The Scrolls of Icaria by Jamie

Part II - A Gathering of Angels

Chapter 21


Nic looked down at the boy he still had pinned to the ground while he continued to laugh. The two boys in turn roared along with him – their eyes sparkling as peals of laughter rose up in their throats. After a few minutes passed with all three of them caught up in their shared moment of mirth, Nic managed to gain control of his laughter and as he did the laughter from the two boys also subsided.


Taking a few deep breaths, he raised an arm to his face, using the back of his hand to wipe away the tears of laughter that streaked his face. Then slowly he rose, stood over the still slightly giggling boy at his feet and with a smile extended his hand to him. The boy looked up and smiled at Nic when he saw the King of Icaria’s outstretched hand. He, in turn, reached up, firmly grabbed Nic’s arm, and in one quick and graceful movement, got to his feet.


Once the first boy was standing, Nic looked over to Cody. “Please, release him,” he said.


Cody gave Nic a look of apprehension, but nodded and suddenly the second boy began to move, rubbing his arms and legs as if released from being bound by tight ropes. He quickly jumped to his feet, walked to where his dagger lay, placed it in the sheath strapped to his ankle, and calmly sauntered over to Niklas and the first boy. As the second boy approached them, Nic reached out his hand and clasped the boy’s forearm. The boy did the same to Nic and I watched them grasp each other in an act of greeting and friendship, then they embraced.


I continued to stare – shock and surprise still registering on my face. “He kissed him,” I said, turning toward Cody who stood only a few feet to my right. Cody gave me a puzzled look, followed by a small shrug.


Lance, now out of apparent danger, walked across the room to where his sword lay. I could see a frown come to his face as he bent down and picked it up. He carefully examined it for damage, and apparently finding none, he returned it to the sheath that was slung over his back and lay between his wings. He turned retracing his steps across the room, stopping next to Cody and me; though he said nothing, I could see that he still kept a constant and wary eye on the twins who were now flanking Nic.


I noticed Cody giving Lance a look of concern. Moving closer to him, Cody murmured something to Lance, who in return responded softly. There was a pause as the two boys looked at each other, then I watched as Cody took the battle angel’s hand in his and held it tightly.


After the second boy’s embrace ended, Nic backed away, looked at all of us, and once more broke into a broad grin.


“This is David,” he said motioning to the boy on his right who’d embraced him, “and this is Miro,” he continued, quickly gesturing to the boy standing to his right – the one who’d kissed him.


“And we,” David said with a dramatic pause, “are les Gemeaux – the terrible Gemini.”


“We are death served at the point of a sword,” Miro added with what looked like an arrogant smirk, “And woe and sorrow be to those who cross our path.”


Then, in unison, both boys executed deep and graceful bows.


Lance watched the performance of the boys – for that’s what it looked like to me – without expression or emotion, then slowly he made his way toward Nic with Cody following him, still clutching his hand. I could see that his face showed a mixture of puzzlement and wariness.


“Your Highness,” Lance said, in a hesitant voice, “you are not in danger?”


“No, Lancelot,” Nic said smiling at the young battle angel. “On the contrary, I haven’t felt this good in days – maybe weeks.”


I frowned at his remark. That previous night we’d made love and my mind quickly jumped to the logical conclusion that this sudden encounter and subsequent fight apparently ranked higher up on the king’s scale of enjoyment than the passionate night we’d just experienced.


Nic looked back and forth at each boy, beaming. “I have to admit I was shocked to see you, but also very glad. I’m sorry, but I lost all thought of you until you rushed from the cabinet and attacked me. You’ve managed to shake loose the first memories I’ve had since I awoke in this strange world.”


“And just how do you know each other?” Charles said, approaching Nic while Jonathan and Luc followed rapidly in his wake.


“We’ve fought together,” David quickly answered, giving Charles a self-assured look.


“Well, sparred for sure,” Miro added.


“And their appearance has opened up some of your memory, Nic?” Charles said, giving Nic a questioning look.


“I can’t explain it Charles, but as soon as the glass shattered and they charged me, a flood of memories overwhelmed me. Within seconds I remembered not only training and sparring with them, but also our long and happy friendship.”


“How much more do you remember, Your Highness?” Cody excitedly asked.


“Not a lot as far as our past, but I do remember David and Miro,” he replied, once more turning toward the two boys grinning at him.


“And what about you two?” Charles said, looking at the twins with increased interest. “What do you remember?”


“Well… I remember…” David began haltingly but then paused and a strange look crossed his face. “Um… now that I try to recall things, not a lot,” he said, giving Charles a look of surprise.


Miro looked at his brother and started to speak, but he too faltered and stammered, quickly becoming quiet. A look of concentration appeared on his face and his eyes became distant as if lost in thought. A few seconds later the look was gone and his eyes refocused on Charles as a frown came to his face. When he finally spoke his voice was soft.


“I really don’t remember much myself,” he began. “After we woke up, I didn’t even think about it, because as soon as I saw Nic, I thought he was playing one of the games we used to engage in. And I just assumed that it was part of one of his sparring exercises. I immediately attacked him as I’d been trained, and I guess my reflexes just took over, but now that I’m standing here, I find it very strange that I don’t remember much from the time before we went into the cabinet.”


“Do you remember anything at all?” Charles asked.


“I remember Nic,” David quickly responded to Charles question. “I remember our sparring matches.”


“And what about the cabinet?” Charles asked. “Do you remember anything about it? How you got here, or who put you into it and sealed it?”


“Why, Nic of course,” Miro said, matter-of-factly. “Your face was the last thing I remember staring at before I went to sleep.”


“Same here,” David added.


Everyone turned and looked at Nic, whose face was registering a look of puzzled confusion. “I don’t remember,” he said quietly. “I don’t have the slightest memory of doing any such thing.”


“Well, you did,” Miro said. “Don’t you remember, you brought us here and said you thought it was a safe place for us to hide. You made us get into the cabinet, and made sure we were ok. Then you sealed it and…”


“And that’s the last thing I remember,” David interrupted.


“Me too.” Miro nodded in agreement.


“What were you hiding from?” Charles asked, giving both Nic and the twins a questioning look.


“Well from…” David paused, a serious and thoughtful look coming to his face. “Um… I don’t remember,” he said, sounding even more surprised.


“Neither do I,” Miro said, giving David a questioning look.


Once more Charles turned to Nic, his face displaying an expression that begged for an explanation.


“I’m sorry Charles, if I knew of course I’d tell you. I’d tell everyone, but like David and Miro, I don’t remember.


“But I do remember our fights,” David said suddenly grinning.


“So do I,” Miro added, looking at Nic – his face breaking into a huge smile.


“As do I,” Nic said agreeing with both boys, although his face now wore a look of concern.


“You fight like the soldiers of the Duke of Lionsgate, when they put on an exhibition,” Luc said a look of awe and wonder showing on his face.


He’d been standing next to Jonathan, but now approached Miro. Looking up at him he continued. “At the last festival held in Tardon, I watched some of the Duke’s best soldiers put on a match for the people in the square. Only the most skilled of General Zakaria’s troops were allowed to take part. They wore their best armor and their fighting was incredible, but it still wasn’t anywhere nearly as good as the way you both just fought,” he said – his voice taking on a tone of respect and reverence.


Miro looked down at him as his face split wide open in a friendly grin. “We are death,” he said, quickly unsheathing his short sword, a glint of mischief twinkling in his eyes, “at the point of a sword.” And this time he raised the sword in a kind of jaunty salute before executing a small and formal bow directed solely at the young boy.


Luc’s eyes widened and then he gave Miro a shy smile. For a few moments, every one seemed to crowd around Nic and the two boys – everyone but me. Nic took a few moments making introductions and with each introduction David and Miro politely, if not theatrically, bowed in the direction of the person they were introduced to.


All the while I stood near one of the corners of the room, my arms across my chest, my legs firmly planted on the ground, silently watching the scene play before my eyes. I’d remained in this spot from the moment both boys rushed from the cabinet and attacked Nic and Lance. And I’d stood quietly listening to the revelations that both boys – like the rest of us – had only dim memories of their past lives.


The emotions that were welling up inside me were almost more than I could bear. At first I had experienced shock and surprise over the boy’s sudden and unexpected awakening. Followed by fear over their attack on Nic and Lance. But now I was angry as suspicion and finally jealousy broke to the surface of my mind, having witnessed the boy called Miro give Nic a warm and affectionate kiss – a kiss that Nic not only accepted, but also clearly seemed to enjoy. That coupled with his remark about his not having felt so good in days, caused my blood to boil. Quietly surveying the room and everyone in it, I continued my posture: that of a lifeless statue.


“He kissed him,” I said once more under my breath.


Although I though I’d spoken the words quietly so that no one would hear me, Nic turned and looked at me.


“Jamie,” he said giving me a warm smile, “come here and meet Miro and David.”


I stood unmoving, my feet still planted firmly on the ground as I pulled my arms around my body even tighter.


“Jamie?” Nic said, finally beginning look at me more closely.


I watched as his expression quickly changed from calm and happy to concern and worry as his assessment of my mood sunk into his consciousness. Quickly he made his way over to me.


“Jamie, what’s wrong?” he said, as I watched the smile he’d been wearing fade away, quickly replaced by a look of puzzlement.


I said nothing, choosing to remain silent all the while giving him a hard, cold stare.


“Jamie,” Nic continued, “everything’s all right, love. As you can see, I’m not in any danger – none of us are. There’s no reason to be scared or upset. David and Miro are friends.”


“Yes, I can see that,” I said as the words came hissing from my mouth. “It’s become obvious to me just how close you all are.”


“But…” Nic stuttered.


“But what?” I said, anger bubbling up in my voice. “What kind of friends are they? I’ve seen with my own eyes that they’re certainly friendly enough to feel comfortable kissing you.”


“Jamie…” Nic said, trying to speak, but once more I cut him off.


“And just what else, besides kissing, have you done with them?”


Nic’s face flushed and suddenly registered anger.


“Jamie, it’s not like that. They’re my friends, they…” and once more he was interrupted – although not by me.


The twin named Miro had been looking over at us. I’d chosen to pretend to ignore him as I argued with Nic, but I could see a look of surprise come to his face.


“David, look!” he shouted, looking at his brother while at the same time pointing at me. “It’s him, I’m sure of it; he’s the one. Do you recognize him?”


David, who was also staring at me, began to approach Nic and me. As he reached his brother Miro, the second boy joined him and within a few quick strides they were standing before me, their heads tilted downward, carefully examining me.


“It is him, isn’t it Nic?” Miro said, giving Nic a questioning look.


“It has to be,” David added, “He’s the one, right?”


Then both boys began to circle me, examining me from head to foot as if I were piece of livestock they were interesting in purchasing.


“It is him,” David exclaimed, his voice taking on a tone of surprise, then turned to look at Nic. “Right?”


“The royal box,” Miro added. “He was in the royal box.”


“He’s the one that came to the barracks at Rood,” Miro said.


“To meet Nic,” David added.


“And he’s the one you went to meet in the garden. Remember?,” continued Miro. The singer came for you. We were all in the banquet hall. And after it was over, the boy who sang approached you – what was his name…?”


“Damian,” David interrupted. “His name was Damian, and he sang like an angel.” Suddenly he stopped and giggled, realizing the pun he’d just created.


“His name was Damian, and you’re right,” Miro added looking intently at his brother, “I never heard anyone sing so beautifully.”


I frowned at the mention of Damian’s name. How did these two warrior angel boys know sweet and gentle Damian?


“Yes,” David continued, “After he was done singing he came to you, Nic. “He came to you with a message. You went to the garden and then everything fell apart.” he said, suddenly turning to me.


“And five days later we all ended up in the arena,” David said. “That’s when…”


“…the end of the world came,” Miro said, looking at me in shock and amazement.


By now all my feelings of anger, hurt, and jealousy had vanished, replaced by a chill that ran from the back of my legs, up my spine to the very top of my head, while a dull and painful ache grew in the pit of my stomach.


“What are you talking about?” Charles said, quickly approaching us and in his question I could hear both excitement and hope. “What do you remember?”


Both Miro and David stood staring at me. It was amazing how suddenly things had changed. I still stood with my feet planted to the ground, but now it was because I was near shock and couldn’t move. My arms remained wrapped around my body although now I was doing it to keep from shaking.


“The Red Castle,” David finally said. “We were all at the Red Castle.”


“And you were there,” Miro said, staring into my eyes, “and then we were all running – running for our lives as we fought our way out of the arena.”


“And?” Charles said, his voice raising in pitch and looking as if he were ready to jump out of his skin. “What happened?”


“I don’t remember,” Miro said shaking his head.


“Neither do I,” David added.


For a few moments there was silence in the chamber. All eyes were on me.


“You’re looking at me like I’m some kind of a monster.” I shouted, tears coming to my eyes.


“Oh no,” Miro said, “Maybe I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I do remember you. You did something amazing.”


I looked up at him and then to David who was nodding his head in agreement. “Yes,” he added, “amazing. You saved our lives! From the royal box, you… you…”


“…caused an earthquake, I think,” Miro answered. “Well, it was something like that; I don’t remember. But you did save our lives.”


I blinked at David and Miro in disbelief. Nic moved closer to me and put his arm around my waist.


Charles furrowed his brow and stared intently at me. Luc gave me a look of awe. Cody, who’d been standing next to Lancelot, disengaged his hand from Lance, approached me, put his hand on my shoulder and looked up at the two boys.


“Damian’s dead,” he told them in a soft and quiet voice.


David and Miro stood quietly as Nic relayed the story of our discovery of Damian, and his death at Castle Rood. When he was finished, they remained silent. Then Miro walked over and took my right arm in his hands. Lifting it up, he examined the beautiful snake-shaped bracelet wrapped around it.


“What does it mean?” he asked, looking up from the bracelet and giving me an intense look.


“I don’t know,” I said, not returning his gaze, but choosing instead to stare at the floor. “I just know it wasn’t worth his death.”


Miro released my arm and I let it drop to my side. Then, as if examining my bracelet stirred something in his own mind, I watched as a questioning expression came his face. He reached up and lightly touched his hand to his chest, letting it come to rest on his gold and silver breastplate.


Moving his hand up under his breastplate, he looked as if he were feeling for something. Displaying a look of serious concentration, he withdrew his hand, reached up, and put it to his neck. It was then that I noticed something that looked like a leather strap or thong encircling his neck, before disappearing under his tunic. I hadn’t noticed it before, since his armor and cloak had concealed it. David and Miro were not only twins in physical appearance, but also dressed and outfitted in identical costumes. When I looked at David’s neck in search of a similar leather strap, I didn’t see one.


Miro began to tug on the piece of leather and I watched as he wiggled and twisted trying to extract it from under his tunic. Little by little he pulled out more and more of the leather strap. At one point it seemed to have caught on something under his breastplate, but giving one final gentle tug, he managed to pull it out. I watched with interest as I saw him reach for the object tied to the cord, and grasp it gently in his hand.


Moving closer so that I could get a better look, I watched as Miro opened his hand and looked down at it. There, resting in his palm was a golden heart. Surrounding it were two silver wings and in the center of the first heart a second golden heart had been engraved. Abruptly dropping it, he looked up. The winged heart bounced against his metal breastplate, making a soft clanging sound. Turning to Nic, his face took on a grave expression.


“Philippe,” he said, and I could hear alarm and even a touch of panic register in his voice. “Nic, where’s Philippe?”


Nic just stared at Miro, then down at the golden winged heart and finally back to the boy’s face.


“Nic, think!” Miro said, more panic and worry registering in his voice. Miro began walking toward Nic. As he moved, the small heart bounced up and down. As soon as he was directly in front of him, Miro put both of his hands on Nic’s shoulders and stared intently into his eyes. “Nic, where is Philippe?”


Nic continued to stand looking back at Miro in silence. I watched his eyes become distant as he fought to remember.


“Niklas,” Miro said his voice was now almost pleading. “Where is Philippe?”


“This way,” I shouted, running into the room crowded with furniture, storage chests and art.


As Nic concentrated on Miro’s words, I’d entered his mind. Probing with an intensity that even surprised me, I managed to find a scrap of a thought buried deeply in his unconscious mind. It wasn’t even strong enough to call a memory, but it was enough for me to formulate a guess.


By now I was in the second room – the one we’d entered immediately after Nic and Lance had opened the door with the strange, wheel-like handle. Moving about the room was still almost impossible, for upon first entering it we had only cleared a small path to the second door in order to get to the room containing the twins.


“Over there,” I said, pointing to a large, chest-like box against the far wall. Surrounding it were even more chests and boxes, piled high and deep. And between us and the pile of stacked boxes lay an impossible tangle of furniture, statues, paintings and tapestries.


Nic and Lance quickly began moving some of the furniture and boxes, and were immediately assisted by Miro and David. They all moved quickly and efficiently, but no one moved more quickly than Miro. I watched as he worked with the intensity of someone possessed – a grim and serious look of determination etched on his face. Even when they came to some of the larger, heavier chests, he never paused, but relentlessly moved one after another, making quick and steady progress toward his goal.


But even with all four of them working as quickly as they could, it took time to clear a path to the chest. Finally they were there, and the rest of us joined them.


The large box was plain except for its brass hinges, a locking clasp and some thick heavy metal straps banded around it. Kneeling before it Miro tugged at the lock, but it was firmly latched in place. Going to his feet, he reached for his sword.


“Stop,” I shouted.


I approached the chest, knelt down in front of it and placed my hand on the lock. Feeling warmth curling down my arm to my fingertips I concentrated, willing the lock to open. I heard a soft but distinct CLICK then pulled on the locking clasp and the mechanism sprang open. The lock defeated, Nic and Miro carefully lifted the lid of the trunk.


Since I was already kneeling, I was in the perfect position to see the boy revealed to us as the lid of the chest opened. He looked about sixteen or seventeen and had wings exactly like Cody’s. He was dressed in a light blue tunic with white and silver trim. His wings had the soft blue glow Cody’s exhibited. Around his neck was a silver chain and attached to it was the same winged heart Miro wore. I was just about to reach out and touch him when I noticed that he was encased behind a piece of glass.


Miro reached for his short sword, but Nic shouted for him to stop.


“You don’t want the broken glass to cut him,” Nic said. Then he turned to me. “Jamie, is there anything you can do?”


“I’ll try,” I said, not exactly sure what I would do to break the glass without hurting the boy laying beneath it. But in the end I didn’t have to do anything, for suddenly and unexpectedly the glass barrier slowly rose up on its own, granting access to the sleeping boy it had protected.


Miro reached out a hand and gently caressed the boy’s cheek.


“Philippe?” Miro called out lovingly to the boy.


At first he didn’t move, and although he looked healthy and well – unlike Damian, when we were forced to make a desperate attempt to revive him – I was still a bit worried that something might be wrong with him. Then as I continued to closely observe him, I began to see his chest slowly rise and fall as he began to take steady and even breaths. He stirred, and within a few minutes his eyelids fluttered and finally opened.


At first, he was obviously disoriented; he frowned through a haze of confusion. Miro, who’d been at his side gently stroking his cheek and calling his name, suddenly reached into the box and with what looked like a long practiced move, tenderly and carefully lifted the boy out. The boy, who I now knew as Philippe, appeared thin and delicate. Standing up with Philippe in his arms and the boy’s head gently resting on the breastplate that covered his chest, Miro carried him across the room, down the path created to get to the chest and gently lay him on one of the soft and plush carpets. Reaching out and plucking a plump pillow from one of the chairs nearby, Miro gently lifted the boy’s head, placed the pillow under it and slowly lowered Philippe’s head onto the pillow.


By now the boy was almost completely conscious, although still not fully aware of his surroundings. After a few minutes more, during which time Miro kept gently stroking his hands, legs and face, the boy appeared to gain full consciousness. Finally becoming aware of his surroundings, he looked up at Miro and I saw a warm and sweet smile cross his face.


“Miro,” the boy breathed, and there was a wealth of affection and love in his tone.


It was enough for Miro. He pulled Philippe up into his arms and hugged him. Then he broke the hug and moved back so that he could look into the boy’s face. After a few seconds of just staring into his eyes, Miro gave him a kiss, followed by another and another. It took about an hour for Philippe to become completely oriented. When he was finally totally conscious and able to stand on his own feet, I managed to get a better look at him. With short, dark blond hair and a soft boyish face, he appeared close to Charles’ height and build.


Even after he was standing and looked to be healthy and well, Miro remained at his side, still making sure he was fine and doting over him. Nic approached them.


“I think we should leave this place and go up into the sunlight. It might be best if we take a few minutes to sort some of this out, or at the very least collect our thoughts and senses.”


I could see Charles nodding his head in agreement. As if mimicking Miro, Nic wrapped his arms around me, turned me toward the door, and began to lead me out of the room. As the others followed David spoke up.


“I’d like to go back and get my shield and the remainder of my weapons,”


“Would you also retrieve mine?” Miro asked his brother.


“Yes, if someone would like to help me.”


“I’ll go,” Luc said, giving Nic a glance then quickly adding, “if that’s ok?”


“It’s alright,” Nic said. “You may accompany David. Just join us on the surface when you’re finished.”


With that, David retreated into the second chamber as Luc followed. In seconds both boys were gone, while the rest of us continued on.


We walked out of the room crowded with the furniture and art, but as much as it intrigued me when we’d first had entered the space, I barely paid any attention to it as we made our way along the path Nic and Lance had cleared. We passed through the door with the strange round handle – the one Nic and Lance had to force open – and entered the small ante-room where Lancelot had pulled on the stick Jonathan said would open the large trap door hidden under the dry surface of the desert-like plain. Slowly we made our way toward the stone steps that first took us into the underground chambers. I was in the lead while Nic continued to gently guide me.


“First we’re going to talk a bit, Jamie,” he said, “then we’ll sort out as much as we can, and continue on.”


“The only place you’re going to go is with us,” a deep voice said as we began to climb back up the steps into the sunlight.