the event, the warmth and tingling quickly began to increase.
“It’s very strange,” I said to no one in particular.
“What’s happening with you Jamie?” Nic asked, “What are you feeling?”
I looked down at my hand, then slowly and carefully I began to describe the feeling I was experiencing and how it decreased when I was distracted, but increased as I concentrated on it.
“Keep concentrating,” Cody said, giving me a sly smile.
Taking his advice, I concentrated harder and as I did the tingling and warmth flowed down my arms into my hands and toward my fingertips. I wasn’t sure how I was doing it, but in a way it felt like I was being guided along a path that had been preset and predetermined. Strange as it seemed, it was as if the knowledge was locked up in my mind and somehow I’d obtained the key to open it up.
As the tingling continued to increase and my hand grew warmer, I reached out my right arm and held it out flat with the palm upward. The sensation of heat grew until I thought my hand would catch fire. Then without warning, I saw sparks form right in the palm of my flattened, outstretched hand; suddenly they started to pop and shoot upward and I jumped back, dropping my hand to my side.
“What did you just do?” Cody asked. His eyes were wide with surprise.
“Nothing,” I said in awe. “I really didn’t do anything.”
“Well, it certainly looked like you did something,” Nic said.
“Are you alright?” this time it was Luc’s quiet voice that broke the silence. I could see that even he was now looking at me with fascination and growing curiosity.
“Yes, I’m fine. Or at least I think I’m fine,” I said
“Does it hurt,” Cody asked.
“No,” I replied. “My hand gets warm, even hot, but there’s no pain.”
At this point, Nic, Cody and Luc were all examining me with interest. As they did, I held out my right hand once more and examined it. On the surface at least it looked perfectly normal. Although only a few seconds earlier sparks had shot from it, the skin was pink and warm. I had no marks or burns. Standing there for a minute still looking at my hand, I had to admit that I was shocked and a little scared at my performance, but then Nic moved closer to me and put his arm around me. Slowly he turned me so that I was facing him. Placing both of his hands firmly on my shoulders he spoke to me.
“Jamie you seem to have acquired some kind of new power or ability and while you’ve never demonstrated it before, don’t be afraid of it. It could be a result of the red orb, but I’m not sure. It may be quite normal, given your circumstances.”
“What circumstances?” I said giving him a worried look.
“Don’t worry, there’ll be time for that later. Now go ahead, try it again,” Nic said as he took a step back and threw me an encouraging smile.
“Go on, try it, I don’t think it will hurt you” Cody added with an excited and encouraging tone in his voice. His eyes twinkled and his smile widened.
I, on the other hand, frowned back at him. `It’s easy for you say,’ I thought to myself. `You’re not the one with fire coming from his fingertips.’ I looked away from him and down at the ground, trying to clear my head, then I began to concentrate as I had before, although this time a little harder and with more focus.
I raised my arm and held out the palm of my hand. Once again my hand became warm and as it did I could see small sparks forming in my palm. This time I didn’t stop – continuing to concentrate as hard as I could. The more I concentrated the more the sparks formed; soon I was creating them so rapidly that they began to take on a curious round shape that began to resemble a ball of lightning. More amazing to me was the fact that while my hand was warm – even hot – the ball of lightening floating only a small distance above my palm, didn’t burn me. Looking up I noticed my companions were concentrating on my performance almost as hard as I was and I could see that they were mesmerized by my display.
“What do I do now?” I asked the three other boys who were intently focused on the ball of lightening in my hand. And while I’d tried to appear calm I could hear my voice quaking with both fear and excitement.
“I don’t know.” Nic said.
“Throw it.” Cody shouted.
“Throw it,” he repeated.
So at Cody’s suggestion, I raised my hand a bit higher and held it in front of me, while the lightening ball continued to float above my hand. It seemed that no matter what position I held my hand in, as long as I maintained my concentration, the glowing ball continued to float in my palm.
I raised my arm and tried to hurl the ball away from me. In an instant it flew from my hand, much faster then I’d tried to throw it and everyone watched as it darted through the air and disappeared into the dense underbrush of the forest. An instant later there was a blinding flash of light and a deafening BOOM that echoed through the dark and quiet forest. Mangled bits of shrubbery and clods of dirt pattered down around us briefly. I jumped back and almost fell over. Nic rushed to my side and steadied me on my feet.
“Jamie, are you alright?” Nic said and I could hear the concern in his voice.
I wanted to say no, but I was so shocked at what just happened that at first I wasn’t sure. The sudden flash of light blinded me and the loud explosion scared me. Slowly and carefully I examined myself enough to realize that I wasn’t hurt in any way.
“Yes, I seem to be ok.”
“That was an awesome display,” Cody said giving me a bright smile.
And while he too had jumped at the flash and explosion, he seemed to have quickly recovered and appeared to be more impressed with my display then scared by it.
“You’re a weapon,” he added as he continued to grin back at me.
“I don’t know about that,” I said. “I don’t even know what’s happening here.”
“It is pretty impressive Jamie,” Nic added. “But I think we’ve had enough excitement for now.”
“Yes,” I quickly nodded in agreement.
While my heart continued to beat madly in my chest and I was still in the afterglow of what had just happened, I was glad that Nic had called a halt to my performance since I had to admit to myself that I was both worried and afraid of this new and unusual power.
“We’ve all had a very unsettling day,” he said. “I think it’s best if we get some rest, there are some important things to take care of tomorrow.”
Nic was right; it had been a difficult day and a very sad one for my new friend Luc. We all looked at each other for a few seconds, and no one said a word. Then Nic, breaking the silence, suggested we all go to sleep. There were some pads and blankets around the fire and without further ceremony Nic lay down on one. I took the one next two him. Cody lay on the opposite side of the fire with Luc. It was getting a bit chilly. I was only wearing what was left of the robe that Nic had cut and turned into a tunic and I could feel the chill. Instinctively, I moved closer to Nic. I wasn’t sure of his reaction, and my mouth started to get dry, but I knew I had to ask him a question.
“Can I sleep with you?” I quietly asked the handsome young angel.
“I was counting on it Jamie,” Nic said with a smile. “You always have before.”
With that he lay on his side folding his wings back and making a spot for me next to him. I in turn folded my wings forward and nestled into the spot he’d made. He was lying perfectly so as not to damage his wings yet allow me to rest my head on his chest and keep my wings out of his face. Then he took one of the blankets near us and threw it over our legs to protect them from the cool night air.
“Comfortable?” the young angel asked.
“Yes… very.” I said with a smile on my face.
But as I laid my head against Nic’s chest I began to frown as a thought entered my mind. It concerned my discovery of the heads of the boys and man in the square of Tardon. Turning around slightly to look up at Nic, I told him what I’d seen, but Nic didn’t have any more explanation for what I had observed then I did.
“I know your bothered by it Jamie, but there’s just nothing we can do. I can’t even guess why they were punished in such a harsh way,” he said.
“It does bother me.” I said. “I wish I knew who’d ordered their execution. If it really was Zakaria maybe I’m wrong in my feelings about him.”
“But there’s no way of knowing,” he responded.
“I guess you’re right.”
“And losing sleep over it at this point is futile, so try to get some rest,” he said, bending over and giving me a kiss.
Before I knew it, my head was back on his chest and his arms were around me. Our sandals were off and our legs and feet were intertwined. I looked across the fire to see Cody sound asleep and little Luc curled up against him. About a minute after I’d laid my head on Nic’s chest, I closed my eyes and tried to review of the events of the day, but I didn’t get very far as sleep quickly overcame me. When I awoke, a ray of sunlight was shining on my face. As I became more aware of my surroundings, I realized that I was still lying in Nic’s arms. I tilted my head back and saw that he was awake, looking down at me.
“You must have been tired, I’ve been holding you, and watching you sleep since I awoke almost an hour ago.” he said. “I trust you’re well rested?”
I sleepily looked up into Nic’s eyes, then yawned and stretched my arms.
“I was so tired,” I began, “but yes, thank you, I did sleep very well. In fact, I dreamed of a beautiful green eyed angel boy – I think his name was Nic.”
Once more I looked up at him giving him a sweet almost shy smile followed a by soft laugh. He looked down at me and chuckled.
“Pfff… his name better be Nic.”
Nic released me, and we sat up. It took me a few more seconds to become oriented, but when I finally took hold of my senses and looked around, I could see that across from us Cody and Luc, who had been asleep, were being awakened by our conversation.
Cody opened a sleepy eye. “I could sleep a little longer,” he said in a voice still slightly drowsy.
Hard as it was to believe, even as he was stirring from sleep, he still had a soft smile on his face as if to show that the noise hadn’t really bothered him, and he was beginning to wake up.
“No Cody,” Nic said. “It’s time to get up. We’re going to see if we can help Jamie remember a bit more.”
“Yes,” I said gratefully. “ I’d like some help. I still don’t understand what’s been happening to me.”
There was some food left from the previous night, and we sat by the remains of the burnt out fire quietly eating. As I looked about I could see that surrounding us on all sides was the great forest we’d flown into. As with the evening meal we sat and ate in silence. After our breakfast, Nic began to speak.
“Jamie, it’s time for us to try and help you remember. We have an important task ahead and time is short.”
I was sitting opposite Nic, looking at him from over the ashes of the fire. Cody was on my right and Luc on my left.
“How do we begin?” I asked.
We all looked at each other and for a few seconds no one said a word. Then Nic looked into my eyes and began to speak.
“Jamie what I’m about two tell you I only learned four months ago – most of it from you. So now that your memory has been affected I’ll teach you as you taught me. Large parts of it I don’t understand: there are still many empty spaces in my own memory – just like you are now experiencing – but we’ve been learning, and this is what we’ve learned.”
“Four months ago, you and I were in a coffin, our bodies dead and cold. How long were we there? Who put us there? Why was this done? That still remains a mystery. But something caused the place where we were lying to be disturbed and somehow we were released from our prison. Maybe it was an earthquake, or a rockslide, maybe it was preordained, but when the coffin we were in broke open, light and air came over our bodies and we were awakened. We gained consciousness together. For some reason we knew each others names and we had a deep bond of love between us.”
“Well Nic, I feel like I’ve always loved you”
“Yes Jamie, I know. I feel the same way.
“After we were fully conscious and regained full control of our bodies, we began to be aware of the strangeness of our situation. We’d been in some kind of a coffin. It was obvious from the dirt encrusting it and its appearance that we had been buried in the ground for a very long time. It was also obvious that we weren’t ordinary boys. Our wings of course were the first big clue.
“Shortly after our awakening, I discovered that for a boy my age, I was quite strong – stronger then many men. You, we discovered, were remarkably intuitive. It wasn’t long before we realized that these wings weren’t just ornamentation – we really could fly. But we had no answers to all of our questions until the day you learned how to use the amulet.”
I glanced down and looked at the amulet resting on my chest. I had forgotten about it ever since General Zakaria threw it to me. I’d placed it around my neck before flying from the general’s provisional offices. Now, I picked it up and looked at it. It still looked the same. I released it and it dropped back to my chest, pulling hard at the gold chain it was attached to.
“After our awakening, we decided to begin a journey to discover exactly who and what we were, where we came from and what our future would be.”
“Our coffin had been buried at the edge of a great forest – this very one actually. The land beyond it was full of fields and farms and a very old city that we accidentally discovered in our wanderings. As our travels continued, we thought that we were the only ones of our kind and so we remained in the forests and fields moving from place to place and avoiding the city and any people.”
“One evening as we were sitting around the campfire, the firelight suddenly glinted off your amulet. We’d never really paid that much attention to it. We both thought that it stood for something and that you were obviously meant to wear it since it had been placed around your neck in the coffin. Since our awakening, you’ve always worn it, but we never knew what purpose it served – until that night.”
“After it caught the light of the camp fire, I again became aware of it and mentioned to you that I wished that there was some way we could learn its significance, although I guessed that we probably never would. At that moment you reached down and took it in your hands. I watched as you sat there staring at it as if you were seeing it for the first time in your life.”
“At first you just looked at it, but the more you stared; the deeper your thoughts seemed to go. After a few minutes you no longer seemed aware of me, or our surroundings. I called your name and tried talking to you, but you looked as if you were in a trance. Then you took the amulet from around your neck, held it out from your body and waved your hand over it.”
“A second later the amulet began to glow and suddenly a white light shot out of it. The amulet created a vision. There in front of us were pictures, and drawings and words. At first I couldn’t make any sense of it, but then I realized I could read some of the words that were being shown to us. You seemed to have a better understanding of its message. You came out of your trance a bit and started reading the words aloud. You seemed particularly attuned to what it was doing and the fact that you so quickly began to understand its message, caused me to believe that it had been especially created just for you.”
“It seems that the amulet was given to us as a guide, a map, and a reference, but as we tried to decipher it, it became apparent that some how it was damaged. Maybe it was all the years of disuse. Maybe its energy source was weak. Maybe it was just too old. Whatever the reason, there were huge gaps in the information it supplied to us. But even so, we were grateful for what it taught us.”
I sat silently staring at Nic as I focused all of my concentration on him and the tale he was telling me.
“Yes I remember some of that. I saw some of those images when you gave me your thoughts.”
“No Jamie, I didn’t give you any of my thoughts – you took them from me. Actually you plucked them from my mind.”
“What do you mean?”
“I know it’s hard for you to understand yet, but the intuitive powers you have gives you the ability to discern people’s emotions and thoughts.”
“You mean I can read peoples minds?”
“Well, I don’t exactly know Jamie. You’re the one with that ability. You once described it to me as though you were being covered over by a great wave. You feel that you are going to drown. You said it always scared you when you first encountered it and you always had to fight the urge to panic. But once you got over that feeling, somehow you just knew things. Sorry, but that’s the best I can tell you. They’re your words.”
I thought back to the dog in the alley, the Abbot and the woman, Mathilde. Yes, it was like a wave, and I had been scared each and every time. I remembered I hated the feeling, it had made me panic and now I was slowly remembering.
“You have… other attributes, Jamie. Do you remember any of those?”
“I don’t think so…”
“A farmer once caught us. We were hiding in his barn. It had been raining and we were just seeking shelter. We’ve never stolen anything or damaged anyone’s property, but he discovered us and caught us by surprise. I was without my sword and he came at us with a pitchfork, but then he stopped as if frozen.
“I looked and saw that your eyes were locked with his. You were really concentrating on him. His face turned red, and then he began to shake. Some blood started to run from his nose. Finally he fell to the ground in a fit of convulsions and he began to vomit. I grabbed you, but you didn’t even know I was there. Then, after shouting, shaking and even slapping you I broke the spell. We ran from the barn and flew away.”
I thought of the fat woman who had slapped Luc. Mathilde had started to shake and blood ran from her nose after I’d focused my anger on her.
“Yes Nic, I remember the incident. I really didn’t mean to hurt him. He was going to kill us with his pitchfork. He thought we were evil demons.”
“That’s exactly what you told me at the time. I am glad you’re beginning to remember. Then Jamie, there’s the matter of the orb. After you absorbed its energy, you vanished. I had to leave Cody here and search for you. Fortunately, you weren’t far. I was able to track you to the city and eventually rescue you, but you already know that story.”
I looked at Nic and shyly smiled as I remembered the handsome warrior angel standing on the table in General Zakaria’s office, his green eyes first flashing anger at those assembled in the room, then showing love and concern when he finally saw me.
I was about to speak, when like a bolt of lighting, a strange feeling overwhelmed me. I rose to my feet. I looked at Nic, then Cody and finally little Luc. I must have stood before them for a minute in silence. The others had their eyes on me. Nic sat calmly as if nothing I could do would surprise him. Cody was a little apprehensive and averted his eyes when I looked directly at him. Luc had a look of fear; similar to the one he had worn when his brother was killed.
I took the amulet off and I looked at both sides. Then I held it up in front of me so that I was looking at the side with the pair of wings and halo above them. I took my hand, and waved it in front of the amulet. Ever so slowly, it began to get warm, and then it started glowing. Suddenly bright light shot out of it and the vision started. I held it so that when the projection started, it was being directed in front of me instead of outward to my companions.
Bright lights, bold colors and thousands of words appeared. Pictures and drawings, maps and charts all unfolded before my eyes and rushed into my brain. The speed that they were impacting upon my consciousness was beyond description, but even as that was happening, instinctively I knew that far more information was entering my subconscious. The images intensified and grew in speed. I began to feel a dull ache in my head. I felt like dropping to my knees, but I fought to remain standing.
I lost all sense of time, but then as quickly as they’d come, the visions abruptly ended. I was so weak; I dropped to my knees, my head bowed down almost to the ground. For a few moments I remained there just trying to focus my thoughts and regain my strength.
Then I lifted my head and slowly stood up. The images were now with me: The red orb, the snake, the kingdom… and thousands of others. I glanced over at Cody whose mouth was gaping open in wonderment. Then to Luc who had backed up slightly from me and was moving closer to Nic. I looked at Nic. My love for him was stronger then ever.
“Your Highness.” I smiled, knowing at last the depths of my love for him.
He caught my smile with his eyes and got to his feet. His green eyes flashed and a broad smile grew on his face. He made a great flourish of a bow, never taking his eyes off of mine.
“Your Grace.” He got up from his bow and a laugh escaped from his mouth.“ I guess that’s the last you’ll be following my orders, Jamie. I knew it couldn’t last for long.”
“Well, you do know how headstrong wizards can be.”
“Indeed, my love.” He smiled, then walked over and kissed me.