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Monday, November 21, 2016


Daylight was peeking through the cracks in the shuttered windows, causing sunbeams to streak across the room. One seemed aimed straight into Dominic’s face. It was a broad expanse of light, that no matter which way he turned he could not escape. Growling, he finally threw his covers back and stretched. “I guess I’ll check the fire, and start some coffee brewing.” He mumbled to himself as he got up from the floor. He glanced around the room to check on the others before going to tend the fire.

He had stirred the slumbering embers, before checking the water supply. They needed fresh water, so he grabbed the bucket and headed for the door. He quietly closed the door on the still cabin. The weather was turning colder, no matter how bright the sun might be shining. Dominic checked his weapons before disappearing down a faint trail leading to a sluggishly running stream.

Dominic took his time filling the bucket. He couldn’t help thinking back to the last couple of days. It was nice to get away and clear his mind. He finished with his chore and looked around. He sat the bucket in a safe spot, and climbed a nearby Oyroro tree. As he sat back against the thick trunk he thought about what he had witnessed the day before. What had happened to his friend? Neko was more than his friend, they had grown up together. Neko was as much his brother as Donny.

He felt conflicted. On one hand, he marveled at Neko’s improved fighting skills. On the other hand, he worried at the lack of remorse over killing those men. Neko had just moved on, not even looking back at the destruction he had wrought. Also, what was with that glowing stuff. It kinda freaked him out. When they had left home he had been so excited, but now he worried that they might never finish this quest the Queen had sent them on.

He was drawn out of his thoughts by hearing his name called, he waited to make sure he hadn’t mistaken the call. A few seconds later he heard Donny call his name. He was just getting ready to answer when Donny passed under the tree he was lounging in. “Damnation, you take the water bucket and we sit there waiting for water to make our coffee. But no, my dear little brother is off somewhere, and failing to bring back the damn bucket. And he’s not answering when I call. When I find him…” before he could finish Dom dropped down in front of him.

“What are you going to do, brother? And might I add I’m the elder twin. I was born first. I have the water, I just needed a bit to myself. A lot has happened in a short time and I just wanted some time to process it. Are the others awake then?” Dominic asked his now silent brother.

Donny watched as Dominic gathered up the water bucket. “They are slowly waking up. The young one has not unfortunately. I am really curious about what he meant about our journey.” Donny said as he began following Dom back to the cabin. “Have you noticed anything different about Neko? He just doesn’t seem himself the last few days. I know he found out who he is, and all, but this just feels like…well I can’t quite put it into words.” Here Donny just stopped talking as if he was trying to formulate his thoughts.

Dominic wanted to agree with his brother, but he was afraid to mention what he had witnessed without discussing it further with Bo. “He has had a lot laid in his lap, what with finding out he’s a prince of an ancient race. Then that thing appearing on his back. Just give him some time. He’ll be the same old Neko soon.” Dominic told his brother this, but really did he believe what he said.

Donny stopped not far from the cabin. His head cocked to the side, as if he was listening for something. Dominic had continued to walk, but when he noticed Donny wasn’t with him, turned to see what had made him stop. “What is it, bro?” He asked as he came back to Donny’s side. “Did you hear something?”

Donny seemed to snap out of a trance. “Whoa! I suddenly feel more alive than I think I have ever done. For some reason, I suddenly had this thought or picture in my mind of a lone fortress deep in the mountains. It sat on the edge of a cliff. It was as if I was there standing outside its walls. I have never had such a vision. What the hell is happening to me?” Dominic took note of the wild look in his twin’s eyes.

“Let’s return quickly. We need to tell the others what is happening.” He turned back towards the cabin, and as he did his vision sharpened. As he drew in a breath, he felt a rush of energy pulse through his veins. “I don’t know what happened to you, but you’re not alone. I just got a burst of something, and I also just had something happen to my eyes. We need to figure this out quick.” Donny nodded in agreement, and the two broke into a trot to get back to the cabin quickly.

As they ran into the clearing where the cabin sat, they found Bo and Azereus sparring. The twins drew up short to watch the swordsmen practice their fighting skills. Even though Bo was their brother, he had rarely sparred with anyone in the village. They now knew it was because he was a former Queen’s guard. There was no one in the village that shared his skill or knowledge.

It was like watching art brought to life, as the two men faced off against each other. As the twins watched it seemed like the longer the battle went, the more concise each opponent’s skill became. Some moves made with such subtlety that it was amazing that there was no blood being shed.  Neko had come to stand beside Dominic, and whispered “have you ever seen anything so beautiful, they work so perfectly in unison, yet against each other?” Dominic could only shake his head no to the question.

The fighting skills seemed not to phase CeCe in the slightest as she exited the cabin in search of her water bearers. “Really, I never saw such slow pokes. I would like to get breakfast on the table, and coffee brewing. I also need to brew some healing tea for the boy, his fever has increased.” She took the bucket from Dominic’s unresistant hands and made her way back inside.

Bo had never felt like this before. His mind was so clear, his sword strokes so precise. He felt like he could perceive Azereus’s moves before he made them. He and Az had always been well matched in skill, after all Az had taught him, but usually by now they would be tiring, and that is when the slight mistakes would happen and blood would be spilled in the tiny nicks as the blade touched too close. He felt as fresh now as when they had begun to spar.

Finally, he called for a break. As he lowered his sword, an insane urge to continue the battle tried to take hold, he was barely able to fight it down. Before he could say anything Azereus was shaking his hand as he spoke. “Good match. I have never felt so refreshed after such a long sparring session. Did you feel it? This energy? I felt like I could go on forever. I cannot believe we are so still well matched after so many years. I felt like I could anticipate your moves before you made them, it was very strange indeed.” As he finished speaking he noticed that they had gained an audience while fighting.

Bo followed Az’s gaze to where the three young men stood. “It seems we drew a crowd.” He heard Az say he headed toward his errant brother. He wanted to be angry at Dom for his disappearance, but for some reason he held his tongue. He understood too well the need to get away from time to time. He was about to tell Dom this when CeCe called from the doorway of the cabin that breakfast was ready.

Once everyone was seated around the table, and had their bowl of porridge in front of them. They made light conversation until the meal was done. Afterward they sat with their coffee and the discussion turned to the events of the day before as well as to the child on the bed. “I worry about his fever, if I cannot get it to break, we may lose him.” CeCe said looking over to the sleeping kit. “I don’t know about the rest of you but I want to know what he meant about our journey being almost over, I’m curious as hell to find out.”

Donny had been trying to keep the vision out of his mind but it just kept flashing back. Finally, he could wait no more. “I am not sure what is going on, but for some reason I keep having this vision or something of a fortress. As much I try, I just can’t shake it. It is really starting to bother me.” He was literally shaking with the feelings he was fighting. “And on top of it, I have never felt so good before. I woke up this morning and my head was clear…well except for that stupid vision. I didn’t hurt anywhere, I keep waiting for all the aches and pains to return, but so far nothing.” He just let the last words hang in the air, waiting for a response.

Everybody was just staring at him. Donny rarely spoke and when he did, it was slow and steady. He was the voice of reason amid Dominic and Neko’s craziness.  Now here he sat more animated than any of his friends or family had ever seen him. “He’s not the only one feeling some kind of energy. And I kid you not, my eyes are acting weird. On our way, here, I could see the cabin from a distance that I could never have seen so clearly before. I swear I could have shot my bow and been able to hit either one of you guys.” Dominic added into his brother conversation.

“Okay it would appear we all have been affected by what I can only think must’ve been the jewel coming to life.” Bo declared. “I too feel this energy racing through my veins, I feel like I can conquer any foe. And my fighting skills seem to have been affected in some way too.” He further added. He looked over to see Azereus nodding his head in agreement.

CeCe had gotten up and gone to check on her patient. She stood with her hand on his brow, when she spoke. “I feel no different than I did the day we started this journey, if anything I feel more tired than I have ever felt. It is taking all I have in me to care for my patient here.” She looked down at the child with a worried look upon her face. “I am offering up so many prayers to the Goddess, yet I fear they are in vain.”

As she had been speaking the guys had watched CeCe’s hand begin to glow where she touched the boy. As she had spoken, she had been stroking his forehead. The glow had gotten stronger, but she had seemed to wilt from it at the same time. Bo stood and rushed towards her when the glow engulfed the small figure on the bed. CeCe seem to fade, becoming nothing more than an outline of the person she really was. Bo caught her has she passed out.

The glow faded from the kit when the contact with CeCe had been broken as she was caught in Bo’s arms. The kit seemed stronger, and was breathing deeper. Azereus went over to check the boy’s fevered brow, only to find the fever gone. His eyes met Bo’s across the bed. “What the…” Az started.

“Hell?” Bo finished for him.

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